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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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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Women work - Women's life in statistics

Joongang Ilbo tells that the majority of married women (actually "housewives", chubu 主婦) in their 40s are having an extra job for the need to contribute to household expenses. The thing is that an increasing number of married women are seeking employment (but what kind of employment) as the families are having more and more difficult to cope with only the income of the father. (This piece of news comes actually from the recent Statistics Office publication "Women's Life in Statistics" (T'onggyero ponûn yôsôngûi sam). (The page at NSO where the report can be downloaded; the 80-page document as a 2.4 Mt hwp file and as a 4.3 Mt pdf file.)

The proportion of economically active women in their 20s is 60%, in their early 30s 49% [women in their early marriage, after giving birth to children], but rises again to 64% among women of 40-44 years of age [when children don't need constant attention any more].

The figure to the right: Women's economic activity after 15 years of marriage. Has not been working: 40.2%, quit work after getting marriage 11.8, went back to work after marriage 11, had work for the first time after marriage 29%, continues working from before marrying 7.9%.

These women are good work force for businesses. As they are not expected to make a living with the wages but only to contribute to the household expenses, they can be paid low wages; women's pay is 64% of men's salaries, tells the article. (Now I don't know whether this is the general wage level, or the difference of pay in similar occupations. Most likely the former.) It's a bit like arûbait'û (Ger. arbeit, through Japanese, meaning part time work not meant to provide a living), in which ridiculously low wages can be paid.

Women seeking salaried work or self-employment is of course nothing new, but it makes news when supposedly middle-class women need to do it, and when middle-class men are no more able to provide for their family.

Looking at the original document, women's overall participation in economic life is 49% in Korea. In Finland, 72% of women of 15-64 years of age belong to work force, 63% are occupied. Now this might look like a proof of women's freedom, but it tells as much how lousy men's salaries are...

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Seoul Digital City blog

See an interesting blog Seoul Digital City by Anthony, who's doing his research project on the Korean broadband phenomenon.

The following quote is from a post "Is Korean Cyberculture Just Regular Old Korea On Broadband?"
The following short quote doesn't do justice to all the interesting stuff that's in there, but just to give a taste:
Here's a massive oversimplification of what's feeding into this:
• pc bangs = broadband version of boardgame bangs, dvd bangs, pre-Internet bang culture (thanks to Kim Mook Han for this bit)
• whiz-bang look of Korean websites = Seoul/Korean streetscapes and their signs
• ubiquitous broadband = Korean high population density and urbanization
• video games broadcast on TV = Go broadcast on TV (yes people watch people play chinese checkers here)
I especially like the idea to compare the "whiz-bang look" of Korean website to the urban Korean streetscapes. I wouldn't dare to take the idea beyond aesthetic sensibilities yet.
These ideas and the contents of Anthony's blog are interesting especially as the neighborhood and the small businesses there that I've been doing working on are often seen if not antithesis but being lacking severely behind in the modern project of Korea. (Not that it would lack the PC rooms...)

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Retailers hoarding cigarettes before price hike

Small shop selling cigarettes in the now demolished Nan'gok neighborhood. (c) AL 2000The government is going to rise cigarette prices later this year, so retailers are hoarding (sajaegi) cigarettes. Cigarette shippings last month were 42% up from last year.
KT&G (Korean Tobacco & Ginseng?) supplied 7.5 billion (75억) cigarettes to retailers this May.
The actual wholesale and retail sales of foodstuffs and cigarettes were down from last year (6% and 3%), so retailers' stocks are pretty full.

And finally a piece of anti-smoking agitation:

People should be prohibited to smoke for at least 5 minutes before they board the commuter train. Man it's revolting to have a chainsmoker with a stench of a freshly smoked cigarette sit down next to me. At least the one bad-smelling guy always sits on the same coach, so I know to avoid that place, but there are always others.
There was this famous Finnish sports educator who's said to have told, when asked if he doesn't mind about smoking in his presence, that "no I don't mind if it's ok that I fart."

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Monday, June 28, 2004

(Social strata) Acquisition of domicile by educational level

Counting the time how long it takes to gather funds to become an owner of a home (usually apartment) is one way to make social differences tangible in Korea. Chosun Ilbo quotes a small piece of research done by some kind of a research center operated by a big real estate agency, which instead was done by using data from Korea National Statistic Office.
For a university graduate, the time to become an owner of an apartment of 25 p'yông (82.5 sqm) is 15 years and for a high school graduate 15 years. The difference that education makes is getting bigger.

The calculations were made by using the average income and expenses of families with the "family head" (kaguju 家口主) having the respective level of education.
High school grad family: monthly average income 2.8 mil.W [1850€], expenses 2.3 mil [1500€]; if the remaining sum is supposedly saved, it'll take 24 to gather funds for a 82.5 sqm house that costs 224 million W [150 000€].
University grad family: monthly average income 3.9 mil W [2600€], expenses 3.1 mil [2000€]; takes 15 years 4 months to save for an apartment with the remainder.

In 2001, the respective numbers of years were 15 years and 12 years 11 months. After 2001, the average income difference between high school and university graduates has grown from 600 000 won to 1.12 million won.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004

blog censorship

I'm still wondering what to do with the fact that access to this site among all the other blogspot and other major blog providers is blocked from the Republic of Korea. It is perplexing even more as no support can be expected from "the Korean public" in making the claim that indiscriminate access blocking ends up being censorship.

To send "a note of concern" to the local embassy here? They of course have no leverage anywhere, and most likely couldn't care less, but perhaps they should be aware of the harm these measures do to the image of the country they represent. To prepare a text in Korean, showing the double standard and the anti-democratic attitude of the measure, and spread it around?

But as said, very little sympathy from within Korea can be expected.
Still, it's difficult not to anything either, since we can't know what the next step could be.


On the left, a woodcut print from 1987, which has become the landmark of the 1980s minjung art, based on a photograph of dying Yi Sang-yôl who had been hit on the head by a teargas canister in a demonstration.
On the right, woodcut picture of Kim Seon-il who was murdered in Iraq, carried in a recent demonstration in demanding the withdrawal of the decision to send additional troops to Iraq.

And yet another reappreciation of an important event in the recent Korean history in connection with Kim Seon-il's murder. A "Voice of people" site banner calls for "his death not to be in vain" (그의 죽음을 헛되이 하지 말라), reusing the words of Jun Tae-il (Chôn T'ae-il), who made a self-immolation suicide in 1970 against the inhuman conditions in factories: 나의 죽음을 헛되이 말라.

