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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, July 31, 2006

Kuin ensi kertaa / Yong Hye-won 처음처럼 / 용혜원

처음처럼 / 용혜원

우리 만났을 때
그 때처럼
언제나 그렇게 수수하게
사랑하고 싶습니다
Kuin ensi kertaa / Yong Hye-won

kuin silloin
ensi kertaa
Niin koruttomasti
haluaisin rakastaa
처음 연인으로
느껴져 왔던
그 순간의 느낌대로
언제나 그렇게 아름답게
사랑하고 싶습니다
hetkien tunnot
Niin kauniisti
haluaisin rakastaa
욕심부리지 않고
우리 만났을 때
그 때처럼 처음처럼
언제나 그렇게 순수하게
사랑하고 싶습니다
kuin silloin
ensi kertaa
Niin aidosti
haluaisin rakastaa

Käännös Antti Leppänen 안띠 렙배넨 옮김.

헬싱키에서 아셈정상회담을 하는 동안 회담에 참가하는 나라들의 사랑시(詩)를 모아서 헬싱키 어느 광장에서 전시회를 열린다고 하니 나한테 한국의 사랑詩를 찾아 번역해 달라고 했다. 한국 詩를 잘 모르는 것이겠지만 인테넷이 있어서 걱정할 것 없다. 용혜원의 <처음처럼>을 "101가지 사랑시"에서 찾아냈다. 핀란드말로 옮긴 것을 보니까 그렇게 욕볼 일을 안 했다 싶네. 누가 딴 말 해 보게.

"우리 만났을 때"를 Tavatessamme로 고쳤다. Kun tapasimme보다 좀 詩적인 감이 좋을 것 같아서.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Aidan Foster-Carter and the media

Compared to me who ended up being requested only once to appear in media for the "expert opinion" about the situation after the North Korean missile tests, Aidan Foster-Carter had a lot more hectic times with the media after the news broke out:
Wednesday, July 5, was one busy, dizzy day. It began early (6:45am) with lots of radio. Besides BBC World Service, there was a full house of Celts - Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - plus local radio in Essex and Warwick. I'd been booked for BBC Radio 4's flagship Today too, but was first postponed and then stood down. They always do that to me. Still, this was all done by phone from home; hence no great inconvenience, just a tad annoying.
He also got a phone call from across the Atlantic:
Worryingly, ignorance seems to increase across the pond. Fox TV phoned, wanting someone who'd met Kim [Jong-il]. I suggested Madeleine Albright. Who? Er, your former secretary of state! (I'm not sure if right-wing Fox even speaks to Clintonistas, mind, or vice versa.)
As for me, appearing in media is always a good opportunity to hone the skill to present one's expertise in a clear and condensed manner, and the vanity factor is not irrelevant either... Except that I do not consider myself a specialist on DPRK missiles, which I told the producer when he contacted me, but as the vanity factor is not irrelevant, we agreed that we can work out something after I told him how I might be of use for their program. As the commuter train was late, my biggest concern that morning was not the interview but that I'd miss the program; after getting assured that I wouldn't be late, it was that all my sweat (it was 30 degrees that morning) would show on air. It did not.

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ssahn.com one-eyed photographs

Just a note of the most ingenious and silliest of blogs, ssahn.com kept by Hongik professor Ahn Sang-soo, which contains only pictures of people covering their other eye. One of the latest additions is the reporter Cho Gab-je.

Let me pick some other examples as well: the actor Kwon Hae-hyo, former president's daughter Roh So-young, the migrant worker Gufi,
the musician An Chi-hwan, Hongik students Chang Hye-jin and Cho A-ra, restaurateur Mitsuyoshi Kawanishi, the poet Kim Chi-ha, keepers of Yogi Punsik Bae Tae-jin and Lee Hyun-ja, and so on.

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photography and travel site

Such are the ways of googling: 창실동 image search took me to a travel and photography site 뭉그니의 여행이야기 Diego's Travel World, kept by a fellow who, judging from his extensive trips around the world, is close to being a professional traveller and travel writer, but is actually a high school geography teacher. Lots of things to see, such as the following:
visit to Naksan close to downtown Seoul
Gaesimsa (開心寺) in Southern Chungcheon
from downtown Seoul to Inwangsan
list of photographic visits in Korea

