…and this colonial era poster calling for 내선일체 (naisen ittai, or ‘Japan and Korea as one body’), which I posted here:
협력일치 세계복자 [Feel free to offer a translation]
Posted on 02 July 2010.
…and this colonial era poster calling for 내선일체 (naisen ittai, or ‘Japan and Korea as one body’), which I posted here:
Posted on 16 June 2010.
I would have thought this deserved a lot more play in the Korean Media (or did I miss it?).
“applegirl002″ or Kim Yeo Hee as she is known to her parents, rose to YouTube stardom a couple of months ago using a collection of iPhones (four in total) to do covers of Beyonce and Lady Gaga. (I don’t know who those people are.)
Her YouTube clips show not only the awesomeness of the iPhone and the number of professional sounding music apps available, but also a young lady with considerable musical talent:
I like the way she introduces each app and the riffs going in to making each song.
It turns out that applegirl002 has garnered something of a following on Twitter here in Korea and as a result put together a live Twitter show case / meet up of covers that you can see on her YouTube channel here.
Well now it turns out she has a record deal and released an EP (iTunes Link) and has released the video for her first single – sans iPhones. Say what you want about K-Pop (And I say its bleeding from the ears high pitched nonsense) but Kim Yeo Hee really is quite talented. The Single is called “나의노래” or “My Music”:
Posted on 16 June 2010.
According to the Korea Times,
Makgeolli has gained immense popularity over the past year, which is partially explained by the economic downturn that had drinkers looking for cheaper beverages.
This devastated the markets of whisky, wine and soju, Korea’s traditional distilled beverage, and also served a severe blow to the sales of beer. Plus the abnormally chilly spring this year appears to have prevented drinkers from switching predominately to beer until recently.
The beer market posted a meager 0.5 percent growth last year, while the market for makgeolli grew by more than 40 percent. Market watchers predict that the beer market will grow by a more-healthy 5 percent this year, thanks in large part to the World Cup jolt.
That’s pretty impressive growth, but I wonder what the makgeolli market has been like over the last decade.
The JoongAng Ilbo has an article about the street cheering that accompanied Korea’s first World Cup game against Greece that includes this photo:
The last time I remember seeing a Korean flag that big in front of City Hall, the crowds were also tearing to shreds American flags (as related here). Oh, wait, there’s no City Hall in the above photo, is there?
I’ve looked at the 2002 World Cup before here (this photo taken at the Korea-U.S. game is rather interesting), and at the street cheering during the 2006 World Cup here. For Korea’s first game of the 2010 World Cup, I was in Sinchon, which was rather festive after Korea’s victory:
That truck then blocked the street at the big crosswalk in Sinchon, and if we hadn’t found a little side street, might have trapped us in our taxi trying to escape the crowds for who knows how long. Apparently the revelry has been a boon for retailers, with a surge in sales of certain items:
GS25 chain stores also reported brisk sales on Saturday, with the 10 branches near large-scale cheering spots registering three times the revenue as the week before. After the game, sales of condoms jumped five times more than during the 2006 World Cup.
More on that here. Oh, and once again, another World Cup, another World Cup girl (after Shin Mina in 2002, and the “elf girl” in 2006). Mind you, one is never enough for the photographers of the Chosun Ilbo. And my word for the day: vuvuzela.
Here’s a fact I didn’t know about North Korea’s sports teams:
Previously, South Korea had sponsored all expenses needed for North Korean teams when they participated in international sport events. But the North’s provocative act caused South Korea to stop subsidizing North Korean teams in international sports events.
Speaking of whom, the first half of their game against Brazil just finished. Though Brazil has been in control of the ball 2/3 of the time, and has had more shots on net, the score is 0-0. It seems North Korea’s defense, defense and more defense (and hope that Jong Tae-se gets the ball in Brazil’s end) has been serving them well enough.
Ehhh. 27 minutes into the second half Brazil is now up two goals. Time to go back to sleep.
[Update] They actually scored and managed to prevent a third goal… surprising stuff.
