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COVER STORY Korean ﬁlm talents spread their wings on the international screen
Korean Cinema Goes Global
14 18 20 24 26 28 30 34 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
PEN & BRUSH
Small Step or Giant Leap?
Myeongdong Dance Night
The Korean Look
SPECIAL ISSUE I SUMMIT DIPLOMACY
President Park Geun-hye Takes Office
Publisher Woo Jin-Yung, Korean Culture and Information Service Executive Producer Suh Jeong-sun E-mail email@example.com Magazine Production Seoul Selection Editor-in-Chief Robert Koehler Producer Ko Yeon-kyung Editorial Advisors Jang Woojung, Hu Young Sup Copy Editors Daisy Larios, Hwang Chi-young Creative Director Jung Hyun-young Head Designer Lee Bokhyun Photography Ryu Seunghoo, RAUM Studio Printing LEEFFECT All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from KOREA and the Korean Culture and Information Service. If you want to receive a free copy of KOREA or wish to cancel a subscription, please e-mail us. A downloadable PDF file of KOREA and a map and glossary with common Korean words appearing in our text are available by clicking on the thumbnail of KOREA on the homepage of www.korea.net. 발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06
Korea’s Healing Craze
Protecting the Past
White Day and More
KTO President Lee Cham
TALES FROM KOREA
The Fairy and the Woodcutter
Mugwort Rice Cake
Korean film talents spread their wings on the international screen
Written by Robert Koehler
1. Tower (2012), an example of Korea's advanced CG technology. 2. A scene from The Berlin File. 3. A scene from A Gift from Room 7
n September 10, 2012, director Kim Ki-duk’s film Pieta won the Golden Lion, the award for best film at the 69th Venice Film Festival. American director Michael Mann, who headed Venice’s jury, said Kim’s film “seduced you viscerally.” Natalia Aspesi, a film critic with Italian daily La Republica, wrote that the film “will leave the average filmgoer with their hair standing on end,” while a review in fellow Italian daily Corriere della Serra said the film was “enough to leave even the most inexorable and unfeeling of souls shaken.” Kim’s Golden Lion at Venice was Korea’s first, but it’s only one piece of evidence of a greater truth—Korean cinema has arrived. Once at risk of being dominated in its own market, the Korean film industry has transformed itself into one of Asia’s most vibrant. Korea’s biggest box office hit, 2012’s The Thieves, put over 12.9 million people in the seats, a remarkable achievement for a nation of just 50 million. Over the last decade, high-profile international film festivals like Venice, Cannes, and Berlin have bestowed major awards upon Korean films, directors, and actors. What’s more, international filmmakers in the United States, Asia, and elsewhere are increasingly eager to work with Korean cinematic talent, as indicated by the rising presence of Korean actors and directors in international cinema and the growing number of requests for joint productions.
Development of Korean Film
Just as mighty trees grow from little acorns, Korea’s globally prominent film industry sprung from humble roots. The history of film in Korea goes back to the very end of the 19th century, when French short films were screened in 1897 or 1898. This was just a few years after the Lumière brothers held their first film screening in Paris on December 28, 1895, marking the beginning of the cinematic age. By 1903, local newspapers were advertising screenings of largely imported films. In the 1920s, Korean films began to appear. The 1924 silent film The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon was the first Korean-made and
Korean-funded film. In 1934, the first Korean sound film, The Story of Chunhyang, was released. These were difficult times, however—the Korean film industry faced technical limitations, but more importantly, the Japanese colonial authorities placed serious barriers to the development of independent Korean cinema. As Japan’s wars grew and militarism increased, Korean filmmakers suffered from worsening censorship and coercion. With Japan’s final defeat in the Pacific War in 1945, the Korean film industry was finally free of colonial control. Korea’s liberation was soon followed by the division of Korea and the Korean War, which destroyed film infrastructure and scattered personnel. Following the war, however, the South Korean film industry boomed as Korea’s pop culture and mass media developed. With its many film companies and theaters, the Chungmuro district of Seoul became Korea’s Hollywood. Korean cinema continued to flourish throughout the 1960s, experiencing a golden age. Technology improved, genre films developed, and auteur directors plied their trade with greater sophistication. The 1970s, by contrast, were a dark age for Korean film, as government censorship increased and cinema found itself in competition with another medium of entertainment, television. Things began to improve in the 1980s, though, as censorship was eased and Korean filmmakers gained notice internationally. Director Im Kwon-taek became the first Korean director to be invited to European film festivals after his 1981 film Mandala won the Grand Prix at the Hawaii Film Festival. Im’s 1993 film Seopyeonje, a beautiful tale of a family of Korean folk singers, was not only the first Korean film to draw over 1 million viewers, it also sparked a simultaneous revival in interest in Korean traditional culture. Then came Shiri. The 1999 blockbuster—the first ever in Korean history—drew 6.5 million people, sinking the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic to set a new Korean box office record. More importantly, the slickly produced action flick sparked a wave of well-made and, more to the point, commercially viable films. Films like JSA (2000) and My Sassy Girl (2001) were not only drawing millions, but they were also holding their own against simultaneously released Hollywood blockbusters. The 2003 action-drama Silmido
and the war film Taegukgi—both of which dealt with the tragedy of national division—broke the 10-million-viewer mark. Explaining this dramatic turnaround, Mark Siegmund of the Seoul Film Commission said, “Censorship got eased... and a new generation of talented filmmakers came into the industry.” He added, “Korea as an IT country contributed a lot to the development of VFX effects studios, CG, digital intermediate and so on. I also think the establishment of a star system similar to the United States and France helped to boost the film industry and make it the single most important 'culture item' besides food.” In the 21st century, Korean cinema has enjoyed tremendous commercial success while maintaining a healthy art house scene. The last couple of years have seen one box office record after another. The 2012 crime caper The Thieves drew 12.9 million viewers, just nudging out another 2012 release, the historical drama Gwanghae, which drew 12.3 million viewers. Directors such as Bong Joonho, Park Chan-wook, Hong Sang-soo, and Lee Chang-dong regularly produce films that combine commercial appeal with artistic integrity. While not especially popular in his homeland, art house director Kim Ki-duk continues to produce works that enthrall overseas audiences, including European film festival juries.
Korean Film in the World
Pieta’s Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival in 2012 marked only the latest in a series of evergrowing successes among Korean films, directors, and performers on the international stage. The first Korean film to garner attention in an overseas film festival was Im Kwon-taek’s 1981 Mandala, a film about two Buddhist monks that not only took the Grand Prix at the Hawaii Film Festival but also got a showing at the Venice Film Festival, a notable first. Mandala was only the beginning for Im, who became Korea’s most internationally respected art house director of the 1980s and 1990s. Im’s films were fixtures at international film festivals, culminating in two screenings at Berlin (the first for Kilsodeum in 1986 and the second for The Taebaek Mountains in 1995) and a Best Director award at Cannes in 2002 for Chihwaseon. In honor of his contributions to global cinema, Im was awarded an honorary Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival. Im’s success has passed on to his actors, too. Actress Kang Soo-yeon won a Best Actress award at the 1987 Venice Film Festival for her role in Im’s The Surrogate Woman and another Best Actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for her role in Im’s 1989 film Come Come Come Upward. In time, however, Im was succeeded by a younger generation of Korean film directors. Lee Chang-dong—a
novelist and director who later became a Minister of Culture—won a Best Director award at the 2002 Venice Film Festival for Oasis, a moving tale of love between an ex-con and a woman with cerebral palsy. The film itself just missed out on a Golden Lion for best picture, and actress Moon So-ri was named Best New Actress. Lee’s 2007 film Secret Sunshine was likewise praised by critics worldwide, with lead actress Jeon Do-yeon taking home the Best Actress award at Cannes in 2007. A watershed in Korean cinema came in 2004 when Park Chan-wook’s gritty vengeance tale Oldboy won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and it would have taken best overall if left to the jury president, American director Quentin Tarantino. Just as importantly, the film sparked intense interest from overseas film fans, who promoted the film widely on film sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. Even overseas directors couldn’t help but be impressed—the 2010 Miguel Sapochnik science-fiction film Repo Men seemingly mimics one of Oldboy’s most iconic scenes.
1. Kim Ki-duk and stars of Pieta at Venice International Film Festival 2. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kim Jiwoon on set of The Last Stand 3. Scene from The Thieves, Korea's alltime biggest box office hit
Then there is director Kim Ki-duk. The enfant terrible of Korean cinema, Kim’s films—low-budget art house films that focus on the grittier sides of Korean life— have not been warmly received by the Korean moviegoing public. International film festivals, on the other hand, love them. Even before Pieta won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2012, Kim’s films had racked up an impressive collection of major awards, including a Best Director award for Samaritan Girl at Berlin in 2004 and another Best Director award for 3-Iron at Venice, also in 2004. His 2011 documentary Arirang was also well received by the jury of Cannes, which gave it the Prize of Un Certain Regard in its category. Even outside of the film festivals, Korean films are gathering a following overseas. Most famously, Kim Ki-duk’s films have done extremely well on the European art house circuit. His 2004 film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, a beautifully shot film that follows the life of a Buddhist monk, was even noted by American film critic Roger Ebert in his list of great films; he said, “Rarely has a movie this simple
moved me this deeply. I feel as if I could review it in a paragraph, or discuss it for hours.”
