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Friday, April 30, 2004

Housing terminology

In a posting below I had the table about the change in housing types during the last 30 years, taken from Census statistics.

detached semi-detached
house apartment house tasedae
(단독주택) (아파트) (연립주택) chut'aek
1970 94 1 3 0
1975 92 2 4 0
1980 87 7 3 0
1985 77 13 6 0
1990 65 23 7 2
1995 47 37 8 4
2000 37 48 7 4
Source: 2000 Census (인구주택 총조사)

I was going to include descriptions of the statistical categories used in the table; this is useful for me as well. The colloquial terms are not identical (not surprisingly) with statistical terms, but there is resemblance - and distinctions based on the form of housing are important, as we all know.

• 다가구주택 (Multiple dwellings) A dwelling which has been constructed in order to house several families. Each housing unit has its own entrance, living space, kitchen and bathroom facilities, but the housing units cannot be owned, or bought and sold separately.

• 다세대주택 (Apartment unit in a private house) A dwelling under 200 p'yông (660 sqm) which was built to house several households, and in which the housing units are separately owned, bought, and sold.
(Until now, I've thought that the tasedae is the "generation" (世代) word, but taking a look at the dictionary I learn that it's 世帶, "household". Oppia ikä kaikki.)

• 단독주택 (Detached dwelling). In principle, a dwelling which has been constructed to house one family (kagu). "Multiple dwellings" (tagagu chut'aek) is also included.

• 연립주택 (Semi-detached dwelling; this is my own wording, since there was no English given in the original document.) A dwelling of 4 or less stories, which has been defined as a yôllip chut'aek in the building permit. (Now is this a circular definition or what?) Two-four-story "villas" and "mansions" are also included.

Here's a long list of statistical terms at Statistical Office homepage, if someone would insist on seeing it.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

newest in "Korean War in Photographs"

The Korean War in Photographs serial in Ohmynews continues with two new series of photographs.

(Click the small pictures to see a bigger photograph in a new window.)

Korean War in Photographs 26: Life and death
Holding the ROK flag and pleading for life in Pyongyang ▲ 1951. 10. 21. 평양. 살기 위해 태극기를 들고 살려달라고 애걸하고 있다. ⓒ2004 NARACommunist troops killed in action ▲ 1951.1. 4. 공산군의 시신들. ⓒ2004 NARA
UN troops gazing wonderingly at a funeral procession ▲ 1951. 1. 23. 유엔군들이 상여가 나가는 것을 신기하게 바라보고 있다. ⓒ2004 NARA ROK army military police capturing a DPRK soldier ▲ 1950. 7. 5. 국군 헌병이 북한군을 생포하다. ⓒ2004 NARA

Korean War in Photographs 28: War theater and Marketplace / 전장(戰場)과 시장(市場)
A marketplace amidst the ruins in Seoul ▲ 1951. 7. 6. 서울, 폐허의 잿더미 속에 시장은 열리다. ⓒ2004 NARAYoung DPRK soldiers having a rest ▲ 1951. 1. 26. 북한군 어린 병사들이 쉬고 있다. ⓒ2004 NARA
Children covering their ears from mortar fire in a village close to Han river ▲ 1951. 3. 4. 한강 부근 마을에서 아이들이 박격포 소리에 귀를 막고 있다. ⓒ2004 NARAStrangers driving a tank at Bukhan river in Chuncheon ▲ 1951. 4. 4. 춘천, 북한강 유역에 전차를 몰고 온 이방인들. ⓒ2004 NARA

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(Urban space) Towering towers

Some 700-800 years ago, the powerful families in Tuscany built higher and higher towers to compete in prestige. Especially the towers still left in San Gimignano are famous.

I couldn't help being reminded of the San Gimignano skyline, or actually the story behind the construction of the towers back then in the middle ages, when seeing a story in Hankyoreh about the competitive nature of building skyscraper apartments. Somehow I have the feeling that the towers now being built in Seoul will not be the landmarks of Seoul in the year 2700.
The names of the skyscraper apartment projects mentioned in the article: Eye Park, We've The State, Tower Palace, City Park, Acro Tower, and Trump World.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

(Urban space) Valérie Gelezeau about apartments

My earlier post about the changing Seoul landscape due to apartment construction seems to have awaked quite a lot of interest (not the least due to the kind link by Mr Marmot).

The French geographer Valérie Gelezeau has made an important study on the creation of the whole apartment block system, published (unfortunately for me) in French by the name Séoul, ville géante, cités radieuses (Review by James Hoare at Korean Studies Review). There's been a short article by Yonhap on a presentation by Gelezeau from last Autumn which I've downloaded a long time ago. Putting some of it into English, I may post it here as well. What is below is not a direct translation, but rendering what was quoted from Gelezeau in the article. (Link to the article online)
The normal explanation has been that the high population density has lead to the creation of apartment blocks, but large-scale apartment construction has not been the result of a lack of building land in dense population in countries such as Netherlands and Belgium.

In Korea, the appearance of large-scale apartment areas has been a result of calculated government policy, in which especially the allotment system (punyang chedo) in which new apartments are sold below the market price and allotted before the completion of the construction has established apartment markets for the low-income stratum, middle class and the rich.
In the large-scale apartment blocks, the control of the main driving force behind the economic development, salaried worker (imgûm nodongja), was possible. Apartments became a symbol for a social recognition for a new stratum that had lost its identity based on birthplace (kohyang).
Looking at Korea's example being followed in Beijing and Shanghai, apartment block (ap'at'û tanji) has an important meaning in reflecting the Asian way of economic development.

Lately that the rich stratum is beginning to turn away from apartments, and the less well-off people (sômin) moving to the outskirts of town. The housing preferences are changing, and the value and position of apartments as a form of housing is decreasing, especially with the problems of rebuilding the 70s' and renovating the 80s' apartments.