Posted on 10 June 2010.
In 2000, Hong Seok-cheon became Korea’s first openly gay celebrity. After coming out, however, he was fired from his broadcasting jobs in TV and radio. This November 2000 article about Hong also interviews gay rights activist Seo Dong Jin, who was nearly kicked out of the elite Yonsei University a few years ago for organizing a support group for gay and lesbian students. In 1997 he tried to convene a gay film festival, but local authorities cut off the electricity. The Queer Film and Video Festival only got the green light in 1998 after censors relaxed their conditions.
By 2005, however, a gay couple was featured in a TV advertisement, and in 2006 Korea’s best-selling movie ever at that point (12 million tickets, meaning 25% of the population saw the film in theaters), The King and Clown, was also its biggest surprise hit – especially considering that the drama centered around a clearly gay relationship. 2006 also saw the release of a film aimed at teens which featured transsexuals, transvestites and gay characters [Dasepo Girls], and another Joseon-era film released in 2008, A Frozen Flower, featured a gay love triangle and was a moderate hit.
An openly gay couple is now focused on in a TV drama for the first time, SBS’s “Beautiful Life,” and in this May 29 interview with the writer of the series, Kim Soo-hyun, she makes clear that her “main goal is to make homosexuality a subject that is no longer taboo.” As this article notes, “Its viewer ratings exceeded 20 percent on May 23 when the two came out of the closet, pointing to Koreans’ growing interests in the once-social taboo.” Not everyone is happy with this, however:
With more soap operas and other entertainment programs shedding light on homosexuality, conservative religious groups have begun stepping up on criticism against what they call the “glamorization of gays and lesbians” by TV program producers seeking to draw a larger viewership.
[According to t]he Korean Association of Church Communication (KACC) … “Everybody knows that homosexual relationships are ‘not a social norm.’” The organization then said it is not right for the society to generalize and approve homosexuality, stressing that a series of recent TV programs have overly beautified gays and homosexual love, negatively affecting the acceptable growth of adolescent sexuality.
“The problem with soap operas featuring gays is that homosexuality concerns only a small number of individuals. Most of us have nothing to do with it,” KACC spokesman Shim Man-sup said. “Gays can pursue their own lifestyle privately. But when homosexuality is highlighted and glamorized by TV programs, it not a private matter anymore. Broadcasters must stop commercially exploiting the issue for the common good.”
I hope they start complaining that many dramas glamorize wealth and greed, since living in mansions “concerns only a small number of individuals.” But then, considering most Protestant (‘Christian’) churches here require that their members pay tithes amounting to 10% of their income, I doubt they have many concerns about widespread avarice.
Posted on 06 June 2010.
What do The Mori Museum in Japan, funky beats and Do It Yourself space satellites have in common? Each license their work under various Creative Commons licenses.
I’ve talked about Creative Commons before, and this weekend the Creative Commons Asia conference was held in Seoul at the impressive National Museum in Yongsan, so I went along.
There were a number of sessions to choose from and attend. Amongst them I sat in on two panel discussions. Together they were titled 열린 창작 창작에서 open의 의미 or “The Meaning of Open In An Open Commons”(?) The first featured Takahiro Saito and Izumi Yoshida from Creative Commons Japan, Song Ho Jun from the Open Source Satellite Initiative and Brett Gaylor, movie director, from Canada.
L-R Saito, Yoshida, Song and Gaylor and the panel moderator.
Saito and Yoshida presented their project “Into Infinity” wich paired various musicians from all manner of different genre with artists who matched 20 second musical loops with drawings and paintings on 12 inch discs (like the LP) Supported by DubLab – an influential (and awesome) online radio station – some cool beats were laid down in conjunction with some really trippy art in a number of exhibitions in Japan and The States. Even better though is Infinity Loop’s iPhone app that allows you to mix your own tracks from the available loops and artwork, and even use it as a ringtone.
