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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Marketplace renovation and cultured toilet

The Marketplace Special Law (Chaeraesijang t'ûkpyôlpôp), made to support the renewals and renovations in the "traditional" (chaerae) marketplaces which haven't fared well with the appearance of the new huge retail establishments, is apparently making changes. Ohmynews introduces Kim Sang-ch'Ol, the head of the marketplace association of Incheon (Inch'ôn chaeraesijang yônhaphoe), who's busy marketing the law and his association and helping the marketplaces to utilize the new law.

An important piece of info is that marketplace traders pay a lot higher commission for the use of credit card (4.5-5%) than department stores and huge discount stores (1.5%), so it's no wonder that many marketplace shopkeepers don't accept cards. (Of course there's also the question of keeping one's sales undocumented by accepting only cash.) Mr Kim tells that there are negotiations to get the commission down. (Could the difference be that big between marketplace traders and big retailers?)

Previously open-air marketplaces are being covered with a roof to make a kind of arcades, toilets are rebuilt to meet the current standards (what are they actually?), and what is important, parking facilities are expanded. The toilet issue always seems to be a bit touchy, and that's one area in which Koreans often might feel that they don't really meet "cultured" standards of the developed nations. So the renewed toilet of the Guweol Market (Kuwôl sijang) in Incheon has been named Kuwôl munhwa hwajangsil, Guweol Market Cultured Toilet. (I write it "cultured", because in this context munhwa clearly means a kind of a developmental standard of a culture, and not "culture" as such as we anthros tend to do.)

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