contents

january 2013 Vol.9 no.1
02

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Cover Story

Arirang
Koreans and Arirang

12 Pen & brush Kim Chi-ha a poet of Resistance and Life

16 People a Doctor for Instruments Yu Je-se

20 Great Korean an ancient hero of Unification General Kim Yu-sin

22 Seoul a Walk through Seoul plaza

26 Travel a Stage for Dancing birds Geumgang estuary

Arirang Variations Arirang as UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity

30 festival the Seogwipo penguin Swimming Festival

32 Entertainment neo-Renaissance of Korean Film

34 Sports a Climber at the top Jain Kim

36 Special Issue the First Female president-elect of the Republic of Korea park Geun-hye

38 Global Korea the Knowledge Sharing program

40 Summit Diplomacy South Korean president Greets Leaders of pakistan and Greenland

42 Now in Korea ten million Visit Korea a Year

45 flavor tteokguk a bowl of tteok soup for the new Year

46 My Korea What’s in a name

49 Learn Korean If you want to go skiing...

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발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06

COVER STORY

UNESCO’S INtaNgIblE CUltUral HErItagE Of HUmaNIty

Arirang

The Korean folk song Arirang has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Arirang is more than a folk song: for generations, singing Arirang has given Koreans comfort and brought them together as one.
by Lee Jeong-eun and Im Sang-beom / proofread by Kang Deung-hak (professor at Gangneung-Wonju University)/ in cooperation with the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation, the Korea Creative Content Agency and based on A Study on the Problem of Administrative Protection of Arirang in Relation to Its Cultural Traits by Kang Deung-hak and Arirang co-authored by Kim Yeong-un and Kim Gi-hyeon

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COVER STORY

koreans and Arirang
When South and North Korean athletes entered the Olympic Stadium together during the opening ceremony of the 27th Summer Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Arirang was played rather than the national anthem of either country. For Arirang is the single most iconic Korea was again full of excitement during

group of songs in which the chorus repeats

the word Arirang or a similar sounding word. Arirang. Many people believe that it has no specific meaning.

Nobody knows the exact meaning of the word

and chorus, but the rest of the lyrics are

Each variation of Arirang has a fixed melody

song that represents the entire Korean nation. the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup. People and every city square in the country became

changeable. That is, singers can either sing the

traditional lyrics or creatively improvise. Thus, extemporary.

Arirang is traditional, but at the same time very Arirang was originally a hyangto minyo

wearing red shirts poured out onto the streets, a festive sea of red. One of the cheering songs

(rural folk song) in Gangwon-do and its

reverberating through the streets was Arirang, heart.

vicinity, located in the mid-eastern part of

which every Korean—young or old—knows by Poet Ko Un once defined Arirang as “staples

the Korean Peninsula. People sang it while

gathering firewood or wild herbs, planting rice seedlings, weeding paddies and fields, doing alone. Variations of Arirang included “Arari,” house chores, or simply killing time together or “Yeokkeum Arari,” and “Jajin Arari.”

and stars to Koreans and the nameless general of history that lives have accumulated.” What greater proof could there be that Arirang is more than a folk song for Koreans?

are South or North Koreans, whether they live world—and it is the single element that unites the Korean nation.

Arirang represents Koreans—whether they

actors) from Seoul started singing Arirang on stage, giving rise to tongsok minyo Arirang (Arirang as a popular folk song). Those

belonging to sadangpae (troupes of travelling

In the mid-19th century, professional singers

on the Korean Peninsula or in other parts of the

professional singers added their musicality songs “Arirang Taryeong.”

