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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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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Market videos at the Visual Anthropology Archive

It's time for Hunjangûi karûch'im to return to topics which have been its mainstay, or at least meant to be. I visited prof. Lee Mun-woon'g Visual Anthropology Archives after a long time, and found all kinds of interesting new pieces, especially the outtakes from the CD/DVD "Sound of the Seoul Marketplaces" (Sôul Sijangûi Sori, 2004), produced by the Seoul Museum of History. This seems to interesting that I give my endorsement for the snippets even though I've only just opened the number 6, Garak Market.

I've given direct links to the videos here. They should open in a new window. Seems they can't be directly downloaded, but I could copy the files from the temporary internet files folder.

1) Gwangjang Market (7:01)

2) Dongdaemun Clothing Market (3:04)

3) Traditional Market (chaerae sijang) (10:38)

4) Gyeongdong Market (4:03)

5) Namdaemun Market (2:02)

6) Garak Market (5:59)

The 50-minute CD/DVD can be purchased, but on that I don't have any details.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

abolition of death penalty to parliament next month

The law bill for the abolition of death penalty was presented already at the end of last year (my old post from November 2004); now it is expected to be taken up in the National Assembly next month. (This is mentioned in a Hankyoreh piece about the theological argument which this issue has awoken among the Protestant churches.

So the law bill has made its way through the Legislation Committee despite of the committee chair having been against the abolition. Originally the law bill was signed by a clear majority of assembly members.

Now South Korea has a chance to join the civilized nations also in this regard.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Michael Hurt's photo exhibition "In Transit"

Before transforming the couple of notes yet saved only as drafts to actual postings, I'll let you know that Michael Hurt, the host of the Scribblings of the Metropolitician, will be opening a photography exhibition called "In Transit" at Le Saint Ex cafe in Itaewon. Quoting Michael:
The show is entitled "In Transit" because it is a simple umbrella phrase that captures the fast-beating heart of Seoul life as it is found in the millions of people in near-perpetual motion everywhere the eye – and camera – can see. People spend so much time traveling in the most public of spaces, yet are so very alone in the experience. The picture above is the representative image of the exhibit, as the nearly 20 images in the show record the entire gamut of the transitory experience – from the most intimate of human interactions to the coldest of stationary spaces. I liked this picture the most because of the composition and framing, of course, but also because of the luck I had with her stance and capturing just the right amount of blur on just the right body parts.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

yleisurheilu 육상 track and field

Came up with the idea of taking a look what the track and field vocabulary looks like in Korean. Unlike during my youth of track and field training and all other kinds of sports, presently my attitude towards competitive sports is perhaps overtly disdainful - I ended up after all watching some of the games they had over here in Helsinki a while ago. The Korea track and field vocabulary is nevertheless interesting in how it's constructed: a good dose of "native" Korean with the unavoidable Sino-Korean and Anglo-Korean.
pituushyppymôllittwigilong jump
triple jump
korkeushyppynop'ittwigihigh jump
seiväshyppychangdaenop'ittwigipole vault
keihäänheittoch'angdônjigijavelin throw
kiekonheittowônbandônjigidiscus throw
moukarinheittohaemôdonjigihammer throw
kuulantyöntöp'ohwandônjigishot put

P'ohwan; p'o looks like "cannon", and yes, that word is cannonball (砲丸). That clears also a lot about the English word (shot put).
Hôdûl is the same as "hurdle"; changaemul is "obstacle", and stands here short for the event.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The shaman and the customer

Hankyoreh tells of a shaman (musogin) in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul who's been charged for blackmailing. Mrs Yi threatened Mrs Sin that her whole family will die or get mad if Mrs Sin doesn't receive a sprit-descending ritual (sinnaerim-kut, shaman initiation). Mrs Yi is charged of extorting 32 million won [€25000] on seven occasions between November last year and May this year. Mrs Yi performed sinnaerim-kut in January this year, but Mrs Sin couldn't feel anything, so she filed a complaint to the police last month. Mrs Yi claimed that it had been Mrs Sin who had first requested the ritual.