Brett Gaylor is a movie director responsible for the movie “RIP: A Remix Manifesto” a movie put together by hundreds of contributors in an open source way each licensing their efforts under The Creative Commons for reuse, redistribution and remix, the results of which can be seen at the link above.
These two projects are the pretty artsy stuff that I have come to associate with Creative Commons – it’s openness and flexibility of licensing working really well with distributed, ope source projects. Song Ho Jun’s presentation was a lot different.
The sole Korean on the panel Song started OSSI, or the Open Source Satellite Initiative. Song seems crazy intelligent building his own plans for a little home made satellite, a receiver station and payload launching system, in collaboration with experts in the field. In addition to CCAsia 2010 he has presented at MIT, and you can follow OSSI on Twitter: @opensat.
The biggest stumbling block to launching your own satellite into space? predictably it’s money. Whether it is the inflated costs of parts that you might need to smuggle into Korea because of the bans on export of certain parts (like springs and bolts!), or the actual cost of a “piggyback” satellite launch, this is a bit of a difficult one! Of course you can support OSSI by buying a t-shirt. (of course!)
The second panel was very heavily photography based. It has struck me as interesting that in Asia especially no one seems to mind if you take photos of stuff in Museums. Fumio Nanjo outlined The Mori Museum’s efforts to allow patrons to take photos of its works on display and the positive effect it had on the PR budget because of the explosion of blogs using photos from its flickr group etc and posting about the museum’s exhibitions.
Handong Zhu from Creative Commons China Mainland talked about the Creative Commons China Mainland photo competitions and various related projects.
Rounding off the presentations was a keynote from Lawrence Lessig, one of the founders of The Creative Commons, and probably the number one expert on the law as it applies to The Internet and techie things in general. His presentation, in line with the whole conference, raised questions as to the meaning of openness and the ability to be innovative in an open environment.
He chartered the period from the late 80s / early 90s where a closed platforms (like Microsoft) stifled innovation through a time of relative openness to today where we seem to have gone back to some closed, or what he calls “controlled and controllable” platforms such as Facebook (read their terms of service lately?) and Apple’s iPad (Apple gets to pick what goes in the app store etc.). Yet in these so called controlled environments there is still huge amounts of innovation happening.
And no conference is complete without the swag report:
Clockwise from top left, Daum search box themed desk pad, Naver notebook, Cyworld pencil case, note book and pencils and Daum post-it notes. Coolness.
Asked why I choose to support Creative Commons my response is two fold. Firstly Creative Commons, through it’s open approach often attracts the most talented individuals in any given field who create interesting funky stuff – which I enjoy. The second reason is that the current regime of copyright and licensing is broken. Creative Commons provides a workable and most importantly fair alternative.
You can find out more about Creative Commons here.
Posted on 21 May 2010.
We’re nearing episode #100, and we want to celebrate it with our listeners. So mark your calendars for June 19th and meet us at the rooftop of Roofers in Itaewon for alive show with a live audience (you, really).
In order to entice you there, the kind folks at Roofers have set up a deal where you can get a burger and beer for W10,000.
Posted on 13 May 2010.
This Korea Herald article the other day had some interesting statistics:
The reservation rate for a single ticket is steadily increasing at CGV. It was 20.3 percent in the second quarter of 2008 but rose to 24 percent last year.[...]
The situation is similar for musicals and plays. According to Interpark, an online ticket seller, single tickets for various performances stood at about 96,000 in 2006 but increased to 141,000 in 2007 and 214,000 in 2008.
According to Statistics Korea, one-fifth of the households in Korea are one-person households.
Home meal replacement products such as instant lasagna or galbitang, or beef rib soup, are [popular, as] the sales of such products increased 60 percent this year, according to E-mart.
The statistic on the number of single tickets being reserved at CGV movie theatres was something I found interesting, especially considering the number of times I’ve been told that people in Korea never go to movies alone. Things are obviously changing, especially if “one-fifth of the households in Korea are one-person households.” One wonders how many of these people are in the ranks of the elderly.
