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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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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The World Congress for Korean Studies 2007

Via the Korean Studies list, a following announcement arrived:
Call for Papers and Participation

The World Congress for Korean Studies 2007
- Korea in the World: Democracy, Peace, Prosperity and Culture -

The World Congress for Korean Studies 2007 by the Korean Political Science Association will be held in Busan, South Korea, from 23 to 25 August. The main theme for the Congress is "Korea in the World: Democracy, Peace, Prosperity and Culture."

The congress will provide a forum to discuss the latest developments in and around Korea covering a variety of fields of study; research on the issues of leadership, state governance, gender politics, foreign policy, and inter-Korean relations; studies on Korean economy ranging from the issues of economic viability to debates on social fairness; discussion on cultural aspects of Korean society dealing with art, literature, linguistics, and the phenomenon of Hallyu; papers written on Korean history from ancient times to current affairs; sociological investigation of, for example, the problem of aging and low-fertility rate, exodus of young students, and subjects related to migrant workers, etc.
Expected to be the largest ever academic gathering of Korean specialists in the world, the Congress will provide all participants with an invaluable opportunity to expose themselves to and exchange information and ideas with scholars coming from different parts of the world with wide range of academic disciplines. An added value of the Congress can be found in its location: Busan, Korea.
We welcome submission of papers, full-panel and roundtable proposals for any of the areas mentioned above and other related fields. We also encourage graduate students' participation in the Congress.

Deadline for the submission of a paper and panel proposal: May 15, 2007.
• Papers for presentation can be written either in English or in Korean. Please indicate whether you wish to participate in an English panel or a Korean Panel.
• Due for papers is Aug. 1.
Registration fee: US $150
• US $100 for early registration before May 15;
• KPSA members exempt.
Accommodation & meals: to be borne by the KPSA (Please see below)
• The KPSA will guarantee accommodation for those who register before June 15.
• The KPSA will cover 3 nights (Aug. 22-24) of accommodation and 9 meals (supper on 22nd - lunch on 25th at the designated restaurant).
• We will try to accommodate late applicants as well, but room assignment is not guaranteed.
• Participants will be lodged in Sea Cloud Hotel near the Congress site. Newly built and majestically standing on Hawoondae beach, the hotel offers breath-taking ocean view from every room.
Transportation including air & incidentals: to be borne by participants
• Partial or full financial assistance for airfare and registration to scholars from developing countries may be given upon request and on the competitive basis.

* For further information concerning the conference and the application process for participation, please contact the Program Director at kpsa2007[]gmail.com.

A Korean-language announcement of the conference can be found at the association homepage. There is yet no English-language announcement available online.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

restaurant panoramas

Getting good results with the panorama function of a camera in a restaurant full of customers is difficult due to the constant movement of people, and one should be happy to be able to attach the shots so that no-one's head is of double size or that none has two pairs of shoulders.

• The first one is a grilled fish restaurant on an alley in Dongdaemun market alongside six or seven similar places. This one must benefit from its auspicious location as the first one in the row, and that fact was, if I remember correctly, one decisive factor in choosing this very place. Ethnographical remark on the gender division of labor in the restaurant: the wife of the proprietor couple was responsible for the kitchen work inside with the kitchen hand, the husband grilled the fish outside the door. (Photograph taken on Dec. 21, 2006)
Restaurant in Dongdaemun, Seoul
Link to a large-size photograph (737 kb, 3302x700px)

• The second one is one of the numerous chicken places in one alley at Dongdaemun marketplace, and not even the only place named something like Wônjo Halmae ("original granny's"). It has this homepage ("wonjodark"!) - Chin Ok-hwa halmae wônjo tak han mari. I appears that this is the most famous and most popular among the chicken restaurant competitors, and typically for Korea, had attracted imitators throughout the years; it had a note posted outside the door saying "we do not operate branches." Despite of the sophistication of the homepage, the restaurant is very down-to-earth. It was a memorable Christmas eve dinner, at least for its difference to how we usually eat on that day. (Photograph taken on Dec. 24, 2006).
Restaurant in Dongdaemun, Seoul
Link to a large-size photograph (540 kb, 2646x700 px)

• This kukpap place in the vicinity of the Jagalchi fish market in Busan was a pleasant place to sit down after strolling up and down the hills and alleys in the city for the whole day. This was taken on the same occasion as the current blog header photograph. If one's looking for Korean marketplace "authenticity", this place is it, and the kukpap, rice and diverse stuff in broth was good.
(Photograph taken on Dec. 30, 2006)
Restaurant in Jagalchi, Busan
Link to a large-size photograph (475 kb, 2025x700 px)

