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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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Saturday, October 30, 2004

"East Berlin incident" of 1967

The National Institute of Korean History (국사편찬위원회) has researched German documents of the so-called "East Berlin incident" (Tongbaengnim sakôn) of 1967, tells the Hankyoreh. At the time Germany (West Germany) considered severing diplomatic contacts with ROK after several Koreans residing in Germany had been abducted to Korea for charges of spying for DPRK. One of them was even German citizen; perhaps the best known of the abducted was the composer Yun I-sang. Six were given death sentence, Yun among them, but all were released after pressure from Germany and other governments. Germany sent three Korean diplomats packing for being involved in the abduction, but withheld further considerations of severing diplomatic relations after the assassination attempt on Park Chung-hee by DPRK commandos and the Pueblo incident in 1968. Pressuring further on the diplomatic relations issue would have endangered the efforts to release the abducted and hardened the ROK stand, was the German judgement.

At the moment the East Berlin incident is mainly remembered as a major spy fabrication incident; what is true though are contacts with DPRK officials for various reasons and unification idealism among the "perpetrators". It's also clear that DPRK cynically took advantage of all that, sending operatives to approach South Koreans in Germany disguised as professors. (A short article in Korean in Donga Ilbo's weekly from '97)

(Jo Jung-rae in his novel Han'gang, which also has some of its characters go to Germany in the 60s as nurses, miners and students, depicts one character witnessing ROK and DPRK official holding a meeting in a restaurant back room.)

Funnily enough, East Berlin was the place where I knowingly met a Korean person for the first time. That was the last winter of the Berlin Wall; I was on a short vacation in West Berlin with my friend, and from there we could make a day visit to the East without visas. There, on the eastern side of the wall in Brandenburger Tor, was also a North Korean couple. I remember the man admiring my camera, which became a sort of a small joke between my and my friend: Cosina, oo!.

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Wages, and Samsung ownership

The Digital Mal, the site of the Monthly Mal has a couple of interesting pieces worth noting.

• "Where did all the high school graduates go?"; the Ministry of Labor has published statistics on wage structures. The article notes that even though the high school graduates are the biggest group in the labor market (43%), they are largely ignored in media and policies. When "youth unemployment" is talked, it refers to university graduates.
High school graduates' wages compared to uni graduates

Anyway, the proportion of uni graduates has doubled from 14 to 29% since 1990, reflecting the world's highest uni entrance rates.

The wage differentials between high school and university graduates has been slowly growing since the mid 1990s, after decreasing rapidly in the early 1990s (see the linked table).
The proportion of wage earners making no more than million won has remained the same, but those making more than 3 mil W are now 17% instead of 13% two years ago. (This is the issue of which there's been a lot of talk; the polarization of the labor market and the increasing differentials between the well-to-do organized workers in big companies, with good negotiation power compared to unorganized labor in small companies.)

I wanted to find some comparative material to put the Korean wage differentials into some context. Here are some Finnish figures on income levels an education from 2001 (pdf file source)

All employees 25 800 €
Middle school 21 900
Tertiary ed. 26 600 (corresponds to the Korean "high school"
Undergrad level 32 800
Grad level 40 000 (most uni grads in Finland are Masters)
Postgrad 49 600

The most common university graduation degree has been Masters, so the wage differential between those with university education and those with tertiary education in Finland is about the same as that between uni and high school graduates in Korea. Sure these figures are not that comparable, but still. In Korea the Gini coefficient has indicated a relatively even distribution of income, but the real differences in wealth, as also experienced and recognized by Koreans, come from capital income (stocks, real estate etc).

• About the Samsung famiglia (Lee Kun-hee et al) insisting of being allowed to continue the control of Samsung Electronics through the ownership of Samsung Life (article)
그동안 삼성생명은 보험 계약자들의 보험료를 끌어들여 투자라는 명목으로 계열사들의 경영권을 방어하고 동시에 지배권을 강화해 왔다. 공정거래위원회는 이런 악순환을 끊겠다고 나섰고 삼성을 비롯한 재벌 그룹들은 경영권 위기를 핑계로 필사적으로 저항하고 있다. 온갖 수단을 썼는데도 경제 살리기에 실패한 노무현 정부는 재벌 그룹들의 손을 들어줄 분위기다. 투자와 고용이라는 절대 과제를 이들이 쥐고 있기 때문이다.
경영권 위협은 물론 가능한 이야기지만 소설과 달리 실제로 그런 일이 벌어질 가능성은 크지 않다. 삼성전자는 SK보다 시가총액도 훨씬 크고 지분도 잘 분산돼 있다. 그리고 설령 경영권 위협의 가능성이 있다고 하더라도 이처럼 시장의 원리를 어겨가면서까지 무작정 재벌 그룹의 손을 들어줘야 하는가는 따져볼 문제다. 그들은 지금 그들의 영향력을 앞세워 우리 사회에 양보를 요구하고 있다. 그러면서 정작 그들은 그 무엇도 조금도 양보할 생각이 없는 것처럼 보인다.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Korea pics, more...

Done some more remodelling and additions on a few picture pages and fixed the linkage problems stemming mainly from my lack of any skill when making the picture pages earlier... (The photography page at my site) Click the pics below to enter (in a new window) some of the galleries:

Tavarantoimitusten tasavalta · Delivery nation · 배달 겨레

Nan'gok · 난곡 2001-2002

Venetsia · 베네치아 · Venice 2002 (2)

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Monday, October 25, 2004

Restaurant association ready for mass action

Korea Restaurant Association (Han'guk ûmsigôp chunganghoe) has decided it's time to take the masses to the street as the businesses are getting so bad (Chosun Ilbo, via Media Daum).
The association had sent a petition (allegedly signed by 135 000 out of the membership of 440 000) to lower taxes to President's office, Ministry of finance and each party, but as there was no response, it has decided to hold a mass rally in Yeouido on November 2.

"190 restaurants are closing doors each day because of the rising material prices and lack of customers, and by the end of the year 100 000 establishments will have closed and 500 000 become jobless, but the government does not regard restaurants as an important branch of business but sees them merely as excessive consumption (kwasobi)".

The association has prepared 500 buses to get members from the provinces to attend the demonstration, and 400 big iron pots (sot) are ready for the "kettle demo", "which is already making the police nervous". The demonstration is nevertheless going to be peaceful, says the representative.
The association is also considering general strike (yes, ch'ongp'aôp) in case their demands of lower taxes for foodstuffs is not met.

• The association; is the number of members really that big? Of wage workers, a mere 11% is organized, but a membership of 440 000 looks like enormous. I'm not aware that the membership would be compulsory as in the case of hairdressers' association, for example.

The membership details as an excel table; I have no reason to doubt the figure, but what I'd like to know is what percentage of establishments are members. In the case of Gwanak-gu, the association has 3731 members as of 2004. In 2002 there were 5771 restaurant and accommodation establishments (숙박 및 음식점업) in the area according to the officials stats of the gu. That'd mean much more than half of establishments were members. But what I don't even know is whether the association membership is counted in number of establishment or number of individuals. It would look like it was establishments.
The number of members in Seoul: 86 563; the number of accommodation and restaurant establishments in Seoul in 2002: 121 801 (392,784 employed) (business establishments by type, Seoul statistics).

