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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

tongne as a disparaging term

When the investigative program PD Such'ôp (Producer's memo) of MBC started broadcasting the results of its inquiries to the case of Dr Hwang Woo-suk, the supporters of Dr Hwang (who at first were quite many) countered the allegations by making and circulating Tongne Such'ôp ("neighborhood memo") parodies (?) in the net. Here the term tongne (neighborhood) is supposed to be a disparaging term, telling that the worth of the original program is at the lowest "neighborhood level". (It is quite clear that tongne isn't applied to PD Such'ôp any more since the role of the program in bringing Hwang's misdeeds into light was reported worldwide.)

But it was not only the supporters of Dr Hwang (he still has his doctorate intact, doesn't he?) that used the same term to ridicule the quality of programming concerning the case. A bit more than a week ago a KBS newsprogram Sisajungsim ("concentrating on current events") aired a program which apparently presented all kinds of conspiracy theories around the issue of Hwang as equal to the better established facts. Jin Jung-kwon, the political commentator and adjunct university teacher who nowadays hosts a radio program at SBS, commented in his program that KBS deserves to be renamed DBS (dongnebangsong, "neighborhood broadcast") for airing such nonsense (article in Pressian).

This is just a reminder for myself that tongne is not just a cosy term for neighborhoods and the sphere of one's daily activities, implicating a bit more humane relationships, reciprocity (I am an anthro after all), more chông(情) than in other environments; that it does have implications of class and stratification as well. It's not a coincidence that tongne isn't used that much about more well-off apartment neighborhoods.
(I was also reminded of this when translating the outline of my thesis to Korean; neighborhood goes well in English, but its closest equivalent in Korean, tongne, is more nuanced. "Neighborhood business" is tongne changsa, but it is also chugô chiyôk sogyumo saôp/chayôngôp.

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