Another scene from my visit to this place: a man came to sell siraegi, radish leaves that this restaurant uses in the rice soup, in quite an aggressive manner. The restaurateur woman refused, and the man asked for a glass of soju which the woman gave him, apparently in order to be able to send him away. In the second picture, the siraegi peddler has drunk the soju and continues his route. (Photographs taken on Dec. 30, 2006)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Khrushchev jokes

Markku Jokisipilä from the Dept. of Political History at the U. of Turku sums up the best bits of a student paper on the topic of general secretary Khrushchev in the light of Soviet jokes. This one is not bad (my translation from Finnish):
Kruschev was visiting an art exhibition with his aides and bodyguards. "What the hell is this green circle with yellow dots all over" asked the general secretary.
"Comrade Khrushchev, this painting depicts our heroic agricultural workers toiling to fill the norm of producing two million tons of grain."
"I see. What about this black triangle with red stripes?"
"It shows our heroic industrial workers at work."
"What is this fat ass with ears then?"
"Comrade Khrushchev, it's not a painting, it's a mirror."

And in Korean:
흐루쇼프 총비서꼐서 보조관과 경비원들과 함께 미술전시회에 다녀보셨다.
"이 곳곳에 노란 점이 있는 녹색 동구라미가 뭐지"라고 총비서께서 물어보셨다.
"총비서 동지, 그것은 2백만 톤의 곡식 생산목표를 달성하기 위해서 노력하는 우리 영웅적인 농업노동자들입니다."
"그렇군. 이 빨간 줄이 있는 검정 세모는?"
"우리 영웅적인 공장노동자들의 열심히 일하는 모습입니다."
"그러면, 이 귀가 달린 뚱뚱한 엉둥이 또 뭔데?"
"총비서 동지, 그것은 그림이 아니라 거울입니다."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Finnish foreign ministry replies to DPRK

Boat operating between Helsinki and Stockholm; it was reported that the DPRK couriers travelled through Finland because they wanted to take one of these.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry has sent a reply to the diplomatic note sent by the DPRK embassy in Stockholm over the train incident in Kouvola, Finland, in which Finnish authorities forcibly removed two North Korean diplomatic couriers from the after they had refused two show their tickets and prove their diplomatic status in a violent manner.

Earlier notes:
DPRK embassy: Finland violated human rights of the diplomatic couriers (Feb 25, 2007)
North Korean diplomatic couriers fight with Finnish police (Feb 18, 2007)

The Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat says in the article linked above that the note was sent already last week. The reply states that according to the Vienna accord, diplomatic couriers needs to carry a document proving the status, which the North Koreans were lacking.

(Update: I did not detect anything on the issue in the print edition of the paper over the weekend, so it's unlikely there's going to be much more about this in the news.)

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장모님의 메주

진해, 2006년12월

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lordi to perform in Seoul

Forget Kwemul ("monster", The Host) in movie theaters, for the rubber monster suit rockers Lordi are coming to Korea to play a gig in Melon-AX in Seoul on April 6.

These dudes won the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

Update, March 23, 2007
I'm sorry to announce that the gig has been cancelled due to "circumstances of the organizer."

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Yankee revue troupe in Seoul, 1930

Yankee Revue troupe's masquerade street parade
Chosun Ilbo, April 20, 1930. Drawing and text: Sôgyông(夕影) An Sôk-yông

Published in Modôn ppoi Kyôngsônhûl kônilda: Manmun manhwaro ponûn kûndaeûi ôlgul ("Modern boy strolling in Seoul: faces of modernity in illustrated newspaper columns") by Sin Myông-jik. (Hyônsilmunhwayôn'gu, 2003)

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

new book: Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect

A new book Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect (eds. Kim, Hyuk-Rae and Bok Song) has been published by the Institute of East Asian Studies at University of California, Berkeley. The publisher's page does not contain info on the authors, but fortunately one of the editors, prof. Kim, sent a note to the Korean Studies list:
1. The Contour of Modern Korean Society (Hyuk-Rae Kim)
2. Regionalism and National Networks (Yong-Hak Kim)
3. The Korean Stratification System: Continuity and Change (Hagen Koo)
4. Inequality and Class Reproduction in Everyday Life (Wang-Bae Kim and Bok Song)
5. Economic Governance: Its Historical Development and Future Prospects (Hyuk-Rae Kim)
6. From Take-off to Drop-off?: Postwar Economic Development and Industrialization (Karl J. Fields)
7. Family, Gender, and Sexual Inequality (Seung-Kyung Kim)
8. Population Changes and Urbanization (Kye-Choon Ahn)
9. Social Grievances and Social Protests against the Oppressive State (Dong-No Kim)
10. The Making of Civil Society in Historical Perspective (Hyuk-Rae Kim)
11. Division, War, and Reunification (Bruce Cumings)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