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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Note on romanization

Felt like I could write a note on the principles of Romanization of Korean I use in this blog.

I write Place names with the current system in use in the Republic of Korea, notwithstanding my personal opinion of the system, because it is the official use: Busan, Inchon, Gyeonggi-do etc. are official names of those places. In case I ever need to write a DPRK place name, I won't use the Southern system.

Personal names I write either in the preferred form of the person in question, in case it's well known and I'm aware of it, or in a McCune-Reischauer romanized form. I might the name in both ways, if I need to have the pronunciation made clear or if I'm not sure of the person's own preference. As the practice for the form of the personal name is never consistent in South Korea, I feel free to be consistent in writing a hyphen between the syllables and write the second syllable with a small letter (Moo-hyun, Jung-il etc.).

For Nouns and sentences I will stick with the McCune-Reischauer system of Romanizing Korean, to which I've been accultured and accustomed, and it continues to be in use in humanities and social sciences. I find it preferable over the old system in writing Korean-language terms or longer sentences in Korean, and for me words are more recognizable written that way. I just can't see for example "credit bill" (어음) written eoeum instead of ôûm.(When doing research in Korea and making hasty notes on people's talk, the fastest and the most recognizable way to write the Korean words and sentences was to have them in a Romanized form.)
The Mc-R system has the vowels 어 and 으 written with an overturned moon-shaped diacritical mark over o and u; for the convenience I just take ^ from the keyboard to make ô and û. (Don't know about others, but this kind of keyboard in use in Sweden and Finland has this option at hand without any extra adjustments.)
I'll of course have Korean and Chinese characters every now and then: for clarity, when I haven't taken the trouble to translate a quoted passage, or just to make an impression...

The age of the Google is nevertheless having its impact; I often find myself thinking that perhaps the Korean terms should also be in a googlable form. People won't be searching for Korean terms with the McCune-Reischuerian ô's and û's.
A few links:
The Revised Romanization of Korean
McCune-Reischauer system of Korean romanization
McCune-Reischauer Romanization table

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Increasing difference in body size between the South and the North

Professor Park Sunyoung of the Department of Anthropology at Seoul National University has presented a paper on her study of the differences in height between South and North Koreans, the northern data based on refugees in the south (through Media Daum).
The northerners in their 60s are pretty close to the respective average in the south, men 164.38 cm and women 151.77 cm (southern averages 164.10 and 151.20), but the younger the generation the bigger the southerners are compared to the northerners. For those in their early 20s, the difference is 6-7 cm: men 164.88/170.80 and women 153.97/160.60.
Park notes that the difference is going to grow even bigger for the younger generations, when the effects of the 1990s' food crisis (singnyang wigi) begins to take its toll. "If the nutrition of the North Korean children improves, there will be some increase in the height, but if the nutritional improvement takes place in the mid-teens, it's more likely to have effect on weight than height."

Any good ideas for education to prepare for the unification?

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Increase in soju sales (alcohol and social stratification)

Soju is the "ordinary people's" (sômin / seomin) drink, goes the common Korean perception. While the traditionally more middle- and upper-class drinks of whisky and beer are having trouble nowadays, soju sales keep on increasing (Yonhap, through Hankyoreh, and Chosun).

Soju sales in the first third (Jan-Apr) of 2004 are up 7.6% from the same period last year; the number of sold soju cases (30 bottles) was 33 888 000 as against 31 480 000 cases last year. That'd mean, by my quick count, 64 bottles or 23 litres of soju per ROK citizen a year. In 100% alcohol, it makes some 5.5 litres in soju alone.

The parties concerned think that 2nd and 3rd rounds in drinking binges are getting fewer, and people continue instead drinking in one place, which often is a restaurant where soju has been drunk with the meal.

I forgot to add that originally the alcohol tax has been decided on the social and economic class of the drinkers of the particular product, not the alcohol content. Soju, being the ordinary or poor people's drink, was taxed lightly, while beer and others were levied a heavier tax. (Around 1930, one bottle of beer cost twice the daily wage of a skilled worker and four times the daily income of a chige carrier, tells the book Modôn ppoi Kyôngsôngûl kônilda - click the red book in the sidebar under the header "reading" for the book details.)

Update 2.
More on social stratification and morality associated with different kinds of alcohol.
The minister of education and the highest education officials have been taking a lot of criticism for having drunk heaps of Western liquor (yangju) in an expensive restaurant while "the whole nation" was mourning Kim Seon-il who was murdered in Iraq. (Chosun Ilbo; the number of "100 character comments" for this short piece of news went over 350 in 7 hours; Ohmynews, as a top article on Friday afternoon Korean time.)

(Yangju 洋酒 means normally colored Western liquor like whisky or cognac. Once asked if vodka is classified as yangju, but the person couldn't really say. I think vodka is not yangju, since it's not that much associated with foreignness and the rich and the powerful.)

Update 3!
The ministry of education and Ulsan education officials have released material which should have proved that the minister and other top notches were not having expensive foreign whisky but Korean-made whiskey instead (through Naver News). They also claimed that the food and drinks did not total over 5 million won [3300€] but only 2.84 million [1900€]. The problem was that the emptied bottles of 17 years old Ballantines were visible in the video, apparently shot by a mobile phone. (One bottle of Ballantines was 250 000 won [170€].)
Bottles of Ballantines drank by high education officials while 'the whole nation was mourning Kim Seon-il'. Linked from Naver News.
As much as the killing of Kim Seon-il is/has become/has been made a national Korean issue, the people in high places drinking foreign liquor at a wrong moment has become an issue.

별것들 다 있네.

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substitute drivers (taeri unjeon)

I can't come up with a better term than "substitute driver" for taeri unjôn, that one can call to drive one's own car home or wherever. The most common use should be to have oneself and one's car driven home after getting drunk. Joongang Ilbo tells that as the number of substitute driver companies have increased rapidly ("like bamboo sprouts after the rain", uhu chuksun 雨後竹筍), the complaints have also increased. There are many drivers who have no insurance, so the customers find themselves having to pay the eventual damages and try to get the expenses back through court action. Small substitute driver companies may just simply close down and disappear if there's an accident. There are even companies which hire only women drivers, and we could guess what might be the idea behind that. And, as we talk about Korea, around prostitution areas there've been cases in which prostitutes pose as substitute drivers while engaging in their occupation.