to the traditional Arirang and named the new Arirang Taryeong became known more

BIRTH OF ARIRANG

Korean folk songs (minyo) are broadly categorized as folk songs sung by the common people in rural areas (hyangto minyo) and popular folk songs for professional performances (tongsok minyo). Industrialization songs as rural communities have gradually refers to popular Korean folk songs which

widely thanks to the reconstruction of

Gyeongbokgung Palace during the reign of

King Gojong (r. 1863-1907). In order to boost

the morale of laborers from across the nation,

and urbanization have brushed aside rural folk disappeared. Today, the term minyo generally you can hear on the radio or TV. Far and away the most widely known Korean folk song is Arirang. Arirang is in fact not a single song, but a

sadangpae singers sang Arirang for them. When the reconstruction was completed, the laborers their hometowns. returned home and spread Arirang Taryeong in In 1926, director Na Woon-gyu made the

movie Arirang and used a remake of the most

popular variation of tongsok minyo Arirang. The movie was a major hit; the theme song became known by all the Koreans and gained the

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COVER STORY

miners who went to Germany also sang Arirang to soothe their sorrows from the hard labor and challenges of life abroad. Arirang united the Koreans who emigrated

to Hawaii more than a century ago, those who went all the way to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to Cuba, and those who scattered

throughout China, Japan, Russia, and Central Asia, and it still gives a sense of unity to the over seven million ethnic Koreans abroad who left their homeland a century ago. ARIRANG IN ART
The poster of the movie Arirang from 1926

including the descendents of Korean emigrants

nickname “Bonjo Arirang” (lit. Arirang of the

original melody). The boom of “Bonjo Arirang” Arirang-inspired popular songs in the 1930s that continues today.

radio programs such as Arirang Collection (1936) and music albums including Song of Arirang (edited by Koga Masao, 1932) also featured

Arirang embodies the Korean nation’s history It has been an object of research for scholars and a rich source of inspiration for artists.

and everyday feelings more than anything else.

precipitated a new and lasting trend of creating

Arirang. Perhaps due to such exchanges, almost period (1926-1989) mentions Arirang. Korean in Japan. Classical vocalist Kim Anna sang

Opinions of the value of Arirang vary greatly. There was a time when scholars of Korean folk song and a material for etymological the best folk song, but historically it is of literature regarded Arirang merely as an old research. Perhaps Arirang is not musically utmost importance. Reflected in the mirror of national history, Arirang is a spitting image of the Korean nation, which has survived through pain and joy and sorrow and suffering.

every record on Korea written during the Showa artists also played a role in spreading Arirang Arirang as part of her repertoire, and dancer Choi Seung-hee’s Arirang was also famous. “Sanghang Arirang” is a variation created

Numerous books have come out; some collect many variations of Arirang, and some delve into the Arirangs of a certain region.

Arirang is sung to create a feeling of unity and energy when people are working together.

collective subconscious of Koreans captured

TV programs were made that appeal to the
INTERVIEW

in Arirang. The sitcom LA Arirang, set in Los

Angeles where many Korean-Americans live,

LOCAL IS GLOBAL

by Korean Americans. The word “sanghang” refers to San Francisco. There is a story that Ahn Eak-tai, a renowned conductor in the

was a great hit in Korea. Reputable novelist Jo Arirang in 1994 telling of Koreans’ tenacious heartbreaking stories of Korean emigrants

Yun I-geun, Director of the Jindo National Gugak Center Nearly every small child in Korea can sing Arirang. At no other time do Koreans have such a great feeling of unity than when singing Arirang together, and this sense of unity gives them explosive energy. Koreans continue to sing Arirang together when the times call for it, when they need to join hands to achieve a common goal. There is no known literature on Arirang. Instead, Koreans have passed the song down through the ages merely by singing it, hearing it, and engraving it in their hearts. And they will continue to do so indefinitely into the future. “With the inscription of Arirang on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Korean culture is getting more attention,” says Yun I-geun, the director of the Jindo National Gugak Center. “The inscription has also boosted the morale of Koreans living across the globe.” Yun believes that the inscription will fuel the spread of Korean culture globally along with Hallyu. He emphasizes that Koreans should first know more about the many variations of Arirang including Jindo, Miryang, and Jeongseon Arirang and that efforts should be made to research the vast variety of Arirangs sung in North Korea and outside the Korean Peninsula and help consolidate them into artistic works and performances. “The most Korean is the most global,” asserts Yun. “Each and every member of the Korean nation should strive to increase the value of traditional Korean culture.”