culturizing apartment buildings

Seoul Administration Court (?, Haengjông pôbwôn) has made a decision that allows an apartment block to change its name after substantial outer renovations had been made on the buildings. The residents in the "Lotte Nakch'ôn Apartments" in Dongjak-gu had requested the Dongjak-gu authorities that their residences be renamed and registered as "Lotte Castle", but they were refused for the reason that legislation allowing that was not in force yet.

Still, the court ruled that there is no legal reason to refuse the name change, as more than three fourths of the residents backed the change, the construction company had consented as well, and the outer renovation was sufficient for the change of housing brand. The decision quoted the residents' motive for the name change as "changing the name of the apartment [block] to a beautiful one in order to have a cultured (munhwajôk) image."

Nakch'ôn - the previous name of the apartment block - is not that colloquial everyday Korean, and for me it doesn't really sound that notorious, giving the idea of something to do with heaven (ch'ôn 天) perhaps. Ok, there are two meaning in the online Standard Korean Dictionary:
1) 낙천01 (落薦)
「명」후보자의 추천이나 천거에서 떨어짐. ¶삼촌의 낙천 소식에 가장 가슴 아파한 사람은 할아버지셨다.§
「참」공천02(公薦). So that means "failing to get appointed."

2) 낙천02 (樂天)
「명」세상과 인생을 즐겁고 좋은 것으로 여김. ¶자네의 그 낙천은 아무도 못 따를걸.≪황순원, 신들의 주사위≫§「반」염세01(厭世). "Thinking that world and life are good."

Perhaps, if Chinese Characters were still in common use, nakch'ôn when written as 樂天 would appear as cultured as "castle", whether written in Roman characters or in Han'gûl. But I guess in order to compete with apartment brands such as "Royal Duke," 樂天 or 낙천 just won't do.

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A bookshop keeper couple from the second-hand bookshop quarter in Busan
We were already getting worried because the 40 kilos of books we sent before leaving Korea surface mail already on January 4 had not arrived. Today the two parcels came - all the way to my office, which is very rare indeed considering the level and price of services in this country. It pays to have such parcels delivered to the office address instead of home; my experience is that customs officials let parcels to my university address through, while things addressed to home need to be checked.

I don't think I've ever been on such an indiscriminate book shopping spree like when I was there, and that has shown in my card bills. I asked for tips about books worth buying from here and there, and didn't think much. In Seoul, we stayed in a yeogwan only one block away from Kyobo bookstore.

Now, I should only find somewhere the time to read all that.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

시간강사의 고민

인기관목이라 할 수 없는 강의를 하는 나같은 시간강사는 강의가 시작하기 전에 항상 학생들이 들으러 올까 하는 고민이 있다. 사람들이 안 왔기 때문에 강의가 중단된 적은 한 번밖에 없지만 늘 처음으로 강단에 올라가기 전에 걱정이 있다고 부인할 수가 없다. 이번에는 잘 됐다: 아홉-열 명이 나왔다. 강단에서 서기 부끄럽지도 않고 글을 고치느라 너무 바쁘지도 않을 정도다. 비록 박사논문 원고를 책으로 만드는 아주 바쁜 일도 해야 하겠지만 나로서는 만족스러운 강의가 될 것 같아.

한국 도시인류학 (핀란드어)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Korean history in 142 words (of Finnish)