There are about 8000 of these companies, with 150 000 persons (sounds like a lot) occupied. The competition has brough down prices, and in Seoul there are some who take 9000W for a gig within the same gu, or 1000W for one kilometer. Mr Maeng tells that the company gives 20% of the fare to the driver, and since there are no taxes, the pay is quite ok (ssolssolhada).

Photography book on Korean War published

The writer Pak To (or Park Do, can't know for sure) published this spring in Ohmynews a long series of photographs, which he had collected from NARA (US National Archives & Records Administration). (The series "Korean War in Photographs at Ohmynews). I used to link extensively to the series, so let it be said also that Pak has published a book with some 500 photographs with the name 지울 수 없는 이미지 ("Unerasable Images", Noonbit Publishers) (from Chosun Ilbo).

Can't tell what the book is like, but the photographs we've seen in Ohmy are heartbreaking, sad, sometimes horrible, definitely worth seeing.

Here are a couple of examples:
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

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Tracking Ramstedt's scholarship on Korea

I wrote some time ago that a filming crew from KBS will be coming around to make some documentary on the early 20th century Altaic linguist G.J. Ramstedt, who for example published the first linguistically valid grammar of Korean in 1939.
I went briefly to an archive couple of days ago to see what kind of a filming material his notes on the Korean language would make. Fascinating to see the heaps of word slips with the Korean word written on top, the explanation an the tentatively corresponding term in a Tungusic language or Mongolian, and the notebooks for learning and studying Korean. There was a notebook with "Telegrams" written on the cover - Ramstedt was a "diplomatic minister" to Japan then - with a few pages of recorded telegrams, and Korean language notes for the rest of the pages. Interesting thing is that there's quite little han'gûl overall in his notes. He had sribbled notes in Korean script when he was learning the language, but all the linguistic work seems to have been done by having Korean in a Romanized form.

Word slip of the word hae (해), with a tentatively corresponding word in a Tungusic language (I thing that's what the tung. means).

Will be guiding the tv crew for the next couple of days, so more Korea notes will follow after that.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Economy tidbits

As long as I've been following things in Korea, the talk has been that the rift between department stores frequented by the rich and smaller outlets of the "ordinary people" is getting bigger; this especially around '99, when Korea was still "under the IMF era".

Hankyoreh tells that dept stores are extending their customer base still. Lotte Department Store had 38 000 customers who purchased for more than 10 million won [€ 6700]. Hankyoreh titled the piece "Dept Stores' Big Hands (k'ûn son) Increased"; "big hand" is a term usually referring to women who move around big amounts of money, and this is clearly what is meant here. (Update. Thanks to a comment, the sum above in € has been corrected to 6700.)

Taxi fares will rise next year (Hankyoreh), as the fare for the number of passangers and the nighttime fare will change.

"Morning Well", a mandu company now revealed to have used substandard materials for its products, has been awarded food safety prices for three consecutive years (Hankyoreh). Korea Management Association (한국능률협회) and its subsidiaries have been responsible for most of the awards.


Joongang Ilbo tells of the recent food safety control campaign of the police. In 588 cases 633 persons have been apprehended, and of them three arrested. The rather expected criticism is that this kind of structural problems in food safety administration cannot be solved by temporary campaigns.

The illustration linked from Joongang is about a poultry industry man who used industrial resin to remove duck feathers, and about a case in which Chinese chili powder was marked as Korean. [I think I've heard that kind of cases before...]

Friday, June 18, 2004

"How to Read Donald Duck" published in Korean

도널드 덕, 어떻게 읽을 것인가 - 디즈니 만화로 가장한 미 제국주의의 야만"How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic", written by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart in 1971 (in Chile during Allende's presidency) has been published in Korea by the name 도널드 덕, 어떻게 읽을 것인가 - 디즈니 만화로 가장한 미 제국주의의 야만. (Actually it came out already one year ago, but Ohmynews has a story on it now.) Perhaps the book has its audience once again in the West as it surely had when it first appeared, but in Korea there should be readership willing to get the message, even before getting acquainted with the comics.

Finnish publication of 'How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic'My impression is that Disney's comics have never been that widely read in Korea, at least compared to what they're here. I mean, a whole nation identifying itself with Donald Duck (and not with Mickey Mouse); national police swat team naming itself "Beagle Brothers"; Carl Barks, the most famous of the Disney cartoonists, parading through Helsinki for cheering crowds together with the Helsinki mayor during his visit in the early 90s; perhaps the same number of subscribers to the comics magazine in a nation of 5 million as in the whole US, and so on.
I'm afraid at least we've failed to reade Disney's comics in the way Dorfman and Mattelart would have predicted.

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(Korean language) Essay on cursing

Warning: "words of affect" below; if they were in my own language, I might not have them here, but in a foreign language, even when knowing that they are words that don't leave people cold, they don't move me that much. And this post is solely for the purpose of education. (This is hunjangûi karûch'im, right?)

Ended up on a scholarly-looking essay on cursing in Korean when googling for cannot remember what. I can't find the author of the essay, but he or she has apparently given a lot of thought on the subject.
Part one.
Part two.
Addition. These sites seem to open mostly in non-Korean coding so that the characters don't show. Changing the browser language coding to Korean should do.

Below are the chapter titles of the essay.

1. 序論(서론)
2. 욕의 基本(기본)
3. "좆"이 사용된 욕
4. "씹"이 사용된 욕
5. 身體(신체)에 관한 욕
6. 출생 및 사망에 관한 욕.
7. 조선 시대 刑罰(형벌)이 사용되어진 욕.
8. 욕 속의 개(犬).
9. 동물이 쓰이는 욕.
10. 직업에 관한 욕.
11. 그 밖의 욕.
12. 맺음말.
I'll finish with a good piece of teaching:

自知(자지)면 晩知(만지)라, 補知(보지)면 早知(조지)라...
--> 스스로 알면 늦게 알 것이요, 도와줘서 알면 일찍 안다. 컨닝을 합리화시킨 말.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

countryside 5-day markets, "disappearing"

"Disappearance" is a common term associated with forms of commerce which are thought to be non-modern, not of this era, but still existing. The "traditional marketplace" (chaerae sijang) in cities is one of them, 5-day markets (5-iljang) in countryside the other.
But at least during the quick phase of the urbanization and the growth of Seoul, the number of marketplaces and shops in those markets in Seoul grew faster than the population.
Seoul marketplaces Seoul inhabitants
year population in Seoul per marketplace shop

1960 2.4 mil 37 278
1970 5.5 mil 146 255
1980 8.4 mil 377 154
1990 10.6 mil 472 162
Figures used in counting from Seoul 20segi saenghwal, munhwa pyônch'ônsa [History of the change of life and culture in in 20th century Seoul], Seoul Sijông Kaebal Yôn'guwôn 2001.