I don't think this is a return to the old days of repression of shamanism. It looks almost like a consumer issue to me. And in an issue like this, the shaman always has the recourse to claim that she is possessed with powers to tell when a ritual is needed and what the consequences will be if it's not performed. If the person destined to become a shaman doesn't receive the ritual, something bad is going to happen to her or to persons in her vicinity.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

sakku ad from 1930s and condom factory

I think that I may have heard this before, but an Ohmynews interview on a condom sales manager (or something, chônmu) Mr Yi of Unidus tells that the company is the biggest condom manufacturer in the world. Heh, the name of the company is "Unidus" (유니더스), but it comes from "you need us". Mr Yi is unhappy with the Korean regulations. "Consumers would like ot have all kinds of condoms, but the government thinks that it's enough if they prevent conception and diseases. For example we've exported already two million of the Long Love erection and ejaculation extending model to United States, but we got the sales lisence in Korea only in August last year."

Who'd be the Korean celeb to endorse Unidus?

As an illustration I link a picture from a feature in Media Daum introducing old advertisements:

On the left: condom (sakku) ad from the 1930s.
On the right: "birth control station" (産兒調節所 sana chojôlso). Is the use of condom harmless; which one of the sexes has more sexual desire; problems during period etc.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

DLP and the The Korean Social Democratic Party

To remind those who have been erroneously thinking that DPRK is a one-party state, the representatives of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Republic of Korea are at the moment visiting DPRK on the invitation by the Social Democratic Party of Korea (Chosôn Sahoeminjudang; no web site).

And I thought Kyunghyang Sinmun was a paper that could call spade a spade as far as DPRK is concerned, but in this editorial they praise the visit by DLP as opening a new era in the South-North exchanges, recalling Kim Ku's words regardig the pan-Korean assembly of parties and associations in Pyongyang in April 1948 before the establishment of separate governments. Well, perhaps Kyunghyang really thinks that DLP is dealing with a real party. In another article they inform that the Korean Social Democratic Party is "allied (udang 友黨) with the Workers' Party (Rodongdang) and the sole opposition party (yadang) in North Korea." Perhaps this extraordinary feat is possible in DPRK. Their social democracy has truly its own characteristics.

Sure I understand the predicament of DLP as well; that's the invitation they get (or managed to get) and that's what they'll have to accept if they're going to go to North.

Here's some info from a DPRK site:
The Korean Social Democratic Party
The Korean Social Democratic Party was formed on November 3, 1945 by medium and small entrepreneurs, merchants, handicraftsmen, petit-bourgeoisie, some peasants, and Christians, out of the masses' anti-imperialist, anti-feudal aspirations and demands to eliminate the aftermath of Japanese imperialist colonial rule and build a new democratic society.
Its guiding idea is national social democracy befitting Korea's historical conditions and national characteristics and its basic political motto is independence, sovereignty, democracy, peace and the defence of human rights.

I'll have to contact the SDP here and encourage them to follow DLP at once.

The word in the DLP party member notice board is that they'd be bringing a bus as a present for their hosts.

Update, August 25, 2005.
Daily NK tells, quoting Hwang Jang-yeop and an unnamed fomer party official, that the Korean Social Democratic Party is another name for an office in the exchange division (kyoryuguk) of the unification bureau (t'ongil chônsônbu) of the Workers Party.

Update, October 24, 2005.

Link to Andrei Lankov's article The Demise of Non-Communist Parties in North Korea (1945-1960), Journal of Cold War Studies 3:1 (2001), 103-125. (Institutional subscription to the database needed for the access, I guess.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

DPRK refugee in Beijing and back to Kumgangsan

The North-South questions in the Korean peninsula are still not going to be a frequent stuff at this site, but this one case of a Northern settler in the South is something special, so I'll have a go on him. (Is there a saying like that in English?)

Mr Kim on front of the DPRK embassy in Beijing. (Linked from Kyunghyang Sinmun.)
Kyunghyang Sinmun tells of a North Korea born man, who has had the nerve ("big liver") to go to the DPRK embassy in Beijing and file a request to be allowed to travel to see his family remaining in North Korea.
Kim Hyông-dôk (32) told that on the 5th of August he went to the consulate of the North Korean embassy in Beijing and made a requested to the party and the government to allow also Northern refugees (t'albukcha) to meet their families legally.
"At first when I disclosed my identity, they talked to me in their particular rude (kôch'ilda) manner, but it was nothing I couldn't take. And he promised to report my request to his superiors."

