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Thursday, November 17, 2005

t'ongjang seeking to restore her honor

It's not often that news or articles concerning t'ongjangs, "neighborhood heads" on the second-lowest formal level of administration (panjang, "head of pan, is the lowest) come to my attention, but when that happens, I'm happy to give a note. That brings me nice memories, as some neighborhood shopkeepers I did research with called me teasingly t'ongjang for going around in the neighborhood and finding out about things. This small, seemingly unsignificant piece of news by Hankyoreh tells of Ms Kim of Daechi 2-dong, Gangnam-gu, who lost her post as a t'ongjang due to a friction in the apartment residents' association (ipchuja taep'yohoeûi) after which a complaint concerning her was filed to the ward (tong) office. Mr Kim was dismissed from her t'ongjang post, but she later won a defamation suit in court against those who filed the complaint and had spred false stories on her in the apartment block.

I understand that it's not so much about the post itself, the remuneration a t'ongjang gets is low - but that she was dismissed on grounds which were later judged as libelous in a court. Mrs Kim had first been a panjang for five years after retiring from teaching in an elementary school, and later become a t'ongjang, which she felt was a rewarding task: "going around in the neighborhood I got to know things well, befriended many neighborhs and felt worthy."

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