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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 29, 2005

granpa apartment guards

Sometimes if not often it's worthwile to have a look at other than major Korean newspapers to see interesting and important pieces such as the two-part report on the guards working in apartment and public and private facilities in Kookje Sinmun ("kookje" is how the paper itself writes). The report is titled a bit sentimentally with appeal to family sensibilities - "Guards, our fathers" - but it also tells the fact that most of them are aged past 60. Inhospitability of the apartment inhabitants, very long hours, poor pay, non-permanent contracts are the main characteristics of this work which is the male equivalent of jobs available for aging women in cleaning and restaurants for example. One yet common thing with these jobs is that they are not actually meant to provide living wages as they are not intended for "household heads" but women in need to add to the family income or a retired man to make some pocket money on top of what he's supposed to be provided by his children or have as retirement funds.
Guards, our fathers. Part 1, general conditions
Guards, our fathers. Part 2, labor conditions

The most shocking (yes, shocking, and I don't use that word easily) piece of info in the articles are the working hours: according to the National Union of Caretakers [전국시설관리노조] the average monthly hours are 360 in daily 12 hour shifts. 360, that almost doesn't make sense and sounds unbelievable. For all that, monthly pay is 600 000 won [460€], of which the "human resource" company in many cases takes 20000 and leaves the guard with four hundred thousand a month. Would the apartment residents be willing to pay more for the services of the guards or do they take the cheapest alternative? And the

It seems to me that these grandpa guards are in an especially weak position to improve their conditions: they're not expected to make much of a living with the job and unless or until the pension system is developed so that retirees can choose not to work, people will seek these jobs. And of course in regard to the working conditions of the guards, we have the Korean class distinctions, instincts and attitudes at play here:
Despite of the 12 hour shifts and otherwise difficult work conditions, the inhospiotability (naengdae) of the residents makes him the most sad. He is exchausted after all the parking supervising, apartment inspection, and doing all kinds of chores for people, but all he gets are their complaints.
The man who once was in a high position (kanbu) in a famous company tells that "I begun a second life with the intention to do a service for the people, but getting treated like a message boy (simburûmkkun) makes me want to quite instantly. I'm regretting I ever begun this.

(Cannot help wondering how representative the National Union of Caretakers [전국시설관리노조] is - at least the header photo (left) in the homepage has young women and men having a performance in front of a "Korean movement realism" painting. Well, fortunately in further clicks the appearing persons (far left) resemble more those who can be seen sitting in those minuscule boxes at the apartment doors. All the best for them in their efforts.)

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

referral blogging

Referral blogging: Google search 자존심, 공화국 results:
1) www.uriminzokkiri.com
2) hunjang.blogspot.com (thanks to the posting condemning DPRK for hurting the pride (자존심) of our republic (공화국) by not using it's native name as is supposedly the official practice there.
3) www.chongryon.com
4) www.kcna.co.jp

Not bad, I'd say.

Monday, June 27, 2005


It doesn't matter that the ttôk wasn't made by Mr Pak, because the stuff from some Chinese factory substituted fine for the Korean ttôk.

In fact my desire to have ddeokbokki came from translating for TV the movie Take Care of My Cat, where the main characters talk about it in one scene. Below are the translation and the approximate original, which differs slightly from the film. This is an example when a word is just best to leave untranslated in italics: there's no room for any explanation and no sensible translation that'd fit in the available space, and viewers understand anyway that it's about a certain dish.