At the time of my research it never even occurred to my mind to talk about any formal association with the restaurant keepers I was acquainted with. Other kinds of establishment, yes, like my hairdresser associates or Mr Pak (header photo, 2nd from right), who's at the moment or at least recently was some sort of head ("there were no other candidates") of the local chapter or rice bakery association (formally Han'guk sikp'um imgagongôp hyôphoe 한국식품임가공협회).
• Collective action by people who are not usually thought of as politically active but interested in their own affairs mainly; in case the association is able to take successful collective action I'll be impressed.
They also have the nerve to demand lower taxes (albeit for foodstuffs), as if small businesses like these were the mainstay of South Korean tax base.
• It's not of course the business of the restaurant association to say that there just might be oversupply of restaurant businesses, but it's not only on economically good times that a good deal of small (or big) restaurants go out of business.

Hm, I ended up sounding too negative; I'm all for better conditions for small businesses (as visitors to my blog may know); just somewhat sceptical towards the proposed action.

(Or is this just me being negative towards a restaurant keepers' association, of which I was ignorant enough not to inquire during my research...)

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

my own Korea pics

Spent some time on Friday making anew my photograph page (even though I should have more immediate tasks at hand...) A thumbnail to click to enter each gallery, and a new simple layout. (Below a snippet from the page: click the thumbnails to enter.) Should perhaps later work on the galleries to give them a more unified appearance; now some are with thumbnails and some not, some with both, and add pics that I've digitalized. The quality of the pics is in general not that good; most have been scanned from paper photos, some even by taking a digital photo of a paper photograph.

pesula · laundry · 세탁소

riisileipomo · rice bakery ·
떡 방앗간

kulta- ja kelloliike · jeweler’s shop · 금은방

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Friday, October 22, 2004

Unambiguous Korean

나무늘보 / laiskiainen / slothJust learned a new Korean word, the meaning of which, as soon as I understood it's about an animal, I immediately understood: namunûlbo (나무늘보), "tree sluggard." I don't even know the English name for this mammal which lives in trees and moves around very slowly. This is what Korean language could be, precise and descriptive instead of all the ambiguosity.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Some neighborhood shopkeeping

As I moved to our place a few years ago I needed to find a new place to get a haircut. I knew there would be a lot of barber and hairdressing shops "on the other side of the Long Bridge", in the traditionally working-class area just a short walk or one tram stop away from where the downtown part of the university are located, our institution included. I wandered around the neighborhood wondering which haircutting place of all the Korean-like multitude of establishments would be suitable. A couple of places where I dropped in were occupied, which seems to have been fortunate, as the place where my baby hair (Cheon wônjang's characterization) ended up getting cut turned out to be such an interesting place for an anthro who's been researching similar establishments in Korea.
It has been interesting to notice that in addition to me at least thinking that there's some of the personal interaction and "neighborhood sense" in that place that I witnessed in Korea, also the barbershop woman talks of the place in the same sense. How all get along well, how the atmosphere between shopkeepers is good etc. The woman is in many senses similar to her colleagues in Korea: assertive, self-confident, talkative - working on someone's hair is a "talking business" (malhanûn changsa) par exellence. Perhaps mostly due to the nature of hairdressing and barbering, making changes on one's outer appearance and being on a physical contact, it cannot but based on steady custom. (Not only shop proprietors rely on steady customers, but customers rely on steady proprietors.) In the case of Ritva's place, I was actually lucky to have been accepted as a customer; she told that she sees right away - with her 40 years' experience - if she can do the hair of a person well. If not, she sends him to another place. That's what a person who owns the shop space and has a steady base of customers can do; work 30 hours a week and be on a vacation for more than a month (or was it two?) a year... Last time I was having a haircut I mentioned about a bag shop around the corner which was having a closing sale. She told me about the keeper man close to 80 years of age. "Yes, I buy bags often from that place, last time two... The lining of one bag got torn, and a bag repair guy visiting the shop fixed it for 5 euros, can you believe? A 20-euro job elsewhere."

So I went and bought a trolley from the bag shop, and talked with the old man. With my Korean experience it's always good to raise a discussion, and these people are also interested to hear. "I'm already 15 years past the retirement age."
- So how long have you been keeping this shop?
- Look at the greyness of my hair, and how little there is left of it, and try to make a guess.
- Well, since the early 50s?
- From spring 1940, after the Winter War ended, and we left Viipuri with nothing, and even that was too much. [Trying to render the self-ironic way the refugees from areas ceded to Soviets as a consequence of the war talk about how they had to leave their homes almost empty-handed.]
Perhaps more about him later.

So I bought a trolley bag and went to show it to Ritva in the barber shop, just for the sake of greeting, on my way to the neighboring Asian food shop. She complimented my purchase, but funniest thing was that the customer turned to me and complimented as well: "what a fine bag you've bought". Elsewhere this kind of commenting would have not been expected, but me dropping in like that told the customer that I'm a steady customer (tan'gol) as well, so he talked as if he knew me.

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Entertainers with uiri

Kukmin Ilbo (via Media Daum) (note the change of Latin pronunciation from Kookmin to Kukmin) tells that a bunch of heavy-league entertainers have sent a petition for release of the gangster boss Mr Na, head of Seobang-pa organization, who has been arrested for evading taxes by curb loans and by selling foreign beef in his restaurant as Korean beef.

The entertainers, who included the movie actor Choi, singers Kim and Yi, tv actors Kim, Im, Yun, Pak etc are moving in their display of ûiri (uiri) towards the arrested Mr Na: "He had meat (kalbi) sets delivered to movie and tv staffs on festive days, and he is a good supporter of arts."
The lawyers that Mr Na has hired maintain that he hasn't sold imported beef to customers but given it as a gift to Japanese, celebrities, and steady customers." The police see that the entertainers may not have taken the initiative to write the petition by themselves, but that they have only borrowed their names for entertainment agencies, who have close links with Mr Na.
Choi Min-su, Sim Eun-ha and Lee Byeong-heon in 'White Nights'
Choi Min-su, Sim Eun-ha and Lee Byeong-heon in 'White Nights'

So the question arises who are these entertainers? Fortunately there are the reader comments below, where someone enlightens us that the names have been given in Hankook Ilbo: Choi Min-su, Yi Hwi-jae, Yi Hun, Im Ch'ae-mu, Kim Min-jong, Yun Ta-hun, Pak Sang-myôn, Kim Serena.
Choi Min-su is perhaps the best known of these, at least from having had the honor to appear with me in one scene in the 1998-99 drama "White Nights" (백야 3.98). I agreed not to have any lines so that I wouldn't have stolen the scene from Mr Choi with my telegenic qualities, so I ended up being an extra playing just a Russian (?) guy sipping beer at a bar. (In fact I had no idea what they were shooting, when my Romanian fried dragged me to the place after I had just arrived in Korea. I recognized Choi Min-su on the set, and learned later it was a drama called White Nights when I asked some of my Korean acquaintances what it is that he appears in.)

I mentioned the concept ûiri (義理) above. It's a common East Asian term, prononunced giri in Japan. During my time in Korea I don't think I ever encountered in everyday speech, but from elsewhere I've learned to associate it with relations of loyalty best (or worst) exemplified with gangsters, as here in the relation between Mr Na and the entertainers (or their agencies).

