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www.korea.net
12
DECEMBER
2009
Opening a communicative space
between Korea and the world
Korea’s Dynamos:
Innovative Success Stories
The Diplomacy of the Dinner Table

The world is moving toward Ulsan, Korea!
0lobol componies such os Hyundoi Molor 0o., Hyundoi Heovy índuslries 0o., SK Fnergy 0o., ond S-0il
hove formed on induslriol clusler in Ulson, lhe heorl of induslry in Koreo!
The worlds besl business environmenl con be experienced in Ulson, which boosls Koreos mosl modern
induslriol logislics porl, low-priced foclory lond, obundonl induslriol ulililies, ond high-quolily humon resources.
Ulsan, the economic hub of Northeast Asia! Where global companies come to do business.
Your strategic business partner!
Tel : 82-52-229-3070~3073
ulsan.investkorea.org
ldvonced lronsporlolion infroslruclure. Koreo`s lorgesl induslriol porl focililies. Slole-of-lhe-orl reseorch supporl focililies.
Fxcellenl humon resources. High lobor produclivily ond o sloble employmenl environmenl. lbundonl induslriol ulililies.
4 korea December 2009
16
Publisher
Kim He-beom,
Korean Culture and
Information Service
Chief Editor
Ko Hye-ryun
Editing & Printing
JoongAng Daily
E-mail
webmaster@korea.net
Design
JoongAng Daily
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.
The articles published in Korea do not necessarily rep-
resent the views of the publisher. The publisher is not
liable for errors or omissions.
Letters to the editor should include the writer’s full name
and address. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or
space restrictions.
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 glos-
sary with common Korean words appearing in our text
are available by clicking on the thumbnail of Korea on
the homepage of www.korea.net.
Cover Photo
The Oasis of the Seas,
the world’s biggest cruise
ship, was built by a
Korean group.
Provided by STX
06
Cover Story
• Big Dreams Small Firms - Hidden Champions

16
News in Focus
• International Understanding Through Kimchi
22
Diplomacy
• Korea to Play Bridging Role
• Allies Tackle Myriad Issues
• Obama in the New Asia
• Korea Pledges Aid, Training at 2nd Africa Forum
in Seoul
• OECD Forum Experts Seek New Metric to Replace
GDP
30
Global Korea
• Thanking Those Who Answered Peace’s Call
• Translation on a Biblical Scale
• Looking After God’s Children
36
Green Growth
• Outrunning Climate Change
발간등록번호: 11-1110073-000016-06
CONTENTS
38 23
December 2009 korea 5
56
Travel
• To the Slopes!
• A Visit to the Incheon Shore for Fresh,
Authentic Seafood
62
People
• In the Sandy Footsteps of an Ancient
Pilgrim : Nam Young-ho
• Boy’s Journey from Zambia to Korea’s Top
University : Kent Kamasumba
66
Foreign viewpoints
• Don’t Take Korea’s Tale For Granted :
Simon Bureau
DECEMBER 2009
VOL. 16 / NO. 12
38
Culture
• It’s Better Late Than Never As Koreans
Head to the Mall
• Hardships and Love in Verse
• Four For One, One For All
44
Korean Literature
• A broken heart in a divided nation :
Kim Won-il
48
Korean Artist
• Architect Preserves, Resurrects Korea’s
Traditional Lifestyles : Jo Jeong-gu
52
Sports
• Majestic Park Will Be Home to a Beloved
Korean Sport
• Lim Bests Zhang in Denmark
• Kim Yun-a’s Road to the Gold
56
38
48 55
6 korea December 2009
The Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest and newest cruise ship,
navigates through a channel headed for its home port nearby
in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Nov. 13. The Royal
Caribbean ship was constructed in Finland by STX Europe, which
is owned by Korea’s STX Group. [AP]
December 2009 korea 7
The world looks to Korea as it becomes the first non-G8
country to chair the Group of 20 and steer economic policy
Cover Story | Korea at the G-20
BIG
DREAMS
SMALL
FIRMS
Cover Story | Hidden Champions
8 korea December 2009
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8 korea December 2009
December 2009 korea 9
Cover Story | Hidden Champions
Korea’s Hidden Champions
F
or Korea, the financial crisis had an
upside — though it was a shock to the
system, sending many companies into
restructuring, it gave local exporters a
chance to build market share against their
rivals.
And that success wasn’t limited to the enor-
mous conglomerates that most overseas associ-
ate with Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
The eyes of the world were transfixed last
month when the world’s largest cruise ship, three
times the size of the Titanic, docked in Florida.
It was the handoff of the 72-meter-high,
360-meter-long Oasis of the Seas to its new own-
er, the U.S.-based cruise company Royal Carib-
bean, from its builder, none other than STX
Europe, a company purchased by the Korean
STX Group in 2007. The vessel was evidence of
just how far the Korean company had come in
technological advancement and skill.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics, the flag-
ship unit of the nation’s largest conglomerate,
surprised investors at home and abroad with its
third-quarter performance. The leading con-
glomerate not only posted a record operating
profit for the July-September season but out-
paced the operating profit of nine Japanese elec-
tronics companies including Sony, Panasonic
and Hitachi — combined.
The Japanese business newspaper Nihon
Keizai wrote that Samsung Electronics’ operat-
ing profit was roughly 4.2 trillion won ($3.6 bil-
lion) or 326 billion yen, more than twice the size
the 151.9 billion yen posted by the nine Japanese
firms.
Nobuyuki Oneda, vice president of Sony,
acknowledged Samsung Electronics’ numbers.
He said it was hard not to admit that Sony had
lost competitiveness against Samsung. Fumio
Ohtsubo, president of Panasonic, made a similar
statement.
Nihon Keizai reported that while Japanese
companies were busy cutting back on invest-
ment with the global economic downturn, Sam-
sung Electronics did the opposite and aggres-
sively spent to solidify its market dominance.
Samsung Electronics’ memory chip market
share rose from 29 percent in the second quarter
to 31.1 percent from July to September.
Add in Hynix Semiconductor’s 22.8 percent
of the global market and Korea’s presence in
memory chips is overwhelming.
Samsung’s expansion happened while lead-
ing Taiwanese chipmaker Nanya Technology
saw an operating deficit and Japan’s Elpida
Memory narrowly avoided facing a loss during
the same period.
The Korean company has never dropped
from the top spot in the world memory chip
market since 1993, and since 1983, the compa-
ny’s semiconductor division has been growing at
an average of 27 percent every year.
In NAND flash memory chips, Samsung had
38.5 percent of the global market in the third
quarter, up from 37.6 percent from April to June,
according to a report by the research agency
DRAMeXchange. That growth solidifies Sam-
sung’s leading position and widens the gap with
runner-up Toshiba, which has a 34.7 percent
share. Micron and Hynix Semiconductor fol-
lowed, with 9.4 percent and 8.7 percent of the
market, respectively.
Mobile phone sales in the United States were
another reason for Samsung to rejoice. Accord-
ing to U.S.-based Strategy Analytics, Samsung
had 25.6 percent of the North American cellular
market from July to September.
The company has sold more than 10 million
mobile phones over five consecutive quarters, an
accomplishment made even more remarkable
when one considers that Samsung Electronics
made its debut in North America in 1997.
LG Electronics, another Korean company,
closely trails Samsung at 20.7 percent of the
North American cellular market. Motorola’s
share is 16.7 percent, RIM accounts for 12.2 per-
cent and Apple, 7.4 percent.
Samsung Electronics’ television unit is also
thriving. In the third quarter the Korean elec-
tronics company sold 6.9 million LCD televi-
Kortek specializes in LCD
displays for casino slot
machines as well as infor-
mation and advertising
displays. The company
has the largest market
share in the world for
casino displays.
How risk-taking entrepreneurs fought to the top of their global niches
10 korea December 2009
sions, raising its global market share for that
product from 20.5 percent three months earlier
to 21.1percent.
Combine that with LG Electronics’ 12.3 per-
cent, a new record for the runner-up, and a full
third of the world’s LCD TV sales come from
Korean companies. During the same period,
Sony saw its LCD market share drop 0.6 percent-
age point from the previous quarter to 10.1 per-
cent. Sharp’s global market share increased from
6.7 percent in the second quarter to 7.3 percent.
But electronics are not the only Korean prod-
ucts thriving on the global market.
Hyundai Motor has been aggressively
expanding overseas, while major automakers
such as General Motors and Toyota suffer mas-
sive losses. The Korean carmaker in the third
quarter saw its earnings and operating profit
increase 33.8 percent to 8.9 trillion won and
461.5 percent to 586.8 billion won from a year
earlier, respectively.
Net profit hit a record high of 979.1 billion
won, a 269.8 percent surge from the same period
last year. Thanks to higher sales, the company’s
global market share has been expanding, break-
ing the 5 percent barrier for the first time in the
second quarter and rising in the third quarter
from 5.2 to 5.5 percent.
Hyundai also has a dominating presence in
liquefied petroleum gas-electric hybrid vehicles,
as the the only auto manufacturer to develop
them along with its affiliate Kia Motors.
Korean products have finally made the jump
from a reputation for second-rate quality to a
force to be reckoned with even for high-end
goods. It’s the same path walked by Japan, which
after World War II had a very poor image. But by
the 1980s and 1990s Americans were turning off
their Panasonic televisions, grabbing their Sony
Walkman cassette players and driving their Toy-
otas to work.
Today Korean products have penetrated the
Western lifestyle just as deeply, rising from the
ruins of civil war in the 1950s to become one of
Asia’s leading economies.
Now Westerners call each other on Samsung
phones, go shopping in their Hyundai autos and
put the groceries in LG Electronics refrigera-
tors.
Although Korea’s economic growth hit a
speed bump during the Asian financial crisis in
1997 and 1998, the country has made an excep-
tional comeback since 2000, led by businesses
that worked hard to put down roots in new coun-
tries. In fact, exports by Korean conglomerates
have surged 125 percent in the last five years.
But with this swift growth comes structural
weaknesses. A Fair Trade Commission report
last year showed that the top 100 companies
accounted for 50 percent of the nation’s mining
HJC Helmets, which
started off as a small
motorcycle helmet parts
supplier in 1971, has
grown into the motorcy-
cle helmet manufacturer
with the world’s larest
market share.
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December 2009 korea 11
A full 127 Korean products held the top
spot in their respective markets last year.
Young An was founded
in 1959. Today it supplies
hats and baseball caps to
over 70 countries.
Cover Story | Hidden Champions
and manufacturing in 2006. This was an increase
from 46.8 percent in 2005 and 46.4 percent in
2004.
The agency said the report showed that
Korea’s economy is growing more dependent on
the few conglomerates, particularly since the cri-
sis of the late 1990s wiped out many smaller busi-
nesses.
The 31 conglomerates with assets of over 5
trillion won held 37.5 percent of the market for
mining and manufacturing here in Korea, with
over a quarter taken up by the top five business
groups. Those 31 conglomerates also accounted
for 76.2 percent of exports. That renders the
Korean economy especially vulnerable to prob-
lems in these large family-owned jaebeol.
But growing small businesses may be able to
remedy the situation, and some experts have put
their hope in these “hidden champions.” In this
category are companies with strong technologi-
cal foundations or products that have the poten-
tial to be — or already are — international hits.
An Chong-bum, an economics professor at
Sungkyunkwan University, says the Korea econ-
omy was only able to reach where it is today
thanks to smaller companies, without whom
there would be no Samsung Electronics or Hyun-
dai Motor. Therefore, the success of the nation’s
economy is entwined with the success of these
firms.
Professor An believes that such small opera-
tions are able to thrive because of their endless
efforts to innovate. Better technology and
improvements in quality are the only way small
and mid-size companies are able to survive, An
says.
The name “hidden champions” comes from
the title of a book by Hermann Simon on the
power of the small to mid-sized business.
Germany has been the largest exporter in the
world since it took that title from the U.S. in
2007. In 2000, U.S. exports accounted for 12.1
percent of the world’s overseas shipments. But
seven years later, Germany’s global market share
had grown to 9.5 percent, while U.S. fell to 8.3
percent.
The secret to Germany’s strength, Simon
argues in his book, was competitive smaller
companies. Simon claims that two-thirds of the
world’s “hidden champions,” roughly 1,300
firms, are German. He says these companies play
a vital role in Germany’s economy, and that it is
the same for the Netherlands and Belgium.
Visiting Korea in June, Simon noted that
Korea’s economy was too reliant on conglomer-
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12 korea December 2009
ate, but that there are numerous Korean com-
panies that could become hidden champions.
According to the Ministry of Knowledge
Economy, last year 127 Korean products held
the top spot in their respective global markets.
The number of products on that list is up sig-
nificantly, from just 49 products in 2002 and 86
in 2005.
Of course, some of the winners on the list
are typical Korean exports — semiconductors,
LNG vessels and so forth — but others came
from surprising smaller operations, including
motorcycle helmets, bicycle shoes and speaker
grilles.
Those examples show that even the smallest
Korean company can grow into a global affair if
it is skilled enough in its market niche.
And several organizations are already mov-
ing quickly to contribute support to help Korea’s
hidden champions realize that potential.
In early November, Korea Exchange held an
unusual event at the COEX convention center in
southern Seoul. In its first IR Expo, Korea
Exchange set up a booth under the title “Hidden
Champions.” Twenty-two smaller companies
participated at the investor relations show, aim-
ing not only to attract capital but also to promote
their goods and technologies.
One of them was Kortek, the current leader
in displays for casinos. Over 50 percent of the
displays supplied to casinos around the world,
including the Bellagio, the MGM Grand and the
Mirage in Las Vegas, are developed by Kortex.
And the company has not stopped there,
adding digital information displays and large
LCD monitors that provide information and
advertisements to its portfolio. The company
recently inked contracts to supply the former to
Japan’s NEC and Loewe of Germany.
Lee Han-gu, chairman and founder of
Kortek, says his success came from finding busi-
nesses that were untapped, and from never being
satisfied with just a single area of dominance.
Kortek has also been developing monitors
for medical purposes and is currently competing
with major global players in that market includ-
ing GE, Siemens and NEC.
Another local “hidden champion,” EO Tech-
nics, specializes in laser engravers that carve let-
ters and brand names onto semiconductors. The
company has a global market share of 50 percent,
and it has maintained that position even through
one of the worst economic crises in history.
Also among the 22 firms at the COEX booth
was LMS, currently the leading provider of
mobile phone prism sheet, a key component in
the LCD display once monopolized by 3M.
The company not only accounts for 60 per-
cent of world sales, it actually saw its best perfor-
mance ever in the third quarter, with operating
Samkwang Electron-
ics specializes in audio
speaker grilles. It has the
leading global market
share and a client list
that includes Japanese
companies such as Sony,
Sharp, Toshiba and
Pioneer.
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December 2009 korea 13
Kortek’s displays are now in use at the
Bellagio, the MGM Grand and the Mirage.
Cover Story | Hidden Champions
profit surging 126 percent on-year to 6 billion
won thanks in particular to growth in China.
Lah Woo-joo, president of LMS, puts his
emphasis as much on precision manufacturing
as on trust with his clients. Like other entrepre-
neurs, Lah hopes to expand into components for
other products including portable game devices
and laptops. In the wider prism sheet market
LMS made 10 percent of global sales last year,
which Lah hopes to raise to 20 percent.
Korea Exchange, which runs the local stock
bourse, decided to promote the 22 companies to
raise their profiles outside their individual fields,
where they may be less well known. Of course,
that doesn’t mean there aren’t other thriving
local hidden champions absent from the expo.
One is HJC, a motorcycle helmet manufac-
turer. Though not well known outside the biker
community, HJC counts as a fan anyone who
owns a motorcycle or has an interest in the sport.
The company started off as small parts supplier
but started to create and market its own products
in 1980, expanding to the overseas market in
1984.
Where Samsung Electronics only managed
to beat its Japanese rivals relatively recently, HJC
had already reached first place in its sector by
1990. Today one out of every two motorcycle
helmets in the world has an HJC logo.
Another unsung hidden champion is Esen-
cia, which makes an unusual product: tooth-
brush sterilizers.
Its small business’s founder and president,
Shin Choong-sik, turned a disgusting episode
into a lucrative idea. His inspiration for devel-
oping the toothbrush sterilizer came when one
day he saw a roach sitting on his toothbrush.
Business didn’t start off with a boom. On the
contrary, he almost went bankrupt. But Shin
never gave up hope, and soon sales started to
pick up. Today Esencia has inspired imitators
among major electronics makers, but it still holds
a large portion of the market.
The state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea
is taking its own measures to support these
enterprising Korean firms. Exim Bank President
Kim Dong-soo focused on the subject in a lec-
ture in October at Hankuk University of Foreign
Studies about the global financial crisis and
opportunities for Korea.
The bank decided last month to invest 20
trillion won over the next 10 years to foster small
and mid-sized exporters, in the hopes of creating
300 Korean hidden champions by 2019.
The lender will also offer looser limits on
Aurora world is a
company that manufac-
tures dolls and charac-
ter goods. It hopes to
become the next Disney
with many of its charac-
ters winning the hearts
of young consumers
around the world.