tulee mieleen se -
난 떡볶이만 보면
kun tavattiin eka kertaa
Taeheen kanssa. -Miksi?
태희랑 처음 친구되던
날 생각나더라. -왜?
Minä ja Jiyeong syötiin yhdessä
pienessä paikassa ddeokbokkia.
나랑 지영이랑 일미분식에서
떡볶이 먹고있는데
Tämä ahmi siellä yksin
samaa ruokaa ihan niin kuin nyt.
얘가 씩씩거리면서 혼자 들어와서
떡볶이를 시켜 먹는야,
Kysyin että
mitä sinä yksin syöt.
내가 넌 왜 혼자먹니 하니깐
Se sanoi että halusi
niin syödä ddeokbokkia -
자긴 떡볶이가 너무 좋은데 -
mutta kaveri ei,
ja tuli suutuksissaan yksin.
찬미가 먹기 싫다고 해서
화내고 혼자 들어왔다나?
Ai jaa? -Ja minä sanoin
sille että syö meidän kanssa.
그래서 내가 같이 먹자고 했지,-
Näytit silloin tosi hassulta. 너 그때 진짜 웃겼던거 아니?
Olin ihan shokissa kun
kaveri sanoi ettei tykkää siitä.
걔가 떡볶이를 무지 싫어한다는
얘길 했을땐 정말 하늘이 노래지더라구
Me ollaan ddeokbokki-bestiksiä.
Taehee, syö kaikki.
우리는 떡볶이친구야.
태희, 다 먹어.

still from the scene of this dialogue in Take Care of My Cat (고양이를 부탁해)

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

shaman bugs (happy midsummer's day)

(c) Jaakko Hakulinen

사진에 있는 벌레가 전설, 시(詩), 블러그에서만 가능한 논리로 나하고 한국무속(巫俗)의 연결을 제공해준다. 이 <무당벌레>의 핀란드말 이름(leppäkerttu)과 나의 성씨에 들어가 있는 나무가 (leppä, 오리나무) 같으니까.

오늘 우리나라에서 <하지절>(夏至節)날인데, 다들 특별히 지내지 않으셔도 잘 계시길 바란다. 날이 벌써 짧아지고 있다는 것을 잊지 마시길.

The bug in the picture provides the connection between me and Korean shamanism, with the logic possible in myths, poetry, and blogging. The Finnish name of this mudangbôlle ("shaman bug", ladybird, leppäkerttu), has the name of the same tree (leppä, alder) as my family name.

Today is Midsummer's day.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

real estate and women's associations

I think I could have spent eight hours a day for the last month reading news and commentary and making blog notes on the situation of the real estate markets in Korea nowadays, but I do have other more pressing concerns (as the scarcity of posts of late may indicate). Not being able to make any coherent real estate policy to curtail the wildly rising prices and speculation has hurt the present government a lot, and it was not long ago that the government party was surveyed as being the least on the side of the "middle class (chungsanch'ûng) and the ordinary people (sômin)" behind the Democratic Labor Party and the Grand National Party.

So as I'm not getting paid for providing analysis about the Korea real estate markets, I'll take one interesting characteristic of the real estate (read: "apartment house") markets, namely that of women's central role in it. Those familiar with how Korean families manage their money are aware that it's most likely the woman of the family who's in charge of the daily details and information gathering, often contributing considerably to the family wealth.

A while ago Ohmynews in its newly launched economy pages wrote about the role of the apartment block women's association (punyôhoe, ("wives' association") in actually administering the apartment prices, which has been pointed out as one factor for the heated markets. (One article about the situation in Sinbong-dong in Yongin, Gyeonggi, how the situation in Pan'gyo is affecting the rest of the Gyeonggi south of Seoul; another piece on real estate agencies closing doors in order to cool down the heated markets, in which prices are constantly rising but transactions not done. One article quotes a realtor who's been in the business for two years after 28 years as a company man (typical for retirees):
"Apartment women's associations make agreements not to sell under certain prices, so how could the prices fall? Whenever aunties gather the talk is about where the apartment prospects are good. When the whole nations is taking part in the speculation it's very difficult to get the housing prices under control."

