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Monday, May 03, 2004

Society through the back seat of the taxis

Chosun Ilbo has collected recent talk of taxi drivers and presented it on two occasions on the top of its homepage: "Tried to console a bankrupt entrepreneur, but get only stress myself". Mostly sad stories of bankrupt entrepreneurs and people driven out of their homes by credit card debts.
정태규(39·경력 16년)씨는 “자영업자가 더 힘든 것 같다”고 말했다. 아침 7시 청계천 7가에서 태운 남자 옷집주인 이야기다. “목 좋은 가게에서 밤새 여자 스커트 한 장 팔았대. 술이 취해서 ‘가게 불질러 버리고, 시골 내려가고 싶다’는 거야.” 그는 “새벽 3시에 태운 노량진 호프집 주인은 ‘2만원 팔았다. 밤새 가게에서 TV 보기도 지겹다’고 한탄하더라”고 말했다.
"How come there are so many housewives working in noraebangs"; "taking so many couples to the court", "tried to dissuade middle school girls to go the brothel quarter (yullakka), but they just told me not to interfere." The theme in the second part is the "downfall of the family." Many of the quoted stories are about taking married women to and from work in noraebangs or other entertainment facilities. Not that working in places like those wouldn't put families in jeopardy in many places, but there is so much demand for that in Korea. The drivers to whom the article gives a voice have an opinion that both the women who answer to calls to come and hop around "like grasshoppers" and the fact that 3 hours as a "karaoke assistant" gives the same pay as 12 hours doing dishes in a restaurant are to blame.
김성일(44·경력 2년)씨는 ‘주부 도우미’ 얘기를 꺼내자 “식당에서 설거지하면 돈 못버나!”라며 버럭 소리를 질렀다. “얼핏 들으면 ‘2차’ 나가는 걸 좋아하는 것 같아. 버는 돈이 팍 오르니까. (아줌마들이) 스스로 ‘메뚜기’라고 해. 부르는 곳이 많아 여기저기 뛰어다닌다고.” ‘2차’는 손님과 잠자리를 함께하는 윤락행위를 뜻한다. 홍석규(36·경력 3개월)씨는 “식당에서 12시간 일할 거 도우미 3시간이면 버는 세태가 문제지…”라고 말했다.
한완수(41·경력 5개월)씨는 얼마 전 “집에 들어가기 싫다”는 40대 남성을 태운 일이 있었다. “아내가 ‘노래방 도우미’라 늘 늦게 온대. ‘2차’도 가는 것 같지만 모른 척 한대. 아이 교육비가 아내 호주머니에서 나오니까. 아내가 잠이 든 다음 들어가고 싶대. 딴 남자와 놀다가 술에 절어 들어온 아내를 대하기 힘들다는 거지.”

"There are so many couples of which the man sits in the front and the woman in the back, that a middle-aged couple sitting together on the back seat looks like having an extramarital relationship."

I thought the family was supposed to have collapsed already during the IMF era. Not that the trends seen by the taxi drivers would not be real, but these articles surely can be read with the Chosun's attitude towards the government in mind. (By the way, the two middle school girls who in the article headline seemed to have gone to the brother quarter, did not go after all.) Chosun's most recent editorial is worried of the trend that poverty is increasinly seen as the fault of the system.
특히 주목할 부분은 이런 견해가 2002년 39.5%에서 2003년 48.5%, 올해 52.9%로 매년 늘어나고 있는 것이다. ‘세금을 더 걷어서라도 국민 복지 수준을 높여야 한다’는 견해가 31.9%→39.2%→42.8%로 늘어난 것도 같은 맥락이다. 우리 국민의 시각이 급속하게 방향성(方向性)을 갖고 기울고 있음을 보여주는 숫자들이다.

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