"Charting the Cycle of Modern Housing", interview of Delezeau in Korea Herald
"Apartments make us powerless", Hankyoreh 21 weekly (log-in apparently not needed)

Now, my time and resources are lacking to make a comparison with all the apartment house building here in Finland during the rapid (and in European scale late) urbanization, but the process cannot have been that different from Korea. Perhaps the difference has been that we've had the so-called hero architects who've decided what kind of living environments are suitable for people in the modern world. (Population density is almost 30 times smaller than in South Korea but the share of population living in apartments is almost as high - 43%.)

Update. My own insistence on talking about apartments and charting what they mean in Korea stems from the fact that there are so few in the area that I'm talking about in my own research, and that is meaningful in defining the position of the area in the mental landscape of Seoulites and Koreans. Interestingly, my feeling is that of the Gwanak-gu areas, Bongcheon-dong used to be known as less well-off than Sillim-dong (which had its own poor hillside areas in Nan'gok and elsewhere), but now with the recent gentrification (what an authoritative word) of Bongcheon-dong through the intensive apartment-building as seen in the pictures below, the situation may have turned. But I'm not sure. Still, certain parts of Sillim-dong can bee seen as modern and developing when compared for example with Doksan-dong in Geumchon-gu, where a hairdressing shop keeper moved a few years ago. "This is countryside sigol" (she said of Doksan-dong). - How come countryside? " - Because people have been living here for a long time... There has been development in Sillim-dong, building of cramming dorms and so, and rents are higher, but this is 10 years behind in development... People throwing cigaret butts in the alleys."

And finally, I want to quote a bit from the Korea Herald article "Charting the Cycle of Modern Housing" linked above:
During the 1970s, multistory apartments seemed like an obvious housing solution for the droves of people moving into the city. According to the National Statistical Office, between 1960 and 1970, Seoul's population more than doubled its size, from 2.4 million to 5.5 million people, with over 50 percent of the population being recent migrants from rural areas.
Yet, Gelezeau was not satisfied with this explanation.
"I was absolutely not satisfied with the answer that there are too many people and not enough space, that that's the reason why the apartments were constructed. It was not the geographical answer," said Gelezeau.
She found that the apartments built during the 70s and 80s were meant, in a sense, as temporary housing. "I had interviews with building companies and they knew that the apartments would only have 30 years. They weren't supposed to be built for 100 years," she said. Many of the apartments she had focused her project on, like the apartment complexes in Mapo-gu, had already undergone several reconstructions within a span of 30 years.
She found that many of the apartment development projects of the 70s and 80s were strongly promoted by the government through urban planning initiatives. A 1972 construction law encouraged the building of multistory apartments and allowed for the development of construction, a key industry.
Originally built for low-wage laborers who had migrated into the city, apartments were soon flooded with middle and upper-middle class Koreans. They became cheaper after the government eased restrictions on apartment buying during the late 1990s, and wealthier Koreans began investing in them as forms of property.

Update 2. Forgot to add that there's a Korean translation of Delezeau's book in preparation.

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Decreasing use of taxi

At least over here the use of taxi is taken to be a good gauge of economic currents. The use of taxi is said to decrease before the actual economic downturn begins. Sure taxi isn't part of "public transport" (taejung kyot'ong) as in Korea, used mainly by the well-off, upstarts, old people with a certain number of communal taxi coupons, and by us ordinary people only when there's no other alternative.
Joongang Ilbo tells that despite of the increasing unemployment, taxi companies have difficulties in recruiting people. This should be noteworthy as driving a taxi has usually been a recourse when other employment is difficult to find (or when funds or courage for an own business is lacking). Drivers are leaving taxi companies in increasing numbers because it's difficult to earn enough for a living behind the wheel, as said in the headline: "cannot earn even million won [€670] a month".
전남연(58)씨는 "택시운전 20년 만에 이렇게 손님이 없기는 처음"이라며 "한달에 90만원 벌이밖에 안되는데 누가 운전하겠느냐"고 말했다. 서울 광화문 동화빌딩 앞에서 만난 모범택시 기사 송정성(61)씨도 "외환위기(IMF) 때보다 더 어렵다. 두 시간 기다려 겨우 손님 한 분을 모셨다"며 한숨을 내쉬었다.
"Never been this difficult in the 20 years I've been driving a cab" or "more difficult than during the IMF"; very familiar voices not only from cab drivers - but it cannot only be taken as a typical shopkeeper/self-employed/entrepreneur talk.

A few numbers from the table:
Number of company cabs in Seoul 24 000, private cabs 47 000.
Not sure what the "traffic assignment rate" (susong pundamnyul) in the table means; the amount of time in traffic compared to the time standing?

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

(Urban space) Rebuilt rental apartments to Kangnam?

재건축 추진 중인 서울 강남의 한 아파트 단지
Government is considering rebuilding "ordinary people's" (sôminyong) rental apartments in Gangnam as a part of measures to balance the development of Seoul and cool down the rise of housing prices (Chosun Ilbo). There's also been the "housing transaction declaration system" (주택거래신고제) in the "overheated investment areas", which also has slowed down the increase of real estate prices south of the river.
Now the government is thinking what to do with the profits that are expected to come out of the redevelopment (read: rebuilding) of some of the oldest apartment areas in Gangnam. One alternative is to reclaim (환수) part of the profit, the other to build rental apartments to the area, which would have influence on the real estate value in the area. In general, apartments close to rental apartment areas have had lower value than elsewhere.
실제 이날 모임에서 건교부와 위원들은 임대 주택 의무 건설화 방안에 특히 관심을 보였던 것으로 전해진다. 이날 회의에 참석했던 한 위원은 “건교부가 계층간 사회적 융합(social mix) 등을 염두에 두고, 여러 안 중 임대 주택 의무 건설 방안에 상당한 비중을 두고 있는 듯한 느낌을 받았다”고 말했다.
What will happen to the tested ways of making the social differentiation now?

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Finnish artists succesful in DPRK

Finnish artists have scored great success in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival in North Korea (Helsingin Sanomat). "Song of Mercy" by Kari Tikka has been awarded a price in the song category. The song was performed by the opera singer Johanna Rusanen and the singer Viktor Klimenko. The lyrics of the song are from The Bible.