And about the activities of the women's association; the women's association obstructing deals which were going to be made for a price under what the association wishes for:
서울 성동구 성수동 A 공인 관계자는 "노후 아파트인 동아, 장미 아파트 집주인들이 주변 4~5곳 중개업소에 매물을 내놓고 각 중개업소가 부르는 가격을 저울질 하면서 호가를 높이고 있다"며 "집주인들간의 가격 담합을 위한 모임도 수차례 열리고 있다"고 전했다.
실제 성수동 1가 동아맨션 아파트의 시세는 32평형의 경우 4억8000만~5억원 내외선이다. 하지만 이 아파트 집주인들은 5억2000만~5억3000만원, 심지어 5억4000만원까지 매물 호가를 주장하고 있다. 이들 집주인들의 집값 상향 조정은 여기서 그치지 않고 있다.
시세보다 낮게 판 집주인에 대한 항의 표시는 물론 부녀회를 중심으로 주민들의 입단속을 병행하고 있다.
최근 시세보다 1000만원 정도 가량 싼 5억2000만원에 흥정을 마치고 아파트를 구매하기위해 중개업소를 찾은 노모씨(33)씨는 "시세보다 싼 가격에 판다는 소식이 전해지면서 다른 집주인들로부터 항의 전화를 받고 해당 집주인이 팔수 없다고 알려왔다"라고 말했다.
이어 그는 "부녀회장이 계약 현장에 직접 나와 집주인에게 5억5000만원까지 받아줄 수 있다며 회유하는 모습을 봤고, 결국 5억4500만원에 계약할 수 밖에 없었다“라며 ”1주일 전에 4억8000만원에 계약을 하려다 못했는데, 그 사이에 5000만원이 오른 것은 가격이 미쳤다라고 밖에 볼 수 없다"라며 분통을 터트렸다.
(Also two other older pieces from 2003 in Chosun Ilbo: "Apartment prices? Ask the women's association" "Apartment block associations adjusting prices".)

This is not the only issue in which women have been pointed out as culprits behind excessive consumption in Korea. I wouldn't dare to argue that this kind of financial management was not part of the problem, but it needs to be said that from their point of view they are doing their best for their part in the economy of their household. Their mostly wage-earning or professional husbands who don't have money going through their hands do not get tainted with accusations of contributing to the real estate bubble. (Women's "household money" often seems to be in this regard morally suspect, while men's money used commonally gets the clout of common good. Or something...)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Jang Sa-ik and Sojiro in concert

In the midst of all the bad blood between Korea and Japan and at worst unacceptable expressions of hate, there are luckily those who believe that (South) Korea and Japan are better to be in some kind of relations. The reason why I pay attention to the concert for the 40th anniversary of the Korean-Japanese diplomatic relations is that the Korean performer is none other than Jang Sa-ik. The Japanese co-performer with Jang is the ocarina player Sojiro, previously unknown to me, but apparently a musician of renown.

The concert is held on July 9 under the auspices of Posco in the Posco Center, and the free tickets are available only by online application between June 20 and July 1; the lucky winners are announced on July 4. For more info see the Posco concert pages.

Download and listen for example Tchillekkot (mp3) (wild rose?) by Jang Sa-ik; also more songs available at the Korean traditional music file page.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monthly Joongang the unpublished article on Kim Un-yong

Pressian tells about the article on the former member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Kim Un-yong (or was he a vice president, puwiwônjang?) which was to be published in the Monthly Joongang but was not as a result of pressure from "political power" (kwôllyôk) and "big capital" (kôdae chabon). Thirteen journalists from Monthly Joongang had released a statement where they revealed the fact but did not give details of who the "power" and the "big capital" were.
The article was going to tell about the secret negotiations between Kim, Blue House (the ROK presidential office) and Jacques Rogge of the IOC for the conditions of Kim's voluntary resignation (chajin sat'oe) from IOC in last May. As the conditions for Kim's resignation, Rogge and Blue House would have agreed to work for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, to keep taekwondo as an olympic event after the Beijing games, and to have a Korean among the IOC committee members. The "power" became aware of the article and sent someone to suggest that Monthly Joongang discard the article, but the magazine would have refused. But the request to scrap the article it could not refuse came from a "certain group".

According to Pressian it's quite clear that the "power" from which the first request came was the Blue House (president's office) and the "big capital" which sent the unrefusable request was Samsung. The Samsung head Lee Kun-hee is a member of the IOC, and Joongang used to be a part of the Samsung conglomerate.

This alone does not yet prove that Samsung is more powerful than the Blue House, but it shouldn't be no new that it should have more leverage over Joongang (who has its own man Hong Seok-hyeong, brother-in-law with Lee Kun-hee, as the US ambassador).