The following is an introduction of Korean history, written for the upcoming exhibition "Korean Home" (Korealainen koti) in the Museum of Cultures in Helsinki. I wasn't involved in any of the preparations of the exhibition, and I only promised to check the approximate accuracy of the exhibition texts and Korean terms, but the introductory text piece of Korean history was too lacking not to hint that I'd rather write it myself. About 150 words was the maximum, this is 142:
Korean niemimaalle syntyi ajanlaskun ensimmäisillä vuosisadoilla kolme valtiota, Silla, Paekche ja Koguryŏ. Silla-valtio yhdisti niemimaan 600-luvulla, ja sitä seurasivat Koryŏ- ja Chosŏn-dynastiat. Korean historian ominaispiirteenä oli etenkin Chosŏn-kaudella tiivis kuuluvuus Itä-Aasian Kiina-keskeiseen valtiolliseen ja opilliseen korkeakulttuuriin, jonka rinnalla eli omaleimainen kansankulttuuri. Vuosiksi 1910–1945 Korea joutui Japanin siirtomaaksi. Toisen maailmansodan jälkeen perustettujen Yhdysvaltojen ja Neuvostoliiton miehitysvyöhykkeiden jaon seurauksena 38. leveyspiirin eteläpuoliselle alueelle perustettiin vuonna 1948 Korean tasavalta (Etelä-Korea) ja pohjoispuolelle Korean demokraattinen kansantasavalta (Pohjois-Korea). Pohjois-Korean hyökkäyksestä alkanut Korean sota käytiin vuosina 1950–1953 Pohjois-Korean ja Kiinan joukkojen ja Etelä-Korean ja Yhdysvaltojen johtamien YK-joukkojen välillä. Sodan aselepolinja vakiintui Koreoiden rajaksi. Menneinä vuosikymmeninä kiivas Koreoiden aatteellinen ja taloudellinen kilpailu ja ideologinen vastakkainasettelu ovat 1990-loppupuolelta lähtien lieventyneet Etelä-Korean vaurastuttua ja demokratisoiduttua, kylmän sodan päätyttyä ja Pohjois-Korean jouduttua pahoihin taloudellisiin vaikeuksiin. Korean sodan jäljiltä on kuitenkin yhä voimassa vain aselepo, eivätkä Koreat tunnusta toistensa valtiollista asemaa.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


핀란드-한국 닮은 꼴:
외국에서 나에 대해서
어떻게 생각하고 있을까?
- 핀란드가 뭐지?
- 나라인가?
- 어딘데?

그림: 가리 수어말라이넨, 1960-70년대쯤

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Finnish "omakotitalo" and native concepts

omakotitalo / 'own home house'Ever since I learned that Korean residents in Finland use the Finnish word omakotitalo (detached house) instead of any Korean corresponding term (chut'aek, tandok chut'aek), I've taken that as indication of Koreans' attachment of marking and expressing social stratifications through forms and ownership of housing. Since the korean word chut'aek doesn't carry the connotations of middle-class security and attainment of a house of one's own that the corresponding Finnish word does, the latter is used instead, as if talking about becoming an owner of an esteemed and spacious apartment house in Korea. Now, early this week I got to know that also Italians in Finland resort to the word omakotitalo, which has gotten me thinking that it is actually us Finns who invest so much meaning and cultural value to the idea of "own home house" (literal translation of omakotitalo) and to becoming an occupant and owner of one. Foreign residents here only adopt the use of a word and a concept they have sensed to be very significant; they haven't necessarily borrowed a Finnish term and fitted it to their own conceptual and categorical palette, but adopted and fitted a part of our native thinking to their own.

In matters of contemporary society, Sweden is a place where equivalents of modern phenomena in Finland can also be found, and I thought that the Swedish term for detached house, egnahemshus, corresponding to the Finnish equivalent word by word, is one of those as well. As I had no Swedish speakers of Swedish language to consult, I resorted to The Search Engine, which to my surprise gave less than 400 hits to sites in Sweden but over 30 000 to sites in Finland. Only then it occurred to me that the word is actually a Finnish coinage, a translation loan for Swedish-speaking Finns. Now, does the Sweden-Swedish villa arouse similar sentiments among Swedes as the Finnish and Finland-Swedish concepts on this side of the Gulf of Bothnia.

There is a recent novel on the topic, Juoksuhaudantie ("Trench Street"; review in English) by Kari Hotakainen, which sold hugely and won all the prices it could get. From the review: "When Matti [Virtanen]’s wife leaves him, taking their daughter with her, he thinks he can save the family by buying a detached house – the type of house owned by men who make no concessions in their marriage." Matti Virtanen is the most typical Finnish name one can imagine; to transfer the idea of the novel closer to the topics of this blog, image a Kim Chôl-su trying his utmost to have his family acquire a decent apartment house instead of the chônse (key money) place that they're living now, facing a nagging, unsatisfied wife who's been hinting of marital consequences if nothing happens, and the mounting hagwôn bills of the daughter.

Now that I think, Hotakainen's book has been in my shelf since last year. For the reasons of not having read it despite all the critical acclaim and general popularity, perhaps there's some uneasyness for not being able to correspond to this "own home house" pattern...

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