Kim Gyuhang has recently had a note on the term in his blog, pointing out that the "male bonding" meaning of the term is actually the Japanese giri, which has the same Chinese characters: "one has to give as much as one has received." For him, the original meaning of the word is "what a human being should do as a matter of course" (인간이 마땅히 해야 할 도리 [道理]). That meaning is not dependent on individual relations but reflects some kind of an universal morality. (But has that morality, at least in East Asia, ever been distanced from relations; at least not in terms of classical formulations.) I'm uncomfortable with the meaning of uiri as understood in the first sense, but I'm afraid even with the other, more original or not, definition we cannot escape the giri-kind of a meaning of 義理.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

(Small business) Double business

Hankyoreh has a piece from the economy weekly of the company, Economy21, about having two business simultaneously in one shop: "Two businesses under one roof: sales up, expenses down. (Interesting to notice how similar the article is with the infomercials that Chosun often has on small businesses: introducing successful business items and proprietors and not failing to mention the company, most often some chain. And the piece is written by a representative of a business opening company.)

• Let's see... "the double" in the first case introduced is nothing but adding another main item to the menu of a chicken place, in which sales got bad with the poultry fever last winter. The idea was to have a cheaper item in the menu in addition to the more expensive one.
Business opening expenses: premium (kwôlligûm) and guarantee money 50 mil W [33000€], franchising fee 3 mil [2000€], shop interior 15 mil [10000€], initial equipment 1 mil, which makes 69 mil [46000€] altogether; monthly sales 18 mil [1200€], of which net profit 8.5 mil [5600€ - not bad!]. "There are many chicken places in the neighborhood, but Mr Kim's place has the best sales." Half of the sales is takeout and half deliveries. (Seems that there are no customer tables in the place - not unusual, and it should be somewhat a relief for the keepers.)

• The second example is a restaurant which sells cold noodles (naengmyôn) in the summer and warm noodles (onmyôn) in the winter. The Kim couple had an ordinary Korean restaurant (paekpanjip) until early this year, when they started the noodle place. Last summer they sold at best 200 bowls a day (that is good, very good). They not only take what the franchise gives them but also do development on their own:
두 사람은 독특한 소스맛을 개발하기 위한 노력도 많이 기울였다. 4월 한 달 꼬박 매일 밤 연구한 끝에 본사에서 공급하는 매운 맛과 순한 맛의 2가지 소스 외에 이 둘을 적절히 배합하여 매운 듯 달콤한 새로운 소스맛을 찾는 데 성공한 것. 이 가게에서는 부부가 만들어낸 소스가 가장 높은 인기를 끈다.

• Real estate agency and home cleaning [홈 클리닝] is what Ms Kang does; she and her husband have had the realtor office, but because of the bad real estate market she decided to start another business. [Quite typical: it's the woman who starts it. We don't get to know what the husband does, but one does get the feeling that the woman takes care of also the real estate business while going cleaning. Considering who are those who mostly gather the information on housing, her work is surely indispensable for their realtor office.]

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Political violence

Often Koreans and why not Finns as well like to find parallels with the modern history of the two nations. Sure, a small nation struggling to preserve or regain independence on the face of great powers and all that, but my advice is to regard the modern histories of the two nations as very different indeed. But one thing is common: intense political conflict and extreme political violence at the time of establishing the nation. But I guess we are understandably not going to hear about this when the friendship and good relations between the countries are being maintained.

Ohmynews has a piece about a memorial event for those who died as a consequence of the Yeosu-Suncheon (Yeosun) rebellion 56 years ago in 1948. This is a short description of the rebellion from a link provided by Oranckay (on-the-spot translation by AL):

In 1948 the coexistence of the right and left in the eastern Jeolla begun to break down. The continuous inflation, the worsening of living conditions due to for example grain outtakes (?, kongch'ul), and the movements against elections and other anti-government struggles began to spread throughout the country. These struggles also reached the eastern Jeolla, which was not part of the "harvest incidents" of 1946. Suncheon was the site of most frequent disturbances (?). At the time of these incidents, the 14th Regiment was founded in Yeosu, and that became a haven for leftist pursued by the police and for many unemployed driven loose by poverty. The regiment was also infiltrated by the South Korean Workers' Party (Namnodang). The ultra leftists led by lieutenant (? chungwi) Kim Chi-hoe, lieutenant Hong Sun-seok, master sergeant (sangsa) Ji Chang-su saw this as a chance for action, and when the unit was ordered to move to Jeju to suppress the rebellion, it started an armed rebellion.
Damn, taking a closer look this is from a site which provides term papers for a fee; don't want to erase that now that I've done it...

Anyway, the suppression of the rebellion/mutiny was ruthless, affecting people way beyond the actual rebels and leaving 3000 dead. The Ohmynews tells that the event was arranged in order for the bereaved families to be accepted as members of society and for a proper investigation (or research) for the truth behind the death of thousands without proper legal course back then.

Which cannot but call comparisons with what happened in the civil war here in 1918. The situation is that 86 years after the fact a researcher feels the need to point out in the preface to a study on the topic to claim neutrality that his forefathers didn't take part in the war.
Very same kind of methods of terror, extending the punitive measures beyond the leaders or perpetrators after painting the rebels (right or wrong) as beastly monsters that cannot be but done away with. Even the time which it took before the events begun to be discussed in public in other than the victors' view has been approximately the same.

Causes of war death 1918 according to the political affiliation
of the killed persons

Cause of death Reds Whites Others Total
Killed in action 5 199 3 414 790 9 403
Executed, shot, murdered 7 370 1 424 926 9 720
Died in prison camps 11 652 4 1 790 13 446
Died after being released 607 - 6 613
Missing 1 767 46 380 2 193
Other causes of death 443 291 531 1 265
Total 27 038 5 179 4 423 36 640

• Those who want to read an academic paper on the Yeosun incident which starts with a quote from Derrida, are kindly referred to "Violence in the representation of the Yôsun incident" (pdf file)

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Book note: Late Joseon in Quantitative Economics History

There is a new book out edited by the economic history professor Yi Yông-hun (Lee Young-hoon?) with the title Late Chosôn (Joseon) in Quantitative Economic History (수량경제사로 다시 본 조선후기, SNU Press). Lee was the professor who ended up getting enormous flak for talking in a TV debate in a manner which in ill will could be interpreted as denying the forced nature of the Japanese military prostitution. It didn't help much when he tried to explain that the initial news reports of his statements had been misleading. (What he did say was that there were voluntary Korean pimps but that the prostitution was slavery in nature.)

Now to the new book. My hasty and haphazard translation of the publisher's introduction:
The writers in this book looks at population, wages, interest rates, land prices, commodity prices, and long-term market trends since the 17th century from the point of view of quantitative economics. The authors have collected material from yangban household diaries and village records around the country. New findings are the big role of the redistributive role of the Chosôn state, the development and stability of the late 17th and 18th century, and the crisis of the 19th century. The writers do not agree with the established notion of continuous economic development from the 17th to the 19th century. By the 19th century, the economy stagnated and finally ended up in a severe crisis. One reason for that was the lack of any system to guarantee and stimulate economic growth. The book approaches the downfall (hwangp'ye) of livelihood since the 18th century from this angle.