About Kim Un-yong I have hardly seen anything but negative. But at least his political survival skills have been admirable.

Update, June 22, 2005.

Media Today has more precise info about the dealings between ROK presidential office Jacques Rogge of the IOC and Kim Un-yong.
Last April Kim Chông-gil, the vice president of the Korean Olympic Committee (대한체육회) negotiated in Lausanne with Rogge about Kim. Rogge had agreed to keep taekwondo in the olympics and help Pyeongchang to get the 2014 winter olympics and keep a Korean among the IOC members. After that Kim U-sik, the head of the presidential secretariat negotiated with Kim Un-yong about his resignation, for which the condition was Kim un-yong's immediate release. (Didn't remember he was doing time.) The reason why Cheongwadae was involved was that Kim Un-yong wanted to return to the scene after his release, and was using the "Kim Un-yong files" to pressure the IOC. This becoming public would've of course hurt IOC a lot, so for Rogge and the Korean government the resignation of Kim was the best option. Kim Un-yong first strongly declined to resign and demanded immediate release, but gave up to Cheongwadae and Rogge, also due to his ailing health.

Here's a price quote from a Reuters piece from last May after Kim's resignation:
When [Kim Un-yong] was sentenced [in Korea] last June, his lawyer said his actions and business conduct were rooted in South Korea’s dictatorship period of the 1970s and 1980s and it was unfair to judge him by present-day values.
He really must have been in a right company with Samaranch, the old Falangist of Franco.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Book tag

The Marmot passed on the "book tag" making rounds in the blogosphere; how come it took so long to concoct this?

How many books I’ve owned
Hundreds, beyond thousand perhaps. Been a little slow in adding new ones lately as there are so many older unread. (And the Korean bookshops don't deliver by airmail any more but with the much more expensive courier service.)

The last book I bought
Siinä näkijä missä tekijä (1972) by Hannu Salama. A classic of contemporary Finnish fiction, based on actual communist activists, of whom some were engaged in sabotage, in the town of Tampere during the WW2. (From the point of view of the official Finland, de facto allied with Germany in the 1941-44 phase of the war, these communists were traitors and punished accordingly, but they themselves were able to maintain they were on the side of the Allies.)
Now that book will be an interesting read in comparison to Taebaek Mountains, in which the political environment and the motives of the main characters are not entirely different. Salama nevertheless, himself far left in the political map, was criticized by communists for presenting his protagonists in a non-heroic light.

The last book I read
Taebaek Sanmaek (Taebaek Mountains), as frequent visitors to this blog perhaps already know (posts here, here and here).

Five books that have meant a lot to me
The following are not in the order of importance.

1) Peiliin piirretty nainen (1963, "Woman drawn in the mirror") by Veijo Meri. A work of fiction to which I return again and again. A taxi trip during two days of summer.
2) Hyôndae Hwaryong Okp'yôn (Tusan Donga, 2001). Dictionary of Chinese characters; not the most important of my dictionaries but one that I like perhaps the most. I have one at home and one at my department desk.
3) Tie Tampereelle. Dokumentoitu kuvaus Tampereen antautumiseen johtaneista sotatapahtumista Suomen sisällissodassa (Road to Tampere. A documented account of the war operations leading to the surrender of Tampere in the Finnish civil war) by Heikki Ylikangas (1993). Convincing, chilling, depressing; not only Koreans have shown some of their worst sides amongst themselves.
4) Han'gang (2002, "Han River") by Jo Jung-rae (Cho Chông-nae). No work of scholarship has been able to provide this kind of spectrum of experiences and give an idea of the feelings in the 1960s's and 1970s' Korea. This, not Taebaek Mountains, is to me the major work of Jo.
5) Kunnon sotamies Svejk maailmansodassa (The Good Soldier Svejk) by Jaroslav Hašek.
So many of all kinds of conflicts? Could it really be that such kind of books have been meaningful? I'll have to think about it.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Kyunghyang Sinmun on the 5th anniversary of 6.15