Hollywood Films, Korean Talent
In 2012, the Wachowski siblings—renowned for their Matrix trilogy—released the blockbuster Cloud Atlas, based on the critically acclaimed novel by David Mitchell. The film itself polarized critics and audiences, but the performance of Korean actress Bae Doo-na as Sonmi-451, a clone-turned-revolutionary in a far-future Seoul, earned widespread praise and even sparked talk of an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. Bae’s performance was also, to date, the most prominent one by a Korean actress in an overseas blockbuster, and certainly a sign of things to come. With Korean cinema on the ascendancy worldwide and Hollywood increasingly desperate for new ideas and talent, American production companies are turning their eyes to Korea for inspiration and manpower. Korean pop culture expert Mark Russell, author of Pop Goes Korea, said “Hollywood has always been a great maw of international talent, hungrily consuming many of the best filmmakers from around the world, regardless of origins, so it is no surprise that Korean actors and filmmakers are being recognized, courted, and hired there.” Initially, Hollywood’s interest was confined to the purchasing of remake rights. In the early 2000s, Hollywood remade a number of successful Korean films, including Il Mare (remade as The Lake House in 2006, starring Keanu Reeves), My Sassy Girl, and A Tale of Two Sisters (remade in 2009 as The Uninvited). Korean actors began breaking into Hollywood soon afterward. The Wachowskis were the first to turn to Korea when they cast R&B singer Rain in their 2009 action flick Ninja Assassin. Jang Dong-gun, likewise, was given top billing in Sngmoo Lee’s overseas
production The Warrior’s Way, starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth. Neither of these films were a commercial success, but they did open the way. Actress Jun Ji-hyun, with whom the world fell in love thanks to her 2001 film My Sassy Girl, also starred in an English-language production, 2009’s Blood: The Last Vampire, a vampire action film directed by French director Chris Nahon. Actor Lee Byung-hyun—who earned worldwide notice with standout performances in a number of Korean films such as A Bittersweet Life and The Good, the Bad, the Weird—made his Hollywood debut in a supporting role as Storm Shadow in the 2009 action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He gets to reprise that role in the upcoming sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, set to open at the end of March. He will also appear in RED 2 alongside G.I. Joe: Retaliation costar Bruce Willis this summer. Even grizzled veterans of the Korean silver screen are making the leap. Actor Ahn Sung-ki, one of Korea’s most beloved performers, will join fellow Korean Park Si-yeon and Hollywood stars Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen in the medieval epic The Last Knights (release date unknown). More notable has been the drafting of Korean directors. A troika of major Korean directors have crossed the Pacific to work on Hollywood productions released or set to release in 2013. The first to debut was Kim Jee-woon, noted for his Korean films A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, and I Saw the Devil. His action film The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuted in January 2013 to surprisingly good reviews. Perhaps the most anticipated Korean-directed film of 2013 is Stoker, a Gothic horror directed by Park Chanwook, the man behind Oldboy. Based on a screenplay by Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, the film—to be released in March—stars a number of major Hollywood names, including Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode. It’s a testament to the greater global awareness of Korean cinema that Stoker’s poster proudly proclaims, “From the director of Oldboy.” Bong Joon-ho, another Korean New Wave director lauded for his films The Host and Mother, makes his overseas debut with Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic thriller based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. Performed
KOREAN CINEMA FOR THE UNINITIATED
Film recommendations by Korean film expert Mark Russell
Memories of Murder (dir. Bong Joon-ho) Bong's best film and one of the best Korean movies, well, ever. Bong can do big-budget spectacle (The Host and his forthcoming international film Snowpiercer), but Memories of Murder is a smart, beautifully shot thriller full of dark humor and sharp insights. Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (dir. Hong Sang-soo) Hong has made a lot of movies over the years featuring many of the same elements, but this is my favorite. The black-andwhite style is very attractive, and it is great to see downtown Seoul shot so lovingly. e ieves (dir. Choi Dong-hoon) The most successful Korean film of all time and perhaps the most symbolic of where Korean films are today— big, slick, and international. It has an allstar cast, some creative action sequences, and a hard-to-define spark. Sunny (dir. Kang Hyeong-cheol) Kind of the opposite of The Thieves—a small, fun film that mixes nostalgia, music, and social insight. Plus it was a surprise box office hit. An interesting take on the changes Korea has been through over the past 25 years or so. Chunhyang (dir. Im Kwon-taek) A great retelling of the classic Korean tale by one of Korea's most respected filmmakers. It's a few years old now, but it still holds up.
Awards for Korean Films in Overseas Film Festivals
Mandala Oldboy Arirang Pieta
Hawaii International Film Festival Cannes Film Festival Cannes Film Festival Venice Film Festival
Grand Prix Grand Prix Prize of Un Certain Regard Golden Lion
1981 2004 2011 2012
Awards for Korean Directors and Actors
Kang Soo-yeon 2 Lee Chang-dong Moon So-ri Im Kwon-taek Kim Ki-duk
The Surrogate Woman Oasis Oasis Chihwaseon Samaritan Girl 3-Iron Secret Sunshine
Best Actress Best Director Best New Actress Best Director Best Director Best Director Best Actress
Venice Film Festival Venice Film Festival Venice Film Festival Cannes Film Festival Berlin Film Festival Venice Film Festival Cannes Film Festival
1987 2002 2002 2002 2004 2004 2007 11
Kim Ki-duk Jeon Do-yeon
1. Director Bong Joon-ho 2. Director Park Chan-wook 3. Director Kim Jee-woon
Park Chan-wook on the set of Stoker
in English and put together by a joint Korean, American, and French team, the film features a bevy of Hollywood talent including Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris. Popular Korean actor Song Kang-ho will star as well.
One better known joint production was Three... Extremes, featuring horror work by three Asian directors, including Park Chan-wook. Park’s segment starred Lee Byung-hun and actress Kang Hye-jung. While not a huge commercial success, the film was well received by critics. Korean actress Kim Hyo-jin and Japanese actor Hidetoshi Nishijima are teaming up for Mumyeonin, a Korean– Japanese joint production based on Tsukasaki Shiro’s science fiction novel The Genome Hazard and set for release this year. Another potentially interesting joint production is the upcoming Korea–US dance film Cobu 3D, inspired by Romeo and Juliet and starring Korean singer BoA. Korean production talent has become a sought-after commodity, too. The Chinese Civil War epic The Assembly (2007) is a typical example. A box office hit in China, the film’s massive battle scenes and special effects were handled by the very same Korean production team that had handled the popular Korean War epic Taegukgi.
Korea’s first joint production was the 1957 film An Exotic Garden, produced with Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers. In fact, Korea participated in a great many joint productions during the 1960s and 1970s, but these were often Hong Kong films that were joint productions in name only. Nowadays, the situation is quite different. Thanks to the high production value of Korean films and the refined sensibilities of Korean artists, overseas film producers are actively reaching out to Korea to produce joint productions. The Korean Film Council supported 33 Korean–foreign joint productions in 2012 alone.
‘KOREA REALLY PUNCHES ABOVE ITS WEIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO CINEMA’
Discussing Korean cinema with Korean pop culture expert Mark Russell
Written by Robert Koehler Photograph by Susan Hagopian
Why have Korean films taken off since 2000?
Korean films had been on the creative upswing long before 2000, earning respect on the international film festival circuit and enjoying an explosion of new talent. Some of that came from the increased freedom and internationalization Korea gained after the Olympics in 1988. Some of that was from growing richer. But when it comes to the Korean box office, the dramatic rise of Korean films came from a deliberate move toward big-budget, high-risk/highreward business. Movies like Shiri, JSA: Joint Security Area, and Friend totally changed filmmakers' ideas of what was possible, really pushing the ambitions of the industry to a higher level. Those changes, though, are part of a much wider series of changes that have swept Korea since the 1990s (and that have swept much of Asia). Korea's first multiplex opened in 1997, and since then the number of screens in Korea has quadrupled. The Korean wave has made many Korean celebrities famous around Asia and the world,
helping to increase cultural exports and make producers think in international terms. The rise of China (from close to nothing in 2000 to the world's secondbiggest movie market today) has greatly changed the movie market around the whole region.
you look at the top 10 Korean films, it is surprising how mixed it is—just two CJ films, four Showbox, two Lotte, one Cinema Service, and one by Next Entertainment (although CJ dominates 11-20). But in this day and age, you need size to compete internationally.
What advantages does Korea have going for it in terms of filmmaking?
Korea really punches above its weight when it comes to cinema. Korean filmmakers are very ambitious and well educated. They have been growing and pushing for over 15 years, and that kind of experience is invaluable. Korean crews are really hardworking and put in long, long hours for little pay, which helps producers and directors get the most out of their budgets. And thanks to the Korean wave, there is a deep pool of talented actors who are well known internationally. The big movie companies (CJ E&M, Lotte Entertainment, and Showbox) have a lot of experience and knowhow, too. Old-school filmmakers may think CJ has too much power, but when
Are there particular trends we should be noting in Korean film?
One of the best trends over the past couple of years has been an increased diversity, with big-budget and small films both finding audiences and more kinds of stories being told (not just gangster/revenge films). Diversity— real, organic, grassroots diversity, not by government fiat—is one of the most important tools for the long-term health of the Korean film industry. After a great blossoming of talent in the late 1990s, the industry got a bit insular for a while, with few new directors emerging. And the same types of stories were getting a bit overtold (especially gangster and revenge plots). But that seems to have gotten better over the past couple of years.