The number of 5-day markets (held every 5 days) was 1200 in the end of 1960s, but around 650 at the present, according to the article linked below. But considering that the 5-day markets are held mostly in rural areas and that the migration to cities since 1960s has been huge, the reduction is not that dramatic as it seems.

Anyway, here's a Joongang Ilbo photographic story on a 5-day market. Just once again I pay attention how in stories like this the essence of Koreanness is depicted to be found in places like a 5-day market, the chôngsô, "mentality" of Koreans, the chông (情), humane affection. And the photographs are fine.

Upper left: Gangwon-do, Yeongweol-gun. Upper right: Jeolla nam-do, Gurye.
Lower left: Jeolla nam-do Gokseong-gun. Lower right: Jeolla nam-do, Haenam.

(All photographs from Joongang Ilbo.)

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some politics: Chu Dae-hwan for the head of the policy committee in DLP

The Democratic Labor Party ended up not getting wholly swept by the nationalist/unificationist/totalitarianist-minded NL-faction (National Liberation), as Chu Dae-hwan got elected for the post of the chairman of the Policy Committee (chôngch'aekwiw^n) (Hankyoreh). He won the election, fortunately, over Yi Yong-dae, whose statements include such gems as praising the "collectivism" in the DPRK over the individualism or saying that "homosexuality is an abnormality existing in capitalism".

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

(Social strata) Inequality between social strata in nourishment

In the table linked from Hankyoreh, a model of a high-income family at the top and a low-income family in the bottom. 유=diary products, 고=meat 곡=grains, 과=fruits, 채=vegetables
In an earlier post I remember thinking that the differences of healthiness of diet between social strata in Korea would not be that severe compared to the income differences, but perhaps I should correct my view. At least Hankyoreh gives the impression that the difference in the diversity and overall healthiness between income strata is severe.
The diet of the low-income stratum would seem to be healthy, as they consume very little meat and dairy products, but the specialists quoted in the article tell that it leaves the nutrition inadequate. (Where does the need to consume dairy products suddenly come? ==> Where did the Koreans get their calcium earlier, or did they just suffer from the lack of it, staying short in stature?)
On the other hand, those with adequate means to acquire sufficient food may suffer from both overnourishment and undernourishment.

Professor Pak Hye-ryeon is quoted in the final paragraph as follows: "it's thought that obesity is the most serious nourishment problem, but the undernourishment due to low income or reckless dieting is much more serious."

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

From wel-bing to wel-bin

I got a comment in my earlier post on the "well-being" trend that the new parodical twist of the "well-being" is "well-bin", in which the English "being" is substituted with the Sino-Korean pin/bin (貧), "poverty".

To put it briefly, the wel-bin people (welbin-jok 웰貧族) are people who manage to live a leisurely life with small expenses, by for example being prudent on what they pay in the restaurant (going Dutch), strictly paying only for what they've drank and eaten themselves.

Sounds like this was all about me.

There's a text in the "Open Dictionary" at Naver about the welbin-jok (웰貧族)

Cartoon of a welbin-jok who shares a soda, doesn't drink and pays only what he's had.

(A scene from a dinner in a kamjat'ang restaurant in Seoul, not really relevant for the topic of this post but anyway. Three Finns were present with bigger group of Korean grad students; at the moment when everybody stood up to leave for the next place, Koreans left their drinks as such on the table, but all of us three reached for the beer glasses to drink them up.)

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Monday, June 14, 2004

Pictures of late 1960s Korea

I cannot but thank Dr. Andrei Lankov for me ending up using my precious (?) time for something else than dissertation writing after he tipped me of a wonderful collection of photographs from late 1960s Korea, photographed by Mr. Neil Mishalov, recruit in the US Army stationed in Korea in 1968-69, mainly in Ansan.

Black and white photographs; those available at the moment are mainly from Seoksu-dong in Anyang, but more pictures from Anyang and Seoul will be available later.
Update. I decided to download a few of the thumbnails to my own diskspace as I did't manage to link them directly from Mr. Mishalov's site. (The site works fine nevertheless.)

A bigger photographs opens in a new window by clicking the pic

"New Seoul Workshop"; everything from car repair to welding

Color slides; Seoksu-dong, Seoul etc. Seeing Seoul without the high-rise downtown buildings in color gives a strange feeling; aren't color pictures supposed to be of our time and not of some different past.

Inchon in February 1969

Seoksu-dong, Ansan, winter 1969

All the pictures are scanned from film, so the quality of the digitalized images is good. The final number of pictures will be more than 1000, so be prepared to waste some good time if you're interested.

I myself haven't had time yet to browse through the more numerous color slide scans, but they as well as the black-and-white ones are definitely worth a look.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Legislation to ban ticket tabangs?

Some time ago, when taking a look at my trackbacks, I learned that googlewise this blog is the only site anywhere saying anything about ticket tabangs in English. (My earlier post on the subject.)

This time, Hannara-dang (Grand National Party) has presented a law bill which would outlaw the "ticket tabang" activity of the coffee houses (tabang / dabang). [In Hankyoreh.] (There's "tea" [ta 茶]in the name, but I prefer to call them "coffee houses" since it's coffee they mainly serve.)
The law would prohibit establishments without alcohol license to employ "service girls" (or whatever is a proper word for 유흥접객원), and also the waitresses (who apparently would be different from the yuhûng chôpkaegwôn) wouldn't be allowed to work outside the establishment.
The article says that unless a "ticket tabang" has not employed minors, there's been no basis for legal measures against them. Last year the "Minors' Protection Board" (청소년보호위원회) surveyed 1037 coffee houses in 36 cities and counties, and almost half of them had ticketing activity.

About what "ticket tabang" is, I again borrow the words of an acquaintance of mine who once contemplated of operating one - but never did that after all.
-- So what is this ticket tabang thing, how does it work? -- When a girl does a lot of delivering she may become closer (ch'inhaejida) with a customer, and then the man may ask the girl to accompany him/them when going to a noraebang or when going out… but when a girl leaves tabang to go out with someone she cannot do deliveries, so the man who asks the girl to go out has to pay a "fine" to the tabang, and that's usually more than the tabang would earn by the girl's deliveries, not necessarily but usually. The fine is 20 000 won an hour, or 250 000 won for the whole day. Whatever the girl may earn by herself during that time, that's her own income. And the girl is paid a monthly salary by the tabang, about 100-150 man won (1-1.5 mil. won), even 200 man W, and the tabang gets the ticketing money.