Kapellimestari Kari Tikan säveltämä Armolaulu on palkittu laulusarjassa Pohjois-Korean kulttuurifestivaaleilla. Dueton esittivät oopperalaulaja Johanna Rusanen ja laulaja Viktor Klimenko.
Armolaulu on sävelletty tunnettuun raamatunjakeeseen.
Rusanen ja Klimenko edustivat Suomea kymmenen päivää kestävällä festivaalilla, joka esitteli taiteilijoita ympäri maailman.
Festivaali on jo useina vuosina rakennettu edesmenneen johtajan Kim Il Sungin syntymäpäivän ympärille 9.–18. huhtikuuta. Esiintymiset televisioitiin ja niitä lähetetään pitkin kevättä Pohjois-Korean televisiossa.
Rusanen palkittiin lisäksi oopperalaulajien sarjan hopeisella pokaalilla.
Rusanen ja Klimenko esiintyivät festivaaleilla neljä kertaa. Armolaulun lisäksi he esittivät yhdessä Lasse Heikkilän säveltämän dueton Korea on yksi. Molemmilla oli myös soolonumeroita.
Suomesta oli festivaalilla mukana myös miimikkoryhmä ja taikureita.
Rusanen and Klimenko had four performances in the festival. With the "Song of Mercy", the two also dueted in the song "Korea is One" by Lasse Heikkilä.

Mr Klimenko, who represented Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest sometime in the 60s and used to be quite popular here in the 70s, has had a 10-day tour in DPRK during the festival. Besides singing, he's a preacher, and there seems to be a receptive audience in North Korea for his Word. Here's Mr Klimenko preaching gospel in (North) Korea.

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(Small businesses) Ttôk is being modernized, too

Chosun Ilbo has a story of a ttôk (rice cake) company that's begun to develop new kinds of ttôk (ddeok), to "make a distinction from neighborhood ttôk bakeries." The founder of the company is the head of the Institute of Traditional Korean Food; she is not going to make her ttôk business a franchise despite of the continuous requests, but once the problem of transporting raw material is solved, she'd like to open branch shops in Tokyo and New York. (Distinction from neighborhood ttôk bakeries indeed!)
이들은 자체 개발한 떡을 2000∼3000원짜리 포장으로 낱개 판매하거나 전통차와 함께 제공하는 등 고급스러운 분위기의 떡카페를 운영하기도 한다. 호원당의 경우 미국 LA 한인촌을 중심으로 1ㆍ2·3호점까지 열어 떡의 세계화를 위한 기반을 다지고 있다.
2001년 종로구 와룡동에 떡카페 ‘질시루’(떡을 찌는 질그릇 시루를 의미)를 오픈한 한국전통음식연구소 윤숙자(56) 소장은 “배화여자대학에서 24년 동안 전통음식을 가르쳤는데 장류ㆍ전통술ㆍ전통차ㆍ음식 중에서 가장 매력적인 게 떡ㆍ한과였다”고 말했다.
화전(왼쪽)·삼색호두말이(가운데)·두텁떡(앞)과 이북경단
Mrs Yun, the head of the institute, noticed that in order to truly internationalize ttôk, there are many hurdles to cross for ttôk to be liked by "foreigners". First, foreigners are not used to bite off pieces (peô môkta), so the cake must be small enough to be eaten with one bite. Second, ttôk-covering powder (komul) drops off, so it cannot be eaten in a dignified (chômjanhûn) place. Third, foreigners don't like the glutinous rice that sticks to the teeth, so ordinary milled rice should be used.

A sentence that cannot be left unquoted: 하지만 입맛이 현대화되면서 떡은 점점 대중과 멀어져 갔다. "But as people's tastes are getting modern, ttôk is becoming estranged from the public." Here the development of new kinds of ttôk and adjusting the traditional food to the "modernized tastes" is connected to the "wellbeing boom".

Here I cannot but think Mr Pak and his rice cake bakery in "my neighborhood". He and his wife have decided not to make things like what was explained above, not to "develop" anything or expand - that's on the other hand typical due to the limitations of doing a "neighborhood business", but also due to their decision not to make ttôk ready for customers but take only orders. It just isn't worth it, doesn't pay off and takes away time to spend with friends.

But I guess Mrs Yun's ttôk place is not as internationalized as Mr Pak's pangakan, as can be seen in the picture. In fact Mr Pak said he'd like to come to Finland to keep a ttôk place - I would've been his marketing director - but he's yet to realize his grand plan. (He also suggested I send an airplane to pick them up to attend my wedding, but also that came to nought.)

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

(Small businesses) Tax burden of petty self-employed to grow

Small businesses which have been exempted from the value added tax due to a small yearly income will from next year on be levied the VAT on their main occupation (ponôp) in case they have a side occupation (puôp) (for example a hairdressing shop keeper getting income from real estate, or a private taxi owner getting income from a truck in his ownership) (Chosun Ilbo).

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Friday, April 23, 2004

(Urban space) Seoul panorama photographs from Flying City

Flying City defines itself as an "urbanism research group." It has all kinds of interesting projects introduced at its website, and it seems like a bunch of people I would have liked to hang around with during my time in Korea to help making sense of this monster of a city called Seoul - had the group existed at the time. Among the material at their home site is a small collection of panorama photographs depicting the change of Seoul, recording how the low-storey housing areas are changing (being redeveloped) into apartment areas. I have downloaded them a long time ago and resized them for my diskspace and reasonable website viewing.

Here are some statistics on the changes in the form of housing in percentages. The rise of apartment living is quite astonishing - 25 years ago 7% lived in apartments but now half of the population.

detached semi-detached
house apartment house tasedae
(단독주택) (아파트) (연립주택) chut'aek
1970 94 1 3 0
1975 92 2 4 0
1980 87 7 3 0
1985 77 13 6 0
1990 65 23 7 2
1995 47 37 8 4
2000 37 48 7 4

Source: 2000 Census (인구주택 총조사)

(Just for the reference: in Finland, 43% of houses are in apartments, 40% in detached houses and 14% in semi-detached houses, and there's been very little change in the last 20 years. But the population density in Korea is almost 30 times that of Finland... Source)

The original Flying City photographs, sized around 5-7 megas, can be found here. (UPDATE: the Flying City site has been reorganized, and the files have been moved.)
(Update, March 20, 2007. The panorama files are available again at Flying City. Click the small photos for the huge originals to open in a new window. Thanks for the tip to Matt at Popular Gusts.)