PEN & BRUSH
Author of Ashes and Red looks at a man in crisis
Written by Monica Suk
PYUN A HYEYOUNG
t the beginning of Korean writer Pyun Hye-young’s first novel Ashes and Red, a man referred to only as “he” gets sent by his company to the country C, where optimism is as transient as a shooting star. The story starts the moment he begins to realize he is isolated in a foreign country by no one’s intention, and it progresses through his past memories and into the dark puzzle of his ex-wife’s murder. Despite the lack of information about the character—name, nationality, age, or which country he is living in-the writer gives the man a striking presence on the page with her poetic, yet gritty, descriptions. “I didn’t want people to have stereotypes about the character by identifying who he is and where he is from,” Pyun explained in a calm voice during an interview with KOREA at a Hongdae café in February. Like most of her previous short stories, Pyun deliberately sends her character to a place he has never been before. If this sounds like an exciting journey, it could be. What’s waiting for him is nothing but torture, loneliness, and pain. “His characteristics are more like a deep reflection of myself. I’m a pessimist and that affects him in the plot,” Pyun said, adding that she has newly found the gloomy side of herself from writing novels. “When my characters are in trouble, I don’t easily give them hope. They’re lonely and devastated till the end.” Naturally, nicknames like “dystopia author” and “grotesque author” follow her fame, but anyone who has seen her gracious smile tells her they have been fooled by her writing. “People tell me they feel betrayed, saying it’s awkward for someone who looks like a romance writer to write stories about people bleeding and stabbing each other. This kind of irony is what I’m drawn to, and I apply that to my stories. Something that looks peaceful on the outside can be catastrophic on the inside.” The overall plot is strongly connected to an epidemic disease that spreads rapidly around the world. Pyun says that while people are always exposed to warnings of imminent danger—whether it’s an infectious disease like SARS or an earthquake—those constant warnings are what place people in danger. “Ironically, what’s meant for peace and safety results in a bigger catastrophe. When people read signs warning of danger, which are often metaphysical, they start by naming the disease, and all of a sudden it’s all over you, though you don’t know exactly what it is.” Yet Ashes and Red is more artful and less awkward than it first seems. Pyun created the book title by associating hopelessness with the color grey and relating the protagonist’s fight for survival with the color red. 2
PEN & BRUSH
“The man’s fate is to live on, despite a series of tragedies happening in his life. Red has a dual image of blood and struggle for survival. I find much joy in contradicting images.” Naturally, that grey-red color contrast is spotted throughout the book through grey rats, a garbage incinerator, a sky hazy with smog, and the man bleeding— or making someone bleed—while trying to survive. In a world where communication is missing and the characters are stripped of dignity, Pyun has accomplished the larger act of balancing grey and red. “The initial plot I had in mind was the man being isolated forever, finding himself in a giant pile of garbage. Then my readers would think it’s the structure of the world or society they should blame for his agony. But sadly, the man’s tragedy could be the result of his own decisions or fear of imminent dangers.” Last August, Ashes and Red was translated into French
and received flattering reviews. During a series of meetand-greet events and book discussions held a month after its publication, Pyun says she was surprised by the overwhelming response from French readers. “It was promising to see people reacting so passionately to my novel, though it was only about a month after the book hit the shelves there. The book embraces emotions that can be shared by the two countries, so that’s probably what caught the readers’ eyes.” When asked about her plans to publish the English translation, she responded with a big smile, saying her agency has a plan but that she is not sure when that will happen. “Korean novels have been knocking on foreign doors for years now, and that’s finally bearing some fruit. Korean novels are now at a critical juncture, when both old and new books are being actively translated. It’s about time.”
(Excerpt- p.167-169) Gazing into the dark, untreated sewage reminded him that he might have to go back to that black water, just like he flowed there from the park. The man may have to let himself into the water to run away to the other side, or even drink it to survive. Of course, these weren’t going to happen anytime soon, but it will someday. He wasn’t worried about it. It was too far to be concerned. All he could think about was the past bearing on the situation—it was enough for him. Tomorrow was too vast and too far away to surmise. All he knew about the future was that it was time that had not come to him yet. Looking into the petroleum-like water, he knew the clock wasn’t always doing its job. Time is sometimes stagnant, like it is stuck in the mud, and sometimes it flows very slowly, mixed with sewage. So it’s not surprising if the future doesn’t come at all. Like an old man who dwells on his past, he was preoccupied with past events while staring at the black sewage. Only trivial, hopeless events filled his brain, and until then he didn’t realize that he would desperately miss the past: his ex-wife playing Chopin’s Sonata on the last day of the year in an empty piano institute; the fan with blue wings on the ceiling of the high-temperature hotel room where they had slept together for the first time; the squeaking Ferris wheel the two rode together near a sea. He also remembered his broken tooth from chasing his friends and the tone of his mom’s voice when she told him to throw the tooth to the roof, believing in some myth. When looking at the dust pillars peaking through the manhole, he remembered his exwife breaking into laughter after giving him a pedicure, streams of sunlight hitting the living room floor. His toenails were too thick to feel the brush but her hair, smoothly sweeping against his foot, tickled him. Once he forgot to remove the nail polish and was embarrassed at a sauna in front of his colleagues. Years had gone by, but he was about to break into tears. Despite the hot temperature in the hotel room and that broken blue-wing fan, he didn’t want to stop making love with his ex-wife. He wanted to cry because of the piano sound, the tooth thrown on the roof, and the red pedicure. His tears weren’t coming from regretting the meaningless past, but from the fact that he was getting too far from the reality that was filled with unimportant events. He may get even farther from it. The man’s tragedy came from a thought that he may never ever get closer to such small and trivial happenings of life. Knowing that he couldn’t turn back time, the man fell into a black hole of utter despair.
French translation of Ashes and Red (photo courtesy of the Korea Literature Translation institute)
Rocket program director Cho Gwang-rae on Korea’s recent successful Naro-1 launch
Written by Ben Jackson
n January 30, Korean aerospace history was made with the successful placement into low earth orbit of the country’s first carrier rocket, KSLV-1, and the subsequent successful deployment of a satellite. The learning curve leading to the launch included two failures, in 2009 and 2010, making January’s victory over gravity all the sweeter. Dr. Cho Gwang-rae, director of Korea’s KSLV-1 (Korea Space Launch Vehicle) Program Office talked to KOREA about the origins and future trajectory of the nation’s rocket aspirations.
effort between Korea and Russia, drawing on each country’s strengths in each element of rocket technology. Russia’s input was particularly crucial for the liquid-fueled first stage of the rocket, an area in which domestic research has not advanced as far as other technology.
1. Naro-3 launch (photo courtesy of KARI) 2. Dr. Cho Gwang-rae (photo by Ryu Seunghoo)
Cho’s first experience with projectiles was in collecting empty shotgun cartridges as a boy from around Junam Wetlands near his hometown, the southeastern city of Changwon, and selling them back to the US military personnel who had been shooting ducks there. Half a century later, after majoring in electronics and entering the Institute of Space Science and Astronomy, then affiliated with the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, Cho is the man in charge of launching satellites on behalf of Korea at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). Despite the recent deluge of media attention following the January satellite launch, he remains cheerful and patient in answering naive aerospace questions from nonexperts.
“Most people agree that space development is important for Korea,” says Cho. “If we don’t keep up with other countries, we risk becoming a ‘backward state’ in this area.” While successful rocket launches tend to prompt hyperbole
“The Soviet Union put Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite, into orbit in 1957,” says Cho. “Korea started its rocket development relatively late because its economic plans worked by selecting and intensively cultivating other areas of industry. We launched KSR-1, the country’s first sounding rocket, in 1988. KSR-1 and -2 had solid fuel engines. In 2002, we successfully launched KSR-3, which used liquid fuel.” Delivering heavier payloads, however, requires engine technology on a different scale—which Korea continues to work on developing. “A rocket consists largely of three elements: guidance and control, communications, and propulsion,” says Cho. KSLV-1, also known as Naro-1 after the southern island from which it was launched, was built through a collaborative
about imminent moon colony development and manned trips to Mars, the capacity to launch payloads into space offers more immediate and practical benefits. “Once a country has the necessary technology, the next stage is launching its own satellites, to avoid paying other countries to do so and to build up a reputation for reliability,” says Cho. “Launching services are a seller’s market: there’s no compensation for clients if a launch goes wrong and their payloads are lost. After that stage, you can start offering launching services to other countries.” The prospect of autonomous space development and providing lucrative launch services is appealing in the long term, but Cho stresses the need for strong support at the government level. “This is a process that requires large amounts of very long-term and high-risk investment, so the private sector won’t go near it,” he says. With continued support, Korea is set to continue development of domestic propulsion technology; KARI has its eye on 2017 for the test launch of an entirely Korean-built rocket capable of delivering a payload similar to Naro-1.
“This has been one success for us, but we still have a long way to go. The Naro-1 launch was just the beginning, not the end. We’ve had both failures and successes, but they’ve all been highly valuable in terms of how much we’ve learned from them.” If Korea’s space development, having gotten off the ground in earnest, follows a similar path to the country’s other industries, we can expect to see it among the world’s top global players one day.
T V R V E L C OR EA S T O R Y
Beauty and culture abound in the Naples of the Orient
Written by Robert Koehler
As I climb the hill and lie under the pines, I hear the waves surging in the vast sea of the sky. After a brief dream of the fringe of the infinite void of time and space. I return to the street and feel free from the pathos of a thousand years. —Yu Chi-hwan
oreans call the harbor town of Tongyeong the “Naples of the Orient,” and it’s not hard to understand why once you’ve seen its spectacular location, tasted its hearty local cuisine, and experienced the joie de vivre of its residents. It’s also a city with an artistic soul. Over the last century, some of Korea’s most respected artists, writers, and musicians have called this charming port on Korea’s southern coast home. Tongyeong welcomes the spring with the annual Tongyeong International Music Festival (March 22-28), held in honor of one of the city’s best-known sons, composer Isang Yun. One of Asia’s top celebrations of classical music, the festivals draws thousands of music aficionados from all around Korea. In addition to the sounds, the festival also provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the charms of this colorful town.
1. Dongpirang Village 2. Nammangsan Sculpture Park
Great Battles Won
During the Joseon Dynasty, Tongyeong’s strategic port was home to the Samdo Sugun Tongje Sayeong (Command Post of the Navies of the Three Provinces), an important naval headquarters with command over much of southern Korea. Tongyeong’s present name, in fact, pays tribute to this base. It was in the waters off Tongyeong that the pivotal Battle of Hansando was waged on August 15, 1592, in the early days of the Imjin War. During this battle, a Korean fleet of 54 ships led by renowned Admiral Yi Sun-sin destroyed a much larger Japanese fleet, and in so doing completely changed the course of the war. Memorials to Tongyeong’s place in history can be found all over town, including a massive shrine for Yi on the island of Hansando itself. After Korea’s forced annexation by the Japanese in 1910, the Japanese imperialists took great pains to develop Tongyeong’s port. They dug a canal to give the harbor better access to the sea and built an undersea tunnel to ease transport. This infrastructure allowed the Japanese to more efficiently exploit their colony but also allowed local students to more easily seek educational opportunities abroad. Over time, returning students would form the
heart of Tongyeong’s dynamic arts and culture community.