This Mr Kim is the same man who went to the Kumgangsan tour with his wife and children as a first Northern-born person, and wrote about it for Hankyoreh 21

The police processed his application for a visit to DPRK and apparently saw no problem in allowing him to go to North. Later it turned out that the police authority responsible for Kim's personality check had made a mistake in showing green light for his visit. When Kim was already in the North, the Ministry of Unification and the National Institute of Security had emergency meetings to prepare for the actions of the "irrigated" DPRK. The authorities also learned that Mr Kim was going to write about his visit for Hankyoreh 21, and contacted the responsible reported and requested that the article be not printed. From the afterword of the article:
After one week, on July 19, I and the chief editor got calls from a government official. He said that he had heard Mr Kim was writing a story about his visit to Kumgangsan, and requested that the story not be printed. "If the North Korean authorities learn that a refugee who left North because of not liking the place has made a visit there, it can be harmful for the improved South-North relations. It can irritate (chagûkhada) the North. And if many Northern refugees start applying for the Kumgangsan tours, it can cause trouble between South and North and distruct the Kumgansan tourism."

To its credit, the mag decided to print the story, which was nothing extraordinary as far as Kumgangsan tours are concerned (in my understanding), except for the special insights of a DPRK-born person. As for the disclosure of his background, he ended up revealing it in the discussions with the personnel in a beer house. "Oh, you're a national traitor (minjok panyôkcha)" was their reaction, apparently without hostility as a learned expression. He describes the North Korean workers in the tourist zone as well toned in the official DPRK line as well as curious about the conditions in the South. There was one personnel overseer (?) with whom he had longer discussions.
When asking him what he'd like to get as a present from the South next time he comes back, he requested a laptop computer. I told him that because it takes one month's salary for an average wage earner, giving laptops as presents is possible only for the rich. "But this one Southern hyôngnim ("older brother", South Korean tourism entrepreneur) visiting here often told he makes 50000 dollars a month, and I asked him to bring me a laptop, but I haven't heard from him since. He must have been only bragging."

Funny that the ROK officials should get more agitated and panicked over a DPRK refugee's visit to Kumgangsan than their DPRK counterparts. Shows after all what kind of nation they think North Korea is... I appreciate the attitude of this Mr Kim: doesn't try to provoke anyone but does what is at first thought unthinkable. Isn't that where a change can start from?

Oranckay is up!

Some time ago at this place there was some hint that Oranckay's place is nearing the end of the recovery/hiatus period. Now, after many must have been ready to pronounce the blog dead already, there's a new post on the recent (and less recent) moves and pronouncements of president Roh and the opposition party. The blog subtitle still reads 경 STILL UNDER REDEVELOPMENT, thanks for your patience 축, but let us believe it is finally up and running.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

informative non-news of student exchange

I admit that sometimes I browse for Korean news just to see what they write about my country - the small nation symptom - but this time I didn't need to. Not only Chosun Ilbo (see also the caption) but also Hankyoreh saw it fit to have on their starting page the piece of Yonhap news that the son of the CEO-elect of Nokia Corporation goes to Korea as an exchange student. (Several other papers have had it as well.) I took the Chosun Ilbo caption here as the example because it implies as a fact what is given only as a surmise in the article - that the next CEO of the number one mobile company would have personally sent his son for studies in Korea, the home of the competing mobile phone company. This otherwise worthless piece of non-news is interesting in what it tells about Korea indirectly.

According to the normal Korean practice, the article states that the father, in this case the next CEO of Nokia, had "sent" (ponaeda) his son for study abroad. In line with this kind of thinking, it's only commonsensical to suppose that the father must have been behind the decision to go to Korea as an exchange student - and being a high executive of a mobile technology company, there must be meaning in this. Also as a high executive, he must be training his son for the company, as if he was a kind of an owner-manager who's making decisions like Lee Kun-hee with a few percent ownership of stock...

Now, I have no idea what's been in the minds of the father and the son; it's not inconceivable that the father encouraged the son to apply for just that place, but from our point of view it makes very little sense to think that one semester's student exchange had something to do with the company or that the son would be filling his company executive father's ambitions and goals.

Update, Aug 19, 2005.

This doesn't make any sense any more. Seoul Kyôngje has written an editorial on this issue. An editorial! Above I've been willing to show understanding towards paying attention to the matter from the Korean point of view, but this is totally out of proportion. Speculation can help inferiority complex for a moment but I don't think it gets cured.

Update, Aug 23, 2005.

Now the Yonhap report has been picked up by the Digitoday here in Finland from Korea Times. My old buddy Kari Haakana describes this as "Nokialogy":
Nokialogists can be found especially among journalists and analysts. For a Nokialogist, no piece of information concerning Nokia is too small to be reported and analyzed. The word analyze can and should often be put in quotation marks. (Hasty translation AL.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

marathon in Helsinki

The other week the World Championships in track and field were held in Helsinki. As a true Korea blog, Hunjangûi karûch'im steps down from the high pedestal for a moment to take a look how the North and the South fared. Most of the interest in the South has concerned the marathon, but unfortunately the performance of its athletes didn't match the interest.