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14 korea December 2009
loans as well as discounts on fees to small busi-
nesses. It has already selected 12 companies
including LMS, Amotech and Simpac to benefit
from the policies. Six of the companies are work-
ing in new growth engine industries including
green technologies.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and
Industry in May released its own research on the
success of the local hidden champions. Citing
companies like IDIS, a security equipment firm,
the group elucidated five factors that it said con-
tributed to the companies’ success.
The first and most significant factor, the
chamber found, was innovative technological
development. The report said more than 40 per-
cent of employees at the companies were
researchers, and the hidden champions invested
more than 10 percent of their annual revenue in
research and development.
The second contributing factor to success
was a focus on building expertise and gaining
market share in a single niche.
Global marketing was the third. Instead of
competing in the crowded and limited local
market, the hidden champions looked to broad-
er horizons, establishing direct connections with
consumers across the world.
The fourth element was flexibility, which the
group said made the work environment condu-
cive to innovation and solidified relationships of
trust between the company and its employees
— something difficult to find at larger organiza-
tions.
The final factor the report cited was the pio-
neer spirit that led the companies to move into
sectors that had been left overlooked by larger
operations. The report said hidden champions
studied new markets according to the needs of
consumers, and developed strategies accord-
ingly.
Just like the larger conglomerates, whose
quick spending helped them finally pull ahead of
their Japanese competitors, Korea’s hidden
champions have shown a daring spirit, spending
into the crisis in efforts to improve their quality
and competitiveness. The difference: They don’t
have billions of won in breathing room.
By Lee Ho-jeong
The opening of the Ko-
rea’s first IR Expo, held at
COEX on the first week
of November (far left).
[Yonhap]
At the ‘Hidden Champi-
on’ booth of the IR Expo,
22 companies listed on
the Kosdaq participated
in the event to promote
themselves (left).
Provided by KRX
Suprema is the world’s
No. 1 fingerprint recogni-
tion system developer, an
area it considers one of
the few remaining “blue
ocean” markets.
December 2009 korea 15
I
f you or one of your kids has a room
full of stuffed animals, chances are
you’ve bought an Aurora World
product, though the Korean firm is
nowhere near as familiar to consum-
ers as Disney.
That could change, however. Over
90 percent of the company’s sales are
made abroad, with the U.S. market
Aurora’s largest at 48.8 percent, fol-
lowed by Russia with 13.1 percent and
Britain with 10.4 percent. Korea only
accounts for 7 percent of Aurora
World’s total market share as of last
year.
Aurora was first established in
1981. Although it only rakes in 1.5
percent of all the character goods sold
in the world, it was still chosen as one
of the 22 “hidden champions” listed
on the Kosdaq.
It wasn’t easy for Aurora to get
started. It began as a manufacturer of
other companies’ designs and brands.
Then, in 1991, just a decade after it
started taking orders, a major U.S.
buyer slashed the fees it was willing to
pay for Aurora’s products. It was a
massive blow to the doll maker.
So founder Noh Hui-yeol decided
to weather the storm by having his
company create its own characters.
But there were hiccups here as
well, with U.S. dollmaker Russ Berrie
filing a lawsuit against the Korean
company for copying its designs. But
Aurora didn’t back down, and contin-
ued to introduce its Korean stuffed
dolls to consumers in the U.S. through
nationwide marketing tours. As the
world’s largest doll market, the U.S.
accounts for over 40 percent of annu-
al sales.
In the end a deal was reached with
Russ Berrie, and Aurora was free to
promote and sell its products.
Today more than 85 percent of the
products Aurora makes are derived
from the company’s own designs.
Meanwhile, its steady promotional
activities since the mid-1990s have
helped raise brand recognition.
By Lee Ho-jeong
Y
ou may not know IDIS by name,
but those in the security busi-
ness do. The monitoring sys-
tems developed by the small Korean
company have been installed in
important buildings around the
world. Clients include the National
Aeronautics and Space Administra-
tion (NASA) in Houston, the Sydney
Opera House and Pudong Interna-
tional Airport in Shanghai.
That makes IDIS a “hidden cham-
pion.”
As of last year the firm had the top
market share in the world for digital
video recorder security systems at
31.5 percent, higher than General
Electric, Sony and even Mitsubishi.
The company has seen aggressive
growth of over 30 percent per year.
Behind the success of this small
security firm is Kim Young-dal, who
founded the company in 1997 after
preparations made while studying for
his doctorate at the Korea Advanced
Institute of Science and Technology.
Back then many bright young
minds rushed to cash in on Korea’s
dot-com boom. His classmates includ-
ed Lee Hae-jin, who developed the
Web portal Naver. Kim’s idea for a
security company seemed outdated.
But he went ahead, and digitized an
analog industry.
IDIS developed a DVR system that
could record 30 days of footage on a
40-gigabyte hard disc, revolutionary
compared to conventional VCRs that
could only record on 12-hour tapes.
IDIS was also the first company in the
world to develop DVR systems that
would automatically set off an alarm
when the camera detects unusual
movement.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
boosted demand for the DVRs, and
IDIS was named among the top 200
small or mid-size companies by
Forbes Magazine in 2002 and 2004.
Success came thanks to aggressive
R&D. According to the company, 46
percent of its employees work in that
department. As a result IDIS DVR
systems are known to be stabler and
cheaper than the competition.
Despite the economic downturn,
exports make up more than 70 per-
cent of IDIS’s sales, while domestic
market share has risen from 14.5 per-
cent in 2006 to 20.7 percent in 2008.
By Lee Ho-jeong
A Cute and Cuddly Path to Success
One Innovator’s Vision of Digital Security
December 2009 korea 15
President Hong Gi-woo with stuffed ani-
mals. Aurora World was chosen as one of
the 22 “hidden champions” listed on the
Kosdaq.
Kim Young-dal, above, decided to found
IDIS while studying at the Korea Advanced
Institute of Science and Technology.
Cover Story | Hidden Champions
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16 korea December 2009 16 korea December 2009
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December 2009 korea 17
News in Focus
International Understanding
Through Kimchi
December 2009 korea 17
A royal dish, gujeolpan combines a wheat
wrap with many ingredients including beef,
shitake mushrooms, green bean sprouts, egg,
abalone, shrimp and many other delights.
18 korea December 2009
K
orea’s first lady Kim Yoon-
ok met Korean actor Bae
Yong-joon at Sang-chunjae,
a traditional Korean build-
ing used to host V.I.P.s at Cheong Wa
Dae, the official residence of Kim and
Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak. The
meeting took place on Nov. 10, as Kim,
who is also the honorary chairwoman of
the Promotional Group for Globaliza-
tion of Korean Cuisine, invited Bae, one
of the group’s officials, to discuss their
effort to increase the prestige of Korean
food.
Kim said, “V.I.P.s from abroad tend
to like sinseollo [Korean-style hotpot].
The Bulgarian president enjoyed eating
rice and kimchi with sinseollo.”
The Korean Wave star responded,
“Now, there is a health food culture
booming across the world, and in that
sense, Korean food is very competitive.”
Bae, beloved across Asia for his TV
drama roles, runs the Korean restaurant
Koshirae in Tokyo.
The first lady has played a key role
in the government-led effort to global-
ize Korean food. In mid-October, a tele-
vision program titled “Eye on South
Korea” was aired on CNN, detailing not
only the relatively quick economic
recovery Korea has made since the U.S.
sub-prime mortgage crisis last year, but
also the country’s effort to raise the pro-
file of its cuisine.
First lady Kim was prominently fea-
tured in the program, interviewed by
CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout at Sang-
chunjae on Oct. 16. With Stout standing
to the side, Kim made japchae (mixed
vegetables and sliced beef) and a mung
bean pancake.
“Korean food is made with natural
ingredients and cooked in a way that
preserves the original taste of the mate-
rials,” Kim said during the interview.
“What is most attractive about Korean
dishes is that they are healthy and made
based on a philosophy that what people
eat determines their state of health.”
CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout inter-
views Korea’s first lady Kim Yoon-
ok in front of Sang-chunjae, a
traditional Korean building used
to host VIPs at Cheong Wa Dae,
Korea’s presidential residence.
Why globalizing Korean food is such
serious business
The interview was broadcast at the
beginning of the program on the net-
work, which reaches 1.2 billion viewers
around the world.
The effort to promote Korean food
also has a diplomatic dimension. On Oct.
9, Kim took Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife
of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama, to the Institute of Traditional
Korean Food in central Seoul. There,
Kim and Hatoyama made kimchi togeth-
er, and after it was finished, Kim took a
piece and put it into the Japanese first
lady’s mouth. Talking up one’s national
food might seem almost trivial, but food
can go a long way toward piquing people’s
interest in a culture at large.
In April, the Presidential Commis-
sion for Future and Vision and the Min-
istry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries(MIFAFF) co-hosted the Kore-
an Cuisine to the World 2009 sympo-
sium, which highlighted a globalization
plan for the country’s cuisine. The tar-
get: establishing Korean food as a major
global cuisine. The following month,
the Promotional Group for Globaliza-
tion of Korean Cuisine was launched
— yet another step in the same direc-
tion.
The group consists of 36 govern-
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News in Focus
A survey
showed that
the world’s
favorite dishes
from Korea
included
bibimbap,
kimchi and
bulgogi beef.
ment officials, chief executive officers
and restaurateurs. Some notable names:
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Yu In-chon; Minister for Food, Agricul-
ture, Forestry and Fisheries Chang Tae-
pyong, and, of course, actor Bae Yong-
joon. As part of the effort, MIFAFF
intends to promote the restaurant indus-
try, while the Culture Ministry plans to
develop travel packages centered on
Korean cuisine.
Among the strategies being pursued
by the group are upgrading related laws,
establishing Korean food brands, train-
ing and licensing chefs on Korean food
at foreign culinary schools, supporting
research and development, encouraging
private sector investment in franchises
overseas, increasing the number of
Korean restaurants at five-star hotels in
Korea and promoting Korean food
through the domestic and international
media and various events. The ministry
said it intends to concentrate on pro-
moting bibimbap, kimchi, traditional
wines and the spicy rice cakes known as
tteokbokki, among others.
As part of its plan, MIFAFF said it
would educate chefs at Korean restau-
rants, especially outside the country,
since it found foreigners have a relative-
ly negative perception of Korean food.
Even the same dishes taste radically dif-
ferent at different restaurants, the min-
istry said, and waiters and waitresses
often do not explain how to eat Korean
food or what ingredients are used, which
makes it difficult for foreign diners to
take the plunge.
“Korean restaurants abroad are the
frontier where foreigners come into
contact with Korean food,” said Kang
Hye-young, a deputy director at
MIFAFF. “Improving service at these
restaurants would be the first step to
upgrade the image of Korean food.”
The ministry said it is not easy to
find chefs specializing in Korean food
outside Korea, and there are even cases
in which non-Koreans who have no for-
mal training in making Korean food are
working at Korean restaurants around
the world.
To solve the problem, the ministry is
offering training in making Korean food
in partnership with Yonsei University,
the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel,
Woosong University and the Korean
Food Institute at Sookmyung Women’s
University. The four-month course is
open to both Koreans and non-Koreans
and will teach not only cooking tech-
niques but also Korean food culture,
foreign languages and business skills.
A survey of 100 professionals includ-
ing restaurant industry officials, chefs at
major hotels, Korean food researchers
and food journalists in Korea indicated
that kimchi, bulgogi marinated beef,
bibimbap, japchae and tteokbokki were
most well-known Korean dishes in the
world. The survey was taken by the
Korean Culture and Information Ser-
vice in September. What differentiated
Korean foods from other cuisines was
its health value, containing lots of veg-
etables, respondents said. They added
that Korean food represents the nation’s
culture and its people’s affectionate
nature. However, they also said a lack of
standardized techniques and the diffi-
culty in cooking Korean food prevent it
from taking hold overseas.
The Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade
Corporation set out in October and
November to discover foreigners’ favor-
ite Korean dishes. The study assembled
focus groups in four countries: the Unit-
ed States, Vietnam, China and Japan.
“The study was meant to figure out
not only what kind of Korean food is
popular among foreigners but also how
to get, or how to replace, original ingre-
dients, how to keep the price level rea-
Wives of the generals of the Republic of Korea and U.S. Combined Forces
Command (CFC) learning how to make Korean food at Sookmyung Women’s
University’s Korean Food Institute.
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20 korea December 2009
sonable and how to prepare food to fit
the tastes of non-Koreans,” said Kim Ji-
hyup, a manager at the trade corpora-
tion. The study will be used to help
instruct owners or chefs at Korean res-
taurants inside and outside Korea.
The preferred Korean dish differed
from country to country. In the United
States, people tended to like roasted
meats such as galbi short ribs. They also
liked bibimbap, chicken galbi, sliced
roast beef and pajeon (green onion pan-
cakes). The Chinese liked samgyetang
(young chicken soup with ginseng),
tteokbokki, galbi jjim, sliced roast beef
and pajeon, while in Japan, bibimbap,
galbi, bulgogi, tteokbokki and seafood
pajeon were among the most popular.
In Vietnam, where Korean pop culture
has only recently become popular, gim-
bap, gujeolpan vegetable wraps, kimchi-
jeon pancakes, bibimbap and bulgogi
stew were popular.
“We are trying to make Korean food
more accessible to foreigners, so we are
experimenting with different flavors by
adjusting sweetness, saltiness and spici-
ness to fit the different tastes of non-
Koreans,” Kim said.
The effort to globalize Korean food
is not only driven by the government
but also by the private sector, which is
putting a unique spin on local cuisine to
generate more interest.
The Grand Café at the Grand Inter-
Continental Seoul held its Kimchi Fes-
tival from Nov. 16 to 21 as part of this
effort. A total of 22 kinds of kimchi —
even some using seaweed and apples
— were served at a buffet along with
meals such as rolls, steamed and stir-
fried dishes, beef skewers, cannelloni
and kimchi-inspired desserts. Portable
one-bite “mini-roll pork kimchi” and
Bordeaux kimchi with a gorgeous wine
color were also served.
“Kimchi is a great ingredient for
Korean food, but it can also be used
effectively in Western cuisines and even
in desserts,” said Bae Han-chul, the
director of kitchens at the hotel.
Meanwhile, Pierre Gagnaire Seoul, a
restaurant in the Lotte Hotel, developed
fusion Korean-French dishes to cele-
brate the hotel’s 30th anniversary in
October. The restaurant, named after
the Michelin three-star French chef
Pierre Gagnaire, used bean paste mixed
with olive oil to create a dressing for an
herb salad and whipped up various new
flavors using kimchi and black garlic.
These creations were part of a course
menu called “Homage à Seoul.”
Since Gagnaire himself doesn’t live
in Seoul, Jerome Roy, the restaurant’s
32-year-old head chef, directed the pro-
cess. Some of his signature creations for
the anniversary menu included French-
style kimchi and foie gras toast.
“I tried to keep the sourness and
crunchiness of kimchi, while also trying
to make it go well with French cuisine,”
Roy said in an interview in September.
Such experiments with fusion could
gain traction in the coming years, with
the Seoul government and the Food
Ministry enlisting foreign chefs to help.
They were behind the 2009 Amazing
Korean Table, a festival held from Oct.
28 to Nov. 1 to introduce the world to
Korean cuisine and fusion dishes pre-
pared by talented chefs young and old.
The four chefs invited to participate
were Massimo Bottura, the owner of the
Michelin two-star restaurant Osteria
Francescana in Italy; Luke Dale-Rob-
erts, who was named South Africa’s chef
of the year and is the top chef La
Colombe; Pierre Gagnaire himself, and
Makgeolli Bibimbap Galbi jjim
Types of Korean foods favored in four different countries
United States
China
Japan
Vietnam
galbi (short ribs), bibimbap, chicken galbi, sliced roast beef, and pajeon (green onion pancake)
mixed with kimchi, seafood and cheese.
Samgyetang (young chicken soup with ginseng), tteokbokki, galbi jjim, sliced roast beef, pajeon
bibimbap, galbi, bulgogi, tteokbokki, seafood pajeon
Source: Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation
gimbap (dried seaweed rolls), gujeolpan (vegetable wrap), kimchijeon (kimchi pancake), bibimbap, bulgogi
Types of Korean foods favored in four different countries
December 2009 korea 21
News in Focus
Corey Lee, head chef at the Michelin
three-star restaurant French Laundry in
Napa Valley, California.
Lee said one of the most popular
dishes at his restaurant is an acorn pud-
ding. “Whenever my grandmother vis-
ited us, she made acorn jelly,” Lee said in
an interview. Lee emigrated to the Unit-
ed States from Korea when he was 7
years old. “The taste of Korean food still
influences me as a cook.” He said he cre-
ates his own cuisine by combining mul-
tinational materials and techniques.
For the 2009 Amazing Korean Table,
he served a Korean-style porridge made
with pumpkin, rice and mushroom. “It
is important to reinterpret and recreate
Korean food materials and tastes,” Lee
said. “Rather than introducing a hand-
ful of Korean foods to the world, we
should integrate the elements of Korean
food with international cuisines.”
Bottura, 47, said he had never tasted
Korean food before taking part in the
event. “Korean food is similar to Italian
food because garlic is used a lot for both
types,” he said. “It’s interesting that there
are many fermented foods in Korean
cuisine.” Bottura made a bean soup with
doenjang (soybean paste) and beef mar-
inated in black garlic sauce.