Naples of the Orient
Tongyeong sits on a peninsula jutting southward from the Korean mainland. The peninsula, in turn, is nearly bisected east to west by a fine natural harbor surrounded by high hills. The hills and sea recall the beautiful Italian port of Naples, hence Tongyeong’s nickname, the “Naples of the Orient.” The downtown waterfront is a colorful place of docks, fishing fleets, and seafood restaurants. An old canal links the harbor to the seas west of the peninsula. Today, this canal is crossed by several scenic bridges and lined with a walking path. The canal makes for fine nighttime walks when the bridges are lit up. Of particular note is the historic tunnel built underneath the canal. Constructed by the Japanese in 1932, it was the first undersea tunnel built in East Asia. Vehicle traffic is now banned, but pedestrians still make frequent use of the tunnel, which now includes exhibits on Tongyeong’s history. To get the best views of the city, head to Mt. Mireuksan (451 m), a high vantage point south of town. Cable cars take visitors to the
peak, which offers inspiring views of not only the harbor but also the countless islands of Hallyeohaesang National Park.
What to Eat Tongyeong’s signature dish is Chungmu gimbap, a simple dish of rice rolls accompanied by radish kimchi and slices of spicy squid. Cheap and ﬁlling, this dish is best procured from the row of restaurants across from Tongyeong Ferry Terminal. If you prefer raw seafood, there’s plenty of that to be had at Tongyeong’s Jungang Live Fish Market. Where to Stay The Chungmu Beach Hotel offers pleasant accommodations at reasonable rates. Even cheaper, but good value, is the Napoli Hotel, with views overlooking the harbor. Chungmu Beach Hotel: T. 055-642-8181 Napoli Hotel: T. 055-646-0202 Getting There BUS: Express buses to Tongyeong depart from Seoul Express Bus Terminal (travel time: 4 hours).
Arts & Culture
Because of Tongyeong’s brisk exchanges with the outside world, the city gave birth to one of 20th century Korea’s richest culture and art scenes. Among the cultural figures who have called Tongyeong home are poets Yu Chi-hwan and Kim Chun-su, painter Jeon Hyuck Lim, and composer Isang Yun. Lim (19162010), a pioneer of Korean abstract painting, maintained a gallery just across from Tongyeong Bridge that is well worth a visit both for its art and lovely views. Also worth a visit is the Cheongma Literature Hall, dedicated to poet Yu Chi-hwan (1908-1967). The museum overlooks the sea and is a rewarding stop for anyone with an appreciation for modern Korean poetry. A more modern contribution to Tongyeong’s art scene is Dongpirang Village, an older hillside neighborhood beautified with colorful wall murals painted as part of a successful public art project. The highlight of Tongyeong’s artistic calendar, however, is the Tongyeong International Music Festival (TIMF). Held every spring and autumn, the TIMF brings some of the world’s top classical musicians to Tongyeong for several days of performances, workshops, and competitions. The theme of this year’s spring festival (March 22-28) is “Free & Lonely,” a reference to the life of the festival’s spiritual father, composer Isang Yun (1917-1995). Born in Tongyeong, Yun studied composition in Japan and Germany and eventually settled down in West Berlin. In 1967, however, he was kidnapped from Berlin and brought back to Seoul, where the government charged him with spying for North Korea. An international campaign by leading musicians led to his release; he returned to Germany but never stepped foot in his homeland again. His compositions harmonize Western avant-garde music and the sounds of traditional Korea.
The waters off Tongyeong are part of Hallyeohaesang National Park, a maritime park comprised of the scenic coastline and islands of southeast Korea. Tongyeong’s seas are dotted with 150 islands, 41 of which are inhabited. Many of these islands and islets can be seen from the peak of Mt. Mireuksan. Another good vantage point is Dara Park, where some of the finest sunsets in Korea can be enjoyed. Ferries from Tongyeong Harbor take passengers to some of the islands. One of the most scenic ones is Somaemuldo, an island best known for its scenic subislet, Deungdaeseom Island. With white dramatic cliffs rising from the blue sea, the islet—capped by a historic lighthouse—is one of the most photographed sites in the country. Deungdaeseom Island can be reached from Somaemuldo twice a day by a narrow gravel causeway revealed during low tides.
Historic prison sheds light on Korea’s fight for freedom
Written by Robert Koehler
MORE INFO Seodaemun Prison History Hall Admission: KRW 1,500 T. 02-360-8590 Getting There Dongnimmun Station 독립문역 (Line 3), Exit 5
eodaemun Independence Park is a monument to the sacrifices made by Korean freedom fighters in the nation’s darkest hour. Its centerpiece, the former Seodaemun Prison, was the place of internment for many Korean independence activists during the Japanese colonial era. Some, like the patriotic martyr Yu Gwan-sun, even met their end here. The park is hallowed ground for Korean patriots, visited by millions of school children, families, and tourists who come to learn about Korea’s 20th century struggle for national survival.
March 1 Independence Movement
Independence Park is most closely associated with the March 1 Independence Movement of 1919. Inspired by US President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, 33 Korean nationalists met at a restaurant in Insa-dong to read the Korean Declaration of Independence, a proclamation of Korea’s freedom from the colonial rule of Japan, which had forcefully annexed Korea in 1910. This sparked peaceful pro-independence gatherings elsewhere in Seoul, which were brutally suppressed by the Japanese colonial authorities. Protests spread throughout Korea, but these, too, were met with Japanese brutality. Many leaders and participants in the protests were confined in Seodaemun Prison, Korea’s largest penitentiary.
The movement was ultimately crushed, but it inspired an entire generation of independence activists. Foreign journalists and missionaries brought word of the uprising and Japanese atrocities to the outside world, alerting the international community to the Korean struggle for freedom.
Seodaemun Prison History Hall
Seodaemun Prison was built by the Japanese in 1907, although most of the austere brick halls date from a 1920s reconstruction made necessary by the influx of prisoners after the March 1 Movement. The prison follows the hub-and-spoke design common in older prisons worldwide. Also preserved is the imposing front gate, the old administration block and engineering wing, and, in the back of the complex, an old, wooden structure where executions were carried out. The old women’s wing, where female prisoners were kept in unspeakable conditions, has also been preserved. The Japanese authority imprisoned thousands of Korean independence activists in Seodaemun Prison throughout the colonial era. It continued to be used as a prison even after Korea won its independence in 1945. Under Korea’s dictatorships of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, many democracy activists were imprisoned here. In 1987, the government replaced the prison with a newer facility built outside of Seoul, and in 1992, the historic prison was converted into a museum. Visitors are free to explore the old brick halls. Some of the old prison cells are open to the public, too. There are also displays that show visitors the torments suffered by imprisoned independence activists at the hands of the colonial authorities, as well as multimedia displays explaining the facility’s history.
1. Main courtyard, Seodaemun Prison History Hall 2. Interior, Seodaemun Prison History Hall 3. Independence Gate 4. Entrance, Seodaemun Prison History Hall
Near the prison and also part of Independence Park is the picturesque Independence Gate, an earlier monument to Korea’s freedom struggle. Designed by a Western architect and completed in 1897, the granite gate—modeled after Paris’ famed Arc de Triomphe—was erected at the behest of the independence activist Philip Jaisohn and the Independence Club, a group of Koreans dedicated to preserving Korea’s freedom in the face of imperial aggression. To build the gate, the authorities first demolished the old Yeongeunmun Gate, where Chinese envoys were received in the days of the Joseon Dynasty. The stone pillars of the old gate still remain, however. The hall where the envoys were welcomed was reconstructed nearby in 1996.
F E S T I V A L
eoulites and seasoned tourists alike know that shopping hub Myeong-dong in Jung-gu, central Seoul, is for buying, not dancing. In Myeong-dong, you’re more likely to spend your won on something like an overwhelmingly pink Etude House makeup basket—or three. Or a bowl of the famed Myeong-dong kalguksu (noodle soup). To find Seoul’s nightlife, common knowledge dictates that you hit the bars along Apgujeong’s Rodeo Drive or do a crawl of Itaewon’s various pubs and lounges. And for dancing, you can shell out ten thousand to several ten thousand won for entrance into a swanky Cheongdam superclub or a hip, grimy basement venue in Hongdae. Seoul never suffered from a lack of places to play after dark. So it was perfectly acceptable that Myeong-dong was never known for its nightlife; there were always other spots. But then the ambitious municipal government of Jung-gu decided to launch Myeongdong Dance Night. Myeongdong Dance Night was a novel, exciting alternative to the same old haunts. This monthly, open-air dance music festival, which debuted in September 2012, had an enviable outdoor venue—the space in front of Myeongdong Theater. And competitive prices—it was free. The Myeong-dong strip, congested in the day and tomblike at night, was reborn on Dance Night. But there was more than dancing going on. In its latest reincarnation on December 21, 2012, Dance Night number four featured a “silent parade,” where 200 or so participants would follow and
Myeongdong Dance Night
Dancing the night away in Seoul’s beating heart
Written by Violet Kim Photographs courtesy of Jung-gu Ofﬁce
execute “missions” individually piped to them through wireless headphones. Meanwhile the adjacent CGV movie theaters were offering late-night, KRW 5,000 screenings where tired dancers could unwind if they wished. The December Myeongdong Dance Night attracted a crowd of about 2,500 energetic dancers who partied past midnight despite subzero temperatures. It might have had something to do with
the fact that Myeongdong Theater was also the only venue that night offering a white prelude to Christmas, with snow machines pumping flakes of snow into the sky. After that, Myeongdong Dance Night lay dormant for a couple of months. But it’s coming back this March to kick off another year of monthly parties. And it hasn’t lain dormant in vain. The festival is hosted by the Myeongdong Special Tourist Zone Association and sponsored by the district government of Jung-gu. But we really know that these Myeong-dong parties will dazzle again in 2013 because they’ll be directed by Sangsang Gongjang, the guys behind the World DJ Festival. Many things will remain the same, such as the DJs, the VJs, the silent parades, and the movie nights. And more importantly, everything will happen in the open air without any admission. But 2013 does see a name change for the festival, which will emerge from its winter hibernation under the new, more inclusive moniker of Myeongdong Night Festival. It’s really not just about dancing now. The fifth Myeongdong Dance Night— or the first Myeongdong Night Festival— will be on March 9, no preparation necessary. All you have to do is show up at Myeongdong Theater around 10 pm with a few dance moves and a bucketload of stamina. Finally, those who dance better with a bit of alcohol in their system will appreciate the addition of Beer Night, which essentially means that nearby restaurants and bars will be in business for the nighthawks.