A larger photograph opens in a new window by clicking.

Cheongneung ring road • 정릉 내부순환로
In Seongbuk-gu, north of downtown Seoul.

Bongcheon-dong • 봉천동
Of the three Bongcheon-dong photographs, this one is the westernmost, close to the Bongcheon subway station on Line 2.

Bongcheon-dong redevelopment area • 봉천동 재개발지구
This is the view from Gwanak street on the way from Seoul National University to the SNU subway station. The apartmentalization of housing has been rapid especially in Gwanak-gu, where the number of apartment blocks has been small, and much of the population less affluent. All the construction has also has meant drastic changes in the scenery, and seeing this hilltop covered by all these high-rise houses was quite astonishing. The population has accordingly become more middle-class. Note that there are two other pictures from Bongcheon-dong in Gwanak-gu below - there's a lot of change in the urban space to record there.
The name of the apartment area under construction on the hilltop is Gwanak Dreamtown. (Visible in the original large picture.) The right edge of this picture is visible in the left edge of the Bongcheon 4-geori redevelopment picture below. Gwanak-no road goes behind the buildings on the right.

Bongcheon 4-geori redevelopment area • 봉천동 4거리 재개발지구
These are Daewoo Grand World apartments under construction. The left edge of this picture is visible on the right edge of the Bongcheon redevelopment picture above. The place is on the eastern side of Gwanak-no, near Seoul National University subway station on Line 2.

Ha-Wangsimni • 하왕십리
Ha-Wangsimni is in the north of the river, which has lately been a target of development plans in order to balance the real-estate prices and counter the concentration of wealth to the south of the river. (Note that Gwanak-gu is also south of the river, but it's not included in the concept of Gangnam.) These are Geumho and Daelim (?) apartments between Sangwangsimni and Haengdang subway stations.

Siheung-dong • 시흥동
This is in Geumchon-gu in southern Seoul, close to the city of Gwangmyeong. The mountains behind are of the Gwanak-san area, and this is actually quite close to Gwanak-gu and the Nan'gok neighborhood that I had a post about below.

To see these panoramas in full size (2.6-3.0 MB, 4500-5400x1400 px), go to the Flying City page and click the small pictures.

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(Small businesses) The discourse of chông

Isn't it nice to have so scholarly-sounding title in the posting.
Story of a bookshop granny in Ohmynews. The woman has been keeping a small 20 p'yông (66 sq.m) bookshop for some 30 years in Daegu. The story talks mainly about the human affection (chông 情) that the granny shows towards her customers

대우할머니는 사람들과 이렇게 살아가는 것을 ‘길거리 정’이라고 이야기한다. “남편과 자식을 매일 보긴 하지만 이렇게 서점을 하면서 만나는 사람들과 쌓은 정이 더 소중해요. ‘한 이불 정보다 길거리 정이 더 좋다’는 말도 있잖아”라며 유쾌하게 웃으시는 할머니. 할머니의 ‘길거리 정’은 처음 서점을 찾는 손님들에게도 이어진다. 좋은 책을 스스럼없이 권해주기도 하고, 어떤 책을 잡고 물어도 내용과 감동을 술술 이야기해준다. 초등학교 교육도 제대로 받지 못했다는 사실이 믿어지지 않을 정도다.

The basics of this chông is to be able to talk with people and convey a feeling of sympathy and human affection. It is something that can be found especially in small places like this bookshop, and it's lacking in for example the big bookshops. There's also often a feeling of nostalgia and loss with chông; in this piece of text it's the disappearance of small bookshops because of the competition from big ones. (Being able to create an atmosphere of chông may help a bit in shopkeeping, make one's life more comfortable and meaningful, but it's not enough.
“나는 잘 배우지도 못했고, 아는 것도 없는 사람이에요. 비록 작은 서점이지만 이 가게가 있어서 남편과 아이들 뒷바라지를 할 수 있었고, 많은 사람들을 만날 수 있었습니다. 저한테는 무엇보다 이곳이 더 소중하고 이렇게 만나는 사람들이 더 정겹습니다.”
In Ohmynews, this kind of stories are usually under the section "Stories of Life" (Sanûn iyagi), but this is the "Society" section (but of course not in "Economy").

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

(Urban space) Redevelopment in Daejeon

In Gyochon-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, one house has not been cleared away in a housing development area because of compensation disagreements.
Picture linked from Media Daum.

Talking about levelling, here they are not only levelling the houses but the earth as well. Guess it's necessary for the apartment forest. It's funny to think that this kind of houses were modern only 30 years ago.

Romanization note. I've been using the McCune-Reischauer constantly in writing Korean words, but since from some time, I've written the ROK place names with the current system - after all the official place names are written now with that system and so shall it be. But for everything else, I'll stick with Mc-R.

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(Family and kin) Ownership of wedding congratulation money, and taxation

Some years ago there was a court case in which a recently married person was ordered to pay tax (donation tax, 증여세) for the sum of wedding congratulation money he (or she, cannot remember) had been given by his parent. The basis for the decision was that it wasn't his money in the first place but given to the parents as a gesture of participation in the wedding expenses, and thus belonged to the parents. Only those congratulation monies given directly to the couple was seen to belong to them.