Below are the marathon results for North (PRK) and South (KOR) Korean women and men.
14 Jong Yong-Ok PRK 2:29:43 (SB)
23 Oh Song-Suk PRK 2:34:07
24 Ryang Gum-Hwa PRK 2:34:35
44 Oh Jung-Hee KOR 2:47:42
32 Ri Kyong-Chol PRK 2:20:35
54 Je In-Mo KOR 2:26:39
60 Cho Keun-Hyung KOR 2:31:59
So at least the other of the two South Korean men who finished run faster than the best North Korean woman.

blog en francaise: Corée/Histoires-Images/Textes

Unfortunately the two years of French I had in high school ages ago don't help me that much with the new blog Corée/Histoires-Images/Textes by Alain Delissen, the vice director (codirecteur, co-director?) of the Center for Korean Studies (Centre de recherches sur la Corée) at the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (they don't have official English names over there, which is fine!). Corée/Histoires-Images/Textes has only three entries thus far (none since late June), discussing the imagery of early modern Korea. Hope maître de conférences Delissen will return to titillate the littel (sic) French I have.

A link from Alain Delissen's blog goes to an annoyingly interesting notice board "photo album of memories", where readers can for example get familiar with the actress Kim Chi-mi, Regina Linnanheimo of Korea, in posts one, two, and three.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

early 1970s photos of Yongsan, Seoul, and Korea

Last week I received mail from Mr Scott Forey, who informed me of his collection of photographs from the early 1970s Yongsan, Seoul, and Korea available in the net, and inquired whether I was aware of further sources for photographs on early 1970s' Seoul and Yongsan, where he lived with his parents in 1971-1973.

Link to Scott Forey's photographs, taken by him and his father.

Photographs by foreigners residing in Korea in the earlier decades are often important pieces of contemporary history. Few Koreans had cameras in the 1960s and 1970s.

Of Scott's pictures, I want to present the one of a bus with a route through the whole city from Shillim-dong in the south of Seoul to Mia-ri in the north, going via Noryangjin, Seoul Station, and Toegye-ro. I was of course attracted to the picture for the fact that it's a bus departing from Shillim-dong, the other of my home places in Korea, which at the time when the photo was taken had recently begun urbanization, and where vast areas of hillside settlements like Nan'gok (my pics from 2000 and 2001-2002) had formed.

Link to the page of the original photo, where you can see the faces of people sitting in the bus by clicking "view full size."

Bus going from Shillim-dong to Mia-ri via Noryangjin, Seoul Station, and Toegye-ro. (c) Scott Forey 1971-73.

Mr Forey tells:
I remember the day we took that bus photo. It was one of those incredibly cold days, but the sun was shining, the air was like crystal. I like the mother pulling her child's hat down to keep him warm.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005


Below I had an entry about the arrest and confinement of two South Korean men suspected of aggravated arrangement of illegal entry to Finland in early July. The two men and the five Chinese women they were taking to Europe with counterfeit South Korean passports stood trial last week. (I will not comment on the case more than what's been published in the media because I was involved as an interpreter both in the police investigation and in the trial.)

The two men were convicted for what they were charged; aggravated because the court saw them acting as part, albeit as fringe players, of an organization, of which the prime movers remain somewhere in China. The sentences were 12 months and 10 months, of which they'll do only half as first offenders. The five women were given probation sentences for using the counterfeit passports, which means that they'll be sent home soon, with worries how to pay the 12-13 000 euros that their families owe to the arrangers for the trip.

The comment that I'll allow is that the legislation that was used in sentencing the two men was mostly a result of Finland's poor record in an official US report on human trafficking and illegal immigration. As far as I understood that was mostly because of the lack of legislation forbidding precisely these kinds of activities – notwithstanding the fact that other legislation was available to curb it. In the 2003 report Finland was placed at the tier 2 of three tiers- while South Korea was on the top tier...

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Monday, August 08, 2005

muu maa mustikka 블루베리 보관

아내의 동료는 자녀를 14명이나 둔 집안인데, 부지런한 그들 덕분에 열매 나오는 시절에 주변 사람들은 그 부지런함의 열매를 누릴 수 있다. 동료의 남편과 아들 중에 하나는 지난 금요일 저녁에 블루베리를 따러 갔다가 다음 날 오전에 우리한테 열매 12킬로 갔다 주었다. 여덟살이 된 그 아들이 받은 오십유로는 그한테 결국 작은 돈이 아니었을 것이다.