Prof. Lee Young-hoon is an SNU professor and the head of the Nakseongdae Institute of Economic Research, which as I understand is strongly maintaining that the Japanese colonialism was in the end the factor that got the Korean economic development and change going. This is part of the "sprouts theory" (maengaron 萌芽論) vs. "colonial modernization theory" (singminji kûndaehwaron 植民近代化論) debate, which is connected to the legacy of the Japanese colonialism, Korean nationalism - scary but interesting stuff.

Oh yes, the sprouts theory is about finding "sprouts" of capitalism in the premodern, pre-opening Chosôn, like purchase by capital of other's labor power, that could have developed into full-scale capitalism even without the Japanese rule. I'm inclined to side with those don't see the sprouts theory hold water.

• There's an English-language article available in pdf form: "Colonial Legacy and Modern Econmic Growth in Korea: A Critical Examination of Their Relationship". Development and Society vol 33:1 (2004), pp. 1-24.

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Friday, October 15, 2004

Prostitution, clients, economy

The weekly Hankyoreh21 takes part in the presently heated discussion on the re-illegalization of the already illegal but tolerated (and in some instances encouraged) prostitution. (Robert Koehler at Marmot's Hole has a detailed post on the matter.) The magazine arranged a discussion between a representative of the organization of pimps ("entertainment establishment proprietors"), a prostitute, a representative of a women's organization, and a woman lawmaker. The two former are on the defense for prostitution and the two latter against, to put broadly. The prostitute gives a following description of the clientele in her defense for the need of these services:
Kim Mun-hee: There are big differences between the men who use the services. Men who go to the room salons are mainly from sa-professions(*) or have private businesses. And company people also come to entertain clients. On the other hand, it's mostly the not-well-off who go to brothel quarters (chipch'angch'on 집창촌). They are from their 20s to 50s, 60s. There are also elders who bring their erection devices with them. And handicapped people, in wheelchair, blind... Some walking with crutches clad in hospital clothes. There are also monks and priests. And many married men. The reason why married men come is that they want to try something new but think they can't try it with their wives. And some come to relieve the stress they get from company work in a pervert (pyônt'ae) manner.

brothels in Sillim-dongPhoto: Brothels in Sillim-dong, close to the Sillim subway station on the side of the Dorim-cheon. (c) AL 2000

(*) Sa-professions are the professional occupations which have the syllable sa (士 or 師) in the end, like ûisa (doctor 醫師) and pyônhosa (lawyer 辯護士).

• There's an adjoining story: The Participants in the Brothel Area Economy (registration needed); 2-3 "madams" in each establishment, touters (?) (pikki); loan sharks who keep the money going round; those who provide the establishments with credit card machines registered for another kind of business; lawyers; condom, Bacchus drink, napkin, and beer retailers, and gangsters taking care of the market shares; unlicenced nurses (syringe aunties); providers of all kinds of medicines.

This should not be read as if the publication was condoning prostitution for its positive effect on the economy.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

사소주의 (事小主義)

어제의 (10월13일) 조선일보에서 나온 칼럼의 필자는 지난 15년동안 여름마다 핀란드에서 강의를 했다고 하지만 칼럼의 많은 부분은 핀란드에 관한 오해와 무지의 대표적인 사례이다. 타국의 역사와 사회를 한국적인 입장에서 보는 것은 이해할 수는 있지만 핀란드와 그만한 많은 관계를 맺은 사람을 이러면 안 된다.
핀란드 사람 상당수에게 몽고반점이 있다고 한다. 또 핀란드어(語)는 우리와 같은 우랄·알타이 어족에 속한다.
핀란드사람들은 몽고반점이 없다. 핀란드말은 우랄어족(語族)에 속하지만 우랄-알타이 어족은 존재하지 않고 알타이어족도 언어학에서 현재 지배적인 견해에 따르면 존재하다고 할 수 없다.

지정학적인 모습도 우리와 유사하다. 한국이 중국·일본·러시아 등 강대국들 사이에서 치열한 생존의 길을 걸어왔듯이, 핀란드 역시 스웨덴·러시아·독일 등 주변 강국들로부터 끊임없는 침략을 받아왔다. 13세기부터 스웨덴의 지배를 받던 핀란드는 1809년부터는 러시아의 압제에 시달렸다. 1917년 러시아 혁명을 계기로 독립을 이루었다가 1939년 다시 소련의 속국이 된 핀란드는 20여만명이 죽는 독립운동을 계속했다.
핀란드는 스웨덴이나 독일한테 침략을 당한 적이 없다. 러시아는 물론 경우가 다르다. 1944-45 버려진 이른바 래플랜드 전쟁은 2차세계대전에서 핀란드와 독일은 연맹국이었다가 핀란드와 소련은 휴전을 맺은 관계로 핀란드 북부 두둔 독일군을 추방하는 전쟁이었다. 핀란드는 스웨덴의 지배를 받지는 않았다. 스웨덴시대에는 핀란드는 국가가 아니었고 스웨덴 본토인들처럼 핀란드인들도 귀족, 신직다, 상인, 농민 대표들을 스웨덴 국회로 보냈다. (이런 데에서 한국인들이 외국의 역사를 한국적이지 않은 입장에서 보지 않은 것이 아주 어렵다는 것을 알 수 있다.) 핀란드의 상민(常民)들이 받은 지배는 스웨덴의 상민들과 같았고 핀란드 귀족의 특권은 스웨덴 귀족과 같았다.
1939년에는 핀란드가 소련의 속국이 되지 않았다. (아니, 이런 것을 15년동안 여름마다 핀란드에서 강의를 해 오던 사람한테 지적해야 되나.) <겨울 전쟁>에서 비록 국토를 빼앗겼지만 소련의 침략을 막을 수 있었다. 20만 명이 죽었다는 독립운동이 무슨 말인지 알 수가 없다. 39-40년의 <겨울전쟁>과 41-44년의 핀란드와 소련 사이에 버려진 전쟁에서 핀란드인이 합해서 9만3천만명이 죽었다.

그러나 1990년 소련이 무너지면서 냉전이 사라졌고, 핀란드의 중계무역도 막을 내리게 됐다. 핀란드 경제는 1990년 한 해에 40%가 줄어들었다. 화폐가치는 절반 가까이 떨어지고, 실업률도 20% 수준에 이르렀다.
경제는 40%가 줄어든 것이 아니라 화폐가치는 40% 떨어졌다. 국민생산은 1991-93년 사이에 10%이상 줄어든 것이다 (출저).
1990년대 초에 유럽에서도 유래가 잘 없을 만큼 심각한 경제위기에서 90년대말에 비교적으로 잘 회복된 것은 사실이다. 그리고 금방 어느 국제기관의 조사에서 핀란드 경쟁력이 세계에서 으뜸으로 나온 것도 맞다. (맞은 것은 조사가 나온 것이지, 조사결과는 그렇지 않을 듯.) 그래도, 1990년대에 살아났음에도 불구하고 오늘날 경제분위기가 우울하다. 일자리가 안 생기고 투자도 들어오지 않고 공업이 다 외국으로 빠져나가고 있고 실업률이 계속해서 높은데 무슨 경쟁력? 핀란드말에 능통하지 못한 자가 그런 것을 파악할 법이 잘 없는 것은 당연하겠지만.