Kyunghyang Sinmun shows in its editorial (or is it called leader?) that the progressive press is also able to call a spade a spade (awkward translations and wordings all mine):
The southern and northern civic representatives gave yesterday a "Declaration of national unification" (Minjok t'ongil sônôn) on the 5th anniversary of the South-North declaration of June 15.
The South-North representatives declared that the wish of our nation is to live and prosper side by side as one people and cooperate and remove the danger of nuclear war. The South and the North emphasized that the intention of the June 15 declaration was to make the Korean peninsula into a place of peaceful life based on reconciliation and cooperation. The South and the North have not forgotten this promise. The fact that both sides can reach such agreement carries the meaning of the 5th anniversary.

But unfortunately it is impossible to avoid feeling emptiness in this declaration. It is not possible to get an impression that the South and the North had taken the June 15 declaration as the basis of their policies and tried to implement it. For the five years South and North, especially North Korea has not been true to the spirit of June 15. Kim Jong-il has not kept his promise of a return visit. North Korea has cut off the South-North dialogue for a reason unacceptable for the South. In regard of the nuclear question, it has not recognized the existence or the role of the South.

During the five years, there has not been hardly any thing which could be solved "by ourselves." North Korea's has only expected that South Korea accept its demands as such and join it in confrontation with USA. This is not national cooperation (minjok kongjo). How could it be called such as it entails creating friction both between South and North and within South. National cooperation can not be realized if attitude for sitting down together and seeking a solution for the nuclear problem is lacking. But North Korea is only adhering itself to USA, and for that reason also South Korea also has had to adhere itself to the USA. This is not the way to go. What is North Korea going to do? Unfortunately we cannot but make this question one the 5th anniversary.

If on the other hand someone is interested in getting convinced that without the songun policy (DPRK term; "military first policy" in plainer English) the 2000 South-North summit and other great leaps forward wouldn't have been possible, please check this article in the always reliable The Voice of People.

Update June 27, 2005.

With the above editorial, Kyunghyang has called upon itself the wrath of the 조국평화통일위원회 ("Committee for the peaceful reunification of the fatherland") of DPRK. The secretariat (sôgiguk) of the committee released a statement, in which it lambasts in the name of the whole nation (on kyôreûi irûmûro) Donga Ilbo and Kyunghyang Sinmun for disparaging the idea of "among ourselves" (uri minjokkiri).
민족도 모르고 의리도 없는 이런 비뚤어진 심사를 가진 《동아일보》나 《경향신문》과 같은 반민족적이며 반통일적인 보수언론들은 앞으로 민족통일행사에 일체 참가할 자격조차 없다는것을 알아야 한다.

아울러 《한나라당》도 온 민족이 지켜본다는것을 명심하고 이번 축전과 관련하여 속이 뒤틀린 오만불손한 망발과 무분별한 소동에 매달리지 말아야 한다.

그러지 않을 경우 온 민족의 더 큰 저주와 규탄을 받게 될것이다.

주체94(2005)년 6월 22일
(emphasis AL)
"Anti-Korean and anti-unification conservative newspapers like Donga Ilbo and Kyunghyang Sinmun who don't what a nation is and have no sense of honor (ûiri) should know that from now on they are not welcome to participage in unification events." Ûiri? Quite interesting use of this word. Now has anyone been talking about a kkangp'ae kukka?

Don't know if Donga has reacted to this in any way, but Kyunghyang has responded to the criticism with a column by an editorial writer, mentioning largely the same things that were pointed out in the editorial.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