Now there's been a new case (Han'guk Kyôngje, via Media Daum), in which a chaebôl daughter had been ordered to pay donation tax for the 210 million won (€ 140 000) of the congratulation money (ch'ugûigûm) his father had given to him. She had been ordered to pay the tax on this piece of birch bark (dough), but she made an appeal to the court.
The position of Tax Administration was that the tax is due because her father sent to employees to a bank to take care of the money transfer in 9 separate occasions, there was a print in the wedding invitation card that "flower and money greetings are refused", and that by all accounts it was a gift by the tax authorities' measure.
The Administrative Court decided against the appeal on the basis that it couldn't be proved that the money was from wedding congratulations.
So in this case the reason for taxing the money was not that it was considered as belonging to the parents but because it couldn't be proven to be given in the wedding. (To be more precise, in the case I quoted above the congratulation money was considered to belong to the parents because the father had been a person of a high position, member of parliament, and that the congratulation money had been given more the father than the marrying couple in mind.)
당시 결혼식에는 김영삼(金泳三) 대통령당선자가 500 만원의 축의금을 내는 등 정·재계 인사 871명이 5만원에서 500만원까지 평균 11만6천원의 축의금을 주고 갔다.
그러자 세무서는 97년 “결혼축의금은 부모 앞으로 들어오는 것인 만큼 일단 아버지 소유”라며 오히려 축의금에 대한 증여세까지 추가해 부과했다. 국세청도 “하객들 대부분은 사회저명 인사인 아버지를 보고 축의금을 낸 것”이라며 세무서의 손을 들었 다. 이에 대해 박씨는 “축의금은 부모·형제자매와 친지 관계에 있기 때문에 주는 것이기도 하지만 근본적으로는 결혼 당사자들을 축하하는 의미에서 신랑·신부에게 주는 것”이라고 주장,지난 1월 소송을 냈다. 서울행정법원 행정4부(임승순·任勝淳 부장 판사)는 1일 박씨가 마포세무서장을 상대로 낸 증여세 부과처분 취소청구소송에서 “피고의 부과처분은 정당하다”며 세무서측 손 을 들어줬다. 문화일보 19991001 31면(사회) 03판 뉴스

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Korean War pictures in Ohmynews continues

Two new series of pictures excavated from the files of NARA, National Archives and Records Administration have appeared in Ohmynews. I shall thread the path I've chosen and link the picture series and some pictures as well.

Korean War in photographs series page

Part 24: lines of refugees

▲ 1950. 7. 27. 맨발의 한 소년이 지게에다 피난봇짐을 잔뜩 지고 있지만 표정이 매우 맑다. ⓒ2004 NARA

People on refuge again after the spring attack of the Chinese troops ▲ 1951. 4. 23. 중공군 춘계대공세로 다시 피난길에 오른 사람들. ⓒ2004 NARA

Part 25: Youths going to the front

Chige troops ▲ 1951. 5. 20. 지게부대. ⓒ2004 NARA This reminds me of the quite famous photo of the two US troops trodding in the mud, both carrying a chige instead of the regular equipment.

The meeting of brothers on refuge ▲ 1951. 9. 11. 피난길에 만난 형과 아우. ⓒ2004 NARA

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(Small businesses) "Mass bankruptcies among the 2.9 million small and medium businesses imminent"

Pressian has a piece on the plight of the small and medium businesses, which depend on the slow domestic market.

Yi Hôn-jae (Lee Hun-jae?), vice premier and minister of finance has gathered together a ministerial meeting (?), and come out demanding that financing insitutions delay the reclaim of loans (여신 회수).
Helping small and medium businesses is all good, and as visitors perhaps know small businesses and their keepers are close to my heart, but demanding that financing institutions don't do their job properly doesn't look that good either. Kwanch'i kûmyung is the word that comes to mind, used mostly when government officials tell banks to give loans, but telling banks not to collect loans is no different.

One can also ask whether the banks have been doing their job when giving out loans. (For that, I don't know enough to make any judgement.) Small and medium companies have been getting more and more loans, and their combined amount of loans in the 19 domestic banks is seven times that of big companies.
월말 현재 국내 19개 은행들의 대기업 대출 잔액은 32조4천1백97억원에 불과했으나, 중소기업 대출은 7배가 넘는 2백33조2천93억원에 달하고 있다. 대기업들이 은행돈 쓰기를 기피하자, 은행들이 그동안 중소기업 대출에 주력해온 결과다.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Ordinary people" taking part in the investment boom (Update)

Update to a post below. The riddle of the 위브 더 스테이트 is now solved. The Latin character text behind the han'gul is We've the state. Now could someone please tell what that is for example in English or Korean.
(We have the state; yes, like Joel notices in the comments; the naming practices of this kind of "global living standard" housing projects would make some nice critical research; on the other hand I'd be the last to lecture ["hunjangûi karûch'im", heh] Koreans what kind of housing they should see as desirable. But The State? Can they go any further than this, now that Royal Palaces and others have been taken.)

Here's the homepage of the apartment project, called no less than The State. If people who will live in that kind of a place can be called sômin, I will have to delete a whole bloody chapter from my dissertation... (The representative of the real estate company explained that the project is not adding to real estate market overheating, because the people lining to leave applications for houses are "ordinary people" (sômin).

This is a picture of what The State will look like,
taken from the official homepage.

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(Small businesses) Paedal kyôre, or Delivery nation

Been lately writing about the division of labor in small businesses; especially in restaurants, the one quite fundamental is that between the cooking done by the woman and the delivery done by the man, if the place is kept by a couple. Of course this division is not absolute, but pretty consistent.
When there is the image of a young woman driving a scooter on a coffee delivery, with a chance that there's prostitution included, it's no wonder that being the deliverer is not the desired role for women. (We anthros like to explain things in the harder way, not to say simply that men deliver meals because they are physically stronger.)

My own counterargument goes that there are all kinds of delivery women working in neighborhood environments, like yogurt ajummas, who go from place to place in the manner I tried to explain as "inappropriate for women" above. But here we have an occupation which is clearly defined as belonging to women. (But so is "coffee delivery".)
This man, "restaurant bachelor" as he was called by some neighborhood women, was (and surely still is) one the most prolific deliverers in the area.

Taking a chokpal (pork hock?) delivery order.

Delivering is the lifeline of Mr Pak's ttôk bakery, as he brings all the orders to the customers by motorbike.