On Nov. 6, the globalization cam-
paign spread to a bar near Hongik Uni-
versity in central Seoul. This time the
target was makgeolli, traditional Korean
rice wine, which was served with Italian
dishes, under the direction of Italian
Promotions
range from
high-brow
fusion dinners
to makgeolli
wine tastings
at bars near
Hongik
University.
chef Giuseppe Barone.
Barone said the first Korean food or
drink he tasted when he came to Korea
was makgeolli. He described it as having
a natural, elegant but slightly bitter fla-
vor and a sweet aftertaste. According to
Barone, Italian food goes well with mak-
geolli because it is not very spicy.
Asked whether Europeans would
like makgeolli, he said, “Of course,” but
added, “We cannot recommend makge-
olli just because it is good. We must
explain why and take things a step at a
time.”
Makgeolli is experiencing a come-
back here, outselling beer and sake in
branches of Lotte Department Store,
while in Japan, makgeolli is enjoying
huge popularity, absorbing 86.8 percent
of all Korean exports of the drink.
“Even on the trendy streets of Shin-
juku in Tokyo, makgeolli bars have
opened recently,” said Yasushi Hatta, a
33-year-old Japanese food columnist, in
an e-mail. “There are not only makge-
olli cocktails but also fruit makgeolli.”
Kooksoondang Brewery’s makgeolli
has even been offered to passengers on
Asiana Airlines flights between Korea
and Japan since October.
But traditional wines still account
for only 3.6 percent of the alcoholic bev-
erage market here. The Korean govern-
ment intends to contribute 133 billion
won in subsidies to makers of tradition-
al wines in the next five years to change
that. By Limb Jae-un
Gimbap Sinseollo
French-style kimchi and foie gras toast made
by Jerome Roy, the chef at Pierre Gagnaire
Seoul in the Lotte Hotel
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22 korea December 2009
Korea to Play Bridging Role
Lee pledges policies to narrow global economic gap at APEC summit
A
t the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum sum-
mit in Singapore, Korean
President Lee Myung-bak
and other Pacific Rim leaders endorsed
the goals of “strong, sustainable and bal-
anced growth.” President Lee also
pledged that Korea, as the chair country
of the Group of 20 summit in 2011, will
act as a bridge between the APEC econ-
omies and the G-20 next year.
Lee began his three-day trip for the
meeting by attending the APEC CEO
summit on Nov. 13. He delivered a key-
note address on Asia’s growth strategy
in the post-crisis period, particularly
focusing on measures taken to make the
most of the G-20 process.
The leaders’ summit took place over
the weekend of Nov. 14 and 15.
The president’s spokeswoman, Kim
Eun-hye, said, “It is meaningful that
Lee, as the chairman of the G-20 next
year, has brought about cooperative ties
between APEC and the G-20 and estab-
lished a framework for substantial dis-
cussions about how economies can
overcome the economic crisis.”
According to Kim, nine G-20 mem-
bers are also APEC members. “While
the G-20 deals with macroeconomic
policy for the global economy, APEC is
more focused on the trade environ-
ment,” she said. “At the first session of
APEC, President Lee focused on trade
and investment liberalization.”
Lee called for a regional economic
community that would enhance coop-
eration in economic recovery efforts.
According to Cheong Wa Dae, the
Korean presidential office, Lee pro-
posed that the APEC leaders launch
discussions for a Free Trade Area of the
Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP.
Suggested in a joint analytical study
by Korea, Australia and New Zealand, a
FTAAP would create a free trade zone
that could expand commerce and eco-
nomic growth in the region. The APEC
leaders, in their joint statement, admit-
ted that the preliminary study shows
there are “significant economic bene-
fits” from a FTAAP and that they would
continue to seek building blocks for one
in the future.
Lee also pressed for an early conclu-
sion of the Doha Development Agenda
trade negotiations at the World Trade
Organization and said the “most effec-
tive” way to fight trade protectionism is
to promote free trade, according to
Cheong Wa Dae.
Kim said President Lee also wrapped
up the second session at the request of
the APEC host nation, Singapore. Pres-
ident Lee urged the Pacific Rim leaders
to implement the agreements of the
previous London and Pittsburgh G-20
summits.
At next year’s G-20 summit, Lee
said, “We would come up with the most
efficient ways to narrow the gap between
the rising economies and the developed
nations.”
During his stay in Singapore, Lee
also met with Korean residents and
businessmen on Nov. 14. At a Singapore
hotel, Lee said the Korean economy
would grow by up to 5 percent next
year.
By Ser Myo-ja
Korean President Lee Myung-bak, second
from left, attends the APEC summit at the
Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore Nov. 15. [
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Diplomacy
December 2009 korea 23
Allies Tackle Myriad Issues
At Seoul summit, Lee and Obama discuss talks with North Korea, FTA
A
t a summit held in Seoul on Nov.
19, President Lee Myung-bak and
U.S. President Barack Obama
vowed to share a commitment to
break the past pattern of rewarding Pyongyang
for provocative behavior.
The two leaders also promised efforts to
seek ratification of a bilateral free trade agree-
ment that was signed in 2007. Marking the 60th
anniversary of the Korean War next year, Lee
and Obama also announced plans to hold for-
eign and defense ministers’ talks next year to
upgrade the two countries’ alliance.
“The summit truly showed the close friend-
ship and trust between Lee and Obama,” said
Lee Dong-kwan, Lee’s public affairs senior sec-
retary. “They had candid and in-depth discus-
sions on a wide range of issues, and the atmo-
sphere was extremely amicable.”
The Nov. 19 summit was Lee and Obama’s
third bilateral meeting.
Following a summit that lasted more than
an hour, Lee and Obama addressed the press at
the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae. “We
will be sending Ambassador [Stephen] Bos-
worth to North Korea on Dec. 8 to engage in
direct talks with the North Koreans,” Obama
told the media. It was the first time that the
United States had made public the date of the
mission, aimed at persuading North Korea to
return to the six-party talks.
“I am satisfied that South Korea and the
United States are cooperating more closely
than ever in resolving the North Korea nuclear
issue,” President Lee said, adding that he and
Obama have agreed to resolve the situation
through a comprehensive “grand bargain.”
“The thing I want to emphasize is that Pres-
ident Lee and I both agree that we want to break
the pattern that has existed in the past, in which
North Korea behaves in a provocative fashion,
and then is willing to return to talks for a while
and then leaves the talks and then that leads to
seeking further concessions,” Obama said.
Lee said North Korea will face a new future
if it takes the grand bargain offer, in which
Pyongyang’s nuclear arms programs will be
exchanged for massive economic aid and nor-
mal ties with the international community.
In addition to the nuclear impasse with
North Korea, Lee and Obama also addressed
the sensitive issue of trade liberalization
between the two countries.
“President Obama and I reconfirmed the
economic and strategic importance of the
Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and agreed to
work together to move the trade deal forward,”
Lee said.
The FTA was signed by the previous admin-
istrations in 2007. The last step to liberalize
trade between Korea and the United States is
ratification by their respective legislatures.
Obama said a team had been created under
his administration to remove obstacles. “Amer-
ican companies and workers are very confident
in our ability to compete,” Obama said. “And we
recognize that there is not only an economic,
but a strategic interest in expanding our ties to
South Korea.”
President Lee also said he is aware of the
U.S. business community and Congress’s con-
cerns about automobile industry linked with
the free trade agreement. “In Korea, those in
the service and agricultural industries oppose
the FTA, but we are pushing it forward because
it will benefit bilateral trade,” Lee said. “If the
automobiles are a problem, we are willing to
talk about it. The European Union is a major
automaker, but we signed an FTA with them.”
The U.S. president also said he discussed
global issues, including Seoul’s hosting of the
G-20 summit and Korea’s participation in the
global efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, with Lee.
Climate change and clean energy were also dis-
cussed, Obama said, praising Korea’s recent
voluntary announcement of greenhouse gas
emission cuts by 2020.
Lee and Obama talked for more than an
hour at the summit with only a few key aides
accompanying them, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, Trade Min-
ister Kim and Senior Secretary for Economic
24 korea December 2009
Next to President Lee Myung-
bak, left, U.S. President Ba-
rack Obama shakes hands
with a child during a wel-
come ceremony at Chong
Wa Dae on Nov. 19.
Affairs Yoon Jin-sik were among the Korean
aides who attended.
Obama was accompanied by Susan Rice,
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Larry
Summers, director of the National Economic
Council; Deputy National Security Adviser
Tom Donilon; Assistant Secretary of State Kurt
Campbell, and Jeff Bader, the senior director for
Asian affairs at the National Security Council.
The two leaders continued talks at a work-
ing luncheon with more officials present.
Obama said he was a fan of Korean culture and
barbecue. Cheong Wa Dae served the U.S.
guests a Korean bulgogi dish and California
wine.
Obama was also given a taekwondo uni-
form and books featuring Korean art and cul-
ture, Cheong Wa Dae said. By Ser Myo-ja
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Diplomacy
December 2009 korea 25
P
resident Barack Obama of the
United States has made his
first trip to Asia, including
visits to the two U.S. allies
Japan and South Korea, a stop at the
multilateral Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum summit held in Sin-
gapore, and a rather lengthy stay in
China, the fast emerging great power.
In Japan, he made a speech with his
characteristic eloquence. While empha-
sizing his Asian heritage, President
Obama called the U.S. an Asia-Pacific
nation and defined the Pacific Ocean as
binding, not separating the two. In the
general spirit of engagement and prag-
matic diplomacy, he declared the emerg-
ing China not a country to contain but
one whose success will strengthen the
world.
The rhetoric aside, it was apparent
that he came to Asia with two goals in
mind — opening Asian markets to
American products and harnessing the
emergent power of China to buttress
America’s global leadership.
Many, Americans and others alike,
have lamented the waning of American
leadership, the cornerstone of peace and
prosperity in the world for a century,
due to the diminishing popularity of the
U.S. worldwide and the global econom-
ic recession originating on Wall Street.
President Obama has worked hard
to renew American leadership with two
approaches. The first is his remarkable
vision of a new world, free from nuclear
weapons and the threat of climate
change, which earned him the Nobel
Peace Prize. The second is the policy of
global engagement of friends and foes
alike. At the core of global engagement
stands China.
In Obama’s eyes, the financial crisis
was due to the huge imbalance in global
trade as much as it was due to flawed
Dr. Taehyun Kim is a professor of international relations at the
Graduate School of International Studies, and director of the
Center for the Study of Grand Strategy, both at Chung-Ang
University in Seoul, Korea.
Dr. Taehyun Kim
Obama in the New Asia
Amid challenges, the U.S. president finds his best reception in Korea
regulation of the financial system. Given
that Asian countries reap much of
America’s trade deficit, particularly
China and Japan, President Obama
would define his trip to Asia, including
the primarily economic forum of APEC,
as a market opening mission. It is too
early to judge the cost-benefit balance of
his trip. But in short run, he must have
been disappointed. What he found was
indeed a new Asia. Japan, a new govern-
ment for the first time in half a country,
was no longer as receptive to American
words as before. Prime Minister Hatoya-
ma was determined to shatter the image
of Japan as a junior partner.
In China, his balance sheet seems
filled with red ink. Despite the tribute he
paid to Beijing, including on sensitive
territorial issues, Chinese leaders polite-
ly declined an invitation to a “G-2” club
of equal status with the global leader the
U.S., which ironically signified the
enhanced status of a China that can say
no to Washington.
However, President Obama finished
his trip in an upbeat mood, as he found
the most receptive ears in South Korea.
Even before his arrival, President Lee
Myung-bak extended a warm welcome
by deciding to send troops to Afghani-
stan, a huge piece of symbolic support
for America’s war effort, and by setting
an ambitious target for reducing green-
house gas emissions, another major tenet
of President Obama’s global agenda.
During the amicable meeting, the
presidents of the two allies agreed to a
joint effort to denuclearize the Korean
Peninsula through a “grand bargain”
with North Korea’s leadership. Although
the idea of a comprehensive approach
may not seem noble, the agreement
looms large because of the changed con-
text.
With its second nuclear test in May,
North Korea put itself under siege, with
stiff sanctions from the international
community in UN Resolution 1874. To
President Obama, a Nobel laureate for
his vision of a nuclear free world, North
Korea’s nuclear challenge is no longer an
isolated regional security issue, but an
integral part of his grand vision.
In such a context, the allies of Korea
and the U.S. may frame a policy that
would make Pyongyang’s weapons pro-
gram more of a burden than an asset.
South Korean people are anxious to see
how it works out, starting with Ambas-
sador Bosworth’s visit to Pyongyang in
December.
Meanwhile, they were disappointed
as President Obama failed to make a
concrete commitment to ratification of
the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Even those who understand that ratify-
ing the agreement is the job of Congress,
not the president, may think their good-
will was not duly reciprocated.
Still, this is a new Asia in a new
world. Reciprocity may work in a more
diffuse way, across issues over time. Be
patient, Koreans!
26 korea December 2009
Korea Pledges Aid, Training
K
orea vowed to increase its
aid to African nations and
cooperate on environment-
friendly growth at a high-
level forum held in Seoul in November.
The African Union and Korea
cosponsored the second Korea-Africa
Forum in Seoul on Nov. 24. Representa-
tives from 15 African nations, led by
Gabon’s Jean Ping, current chair of the
African Union, took part in the event,
which featured meetings on such topics
as development and partnerships for
green growth.
Representatives adopted the 2009
Seoul Declaration, in which Korea
pledged to double its aid to Africa by
2012. Last year, Korea provided $107.1
million in aid to Africa. As part of the
declaration, Korea and Africa reaf-
firmed their support for an expanded
UN role in a more globalized world and
for international efforts to fight terror-
ism, and called for the Group of 20 to
strengthen its role as a forum for inter-
national economic cooperation.
The forum also produced two policy
papers. In the first, called “Framework
for Korea-Africa Development Coop-
eration 2009-2012,” Korea pledged to
accept 5,000 trainees from Africa and to
send more than 1,000 Korean volun-
teers to the continent between now and
2012. The African trainees would learn
more about Korea’s development expe-
rience, while the volunteers would help
with infrastructure and vocational
training, among others.
In the second paper, titled “Korea-
Africa Green Growth Initiative 2009-
2012,” the two sides agreed to expand
bilateral and multilateral dialogue on
low-carbon, eco-friendly growth. They
also pledged to cooperate in exploring
clean development mechanism projects
and share policies and technologies to
adapt to climate change.
Organizers in Seoul had been push-
ing this year’s forum as an opportunity
for Korea to strengthen its partnership
with Africa to expand its role as a global
player. Korean Foreign Minister Yu
Myung-hwan said the forum was also
“an avenue for strengthening Korea’s
bilateral relations with individual Afri-
can countries.”
Before a dinner on Nov. 24, Yu said,
“Korea-Africa relations are entering a
new phase. Korea has established full
diplomatic relations with all African
countries.”
He added, “The Seoul Declaration
and the policy papers we have adopted
are sure to provide a valuable frame-
work for strengthening cooperation
between Korea and Africa in the years
ahead.” The Korea-Africa Forum
became a regular event as a followup to
Korea’s Initiative for Africa’s Develop-
ment, announced March 2006. The first
forum was staged in November that
year, with five heads of state in atten-
Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, front row center, and
foreign ministers from African nations participating in the Korea-
Africa Forum hold hands for a photo on Nov. 24 at the Lotte Hotel
in Seoul.
December 2009 korea 27
Diplomacy
dance. Under the initiative, Korea
declared it would triple its development
assistance to Africa by 2008 and would
continue to aid African nations in
improving health care, labor skills and
agricultural productivity.
Korea fell just short of its monetary
target — the figure jumped 2.5 times
from 2005 to 2008 — but it has sent
about 900 volunteers to the continent to
share their know-how and also wel-
comed 2,000 African trainees to Korea
to study its economic rise.
There are also strategic goals for
Korea in its attempt to get closer to Afri-
ca, because of its massive oil reserves
and natural resources. According to the
Foreign Ministry in Seoul, Africa is
home to 125 billion barrels of crude oil,
or about 10 percent of world reserves.
About 23 percent of all uranium reserves
in the world can be found in Africa.
Korea’s neighbors have long tried to
forge ties with Africa. Japan launched
the Tokyo International Conference on
African Development in 1993 and has
staged the event every five years. Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama recently told
the United Nations General Assembly
that Japan intends to strengthen the
TICAD process. At last year’s confer-
ence, Japan pledged $4 billion in ODA
loans by the end of 2012 to help improve
road networks and traffic infrastructure
on the continent.
China has forgiven about $100 mil-
lion in debt from African nations since
2000. President Hu Jintao and Premier
Wen Jiabao make regular trips to the
continent to pursue the right to develop
natural resources there in exchange for
massive aid. The Forum on China-Afri-
ca Cooperation, with heads of state in
attendance, has been held every three
years since 2000. Asked if Korea was
lagging behind, Lee Wook-heon, head
of the team organizing the forum at the
Foreign Ministry, said Korea will soon
catch up and even surpass others in its
relations with Africa.
“Our approach is different in that
we’re trying to share our development
experience with Africa [rather than
simply providing aid],” he said. “That
way, hopefully we can get closer to Afri-
ca than others.” A senior Foreign Min-
istry official privy to African-related
affairs said the forum gave Korea an
opportunity to review the status of its
partnership with Africa.