Speed skater Lee seems to be Korean sport’s next big thing
Written by Kim Tong-hyung
1. A look of intensity at the ISU World Sprint Championships 2. Lee wins gold at the ISU World Sprint Championships
im Yu-na, the figure-skating megastar, seems secure in her place atop the pantheon of Korean sporting heroes. What’s interesting is that her closest competition is coming not from massive spectator sports like baseball, football, or golf, but from the anonymous realm that has been speed skating, where a surging Lee Sang-hwa is building a case to co-opt Kim’s nickname—Queen of Ice. Lee, a 24-year-old who is just entering her athletic prime, has been dominating the women’s sprint competition in past years with an authority few have ever displayed. While her lengthening list of accomplishments includes a Vancouver Winter Olympics gold and multiple world championship titles, it could be said that the highlight of her career so far came in January when she set a 500-meter world record in the World Cup Speed Skating event in Calgary, Alberta. Lee's time of 36.80 seconds lowered the mark of 36.94 seconds set by China's Yu Jing on the same oval about a year earlier at the World Sprint Championships, making her the first Korean female speed skater to break a world record at any level. “I wasn’t expecting to set a new world record here,” a surprised Lee told reporters at that time. “I was hoping to set it next week at the world championships in Salt Lake City.” No need for complaints. While Lee came short of
setting two world records in a span of two weeks, she did top the 500-meter race sprint in the world championships to mark her eighth consecutive first-place finish in World Cup competitions this season. In Salt Lake City, Lee also set consecutive national records in her 1,000-meter appearances, confirming her status as a dual threat in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014. Lee had never finished better than fifth in international 1,000-meter competitions, but her pace of improvement in recent months allows for higher expectations. In her most recent appearance, Lee cruised to a firstplace finish in the women’s 500-meter sprint in the National Winter Sports Festival at the Taereung ice rink in Seoul on Feb 16, dominating the final competition to the point where it looked like she was racing alone. Her time of 38.45 seconds was a new record for the annual event. “Her growth as an athlete has been so quick it’s scary. It’s impossible to predict how good she really can be,” said Kim Kwan-kyu, vice president of the Korea Skating Union, who coached Lee in the Vancouver Games. “Heading into Vancouver, a third-place finish for Lee in 500 meters seemed like a reasonable goal. She ended up winning the gold anyway. Some wondered whether Lee was a fluke, but as everyone now knows, she was just scratching the surface of her immense talent.” While Lee is obviously in top form, she intends to pace herself to assure she doesn’t peak too early before the big show, the Winter Games in Sochi. However, Lee plans to swing into high gear for the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Speed Skating Final scheduled for March 8-10 in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, a competition she considers an “Olympic preview.” “The World Cup final is a very important event in preparing for Sochi,” Lee told reporters after her victorious lap at the Taereung rink. “Nothing much has changed for me. I am getting off to quicker starts and doing a better job in retaining my speed throughout the race. That has really improved my time. I have lost weight since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and worked myself to get in better shape and strengthen my muscles. The difference was immediate in speed.’’
E N T E R TA I N M E N T
Korean beauty brands give global cosmetics market a makeover
Written by Monica Suk
The Korean Look
ake a few steps from the main entrance of the Myeong-dong shopping district across from Lotte Department Store and you will notice at once that you are standing at the center of a cosmetic empire. The massive shopping area is always packed with locals and foreigners on the lookout for a bargain on beauty products. At least one or two cosmetic brands take up space in each building, and that speaks volumes of the Korean cosmetics industry, which is growing at a furious rate. To lure in more travelers, owners of Myeong-dong franchise shops like Etude invest in holding large-scale promotions targeting foreign nationals in duty-free shops and major tourism sites. They even hire Chinese and Japanese natives as well as multilingual Koreans as part-timers. As low-cost Korean makeup brands like Missha began to mushroom and Korean dramas and films became popular abroad in the early 2000s, this phenomenon quickly followed suit. “I enjoy watching Korean dramas and wonder how so many Korean actresses have no acne whatsoever,” said Jia Lin, a huge fan of K-pop and dramas living in New York. “My friends and I like to guess what brand an actress uses and then order them online.”
1. Dakota Rose at a cosmetics show for Etude House 2. SHINee’s Jong Hyun modeling for Etude House
Going Behind Celebrity Power
It is difficult to estimate how broad and far the Korean drama boom has gone, but a makeup artist at a popular beauty salon in Cheongdam-dong notes that export volume for Korean skincare and makeup products will ever increase as long as Korean TV shows stay popular in Asia and Europe. “I have Chinese tourists spending a whole day at the salon just to get the exact look of Girls’ Generation’s Yoona from the KBS show Love Rain and actress Yoon Eun-hye in the MBC show Missing You,” she says. “I give them a full makeover and they go out the door with a
E N T E R TA I N M E N T
complete list of products I used on their face. Sometimes I feel like a personal marketer for these brands.” When Missha and other shops such The Face Shop and Skinfood emerged as bright spots in the industry, they were mostly recognized for their price competitiveness. With the help of top idol stars as the face of these brands, however, Korean beauty stores are now people’s go-to places for trying the Korean celebrity style. “Yes, Korean cosmetic products have gotten expensive over the last few years, but the result is good, and the quality is good, too. It lasts a long time and matches my skin better,” Lin said. She added that she has been wanting to get the natural look of Korean makeup style, which is why she subscribes to popular Korean makeup tutorials posted by Oiseau88 on YouTube. Her favorite product is blemish balm cream, better known as BB cream, because it can give her a very light and natural look, like Korean actresses’, she explained. One of the reasons for the endless popularity of Korean cosmetics is their continuous effort to develop, produce, and supply the world’s bestquality products, which are comparable to time-honored American products like Estee Lauder and Kiehl’s. Such efforts include introducing special labels for cosmeceuticals, which refers to the combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. “Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair, the Brown Bottle, is sought after here in Korea, but most people in their 20s like me don’t even dare to buy it because of its expensive price,” said Shin Yoori, who just got a job at a PR agency last year. “Instead, I use Purple Bottle, the same kind of repair essence product made by Missha. It’s much cheaper but has the same effect. I don’t really see the reason to pay more to get the same result.”
Trends in Men’s Grooming
Men have been making a significant contribution to the strong demand for Korean skincare products. They are willing to drop a good deal of money to pamper their skin and get that glowing look. Of course, such a pretty boy movement is powered by celebrities like boy bands TVXQ! and SHINee. Believe it or not, Korean rapper and singer Psy is the latest to join this group of pretty boys. In Korean cosmetic brand Flower Men’s recent TV ad, Psy is seen looking at ladies and correcting their makeup in a nightclub bathroom. He suddenly turns his chair towards the camera and shouts:
“Do you know what they’re doing right now? They’re getting ready to seduce you all. But why is that these beautiful women are trying to flirt with everyone but you? This is for a person like you.” Then he presents a product that targets male consumers, who account for more than half of the entire Korean grooming market. This is bigger than in any other country in the world, even in Asia, where not a low number of men prefer the pretty boy look to manliness.
For Korean companies, cosmetics have always been immune to economic downturn. Despite the global recession from 2008, exports of South Korean cosmetics have been showing a steady increase over the course of the years. In fact, its growth rate was more prominent between 2010 and 2011. According to the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA)’s report last August, Korean beauty brands logged more-than-expected overseas sales by recording USD 805 million, an increase of 34.8 percent from 2010. The steep increase is naturally influenced by the growing number of auction websites like eBay and their overseas shipping service. According to eBay Korea, around 775,000 domestic cosmetic products were shipped abroad in 2011 alone. Not surprisingly, China was the biggest consumer, making up nearly 32 percent of Korea’s total exports in 2011. Japan was the second biggest market for Korean cosmetics, taking up close to 17 percent during the same period. The figure is likely to go up when including Chinese and Japanese tourists’ purchases within the country. Shopping has always been a big part of traveling, and figures show a 25-28 percent jump in Chinese travelers during the Lunar New Year in recent years. In the meantime, local cosmetics companies are implementing aggressive expansion plans targeting Asian consumers, like partnering with conglomerates. Already, Missha runs 25 shops in Japan and The Face Shop has spots in 400 supermarkets and drug stores. Speeding up, The Face Shop’s goal is to reach 1,200 by 2015. “I noticed that Koreans are very fashion-sensitive and stylish people. I wasn’t surprised to see people spending countless hours shopping for beauty products and clothes when I visited Seoul a few years ago,” Lin said. “Five years ago, my dresser was full of American products, but now they’re all Korean. Korean cosmetics firms know exactly what their consumers want.”
SPECIAL ISSUE I SUMMIT DIPLOMACY
PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE TAKES OFFICE
Korea’s first female president pledges to realize Second Miracle on the Hangang River
Written by Robert Koehler
resident Park Geun-hye took the oath of office on February 25 in the most widely attended inauguration event in Korea’s history. Some 70,000 people attended Park’s swearing-in, including foreign dignitaries such US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso. Even Korean rapper Psy was in attendance, performing his globally renowned hit “Gangnam Style” for the crowd.