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Paparazzi in Venice, 2002

Lee Chang-dong's Oasis was shown in the Venice Film Festival in 2002, and the paparazzi was there to take the exclusive pictures. On the right director Lee Chang-dong (이창동), the current minister of culture rumored to be replaced soon; next to her Mun So-ri (문소리), the starring actress. The guy on the left in shades is Myeong Gye-Nam (명계남), a long-time movie industry figure, who is nowadays perhaps best known as a relentless supporter of Roh Moo-hyun and opposer of Chosun Ilbo.

(c) AL 2002

Our entourage was thinking of gatecrashing the after-party of the Oasis showing, but too bad we weren't successful in getting to rub shoulders with the future minister.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

(Urban space) Construction of Gangnam

Some Ohmynews writer has unearthed some interesting old photographs from the Gangnam area in the 1970s, before it was made what the modern Korea was about to be. It was mostly void of people expect some farmers, until Korean and Seoul authorities decided that Seoul should grow southwards to the other side of the river. Or Seoul had actually expanded south of the river already, for example evictees from downtown squatter areas had been taken over the river but to mostly southwestern parts; southeastern areas of Seoul were to become something else.

Pictures from Ohmynews, ⓒ2004 전대원
The site is Samseong-dong in Gangnam-gu, where the Teheran Street goes nowadays, close to Coex.

In the picture above, the white building is Gyeonggi High School, which was transferred across the river in order to encourage people to move there. Gyeonggi-go was the high school to enter SNU and the ROK elite.

This is what it looks like at Teheran-ro nowadays.

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Google search at the sidebar fixed

Max Christian tipped that I should try to fix the non-ascii character problem in the Google search at the sidebar by replacing
in the template code.

It worked! Now Hunjangûi karûch'im can be searched with any (?) characters - at least hangul and ô's and û's that I use in Romanizing Korean work.

Thanks, Max!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

G.J. Ramstedt, "knowledgeable teacher"

A TV crew from KBS is coming around in a couple of weeks to make a small piece of documentary on G. J. Ramstedt, Altaic linguist who did pathbreaking work in the first half of the 20th century on Altaic (Turkic and Mongolic) languages, and later during his time as a charge d'affaires of Finland in Japan during the 1920s learned himself Korean (after learning Japanese in a matter of months), researched it thoroughly and published the first properly linguistic grammar of Korean in 1939.

I haven't been taking Korean TV crews that much around, but this time it's likely to be more gratifying than doing sauna, Santa Claus and xylitol chewing gum stuff. There's also a somewhat sadder side in this, realizing that scholarship here has not been able to carry on Ramstedt's legacy in institutional terms.
This is not a question of lack of talented and dedicated researchers but lack of institutional resources. The producer of the TV crew now coming seems to have been under the impression that an illustrious scholar of Ramstedt's magnitude surely would have a research institute named after him, but little did he know.

Perhaps it was only the specific historic moment in the beginning of the 20th century that enabled the founding of a branch of scholarship, Altaic linguistics; Finland being a part of the Russian empire, which facilitated the fieldwork among peoples under the Russian rule, and a bunch of dedicated and talented scholars.

GJ Ramstedt and Ryu Chin-kel 람스테드와 류진걸Ramstedt as a scholar of Korean language; as far as I understand his grammar was extremely important, but his suggestions about the Altaic link of Korean have not stood the test of the time, except for perhaps some Korean governmental material, in which the even more obsolete hypotheses of the Ural-Altaic group is given life to connect Korean to for example Hungarian. (A Finnish businessman once asked me in Seoul if the talk about our language and Korean being related is true; I told that the most honest answer is that there is no connection, but we agreed that in cases when it helps selling stuff to Koreans, the two languages may as well be related.)

Photograph of G.J. Ramstedt and his Korean language informant Ryu Chin-kel (Ryu Chin-gôl), a Korean student in Japan, reproduced from Harry Halén: Biliktu Bakshi, The Knowledgeable Teacher. G.J. Ramstedt's Career as a Scholar.

For those interested residing in Korea, I'll let you know about the date and time of the program later.

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(Urban space) More about the new Seoul bus line system

Doesn't it make my blog look more scholarly when I add the authoritative-looking "urban space" in front of the title?

There's a quite thorough explanation of the new Seoul bus line system in Chosun Ilbo.
This is a rough chart of the new system:

Link to a Korean language explanation of the four kinds of bus lines by Chosun.

This bus line reform gives us also a change to observe the development of Anglo-Korean, as I'd like to call the originally English language elements in Korean (in the manner of Sino-Korean). The Korean-language explanation in Chosun Ilbo's page goes for example as follows:

• 간선노선 (Blue Bus) : 시외곽, 도심, 부도심 등 서울시내 먼거리 운행
• 지선노선 (Green Bus) : 간선버스와 지하철의 연계환승
• 광역노선 (Red Bus) : 수도권과 서울의 도심 · 부도심을 급행 연결
• 순환노선 (Yellow Bus) : 도심, 부도심 내 업무, 쇼핑 등 통행 수요 대응

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Heard at the marketplace (mandu scandal)

Ohmynews has a nice little piece about marketplace talk and practices in connection with the recent mandu scandal, in which sweetened horse radish (tanmuji) originally thrown away was used in making mandu. (Ordinary and sweetened radish from garbage was cleaned and dried and sold to food processing companies.)

Our department store does not sell mandu products in which non-edible stuffing has been used tells the text in the photograph from Chosun Ilbo.
The writer describes how she constantly hears and sees marketplace traders sell the bad stuff to restaurant keepers, and edible foodstuff to home consumers.
"You can't eat this, it's for restaurant keepers."
"This sweet potato has no taste. They'll do something of it in a Chinese restaurant."
"These potatoes are for businesses. I won't sell them to you. I'll give you good ones."

In the mandu scandal, the man who is said to be the main culprit, Mr Yi (Lee) of Ûttûm Sikp'um ("First-class Foods") is on the run. He was interrogated by the police but not arrested, and now he's evading the law with the help of his telecommunication skills, using his collection of cell phones and making calls mainly from payphones.

Below is the time chart of Ûttûm Sikp'um sales and authorities' measures against the company.

I never said anything even though I saw vegetable oil past its date being used in I won't say what.