most common Chinese characters in Chinese

Learners of Korean who visit this blog are surely aware of the importance of learning Chinese characters while learning the Korean language, but just as a reminder I point the esteemed visitors to a site which lists simplified Chinese characters in order of frequency (tip via Language Hat)in the Chinese language. The list has been compiled by Patrick Hassel Zein, who tells the following of the compilation:
The list was created using statistic list of Chinese characters and a number of thick dictionaries. All characters are presented in falling statistical order. Pronunciations are specified according to Pinyin and for some characters a number of different possible pronunciations are given. Examples of common words are given for most characters, however with no guarantee that all the most common words are listed or that the given examples are particularly common words. Some of the listed pronunciations for some characters are less used than other pronunciations for the same character, and in those cases translations and examples may lack. Some additional comments are given.
The following are the 10 most common characters in Patrick's list. Most of these are of course essential parts of Sino-Korean vocabulary, but the use often differs especially due to grammar. For example the first character in the list, 的 (Kor. -chôk/-jôk), appears most often as a suffix making a noun into an attribute (sahoe, society; sahoejôk, social).
Seq.num.CharacterPronunciations and explanations
1[de] <grammatical particle marking genitive as well as simple and composed adjectives>; 我的 wǒde my; 高的 gāode high, tall; 是的 shìde that's it, that's right; 是...的 shì...de one who...; 他是说汉语的. Tā shì shuō Hànyǔde. He is one who speaks Chinese.
[dì] 目的 mùdì goal
[dí] true, real; 的确 díquè certainly
2一(F壹)[yī] one, a little; 第一 dì-yī first, primary; 看一看 kànyīkàn have a (quick) look at
[yí] (used before tone #4); 一个人 yí gè rén one person; 一定 yídìng certain; 一样 yíyàng same; 一月yíyuè January
[yì] (used before tones #2 and #3); 一点儿 yìdiǎnr a little; 一些 yìxiē some
3[shì] to be, 是不是? shìbushì? is (it) or is (it) not?; 是否 shìfǒu whether or not, is (it) or is (it) not?
4[bù] not
[bú] (used before tone #4); 不是 bú shì isn't
5[le] <verb particle marking a new situation or a completed action>; 你来了! Nǐ láile! You have come! 我累了! Wǒ lèile! I've gotten tired! 那好了! Nà hǎole! That's OK (now)! 我只请了一位客人. Wǒ zhǐ qǐngle yí wèi kèren. I invited only one guest.
[liǎo] end, finish, settle, dispose of, know clearly, to be able, 了解 liǎojiě understand, comprehend; 你卖不了! Nǐ mài bùliǎo! You will not be able to sell (it)!
[liào] (=瞭 liaò) to survey/watch
{Compare with 子 zǐ child}
6[rén] person; 人类 rénlèi humankind; 有人吗? yǒu rén ma? Is there anybody here?
{Compare with 入 rù enter}
7[wǒ] I, me, my; 我们 wǒmen we, us
{Compare with 找 zhǎo seek}
8[zài] at; 现在 xiànzài now; 存在 cúnzài exist
9[yǒu] have, there is; 没有 méiyǒu haven't, there isn't; 有没有? Yǒuméiyǒu? Is there or isn't there? Have (you) or haven't (you)?; 有的 yǒude some
[yòu] (=又 yòu) again, both... and...
10[tā] he, him, his, (she, her, it, its), (=其他 qítā) other
[tuō] (in classical texts) someone else, something else

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Anti-americanism and Taebaek Sanmaek

Anti-americanism isn't quite among the topics of this place, but as I'm making notes every now and then of Jo Jung-rae's Taebaek Sanmaek which I've been reading for the last few months (doesn't go that quick with us foreigners), I'll write up something about the appearance of the Americans at the seventh volume of the novel, when UN forces have made the Incheon landing, and DPRK forces are retreating in a hurry.

First, the impact of this novel on how Americans and the participation of the USA (ok, UN) in the Korean war has been perceived must have been huge. Bruce Cumings' work on the Korean War has often been mentioned as an influence on many Koreans' reconsideration of the role of the US after the liberation in 1945, but this novel has been read by millions.

Let's see how the first Americans step on the stage.
First a few words of one of the main characters, Kim Pôm-u, the son of a rich yangban landowner; he had been strongly influenced by leftism, but was more of a Kim Ku style nationalist. At the onset of the Korean War he had remained in Seoul, and was eventually put into propaganda work by the communists.