“At first, the African Union was hes-
itant to build relations with Korea,” the
official said. “Our aid to Africa isn’t
enormous by any means, but, gradually,
they grew to recognize our accomplish-
ments in economic development.”
The official said the Korean govern-
ment would also consider holding mul-
tilateral summit meetings with African
leaders “if we feel they can lead us to a
more effective partnership.”
By Yoo Jee-ho
at 2nd Africa Forum in Seoul
Korea’s trade volume
with Africa (Unit: billion dollar)
Korea’s trade volume with Africa
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Source: UN Population Fund
13.4
5.1
8.5
9.1
12.1
12.6
Source: Korea International Trade Association
About the continent of Africa
Number of countries
Population
Total GDP
53
1 billion
$1.3 trillion
[
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28 korea December 2009
T
he global debate over an
alternative to gross domestic
product as a measure of
social advancement may
sound like a distant issue to you and me,
busy making enough money to keep up
with the Kims.
But what if that debate could cure
your jealousy of your neighbors without
you having to work dozens of hours a
week in a gray-walled office? What if the
government, instead of pushing the idea
of raising the GDP on its citizens, put
your happiness first?
That dream was part of the reason
for the third gathering of the World
Forum of the Organization for Eco-
nomic Cooperation and Development,
held in Busan Oct. 27 to 30.
The event, cosponsored by Statistics
Korea, the state-run agency known until
recently as the National Statistical
Office, was a chance for countries across
the globe to discuss the latest research
into non-GDP metrics. A total of 2,024
people from 78 countries, from govern-
ment administrators and politicians to
academics and civic group members
attended, according to Statistics Korea.
“Much discussion of the issue took
place at the Busan forum,” said Kim Sul-
hee, director general of Statistics Korea
and secretary of the agency’s 3rd OECD
World Forum Planning and Prepara-
tion Team.
The criticism of the GDP standard
implicit in the event’s theme is not a new
phenomenon.
Since as early as the 1970s, econo-
mists and politicians have spoken out
about the many aspects of socity left out
by the index, which was developed after
the Great Depression. Robert Kennedy,
former U.S. attorney general and broth-
er of U.S. President John F. Kennedy,
once said the gross national product, a
relative of the GDP, “measures every-
thing, in short, except that which makes
life worthwhile.”
But effort to find alternatives did not
seriously gain traction until the early
2000s, when the OECD picked up the
issue and began a worldwide quest for a
solution. That vision was part of the rea-
son to establish the OECD World
Forum, which had its inaugural meeting
in 2004 in Italy and second such event
in 2007 in Turkey.
The commission of international
research set up by President Nicolas
Sarkozy of France in February last year
added momentum to the search. A team
of renowned economists from several
countries joined together on Sarkozy’s
Stiglitz Commission, named after the
scholar leading the team, Joseph Stiglitz,
a Nobel laureate in economics and a
Columbia University professor.
In September, the commission
announced a midterm report on its
research activities. Titled “The Mea-
surement of Economic Performance
and Social Progress,” the report dis-
cussed what kind of data might be add-
ed to the traditional GDP model and
how.
Some expected the latest OECD
World Forum in the southern Korean
port city to produce a substantial break-
through, such as the announcement of a
new indicator to replace the GDP.
It didn’t. But Kim at Statistics Korea
said the Busan event still marked a
major step forward from previous dis-
cussions of the issue.
“At the first OECD World Forum in
Italy, the world only agreed upon the
necessity to discuss an alternative to the
GDP, and at the second one in Turkey,
they began to discuss what to do to
make countries commit to the mission,”
Kim said. “But at the third event in
Busan, the countries proved that they
are really working hard by bringing up
the results of the latest research each of
them conducted and actively exchang-
OECD Forum Experts Seek
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Diplomacy
People attending the third
OECD World Forum held in
Busan Oct. 27 to 30 listen to
speakers on how to develop
an alternative metric to gross
domestic product. A total of
2,024 people — government
administrators, politicians,
academics and civic group
members from 78 countries
— participated in the event,
according to Statistics Korea,
a cosponsor of the event.
ing data.”
The indicators hotly debated at the
event, according to Statistics Korea,
included disparity in the distribution of
wealth, depletion of natural resources,
the underground economy and the
overall quality of goods and services.
Participating researchers also offered
studies on how to include security, lei-
sure time and public services in social
metrics. More subjective evaluations
like balance of time, health and educa-
tion were also called for.
Stiglitz stressed the urgency of get-
ting beyond GDP, saying the traditional
accounting has blinded the world to the
full brunt of the global financial crisis.
He argued that the U.S. consumption
boom between 2003 and 2007 was based
on a GDP increase built in part on
debt.
“In an increasingly performance-
oriented society, metrics matters —
what we measure affects what we do,”
said Stiglitz in a speech at the Busan
event. “If we have the wrong metrics, we
will strive for the wrong things. In a
quest for an increase in GDP, we may
New Metric to Replace GDP
Joseph Stiglitz, center, the Nobel laureate in economics who heads the Stiglitz Commission,
addresses the third Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development World Forum
held in Busan Oct. 27-30.
end up with a society in which citizens
are worse off.”
OECD Secretary-General Angel
Gurria also assessed the Busan event as
“important step forward in an ambi-
tious agenda to provide guidance on
better measures and methodologies for
lasting progress,” according to the
OECD Web site.
Gurria also drew attention to a fur-
ther debate on how to measure “green
growth,” a sector in which Korea has
taken a leading role with its five-year,
107 trillion won ($93 billion) green
growth initiative.
The Korean government said it will
try to live up to expectations by collabo-
rating with other countries in coming
up with green growth statistics. In a
speech during the event, President Lee
Myung-bak promised the government
will develop statistics regarding global
warming, greenhouse gas emissions
and quality of life.
“Many local research institutes have
already been doing research to develop
alternatives to GDP for many years,”
said Kim at Statistics Korea. “We hope
the hosting of the Busan event will pro-
vide momentum for such research to be
accelerated and supported.”
By Moon Gwang-lip
30 korea December 2009
Five former Peace Corps volunteers in Korea pose for a photo during their recent visit to the country as part of a government-organized reunion
in October. From left: Jon Keeton, Jerome Raik, Bill Harwood, Richard Christenson and Kevin O’Donnell.
“A
sk not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country.”
The words from that historic inaugural
speech by the 35th U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, are
still considered among the most inspiring ever direct-
ed at America’s youth by their government.
And more than 1,800 Americans who heeded Ken-
nedy’s call came to Korea from 1966 to 1981 as part of
the Peace Corps, helping rebuild after the ravages of
the Korean War (1950-1953), providing health care,
education and other services. For many, the experi-
ence changed their lives, and for a few, this unfamiliar
land in need of help became a second home.
Recently, in the last week of October, a group of
more than 70 of these men and women returned to
Seoul with their families for the third local Peace Corps
reunion, following the first in October last year and the
second in July this year — all at the initiative of the
Korean government. President Lee Myung-bak
pledged to hold the reunions in a speech at a meet-
ing hosted by the New York-based Korea
Society during Lee’s visit to the U.S. in
April last year.
“Before I came to Korea, I had never left
America,” said Bill Harwood, who was one
of the group of Peace Corps Korea volunteers
who recently returned to the country. Harwood first
came to Korea in 1975 and taught English at Kaesung
Boys Middle School in Busan for two years. “I was just
a small boy from a small state, Connecticut. Coming
to Korea opened my eyes to the world. I think we as
volunteers gained as much or even more than we
Thanking Those
Who Answered
Peace’s Call
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December 2009 korea 31
gave.”
Jerome and Barrie-Lynn Raik also
got more than they bargained for when
they came to Yecheon-gun, Gyeong-
sangbuk-do Province, as Peace Corps
volunteers in 1967 shortly after getting
married when they were 20 years old.
The Raiks were originally volunteers
teaching Korean students English, but
they ended up doing much more than
that, saving a Korean girl’s life — which
in turn changed their lives.
Suk-hee, the 8-year-old daughter of
the couple’s host family, had a heart dis-
order and needed surgery. When the
couple’s Peace Corps term ended in
1969, the Raiks decided to take the girl
back with them to New York, where
they believed she had a better chance at
receiving quality medical care.
“The hardest part of the process was
getting her a passport, because in those
days it was very difficult for Korean
people to get a passport issued by the
government,” Jerome Raik said. “The
operation had been performed three or
four times in Korea at the time, but no
one had survived. The hospital in New
York that we took Suk-hee to was per-
forming the operation six or seven times
a week and everyone survived ... so there
was no question that we thought it best
to take her to New York for it.”
It turned out to be the right move,
and the operation was a success. “She is
now living in Gimhae-si and we met her
during this visit,” he said. “We were
happy to see her having a wonderful life
now with her husband and two chil-
dren, running a music school.”
The experience also had a lasting
impact on Barrie-Lynn Raik, who even-
tually became a doctor and is currently
a professor of clinical medicine and
clinical public health at Weill Cornell
Medical College in New York.
“Barrie had no idea that she would
become a doctor before that,” Jerome
Raik said. “Suk-hee had these two wom-
en cardiologists [in the New York hos-
pital], and they took such good care of
her. These smart, confident women who
did this wonderful thing were a big part
of the inspiration behind Barrie’s deci-
sion to become a doctor.”
Kevin O’Donnell, the first country
director of Peace Corps Korea from
1966-1970 and the fourth director of
Peace Corps headquarters in Washing-
ton, D.C. in 1971 and 1972, said he was
amazed by how quickly Koreans picked
up the concept of volunteering.
“When we came here in the 1970s,
not many Koreans understood what
volunteerism meant,” O’Donnell said.
“They didn’t know why young Ameri-
can people like us came here, and there
was even suspicion that this was part of
the CIA and that we were spies or some-
thing. We even had to have a meeting
with a Korean government official, who
wanted to find out what we were doing
and why.”
Now, however, thousands of Kore-
ans are performing volunteer work in
other countries, providing many of the
same services that Americans offered
here decades ago.
“When Kennedy started the Peace
Corps, we as a nation were already 250
years old,” O’Donnell said. “It’s only
been about 50 years since the end of the
Korean War, and Korea has already
picked up the concept of volunteerism
and is now carrying it out, which I think
is amazing.” Many former Peace Corps
members in Korea have dedicated their
lives to foreign service. U.S. Ambassa-
dor to Korea Kathleen Stephens, for
instance, was in the Peace Corps here in
the mid-1970s.
“There’s a fair percentage — about
10 to 15 percent — of American diplo-
mats who served in the Peace Corps,”
said Richard Christenson, who came to
Korea in 1967 as a Peace Corps volun-
teer and taught English at Jeil Middle
School in Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
Province. Christenson spent more than
a third of his 35-year diplomatic career
in Korea, including a deputy post at the
U.S. Embassy in Seoul from 1996 to
2000.
Meanwhile, the group Friends of
Korea was formed in 2000 to connect
nearly 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers
who served in Korea and to promote
amity between the two countries. The
group is now working with the Korean
government, which plans to continue
the reunions once or twice a year until
at least 2013.
Friends of Korea recently published
the book Through Our Eyes: Peace Corps
in Korea, 1966-1981, which chronicles
the experiences of volunteers and the
transformation of the country in pic-
tures. By Park Sun-young
U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kath-
leen Stephens poses with Yesan
Middle School students in Chun-
gcheongnam-do Province during
her stint here as a Peace Corps
volunteer in the mid-1970s.
Bill Harwood in 1975 when he
worked as an English teacher at
Kaesung Boys Middle School in
Busan.
Peace Corps volunteers participate
in a health education program at
a village in Gyeongsangnam-do
Province in 1981.
A girl receives a tuberculosis vac-
cination at a middle school in
Seoul in 1972. At the time, there
were many tuberculosis patients
around the country.
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32 korea December 2009
M
uhammad Haya traveled from
England to Korea late last year,
along with five of his friends. They
boarded a cab at Incheon International Airport
and asked to go to the Islamic Mosque in
Itaewon, downtown Seoul. But Haya and com-
pany had trouble communicating with the taxi
driver.
The driver soon handed over his mobile
phone to Haya, and the Arabic language coming
out of the receiver was music to his ears. Thanks
to the remote interpreter, the driver and Haya’s
group settled on the fare to the mosque and
then back to the airport. The driver even agreed
to wait for Haya to finish his business free of
charge.
The grateful Haya asked the if the person
on the phone worked at the mosque. “No, I am
just a bbb volunteer,” the person answered.
That acronym stands for Before Babel Bri-
gade, named for the Biblical story about the fall
of the Tower of Babel, in which humanity
shared a common tongue. The volunteer group
based in Seoul provides around-the-clock
interpretive services in 17 different languages
from all corners of the world. Those having
difficulty communicating during their stay in
Korea — with a taxi driver, a vendor at a mar-
ket, anyone — can dial 1588-5644 and press a
number assigned to each of the following lan-
guages: English, Japanese, Chinese, French,
Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, Portuguese,
Arabic, Polish, Turkish, Swedish, Thai, Viet-
namese, Indonesian and Bahasa Malaysia. The
Translation on a Biblical Scale
Foreigners having difficulty communicating during their
stay in Korea can ask Koreans on the street to get inter-
pretive services in 17 different languages of bbb.
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December 2009 korea 33
increased, bbb’s service has grown more diverse.
A Korean groom called up for a crash course on
the Chinese language, as he was getting ready
to wed a Chinese woman. Another Korean man
married to a Chinese woman relayed his
apologies through a volunteer after a botched
date. The bride told her husband that everything
was okay — through the volunteer, of course.
It’s no coincidence that the volunteers
include retired diplomats, foreign college
graduates and holders of certificates for
simultaneous interpretation.
Lee Gye-yeon, who translates Arabic, often
handles delicate situations. The Korea
Immigration Service asks for her help often
when officers see foreigners with suspicious
backgrounds whose English skills are limited.
“There really are people with vague
purposes for their visits,” Lee said. “My job is
to prevent potential dangers, and I think it s
very important to do that.”
Lee Joo-young, secretary-general at bbb,
said some foreign language high schools have
asked if their students can sign up as volunteers,
but only those over the age of 19 can become
volunteers.
“You often have to deal with contingencies
and have to have some negotiation skills,” Lee
said. “So it’s not appropriate for adolescents. But
what’s really important is to have the mind-set
to serve the people and represent Korea [to
foreigners].” By Yoo Jee-ho
caller will then be automatically connected to
the mobile phone of an interpreter.
And the service isn’t just for foreigners.
Since 2006, it has even offered interpretation
for Koreans calling from outside the country.
The service dates back to the 2002 FIFA
World Cup, co-hosted by Korea and Japan. For
over two months before, during and after the
World Cup, volunteer translators handled
nearly 25,000 requests, according to bbb’s Web
site, www.bbbkorea.org.
The organizers have agreements with a
wide range of agencies, from the Seoul
Metropolitan Government to the National
Police Agency and the Korean Olympic
Committee, and about 3,200 volunteer
interpreters. The eclectic group includes former
high-ranking diplomats, retired and active
professors and undergraduate and graduate
students. In 2004, bbb took 5,000 calls for help,
but the figure soared to 32,000 last year. It’s
expected to reach 50,000 this year.
Early on, bbb volunteers mostly helped
visitors find accommodations and talk to cab
drivers. But there are more bizarre stories too:
There was a woman in the last month of her
pregnancy who visited an art college because
she wanted to have a cast made of her belly, and
a vegetarian American who ordered the wrong
pizza and ended up eating just the crust.
And as the number of migrant workers and
foreign women marrying Korean men has
The bbb took
just 5,000
calls in 2004,
but that figure
is expected to
hit 50,000
this year.
Staff and members of bbb engage in
promotional activities to let foreigners
know about bbb’s translation services.
34 korea December 2009
Looking After God’s Children
Choi In-ho, a member of Korea Food for the
Hungry International talks with children of
poverty ridden village in Kenya.
W
hy help the needy overseas
when there are still thou-
sands in need of help here?
That’s a question that might be on any
Korean’s mind, watching local volun-
teers leaving for countries in Africa and
Asia.
But Korea Food for the Hungry
International, a Seoul-based nongov-
ernment relief organization, provides
an answer. If leading economies in the
West had refrained from giving aid to
less developed countries until they had
resolved all their own problems, Korea
could never have recovered from the
rubble of the Korean War in the 1950s
and become the world’s 13
th
-largest
economy. Now it is Korea’s turn to give
back, says Chung Jung-sup, one of the
founding members and the fourth
chairman of the Christian NGO.
At a ceremony held in western Seoul,
the 68-year-old head said, “When we
were starting out 20 years ago, we had
no office of our own. We started out
with just one worker, one desk and one
telephone. Since then, we have sent 759
volunteers to some 70 countries around
the world, delivering food and the word
of God.” Chung expressed his hope that
the organization will be able to send
over 1,000 volunteers by 2010. He also
wishes to see local Food for the Hungry
divisions in 160 countries across the
globe by 2030.
Chung says that by giving out food,
his organization is conveying a message
of love, thus helping the needy survive
and have agency. It runs what it calls the
Child Development Program in coun-
tries across Asia, Europe, Africa and
America, sending not only food but also
Global Korea
December 2009 korea 35
volunteers to build schools, teach and help local
citizens.
As part of the program, Korean supporters
can form individual connections with specific
children to communicate with them and offer
aid. The NGO has also been developing wells to
supply clean water, training farmers, developing
agricultural areas and dispatching doctors.