Chosun Ilbo special page for the mandu scandal.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

(Korean society) SNU admittance, locality and social strata

A table provided in a Hankyoreh article shows that a disproportionate number of Seoul high school students are admitted into SNU, the top university as far as difficulty of admittance is concerned. 25% of high school pupils are in Seoul, but 39% of those admitted to SNU graduate from a Seoul high school. SNU itself has done the survey; it didn't make the more precise data on the northern and southern parts of Seoul public, as the discussion on high-school standardization (or abolition of the standardization) has been a bit heated lately.
The numbers of Gyeonggi-do are a bit surprising; 17.5% of high school students but 12% of the admitted to SNU; I've been under the impression that the Gyeonggi "new town" areas have been filled with education feverish families with the intent of getting their kids to the "best" schools there are. So it's time to have a more balanced view of Gyeonggi-do.

So the SNU is going to implement measures to select students more equally around the nation.
I still wonder whether this is going to alleviate the old idea that "to raise a horse, send it to Jeju island; to educate a child, send him to Seoul."
(Damn English with its gendered pronouns.)

Ohmynews has a piece on the same theme; among the 683 high-school graduates who were "adolescent heads of family" (ch'ôngsonyôn kajang), only 23 entered a university. Government welfare covers only until the age of 18, after which one is on one's own.
In a nation where 18% want to pay more taxes to finance social welfare but some 70% want the governmental role in welfare to be bigger (my earlier entry), the plight of these youngsters cannot be expected to get much relief soon.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

(Family and kin) Consolation money for an abandoned live-together partner

Every now and then the topic of living together before marriage comes up as a social issue in Korea, mostly as a consequence of a TV drama. I've yet to hear that it'd become a socially accepted thing, something that's done openly with the consent of the persons' parents.
Here's a small piece in Chosun Ilbo about a case, in which a man who had gotten a woman to live with him on the pretense of marriage had been sentenced to pay consolation money after he abandoned the woman to marry another.

Chôngjokwôn ch'imhae was the reason for which the consolation money was ordered; this Korean legalese is some difficult stuff, but this means approximately "infringement of the right for chastity." (Chôngjodae is "chastity belt", in case someone needs to know.)

Mr Choi had written a pledge (kaksô) for Ms Lee, in which he promised to marry her and take care of her as a husband. They lived together for 1.5 years, but ended up separated as Choi started being absent, and finally left their home alltogether and married another woman.

Lee failed a complaint against Choi on honin pingja kanûm, "having sexual relations on the pretense of marriage", but due to lack of evidence he was acquitted. She filed a compensation claim, which was decided on her favor on the basis of chôngjokwôn ch'imhae, and he was ordered to pay 30 million W [20 000€]

참 재미있는 나라. 한쪽에는 성(性)적인 개판이고 다른쪽엔 미풍양속을 지키는 척한다네.

This might be a good occasion to give the link to a page of Chosôn (Joseon) era erotic paintings I recently made, not because I was bored or because I didn't have more pressing things, but because... let's say I wanted to know how well a digital camera can substitute for a scanner. And the result is not that bad. The pictures I tried my method on only happened to belong to the genre of so-called "Spring pictures" (ch'unhwa or chunhwa 春畵, jap. shunga). The two painters, Kim Hong-do and Yun Sin-bok are well known for their Chosôn era genre paintings (p'ungsokhwa 風俗畵), which depict the daily life of both the yangban and commoners at the late 18th century.

Pictures of spring / 한국의 춘화(春畵)



In regard with the picture of a monk and a young woman above and a couple of others behid the "Pictures of spring" link, came to think of Buddhist monks in Korean sexual tradition. No doubt them being unmarried has them in a special position as far as sexual mores are concerned. Now that I think, stories of monks as sexual partners appear in all kinds of places, from Chosôn era official accounts to contemporary news of monks taking sexually advantage of believers and disciples.
- "The case of a wanton widow"; Mark Peterson in his Korean Adoption and Inheritance (Cornell East Asian Series, 1996) provides a case of a widow who kept a Buddhist monk as a lover, apparently before and after she remarried. (The picture on the right is "Waiting" (Kidarim) by Sin Yun-bok; a woman is holding a monk's hat while waiting for someone.)
- The lecherous monk as one of the figures in the Hahoe mask dance
- The endless cases of contemporary lecherous monks, demanding sex from temple customers, in the worst cases extorting money
- Contemporary stories of monks as favorite lovers;
- "The monk there in the temple, they say he's well endowed" (a pangakan keeper of a nearby temple which was his steady customer)

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

New people in party posts at DLP (updated)

Kim Chang-hyun, whose view on death penalty I noticed in this post, has been elected as the general secretary (samu ch'ongjang) of DLP (Democratic Labor Party). (He said that in socialist countries, death penalty on counterrevolutionary crimes is not necessarily against human rights, while in capitalist countries death penalty is an infringement of human rights.)
He is said to belong to the NL (National Liberation) fraction.

The new head of DLP is Kim Hey-kyong (Kim Hye-gyông), the former two-term representative of Sillim 7-dong in the Gwanak-gu assembly (see personal info in Korean) and a long-time activist in poverty relief work in Nan'gok, Sillim 7-dong (my earlier post on Nan'gok).

The selection of the head of policy council (?, chôngch'aek wiwônjang) went undecided, as no-one got the majority of votes; the top was Yi Yong-dae with 40%. The decisive vote will be held between him and the second most voted. Yi Yong-dae is the one who praised the wonderful collectivism (chiptanchuûi) of DPRK, unspoiled by capitalism. He also had the opinion that homosexuality is a capitalist aberration, which wouldn't exist in socialism.

The NL group, or the "National Alliance" (Chôn'guk yôndae) line, to which Kim Chang-hyun and Yi Yong-dae to my knowledge belong, have been contemplating on changing the party name to Minjok chajudang (民族自主黨), "People's Independence Party". One term that's been going around those circles is chusap'a (주사파), followers of chuch'e (juche) ideology, the DPRK-minded for short. It's difficult to discern who exactly belongs to which line, but these results mean that human rights in the Korean peninsula will not be a priority in DLP.

"National Alliance" (for Democratic Reunification of Korea?) (NADRK, 민주주의민족통일연합) people were not originally DLP members, but they joined and have now demonstrated what a collective and planned action can achieve.

We'll see what becomes of DLP; now it seems it's going to an opposite direction from what I'd seen desirable. 걱정된다.