Going to Gumi near Daegu, where an acquaintance of mine had moved from Seoul, was quite... interesting. As it is an industrial town, thanks to the home boy Park Chung-hee, there's a lot of mainly male industrial work force and subsequently a lot of "entertainment industry" catering for them, as my friend explained. So the most common delivery sight was not a man bringing meals to customers but young women bringing coffee and stuff to customers.

My acquaintance at time of his restaurant-keeping, who left eating business for greener pastures in bigger money games; I learned his businesses went all bust, and now I can't reach him in any way - not surprising if he's gone hiding from his creditors.

Couple of pieces worth reading from the "People of the night" (or something) series of articles in Ohmynews
"Milk delivery ajumma"
Meal delivery woman in the Tongdaemun market

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

(Small businesses) Panch'an (side dish) shop

Ohmynews has a small story about a small side dish (panch'an shop, kept by a woman in her early 30s.
그래서 김씨는 직접 재래시장과 마트를 돌며 꼼꼼히 음식 재료를 분별해 유기농재료를 구입한다. 특히 콩나물의 경우에는 재래시장보다 백화점이나 마트를 이용하는데, 농약이나 생장제를 전혀 쓰지 않는 무공해 콩나물을 사기 위해서다.
Even if not said directly, there's the idea of making a distinction (isn't that an authoritative-looking word) to the non-modern, non-developed side dish shops, seen for example in marketplaces. Being careful in choosing the side dish materials (or at least telling so), not using factory-made seasonings, taking into consideration the newly appeared ideas of "well-being" (웰빙 in Korean).

Looking at my sitemeter visitor details really saved my day. Someone had ended up at my page by googling with "korean barbershop" + "videos". Went to Google, tried the search, and couldn't believe my eyes: the single search results shows Hunjangûi karûch'im. So this is becoming an adult blog even against my will.

Monday, April 19, 2004

"Ordinary people" taking part in the investment boom

People are lining to take a look at the "model house" of a chusang pokhap apartment in Jung-dong, Bucheon in a picture provided by Joongang Ilbo. I haven't yet managed to decode back into Latin characters the name of the construction project '위브 더 스테이트' (the last two words must be the state). The real estate representatives explained that this is not a question of "application overheating" (청약 과열), because most of the people interested to invest are "ordinary people" (sômin).

That is a very interesting way to try to avoid criticism on an issue which has received a lot of heat lately. Calling the investors "ordinary people" it can no more be immoral real estate speculation, since "ordinary people" (sômin) are not able to take part in such activity! (One of the most usual contexts of the use of the term are the housing conditions; those not able to acquire adequate housing or struggling their utmost for it are "ordinary people", not those who invest in real estate.)

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(Family and kin) The correct divorce rate?

(Munhwa Ilbo, via Media Daum.) Seems there's been some confusion about the correct divorce rate in South Korea; the Statistics Office has reportedly come up with the figure of 47% by simply counting the yearly number of marriages and divorces. Now the Court Administration (?, 법원행정처) suggests that the figure is mistaken.

As far as I know, the most common way of calculating the frequency of divorces is to compare the number of divorces to population of 1000; as the number of marriages compared to for example Western European nations is big, so the number of divorces also tends to look big. That number was 3.0 in Korea in 2002, 2.8 in Denmark and 2.1 in the Netherlands.
법원행정처는 19일 우리의 결혼 대비 이혼율이 47.4%로 매년 결 혼하는 2쌍 가운데 1쌍이 이혼한다는 지난해 통계분석은 잘못된 것이라고 지적했다. 즉 만약 어느해에 결혼인구가 급격히 준다면 이혼율이 100%가 넘을 수도 있다는 것. 지난해 제기된 ‘이혼율 47.4%’주장은 2002년 한해동안 전국에서 결혼한 사람이 30만66 00쌍이고 이혼한 사람은 14만5300쌍이었으므로 이를 단순 비교해 나온 수이다. 그러나 배우자가 있는 전국의 인구는 2202만 3804 명(사실혼 포함), 즉 1101만 1902쌍이고 이 중14만 5300쌍이 이 혼했으므로 이혼율은 1.3%가 맞다는 반론이 제기되고 있다.
법원행정처는 이런 집계방식의 문제점을 개선, 특정 시점 혼인경 력자의 총 혼인횟수를 분모로, 동일 시점 이혼 경력자의 총 이혼 횟수를 분자로 계산하는 방식을 제시했다. 이 방식에 따르면 올 1월말 현재 국내 혼인경력자의 총 혼인횟수는 2815만 6405건, 총 이혼횟수는 262만3659건으로 이혼율은 9.3%이다.
So the suggested way of calculating the divorce rate is to compare the number of married persons (혼인경력자의 총 혼인횟수는) which was +28 million to the number of divorces which was 2.6 million, which gives the divorce rate of 9.3%.
What do we learn? That it's all up to the interpretation of the statistics and the method of counting.

Couple of other articles on the subject, linked from Media Daum:
"Ministry of Welfare: Statistic Office's divorce rate calculations unprecise"
• "Divorces due to economic difficulties increasing" (video stream of a SBS news piece included in the link)

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Democratic Labor Party and the self-employed

One of the people whom I learn to know during my research and with whom I've managed to keep in contact, a woman in her late 40s told me that she voted for the Democratic Labor Party. As she expressed it, she didn't feel like voting at all in the first place (투표하기 싫다) but that she thought she should vote anyway. So she voted the DLP; cannot know if it was a "protest voice" against the corruption of the established parties or a genuine attachment to the policies of the DLP - perhaps closer towards the former.
She keeps a small shop by herself with the skill she learned in wage employment, and her husband, who drove a taxi for a long time, has recently given up operating a kosiwôn (exam cramming dormitory).

