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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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Monday, February 27, 2006

ice sports

Ok, from the point of view of The Republic of Korea what recently ended in Torino (or is it Turin) was some kind of shorttrack skating games, and from the success of Korean athletes, they are entitled to that (see Hankyoreh editorial in Korean and in English, and Chosun editorial in Korean and in English). (I see that the Hankyoreh translator has toned down the title from "The Young Koreans' Accomplishments that Shook Turin" to "Young Koreans' Accomplishments in Turin", but maybe it was just a question of space... And Chosun's Korean title "Hoping that shorttrack accomplishments become a boost for winter sports" became just "We Can Do Even Better" in English.)

But none of that compares to the accomplishments of the Finnish curling team in the Turin ice. Sure they brought home only the silver medal, but when the team and especially it's captain succeed in the short time of two weeks in providing the nation with a new hero, idol, an image of a modern man that men can relate to and women hope their partner would be like. An online reader of a newspaper:
"Markku Uusipaavalniemi is the most erotic sight in the world when he glides sturdy, silent, and serious on the slippery and shiny ice with the stone in his hand."
Another, apparently also of female gender, adds:
"You don't need to understand the game. Who's got time to do that. We just stare Uuusipaavalniemi."

New t-shirts are also available:

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Friday, February 24, 2006

death penalty abolition plans this time in dept of justice

So it seems that the law bill for the abolition of death penalty in the Republic of Korea, signed and presented to the legislation committee by a clear majority of members of parliament a long time ago in the end of 2004 has been buried in the legislative process. The National Assembly was supposed to deal with it already in September last year (my earlier entry), but nothing has come out of it. Such a shame, when there's been a parliament majority, and as so many assemblypersons were for the abolition it apparently is not an issue on which one's assembly seat depends on.

Now Hankyoreh (or actually Yonhap) tells that as a part of a big legal reform drawn in the Ministry of Justice, the abolition of death penalty will be given a thorough reconsideration. MOJ will undertake all kinds of research and surveys of the effects and costs of the abolition and of the popular opinion on the matter. After that in the next summer the ministry will make a decision whether to support the pending abolition bill. (So has it been the opposition of MOJ to the bill which has kept it from proceeding?)

This is an issue that I want to be optimistic about. As I said, it's not much of an issue in elections (when the majority of assemblypersons choose to support an abolition bill, the pro-penalty opinion is apparently not strong enough to be worried about), and now that it's soon 10 years since the last executions were carried out (on the final moments of Kim Young-sam's presidency) ROK is close to having de facto abolished the death penalty (in Amnesty International standards). I also like to think that the election of a more conservative president after Kim DJ and Roh won't turn the clock back.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

failure of a restaurant

Ohmynews ("Life Stories" section, not news or economy) has a story of the closure of a failed restaurant, written by the keeper herself. Opened in early 2004 (writer's story from April 2004), it had no more than two tables, and apparently two employees and later one (according to the keeper's story in Ohmy last year).

The writer does not give any definitive answer to why her restaurant failed. The business site of the place doesn't seem to have been bad: mainly offices and printing shops, which should be better places to deliver meals than private houses as orders tend to be bigger, but:
It did not take long to realise that business does not work just by one's dreams and hopes. I got used to the new things and environments and became comfortable with restaurant work, but orders diminished and I needed to let the other of the two delivery women (imo, "aunt") go. Rent was late, and I started to get urging phone calls from the landlord.
In the earlier story from last June the keeper wrote that in order not to make deficit, she would have needed to sell 50-60 4000W meals a day, but was selling only some 30-40. It's a feat she made it this far, so one is left wondering how much she's in debt at the moment. She'll be indebted for a few years from now on, so in the best case she'll end up being a good if painful and expensive experience richer.

Good to see this kind of realism amidst the rosy success stories in other media, which often are more infomercials than journalistic stories, geared for franchising companies.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Blogging has been nil for the last week and almost non-existent for the whole month; sorry for those whov'e been visiting in vain.

In case anyone happens to need a kimchi recipe in Finnish, here's one. Some friends have been hoping for one, and as I happened to have some pics already online, we put up a page with ingredients, instructions, and pics.
2 kiinankaalia
runsas desi ("cup") merisuolaa
1 pienehkö retikka
puoli desiä chilijauhetta
1/3 desiä kalalientä tai katkarapulientä (esim. thaimaalaista)
2 tl murskattua inkivääriä
kokonainen valkosipuli, murskattuna
1/2 purjoa
1 punainen paprika
makean (glutenous) riisin jauhoa
(sokeria, seesamiöljyä)
Count on me that this is best kimchi there is in Finland.

Kaikki mausteet ja muut ainekset on sekoitettu maustemönjäksi.
Mausteseos hierotaan kaalinlehtien jokaiseen väliin.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

hangul jacket designs

When vacationing in Rome, we had seen glimpses of jackets with texts with texts which looked like imitations of hangul already on our first day there. The very second day in a visit to the Porta Portese outdoor market opening on Sundays we got a chance to have a closer look. First there was this yellow vest hanging on a trader's booth. A little further down the street lined with market stalls was this fellow wearing a "New Men" jacket. And yes, it actually reads "New man" in Korean letters and Korean language in the jacket as well, save for a couple of misplaced or missing strokes which may be intentional or mistaken, can't tell. (An Italian sportswear manufacturer intentionally spelt one design as Napapijri instead of the "correct" Napapiiri (Finnish for "polar circle".) And all this harmoniously set with insignia resembling the Japanese navy flag and the flag of England.

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Friday, February 03, 2006


Mr Pak renovated his rice mill over one weekend back in 1999.
Photographs (c)AL 1999

The keeper of a heating equipment shop is drilling old dilapidated concrete. The fauna that had been living in the cracks was interesting. Mr Pak the mill proprietor is standing next to him, while the chimulpo keeper from across the street and the neighboring gas boiler shop keeper make the audience.

The only person who was paid for his work, but he wasn't Mr Pak's acquaintance. Mr Pak got the tiles for free from a kind of a business partner or a regular customer.

Of course I participated in the work like any fieldworking anthro would do. I said something about we also having this kind of a system in Finland where friends come around to contribute work for drinks and a meal. "But here you don't get even a meal." Ok, here this doesn't sound as witty as from Mr Pak back then. He was brilliant in keeping up the good spirits during the work with his humor and wit, of which a good deal was about me.
- We have a construction inspector from abroad.
- Are you sure painting is not your original job and research just a side job?
- I measured my height at home and got 179, but now that Antti is around nobody believes that any more. (Mr Pak was barely 160 cm tall.)


Will spend the next week vacationing in Rome.
로마에 여행가는 관계로 <훈장의 가르침>은 열흘동안 쉬겠습니다.

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