The leftist columnist and esthetics scholar Jin Jung-gwon, who openly campaigned for DLP until the April election, has the following to say in a not-yet-published piece about these results (no time to translate, sorry), which pretty much sums up my own feelings:
북조선의 인민보다 북조선의 권력을 더 걱정하는 인민의 적들, 남한의 사형제도는 인권침해이나 북한의 것은 혁명을 옹위하는 정당한 수단이라 말하는 역사의 반동들, 동성애자가 "자본주의의 파행적 현상"이라는 도덕 파쇼들, 노래 한 자락 부르는 데에도 지도원 동무 허락 받는 것을 집단주의의 미덕이라 칭송하는 전체주의자들이 진보정당의 지도부가 되었다. 당에 들어와 툭하면 지구당이나 집어삼키던 종파주의자들이 당을 통째로 삼켜버렸다. 민주노동당은 더 이상 서민의 정당이 아니다. 적어도 당분간은 다 망해 가는 어느 한심한 봉건권력의 그림자일 뿐이다.
After watching this for several years, the agenda of those people is to make Democratic Labor Party into "People's Independence Party", which would do unification propaganda under the tutelage of North Korean Workers' Party.(수년 간 지켜본 바에 따르면, 저들은 민주노동당을 민족자주당, 즉 조선노동당이 주도하는 통일전선의 대상으로 만들려는 속셈을 갖고 있다.)

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

(Small businesses) "Remodeling" a marketplace

One among the hundreds of so-called traditional marketplaces (chaerae sijang) has been "remodeled", that is repaired and modernized to compete better with the discount stores and other large-scale retail establishments (Chosun Ilbo). This Ttukto sijang was opened in 1962, and its shopkeepers have been having some hard time after a discount store opened in the vicinity. The traders collected 1/10 of the construction expenses, and Seoul government gave the rest. So now there's an arc-shaped roof, proper sewage, properly paved roads and restored shop spaces. Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak opened the restored market, and politicians who have good use for some extra votes in the supplementary elections today on the 5th.

The renewed part of the marketplace, looks like a sundae alley.

People heard for the article have not very good prospects for the success of the renewed marketplace against the discount store, as there are said to be several marketplace shopkeepers who do their shopping in the neighboring discount store. There are 41 marketplaces which have been granted renewal funds from the Seoul government, and in 17 of these construction has been done. Seoul government is planning to have 160 of the total 312 marketplaces renovated until 2007.
(Around 1990, the official number of "traditional marketplaces" in Seoul was about 400; wonder if the number would have diminished that much in 10 years.)

I wonder if these places would get this much sympathy were they not so central in the political imagination as sites of "ordinary people". We don't see politicians going so much to discount stores or hypermarkets during election campaigning.

Additional story of the northern part of Ttukto Market, where renovation was not done. Seven years ago a road and a parking lot divided the market into a southern and a northern half, after which the latter's downfall begun.
Seems that the southern and the northern half are administratively not treated as one marketplace; the north side shopkeepers are not likely in the same association with the southsiders.

The non-renewed part of the marketplace.
On the left, "21st century eatery" (21 segi punsik), on the right, "Market rice mill" (Sijang pangakan)

Notice again the use of chông (jeong 情) in association with marketplaces. “콩나물을 사더라도 한 줌을 더 주는 정 때문에 재래시장을 계속 찾을 것 같다” and ‘우리 건어물’, ‘김가네 순대국’, ‘윤지포목’ 등 정겨운 이름의 간판

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Friday, June 04, 2004

(Anthro) On the "anthropologist" Patai's Arab Mind

Kerim Friedman at Keywords has a post about Raphael Patai's book The Arab Mind (1973), in which he reproduces a review on the work from 1973. Patai's book appeared in Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article as having been one "the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior."

Keeping kosi exam crammers from losing their mind

Chosun Ilbo has a piece of a "resting place" for government exam crammers, who are residing in huge numbers in Sillim-dong, southern Seoul. The article says there are some 30-50 000 exam crammers residing mostly in special dorms (kosiwôn). This so-called kosi-village is close to where I used to live; due to the continuous demand the neighborhood scenery was constantly changing in that part of the area, higher dorms and one-room apartments being built on lots which used to have smaller 2-3 story houses.

The place mentioned in the article is operated by a Catholic lawyer, teaching religion and giving a resting place for the exam crammers, who are said to have quite a lot of mental problems. And that's nothing to be surprised about, residing in the worst case years after years in a dog-house sized dorm room, reading for the exams, taking it and failing and doing it all over again.
There was this one case of a mentally unstable woman (see the picture) who went around Sillim 2-dong carrying some kosi textbooks with her, stopping at times in street corners to keep some kind of a monologue. With some of the neighborhood people we thought that she had most likely gone mad for excessive cramming, as "there were a lot of talk about cases like that."

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Hankyoreh's Economy 21 on "well-being"

Among the publications within the Hankyoreh company, the daily newspaper largely avoids the use of Roman characters, and neither uses Chinese characters except when necessary. It also tries to avoid using unnecessary loanwords; for example the football (soccer) terminology I noticed it using during the 2002 games was different from the rest of the media as for example "corner kick" wasn't k'onô k'ik (코너 킥) but kusôk ch'agi (구석 차기).

The language use in other publications differs from the flagship of the company, starting from the magazine names (Economy 21, Herstory). For example in the Economy 21 article I'll cite below, "cover story" is k'obô sût'ori and "illustration" is illôsût'ûreisyôn.
But this was supposed to be a post about "well-being". (Using English language terms and taking part in the well-being boom are still part of the same phenomenon.)

Economy 21 writes of the well-being boom and makes interesting observations. For example obesity is said to be becoming a marker of social strata.
최근 신세계백화점은 아주 흥미로운 조사결과를 하나 발표했다. 각 지점별 의류판매 현황을 분석해 보니, 강북쪽에 위치한 점포들에 비해 강남점 여성고객의 평균 허리 사이즈가 1인치 작은 것으로 나타났다는 것이다. (Sinsegye Dept store has found out that the waist size among women north of the Han river [Kangbuk] is 1 inch bigger than among women south of the river [Kangnam].)
Wellcome to the developed world, Korea. In the 1960s, protruding belly was called sajangbae, "company president belly", but seems that Korea is following the example of the West that better the education and income the less is the likelihood of obesity.
I'm not sure about the younger generations of less educated, but those of older generations that I know, being fat is not a problem. I guess as long as the more traditional Korean diet holds its position it's good, but those growing up eating milk and white bread for snacks it's going to look different.

(I repeat what I wrote earlier, that one part of the well-being fad is the women's responsibility to keep their office-working, hard-pressed, alcohol-drinking husbands from not getting sônginbyông (성인병), "adult diseases" or diseased associated with the increasing standard of living (elintasosairaus in Finnish).