The head of KFHI, Chung Jung-
sup is giving tips about cultivat-
ing crops to an African farmer.
(left)
A Korean medical staff dis-
patched by the organization
is treating patient in Uganda.
(far left)
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When a strong earthquake rattled a village
on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, in early
October, the organization dispatched medical
staff to treat the injured. Earlier this year, Food
for the Hungry finished digging a well in a
town in Kenya, resolving a water shortage.
What differentiates Korea Food for the
Hungry International from other relief organi-
zations is that it sends donations and other
funds directly to the people in charge of aid
programs overseas without going through any
international administrative body such as the
United Nations. By doing so, the organization
has minimized “indirect costs,” Chung says
proudly. He himself encourages the local divi-
sions he helped establishing to create their own
independent funding systems.
Korea Food for the Hungry International
was launched in 1989 as a Korean branch of
Food for the Hungry, which was established by
Dr. Larry Ward in 1971. It became the first
Korean aid group to help the needy abroad.
Chung set up the group after retiring as an
executive at the Federation of Korean Indus-
tries, a business lobby. Inspired by a Christian
minister and the organization’s present direc-
tor, Yoon Nam-joong, Chung gave up his plan
to leave for Japan as a Christian missionary
with his wife and instead established KFHI.
The group started with seed money of $50,000
donated by a private relief group in Japan, and
Chung’s fund-raising efforts led to 180 million
won in donations in the initial year. Now the
organization runs on an annual budget of 100
billion won ($86 million).
KFHI turned its attention to the needy
inside the country in 1993. A year later, it start-
ed helping North Koreans, sending medical
equipment to a hospital in Pyongyang. So far,
11 billion won worth of aid has gone to the
North. Currently the group allocates about 70
percent of its annual budget to aid businesses
abroad and 30 percent to help inside Korea.
By Seo Ji-eun
36 korea December 2009
Outrunning Climate Change
36 korea December 2009
I
n a move to participate in the world’s
efforts to curb global warming, Korea has
decided to cut its greenhouse gas emis-
sions 4 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.
That year, Korea emitted 591.1 million tons
of carbon dioxide, taking the ninth position
among member countries of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Wind power is recommended for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while the total
energy consumption will be regulated sooner or later.
Japan
2007
Japan
2020
(Target)
Britain
2007
Korea
2007
Britain
2020
(Target)
Korea
2020
(Target)
786.37
1,236.34
523.01 400.61
to 457.84
488.71
430.95
to 448.91
786.37
1,236.34
523.01 400.61
to 457.84
488.71
430.95
to 448.91
CO2 emissions by country
(Unit: million tons)
Source: IEA *Only emissions from fuel consumption
Its emissions are expected to continue to
increase, reaching 813 million tons in 2020 at
the current rate. To accomplish a 4-percent
reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by
2020 would mean cutting 30 percent of current
estimated emissions in 2020.
Korea’s reduction target was set ahead of
the United Nations summit on climate change
in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, where
the world’s governments will begin negotiating
a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. It is the
strongest reduction target among developing
countries, when the European Union is now
asking developing countries to cut emissions
by 15 to 30 percent.
President Lee Myung-bak emphasized the
need for Korea to set an aggressive target in a
meeting with members of the Presidential
Committee on Green Growth in November.
“The business community is concerned
about the strong emission reduction goal, and
I agree that it shouldn’t hinder Korea’s econom-
ic growth,” Lee said. “However, it is important
to establish an ideal goal and try to achieve it.
If the goal is lowered, it will be hard to change
the people’s attitudes.”
Meanwhile, said Kim In-whan, chairman
of the Korean Society of Climate Change, “As
Korea fulfills its duty in accordance with its
economic status in the global community, it
will bring benefits to the country in the long
run.”
Experts say Korea’s voluntary greenhouse
gas reduction target will contribute to the nego-
tiations at the Copenhagen summit. The out-
look for a settlement is in doubt amid conflict
between developed and developing counties.
Developed countries argue that developing
countries such as China and India need to be
more aggressive in reducing carbon emissions,
while developing countries argue that more
advanced economies should cut their emis-
sions more drastically and provide financial
support to offset developing countries’ losses
from reductions.
The plan is part of a wider Korean cam-
paign to become a global leader in the green
economy.
At the Korea-ASEAN Commemorative
Summit held on Jeju-do island in early June,
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December 2009 korea 37
Green Growth
President Lee Myung –bak (center) emphasized “it is important to a establish higher goal and try to achieve it. If the goal is lowered, it will be
hard to change the people’s attitude”in the meeting of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth.
December 2009 korea 37
Green Growth
President Lee emphasized that the country and
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
should make joint efforts to fight climate change,
particularly in the areas of renewable energy
and eco-friendly technology.
During the summit, the leaders of ASEAN
praised Korea’s efforts to help East Asia grow in
an eco-friendly fashion, including the East Asia
Climate Partnership, which the Lee administra-
tion announced last year at the G8 Summit.
Under the partnership, Korea will invest $200
million over the next five years in projects to
help Southeast Asia’s emerging economies
reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Land, Transport
and Maritime Affairs has presented programs
focused on energy-efficient urban planning
including new construction and transportation
regulations. New buildings will gradually be
required to use less energy, and so-called “zero-
energy” construction will be required for all new
buildings beginning in 2025, the ministry said.
This means new buildings will have to supply
their own energy. Such buildings already exist,
making use of renewable energy systems such as
photovoltaic solar power modules on roofs.
Starting in 2010, each building’s total energy
consumption will be regulated and, beginning
in 2012, certificates of energy consumption will
be required as a part of real estate transactions.
Residential buildings will be required by law to
use 20 percent less energy for heating and cool-
ing by 2012.
Half of
Korea’s social
infrastructure
spending will
go to railroads
by 2020, from
29 percent
this year.
The Land Ministry said that the programs
would help lower buildings’ greenhouse gas
emissions to 31 percent below the levels that
would otherwise be reached in 2020.
But what about the transportation, the pri-
mary source of growth in greenhouse gas emis-
sions? The ministry said it would increase
investment in railways while reducing invest-
ment in roads.
Accordingly, the nation’s railroad network
will account for 50 percent of spending on total
social overhead capital in 2020 from the cur-
rent 29 percent, the ministry said, while invest-
ment in roads will decline to 40 percent of the
nation’s spending on total social infrastructure
in 2020 from the current 57.2 percent.
In addition, the ministry promises incen-
tives to companies that switch from using roads
to railways or maritime transportation for their
shipping, in a pilot program starting next
year.
Research and development for advanced
eco-friendly transportation technologies,
including those for next-generation bullet
trains that can operate at 400 kilometers (248.5
miles) per hour and magnetic levitation trains,
will be more active, the ministry said.
The series of measures will help reduce
greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation
sector by up to 37 percent from estimated 2020
levels, the ministry said, and will save about 7.2
trillion won ($6.21 billion) in energy costs
annually. By Koh So-young
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A view of the mega-mall Times Sqaure
in Yeongdeungpo area in southwestern
Seoul.
It’s Better Late Than Never
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December 2009 korea 39
Culture
As Koreans Head to the Mall
40 korea December 2009
A
day spent hanging out at a
mall may be as natural as tur-
key on Thanksgiving to
Americans, but in Korea it’s a
brand new trend, brought on by the
increase in leisure time afforded by the
five-day work week.
On a recent autumn weekend, Choi
Hyun-jin, 39, took a stroll in Times
Square, a mega-mall that opened in Sep-
tember in Yeongdeungpo-gu District,
southwestern Seoul. Compared to inde-
pendent shops or department stores,
she said, malls are more convenient in
that they are equipped with a variety of
facilities for shopping and entertain-
ment.
“I can shop for everything all at once,
which saves time for a person like me who works on
weekdays,” she said. “There is efficiency in spending
leisure time on one-stop service.”
Malls have become popular, local industry experts
say, because modern consumers under the pressure of
time can’t go from place to place looking for what they
need. Chances are, they can find everything in the mall,
from department store goods and discount store items
to books and gifts.
Times Square, the newest mega-mall in Korea,
includes a children’s theme park, a bookstore, a cinema,
a venue for meetings and weddings, a large discount
store, a hotel and a luxury fitness center. Dozens of
brands have stores there, from luxury to “fast fashion.”
There’s even an Internet-equipped lounge where
visitors can surf the Web while their families or friends
shop.
“Though Korea is not an early adopter of the ‘mall-
“It was about time a large-scale quality mall like this opened in Seoul,” said Kim Dam, the 44-year-old president
of Times Square. He spoke about his experience and the mall industry in Korea.
Q. Can you briefly define Times Square?
A. Times Square is an up-and-coming cultural community area in Seoul, which is unprecedented in the retail
industry. It is a high-tech, multi-complex attraction similar to Pacific Place in Hong Kong or Tokyo Midtown.
What’s unique about the complex is that each of the different stores is connected under the so-called
“malling” system, which naturally leads customers from one place to the other.
Q. You mentioned a “malling” system. What exactly is that?
A. The malling system doesn’t refer to a mall that has a hotel, department store, cinema, large
discount store and restaurants. It refers to the idea that visitors can visit one place and get access
to almost anything they want, conveniently. Such malls are common in the United States and
Japan, and they will also be common in Korea with the emerging of new consumer trends.
Interview
Kim Dam, president of Times Square
The exterior of the I’Park
Mall in Yongsan-gu District,
central Seoul. P
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December 2009 korea 41
Culture
ing’ trend that already exists in most
developed areas like the United States,
Europe, Japan and Hong Kong, the num-
ber of mallgoers in Korea is increasing as
the Korean economy advances,” said
Park Hee-jeong, an official at I’Park Mall
located in Yongsan-gu District, central
Seoul.
It is said that the shopping mall was
born in 1877, when a large outdoor mar-
ket was set up in front of a statue of Vic-
tor Emmanuel II in Milan, Italy. The
retail malls seen today date back to 1950s
America, when newly affluent families
moved to the suburbs and the concept of
the family car made the shopping center
concept viable.
When national income per person in
the United States and Japan reached over
$20,000 in 1988, mega-malls were a big
trend. This was the period when terms
like “malling,” “mallgoer,” and “mall
walking” entered the zeitgeist.
“Korea is following the same steps,”
Park said. “With Korea’s economy grow-
ing and its national income per capita on
the verge of reaching $20,000, there will
be more malls built.”
The Lotte World complex in Jamsil-
dong, southern Seoul, is thought to be
one of the first malls in Korea, opening
in 1988. The Coex Mall in Samseong-
dong and the Central City complex built
around the Express Bus Terminal in
southern Seoul followed, along with
I’Park Mall in Yongsan and Shinsegae
Centum City in Busan.
There are currently around 10 mega-
malls in Korea and more are planned.
Department stores hope to open
branches within the new centers. Hyun-
dai Department Store will open a branch
at the Lakinsmall in Ilsan-dong, Gyeo-
nggi-do Province, next year, while Lotte
Shopping hopes to open its own mall,
the Gimpo Sky Park Mall, near Gimpo
Airport in 2011.
“Koreans were introduced to the
malling trend a bit later than other devel-
oped nations because of the Asian finan-
cial crisis in the late 1990s, but the five-
day workweek and changing consumer
trends are attracting more visitors to
malls,” said Baek In-soo at Lotte’s retail
center.
Experts say malls are good for busi-
Top, a view of Shinsegae Department Store’s Centum City branch in Busan, which was listed
in the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest department store.
Above, the interior of the I’Park Mall in Yongsan-gu District, central Seoul.
ness, because the longer visitors stay in one place,
the more money they spend.
According to an industry report, visitors spend
an average of one to two hours at a department store
but three or four hours at a mall, which has more
stores and facilities to hold their attention.
“Most retail facilities [in Korea] will be devel-
oped into malls because more working couples
under time pressure are willing to shop for various
items all at once,” said Jang Jung-ho from Shinsegae.
Kim Dam, president of Times Square, also said that
a new era in the development of Korea’s multi-com-
plex shopping mall industry has started, adding that
more malls like the Pacific Place in Hong Kong or
Tokyo Midtown will be built.

By Lee Eun-joo
‘The five-day
work week
and changing
consumer
trends are
attracting
more visitors
to malls.’
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42 korea December 2009
T
he number of expats residing
in Korea surpassed 1.1 million
recently, according to govern-
ment data, and there are now
various programs across the country
for foreign residents, including classes
on kimchi making, Korean cooking
and the local language — but there
are not many opportunities for expats
to show off their talent for writ-
ing literature in their adopted
tongue.
So it was a rare treat for
all when on Nov. 8, about 110
people, including married
immigrants from multicul-
tural families and Korean
poets, had the chance to recite
their poetry at a local welfare cen-
ter in Gyeonggi-do Province.
Twelve contestants from 11 coun-
tries, among them Cambodia,
China, Vietnam, Indonesia,
Uzbekistan and Myanmar, partici-
pated.
Sukatin Choi read her long
prose poem called “My Happi-
ness.”
“My simmering love for one
Korean man brought me where I
am,” she read. “When I close my
eyes and open my eyes I can’t get
away from thinking of my family at
home.”
Choi, who came to Korea from
Indonesia 11 years ago, wrote about
how much she missed her family
back home and how difficult it was
learning Korean because there weren’t
any classes in her neighborhood. Still,
she said she managed to settle in Korea
thanks to her husband’s support and
love.
Moon Chang-gil, poet and head of
the literary society that organized the
event, Changak 21, said the judges had
to give Choi the grand prize.
“The three judges were all surprised
Hardships and Love in Verse
Sukatin Choi, back, an In-
donesian who came to Korea
11 years ago and Alexandra
Park, front, an ethnic Korean
born and raised in Uzbeki-
stan came to Korea five years
ago won prizes for their po-
ems at a multicultural family
poem recital contest on Nov.
8 at a local welfare center in
Gyeonggi-do Province.
Foreign residents of Korea find inspiration in their lives at poetry recital
and marveled at Sukatin’s poem, because they got
impression it was written by a professional Korean poet
considering the format, order and poetic expressions in
‘My Happiness’,” Moon said.
“Before coming to Korea, I had very limited
knowledge of it,” said Choi, who recently became a
naturalized Korean citizen, in a phone interview.
Choi spoke Korean without a trace of an accent.
But when she arrived, she said, “I even didn’t
know how to say hello in Korean.”
Choi met her husband at a company in
Indonesia. The couple now has four children.
“Korean food didn’t fit my taste, and I studied
Korean on my own by repeating lines on TV shows,”
Choi said. “My 11 years in Korea led me to over-
come difficulties, and all I can say now is I feel
great. I’m much happier than before. I have no
other wishes. I just want this happiness to last
forever.”
Alexandra Park, an ethnic Korean born and
raised in Uzbekistan who came to Korea five years
ago, also participated in the contest and won an
award. Park has two children with her Korean hus-
band. “I read two short poems; one is about the post-
natal depression I suffered in Korea,” Park said.
“Because my Korean is not good enough to write
poetry in Korean, I wrote the poems in my first
language, Russian, and then translated them into
Korean.”
Park said she was passionate about studying
Korean even before she arrived, because she wanted
to find out about her identity and her ancestral home.
“I thought my Korean level would be okay to live
there, because I studied hard,” Park said. “But things
were different when I got here … there were a bunch of
other Korean expressions I never heard of.”
Park said she couldn’t get over the look Koreans
gave her when they asked her for directions.
“I’m Korean and I look Korean, but I don’t speak
Korean well,” Park said. “So people misunderstood and
took me for a fool. That actually motivated me to learn
Korean harder after my two daughters were born,
because I didn’t want my children to get bullied.”
Park hopes one day to write in her adopted lan-
guage. “Someday in the near future, I hope that I can
write a poem in Korean,” Park said. “Because writing a
poem in a foreign language is difficult, and this would
mean that my Korean is perfect.”

By Kim Mi-ju
Provided by
Changjak 21
December 2009 korea 43
Culture
J
apanese fans of the Korean Wave are about to get a
special gift.
Four stars who were at the vanguard of the wave
— Lee Byung-hun, 39; Jang Dong-gun, 37; Song
Seung-heon, 33, and Won Bin, 32 — have teamed up for a live
show dubbed “Four of a Kind,” set to run at the Tokyo Dome
on Dec. 17.
This Hallyu, or Korean wave event, unprecedented in its
scale, was reportedly conceived independently by the four
superstars, who are close friends and often meet privately.
The highlight of the event will come when all four actors
perform together. The well-known Japanese producer and
lyricist Yasushi Akimoto will produce the show, and Hur Jin-
ho, the Korean film director known for the 1998 movie Christ-
mas in August who recently directed Season of Good Rain
starring Jung Woo-sung and Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan,
will make a short feature to be used at the performance.
The Tokyo Dome event will also provide a venue for the
fans to hear from each of the stars about their lives at the
moment and their future plans.
“It’s been a long time since I’d met fans at a live show like
this. I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be like,” Jang
was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
Lee concurred, adding, “It will be a very special event. See
you all soon.”
Lee won widespread popularity in Asia with his roles in
the 2001 TV drama Beautiful Days and the 2003 hit TV series
All In, and he recently made his Hollywood debut in the
action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, released this year.