• 국가경쟁력 조사의 신뢰성에 대한 좋은 지적이 한겨레에서 나왔다.

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Gangnam, Gangbuk, schools

Gyeonggi High School removed to Gangnam ⓒ2004 전대원
Gyeonggi High School removed to Gangnam in the 1970s ⓒ2004 전대원
It's not actually news that one of the biggest incentives of getting people to move across the Han River in the 1970s was the removal of high-ranking high schools to the southern side of the river. One result of that was the "School District 8" (I think that's the official administrative name), which is closely associated with and related to the development of the "Gangnam" as what it is today. What has become news is that Korea, Yonsei and Ewha Universities have been found to give precedence to applicants from this area in their admissions, which is not a small issue in the already socially hot issue of the lack of equality in educational opportunities.

Hankyoreh has a story on 1970s' the school removal in connection with the recent revelation. It has some interesting pieces of info about the Gangnam development projects at the time. The Seoul authorities (who surely didn't act independently of the government) started curbing on the entertainment establishment in downtown ("within the four gates"), and also practically prohibited business and educational facility development there. Despite of this, people wouldn't move across the river, so the government had several high-ranking school removed to the southern side. (See the photograph above of the Gyeonggi High School removed to Gangnam in the 1970s.) Since the 1970s, of the 20 schools which have been removed from downtown 15 went to Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, Songpa-gu and Gangdong-gu, which form the Gangnam are in the social sence. (The picture to the right, linked from Hankyoreh shows the direction of school removal from the north to the south in Seoul.)

Hankyoreh also has an adjoining story, according to which many in the northern side of the river (Gangbuk) have unfairly long school trips due to the lack of high schools, and the areas in which the biggest proportion of highschoolers need to go to school in another gu are in Gangbuk. Ganbuk residents are filing petitions to build more schools to Gangbuk, but there's said to be a lack of adequate building space - except in Gangnam.

Hankyoreh keeps this issue up - no problem with that since it is an issue. Here's column by Kim Tong-ch'un (or Kim Dong-choon, don't know) about many people's fault of not being able to live in Gangnam.
이제 강남은 서울의 강남이 아니라 대한민국의 강남이 되었다. 강남에 살지 못하는 죄로 강남 외의 대한민국 모든 지역의 학생들은 강남으로 이사 가지 못하는 부모의 경제적 무능력을 한탄하게 되었다. 홍길동은 근본천생의 처지에 통한의 눈물을 흘리고 의적이 되었지만, 고교등급제를 바라보는 오늘의 학생들은 ‘사는 곳이 지위를 말해주는’ 이 현대판 신분제 아래서 장차 어떤 한을 품고 살아가게 될까? 기회의 평등이 보장되지 않은 상태에서 결과의 차이를 액면 그대로 인정하자는 주장은 자신의 의지와 무관하게 비강남 고교에 입학하여 결국 수시모집에 탈락한 부모와 학생들을 설득할 수 있을까?

Two strong actually paradoxic currents: demands for equality in education and private, familial struggle to provide as good environment as possible for one's offspring. The demands for equality; the thinking that many in and around for example Hankyoreh represents wants to see as much equality of outcome as possible in addition to equality of opportunity and condition (see I've been reading some anthro stuff lately), while the demands for the freer student admission and freer choice sort of emphasize the equal chance to produce a difference.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

(Korean family) Celebrity divorce: novelist Hwang Seok-yeong

I thought that I had made a note on the ongoing divorce of the novelist Hwang Seok-yeong (황석영 黃晳暎), but I couldn't find any trace. Just to have it as a case of Korean divorce proceedings, with the additional cultural personality interest (Yonhap piece in Hankyoreh).

Earlier Hwang's legally married but separated wife who resides in the US had filed a suit against Hwang's current live-in partner. The court decision that the live-in relationship is not a problem since Hwang and the woman got together only after the marriage had factually broken down seems to refer to that.
The divorce was filed by Hwang, and the court ruled for divorce, since "life as a married couple, which should be based on love and trust, has been ruptured beyond reparation, and forcing the married life to continue would cause unbearable agony". [Now these are difficult to translate.] The complainant has the fault that he didn't fully appreaciate the anguish of raising the child alone during his prison sentence, and didn't do enough effort to restore the marriage." "The defendant did not help the complainant to adapt himself back to the society after his release from prison, did not care for restoring the marriage and refused to return from the US. [...] The both are equally at fault."

Hwang served a prison term in the 1990s for making an unauthorized visit to North Korea.

Instead of Hwang's picture, I link a picture of a cover of his book Oraedoen chôngwôn [Old garden]; the book originally published as a serial in Hankyoreh, the picture linked from Chosun Ilbo.
The publisher's book note about the novel:
한국 소설문학의 우뚝한 거장으로서 시대와 호흡을 같이해온 작가 황석영의 감동어린 신작장편. 방북사건 이후의 독일 체류와 귀국 후 옥중생활 속에서 구상된 이 작품은 80년대 이후 격동했던 한국사회와 사회주의권의 붕괴를 근간으로 하는 세계사적 변화를 배경으로 젊은 두 남녀의 파란많은 삶과 사랑을 감동적으로 그려낸 역작이다.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cordial Sammo Hung in Busan

Sammo Hung in Busan / (c) HankyorehSammo Hung has come to Busan for the first time for the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF homepage), the Hankyoreh tells. He is in a very cordial mood:
"I'm excited that moviegoers still remember me. I'm for the first time in the Pusan Film Festival, and it's fine to see such a well-made festival. Busan is very beautiful, more beautiful than Cannes."
In fact I haven't been to Cannes but I've been to Busan. Let's assume that Sammo Hung was being the comedian that he is when he commented the beauty of that city...

• Hankyoreh writes his name according to the Mandarin (Putonghua) pronunciation of his Chinese name (洪金寶): Hong Jin-bao (홍진바오), and not according to the old Korean practice of using the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters, which in his case is Hong Kûm-bo (홍금보). And the Cantonese pronunciation of his name that he uses is Hung Kam-bo...
• The Chinese names are increasingly written in Korea according to the Putonghua pronunciation, even in the case of Hong Kong celebrities whose Chinese names are internationally known in their Cantonese form. But I guess in everyday speech the old habit of using the Korean pronunciations will prevail: Chu Yun-bal, Yi Yôn-gôl, Yi So-ryong, Sông Ryong, Chang Man-ok (Chow Yun-fat, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung) etc.
• Just for those who might wonder what's that with the spellings Busan/Pusan,
Busan is the current official form of the city, and Pusan is how the film festival writes it. The festival started when the official spelling was Pusan, and they didn't care to change the festival name with the new official spelling.

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Samsung, Lee Kun-hee and the son

Samsung Anycall SH-770 (click for a larger photo in a new window)Some link and google hopping.
Hankyoreh has a main page story of the tenth anniversary of the appearance of Samsung Anycall (the first model SH-770; click the picture on the right for a larger photo) and the first kimchi refrigerator. Kimchi fridge is now in 57% of Korean families.