At the time of the WW2 he had been taken to the "student corps" in the Japanese army, and deserted in Southeast Asia to the Allies' side, where he had been trained by OSS (Office of Strategic Services?) for operations inside Korea [wonder if anything like that actually happened], so he spoke English fluently. When the Japanese capitulated, he became a POW as the Americans regarded him now as a Japanese national. That had made him bitter towards the USA, which he regarded as nothing short of an evil imperialist. For much of the novel, Kim Pôm-u has been telling how Koreans should expect nothing good from the Americans. Now in volume 7, when the war had started and he had chosen not to take refuge and was not unwillingly serving the Communist forces , he was thinking that the US participation in the war was hindering the realization of the true will of the Korean people. (Damn Yankees come and mess up a war which was going all good!)

And now to the first appearance of the US soldiers. Kim Pôm-u had been on assignment, but found the office in Jeonju deserted as he returned, so he decided to go down to his home place in southern Jeolla. As he's trodding the road, he sees how two US soldiers practice shooting on two women's water jars at a well, and later try to rape the women, which Kim goes and stops from happening. The sergeant (or something) of the soldiers hurries to the site and arrests Kim. The sergeant has "blue eyes" (made very clear) and thick bodily hair, which makes Kim Pôm-u to think of him as a furry arctic animal. He and his superior are of course arrogant and haughty towards Kim and Korea.

Not much love to be expected for the Miguk-nom for the rest of the novel.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Jun Tae-il Street or Bridge to Cheonggyecheon?

Computer-generated image of the future Cheonggyecheon and the proposed art work by Im Ok-sang on the bridge, for which the name 'Jun Tae-il Bridge' has been requested. The work consists of two hands representing hope.
There's been a proposal to name a street or a bridge in the newly reconstructed Cheonggyecheon for Jun Tae-il (Chôn T'ae-il), who was a worker in a P'yônghwa Sijang garment factory and a labor activists, finally immolating himself in desperation in November 1970. The proposition (or 'demand', yogu) has been made by the Jun Tae-il Memorial Association; the Seoul authorities don't seem to be embracing the idea, but do not outright reject it either. They're supposed to make a decision by next week. (Hankyoreh article)

Hunjangûi karûch'im warmly supports commemmorating Jun Tae-il - except that I'm not sure if those two hands as an artwork are a good idea or that too much of commemorating objects are placed in P'yônghwa Sijang, a long 3-story building along Cheonggyecheon.

(On a side note, a paragraph in the article is a prime example of how 'language' and 'writing' tend not to be distinguished in Korea; one part of the proposed commemorating art work would have "'Jun Tae-il' written in several languages like Sumer script, Arabian, Chinese characters, Sanskrit and English." Or perhaps, perhaps we should think that words like ônô (言語), (語) and mal do not mean only 'language' but 'script' and 'writing' as well. 'Jun Tae-il' is how the name is written in the homepage of the memorial association.)

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Yu Yeong-cheol sentenced to death

The death sentence to the serial murderer Yu Yông-ch'ôl (Yoo Young-chul) has now been confirmed (in Kyunhyang Sinmun). (My notes on the topic written after Yu was arrested last summer are here and here.) As the discussion about the abolition of death sentence had been going on for a longer time in ROK, the horrible crimes of Yu couldn't have been more unwelcome for the abolitionists.

As long as the ROK criminal code has the death sentence, I'm not surprised that it was applied to Yu. But what I feel sorry about is that the death sentence has not been abolished yet. I made a short note this spring about the law bill for the abolition submitted to the legislation committee, but I have not heard about it since (and have forgotten to find out). The number of people in death row in South Korea with the addition of Yu is now 60. That number has not diminished since Kim Dae-jung took office, as no death sentences have been carried out during his and Roh's presidency.

I'm confident that the death sentence will be abolished and ROK join the civilized nations in this regard soon.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Political Economy of Love Hotels

Despite of giving in my opinion too much emphasis to the capitalism-supportive function of the often loveless Korean families the Hankyoreh column by Chông Hûi-jin ("Political Economy of Motels") is worth giving a glimpse (supposing one reads Korean). Don't let the social science jargon trouble too much (even though columns like won't help taking Hankyoreh closer to the wider readership):
But in Korea, 'extramarital relations' don't lead to 'destruction of marriage.' Koreans' love outside home is not contrary either to the familism (kajok igijuûi), "the basis of all social evil", or the family system, which volunteers for the maintenance of capitalism. It [love outside home] is actually functional. With the joys of extramarital relations, people can endure the hardship and dullness of the family system.