The first female president of the communicate on policy. 1. President Park Geun-hye takes the oath of office Republic of Korea, Park assumes The Park administration has 2. Inauguration at the National Assembly of Korea office at a time when Korea faces set out five concrete goals, to be great opportunities and challenges, implemented through trustworthy both domestically and internationally. With the administrative governance based on openness and information sharing: vision “A New Era of Hope and Happiness,” Park aims to affect a paradigm shift in governance that would allow Korea to Goal 1: Jobs-centered creative economy realize its full potential through integration and sustainable Goal 2: Tailored employment and welfare development. On the economic front, the new administration Goal 3: Creativity-oriented education and cultural enrichment hopes to bring diverse economic parties together to pool Goal 4: A safe and united society their strength. “It is on this foundation that I will breathe new Goal 5: Strong security measures for sustainable peace energy into our economy and realize a ‘Second Miracle on the on the Korean Peninsula Hangang River’ that culminates in the happiness of the Korean people,” said Park in her inauguration address. As part of these goals, the Park administration has set out a further 140 tasks to accomplish.
policy will move away from the export-oriented, statistics-centered game of catch-up to a new game in which Korea will take the lead in the global market through qualitative, well-balanced growth focused on domestic demand. National policy will place unprecedented importance on issues of welfare and social progress, with a newfound focus on social capital. No longer will the government lead and the private sector follow—the public and private sectors will now collaborate and
New Administration, New Philosophy
The chief goal of the Park administration is to satisfy what it calls the “call of the times,” calling for a strong economy, the affecting of social justice, maintaining national security, promoting peaceful reunification with North Korea, and the transformation of Korea into a reliable and exemplary nation internationally. To meet these demands, the Park administration will adopt a very new administrative philosophy by which Korea will move away from the traditional government-led development model toward a symbiosis between the people’s well-being and national development. The focus of the national administration will shift from the nation to individuals. Likewise, economic
Raising Korea’s Global Profile
The Park administration faces a number of important foreign policy tasks. Perhaps the most important of these tasks is the establishment of sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula. Key to this is achieving a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue. “It is my sincere hope that North Korea can progress together as a responsible member of the international community instead of wasting its resources on nuclear and missile development and continuing to turn its back to the world in self-imposed isolation,” Park said in her inauguration speech. “Trust can be built through dialogue and by honoring
SPECIAL ISSUE I SUMMIT DIPLOMACY
1. Multicultural choir performs at the inauguration (© Jeon Han of korea.net) 2. Foreign dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony (© Jeon Han of korea.net) 3. Psy performs in pre-inauguration show 4. President Park Geun-hye waves to the crowds 5. President Park Geun-hye enters Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential mansion.
promises that have already been made. It is my hope that North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula can move forward.” As peace is built on strong security, the Park administration will take measures to strengthen Korea’s defensive capabilities, including the boosting of innovation in defense-related industries and the adoption of future-oriented defense capabilities tailored to the ever-changing strategic environment. The administration will also pursue the strengthening of Korea’s long-standing alliance with the United States as well as strengthen defense cooperation with other states. As a key member of the economically dynamic East Asia region, Korea will also strive to strengthen cooperation with its Asian neighbors, including China and Japan. On the global stage, the Park administration will elevate Korea’s role as a middle power that contributes to world peace. In particular, the administration will promote the continued expansion of overseas development assistance and implement exemplary
integrative development cooperation practices.
Opening a New Era of Hope
In her inauguration address, Park acknowledged that the Korean success story, the “Miracle on the Hangang River,” was built on the combined sacrifices of the Korean people. “The Korean saga that is often referred to as the ‘Miracle on the Hangang River’ was written on the heels of our citizens who worked tirelessly in the mines of Germany, in the torrid deserts of the Middle East, in factories and laboratories where the lights were never turned off, and in the freezing front lines safeguarding our national defense,” she said. “This miracle was only possible due to the outstanding caliber of our people and their unstinting devotion to both family and country.” Noting the many challenges currently facing Korea, she affirmed her faith in the Korean people and their ability to succeed. “Forging a new path is seldom an easy task,” she said. “But I have faith in the Korean people. I believe in their resilience and the potential of our dynamic nation. And so I
pledge to embark on the making of a ‘Second Miracle on the Hangang River’ premised on a new era of hope hand-in-hand with the Korean people.” Park talked of bringing about an economic revival by the fostering of a creative economy. “A creative economy is defined by the convergence of science and technology with industry, the fusion of culture with industry, and the blossoming of creativity in the very borders that were once permeated by barriers,” she said. “It is about going beyond the rudimentary expansion of existing markets, and creating new markets and new jobs by building on the bedrock of convergence.” This new economy will be one where single individuals can raise the value of an entire nation. “New opportunities to serve their country will be opened to numerous talented Koreans thriving across the global village,” she said. “And to those who are equally enabled at the home front, efforts will be enhanced to allow them to become convergence leaders imbued with creativity and passion as pillars of a future Korea.” She also emphasized the role of economic democracy, saying, “One of my critical economic goals is to ensure that anyone that works hard can stand on their own two feet and that through the support of policies designed to strengthen small and mediumsized enterprises, such businesses can prosper alongside large companies.” Park touched on the importance of social welfare, one of the catchphrases of the presidential campaign. She emphasized the need for welfare that matched the needs of its recipients, saying, “A new paradigm of tailored welfare will free citizens from anxieties and allow them to prosper in their own professions, maximize their potential, and also contribute to the nation’s development.” Park stressed the importance of education and educational reform in allowing individuals to reach their potential. “We need to provide active support so that education brings out the best of an individual’s latent abilities, and we need to establish a new system that fosters national development through the stepping stones of each individual’s capabilities,” she said. “The day of true happiness will only come when an increasing number of people are able to enjoy what they learn and love what they do.” Park spoke about the importance of culture. “In the 21st century, culture is power,” she said. “It is an era where an individual’s imagination becomes creative contents” She
said her administration would support creative endeavors to create jobs and, ultimately, spark a global cultural renaissance. “Creative activities across wide-ranging genres will be supported, while the contents industry, which merges culture with advanced technology, will be nurtured,” she said. “Together with the Korean people we will foster a new cultural renaissance, a culture that transcends ethnicity and languages, overcomes ideologies and customs, contributes to the peaceful development of humanity, and is connected by the ability to share happiness.” Park also made it clear that prosperity was built on a bedrock of security. Turning her attention to the North Korean nuclear issue, she warned, “North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself.” She expressed hope that North Korea would end its selfimposed exile and join the international community as a responsible member. “Through a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula I intend to lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true,” she said. “Trust can be built through dialogue and by honoring promises that have already been made. It is my hope that North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula can move forward.” In concluding her address, Park spoke of the need to revive Korea’s communal spirit. “In the needy days of our past, we shared with each other whatever we had. Even in the midst of their hardship, our ancestors had the generosity of mind to leave aside a few persimmons for the magpies during the harvest season. We are a people that have long led a life of communal sharing,” she said. “Reviving that spirit once again and building a society flowing with responsibility and consideration for others will allow us to be confident that the new era of happiness that all of us dream of is truly within our reach.” She ended by imploring Koreans to work together. “Let us all work together towards a new era of happiness and hope, so that we can all become partners in another miracle or a new chapter in the ‘Miracle on the Hangang River.’”
Korea’s Healing Craze
Realities of modern life have Koreans looking for physical and spiritual renewal
Written by Robert Koehler
ne of Korean broadcaster SBS' most popular programs is Healing Camp, which runs every Monday from 11:15pm to 12:25am. Entering its third year, the program brings major Korean entertainers, sports stars, and public figures on to discuss the difficulties in their lives, and more importantly, confess their wrongdoings. It’s TV for the soul—through the confessions and discussions, both participants and viewers experience a sense of catharsis. So popular is the show that during the 2012 presidential election, both presidential candidates made it a point to appear. The popularity of Healing Camp is but one illustration of Korea’s growing “healing” culture. The stresses and demands of 21st century urban life can be soul-destroying and physically exhausting, and as a result, many Koreans are exploring ways to “heal” both the body and the spirit. The quest for healing has taken many forms, from hikes around Korea’s scenic seashores and weekend meditation sessions at Korea’s Buddhist temples to best-selling inspirational reads.
Olle Trails and Meditation
One of the first experiments with “healing” came in 2007 when former journalist Suh Myeongsook established the Olle walking trails that ring Jejudo, a scenic island off Korea’s southern coast. Inspired by Spain’s famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail, Suh established a series of relaxing coastal hiking trails that link the villages and other scenic points of the volcanic island in order to “help ease people`s worries and anxieties,” as she put it in a media interview in 2009. Jeju Olle Trails were a big hit—over a million hikers a year descend on Jejudo to walk the trails. Now several municipalities on the mainland have adopted similar hiking trails. The East Sea coast town of Yeongdeok, for instance, opened its Blue Road, a trail that runs the entirety of the town’s scenic seashore. Even Seoul has its Bukhansan Dulle-gil Trail, where world-weary Seoulites can go to recharge.
Another “healing” experience has been the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism’s incredibly popular Templestay program. Originally conceived as a more culturally insightful accommodation option for overseas visitors who had come to see the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the Templestay program has developed into one of Korea’s best examples of cultural tourism and is a superb way to recharge the mind and spirit. Some 109 Buddhist temples around Korea host weekend sessions where participants of all religions learn about temple life, engage in meditation, perform intensive bowing, chant, hike, and more. Fresh mountain air, healthy Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, early bedtimes and wakeup times, plenty of physical activity, and lots of opportunities for introspection and self-reflection can prove incredibly invigorating. Jennifer Flinn, a university employee in Seoul who has done two Templestays, said, “Templestays are like a mini-vacation, but with a greater spiritual angle that helps you feel better about yourself.”