When looking for a picture of the SH-770 model, I ended up at a Money Today piece (via Empas) on the personal history of Lee Kun-hee (이건희), the chairman of Samsung (or whatever his formal title in the company is).

Born in Daegu, "close to a brothel area, next to a marketplace" as one of three sons and five daughters in 1942 to the house of Samsông Sanghoe; this is how the signboard of the company has looked at the time: 三星商會. An interesting piece of personal info is that he went to the university in Japan and graduated from Waseda in 1965, the year Republic of Korea and Japan normalized (?) their relations. The colonial experience of Korean businessmen has not been insignificant, as can be read from for example Carter Eckert's Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kim's and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism 1876-1945). (Update. Sugar Shin in the comments adds that Lee Kun-hee's father, Lee Byung-chull, was a Waseda University dropout during the colonial time.)

Lee Kun-hee and sonAnd then I was reminded of all the not that positive reporting amidst all the success of Samsung Electronics of the not-that-beautiful maneuvering of assets between the chairman Lee Kun-hee and his son Lee Jay-yong, who are the richest and second richest persons in Korea.
Especially Ohmynews has done a good job in keeping track of Samsung's exploits. Here they express disappointment at the decision of the Supreme Court to reverse the fines given to Samsung by the Fair Trade Commission for handing over shares to the next generation (the son Jay-yong) way below the market price.

And let's also add a column from Chosun Ilbo, in which the writer has questions to the chairman Lee that needs to be made despite of all the praises that the company undoubtedly deserves.
The Lee family has been able to control Samsung Electronics through their ownership in Everland and Samsung Life insurance company. Now that the government is drawing designs for legislation to restrict the power (ûigyôlkwôn) of financing companies, it is as if the Korean control would be in danger of being snatched by foreigners in Samsung Electronics, of which 57% is in foreign ownership. Samsung is said to try to lobby the public opinion by saying that is the "signboard company" of the Republic of Korea going to be handed over to foreigners. (The writer reminds that there's been no talk of fears of losing the control of company in Nokia despite of 89% of the ownership being outside the land of origin of the company.)
둘째, 삼성생명을 통한 지배구조를 언제까지 끌고갈 것인가다. 삼성생명의 돈은 고객 돈이다. 고객 돈으로 지분관리를 하는 것은 합법적이지만 정도(正道)는 아니다. 국민정서도 산업자본과 금융자본은 분리해 나가야 한다는 것이다. 20~30년 후를 내다본다면 이건희 회장은 이제 그룹 지배구조에 대한 단안을 내려야 한다.
셋째, 삼성은 자구(自救)노력을 하고 있는가다. 삼성전자가 그룹에 중요한 회사라면 우선 이 회장은 다른 계열사 주식을 팔아 삼성전자 지분율을 끌어올리는 성의를 보여야 한다. 먼저 이런 노력을 한다면 국민여론도 삼성에 우호적으로 바뀔 수 있을 것이다.
삼성은 이건희 회장 가문에게 차등의결권 주식(dual class share ·보통주보다 훨씬 많은 의결권을 갖는 주식)을 부여하는 방안을 정부에 타진한 것으로 전해진다. 이렇게 되면 삼성의 경영권은 탄탄하게 될 것이나, 상법을 고쳐야 한다.

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Jang Sa-ik singing career 10th anniversary concert

장사익: 하늘 가는 길 / Jang Sa-ik: 'Road to Heaven'The singer Jang Sa-ik (장사익) has his career 10th anniversary concert on November 17 in the Sejong Cultural Center, tells Hankyoreh. I had always thought that his career had been longer, but it was only in 1994 that he debuted. From the debute concert program: "I want to shout out my voice. Today I take off the clothes of my voice in front of all the good people. I'll shout with excitement and without desire. I'm the luckiest bastard in the world."

I found out Jang Sa-ik when I wanted to buy something traditional Korean singing, and the cover of his first album (see the linked picture) Hanûl kanûn kil attracted me so much. Jang is a true sorikkun, who sings and shouts out the joys and sorrows of the world in a sincere and inspired manner.

For the interested, some of Jang Sa-ik's music can be found here. (Those residing in Korea are of course adviced to go to a cd store.)

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Korean gays and Pagoda Theater

Jinbonuri had already some time ago an interesting story on the Korean gay community in downtown Seoul, around Pagoda Theater, where the theater itself and cafes and bars around it became the meeting place of Korean gays in the 1970s. This is something one doesn't really become easily aware of.
파고다 극장이 게이 커뮤니티의 '메카'가 된 것은 70년대 중반이다. 유명 디자이너 A씨의 젊은 날이 아직도 생생한 기억의 주문으로 발효되곤 하는 60년대 명동의 극장과 파랑새 다방, 한국 최초로 기억되는 게이 바들이 점차 느티 버섯처럼 조용히 생기시 시작한 지저분한 을지로 인쇄소 골목들(최초의 게이 바는 '아담'이었고 그곳의 주인은 영원한 이중 스파이의 대명사인 '배정자'라는 이름을 갖고 있었다)을 경유하여 박정희 정권의 윤락가 청소 작업으로 공동화된 70년대 중반의 종로 일대에 서서히 얼굴 없는 게이들이 서성거리기 시작했다.
90년대 중반쯤, 파고다 극장 바로 맞은편 2층 카페가 새로 들어서면서 간판을 내걸었었다. '서 있는 사람들'이라는 간판이었다. 절묘한 뉘앙스이자 발칙한 저항이다. 왜냐하면 파고다 극장 안에 있는 남자들 대부분은 서 있었기 때문이다. 그들은 짝을 찾아 어슬렁거리고, 짝을 기다리느라 벽면에 붙어 서 있다. 그들은 혼자 명멸하는 영사기 불빛 사이사이에 모두 서 있는 사람들이었다. 80년대 중반까지 갖가지 대중적 공연이 벌어진 곳이긴 했지만 왼쪽에 붙은 2관에선 바로 이 '서 있는 사람들'에 의해 아무도 모르는 역사가 진행되고 있었던 것이다.
60년대 이후 시작된 본격적인 산업화와 도시화, 그로부터 빚어진 공동체의 도덕적 감시 체계의 붕괴와 익명성이 동성애자 출몰의 직접적 '원인'이다. 전혀 얼굴을 모르는 타인, 자신의 행동과 성 모랄을 감시하지 않는 무방비의 게토. 좁은 농촌 공동체에서 사람들은 길만 가도 만나는 친지들, 친구들에게 동성간 섹스를 제안하지 못하며, 이것은 다양한 섹슈얼리티의 표현을 제어하는 가장 중요한 하부구조다. [...]