"Love" motels near Sillim 4-geori in Gwanak-gu, Seoul.
(c) AL 2000

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Friday, June 03, 2005

cold noodles

이렇게 세상이 좋아졌다. World has truly become a better place, for would it have been possible to enjoy naengmyôn over here before? What would we be eating if the Asian food stores wouldn't be catering for us? You don't want to hear, and I don't want to tell you. This is naengmyôn: buckwheat (tattari in Finnish) noodles with spinach namul, kimchi, some toenjang tchigae, and a fried egg. (A package of naengmyôn in a store here is 5.20€ (6.25$), fair considered the circumstances.)(This posting has been inspired by Delicious Biting.)

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sasakawa money and Yonsei

Fists have been raised again at Yonsei University, several articles have appeared in Ohmynews and Hankyoreh has even had an editorial now that it has been found out that money from a foundation founded by the late Sasakawa Ryoichi, ultra-rightist, quick business mover in the Japanese-occupied areas during the war, convicted war criminal and a post-war businessman with a monopoly in gambling on motor-boat racing (from which the funds for his later donations stem from). (See also the mug shot of Mr Sasakawa after the war.)

Ok, why do I pay attention to this? Because I've taken money from that man. Or more precisely, from a fund establishment with a donation from a foundation established by Sasakawa. University of Helsinki one among the 69 universities has a Sasakawa fund, from which three one-year scholarships are given yearly for doctoral studies in Anthropology (!), East Asian Studies (!) and International Politics.

I have no trouble understanding the sentiments of the Koreans who have taken an issue with this; there are many institutions of higher learning which have refused Sasakawa money. But how come it became known or was paid attention to only now? With the general sour mood towards Japan? Demanding apology from Yonsei and the dissolution of the fund when the funds have been in use for 10 years, and not only that, but discharge (pojik haeim) of professors who have been involved (see Ohmynews article)
(Actually there was resistance in Yonsei against accepting the funds back in 1995.)

By the way, Korea University has also gotten money from the same source. Oh, they've found out that as well at Yonhap; the Koryo U. representative tells that the scholarship program has now been discontinued, and that Korea U. refused the same kind of money that Yonsei accepted in 1995 because it was from an ultra-rightist source.

Another Yonhap article via Ohmynews.

With the past that Ryoichi Sasakawa has, it doesn't make one proud to have one's name associated with him, but... the money was good, I lived and wrote my thesis with it for a year, and as is correct, the fund bearing his name will be named among the funding sources in my thesis. (What the hell am I making excuses here, at the time when Sasakawa was "active" in China, his nation and mine were on the same side and in good terms. I faintly remember that Finland would have provided Japan with some intelligence during the war and received bamboo to be used as skiing poles.)

• The editorial from Hankyoreh in English: Yonsei University's Outrageous Excuses
Kyungyang Sinmun editorial (Korean): University and Money; Kyunghyang isn't interested in condemning the fund but is hoping that the present controversy would make people question the practices and principles of universities' money gathering. (Otherwise, Kyunghyang doesn't seem to mention this issue at all; it is notable that Kyunghyang, which is often listed as "progressive" has much less nationalistic or anti-Japanese flavor than others.)

A few other things which have been an issue for the professors' association at Yonsei but which I didn't mention: Sasakawa money is going to the association (?) which is involved in making the school textbook said to whitewash the Japanese atrocities and the colonial past, and moreover, the foundation representatives are taking part in the association.

The weekly "Producer's Memo" (PD such'ôp) in the MBC television had last April one program with the title "Universities, unconcerned by settling the pro-Japanese past" (친일청산의 무풍지대, 학교), in which the acceptance of a 7.5 billion won donation from Sasakawa by Yonsei University was discussed.

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