Jang earned recognition for his performances in the films
Friend (2001) and Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War (2004) and
recently made headlines by announcing a relationship of two
years with Ko So-young, one of the most popular Korean
actresses of the late 1990s.
It was Song’s role in the 2000 hit drama Autumn in My
Heart, in which he played opposite the prominent Korean
actress Song Hye-kyo, that first won him notice.
And last but not least, the youngest in the group, Won Bin,
who appeared in Autumn in My Heart as a new face then rose
to fame with his role in Taegukgi, was recently featured at this
year’s Cannes Film Festival in the acclaimed film Mother,
directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host).
Though the details of the event are still under discussion
by the four actors’ management agencies due to their busy
schedules, it promises to be an unforgettable evening for the
stars’ rabid fans. By Park Sun-young
Four For One, One For All
Jang D
ong-gun
Song Seung-heon
W
on Bin
Lee Byung-hun
Quartet of Korean Wave superstars gathers for big show at Tokyo Dome
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A broken heart in a divided nation
K
im Won-il (born 1942) writes about the effects of the Kore-
an War and national division. His writing is, in part, an
attempt to come to terms with the circumstances that
shaped his youth: Kim’s father, a communist activist,
defected to the North during the war, leaving his family in extreme
poverty and under constant police surveillance. The dark years of
Kim’s childhood were the basis for a series of stories, including “A
Festival of Darkness,” “Spirit of Darkness” and “Evening Glow,” which
won critical acclaim for reaffirming the value of life in the nihilistic
aftermath of the Korean War. With the publication of A Festival of
Fire and Winter Valley, Kim Won-il became the foremost writer on
the issue of national division. His autobiographical novel A House
with a Deep Garden was made into a popular TV series in 1990. In
these works, Kim blends realism and lyricism to offer a comprehen-
sive portrayal of Korean society before, during and after the war, with
emphasis on the ideological conflict and its dehumanizing effect on
life. Since the mid-1990s, Kim Won-il has produced deeply human-
istic tales centering on handicapped or socially marginalized groups
of people.
The writer has been the recipient of numerous awards, including
the Contemporary Literature Prize (1974), the Republic of Korea
President’s Award in Literature (1979), the Korean Creative Writers’
Prize (1979), the Dong-in Literature Prize (1983), the Yi Sang Litera-
ture Prize (1990) and the Han Musuk Literature Prize (1998).
Kim Won-il
44 korea December 2009
December 2009 korea 45
Major works
Spirit of Darkness
(Eodum ui chukje,1973)
Today’s Wind
(Oneul buneun baram, 1976)
Evening Glow
(Noeul, 1978)
Meditations on a Snipe
(1979)
Chains of Darkness
(Eodumui saseul, 1979)
A Festival of Fire
(Buleui jejeon, 1983)
Wind and River
(Baram gwa gang, 1985)
Winter Valley
(1987)
House with a Deep Garden
(1989)
The Long Road From Here to
There
(Geugose ireuneun meon gil, 1992)
The Evergreen
(Neul pureun sonamu, 1993)
Source: Korea Literature
Translation Institute [
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Korean Literature
December 2009 korea 45
46 korea December 2009
With remarkable accu-
racy and attention to detail,
this autobiographical novel
reconstructs the period
immediately following the
Korean War and presents a
poignant picture of the
indomitable will to survive.
Six families, all of them refu-
gees, occupy a single house
enclosing a yard, eking out a
living by any means they can.
Emotional, physical and
material devastation left by
the war is engraved into every
aspect of their lives. Jun-ho’s
father, a former officer, wears
a hook in place of his missing
arm and peddles sweet pota-
toes; Gil-nam’s mother does
needlework for prostitutes. A
daughter of another family,
Mi-seon, marries an Ameri-
can soldier she met while
working at a military base,
and Jeong-tae, whose family
is from Pyeongyang, attempts
to cross over the border into
North Korea. A well-to-do
landlord family holds a dance
party while the tenants next
door go to sleep hungry,
embodying the crippling
effect of war in their utter
disregard for human suffer-
ing.
Although the harsh con-
ditions of their lives often
manifest in antagonism and
hatred, the refugees do not
forget neighborly warmth
and cooperation. Most of all,
it is their unrelenting desire
to overcome the ravages of
the war and move toward a
better life that imparts a mea-
sure of hope to the bleak real-
ity of postwar Korea.
The novel was made into
a TV series in 1990.
A House with Deep Yard (Madang gipeun jib)
This volume contains 12
stories including “The Chain
of Darkness,” “Needlework”
and “An Evening Primrose,”
all of which were first pub-
lished in the 1970s.
“Meditations on a Snipe”
is a complex story that touch-
es upon many controversial
issues in South Korean soci-
ety, including pollution due
to rapid industrialization and
the sense of alienation that
scars those who cannot
return to their homes in the
North. These issues surface
through a family in discord.
The father is a 51-year-old
man who fought in the war
on the North Korean side,
but settled in the South after
renouncing communism. A
passive, soft-hearted man, he
still cherishes the memory of
his first lover, whom he left
behind in the North. His
wife, on the other hand, is a
simple-minded and ignorant
woman who manages all
family affairs with hardiness
and vigor. She coerces her
husband into misappropriat-
ing funds from his office,
causing him to lose his job.
Byeong-guk, the first son,
throws away a promising col-
lege career to participate in
the democracy movement.
Expelled from school, he
returns home and redirects
his passion to the problem of
pollution and the extinction
of migratory birds in the area
surrounding the Dongjin-
gang River. His little brother
Byeong-sik is in many ways
Byeong-guk’s opposite: a
second-rate student, Byeong-
sik is pragmatic, selfish and
calculating. With no regard
for social issues, he makes
money by aiding poachers
who catch and stuff the
migratory birds.
The birds of the title
embody Byeong-guk’s yearn-
ing for freedom and the
father’s longing for his home
in the North, and serve as the
symbol of the psychological
bond that exists between
father and son.
Meditations on a Snipe (Doyosae-e gwanhan myeongsang)
노을 / Evening Glow
바람과 강 / The Wind and the River
맹춘중하 외(孟春仲夏 외) / Early Spring, Mid-Summer and Other Korean Short Stories
마당 깊은 집 / La maison dans la cour du bas
바람과 강 / Le Voyage de Monsieur Lee
한국의 현대문학 제2권 장편소설II / 韓国の現代文学 第2巻 長編小説II
겨울 골짜기 / 冬の谷間
마당 깊은 집 / La casona de los patios
Book Title Year of publication Language Genre
2003
1988
1983
1995
1993
1992
1996
1995
2009
2007
2004
2001
1997
1991
Novel
Novel
Novel
Novel
Novel
Novel
Novel
Novel
English
English
English
French
French
Japanese
Japanese
Spanish
Published translations
List of Kim's translated works
December 2009 korea 47
A slug is crawling
Over a streamside stone.
With no house on its back
wrapped in protective colors, without any shell,
its whole body shielded in a slippery secretion like saliva,
naked, it is idly crawling along.
With its tender, soft skin open, defenseless
— a little finger of sunlight would reduce it to powder —
the slug seems to be enjoying a stroll
or perhaps it hopes to enjoy a nap on a streamside stone bed,
crawling along at so idle a pace, it seems to be walking in its sleep.
Just like Diogenes emerging from a wine barrel,
following the movement of water and clouds like a wandering
monk,
abandoning to the world the house on its back,
roaming in robes that it seems barely to wear,
It goes walking slowly, so slowly, with footsteps following cosmic
laws.
Feeling sorry at the sight of it, my wife covers its naked body
with a cabbage leaf she has just washed in the brook.
But the slug, after wavering for a moment, soon emerges from
beneath the leaf as if finding it bothersome.
Clear off, shade!
From “Poems from Dojang Valley” by poet Kim Sin-yong
냇가의 돌 위를
민달팽이가 기어간다
등에 짊어진 집도 없는 저것
보호색을 띤, 갑각의 패각 한 채 없는 저것
타액 같은, 미끌미끌한 분비물로 전신을 감싸고
알몸으로 느릿느릿 기어간다
햇살의 새끼손가락만 닿아도 말라 바스라질 것 같은
부드럽고 연한 피부, 무방비로 열어놓고
산책이라도 즐기고 있는 것인지
냇가의 돌침대 위에서 午睡라도 즐기고 싶은 것인지
걸으면서도 잠든 것같은 보폭으로 느릿느릿 걸어간다
꼭 술통 속을 빠져나온 디오게네스처럼
물과 구름의 運行따라 걷은 운수납행처럼
등에 짊어진 집, 세상에 던져주고
입어도 벗은 것 같은 衲衣하나로 떠도는
그 우주율의 발걸음으로 느리게 느리게 걸어간다
그 모습이 안쓰러워, 아내가 냇물에 씻고 있는 배추 잎
사귀 하나를 알몸 위에 덮어주자
민달팽이는 잠시 멈칫거리다가, 귀찮은 듯 얼른 잎사귀
덮개를 빠져나가버린다
치워라, 그늘!
Poetry
Kim Sin-yong was born in Busan in 1945. He made his literary debut in the journal Contemporary Poetry & Thought in 1988. His poetry collections include Desert-
ed People (1988), Record of Wretched Days (1990), Walking Inside a Dream (1997), Phantom Pain (2005) and Poems from Dojang Valley (2007). His novels include
Where Is the Moon 1, 2 (1994) and Mechanical Parro (1997). He is the winner of the 7th Cheon Sang-byeong Poetry Prize (2005) and the 6th Nojak Literary Award
(2006).
민달팽이
A Slug
P
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Meditations on a Snipe (Doyosae-e gwanhan myeongsang)
48 korea December 2009
Jo Jeong-gu, a noted Korean architect (be-
low), has been the master hand behind some
of the most high-profile hanok, or traditional
buildings, construction projects in Korea. One
example is a hanok in Gahoe-dong, Seoul
(right), called Seoneumjae and built in 1934.
Architect Preserves, Resurrects
Korea’s Traditional Lifestyles
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December 2009 korea 49
Korean Artist Korean Artist
caption
“W
here are all the
traditional build-
ings?”
That’s the
question that ends up on the lips of
some foreigners who visit Korea for the
first time with high hopes of indulging
themselves in the trappings of old Asia.
Such a response is understandable
considering the massive and hasty
industrialization of the 1960s and ’70s
destroyed many of Korea’s traditional
houses, known here as hanok.
A reminder of old and impoverished
times past, many hanok were demol-
ished and replaced with modern, West-
ern-style apartment buildings, many
bleak and featureless.
Data show that more than 50 per-
cent of Korean people now live in these
apartment buildings. In Seoul alone,
home to more than 10 million people
— about a quarter of the country’s pop-
ulation — only about 14,000 hanok are
known to have survived.
Yet in recent years, the old houses
have found themselves enjoying new-
found attention.
The central government has taken
note of their rich potential as tourist
attractions, certifying one hanok village
after another. Architects, meanwhile,
have fallen in love with their architec-
50 korea December 2009
in the Seodaemun-gu area in Seoul. Before that the
couple and their only child had lived in a typical Kore-
an apartment building. Now, Jo and his wife have four
kids, which they say must have something to do with
the peace of mind that comes with living in a hanok.
The typical hanok is built around a courtyard. Jo
has even been quoted as saying that “the focus of my
architecture is always the yard.” It’s a subject Jo can talk
about for hours — and he didn’t miss the chance to do
so in this interview.
“I don’t necessarily believe that a hanok must be a
traditional wooden structure,” Jo says. “But I do believe
the most important thing in a hanok is its relationship
with the courtyard. That is where the true ‘hanokness’
comes from: the yard.”
Jo lives in a hanok himself
along with his wife, children
and a pet. The couple says
they enjoy the peace of mind
that comes with living in a
hanok.
tural beauty and the ancestral wisdom
evident in the way they are built. For
example, ondol floor heating systems
come from hanok.
Since 2001, the Seoul Metropolitan
Government has been working on pre-
serving the city’s remaining hanok, most
of which can be found in the districts of
Jongno-gu, Seongbuk-gu and Dong-
daemun-gu. The government has intro-
duced various measures, including a
ban on real estate development in hanok
neighborhoods and subsidies to remod-
el and maintain the old homes.
Today, hanok are in the middle of a
full-fledged renaissance, with the emer-
gence of hanok inns, hanok restaurants,
even a hanok dental clinic, while adopt-
ing elements of their traditional designs
is all the rage in Korean architecture.
A man who deserves a fair share of
credit for hanok’s newfound popularity
is Jo Jeong-gu, the director at Guga
Architects. He has renovated or built
more than 30 hanok across Korea that
have now become landmarks in more
ways than one.
They include, in Seoul, the Institute
of Korean Royal Cuisine in Wonseo-
dong, Restaurant Nuri in Insa-dong and
the Bukchon Hanok Village; in Gyeong-
sangbuk-do Province, the Gunja Village
Hall in Andong; in Gyeongsangbuk-do,
La Gung, a hanok-style hotel in Gyeo-
ngju.
“Today, so many things are disap-
pearing,” Jo laments. “Even before we
get to look at or talk about what we have,
their meaning and value, our cities get
demolished and erased. We need to
come up with a way to bring develop-
ment to cities without erasing.”
One model, Jo says, is the hanok
renovation project in Bukchon, north-
ern Seoul, which in 2001 gave birth to
the Bukchon Hanok Village, now a tour-
ist destination.
According to Jo, the project was an
eye-opener for him, as well, helping him
discover the potential of hanok and
delve into their structure. Not long
afterward, Jo became the go-to architect
for high-profile hanok projects.
Since Bukchon, Jo says he has fallen
in love with hanok. So much so that in
2003 Jo and his wife moved to a hanok
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December 2009 korea 51
Korean Artist Korean Artist
Jo went on to say that a hanok’s yard
is not something that people just look at
and enjoy visually. It is something that
people use, where people feel the sea-
sons change.
“Getting a yard is like getting a piece
of nature in a huge room,” Jo says.
One of Jo’s most high-profile proj-
ects was the multiple award-winning La
Gung hotel. La Gung opened in 2007
and enjoyed intense media coverage, as
it was the first high-end, luxury hanok
hotel to open in Korea.
“Often La Gung is fully booked over
the weekend,” said Min Dae-sik at the
Shilla Millennium Park, the film set-
cum-theme park that houses the hotel.
“Part of the reason is because it only has
16 villas, but we believe it’s also an indi-
cation that people are responding posi-
tively to hanok structures.”
Jo admits he wasn’t certain La Gung
would succeed when he was first given
the job. After all, it was an unprecedent-
ed project.
“My biggest concern when design-
ing La Gung was how many traditional
elements I would use and how much I
would adopt modern functions.”
In its completed form, La Gung
embodies the qualities that set Jo apart
from other hanok-savvy architects: It
retains its traditional form and atmo-
sphere with modern functions and facil-
ities.
Each villa at the hotel has two to
three rooms, a private yard, as well as a
private, open-air hot bath.
After La Gung, Jo worked on anoth-
er hanok hotel, a hanok library and a
hanok art gallery. But the architect says
he is most inspired by residential hanok,
and names a hanok in Gahoe-dong
called Seoneumjae as one of his most
memorable projects.
Built in 1934, the hanok was on the
verge of being demolished, with the
owner, like so many who came before,
tempted by a large offer from a real
estate developer. But Jo heard about
Seoneumjae and its historical value and
convinced the owner to opt for renova-
tion instead.
“I thought about what the best reno-
vated hanok I’ve ever worked on was. It
was, in fact, my house. I have lived in a
A model of
one hanok Jo
saved from the
wrecking ball
was chosen
for an exhibit
at the Korean
Embassy to
the U.S.
La Gung, Korea’s first high-
end hanok hotel, was also
the work of Jo. La Gung em-
bodies the qualities that dif-
ferentiate Jo from from other
hanok-savvy architects by
retaining its traditional form
with modern twist.
hanok since 2003, but I didn’t renovate it too much.
That’s when I realized that when it comes to hanok
renovation, less is more.”
Although Jo focused on keeping the original frame
and ambiance of Seoneumjae, he did add elements to
please the owner and make life there more convenient,
like a listening room in the basement. Still, Jo made
sure the building’s 70-year heritage was kept as intact
as possible.
That is perhaps why, along with a model of the
130-year-old hanok residence of Korea’s former presi-
dent Yun Po-sun in Insa-dong, central Seoul, a minia-
ture of Seoneumjae was chosen to be displayed at an
exhibition in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Korean
Embassy.
A graduate in architecture of the prestigious Seoul
National University, Jo opened his first office, Guga
Architects, in 2000. That was also when he initiated
what he calls the “Wednesday survey.” Every Wednes-
day he heads out to examine and document buildings,
alleys and other urban structures and elements in and
around the Seodaemun-gu area.
So far he has done more than 460 such surveys and
completed nine detailed scrapbooks. Looking over
them today, one is struck by Jo’s persistence, even stub-
bornness. But along the way, Jo said, he has learned
more about life than about architecture.
The 43-year-old says that through the surveys he
has come to a better understanding of the way people
live, and of Seoul as a historic yet constantly changing
city.
“Different people live differently, according to their
walks of life, financial circumstances and whatnot.
Some of the places may look dark, cramped and old,
but still they are a precious backdrop to someone’s life,
just like any other place. A good city is one where dif-
ferent people can live in harmony.”