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

losing weight in the army

Newsis (?) via Daum brings us the piece of human interest news that Mr Yu and Mr Hwan lost respectively 40 kg and 47 kg in weight during their military service. For example Mr Yu 's weight had increased to 120 kilos during his studies due to frequent occasions of drinking and late meals. What draws my attention to this issue is that in my country, which has a similar mandatory military service as the Republic of Korea, the most common change in bodily weight is exactly the opposite to what happened to these two young men. When I've told of this to Koreans, some have commented that the same often happens in Korea as well due to increased muscle mass in excercise. Over here, it's most often the increased bodily fat: for example I must have gained 5 kilos during the first two months back then in the 1980s. One learns to be lazy.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

more Kim Kwang-seok at Youtube

Seems that since I linked a Kim Kwang-seok performance from Youtube, several new pieces of him have been added: see search for Kim "Kwang Seok".

Naûi norae ("my song") from a concert hosted by pianist No Yeong-sim.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Mr Chough and the Romanization of Korean names

Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax),
Fi. alppivaris, Kor. 붉은부리까마귀
Browsing quickly through the main pages of some of the Korean newssites, I saw the name Cho Sun-hyông (조순형) mentioned as a formidable candidate in the by-election of Seongbuk-gu. As someone who's paid some attention to the romanization of Korean names, I thought that wasn't that not Mr Cho but Mr Chough; yes indeed, Chough Soon-hyung (elected as the leader of Kim Dae-jung's old Millennium Democratic Party a few years ago ). When googling to find about his name, I learned that "chough" is actually a bird (see Wikipedia), pronounced [tʃʌf], as even I could have figured out, but not apparently Chough Soon-hyung, who with other Korean Choughs must have had the impression that "chough" rhymes with "though" and not with "tough". (What I'm not sure about is whether it can be made to rhyme with "though". In the NPR programs that are aired over here, the listeners who send in mail are asked to indicate how their names are prononounced; "my name's Chough, and it rhymes with "though.") Well, actually Mr Chough is not fully on wrong tracks here, as Wiki remarks that "its [the bird chough] name probably comes from the old Cornish pronunciation of chough - "chow" as in bough." But still, here would have been a good case for at least a bit of Romanization guidance, if not discipline. (In case Mr Chough ever makes it so big that his name is mentioned in Finnish news, it's conceivable that his name gets pronounced something like 코우그흐.)

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old note: "let's support Kim Dae-jung and crush communism"

I found this following gem from my research notes. It's a text from a paper slip that a customer had left in "Yumin's mother's" clothing repair shop for her reading. Who says Kim Dae-jung's government wasn't supported by the supporters of Natural Security Law and opponents of communism?
대한민국을 사랑하자 • 김대중 대통령님을 받들자 • 민주주의를 지키자 • 공산주의 공산주의자를 멸망시키자 • 국민의례를 하자 • 국가보안법을 지키자 • 간첩을 막아내자 (Let's love The Republic of Korea • Let's support Kim Dae Jung's government • Let's support democracy • Let's wipe out communism and communists • Let's observe the national etiquette • Let's support the National Security Law • Let's keep away the spies • – translation AL)

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human toll: Korea 50, Finland 11 - proportional: Finland 2, Korea 1

Last weekend, after heavy rains and rapidly rising floods, 50 people were feared dead in Republic of Korea, population 48 million. The previous weekend, 11 people drowned in Finland (pop. 5.3 million) even though the only extraordinary weather phenomenon was the fine weather. The number of drowned here proportional to population was double the human toll of floods and other consequences of the rains in Korea. (Still, with their alcohol drinking habits and lack of swimming skills, Koreans are fortunate not to have a huge number of lakes and boats...)

Take for example this case: cops had been called to prevent a boisterous and drunk company to take a motor boat out to the sea. The cops took away a part of the motor so that the boat couldn't be driven. The men nevertheless found a rowing boat somewhere and took out with the consequence that one of them drowned. 차암 대단한 민족이다, 우리가.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

2006 Korean Anthropology conference papers available

The presentations of the 2006 annual conference of Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology are available at the society homepage in pdf. Very good service, I'd say, but something that I've become used to.

The conference theme was 현대 한국사회의 일생의례와 세시의례 - 변화와 지속 (Life Stage Rituals and Seasonal Rites in Contemporary Korea: Change and Continuity).