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Korean language and G.J. Ramstedt (on KBS, Oct 9)

Looking at the synopsis of the 3-part KBS program on Korean language and languages in general for which a filming crew visited Helsinki last summer, it seems to be using a very broad brush in painting the picture. Anyway, for a good summary of the position of the recent linguistics scholarship on the relation of Korean to other languages, I'd recommend those in Korea take a look at what professor Juha Janhunen of the dept of East Asian Studies at the U of Helsinki is telling in an interview in the program. The makers of the program were eager to get a confirmation that Korean belongs to the Altaic group, but professor Janhunen told that the basis for the existence of any Altaic group is very weak in the first place.
알타이 언어학의 창시자 ‘람스테트’는 누구인가?
언어가 시작되고 퍼져나갔을 그 장구한 시간 속에서 한국어는 언제, 어떻게 생겨났을까? 한국어를 처음 알타이어족에 포함시킨 것은 핀란드의 언어학자 람스테트였다. 알 수 없는 오랜 옛날, 한국어가 알타이어족의 한 분파로 시작되었을 것이라는 그의 생각은 어떻게 비롯된 것일까? 또 그는 어떻게 한국어를 접하고 연구하게 되었을까? 핀란드 국립문서보관소에 소장된 람스테드의 친필 한국어 자료들을 최초로 공개한다. 그리고 손녀와 학자들을 만나 최초의 한국어계통연구자로서 그의 업적을 알아본다. 그의 이론은 오늘날에도 유효한가?
G.J. Ramstedt's etymological notes on the Korean word 'hae' (sun)Part 1, where the above comes out, will be aired on KBS1 this Saturday (Oct 9) at 8-9 pm.
No, I will not be appearing this time - my turn will on the 20th;)

In the picture, professor G.J. Ramstedt's etymological notes on the Korean word hae, "sun".

I also hope that each and everyone residing in Korea is able to cope with the overabundance of the praise for the superiority of the Korean alphabet. I'd like to be in Korea now just to argue that what Koreans are taught to be the basis of the superiority of han'gûl / han'geul / hangul / 한글 / 韓글 - it's correspondence to the "sounds of the language" and the single pronunciation of the letters - is actually its biggest limitation, making it usable only for Korean. And the Koreans' line of thinking that only hangul can truely represent the Korean language in writing and the subsequent mess of writing Korean in the Latin alphabet is only inhibiting the spread of Korean ideas and things to the world.
But it's a good script.

(I think on the Hangul day I'll write an entry in Korean, using Latin characters in their Finnish pronunciation. There you'll have some Korean...)

Some hangul praise in Manmulsang column in Chosun Ilbo. If only that manmulsang was written in Chinese characters so I could be sure what it means... Most likely it's not 萬物商, "general store", but 萬物相, "the form of all kinds of things".

But hey, the writer suggest that why not make hangul characters to represent F and V as well?
세종대왕 이후 우리가 한글을 더 나은 세계 문자로 개량하기 위해 얼마나 노력했나를 되돌아봐야 한다는 말이다. 한글에 시각적 아름다움을 불어넣는 문제는 오래된 숙제다. 세계화의 시대에, 현재는 마땅한 표기방법이 없는 영어의 ‘F’나 ‘V’ 발음을 한글로 표기하는 방법도 고민해볼 만하다.
But F and V in which kind of pronunciation? American English of course! It's after all yôngô alp'abet, as the writer tells. But I'd have a couple of other characters/sounds as well: Ä, Ö, RR, L/R, Y. Russians would have a fistful of different s's to make a hangul character for, and so on...

• Kudos for a recent Hankyoreh editorial for using the word romaja to mean the Latin characters. For us non-English speakers, that feels good.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Housing supply rate in Korea

chut'aek pogûmnyul (주택보급률), most likely "housing supply rate" in English, has been one of the difficult terms of housing and statistics to fathom. My understanding is that it means the ratio of households to housing units. So for example if two families live in a detached house (tandok chut'aek) which is formally a single housing unit, in that case the "housing supply rate" is 50% - very low! That rate has been only somewhat over 70% in the early 1990s, but rose to 86% in 1995 and finally a bit past 100% in 2003 (article in Pressian). This is indeed a steep rise, and tells of the rate in which new housing (read: apartments) has been built. This has been now paid attention to by the member of parliament Yi Nak-yeon of the Democratic Party (you remember, the party from which pres. Roh was elected but from which his supporters and bunch of others left to found Our Open Party).
With the rising "housing supply rate", the house owning rate has unexpectedly fallen slightly below 50% after having been in 54% before the apartment investment boom started in 2001. I remember having read, when checking out what the government says about sômin, that the goal of the housing policy has been to elevate the housing supply rate to 100 (in the Korean discourse, on of the common definitions for the sômin or ordinary people or small people is that they are people who have problems to find decent housing). Rep. Yi tells here that the high supply of housing has fed apartment investment and contributed to more and more people ending up not as house owners but as chônse (jeonse) or monthly rent paying residents. This has further led to the more difficult position of the less-well-off (the people that are defined as seomin in these contexts) in the housing market.

By the way, there's a difference of 17 percent units (?) between the Seoul housing unit supply in the municipal Seoul and Housing Ministry statistics: 86% v.s 103%.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

North and south of the river, and Cheonggyecheon

There's been some time since this was reported in Ohmynews, but it's been waiting for its turn in my to-be-blogged bookmarks. An Our Open Party (열린 우리당) lawmaker had requested a survey on the Seoulites' opinion on the divide between the northern and southern parts (Kangbuk/Gangbuk and Kangnam/Gangnam) of the city. Not surprisingly, it was found out that the opinion of the divide is that it is wide.

• 70% of the respondents (59% in the south, 73% in the north) thought that the divide is severe (simgakhada). Biggest reasons thought as the reasons for the divide were "economic power resulting from housing prices" and "public and private educational facilities."
(By the way, how was the "Gangnam area" [강남권] defined in this survey? Looking at these figures, much less than half of the respondents were from there. But being a survey requested by the government party, the results should not be likely to go against the attempts to lessen the divide between the two halves of the city.)

• It was also found out that the Gangnam residents more than Gangbuk residents were against the transfer of the land tax from local to national taxation.

• Degree of satisfaction with one's place of residence: satisfied residents Gangnam 86%, Gangbuk 68%, Gangseo (江西 West of river) 64%;

(It should be noted that while Gangnam literally means roughly a half of the city south of the Han River, in administrative terms Gangnam-gu is just one of the 25 gu's (區) in Seoul, and in sociocultural terms as a symbol of wealth, good educational conditions and outrageously expensive apartment houses it comprises certain areas of the Southeastern Seoul. Nan'gok, the hillside settlement in Sillim-dong, was also "south of the river.")

Another thing: while there's no reason to criticize the measures to alleviate the real and perceived divides between the halves of Seoul, it also occurs to me that perhaps part of the government party's interest in the Gangnam area comes from it being the brainchild of Park Chung-hee's bulldozing development in the 1960s and 1970s.

내 고향 청계천 사람들/손광식And now to the heart of the northern part of Seoul, or to the very heart of the historical Seoul. Ohmynews introduces a memoir-kind of a book about growing up at Cheonggyecheon by journalist Son Kwang-sik: 내 고향 청계천 사람들 ("People of Cheonggyecheon, my homeplace"). He describes the reason to write the book as follows:
손광식은 프롤로그에서 "우리 60대의 인생은 그야말로 소설"이라며 "청계천이라는 특정 지역을 중심으로 한 서민의 삶을 기록으로 남기고 싶었다"고 말한다. 왜냐하면 청계천에는 그 어느 곳보다 다양한 직업을 가진 사람들이 살았고, "그들의 애환 속에는 시대상과 사회상"이 스며 있기 때문이다.