In Finland where the income differences are among the smallest in the world, the differences in health among social strata are huge, much bigger than the differences in income would indicate and bigger than in comparable countries. One make a good guess of a person's social stratum by taking a look at a shopping cart in a supermarket. My hunch is that in Korea, the overall healthiness of diet between social strata is more even than here.

Still a few hours before I'll have my five-grain rice with fish and sallad lunch...

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

(Korean language) 건냉하다 / kônnaenghada / geonnaenghada

It wasn't difficult to grasp the meaning of the adjective verb kônnaenghada (geonnaenghada), which I'd never seen before, from the context in a noodle (kuksu) package text "store in a dry and cold place." Kôn (乾) is familiar from all kinds of dry things, just as naeng (冷) from terms connected with coldness.
Can't say for sure whether it's a term coined in Korea, as the two characters in front of hada can be found together in Chinese in their simplified form (干冷), - this said on the basis of some googling.

Not even the Standard Korean Dictionary gives the word, but other web searches (Google, Naver) show that it's used - but it seems only in telling people how to store food products.

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Venture boom (that went)

In a post couple of days ago about highly educated people with white-collar work experience seeking to make their living with street trading, there was someone selling 1000 won mandu (dumplings) who once had worked in a venture (pench'ô / bencheo) business. It was kind of a telling example of what happened to the venture hype. (Had it been pungôppang/pungeobbang instead of mandu, the contrast to venture business would have been even more poignant.)

Fish-shaped pastry pungôppang.

Some time ago I did a newspaper article search in KINDS about the appearance of the word venture (벤처), limiting the search only on Chosun Ilbo. It gives some idea of the "venture business" excitement a few years ago. Note that some of the appearances of the term do not refer to "venture business."

The number of appearances of the word "venture" (벤처) in Chosun Ilbo
1994 26
1996 144
1997 331
1998 340
1999 874
2000 1851
2001 915
2002 843
2003 494
2004 1/4 86

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

This kind of people might get elected to leading posts in DLP

The Democratic Labor Party is having elections for several leading posts, as the party statutes don't allow members of parliament to held party posts. And now some of the "national liberation" (NL) line followers have high chances of getting elected. For the NL fraction, the "national problem" (minjok munje) comes before democracy, human rights and all that Western, bourgeois stuff.

Kim Chang-hyunI'm not sure if this Kim Chang-hyun guy belongs to the NL/National Alliance (Chôn'guk yônhap) sphere, but this is what he had to say about applying "universal values" on socialist countries (read DPRK).

For example, death penalty in capitalist countries is being criticized as infringement against human rights and against civilization, but in socialism, carried out for the so-called counterrevolutionary crimes, death penalty cannot be absolutely criticized as an infringement of human rights."
인류의 보편적 가치를 구현하는 방법도 다 다를 수 있습니다.
예컨대, 사형제도는 자본주의 체제 아래서 반인권적이고 반문명적인 악제로 비난받지만, 사회주의 하에서 이른바 반혁명적인 범죄행위에 대해 사형으로 다스리는 것을 무조건 반인권적이라고 비난할 수는 없을 것입니다.

I have been wishing that DLP would show tendencies of developing towards Western European leftist parties, but looking at what many of the DLP party post candidates have been saying, it doesn't look that way. Perhaps my wish has been just bourgeois thinking wanting to force Western values on Koreans.
(Perhaps I should add that I've been for a long time wishing that South Korea would join the civilized countries and abolish death penalty)

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Distrust of the National pension

(Update on the bottom)
Remembering how negative all the neighborhood shopkeepers' attitudes towards the national pension plan were at the time of its implementation to cover also the urban self-employed, I'm not at all surprised to see all the news about the gowing dissatisfaction and mistrust towards the system (Hankyoreh, Ohmynews). There's been a text going around the internet pointing out real and imagined deficiences in the system. These articles also present alleged cases of unjustice in having the pension payments collected forcibly.
Seems that one of the biggest problems is that the pension system, in which people pay a portion of their income to the pension fund administered by the National Pension Corporation, is being implemented in a situation where people's incomes are not well registered. (And this is not only the authorities' fault.) This results into situations where someone getting 400-450 000 won a month from unemployment jobs has had to pay 40-50 000 a month because he didn't pay any during his previous 2 years' unemployment. Also wage earners fear they end up paying more and getting less than the professionals (doctors, lawyers) who are able to underreport their income.

South Koreans have a long way to go to attain a social democratic mindset... (My comments to a recently held social attitude survey by Hankyoreh)

Funny to notice that the demonstration was in the form of candlelight vigil; there was also a picture of someone who held a text "conscientious pension objector" (yangsimjôk kungminyôn'gûm kôbu).

Here are some comments from the people I talked with some years ago:
Hairdressing shop. How about the kungmin yôn'gûm like in this piece of news? – There are those systems, but you cannot trust the government (chôngbu). My husband (uri ajôssi) paid money to a fund (chaedan) while he was working (hoesae tanil ttae), but when he went to collect the money after he had quit the job (no longer didn't work) he was told that there's no money any more. You cannot know how these money is being taken care of or you cannot know if it's any good.
Restaurant. How about this kungminyôn'gûm (showing her the Chosôn Ilbo article)? You don't need that kind of a thing. Nararûl mot midôyo… Toni ôbsôbôjilkka poa… (Can't trust the government. They might waste the money) It has happened before that money has been gone (wasted or something) from places like that.
Flower shop. – How about this pension system (showing the newspaper clipping)? It's no good! Even that amount is a burden (k'ûn pudam). It's only taking money from the seomin and giving it to people already having money. (Her words are not exactly that but the meaning is.) – Kûrôm ûimu kaibirago hanûnde… –They can't make (force) people to join the system.

Joongang Ilbo has a big headline on the top of its homepage, that 72% regional insurance payers (chiyôk kaipcha) are not having their income properly reflected in the pension payments. (Or more precisecly, the tax authorities have proper income information of only 28% of the regional insurance payers.)

In the case of self-employed (small shopkeepers etc.), as the pension administration has no data on their income (or they don't have any taxable income), it charges an average pension payment of 74 000 W (50€) a month. One can file a complaint, but if one doesn't, it can lead to provisonal seizures (kaamnyu 가압류) later if the payments are not honored. And as the amount of payment is decided on the basis of income two years back, it can lead to considerable difficulties if for example one's business has turned worse.

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