Korea Beat also translated an article about students’ attitudes towards marriage:
A study of 1,039 middle and high school students nationwide conducted by the Korean Association of Retired Persons (한국은퇴자협회) found that three out of four male students said “I absolutely want to get married” (76.4 percent) but just half as many (55.6 percent) of female students said they plan to marry. 69.5 percent of male students said “if I get married I absolutely want to have children” but just 59.7 percent of female students agreed. The male students gave economic reasons as the primary reason not to get married, while female students mentioned the burdens of childrearing and housekeeping.
Clearly, changes are afoot. While it could be said that the self-centeredness that has grown out of (North) American individualism is not the best thing that could be exported here, on the other hand, with the adoption of apartment blocks as the place of choice to live for the middle class in Korea, the community found in the golmok (alley) neighborhoods of the past has already been under assault (figuratively and literally) for decades. The construction of so many officetels over the past 10 years has clearly had an effect on the makeup of households noted above.
Posted on 12 May 2010.
A teenage “girl” arrested in central Seoul in March for offering to sell sex to adult men on the Internet has been found to be a boy, nearly a month after he was taken into police custody.
Before the 16-year-old, only identified by his surname Choi, was found out through fingerprint identification, he was held in a lockup cell with five women at a Seoul detention center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, for 23 days. After finding out his real gender, police immediately moved him to a cell for men and had to revise the case report.
According to police, Tuesday, Choi was arrested along with four others in late March on charges of selling sex to adult men. He was dressed as a girl and used a female name when questioned by police. Because of Choi’s feminine physical features and attire, investigators were completely fooled. Police said Choi solicited adult men on online chatting sites. When they met in a motel room, Choi stole the men’s wallets and ran away while the men were taking a shower.
Interesting that it took so long to identify him, and perhaps a testament to the thoroughness of police searches. The article adds that
For minors aged under 17, fingerprint identification is the only official tool to distinguish genders. Koreans receive a resident identification card when they become 18 years old.
That should be “17 and under” above (in Korean it says “18세 미만”), though it’s not surprising that such mistakes are made when the Korean reads something like ‘17세 이하’. I was curious what the fingerprints would be compared to, but a co-worker told me that babies are fingerprinted when born and the prints submitted to the dong samuso (neighborhood office) to be used in case children go missing.
As for dressing as a girl to steal money from men looking for sex with minors (wonjo gyoje), this isn’t the first time, as the first news item under December 4 here reveals:
On December 2 , Busanjin police office issued a warrant for the arrest of a 17-year-old boy identified by only his family name, Park. Park, who has naturally long hair, put on some lipstick, pretended to be a high school girl and used a video chatting site to lure men into arranging sexual liaisons for money. The men would send money to Park’s bank account, but he would never show up for the arranged meetings. Police were able to track down Park and arrested him after more than 1.2 million won had already been transferred to his account.
The 2006 film “Dasepo Girls” (which I looked at in depth here) portrays something similar, in which a teenage boy makes himself up like a girl and video chats with a person he believes is a girl – but turns out to be his father in the next room.
The Korea Times provides a few more details about Choi’s arrest:
He was taken into custody after a sting operation by Hyehwa Police Station in late March, and then transferred to the Seoul detention center in early April.
Posted on 04 May 2010.
Yi Kwang-su (Photo from here.)
Last week Andre Lankov wrote an interesting piece in the Korea Times about the life of Yi Kwang-su, which got me interested in him, not because of his novels or literary criticism, but more because I’d been reading Gi-wook Shin’s Ethnic Nationalism in Korea, which discusses his influence on Korean nationalism. The way the Korean nation is perceived today has been influenced especially by two people: Shin Chae-ho and Yi Kwang-su.