Jung-rae published a 12-volume novel entitled fight for survival and independence and the during Japanese occupation. The long novel history in the most vivid way.

countless ups and downs over the millennia

1940s, arranged Arirang and dedicated it to his teacher, Leopold Stokowski. That version of Arirang, entitled “Arirang Hill,” was created

ARIRANG AROUND THE WORLD

at the request of Philadelphia-based publisher score is “The first manifestation of the Korean Voice and Piano.”

features numerous characters to depict Korean Musicians are also lovers of Arirang. Many

Arirang is not only sung in Korea but also in Japan, China, the United States, Russia, Germany, and many other parts of the world,

Elkan-Vogel Co., Inc. Printed on the cover of the music by EAKTAE AHN from Korean Life for Literature on Arirang can also be found in

albums have come out at home and abroad in different versions. Some are arranged as

because Koreans who left Korea—willingly or has more sorrowful stories, as most Korean

Western classical music or pop music. Some (traditional Korean zither with 12 strings)

unwillingly—still sing the song. Their Arirang emigrants had to suffer hardships in foreign often dubbed a close but far neighbor, were especially difficult. Arirang was officially

Germany. In 1925, German folklorists published a report on the folklore of prisoners of war of different ethnic backgrounds, including two

albums feature Arirang played on the gayageum or other musical instruments. Old albums with singers Park Wol-jeong and Kim In-

lands. The lives of Koreans in Japan, which is

Koreans who fought for Russia as mercenaries.

featuring Arirang include one released in 1931 suk singing a version of Arirang arranged by pop singer Sugawara Tsuzuko’s rendition of Arirang.

The report includes details on three variations of Arirang that the two Korean mercenaries sang. They are “Arirang Sseurirang,” “Harirang,”

introduced in Japan by a Japanese official named Nobuo Junpei, who visited Korea in 1876. Later,

Columbia Orchestra and an album that featured

and “Arirangga.” In the 1960s and 1970s, Korean

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COVER STORY

Gyeongsang-do legion originating in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. A more credible theory which was sung in the first half of the 20th is that it was derived from “Arong Taryeong,” century in Seoul, because it has features of both style of music. The mood of Miryang Arirang is very bright and gallant.

1930s and 1940s. They were sources of medicine, arms, food, and information. Against this backdrop, Arirang became a kind of weapon in a secret signal.

the anti-colonial struggle; that is, it was sung as Ethnic Koreans in China sang Arirang in

the Seoul style of music and the Gyeongsang-do

their yearning for home and in lament at the

tragic situation of their motherland to soothe

JINDO ARIRANG Every variation of Arirang bears the

their nostalgia and express their anti-colonialist sentiments. Arirang remains synonymous with “fatherland,” “mother,” and “hometown” in by ethnic Koreans in China. many songs, performances, and literary works

characteristics of the region where it is sung.

Jindo Arirang is a case in point. It is also easy

to follow and is extremely rousing. The exciting rhythm and melody combined with the witty lyrics can ease the greatest suffering and heartache.

ARIRANG SUNG By kOREAN CHINESE For ethnic Koreans living in China, Arirang carries even more meaning. Most of the ethnic Koreans in China are descendents of Koreans
Arirang is an image of the Korean nation, which has survived countless ups and downs over the millennia with vitality through pain, joy, sorrow, and suffering.