The picture in the article is as nostalgic as it can get (well, those machines have not disappeared, but still); a ppôngt'wigi (bbeongtwigi) "pop-rice" machine in action.

• Here are some pictures at the Seoul city site from Cheonggyecheon in the 1960s by the Japanese photographer Kuwabara Sisei before it was fully covered by concrete. Perhaps something to feel nostalgic about now that very few have to live in places like that.

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Sunday, October 03, 2004

1929년의 조선: "애인 있으면 좋겠다" 그리고 직업부인

사진 출처 여성주의 저널 '일다로'인터넷에서 헤매다가 흥미로운 문서를 찾게 됐다. 일제시대에 출간된 잡지 <혜성>에서 1929년에 나온 독자기고 두 편인데, 하나는 "연령도 취미도 성격도 도무지 맞지 않아서" 애인이 있다는 것은 바라는 교사이고 다른 하나는 자신의 실직 때문에 아내가 종업원으로 다니는 것에서 불안감을 느끼는 남자의 글입니다. 제 디스크스페이스에다 넣어 두었으니 전문을 읽기 위해서 링크를 클릭.
남편 이외에 애인 있으면 좋겠다 / 아내를 직업부인으로 보낸 남편의 소감
남편 이외에 애인 있으면 좋겠다 (M여학교 교사 김숙희)
그런데 이렇게 말씀하면 또 신여성치고 항용하는 소리라 하실는지 모르지만 남편되는 이와 저와는 연령도 취미도 성격도 도무지 맞지 않아서 가정에는 기름기라고는 아니돕니다. 더구나 그분은 돈, 돈하고 자나깨나 말씀하는 것이 금전뿐이 되어서 돈 이외에는 별로 눈을 돌리거나 귀를 기울이는 일이라고 없답니다. 저는 돈은 굶어죽지 않을 상으로 벌어살자 하지만 그분은 밭도 몇백석 지기를 살 생각을 날마다 하고 있답니다. 그러니 이상인들 맞을 리가 있겠습니까.
이미 이렇게 생을 결정함에 남편 이외에 다른 분이 있었으면! 하는 생각도 불현듯 하여보는 때가 있습니다. 야소교 성경에는 죄라고 하였지만 저는 이제 다시 이성의 동무를 가진다 하여도 결단코 성적으로 불순한 곳에 이르기를 피하고 그저 재미있게 이야기나 하고 제가 좋아하는 음악이라도 들어주시고 비평하여 주실 정도의 남성을 친하고 싶소이다. 이것도 죄이리까요. 저와 같은 경우에 놓인 여자로요. 죄라면 너무 심할 줄 아옵니다.
아내를 직업부인으로 보낸 남편의 소감 - 아내를 여점원으로, 수입은 많으나 불안
혹시 늦게 올 때라거나 또 화장이나 옷맵시를 유별나게 하고 나가는 날 아침에는 저는 정말 불결한 감정을 막을 길이 없었나이다. 그러다가도 죄없는 듯한 아내의 얼굴을 보면, 저는 속으로 얼마나 두 손을 합장하며 아내에게 사죄하였으리까. 그러나 사람의 감정은 간사한 것이더이다. 아내에게 사죄하면서 아내에게 질투를 하는 생각을 금할 길이 없습니다. 아내를 신용하면서 의심을 막을 길이 없더이다 그려. 죽지 않는 바에 왜 아내를 직업에 내세우겠습니까. 저는 딴 분이 그런 이가 있다면 심리상 고통이 무서우니 될 수 있거든 아내를 내보내지 말라고 충고하고 싶습니다.

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(Social strata) Owned and rental apartments

There's been a piece of reporting in a recent "Talking about the Korean Society" (Han'guk sahoerûl malhanda) in KBS about the divide between the owned and rental apartment houses within a newly constructed apartment complex in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu. There is one rental apartment house in the complex, and that is divided from the rest of the complex by a fence, both literally and figuratively.

A photo taken during the construction of one of the new apartment complexes in Bongcheon-dong (may or may not be different from the case in the program). Picture source: Flying City.

One thing which has been paid attention to in the emergence of apartment housing as the middle-class standard is that social stratification became more easily pronounced spatially and geographically. In small housing, spatial divisions between social strata were not as clear as they could be made in apartment complexes. It is my understanding that in redevelopment areas such as in Bongcheon-dong, new apartment housing will also be provided for the original low-income inhabitants whose houses are cleared away. These are rental houses, which understandable may be a socioeconomic (?) nuisance for the residents in owned apartments. And therefore the fence, which the rental apartment residents in this case have been trying to have removed in vain.

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Friday, October 01, 2004

Choi Jang-jip in Asea yôn'gu

I've seen Professor Choi Jang-jip's recent contribution to the journal Asea Yôn'gu been lauded for its analysis of the current socioeconomic and political situation in Korea. Haven't had time to take a look at it myself, but here it is as a file in my own diskspace for a later look:

최장집: 한국 민주주의의 취약한 사회경제적 기반. 아세아연구 117호
I. 대기업-정규직 중심의 사회경제관
II. 대안적 사회경제정책 없는 민주주의의 취약성
III. 현실적 대안의 중요성
IV. 우리는 왜 한국 민주주의에 대해 낙관적이지 못하나?

Pressian article on Choi's article

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Unemployment in Korea

Hankyoreh21 pays attention to the constantly low unemployment rate despite of the poor economy. By "normal logic", more and more should be seeking work due to dimished income of the main breadwinner, but the official unemployment rate stays at 3+ percent.

According to the ROK statistical standards, those who work at least 1 hour (!) a week are counted as employed. And those who are not listed as job seekers are put into the category of economically inactive (비경제활동인구). That population has grown from 13.9 million in 1998 to 14.6 million in August 2004. [In general, 3/4 of the male and 1/2 of the female adult population in Korea is economically active.]

Wage employment and self-employment in Korea, Japan, UK, USA, and FranceThe following are the reasons why the formal unemployment rate stays so low, while the actual rate is estimated to be twice the official figure, over 7%.

• The relatively large portion of agricultural population, close to 9%; absorbs population which otherwise would be unemployed
• The large proportion of self-employed in the occupational structure, the non-paid family workers included (for example when a couple keeps a restaurant, it's usually the woman working with her husband who's counted as a "non-paid family worker" (mugûp kajok chongsaja). The article gives the figure 35%; this has been quite contant throughout the modern Korean history within the urban employment. The article notes further that while many removed from wage labor become active in unstable self-employment, these people rarely become formally unemployed despite of the state of the small business however low and poor the quality of that kind of employment is.
붕어빵 장사 / selling bungeobbang
• The statistics have been constructed so that it mainly reflects permanent employment, even though employment structure has been changing towards non-permanent (pijônggyujik), unstable employment.
• The number of those working for more than 54 hours a week has increased by 17% from last year; low-wage non-permanent workers do long hours to earn sufficiently for living, and the work load of the permanently employed has grown since companies have not been hiring.

Picture to the right: a pungôppang (bungeobbang, fish-shaped pastry) grill in Sillim-dong in 1999; typical of the kind of petty self-employment, into which unemployment is absorbed. (C) AL 1999

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