As described in Andre Schmid’s book Korea Between Empires 1895-1919 (and also in Henry Em’s essay “Minjok as a Modern and Democratic Construct: Shin Ch’ae-ho’s Historiography” in Colonial Modernity in Korea), Shin Chae-ho’s most influential work was the essay “Toksa Sillon,” or “A New Reading of History,” which was first published in 1908. In it Shin was the first to take the relatively new concept of “minjok” (see Henry Em’s essay) and combine it with Dangun, the mythological precursor of the Korean people via the Jokpo, or family genealogical record. Ignoring court-based histories and the previous attention paid to Kija (the Chinese sage who founded an early Korean kingdom and provided a link to China when it was the center of the east Asian world), Shin made the minjok, the ethnic nation, the subject of his history, which allowed him to connect Korea to the greatness of Goguryeo (and a time when “Korea” included a great deal of Manchuria) and Dangun. Shin’s essay was incredibly influential, and though it should be noted that though his use of genealogical concepts made a “bloodline” implicit, Schmid makes no mention of Shin explicitly utilizing that idea. To be sure, Shin saw the nation in an organic manner, with his worldview influenced by Social Darwinism. It was Yi Kwang-su, however, who would contribute (or at least popularize) other ideas to fine-tune Shin’s concept into one that endures up to the present.
As Lankov notes, “Yi was born in 1892, in what is now North Korea. He was 10 years old when his parents died, but the village community took care of him as he had already become viewed by his fellow villagers as a local prodigy.”
Beong-cheon Yu’s book Han Yong-un & Yi Kwang-su: Two Pioneers of Modern Korean Literature says that Yi was taken in by the Dongak movement, while Lankov describes it as the Cheondogyo sect. At any rate, “It was sect leaders who provided Yi with a scholarship to study in Japan where he went in 1905. In Tokyo, he acquired a native fluency in Japanese. Indeed, Japanese, not Korean, was the language he used in his first fiction writings.” Yi also learned English there, and in the 1930s was described as being able to speak “beautiful English.”
There he became acquainted with Western writers, and especially respected Tolstoy. According to Yu, in 1910 he returned to Korea, to his hometown of Osan (in northern Korea), and became a teacher (and also got married). He later had a falling out with the religious officials who took over the school, and wandered around northeast Asia for several years, visiting Shanghai, Vladivostok, Manchuria and Chiba in Siberia. His planned trip to San Francisco was made impossible by World War I, and he moved back to Japan and enrolled in Waseda University. There he wrote many essays, especially about literature, and became famous when his book Mujeong (“Heartlessness”) was serialized in 1917 in the Maeil Sinbo (formerly Ernest Bethell’s Daehan Maeil Sinbo, which was secretly bought by the Japanese and published from 1910-1944, and the only vernacular Korean newspaper published by the Japanese authorities from 1910 to 1920, and 1940 to 1944). Mujeong is considered the first modern Korean novel, and made Yi a celebrity (and hated by some critics) overnight. (It’s reviewed here.) He also caused a scandal when the woman about to become Korea’s first doctor, Heo Yeong-suk, nursed him back to health after his first bout with tuberculosis and he divorced his wife to elope with Heo to Peking. [Yu, 88-91]
Yi’s non-fiction writing focused on the purpose of literature in Korea and its relationship with the Korean nation, making it clear that nationalism influenced his way of seeing the world. Michael D. Shin’s essay “Interior Landscapes and Modern Literature,” from Colonial Modernity in Korea, discusses and quotes from some of his essays, especially “What is Literature?” (1916), Korea’s first example of modern literary criticism. In it he views munhak, or literature, in a different way than in the past because of jeong “which he uses to describe a wide range of emotions.” Shin notes Yi’s assertion that “in the past emotion had been ignored because “humanity did not have a clear conception of individuality (gaeseong).” Shin describes Yi writing that “although the human mind consists of three factors – knowledge (chi) emotion (jeong) and will (eui) – people in the past “regarded jeong as lowly and considered only knowledge and will important.” [...] “The thoughts and emotions of the Choson people were restricted by an intolerant moral code for around five hundred years after the founding of the Yi dynasty.” [p. 256]
See the rest of the post here.
From Gusts of Popular Feeling.