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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Friday, April 23, 2004

(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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