So the DLP and small businesskeepers? They are among the people that DLP aims to represent. From here it's difficult to say if there's been any special interest among the petty self-employed other than the increase of the party's following in general.
Of course it's not just the small businesskeepers that have complaints of the inequalities of wealth and inequalities in front of the law in Korea, but these are issues that DLP could draw on. What will be more difficult is to convince them to let the government take a bigger part of the national economy than before; DLP's "wealth tax" (puyuse) wouldn't be applied to the people I'm talking about (as far as I know), but implementing all the policies about education and health care would in the end mean a higher (or less light) tax burden also for them. I'm thinking only of the deep suspicion that virtually all the people I talked with had towards the national pension system (kungmin yôn'gûm) when it was applied also to the self-employed some years ago.
Perhaps more about this later.

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Saturday, April 17, 2004

(Small businesses) Marketplace politics

Ohmynews ponders why Chông Hyông-gûn (Chun Hyoung-geun or something, 정형근) of GNP got elected from his district in northern Busan. Chông is quite notorious for his time in the An'gibu (Security Service) and has been accused of torture, but that doesn't bother Buk-gu people in Busan. Got to make this short as I'm on a dial-up connection, but I want to pay attention how the site where the writer has gone to find it out is a marketplace (chaerae sijang).
젊은층은 좀더 심도 있는 분석을 내놨다. 취업을 준비중이라는 박모(남·28)씨는 "북구는 대부분 경제적으로 어려운 분들이 많이 사는데, 이 분들에게 아무리 '민주주의' 이야기를 해봐야 한계가 있다"며 "이곳 민심은 당장 뭐 하나라도 줄 수 있는 사람을 고르는데, 아직까지는 한나라당이 이곳에서 '정신적 여당' 역할을 하고 있다"고 전했다.
Difficult to expect much progressiveness or reform-mindedness there, in an economically not well-off area, but that alone doesn't conclusively give the edge to the GNP, who still enjoys a home-court edge, if diminished.

Here's a politician on a marketplace visit: Park Jin of GNP greeting his supporters in Jongno-gu in Seoul after getting elected. Picture linked from Yonhapnews.

(Thanks to Marmot for the link.)

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Life of a temporarily employed (pijônggyujik)

A good feature article in Ohmynews about a woman who has been working as a temporary employee in various banks since the late 90s after being laid off from a bank after 13 years' service and who is about get fired (or more formally, whose contract is about not to be renewed).
What is quite remarkable is that her salary has been 1/3 of that of the permanently employed despite of the almost similar work; she gets some million W (670 €) a month, with 15 years' experience counted. Don't know what the basis is for this big difference in wages. From the article:
허씨에게도 좋은 시절이 있었다. 1983년 상고를 졸업하고 13년간 B은행에 다니는 동안 그는 아쉬울 게 없는 직장인이었다. 하지만 1990년대 중반 은행권에 구조조정의 태풍이 불어닥치면서 허씨도 명예퇴직 대상자가 됐다.
허씨는 B은행을 그만둔 뒤 3년만에 C은행에 계약직으로 취직했는데, 당시 월급은 B은행을 퇴사할 때의 30% 수준에 불과했다. C은행 시절 허씨를 더욱 힘들게 만든 것은 돈보다도 재계약에 대한 스트레스였다.
정규직보다 많은 실적을 올리고도 6개월마다 가슴을 졸이며 재계약을 하는 것이 너무 괴로워 2년만에 사표를 썼다. 그 뒤 금융권은 정규직이 빠져나간 자리에 경쟁적으로 비정규직을 채우기 시작했고, 허씨도 A은행 비정규직으로 재취업하게 된 것이다.
What, half of the jobs in Finnish banks disappeared in the rearrangements (kujo chojông) after the economic crisis of the early 90s, so welcome to the developed world, Korea.

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(Elections) A bearded member of parliament!

Kang Ki-gap of DLP was elected as a proportional representative to the national assembly. The following quote is from Ohmynews:
강기갑(52) : 경남 사천에서 축산업을 하고 있으며 사천농고를 나와 1976년 가톨릭농민회 활동을 하면서 농민운동에 뛰어들어 전국농민회총연맹 부의장을 지냈다. 수염이 유명한 강 당선자는 전농의 조직적 지원으로 비례대표 6순위가 됐다. 긴 수염과 개량한복을 즐겨입으며 쌀 개방과 FTA 반대 집회현장을 주도했고 이경해씨가 자살했던 멕시코 칸쿤에서 경찰의 바리케이드를 철거하는 데 앞장서기도 했다.
Raises livestock in Sacheon, Gyeongnam; been active in Catholic Farmers' Association, was the vice president of Korean Peasants League (Chônnong/Junnong) and became a proportional candidate with the Junnong mandate; famous for his beard, likes to wear a modern hanbok (kaeryang hanbok). Has been active in resisting the opening of agricultural markets, and was breaking barricades in Cancun.

The election of a bearded person to the parliament of the Republic of Korea is a positive sign of the times. It serves correct that the person mentioned in the posting below, who adviced me to shave off my goatee beard as we were sitting at a table in a funeral party eating and drinking, did not get elected. Freedom to the facial hair! 수염을 석방하라! 아니 이게 아니고 뭐라더라...

Thursday, April 15, 2004

두표, 개표 (완전 수정)

The final election results in a table linked from Hankyoreh.

The voting percentage was only 59.9%, which is a very low figure. From "my district" Gwanak-eul, Yi Hae-ch'an (Lee Hae-chan), who I think was also the previous representativegot elected with 41.1% of the votes. Kim Ch'ôl-su (or Chul-soo) of GNP, who has made his face quite known in my neighborhood there, was 2nd with 33.3% of votes. Kim owns the Yangji Hospital near Sillim-dong subway station, and has the both sides of his business card full of jobs and functions. He is likely to get quoted in my dissertation for saying in a neighborhood funeral that "this is like in a village."
Lee Hae-chan    Kim Chul-soo

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Nan'gok photography exhibition, and my own pictures

The photographer Kim Yeong-jong (김영종) has opened a photography exhibition in Savina Museum on the now disappeared Nan'gok hillside settlement, tells The Hankyoreh. For those residing close enough, the gallery address is Jongno-gu, Anguk-dong 159 (road instructions).