1. TempleStay 2. Healing Camp © SBS 3. Blue Road. Photograph courtesy of Yeongdeok-gun Office
Healing on the Screen and on the Bus
While SBS’s Healing Camp is the most popular “healing” program on TV, it’s by no means the only one. All the major stations now run “healing”-oriented programming. MBC, for instance, runs a weekly program called Dad, Where Are We Going?, which sends fathers and their children to remote mountain areas where they can spend two days learning about one another. KBS, too, attempts to “heal” its viewers with Moonlight Prince, where guests discuss a different book each week, using the opportunity to discuss their lives in a comfortable environment. Even bus companies have gotten on the “healing” bandwagon. In order to turn long intercity bus trips into opportunities to recharge the soul, Dongbu Express has begun placing best-selling books in its buses for passengers to read. Each month features the bestsellers of five different publishing houses, with books donated by the publishing companies themselves.
© EBS Great Babylon
Protecting the Past
Written by Robert Koehler
Korea helps developing nations keep and restore their cultural heritage
n 2010, Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) and Cambodia’s National Television Kampuchea (TVK) collaborated to produce a documentary on the history of the Khmer Empire of the 12th and 13th centuries. The spectacular documentary utilized Korea’s 3-D technology to reproduce the ancient Khmer capital of Angkor Thom and the magnificent Hindu temples of Angkor Wat, an internationally recognized symbol of Cambodia. Through advanced 3-D imaging, viewers explored the unrivaled beauty of these ancient monuments and the brilliance of the civilization that produced them almost as if they were actually there. The documentary is only one example of Korea’s efforts to assist other nations in preserving and rediscovering their cultural heritage. From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the deserts of Mesopotamia, Korean experts—and their technology—are being put to work restoring and promoting humankind’s historic and cultural inheritance. Perhaps this is only natural for Korea, a nation that for millennia has prized culture and civilization above all else.
© EBS Great Babylon
From Angkor to Babylon
Over two and half years ago, an EBS film crew traveled to Iraq on a very special mission. Using 3-D imaging technology, they would recreate the
© EBS Angkor Wat
majesty of one of history’s most storied civilizations, ancient Babylon. With the active support of the Iraqi government, which sought to restore pride in a people traumatized by a decade of conflict, the crew traveled to ancient ruins to rediscover the wonders of Babylon. Later, Korean computer technology and cinematic imagination came together to lift the veil on a fabled but mysterious civilization in the documentary The Great Babylon. The crew recreated ancient battles and reconstructed—if only on screen—monuments of legend such as the Tower of Babel, the Hanging Gardens, and the Ishtar Gate. The Great Babylon producer Kim Dong-joon explained the significance of the project. “This is very valuable visual content of Mesopotamian civilization because there has been a war for a very long time and a lot of heritage was destroyed and lots of exhibits in museums were lost,” he said. “This video is in 3-D, and is the only visual content in the world taken in the last decade in Mesopotamia. I think this is very educational for students and adult viewers in Korea as well as in other countries.” The Great Babylon was EBS’s second venture in 3-D historical reconstruction. The first came in 2010, when they released the documentary Angkor Wat. Like the Babylon production, this film was produced with the support of the local authorities. The documentary explored not only the construction of Angkor Wat and other monuments of the Khmer Kingdom, but also told the tale of the kingdom’s greatest personalities and the culture and customs of the Khmer civilization.
Temples Rise from the Jungle
The ancient temple complex of Vat Phao in Laos was, along with Angkor in Cambodia, one of the jewels of the Khmer Empire. Just south of Vat Phao are the ruins of another ancient Khmer temple, Hong Nang Sida. Along with other Khmer Empire temples and shrines in Champasak Province, it is registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Unfortunately, the centuries have not proven kind to the temple, which is almost entirely in a state of collapse. Beginning this year, however, the Korean government will undertake a KRW 6 billion project to restore the temple to its former greatness. In January, the Cultural Heritage Administration, the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, and Laos’ Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism signed a
© EBS Angkor Wat
memorandum of understanding for the six-year restoration project. Korea’s first ever participation in the restoration of an overseas cultural site is a turning point in Korea’s overseas aid program, which hitherto had shown little interest in overseas cultural heritage. Said Kim Kwang-hee, manager of the international cooperation team of the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, “Korea’s international reconstruction aid has so far focused on infrastructure, but this is the first time Korea has participated in cultural property reconstruction. I think it’s highly significant that we are reconstructing a World Heritage site that has fallen into disrepair.”
K O R E A
WHITE DAY AND MORE
Experiencing some of Korea’s more unique holidays
Written by Michelle Farnsworth Illustrated by Kim Yoon-Myong
fter living in Korea for 10 years, I have almost gotten used to all the unofficial, or some might perhaps even say contrived, holidays here. In fact, I have actually started enjoying them for the ingenuity and fun-filled frivolity they add to life in Korea.
In many parts of the world, November 11 is called Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Veterans Day. This is a very somber and serious holiday that commemorates the end of World War I and honors those who bravely gave their lives fighting for their country. In Korea, however, November 11 is associated with a much different holiday, best known as Pepero Day. Pepero are a relatively cheap, simple, and delicious pencil-thin cookie often covered in chocolate and then dipped in crushed almonds. Four Pepero sticks held up vertically next to each other resemble the date 11/11. We assume that a clever marketer at Lotte Confectionery recognized this and created the unofficial holiday. Walk by any convenience store in Korea on the days leading up to November 11 and you will see that the marketing initiative has been a huge success. There are Pepero of every size and flavor on display wrapped up in baskets and netting or nestled in the arms of a teddy bear. It is unofficially expected that Pepero be given to anyone who sits near you at the office, interacts with you daily, or is ever so slightly more than just an acquaintance. The deeper the relationship, the more elaborate the Pepero gift that must be given. I daresay that some of the most extravagant gift displays and promotional events I have ever seen were outside a 7-11 on November 11, 2011. While Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, it has a slightly surprising twist in Korea. I was really shocked when I first learned that in Korea women are expected to provide chocolate to their targets of affection on Valentine’s Day. The men merely enjoy the attention and the sugar rush. The rules are very clear and very firm. No man would ever dream of gifting chocolates to their lady love on Valentine’s Day in Korea. However, payback comes exactly one month later on White Day, when the men must reciprocate with candies. The rules here are also very clear. Men must gift candies to the lady or ladies in their lives. It could be either candy or chocolate, and women need only thank the men and enjoy the sweet treats. This is a day that I personally look forward to all year, as the chocolates can come from any man and are not necessarily meant as a romantic gesture. Men, mark your calendars and do not forget to recognize all of the special ladies in your life on March 14. And exactly one month after that, on April 14, Koreans observe Black Day. This is the holiday that amuses me the most. Black Day is observed by those who neither gave nor received chocolates or candies on Valentine’s Day or White Day. On Black Day singles are not forced to face the depth of their singleness surrounded by heart-shaped balloons, chocolate-covered cherries, or declarations of eternal love. Instead, they meet up with their other single friends and all share their sorrows by dining on jajangmyeon, Chinese noodles covered in a thick black bean sauce. The black sauce is meant to represent their cold, black, lonely hearts. While it sounds quite desolate and cruel, most singles actually enjoy the occasion and simply use it as a good excuse to catch up with friends, eat delicious noodles, and of course wash it down with a few beers. If you haven’t experienced the joys of participating in some of Korea’s unique holidays, then I highly recommend that the next time you pass a convenience store with boxes, baskets, and teddy bears displayed out front, pop in and find out which holiday is coming up and how you can play along.
German-born KTO President is case study in successful integration
Written by Robert Koehler Photograph courtesy of the Korea Tourism Organization
rom the first day I came here I felt really at home. I met a lot of people who had been here a long time but felt like oil on water but I felt I could relate to the place.” Korea Tourism Organization President Lee Cham turned heads when he became the first foreign-born Korean to attain such a high-ranking position in the Korean government. The Germanborn Lee, a 35-year-resident of Korea, was a face well-known to Koreans long before his appointment thanks to his many appearances on Korean TV and radio. A flawless speaker of Korean and a naturalized Korean citizen, he could be seen as a textbook example of successful integration into Korean society.
little more than six months to learn the language,” he says. “There were already a lot of expats, but almost all of them said it was impossible to learn Korean, so that of course challenged me.”
Korea: birthplace of new models
From the time Lee arrived in Korea, he felt he was where he was supposed to be. “I could see a lot of problems and differences and inconveniences and so on... but from the beginning, I felt this was a happening place, that something would happen here, that it had huge potential to create new models for society, for the economy, for everything,” he says. He stresses the need for a new “spiritual culture” that would create new models for how we live, work and interact “because our present social, political, and economic models are basically a dead-end street.” Lee has long felt Korea is where these new models would be born. “It’s a place that has a history of a lot of new spiritual cultures coming in, fusing with one another and creating new models,” he says. “It’s a very open-minded culture. So there’s huge potential there. The Korean energy, the Korean spirit, the Korean culture, the Korean nature... everything is a combination of factors where something revolutionary—not revolutionary in the political sense, but something substantially new—can come out of there. “ I want to be there when it happens,” he adds. “I can feel we’re getting closer to that.”
His decision to adopt Korean citizenship was a pragmatic one. “At that point I had decided I wanted to stay here. But it was always a headache to get a visa,” he explains. “I did different things. I worked as a teacher, I worked as a consultant, I did some broadcasting, and every time I had to go to the immigration office and get permits.” At the suggestion of a friend of his at the Minsitry of Justice, he applied to become a Korean national. When he passed the test, he became the 325th foreigner to naturalize as a Korean national, and the first German male to do so. Lee stresses the important of language in integrating into Korean society. This was especially so when he first started learning in the 1970s. “[Koreans were impressed] that a European would go through all this trouble to learn the language and culture,” he says. Language isn’t the only thing, however. Lee also says you need to understand the culture in which you find yourself. “If a Korean speaks perfect English, but has a different cultural communication set, there’s still going to be a barrier,” he says. “But if you master the culture, and understand the cultural modes and the way people feel—their prejudices, their idiosyncrasies—and communicate within that frame, you become part of that society.” The results are evident even within the KTO. “Now in this organization, the KTO, people don’t look at me as a foreigner. They look at me as the president... They don’t think I’m different because I’m a foreigner, but because I’m me and my background.”
An accidental Korean?