냉동고가 작아서 블루베리 일부만 냉동해서 보관할 수 있었다.

다행히는 우리 아파트 지하층엔 큰 냉장실이 있다. 거기서 보관하기 위해서 남은 블루베리를 쨈으로 끓였다. 아니, 쨈이란 말이 좀 틀린 것이다: 한국이나 영국에서 알려진 쨈보다 설탕을 훨씬 작게 넣고 쨈처럼 딱딱하고 달지는 않을 것이다. 우리말로 하면 <힐로>.

냉동실에 들어가기 전에의 블루베리통들. 겨울 내내 아침에 죽을 맛있게 먹을 수 있을 것.

제목에 있는 핀란드말 <무우 마아 무스딕가>는 핀란드 속담 "내 땅은 딸기, 남의 땅은 블루베리"의 일부다. 오늘날엔 이 속담의 뜻은 "내 땅이 남의 땅보다 낫다"는 걸로 이해되지만 원래 화전(火田)농사에서 나타나는 말이다. 화전을, 즉 나무를 베고 불 태운 밭을 만들면 그 땅은 몇년 농사 짓다가 딸기가 나오는 동안 자기땅으로 볼 수 있고 블루베리가 나오기 시작할 만큼 숲이 생겼으면 그 땅을 누구나 사용할 수 있었단다. 그래서 "딸기는 내 땅, 블루베리는 남의 땅".

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

dogs and hunjang's stool

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My reading of Jo Jung-rae's Taebaek Sanmaek has become more and more like browsing now that I'm getting close to the end. The longer I gets the more tedious it has become, and that's mainly because of the hard-to-digest idealism in the description of the communist insurgents, who now in the last 10th volume are being wiped out by the ROK army and police.
On the other hand, in their evilness, corruptedness and moral decay (as described by Jo), the characters on the side of the Republic of Korea make much more interesting reading, as well as the description of events among the civilians in small towns and villages: the wounds of conflict and war, the position of the families of the communist guerrillas and so on.

But it was about dogs in yet another Korean metaphor that I was to write this note, inspired by a passage in Jo's book. A character called Sônu Chin, a post-liberation refugee from the North and a staunch anti-communist, is asking his older associate (hyông, "older brother") for help to get a new better job. Before the Korean War he had been a middle school teacher, colleague to Kim Pôm-u who had tried not to take sides but joined the DPRK side after seeing what the USA was doing to the country and becoming confirmed of the correct direction of history. During the war Sônu Chin had served in some kind of security police, but was now anxious to find more interesting and rewarding things to do as the war was coming to and end. Groping girls and smoking Pall Mall (yangdambae, Western cigarettes, as Jo doesn't fail to add) Sônu and his associate ponder which one of the two might be better, university professor or a journalist. Sônu's associate (friend, hyông) contemplates that journalist is after all better, with the power but without the worries of an educator, which he expresses with the proverb hunjang ttong kaedo an môngunda, "not even a dog eats teacher's(*) shit."

Unlike in the proverb of trader's money being shunned even by dogs, in this case it's reassuring to notice that the proverbial dogs' avoidance of teacher's (hunjang) ordure is not due to the low status of the person or profession but because of the unedibility for dogs resulting from the hunjang's professional worries and agonies. This is similar to the case of traders, as I noted in an earlier occasion about Cheonggyecheon: in order to survive as traders, they have to be so empty from inside that what comes out is not touched by even a dog.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

pinikpin puikpu

Hankyoreh provides a Yonhap article on the latest trends in incomes, consumption and increasingly widening income gaps. (What's missing is the source for the figures, but I'd guess the Korean National Statistics Office has released some statistics.)

What is noteworthy is that business income (saôp sodûk) has decreased by 0.5% from one year ago, showing that the already difficult predicament of the self-employed has only gone from bad to worse.

An adjoining article, this time giving the source as the recent publication of household economy statistics by the National Statistics Office, tells that the income difference between the highest fifth and the lowest fifth is biggest in five years, 5.9 million W per household vs. 1.15 million won.
Someone at the Ministry of Finance gives the explanation that so much of the consumption of the high-income stratum is directed overseas that the "trickle-down effect" (트리클다운 효과) doesn't work - it doesn't help the domestic economy and the creation of new jobs. Might not for example the ever-increasing proportion of non-permanent employment, with poor pay and governmental blessing, have a lot to do with this?

How come the people in the present ROK government are such bad lefties.

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