Arirang Variations
Generally Arirang refers to Jeongseon Arirang of Gangwon-do (mid-eastern part of the Korean Peninsula), Bonjo Arirang of Seoul and do (southwestern), and Miryang Arirang of the four major Arirangs.

forced out of their homeland by the Japanese Koreans and eventually the representative form of Arirang. in the 1930s and during the war in order to lived were also strongholds for the Korean

develop Manchuria. The locations where they independence movement and warfare in the

Gyeonggi (mid-western), Jindo Arirang of JeollaGyeongsang-do (southeastern). They are called

JEONGSEON ARIRANG One of the representative folk songs of

Gangwon-do—a mountainous region that is in the mid-eastern region of the Korean Peninsula—is “Arari Sori.” A variation of “Arari Sori” that was sung in Jeongseon, Gangwondo, spread to other regions under the title “Jeongseon Arirang.”

A memorial stone of Miryang Arirang

THE FOUR MAJOR ARIRANGS BONJO ARIRANG (OR SIMpLy ARIRANG)

“Gin Arirang” (lit. Long Arirang), which is

There are two versions of Jeongseon Arirang:

Director Na Woon-gyu’s movie Arirang (1926) expressed so tellingly the sentiments of the Koreans of the day. They were groaning under a huge hit and was screened across the nation. Its theme song, which was later nicknamed

slow, and “Yeokkeum Arirang” (lit. Weaving Arirang), which densely weaves stories into the lyrics. The two share the same chorus, but

Japanese colonial occupation. The movie became

the verses are different. Sometimes, the verse is sung first, followed by the chorus, but only the verses are sung with the chorus omitted. MIRyANG ARIRANG There is a theory that Miryang Arirang is a representative tongsok minyo of the

“Bonjo Arirang,” also became a sensation. It was a remake of the then most popular variation of tongsok minyo Arirang and became iconic for all

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COVER STORY

Arirang as UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage Of Humanity
Arirang was recently inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural at the 7th Heritage of Humanity. The decision was made Committee for the Safeguarding of the session of the Intergovernmental

angers, and sorrows of Koreans wherever and

however they live. The song has comforted the hearts of Koreans and united them whenever than the national anthem.

suffering, and it has instilled patriotism into the the nation was in crisis, carrying more meaning The inscription of Arirang on the

arIraNg fOr all
who recorded Arirang with the title “Eastern

A

rirang became known internationally

thanks to Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra,

collaborating with Asian artists from Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. “It is easy to become familiar with Arirang,”

Representative List signifies that it is now more humanity. What was added to the list was not a single regional variation such as Jeongseon but Arirang as a collective reference to all phrase “Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo.” Arirang, Jindo Arirang, or Miryang Arirang, the songs of which the choruses end with the Back in 2009, the South Korean government

Love Song” in 1975. This prompted releases of

Intangible Cultural Heritage held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in December 2012. The committee recognized that Arirang is a

than a Korean folk song, but is heritage for all of

other recordings of Arirang in other countries Jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun, who is more

says Yuhki Kuramoto, who participated in the production of the second volume, “Its melody sad.” He added that the song will become widely loved throughout the world.

including Czechoslovakia, Japan, and Germany. famous abroad, sings Arirang at every one

is simple and bright, but at the same time feels

popular form of Korean folk song that bolsters It also stated, “Arirang is constantly recreated serving as a marker of identity among its

of her performances. She interprets different

a collective identity and unity among Koreans. in various social contexts, places, and occasions, bearers while promoting values of solidarity and social cohesion, and an inscription of Arirang on the Representative List could

variations of Arirang including Gangwon-do in a jazz style. “Not only Korean but also More and more renowned artists are

Arirang, Jindo Arirang, and Jeongseon Arirang European audiences love the song,” says Nah. producing albums featuring Arirang. The
Map Of aRIRaNg aRIRaNg IN DIffERENT REgIONS
Dancheon Arirang in Hamgyeongnam-do Seodo Arirang in Pyeongan-do Haeju Arirang in Hwanghae-do Bonjo Arirang, Gin Arirang, and Hanobaengnyeon in Seoul Chungju Arirang, Chungju Araseong, and Boeun Arirang in Chungcheong-do Jindo Arirang in Jeollanam-do Jocheon Arirang in Jeju

applied for the inscription of Jeongseon Arirang on the list, but the committee did not add Arirang that year because it only considers a certain number of candidates from any one country each year. Later, there was an effort Korean Peninsula added to the list, but the South failed to elicit cooperation from the North on this issue. So, in 2012, the South

Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism released a series of albums entitled artists from home and abroad.

promote greater visibility of intangible cultural diversity and creativity, particularly because of the great variety found within a single element.” It added, “A great virtue is its respect for human creativity, freedom of expression, and empathy. Everyone can create new lyrics, adding to the
Arirang has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The photo is a celebration of the inscription with on Arirang performance.

to have all the Arirangs sung throughout the

Arirang: The Name of Korean in cooperation with Volume 1 of The Name of Korean features

song's regional, historical, and genre variations, and cultural diversity.” Arirang indeed does not represent only one

Korean government alone filed an application. With the latest inscription of Arirang, Korea Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. now has 15 cultural properties on the UNESCO

artists who know Korea well, including

Yuichi Watanabe, Inger Marie Gundersen,

the European Jazz Trio, and Sergei Trofanov. Volume 2 includes Arirangs by such famous artists as The Real Group, Yuhki Kuramoto, Korean musicians such as Shin Hyun-sik, volume focused on harmonizing Arirang

Gangwon-do Arirang, Jeongseon Arirang, Gangneung Arirang, and Chuncheon Arirang in Gangwon-do Miryang Arirang, Mungyeong Arirang, Dongnae Arirang (Busan), Ulleungdo Arirang, Yeongcheon Arirang in Gyeongsang-do

region, but has transformed into many different versions and variations incorporating the joys,

Lee Ritenour, and Ithamara Koorax, alongside Kang Eun-il, and Nah Youn-sun. The third with the traditional music of other countries

FUTURE OF ARIRANG

Koreans must research and maintain Arirang as Heritage Administration (CHA) of Korea plans to designate Arirang as a national intangible cultural property and build an archive on it, plans to support performances and research variations of Arirang sung in every corner of the country alive, national agencies and

a precious cultural property for all. The Cultural

which will be open to anybody. The CHA also on Arirang. However, to keep all the different

scholars as well as each and every Korean need to appreciate the value and spirit of the song in rest of the world. order to share all the different versions with the
The Name of Korean vol.1 The Name of Korean vol.2 The Name of Korean vol.3

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PEN & BRUSH

WITH A BURNING THIRST
by Kim Chi-ha Translated by Gwon Seon-geun

Engraving themselves there. For your name’s sake, For the solitary splendor of your name, On a wooden board with white chalk trembling heart I write awkwardly with shaking hand, And raging indignation The agony of living The memory of green freedom reviving And the blood-stained faces of returning friends

sharply reveals the terrors and pains

The first part of the second stanza

of the age by invoking many different lament. There is no clear explanation sounds, the reader’s imagination

In the back alley at daybreak

sounds such as footsteps and voices of of what is happening, but amid those conjures up vivid images of its own.

I write your name, O Democracy

My mind has forgotten you for too long And my legs far too long have strayed from you.

was a world of light for those who

T

But with a slender remembrance of My heart’s burning thirst, Secretly I write your name Somewhere in the back alley before dawn The rush of footsteps, urgent whistles, and pounding, Someone’s groan, wail, lament find their way into my heart,

In the latter part of the second stanza, the narrator, stricken with anger and grief, writes on a wooden board. In the third stanza, it is revealed that he has written with soundless sobs, “Long live democracy,” more powerfully

he 1960s and 1970s were an age of light and dark for Korea. Korea

Who’ve been taken by the police I write your name secretly With a burning thirst With a burning thirst

were excited about the country’s rapid

industrialization and economic growth; were oppressed and frustrated under the ironfisted military dictatorship. Countless intellectuals plunged themselves into arduous resistance

In tears, subduing the crying

witnessing the political reality of the in prose.

it was a world of darkness for those who

day than any writer could hope to do

Long live Democracy!

against the darkness, and poet Kim Chiha was one of them. He was a symbol of the resistance against the dictatorship. His poetry was perceived as a threat to and it was indeed more powerful and

Kim Chi-ha wrote a poem to commemorate the independence activist, Lee Hee-young.

the very foundation of the government,

Burning Even Brighter in Darknesss

scathing than any other weapon that could be leveled against it.