As was the case for many of Korea’s foreign-born residents, Lee came here virtually by accident. “I came here in 1978. I’d just finished my studies in Europe, and I had worked for a short time for a cultural foundation in Europe,” Lee says. “They were organizing academic seminars all over Europe. They got an invitation through somebody from Germany for somebody to organize seminars here.” He was here a week within getting the invitation. The job was initially for six months, but when Lee began learning Korean, his sense of challenge kicked in. “As soon as I came here I started learning Korean. I looked around and tried to find a private teacher because I was supposed to work,” he says. He found such a teacher at the Britannica Institute. “As soon as we started, I felt it would take a
Lee became a Korean national in 1986.
TALES FROM KOREA
The Fairy and the Woodcutter
Tragic love, Korean-syle
Written by Kang Juwon Illustrated by Shim Soo-keun
he Fairy and the Woodcutter is one of the most popular of all Korean folktales. Almost all children in Korea grow up reading a version of this love story. The story has three well-known versions that differ mainly in plot length. The following is a synopsis of the full version of the folktale.
There once was a poor woodcutter who lived with his mother. One day, he helped a wounded deer escape from hunters. As a show of gratitude, the deer informed the woodcutter of a nearby pond where fairies came down from the heavens to bathe every month. The deer pointed out that the woodcutter would be able to marry one of the fairies by hiding the fairy’s winged clothing—her only means of flight. He could then come to the rescue of the stranded fairy. The only proviso: everything was to be kept secret from his wife until they had at least three children. With these instructions, the woodcutter was successful in taking a fairy as his wife, and they had two children together. Content and happy, the woodcutter now felt comfortable enough to prematurely come clean. He showed his wife the winged clothing. Upon seeing her wings again, the wife could not help but feel a pang of yearning for home. She decides to return to the heavens, taking the children with her. With this unexpected turn of events, the woodcutter was highly distraught and once again turned to the help of the deer. This time, the resourceful deer presented the woodcutter with magic beans that would allow him to reach the heavens by way of a very long beanstalk. The overjoyed woodcutter reunited with his wife and triumphantly passed a series of tests that were required of all mortals who wished to live in the heavens. As time went, the woodcutter began to worry about his mother, whom he had left behind on earth. The wife, who understood the woodcutter’s feelings, provided him with a winged horse that would safely take him down to earth and back. The wife also warned the woodcutter never to get oﬀ the horse at any point. During the trip, however, the woodcutter spilled his mother’s hot porridge on the horse’s back, and as the startled horse rears up on its legs, he was knocked oﬀ its back. The winged horse flew back to the heavens, leaving the hapless woodcutter behind. The woodcutter was never to return to the heavens again. Sad and alone, he later turned into a rooster that crows its grief to the skies.
The full version of the Korean folktale is noteworthy because the love story also functions as a pourquoi story. The story wraps up nicely by explaining the possible origin of the rooster’s plaintive crow. In some variants of the story, the woodcutter actually turns into a cuckoo. Like most tragic love stories, The Fairy and the Woodcutter features inherent obstacles the characters must overcome. But this love story is unique in that the tragic ending is not the result of an effort to uphold romantic love. Romantic love makes way for something of greater value to the protagonist: in this case, filial piety. The woodcutter finds love only to risk it all for one last chance to see his mother. In Western tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet or The Little Mermaid, death might have been a way of consummating the forbidden love. The circumstances behind the woodcutter’s undoing, meanwhile, were largely self-inflicted. The Fairy and the Woodcutter is a one-of-a-kind folktale. It contains the elements that define a tragic love story with its own twists and turns. The moral of the story is rather hard to pin down. Some argue the story teaches children to be more cautious, while others like to focus on the woodcutter’s internal struggle of values. The Korean folktale is not only an interesting read; the story itself makes for an intriguing subject of research.
G R E AT K O R E A N
Korea’s Joan of Arc lit the flame of Korean independence
Written by Robert Koehler Photograph courtesy of Cheonan Archive
he March 1 Independence Movement of 1919 produced a great many patriotic martyrs, but perhaps none are as well known as Yu Gwan-sun, lauded as Korea’s Joan of Arc. Her firm commitment to Korea’s independence, for which she paid the ultimate price at the hands of Imperial Japan, inspired a generation of Korean freedom fighters, and her fervent patriotism invigorates Koreans to this day.
Martyrdom at Seodaemun Prison
As one of the leaders of the Aunae Market demonstration, Yu was arrested by the Japanese. A district court in Gongju sentenced her to five years in prison. An appeal was made to an appellate court in Seoul, and her sentence was reduced to three years. At this point, she was transferred to the notorious Seodaemun Prison in Seoul, where many pro-independence activists and freedom fighters were detained. Even in prison, however, she continued to protest for Korea’s independence, suffering beatings and torture at the hands of her captors as a result. Finally, on September 28, 1920, she died from her mistreatment at the age of 18. Worried that their abuse would become public knowledge and spark further protests, the Japanese were reluctant to release Yu’s body from Seodaemun Prison. It took threats from the American missionaries at Ewha Hakdang to report the incident to their home country for the prison to release the body, which showed signs of torture. The injustices suffered by Yu did not end there. Yu was given a Methodist funeral and buried in a public cemetery in Seoul’s Itaewon district. The cemetery was appropriated by the Japanese military, however, and the bodies moved to a new site in northern Seoul. When the bodies were moved, however, Yu’s remains disappeared.
‘Long Live Korean Independence’
Yu was born in the small town of Cheonan, Chungcheongnamdo on December 16, 1902, the second daughter in a family of five siblings. Her father was a progressively-minded educator and Methodist; accordingly, she was raised in a religious and education-focused household. Attending a local missionary school, she met American missionary Alice Sharp, who encouraged the young woman to attend Ewha Hakdang in Seoul. Founded by American missionaries, Ewha Hakdang was Korea’s best school for girls. Her family was not wealthy, but Sharp recognized the girl’s talent and helped her attain a scholarship. Yu did well in her studies at Ewha Hakdang, and she graduated from the middle school course to the high school course. On March 1, 1919, pro-independence protests erupted in Seoul following the reading of the Korean Declaration of Independence by 33 Korean nationalist representatives. Many of Ewha Hakdang’s students participated in the demonstrations. On March 10, the Japanese Government-General, concerned about the mass participation of students in the pro-independence demonstrations, ordered all schools closed. With the closure of Ewha Hakdang, Yu returned to her hometown of Cheonan. Once in Cheonan, Yu went from village to village to spread word of the March 1 Independence Movement. She encouraged locals to participate in a planned mass rally in Cheonan’s famed Aunae Market on April 1. On the day of the rally, no fewer than 3,000 people showed up to protest. As the Korean Declaration of Independence was read, Yu led the crowd in cheering, “Long live Korean independence!” Startled by the passionate crowd, Japanese military policemen rushed to the market and ordered the demonstrators to disperse. When the demonstrators failed to comply, the Japanese fired into the crowd, killing 19 and wounding 30. Among those killed were Yu’s parents.
Symbol of Resistance
Yu might have died, but her spirit lived on. Not long after the March 1 Independence Movement, a Korean government-inexile was formed in China. Yu’s brave resistance to Japanese oppression and her love for her country inspired and motivated young men and women to resist the Japanese occupation and work for a free, independent Korea. In 1962, the Korean government posthumously awarded Yu the Order of Merit for National Foundation, the highest honor given to those who fought for Korea’s freedom from the Japanese. In order to ease Yu’s spirit, a monument was erected in her honor on the slopes of Mt. Maebongsan in Cheonan in 1989. The monument is now part of a much larger memorial complex that includes a museum and memorial shrine. Regular memorials are held here on September 28, the day of her martyrdom, and on March 1.
Mugwort Rice Cake
Written by Monica Suk
ugwort has long been used in Korea as a folk remedy, as both food and medicine. Called ssuk in Korean, mugwort has beneficial effects on liver function and the digestive tract, settling and giving strength to the stomach. In Korea, it is widely used in cooking. There is mugwort soup, mugwort porridge, and ssuk-beomuri, a mix of mugwort with rice flour, but the most common and popular dish is a rice cake made of the herb. A good mugwort rice cake is made with young and soft mugwort picked in the early spring. It gives the rice cake a delicate flavor and a light or dark green color, depending on the amount used.
In the old days, people used to hang them from the ceiling in a bamboo basket. They brushed off the mold, put it back in the basket, and steamed it in a large brass bowl. When it was completely cooked, it was rolled over bean powder to add a sweet flavor and balance the bitter taste. Nowadays, mugwort rice cakes are thought to be a convenient, healthy snack. You do not even have to steam it yourself since almost all rice cake shops these days make it every morning and sell it fresh. It is also sold in a single serving size for your convenience.
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Gwangyang’s lovely Maehwa Village Photograph courtesy of the KTO
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Introduce yourself in Korean!
What do you say in Korean when you meet a person for the ﬁrst time? What are the formulaic expressions used to greet people and respond to such greetings in Korean? Let’s study Korean greetings and expressions to introduce oneself.
1. 인사 (Greetings)
안녕하세요(Annyeonghaseyo) is usually used when you greet elders or strangers. When you say 안녕하세요, it is polite to bow your head.
2. 자기소개 (Introducing yourself)
What sentence patterns are used to introduce oneself? Let’s study the following patterns used to give one’s personal information.
I am Chris.
저는 미국 사람이에요. 사람이
Jeoneun miguk saramieyo
I am Naoko.
I am American.
저는 일본 사람이에요.
Jeoneun ilbon saramieyo.
I am Japanese.
It’s nice to meet you.
This pattern is used to give one’s personal information, meaning “I am .” “-이다” is attached to a noun and functions like “be” in English. If the previous noun ends in a consonant, “-이에요”follows. If the previous noun ends in a vowel, “-예요” follows.
3. 국적 (Nationality)
When people introduce themselves, they usually say their name and nationality. Let’s study nationality vocabulary in Korean.
Let’s talk about yourself as suggested using the following examples.
안녕하세요? 저는 저는 이에요/예요. 사람이에요.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?