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kim Kwang-seok at Youtube

Kim Kwang-seok performs 잊어야 한다는 마음으로 in what seems to be a TV program.

claim: Pak Hon-yong being reinstated in DPRK

Son Seok-chun, former member of Hankyoreh editorial board and a current occasional writer for the paper, tells in his latest column about stories of rehabilitation (see the same text with comments also in his blog) in DPRK of Pak Hon-yong (Pak Hôn-yông), the Southern-born communist leader who went over to the North before the establishment of separate states, was a member of the early DPRK leadership and was given the responsibility for the failures of the Korean War and executed in 1955 for having been a "spy for the American imperialists".

Chun, whose good faith in DPRK is unwavering, quotes Pak Hôn-yông's son, the buddhist monk Wongyeong who lives in ROK, that Pak's grave in the North would have been made into a kind of a memorial park. Wongyeong would have heard about this from northerners who've visited Yenbien.

In one sense, this is unbelievable and unconceivable. Rehabiliting Pak Hôn-yông would mean admitting the fallibility of the Party and the Leader (Kim Il-sung), and as much as people of good faith like Son would like to believe that DPRK has changed so much as to admit that Kim Il-sung and the Worker's Party has been wrong, I see nothing pointing to that. Son remarks that there've been many cases in the history of communism that the mistakes of the party have been corrected. Sure, but they've been after major overhauls in the leadership and easening of dictatorship and totalitarianism, but where is that in DPRK? A secret speech of the new leader in the party congress condemning the "excesses" and "breaches of people's democratic legalism"? Stalin's son (did he have one?) didn't continue his father's rule.

This also leaves me thinking that there might be some good disinformation spreading going on, especially as Son conveys the claim that rehabilitation of Pak Hôn-yông would have been ordered by Kim Il-sung "just before he closed his eyes" (yes, Son writes like that, 눈감기 직전에 내린 명).

On the other hand, wouldn't it be good news if DPRK really would be rehabiliting Pak Hôn-yông and abandoning the infallibility of the two Kims (father and son) and the Party? (Where does that leave the army?) Unification must be right around the corner!

Moscow, March 1949: Pak Hôn-yông in the middle wearing glasses, Kim Il-sung to his left (notice how I've chosen the photograph to convey a certain impression of Pak). Photograph from "Korean War in Photographs" serial in Ohmynews.

Does Pak Hôn-yông deserve reassessment? Perhaps he deserves credit for pro-independence activity during the colonial period, but his participation in the creation of the DPRK dictatorship and his responsibility for the Korean War should discredit him for any role in the improvement of South-North relations, as the columnist Son seems to wish. For someone like Son Seok-chun who gets so elated just for the thought of "revolution", Pak Hôn-yông is laudable only for having been a revolutionary, dictatorship nonwithstanding. Others, like me, will prefer dictatorship and dictatorial ideology as the basis of assessment.

I left the following comment to Song's column at his own site:
북한의 대남 선전사이트인 <구국전선>에서만 (http://ndfsk.dyndns.org/) 여태까지 박헌영을 언급할 때마다 "간첩"이란 말이 나옵니다. 김일성의 업적 중에도 하나는 52년의 박헌영 간첩단의 적발이기도 합니다. 이것을 조선민주주의인민공화국이 갑자기 남조선과 관계를 개선하기 위해서 재평가하겠습니까? 김일성의 아들임으로 지도자가 된 김정일은 아버지가 적발한 간첩이 그게 아니라고 선언하겠습니까?

당의 오류를 바로잡은 경우가 공산주의 역사에서 많다고 하시는데, 그런 사례들은 큰 변화가 있은 다음에만 가능했었지요. 예를 들면 스탈린 이후의 흐루쉬체브의 56년의 스탈린의 만행을 규탄한 연설이나 소련을 개혁하고자 했던 고르바초프의 경우엔 그랬었지만 북한에서 그런 것이 가능하지 못 합니다.

박헌영이 북한에서 재평가되고 있다는 말씀은 간접적으로 북한 체제가 무너지고 있다는 뜻이라면 또 경우가 다르겠지만요...
In English:
In the North Korean propaganda site against the South, "National Saving Front", Pak Hôn-yông's name has this far not been mentioned without the adding "spy" to it. And one of Kim Il-sung's deeds has been to detect Pak Hôn-yông's spy ring in 1952. Would the Democratic People's Republic of Korea reconsider this in order to improve relations with South Korea? Would Kim Jong-il, who became a leader for being his father's son, declare that the spy his father caught wasn't that?

You said that there had been cases in the history of communism where the party has corrected its mistakes. Those cases have always taken places after big changes. It's been the case for example in Khrushchev's secret speech in '56 condemning Stalin's misdeeds or in Gorbachev's attempts to reform Soviet Union, but that won't be possible in North Korea.