By Kim Hyung-eun
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52 korea December 2009
Majestic Park Will Be Home
to a Beloved Korean Sport
Participants in the first World Youth Taekwondo Camp, held in August,
compete in a match. Provided by the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation.
T
aekwondo Promotion Foun-
dation Chairman Lee Dai-soon
firmly believes that Taekwondo
Park, currently being con-
structed in Muju, Jeollabuk-do Province,
will help develop the sport on a global
scale.
“The project will provide up-to-date
training facilities for practitioners of the
sport, but more importantly it will
embody the spirit of the sport by educat-
ing youth and providing a tranquil envi-
ronment for visitors to meditate,”
explained the 76-year-old Lee, who is
also vice president of the World Tae-
kwondo Federation, at his office.
After serving as a lawmaker for eight
years in the 1980s from Goheung-gun
and Boseong-gun in Jeollanam-do Prov-
ince, Lee has had an illustrious career in
sports and government posts over the
years. Since he was appointed as the head
of TPF in 2005 when the organization
was founded, Lee has been hard at work
on the Taekwondo Park project.
The all-purpose training and educa-
tional facility will include a Taekwondo
Hall of Fame, a World Culture Village, a
5,000-seat arena, training centers and
lodging facilities on a sprawling site of
23,000 square kilometers (8,880 square
miles), or approximately the size of 4,157
football fields. A groundbreaking took
place on Taekwondo Day on Sept. 4, and
Taekwondo Park is to be completed in
two phases, the first phase by 2013 and
the rest by 2018. The entire project,
backed by public and private funds, is
expected to cost around 236 billion won
($204 million). When complete it is
expected to provide the 50 million or so
practitioners of the sport a place to gath-
er and hone their bodies, spirits and
minds.
“What sets taekwondo apart from
some other modern sports is that it
preaches the importance of moral values
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52 korea December 2009
December 2009 korea 53
Sports
decide upon a finalist from a list of six
other cities including Chuncheon,
Gangwon-do Province and Gyeongju,
Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. However,
as Lee explained, there was a clear reason
for choosing Muju.
“The picturesque area is ideal for the
type of park we have in mind, but the
area also has historical significance. The
area was once the border of the ancient
Korean kingdoms of Baekje and Silla.
You could say it’s the area where the
sport was founded,” said Lee. “It’s also in
the central region of Korea, and a lot
closer to Seoul than one might expect.
The area is merely 30 minutes on the
KTX [bullet train] from Daejeon.”
With several International Olympic
Committee members in attendance at
the groundbreaking in September, Lee
said he received positive feedback about
the park and what it means for the future
of the sport.
While known as a sport that has been
dominated by Korean athletes at inter-
national events in the past, taekwondo
has consistently grown over the years in
other places around the world. This has
resulted in a more level playing field, and
with Taekwondo Park expected to be
completed within a decade, the pros-
pects of the sport further blossoming
look bright. By Jason Kim
and respect for elders. For practitioners of the sport, it
is not merely important to be a good athlete but also to
develop into well-rounded people with outstanding
moral values.”
This is part of the reason the WTF and TPF co-
organized the very first World Youth Taekwondo Camp
in August. The six-day event included 260 participants
between the ages of 14 and 17 from 33 countries. It’s the
overall goal of the two organizations not only to spread
the positives of the sport to youth all over the world but
also to make an impact on young athletes.
“We introduced success cases to the participants.
Former taekwondo athletes who have gone on to have
success later in life shared their stories at the camp.
There was a Taiwanese lawmaker and an Iranian city
official, among others. We hoped to give the kids hopes
and dreams, in addition to keeping themselves healthy
and in good shape,” said Lee.
“Aside from the actual coaching of athletes, we had
a session in which we asked the kids to write down a
bad habit or mistakes that they had made in the past on
wooden boards. Then we had them break the boards
and gave them time for reflection.”
As Lee explained, the emphasis the sport places on
respect for one’s self, parents and elders is partly why the
sport has been included as part of regular physical edu-
cation curriculums in some regions in the American
states of Massachusetts and New York. In Iran, Uzbeki-
stan and certain parts of Africa, taekwondo programs
have been added to university curriculums as well. This
makes Taekwondo Park all the more important.
“We have sent professors to Uzbek universities and
have plans to sent more professors, taekwondo masters
and volunteers abroad. In order to reach out to places
that request help, we need more instructors, professors
and volunteers. When finished, Taekwondo Park is
expected to provide proper training for practitioners of
all ages and those looking to get involved in teaching
the sport,” Lee said. “That is the reason we are devoting
a lot of attention to the research center to be built on the
grounds of the park. Furthermore, a new facility for
Kukkiwon [the world taekwondo headquarters] will be
set aside on the grounds as well.”
Some may question why Taekwondo Park isn’t
closer to Seoul, the capital of Korea and the economic
and cultural center of the country. At the early stages of
the planning process, the two governing groups had to
Lee Dai-soon, chairman of the Taekwondo
Promotion Foundation
The park will
offer youth
training, but
also host
research and
instruct new
masters.
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54 korea December 2009
T
he most recognized female taekwondo ath-
lete in the world lived up to high expecta-
tions, winning a gold medal in dramatic
fashion at the 2009 World Taekwondo Cham-
pionships held in Copenhagen, Denmark from Oct.
14 to 18. Lim Su-jeong defeated Zhang Hua of China
in the final of the women’s 62-kilogram (136.7-pound)
division by 10-8 at the Ballerup Super Arena.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist was
favored to win her division, and she cruised through
the early rounds. In the semifinals, Lim showed an
impressive display of three kicks to the face as she
defeated Estefania Hernandez of Spain by 9-5.
The final match against Zhang proved to be much
tougher, as Lim trailed until the end of the second
round. Then, behind 8-7, Lim landed a right kick
square on her opponent’s face to earn three points to
win the match 10-8.
The 23-year-old has now won at every major com-
petition, including the 2002 Asian Games and 2007
Universiade Games.
Kim Joon-tae, competing in the men’s 74-kilogram
division, also added a gold medal. Kim’s toughest foe
came in the semifinals, when he faced Mark Lopez of
the U.S. Kim fell behind early but came back with kicks
Lim Bests
Zhang in
Denmark
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Korea’s
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continues to
impress
Lim Su-jeong of Korea lands
a kick to the face of her op-
ponent, Zhang Hua of China,
in the women’s 62-kilogram
division final match on Oct.
19 at the Ballerup Super
Arena in Copenhagen, Den-
mark.
Lim Su-jeong
to the body and facial area to take the
match by 7-5. He bested Canada’s Maxi-
me Potvin in the finals, 5-2.
The Korean men managed to earn
three gold medals and finished first over
Iran and Turkey, while the female team
finished second overall behind China
with two gold medals.
The tournament’s most valuable
player honors went to American Steven
Lopez, who won his fifth consecutive
world title, and Brigitte Yague of Spain.
“These World Championships are
the biggest in history. Over 1,000 par-
ticipants, five courts, the new electronic
body protectors, and the video replay.
This is a truly fantastic World Champi-
onships. We are making history,” Chakir
Chelbat, vice president of the WTF ref-
erees committee, was quoted as saying.
Later, at the World Taekwondo Tour
2009 Mexico on Nov. 14 at Palacio de los
Deportes in Mexico City, Mexico, Lim
Su-jeong faced down Diana Lopez of
the famed American Lopez taekwondo
family.
The new professional tour event,
organized by the World Taekwondo
Federation, featured a total of 16 of the
sport’s top athletes in four divisions of
competition. The top prize in each divi-
sion was US$20,000 in cash. The new
professional tour will also help to start a
global ranking system in the sport.
By Jason Kim
December 2009 korea 55
Sports
K
im Yu-na got off to a domi-
nating start in the 2009-10
season and is a clear favorite
to win the gold at the 2010
Winter Olympics in Vancouver in Feb-
ruary.
Having bagged her sixth Grand
Prix title and in the process setting
a record with a new combined score
of 210.03 at the Trophée Eric Bompard
competition in Paris, Kim topped her
previous best of 207.71, which she set at
the World Championships in March. In
the first of six 2009-10 ISU Grand Prix
figure skating events, Kim also set a
new world record in the free skating
program with a score of 133.95. At
this point Kim is the clear favorite
to win win gold in Vancouver,
which would make her the first
Korean figure skater to do so.
The 19-year-old is in peak
form. The win at Trophée Eric
Bompard was her sixth in a row since
her first Grand Prix win at the same
event in 2006. Kim overwhelmed her
competition with a strong performance
that included a triple lutz-toe loop
combination to start her free skate, per-
formed to George Gershwin’s Piano
Concerto in F major. Although Kim
could not get off her triple flip jump,
she drew loud cheers from the audience
for her flying sit spin and spiral
sequence.
“Leading into the triple flip jump, it
felt as if there was something caught in
my blade, and I momentarily lost my
balance. However, I feel very satisfied
about finishing the rest of my program
and feel very happy about earning the
highest score,” Kim said on Saturday.
“Looking at the free skate program
... I was surprised when I saw a score of
210 flash across the scoreboard,” Kim
said. “Scoring the highest total at the
season opener, I felt numb for a
moment.”
As the first competition since her
record-setting World Championships
performance in March, a lot of atten-
tion was paid to Kim leading up to the
French Grand Prix. Kim’s next compe-
tition was at Skate America in Lake
Placid, New York.
Not only do the Grand Prix series
events help to prepare Kim for the Win-
ter Olympics, but the top six skaters
from the six events get the opportunity
to compete in the Grand Prix Final in
Tokyo in December.
“I think I’m getting more attention
because the Olympics are coming up. I
have been eagerly anticipating the Van-
couver Winter Games, and therefore I
am a little nervous. Having gathered
good results in two consecutive sea-
sons, my confidence is building,” Kim
said.
Japanese skaters Mao Asada and
Yukari Nagano came in second and
third with overall scores of 173.99 and
165.70, respectively. America’s Caroline
Zhang managed 153.15.
Japan’s Nobunari Oda won the
men’s competition with a score of
242.53. Maria Mukhortova and Maxim
Trankov of Russia won the pairs event
with a score of 192.93. Canadians Tessa
Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice danc-
ing event with a score of 197.71.
By Jason Kim
Kim Yu-na’s Road
to the Gold
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High expectations for the Korean
skating star ahead of the Olympics
Kim Yu-na performs her routine during the
free skating portion of the Skate America
event in Lake Placid, New York on Nov. 16.
56 korea December 2009
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T
he skiing season is back. It’s the classic winter thrill, and athletes and amateurs ascend
from the cities seeking the slopes covered in silvery snow. And with the first snowfall
of the year coming to Gangwon-do Province in early November this year, the resorts
in the region are already open for the season.
This winter is expected to be cold with lots of snow, so resorts that struggled last year due to
unusually high temperatures and a shortage of the white stuff are working overtime to make up
for it in 2009, with pop concerts, nighttime skiing, raffles and gift packages to attract tourists,
especially those from Southeast Asia, a group that’s been growing.
After two failed attempts to host the Winter Olympics, Korea is making its third bid to host
the 2018 Winter Olympics, and Koreans are as passionate about the winter sports as ever.
The history of skiing in Korea goes back some 70 years to Hamgyeong-do Province in what
is today North Korea. The sport became popular in the South with the opening of the Alps Resort
in Ganseong-eup, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do Province, in the early 1970s. Currently, there are
16 ski resorts in South Korea, with the number of fans of skiing and snowboarding always on the
rise.
Those craving a world-class experience should try Yongpyong Ski Resort in Pyeongchang-
gun, Gangwon-do Province, which is once again trying out for the Winter Olympic Games.
Nearby Phoenix Park ski resort is known for its spectacular scenery. You can reach High1 Resort
in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do Province by train, while a ski close to Seoul can be had at Kon-
jiam Resort in Gwangju-gun, Gyeonggi-do Province.
56 korea December 2009
Travel
December 2009 korea 57
Travel
December 2009 korea 57
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58 korea December 2009
Konjiam Resort
(www.konjiamresort.co.kr)
High1 Resort’s “Women’s Paradise” program
targets female skiers, top. Many foreigners order
the resort’s bibimbap, above.
High1 Resort
(www.high1.co.kr)
High1 Resort offers 20 slopes of various levels, from beginner’s
slopes to two slopes certified to hold international competitions by
the International Ski Federation. The 4.2-kilometer Zeus Course
connecting Valley Top, Valley Hub and Valley Condo is designated
for novice skiers so that they can learn the sport safely. The three
eight-person gondolas can transport large groups quickly.
This year, High1 Resort is introducing a special promotion exclu-
sively for female skiers called “Women’s Paradise,” which includes
special entertainment, events and food just for ladies. This strategy
is part of High1’s attempt to become the hottest resort in town.
A D-10 season pass allows unlimited entry throughout the ski
season, and it’s 50 percent off for women — just 175,000 won
(US$152). The staff members dress up and entertain the skiers wait-
ing to board the gondolas with magic shows, pop quiz games and
raffles. High1 is also the only ski resort in Korea that can be reached
by train. Exclusive service for skiers operates to Gohan Station from
Seoul Station, Busan Station and Masan Station.
Where to Eat
The Korean restaurant Unamjeong (82-33-590-7631) is well known as the
setting for the hit television drama Sikgaek. Housed in a group of traditional
homes, Unamjeong’s menu includes Joseon Dynasty court cuisine such as
surabansang (a basic court cuisine set) and jinyeon manchan (a royal feast
set once offered to the ministers by the king) and, of course, dishes that were
featured in the drama. The only downside is the high price. Daryegwan, a tea
house in Unamjeong, offers tea ceremony and etiquette classes. Located at
the peak of Mount Baekunsan, Top of the Mountain is a revolving restaurant
that makes a 360 degree turn every 45 minutes. The Mountain Combination
2 is one of the most popular menu options, and you can enjoy sirloin steak,
shrimp and barbecued pork ribs with sides of potato, fried rice and steamed
vegetables. The price is 38,000 won for two and 50,000 won for three.
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Opened last year, Konjiam Resort is the
first in Korea to limit the number of skiers
on the slopes at one time. Four kilometers
off the Konjiam Interchange on Jungbu
Highway, the resort can be reached in 40
minutes from Gangnam-gu District, Seoul,
and skiers can come out at night on the
weekdays as well. The resort has 11 slopes
and a 476-room hotel with a spa and out-
door hot spring.
Konjiam’s 365 acres of slopes have a dif-
ference in elevation of 330 meters and are
100 meters wide on average, and the resort compares favorably with
those of Gangwon-do Province. The longest slope is 1.8 kilometers.
The resort removed the half pipe to accommodate novice and inter-
mediate skiers, and there’s even a sledding slope for adults and chil-
dren close to the ski school, to make it more accessible to visitors.
Where to Eat
At the foot of the slope, La Grotta is a popular option, featuring a restaurant
and a wine cellar in a cave with 10,000 bottles. Tasting sessions go along
with fine cuisine at La Grotta’s 72-seat Italian restaurant. The creamy pasta
with clams and arugula and steak grilled on a hot stone plate are popular
choices. Wine starts at 30,000 won.
Travel
December 2009 korea 59
Pyeongchang-gun is known for hwangtaegui, a
savory grilled pollock dish, top. Above, the view
from the top of one of Yongpyong’s slopes.
Yongpyong Ski Resort
(www.yongpyong.co.kr)
Korea is now in the midst of its third attempt to win the Winter
Olympics, this time in 2018, and Yongpyong Resort is always the first
to be featured in the presentation to IOC member countries. Three
World Cup Ski Competitions have been held here, and the resort
hosted the Winter Asian Games in 1999 with great success. The
country’s largest ski resort offers 23 slopes and accommodations to
fit every budget, from a five-star hotel to a youth hostel.
The resort is planning several special events to celebrate its 35th
anniversary. Until February 2010, 350 visitors will be selected every
month to receive gifts that include skis, snowboards, season passes,
free nights at one of the resort’s hotels, iPods, Nintendo game con-
soles and equipment. Every day, the resort picks a set of four num-
bers, and if those digits match the last four in your telephone number,
you’ll receive a weekly lift pass, a 35,000 won value, for free.
The international standard-size half pipe located under the Silver
Slope is the first one in Korea equipped with a conveyor belt for the
convenience of snowboarders. The Red Slope features a mogul ter-
rain with bumps, letting skiers try freestyle turns and jumps.
Where to Eat
Pyeongchang-gun is notorious for its cold winters, and walleye pollock is a
famous delicacy of the region. Some restaurants in Hwenggye-ri clustered
near the entrance to the resort specialize in the fish, offering special dishes.
Hwagtae Hoegwan (82-33-335-5795) is famous for its savory grilled pollack.
The 10,000 won dish is accompanied by a bowl of pollack soup, which is a
favorite cure for hangover in winter. Nabjak Diner (033-335-5477), located
next to the Saemaeul Bank in town, is famous for its osam bulgogi, a combi-
nation barbeque platter of cuttlefish and pork belly seasoned with hot pepper
paste. One portion is 7,000 won, which includes white kimchi to wash away
the spice.
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Left, Serve One Konjiam Resort
Above, after a day (or night) on the ski slopes,
many visitors to Konjiam enjoy dinner and wine
at La Grotta.
