Posted on 21 January 2011.
Janelle Monae, an African-American, stole this song from the white, British composer Charlie Chaplin, and white, british lyricists John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, who originally had their song stolen from white brits by Nat King Cole.
See how ridiculous it starts to get when we talk about people stealing cultures? It’s just a great song, isn’t it?
So the final point on the topic is the question, what happens here in Korea, when expats living here see something that vaguely resembles their culture back home, but it’s been changed in unexpected ways. It’s analogous to the question of what Koreans do, or ought to do, when they see artifacts from their culture being co-opted by other cultures – Hollywood remakes (my sassy girl), Japanese repackagings (kimuchi) and even Korean-engineered revisions aimed at a new audience (Wondergirls). I step into a Korean wedding hall, and I see an aisle, candles, a white gown, I hear Mendelssohn’s march, and a bouquet being tossed… yet it’s all two steps sideways from the weddings I saw back home.
This can be quite off-putting, even to me, and I’ve been here relatively forever.
Read the full story
Posted in Life
Posted on 20 July 2010.
The first chapter of Robert Neff’s book Korea Through Western Eyes tells the story of how Paul Georg von Mollendorff first came to Korea in December 1882 on board the steamship Hingshing. Upon arriving at Chemulpo, it anchored out in the harbor, where the passengers were greeted by different sets of visitors:
Later that evening, the steamship was again visited, this time by the local magistrate who came to pay his respects to the Korean officials. After a private dinner and a meeting with the Korean officials, it was determined that it was impossible for him to return to shore. The winds had increased in force and the strong current prevented boats from approaching the steamer.
For four days the magistrate and his entourage were all confined to the steamer. One observer noted that the Koreans were in no hurry to leave the ship and “in fact they enjoyed heartily our fare, and disposed of beefsteaks, mutton-chops, plum pudding, beer, claret, champagne and coffee with as much relish as any foreigner.” The crew feared running short of mustard because the Koreans ate it on everything.
I had what I thought was not sweet potato pizza but which turned out to indeed be sweet potato pizza the other day (the sweet potato was well hidden under the cheese) and got another nasty surprise: there was an unseen coating of mustard on the pizza. Another time in a hof I ordered nachos and they arrived dripping with mustard.
I think one of the best ways to explain the yuck factor involved in those examples to Korean friends is to whip out a packet or two of ketchup and suggest drizzling it over the kimchi.
Posted in Culture, Food