Unless, by saying that Pak Hôn-yông is being reassessed in North Korea you indirectly mean that the Northern system is crumbling...

Update, July 19, 2006.
The newest column by Mr Song is about the savagery of the Roh government, but as usual for him, much of what is wrong in South Korea stems from the press. He uses all his caliber in describing this pest of Korea - choose your own so you can talk with the progressives about Chosun, Joongang, and Donga: "rich newspapers" (puja sinmun), "reactionary press" (sugu ôllon), and "pro-american flunkey press" (ch'inmi sadae ôllon). ("Reactionary press" was also the driving force behind the South Korean decision to suspend humanitarian assistance to North Korea, if you did not happen to know.)

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

the new Jo Jung-rae novel, and "defensive nationalism"

조정래: 인간연습
It was reported two and a half years ago that a new novel about the collapse of communism will be coming from Jo Jung-rae (Cho Chông-nae). Parts of it had been published in literary magazines already then, and now it comes out as In'gan yônsûp ("Practice of being human" or "human practice"; practice here in the meaning of learning something); Ohmynews has an interview.

As long as Jo doesn't try to compare the Jewish holocaust and the Japanese colonial era in Korea or tout the "national question" too much he can be an insightful novelist, and I enjoyed reading especially the 10-volume Han'gang (Han River) for its depictions of ordinary as well as extraordinary people's lives in the 1960s and 1970s' Korea.

So, let's pay attention to Jo's remarks about nationalism in the interview.

He defends the kind of nationalism that he sees is going to be necessary for the unification from the critique of nationalism he sees emanating from "the big powers" and from those who've studied abroad and brought those theories back home. He calls that "defensive nationalism" (pangôjôk minjokchuûi). It's all fine, and Koreans are damn sure going to need some kind of good ideological mental power to cope with the unification however it's going to happen. But as long as he does not comment (and condemn, I'd say) the kind of race-centered and racist nationalism that DPRK has been spewing out from time to time and pronounce a clear distance from it, the nationalism of Jo Jung-rae that he maintains will be necessary for unification will remain hollow and at worst harmful.
What keeps Jo from saying practically anything about the forms and expressions of the ideology that he so defends? His own ideology, which seems to be some Marxism mixed with relentless nationalism, not being able to give up the idea that despite of dictatorship, DPRK still has ideological contribution to make for the unified Korea? At least he doesn't seem to harbor any illusions of the present living conditions in DPRK since the early 1990s:
Jo tells that his younger friend's father was the model for the novel character Pak Tong-gôn, who dies because of learning about conditions in North Korea. And the magazine journalist who tells Pak Tong-gôn the truth about the North is modelled on Jo himself.
"My friend's father said that he'll believe the word of the writer of Taebaek Sanmaek and asked to meet me, so I went and told without adding or leaving out anything about the conditions in North Korea. Since I had been doing research in Manchuria for Arirang in the early 1990s, I had been able to observe conditions in the North over the Yalu river. North Korea was already then starving. I told of that, and he died from that shock after 5-6 months."

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Kyunghyang Sinmun and ROK government

Chosun Ilbo's English-language report on the recent decision of the Korea Commission for the Press about government subsidies to newspaper companies surely left the impression that Kyunghyang Sinmun is a "pro-government newspaper." As Kyunghyang does not have anything in English, many readers of the Chosun piece are not in a position to check Kyunghyang's editorial line, but let me assure that it is not "pro-government" in any sense despite of some convergences between gov't policies and its editorial positions, as it remarks in its editorial in which it protests Chosun's distortions.

It's a pity that Kyunghyang's editorials are not available in English. If I knew English better and had unlimited time in my hands I might do it every now and then. Here's one from today: "Does the government really have a policy for missiles?"; please bear with my English.
It is impossible not to be disappointed when looking at the government measures to North Korean missile launches. Can there be more irresponsible and indolent responses?

The government knew that North Korea had declared the missile landing area off-limits by radio to its fishing vessels two days before the launch. Despite that our government did not take any measures concerning our ships or airplanes. Even though the government could not be assured about the launch, government's basic responsibility is to take necessary security measures for the worst case.

At the time of the missile launch five our airplanes were flying in the vicinity of the missile landing area. Only the thought of that makes one shudder. Our government ordered the Kamchatka air route not to be used one whole day after the missile launch on the 6th of July. It is such a big contrast to Japan, which prohibited the use of the landing area for its airplanes and fishing vessels five hours after the launch.