Nan'gok was a hillside settlement or a squatter village in Sillim 7-dong, Gwanak-gu, which was formed after squatters were evicted from downtown Seoul, loaded into trucks and taken to the southern Seoul, and given pieces of land on a hillside area. (As I understand, they were allotted small pieces of land on which to first raise their tents and later build their shacks, but I don't know the administrative processes under which most of the houses in Nan'gok remained formally illegal or without permit [muhôga]). Nan'gok remained a last refuge for those who needed inexpensive housing and those had had to give way to housing development projects but couldn't afford to live in the new houses. Nan'gok was famous for being "the last hillside settlement" (or "moon neighborhood", taltongne for being so high on the hills and close to the moon), and it was a favorite destination of social activists, researchers, journalists, and occasional foreign onlookers... While there certainly were many people who were sincere in willing to help the poor and displaced in Nan'gok, there was also a lot of romanticism and nostalgia for "real human life" and "human odor" (saram naemsae). (I write it "Nan'gok" to separate the syllables nan 蘭 and kok 谷, "Orchid Valley".)

Nan'gok had for a long time been on a housing redevelopment list, but the construction work had been delayed for longer periods for people's unwillingness to move and for the bankruptcy of the construction company, if I remember correctly. In 2000 people had begun moving away, in 2001 the place was already very quiet, and in summer 2002 less than 100 families remained of what had once been a home for thousands of people.

Now that the photographer mentioned above has opened a photography exhibition, I'll also have mine. I never visited Nan'gok during my longer periods of stay in Korea, but went later to take a look at the place on three occasions, in 2000, 2001 and 2002. It was never anything else than sightseeing, "tourism of poverty", for Nan'gok was indeed a very impressive, photogenic sight of a mat of small grey houses spread over a hillside. In my last visit I ended up talking and sympathizing with people who were member of the renters' association. Those were people last to remain, for as renters they got a much smaller compensation for removal than houseowners, who by that had already left the place. They tried to resist the clearing down of the last houses and demand compensation that would have allowed them to find decent housing elsewhere, but at the end their efforts must have been in vain. I have no idea what has become of them.

Before my own pics, a few examples of what has been behind the development of neighborhoods such as Nan'gok.

Do-dong, Seoul, in 1957.

The Do-dong of that time is close to Seoul railway station, and is called something else nowadays. When settlements of rural migrants like this in downtown Seoul were cleared away, places in outskirts of town like in the picture below sprang up. Nan'gok has looked something like in these pictures before more proper houses were built.

Click here to see the picture in full.

Picture linked from the Visual Anthropology Archive.

Gwangju-gun, Gyeonggi-do in 1971. People evicted from downtown have been taken to a field outside Seoul. From this kind of tents, people begun to build houses from whatever they could get their hands on. In some places, the housing remained in the substandard level of Nan'gok, in others either the increase of the wealth of the residents or development projects by the authorities transformed the areas to small housing neighborhoods (chut'aekka) or to apartment blocks (that we all love so). Picture linked from Chosun Ilbo photography database.

Now to Nan'gok in 2000-2002.

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
Nan'gok seen from the road above.

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
An alley close to the top of the hill.
(c) AL 2000

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
Honam Sanghoe; there were a lot of people from the Chôlla (Jeolla) province (Honam) living in Sillim-dong.
(c) AL 2000

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
Fortune teller's (or shaman's) swastika flag.

All the religious denominations and forms of folk religion were well represented in Nan'gok, small Buddhist temples (am) and Protestant prayer houses (kidowôn) existing side by side (I think there might have been a Catholic one, too). (c) AL 2000

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
(c) AL 2000
The beauty of poverty; Nan'gok made an impressive sight, with the neighborhood spreading on the hillside, and the rest of Seoul visible far to the north of the river. An apartment block was under construction at that on the top of the hill in Sillim 10-dong; Nan'gok is going to look the same. During the big rains and floods in 2001, it was said that one reason why so many people were killed in the low-housing neighborhood on the other side of the hill was that the hillsides covered with concrete and asphalt couldn't absorb the rain as before.

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
A public toilet. (c) AL 2000
 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
미니 슈퍼. 2000년3월24일. Mini Store. March 24, 2000.

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
경찰서 앞에 세워진 선전탑. 2000년3월24일. "Smiling and conversation." March 24, 2000.

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul
학교에서 집으로 돌아오는 아이들. 2000년3월24일. Children returning from school March 24, 2000.

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

 난곡 Nan'gok, Seoul

Nan'gok in September 2001.

Nan'gok in Seoul, 2001
A house which has been cleared away: clay walls with a thin concrete covering.
(c) AL 2001

Nan'gok in Seoul, 2001
I think it's the green dome of the parliamentary building in Youido that's visible in the upper middle of the picture. (Click here for a large 2304x1503 picture to open in a new window)
(c) AL 2001

Nan'gok in Seoul, 2002Honam Sanghoe in 2002.
Most of the surrounding houses had been torn down.
(c) AL 2002
Nan'gok in Seoul, 2002Kwanak sanghoe; sanghoe(商會) is an old-fashioned term, which has mostly given way for super or mart.
(c) AL 2002
Nan'gok in Seoul, 2002The head of the renters' association (난곡세입자다모임), who asked to be photographed.
 Nan'gok in Seoul, 2002A kamjat'ang meal in the association's office, which had originally been a laundry. (c) AL 2002

 Nan'gok in Seoul, 2002">
"Against tearing down the empty houses" in the banner.
These people did not insist living in these substandard houses with all the social stigma it brought to them and their children; it was more a question of affordable housing, the reason these people were remaining here in the first place.
(c) AL 2002

Picture from Chosun Ilbo April 30, 2003.

Update: I'm not sure if this is relevant for South Korea, where the major part of slums (actually a word one never hears used of Korean neighborhoods) or poor neighborhoods have been quite succesfully transformed into better housing, with all the social cost involved, but there's an article "Planet of Slums" in New Left Review by Mike Davis (via Keywords).

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