60 korea December 2009
Phoenix Park
(www.phoenixpark.co.kr)
Phoenix Park has 21 ski slopes and a sled slope known as Snow
Village. The Mogul Course and Arial Course are internationally
certified to hold freestyle ski events, and young skiers can try out new
skills here. Phoenix Park is a snowboarding mecca in Korea, featur-
ing extreme sports facilities such as triple jump platforms as well as
basic snowboarding fixtures such as rails and boxes. The 2.4-kilome-
ter Sparrow Course, which begins at the top of Mount Taegisan and
reaches to the base of the mountain via the Panorama Course, is the
perfect choice for novice skiers to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Last year visitors had to buy separate lift and gondola tickets, but
this season combination passes are available, offering a savings of
1,000 won to 4,000 won. Six incumbent national team skiers are on
hand to teach and demonstrate their skills, and a “one point” clinic
for adults and students is offered on weekends.
Where to Eat
Bongpyeong in Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do Province is the birthplace of
Lee Hyo-seok, a writer well known for his short stories about his hometown,
most notably When the Buckwheat Flowers Bloom. The Hyoseok Cultural Vil-
lage is 10 minutes away by car from Phoenix Park, and there are many restau-
rants specializing in buckwheat noodles. Jinmi Restaurant (82-33-335-0242)
and Bongpyeong Noodles (82-33-335-0242) are especially famous, and they
also serve buckwheat pancakes and sliced boiled pork in addition to the noo-
dles. You can also enjoy nutty homemade tofu and soft tofu at Sanchon Soft
Tofu (82-33-333-5661), located near the entrance to Phoenix Park.
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Buckwheat noodles, above, are often served with
buckwheat pancakes and sliced boiled pork.
Phoenix Park features outstanding facilities for ski-
ers and snowboarders and spectacular scenery.
60 korea December 2009
Travel
December 2009 korea 61
Korea’s Taste Masters
December 2009 korea 61
A Visit to the Incheon Shore
for Fresh, Authentic Seafood
Chef Mirko Agostini prefers
simple, harmonious tastes
A
true lover of food would fly to the moon
for a fresh, delicious meal. But according
to Mirko Agostini, executive chef at the
Hyatt Regency Incheon, you don’t have
to go that far — in fact, his recommendation is just
an hour from Seoul in Eurwang-dong, Incheon.
Agostini is a frequent visitor, since the restaurant is
located only a few minutes from his hotel.
“On our small island, there is a
beach area with several seafood
restaurants that use the freshest
products directly from the har-
bor,” he says. “They serve great
seafood cooked right at your
table.”
Of the many restaurants by
the beach, Hoibaragi is this
chef ’s top choice. The relaxing
and informal atmosphere is
perfect to enjoy the sea breeze,
making it a wonderful spot to
unwind together with friends
and family, he says.
“When you’re stroll-
ing down the beach,
the restaurant ajumma tries to lure you in. You hardly
ever experience this in Seoul or in other metropolises like
Hong Kong or Sydney.”
The food isn’t fancy, with specialities kalguksu noo-
dles (5,000 won, US$3.79), grilled clams (40,000 won to
60,000 won) and spicy seafood stew (30,000 won to
50,000 won).
“You can enjoy the freshness of the food without any
sauce needed,” Agostini said.
And this chef knows what he’s talking about. Since
starting his career in 1989, Agostini’s philosophy has
stayed the same: authenticity, health and taste. He con-
siders good food to be simple, highlighting the original
flavors of the selected ingredients with harmonious herbs
and seasoning.
For more information on Hoibaragi, call (82-32)
746-3611. By Lee Eun-joo

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Mirko Agostini
Executive chef,
Hyatt Regency Incheon
Kalguksu noodles are a specialty at Hoibaragi in Incheon.
62 korea December 2009
“I
wanted to follow in the
footsteps of Hyecho and
let the world know of his
travelogue, the great cul-
tural heritage he left behind.”
The 32-year-old explorer and pho-
tographer Nam Young-ho was explain-
ing who inspired his decision to com-
plete a solo crossing of the Taklamakan
Desert in Central Asia on foot.
But Hyecho isn’t related to Nam. In
fact, he’s been dead for over a thousand
years. Nam’s inspiration was an 8th-
century Korean Buddhist monk from
the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935).
“You complain that it’s a long way
home to the west, and I sigh at the end-
less road to the east.” So wrote Hyecho
in 723 when he set out to learn the lan-
guage and culture of the land of the
Buddha. During his journey across Chi-
na, central Asia and finally India,
Hyecho wrote a travelogue in Chinese
titled Memoir of a Pilgrimage to the Five
Kingdoms of India.
The work contains information on
local cuisine, languages, climates, cul-
tures and even politics. It was lost for
many years until a fragment of it was
rediscovered in 1908. That fragment,
now in France, has been translated into
different languages over the years.
Nam decided to reenact the part in
Hyecho’s book in which the monk
crossed this desert, which bears a name
that some claim means, “Go in and you
will never come out.”
The modern-day pilgrim departed
from a point on the desert’s southern
edge in China’s Hotan Prefecture on
Oct. 3, then walked 450 kilometers (280
miles) over 19 days to the city of Aral. It
is believed that his journey marks the
first time a single individual has crossed
the arid wasteland on foot, although
expeditions and merchant caravans
have traveled the route using camels or
vehicles in the past.
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In the Sandy Footsteps
of an Ancient Pilgrim
Nam Young-ho set out to replicate the trek of the Silla
Kingdom monk Hyecho across the Taklamakan Desert in
Central Asia. He became the first person to cross the des-
ert solo on foot.
December 2009 korea 63
People
December 2009 korea 63
People
“Even the
sand, which
moved like a
snake climb-
ing a hill, was
breathtaking.”
The Korean explorer first developed
the idea of crossing the Taklamakan
during a bicycle trip across the Eurasian
continent. Nam had just climbed a
mountain to cross over into the Uighur
Autonomous Region in China. Stand-
ing at the top of the mountain, he saw
the sands of the desert stretch endlessly
to the horizon. “I knew I had found my
next adventure,” he said.
Even with his goal in mind, Nam
initially had difficulty planning a route.
It was then that he came across Hyecho
and his travelogue. “While studying the
Silk Road and the ancient civilizations
that inhabited the region, I discovered
Hyecho. In some ways, he was an explorer even great-
er than Christopher Columbus.”
Taklamakan is the 15th-largest sandy desert in the
world, covering an area of 270,000 square kilometers.
It is 1,000 kilometers long and 400 kilometers wide,
and was once crossed at its northern and southern
edges by two branches of the Silk Road. The yellow
dust storms that cover the Korean Peninsula in spring
partly originate here.
In daytime, the average temperature in October
reaches a range of 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (77 to 86
degrees Fahrenheit). With the heat reflected from the
sand, however, the air feels closer to 40 degrees. Because
of the desert’s proximity to the frigid air of Siberia and
its extreme inland position, even in the summer nights
are cold, while in winter they can reach minus 20
degrees Celsius. There is no water in the desert, with
the exception of a few oasis towns that survive off rain-
fall from the mountains to the north and east.
Nam managed to cover his costs, which amounted
to some 50 million won (US$43,000), with the help of
sponsors. Two people followed him at a distance of 4
kilometers in vehicles to record his trip.
The Korean made the journey relying on his mem-
ory and an old-fashioned compass. He had hoped to
use a GPS system, but when the Chinese authorities
saw him testing it at the beginning of his journey, they
confiscated it and detained him for two days.
Nam’s backpack weighed almost 30 kilograms (66
pounds), but held only essential equipment such as his
desert goggles and his camera. He had to carry it an
average of 24 kilometers every day, over sand dunes
that could sometimes reach 15 meters high.
“At first, I felt a slight sense of terror seeing only
sand dune after sand dune as I kept on walking. But
after a while, I came across some desert animals like
camels, desert foxes and lizards. Seeing these creatures
that have adapted to the ways of their harsh surround-
ings, I began to appreciate life and its fullness.” Nam’s
words seem to echo the spirit of the Buddhist monk in
whose footsteps he walked. “Even the sand, which
moved like a snake climbing a hill, was breathtaking. I
can’t describe the feeling I had when I lay down on the
warm sand at night and watched the stars in the sky
that looked like diamonds on black velvet.”
One memorable moment came when Nam met a
Uighur man who was camping in the desert searching
for medicinal roots. “We were so surprised to see each
other we almost fainted!” Nam recalled.
Nam took some 1,000 photographs on his journey,
which will be posted online at http://blog.naver.com/
explorer05 with captions in Korean.
And Nam’s ties with Hyecho do not end here. Next
year, he hopes to follow the monk’s complete journey,
from Gyeongju, Korea through China, Vietnam, Sin-
gapore, India, Pakistan and Iran. By Lim Ji-soo
64 korea December 2009 64 korea December 2009
A missionary invited Kent Kamasumba to Jirisan High
School in Gyeongsangnam-do Province from his village in
a remote area of Zambia, southern Africa.
Boy’s Journey from Zambia
to Korea’s Top University
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December 2009 korea 65
People
December 2009 korea 65
People
I
n April, Kent Kamasumba was
accepted as third-year student at
Jirisan High School in Sancheong-
ri, Gyeongsangnam-do Province.
On Oct. 30, the 20-year-old student
from the southern African country of
Zambia was accepted into the Depart-
ment of Agricultural Economics and
Rural Development at Seoul National
University, Korea’s most prestigious
institution of higher learning.
A separate admissions screening for
foreign nationals allowed for Kama-
sumba’s early admission for the 2010
academic year. It is very rare for a for-
eigner attending a high school in Korea
to be selected for early admission to the
school.
After graduating from high school
in Zambia in February, Kamasumba
came to Korea with help from Baek Ye-
cheol, a Korean missionary who was
looking for a student to study at Jirisan
at the request of the school.
Though Kamasumba graduated
from a high school with honors, he did
not have money for college.
“I wanted to keep on studying at a
university, but my family could not
afford to pay for the tuition due to finan-
cial difficulties,” he said. “My father
passed away when I was young, and
there was no one to earn money. I am so
happy that I can keep on learning in
Korea. I am planning to earn bachelor’s,
master’s and doctorate degrees at SNU
and become a famous scholar in agricul-
tural economics so that I can develop
my homeland. I want to learn how Korea
turned from poor to rich in a short peri-
od of time.”
At Jirisan, the Zambian student
reportedly had no trouble catching up
in classes taught in English, but he had
hard time speaking Korean. He took
Korean language classes after school
and practiced with his schoolmates
while living in a dormitory.
A month later, staff and students
from SNU visited Jirisan. They told
Kamasumba about a Kenyan student at
the school, and the Zambian made up
his mind to study at Seoul National Uni-
versity.
Kamasumba
was raised by
relatives in
poverty, but he
always
managed to
be an honors
student.
“Kamasumba has a firm goal that he will someday
turn his poor motherland into a rich one,” said Park
Hae-sung, 54, the principal at Jirisan High School.
Unfortunately Kamasumba’s family in Zambia
doesn’t yet know about his success.
His hometown is located in an isolated area, some
200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital of Lusaka.
There are no phones, and it takes about a month for
letters to be delivered.
Kamasumba grew up mostly with relatives because
his parents were too poor to raise him. He said he
survived by eating fruit or vegetables once a day. To
earn his meals, Kamasumba had to carry drinking
water from a well two kilometers from his home. Only
after doing many chores could he take time to study,
but he was always a top student.
While at school in Korea, Kamasumba would visit
a nearby welfare center for the elderly on weekends
and help them bathe. He also volunteered to guide
foreign visitors at a management office for Mount Jiri-
san National Park.
“I used to be pessimistic about being poor,” said a
third-year student named Lim, 18. “But I was moti-
vated by Kamasumba that I should have stronger con-
fidence and study harder.”
Park said, “I believe that talented students from
Africa like Kamasumba can play a bridge-building role
between Korea and African countries when they
return to their homeland after studying in Korea.”
The principal also said the school is going to find
as many sponsors as possible to provide Kamasumba
with tuition and daily expenses. Those willing to pro-
vide a helping hand can call Jirisan school at (82-)
55-973-9723.
Established in 2004 as an alternative school target-
ing underprivileged students inside and outside Korea,
Jirisan High School was authorized as a general high
school by the government.
With the help of many sponsors, 53 students attend
the school for free. Including Kamasumba, there are
three foreign students among them.
Eleven teachers and 14 other volunteer instructors
are on staff, including a retired Sogang University pro-
fessor of Korean literature, Kim Yeol-kyu.
Students take classes from early in the morning
until the afternoon. After school, they help farmers in
the fields and engage in volunteer activities.
Zambia, which shares borders with the Democrat-
ic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique,
Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, was under British
colonial rule from 1923 to 1964 and still faces extreme
poverty and the blight of AIDS. Its GDP per capita is
around US$1,500, and its unemployment rate 50 per-
cent. By Lee Min-yong
66 korea December 2009
Foreign Viewpoints
A
s chairman of the Cana-
dian Chamber of Com-
merce in Korea, I have had
the privilege to be invited
to serve on various advisory councils,
including the Presidential Council on
Nation Branding, Invest KOREA Ad-
visory Council (IKAC) and the Seoul
Foreign Investment Advisory Council
(FIAC). Through these committees, the
Korean government receives input,
critiques and recommendations from
foreign nationals living in Korea on a
wide range of economic issues.
I’m also an avid reader of foreign and
local newspapers, where it is common
to find opinion columns and articles
written by foreigners in which Korea
and Koreans are criticized. Having
lived in Korea for a long time and hav-
ing a relatively good knowledge of the
country, these articles often strike a
chord. I can’t help agreeing with the
analysis offered by these Western ob-
servers about what Koreans should or
shouldn’t do about a host of issues. In
fact, I must confess that I’m about to
add my voice to the chorus of critics by
writing a book (to be published in Ko-
rean) to offer suggestions to Korean
companies on how to enhance their
businesses overseas by changing old
habits and adopting a global mindset.
All of this shows that it has become
too easy and even hip to criticize Kore-
ans for what they haven’t achieved.
However, a few days ago, I was bluntly
reminded that foreigners tend to criti-
cize Korea too much. At a recent Seoul
FIAC meeting, one of the European
participants raised an excellent point,
after several of his colleagues (and
myself) expressed downbeat opinions
and made remarks about “how things
should be done.” This participant
said that, when it comes to analyz-
ing Seoul’s state of development, we
too often see the glass as being half
empty. In his opinion, when it comes
to Seoul, the glass should rather be
seen as “more than half full.”
He pointed that Seoul has lifted itself
from total devastation less than 60
years ago and built itself into a meg-
alopolis, in terms of infrastructure,
culture and affluence. No other East
Asian city has accomplished the same
feat and leapfrogged so many stages
of economic and social development.
Seoul’s traffic may be one of the favor-
ite topics of for foreigners’ rants, but
have they compared it to other Asian
cities? And what about air quality?
Today, Seoul offers unequaled infra-
structure and cultural vibrancy. In what
other large Asian city can you waterski
in the downtown area, visit a world-
class art gallery, go mountain climb-
ing, run a global business, eat some of
the best food in the world and attend
a major concert, all in the same day?
Most of all, Seoul is arguably one of the
safest large cities in Asia. I have never
heard of foreigners being attacked on
the street, at any time of the day or
night. How many other Asian cities
boast that level of personal safety and
comparable “joie de vivre”?
And we shouldn’t forget where Korea
“comes from.” Since 1948, Korea’s
GDP has grown 746-fold at an average
of 6.8 percent per year, mainly as the
result of hard work, careful planning
and cohesive economic policies. By the
end of the war, Korea’s most notable
export was scrap metal from military
tanks to Japan. One-third of the steel
used to build the Tokyo Tower came
from these exports. In 1960, Korea’s
share of global exports was 0.03 per-
cent. By 2007, it was 2.7 percent.
Few countries have ridden the wave
of globalization as successfully. Very
few Fortune 500 companies can boast
comparable export to domestic sales
ratios. Today, Korea is no longer an
“Asian tiger.” It is the world’s 13th-
largest economy. It has hosted the
Olympics and the World Cup. It joined
the OECD in 1996 and will host a G-20
summit in November 2010.
So let’s recognize that Koreans have
shown tremendous resolve and capac-
ity to change. Despite my own regular
criticism, I remain confident and opti-
mistic. Pilseung Korea!
It’s easy to criticize Korea. But
one look around the world
shows how remarkable its
transformation has been.
Don’t Take
Korea’s Tale
For Granted
Simon Bureau is chairman of the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce in Korea. He is also
CEO of Vectis Corporation, a Seoul-based
consulting firm that provides assistance to
Korean firms expanding overseas. Simon
has witnessed major changes in the Korean
market, having lived and worked in Korea
on different occasions since 1986.
I B R S / C C R I N
o

: 1 0 0 2 4 - 4 0 7 3 0
K O I S
1 5 H y o j a - r o , J o n g n o - g u
S e o u l ( 1 1 0 - 0 4 0 )
R e p u b l i c o f K o r e a
N E P A S A F F R A N C H I R
N O S T A M P R E Q U I R E D
P r i o r i t y / P r i o r i l a i r e
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R E P L Y P A I D / R É P O N S E P A Y É E
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(
1
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E
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(
2
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G
o
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(
3
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S
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(
5
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B
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(
6
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V
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6
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Y
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:





G
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:








F
e
m
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M
a
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C
o
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:





E
-
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:

R
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2
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