Kim Chi-ha
In the 1960s and 1970s, poet and playwright Kim Chi-ha put his eloquence to work in vehement resistance against the military dictatorship. Today, he is leading the way in the “life movement.” Here is a brief look at his life and poetry.
by Im Sang-beom / translations by Kim Won-jung

A Poet of Resistance and Life

WITH A BURNING THIRST

Kim’s poem With A Burning Thirst,

published in 1975, is a monumental for democracy in the mid-1970s,

work singing of the people’s yearning when the oppression of the military government was at its height in the wake of the so-called “October Yushin” in 1972, an anti-democratic amendment to the Korean Constitution. The first

stanza of the poem poetically describes the dire reality as the narrator could write “democracy”—what then seemed a forlorn hope—only secretly in a back alley at dawn. This stanza is smeared with bloodstains.

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PEN & BRUSH

LIFE IS A RAY OF HOPE

philosophy and poetry. Kim states “life is a ray of hope” in the poem. However frustrating the situation, life doesn’t with her child in her arms is so sad, weaken. The scene of a woman crying beautiful, and noble. Only life begets life; no living thing can live without depending on other living things. In life, human beings and all other

His poem Life marks a transition in his

LIFE
by Kim Chi-ha Translated by Gwon Seon-geun

world where fighting is unnecessary, as all of us ultimately return to the fundamental world of life,” says the poet. “While in prison, I studied Donghak, an academic movement from the late

“I’m talking about building a new

Kim Chi-ha entered the Seoul National University Department of Aesthetics in 1959 and participated in the April 19 Revolution (which overthrew the

ABOUT POET KIm CHI-HA

oppression, social

inequality, materialism, and environmental pollution—are

Life is

A ray of hope.

My life depends on it An abyss.

As I stand here at the edge of

Joseon Dynasty. Its basic philosophy is innaecheon, which means humans are Heaven and to serve the people is to

Syngman Rhee government) in 1960. a South Korean representative in an

byproducts of building a culture of killing. In of killing and make order to heal the culture the world humane, he

Later, he became a student activist as association of South and North Korean He had to go into hiding, working at put on the most wanted list after the May 16 Coup d’État in 1961.

things in this universe become one.

I cannot go back Or forward.

serve Heaven. Donghak upheld equality and humanitarianism, transcending class barriers. I added Jesus to it.”

students pursuing national unification. sea ports and in mines, because he was

asserts a culture of life-

giving—a culture that is and respect for life. He about life in Donghak,

The realization of that unity, boundless respect for life, and desperate efforts to protect life cast a ray of hope that pierces the darkness of reality.

This is the final stop for me. I can neither soar Nor fall

his poetry changed from resistance to directing attention to the inner world because of his revelations about life

Kim explains that the purpose of

rooted in principles of life discovered many ideas an academic movement that thrived during the Dynasty. closing years of the Joseon This philosophical

A mother cries

while in prison. He combined Donghak and Christianity to formulate his own philosophy of life. He founded the

1963 and began to write combative poems the next year. He had five

He returned to school in February

And embraces her child. The sorrow of life
Kim combined Donghak and Christianity to formulate his own philosophy of life.

poems published through the poetry taking his first step as a resistance poet. In 1970, he published Five Bandits in Sasanggye. The poem satirized the corruption and decadency of the of pansori (a genre of traditional resistance overnight. the May issue of the literary magazine magazine Poets in November 1969,

Breeds a ray of hope.