The problem is that the government is not improving its performance, but its lack of strategy becomes all the more evident. The government was at first only 'deliberating' about the ministerial talks on July 11 in Busan, and only yesterday made the decision to open the talks. It's the same with North Korea's proposal of military talks made two days before the launch. Government kept the proposal secret and informed of its refusal on the 6th of July.

We of course understand the awkward position that the government is in. Nevertheless, the more difficult the situation, the clearer the goals and methods and the response must be in order to get the citizens' support. The government must not make explanations like "we have analyzed the situation in detail from the beginning and prepared our response" (Seo Ju-seok, Blue House national security secretary) but immediately analyse the goods and bads of its measures and clearly present its policies.

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early 1970s photos of Seoul (Daeyeonggak Hotel fire)

Via The Marmot's Hole comes the piece of info that Scott Forey's photographs from early 1970s' Seoul and its environs are available also at Flickr in addition to Webshots; the former number little over 100, the latter over 200 pictures. (My earlier note on these photographs.)

One photograph that draws attention is the one of a hotel after a fire. It is Taeyôn'gak Hotel, which caught fire in the morning of December 25, 1971 when propan gas exploded in the 1st floor. Number of dead was 167 and wounded 64. All the firefighting vehicles in Seoul were called and also USFK sent help, but ladders couldn't reach higher than to the 7th floor in the 21-floor hotel.

Taeyôn'gak Hotel after fire; the text in the billboard in front of the hotel says "Let's eradicate smuggled coffee and prevent the outflow of foreign currency"
(c) Harmolodic

A capture of the Taeyôn'gak Hotel fire in the National Image Archive newsreel
There is an old newsreel available in the MBC "news time machine" link above; the link given in the article doesn't seem to work, but this link to the wmv file should be ok.

There is also a newsreel in the National Image Archive (국가기록영상관) - NOTE: does not work with Firefox.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

alternative space: capitalistic realism in Gwangju

Jung Jae-ho, the illustrator, painter, and also molder of urban Korean cityscapes and spaces who blogs at 이곳에서 얼마나 오랫동안, has his works on display in two exhibitions at the moment: in "In between Past and Present" (2006.6.30~7.23) in the Geumnam Street gallery (see map) of the Gwangju Art Museum, and in "Propose 7" (2006.6.29~7,16) in Kumho Museum of Art.

This time I won't use any of Kim Jeong-ho's paintings but a photograph that he took of the annex gallery of the Gwangju Art Museum in Geumnamno, located harmoniously alongside a travel bureau, gym, coffee house (tabang), a makkôlli drinking place, a convenience store, and a mudfish stew (ch'uôt'ang) restaurant. People's art, beginning from the location and the outward presentation of the gallery in a style that is truly capitalistic realism of contemporary Korea, or as Kim Jeong-ho says in his blog entry, a truly alternative space compared to the self-proclaimed alternative spaces in Seoul.

Geumnamno annex gallery of the Gwangju Art Museum

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creating value: business money to university lecture hall

There is this Korean saying which have been repeated on these pages already several times, that "not even a dog carries merchant's money" (장삿돈 개도 안 물어 간다), which I'm reminded of when reading the "news", or better, feel-good story or infomercial that Mrs Kim Sun-jin, the owner of several restaurant franchise chains, is having a lecture hall in Sookmyung University named after her. Chosun Ilbo tells that Mrs Kim Sun-jin, who owns franchise chains such as Nolbu Possam, Nolbu Pudaetchigae and Nolbujip hangarigalbi with combined 560 franchise shops in the country, started by opening a 5-pyeong (17 sq.m) restaurant 19 years ago with no more education than grammar school, which Chosun sees necessary to mention. But that only makes a nice contrast to her getting a lecture room named after her for donating 100 million W (85 000€) to Sookmyung University; a very good and also a very Korean way to turn merchant's money (장삿돈) into another value.

Despite of reports that the oversupply and bad and unprepared managed of franchise shops has been one reason to the growth of low-income self-employment (Donga Ilbo, Nov 30, 2004; the whole series of reports on the dire conditions of small businesses in Donga), it appears that Mrs Kim's Nolbu chain has been adequately managed - if the success of the proprietor is to be judged. It is nevertheless interesting to think of the irony that much of Nolbu Possam's success is likely due to the misfortune of those who lost their livelihood in other areas and chose more or less involuntary to try their hands in restaurant keeping, for which franchises offer an easier option.

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