Yullyeo Society in 1998 to promote this new type of national culture.

philosophy on life and humanity and a

transition is readily

apparent in his poetry.

His poems of the 1970s

nation’s leaders through the rhythms Korean music), making him an icon of Kim was completely freed from the

were full of the vigorous

spirit of resistance, but in the 1990s he began writing calm, succinct, contemplative poetry that reveals his inner world. The poetry anthology Ilsan Sicheop is a good example.

Kim argues that society must create a new type of culture based on respect for life and principles of life.

shackles of dictatorship in 1984: he

was pardoned and his works were no longer officially labeled “seditious.” movement based on his philosophy By this time, he jumped into the life of life. The shift was not motivated by any change in society but by his own realizations. During his more than seven years in prison, Kim suffered

Literature in 1975 from the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, when he was still in prison. In 1981, he received the Bruno Kreisky Award for Services to Foundation for Human Rights and the Great Poet Award from Poetry Human Rights from the Bruno Kreisky

Kim received the Lotus Prize for

nearly to the point of insanity, but he

International. His publications include the poetry anthology Kkotgwa Geuneul anthologies Saengmyeong (lit. Life), (lit. Flowers and Shades) as well as essay Yullyeoran Mueosinga (lit. About Yullyeo),
ABoUt tHE tRANSlAtoR Kim WoN-jUNg
Kim Won-jung is a professor of English Language and Literature at Sungkyunkwan University. He has translated a variety of Korean poems and prose into English. His translated works include eight books of poetry by Kim Chi-ha, Jeong Hyeon-jong, Hwang Jiwoo, and other Korean poets.

saw the strong power of life in a clump of grass that had taken root in a crack his fight became about establishing a culture of life-giving against all in a concrete wall. From that moment,

cultures of killing. He believes that all the problems of humanity—political

the Woods Full of Presentiment), and Yet Winter Letter from Old State of Gaya).

Yegame Chan Sup Geuneul (lit. Shades of

Gayaeseo Ttuiuneun Gyeoul Pyeonji (lit. A

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PEoPlE

A Doctor for Instruments

Yu Je-se

Musicians’ instruments are their alter egos. When such virtuosos as violinist Kyungwha Chung and cellist Myung-wha Chung are ill, they must go to the doctor, but when their instruments are out of order, they go to Meister Yu Je-se.
by Yang In-sil / photographs by Moon Duk-gwan

ANECDOTE 1

Yu worked for a construction company. One day, he met a friend in a music store. That was the first time in his entire life he’d ever seen a violin in person. It produced a sound that seemed to be of Heaven above. He was so shocked and some time. overwhelmed that he was left speechless for Afterwards, the melodies played through

accords another virtuoso. From that moment,

Yu was considered a “doctor” who restores the cellist Myung-wha Chung.

instruments of violinist Kyung-wha Chung and

PASSION OVERCOmES LImITS

When exquisite, nearly priceless instruments pass through Yu’s hands, they become even more exquisite. Already full of violins, cellos, for repairs, he finds few moments of rest musicians.

his mind again and again, and he badgered his friend to introduce him to an expert maker of violins. He said that he also wanted to make

and other stringed instruments commissioned because of frequent phone calls and visits from Yu did not study music in college. Some years

one with his own hands. He was introduced to an expert craftsman, and the next day he went to his workshop with a block of wood. Over the workshop every weekend until he finally made a violin by his own hands. ANECDOTE 2

next three years, he did an apprenticeship at the

after being struck with fascination for the violin, he went to Germany in 1990, already 34 years of age. Rather than taking a regular course on instrument repair, he went to a renowned luthier (a craftsman of stringed instruments) and studied under him until returning home in 1993. Yet, he hadn’t originally planned to train abroad. “I was confident I could be a good luthier,”

Violinist Kyung-wha Chung was on a

nationwide concert tour of Korea when she asked around for a professional repairer of musical instruments and heard about Yu.

found something wrong with her violin. She

recalls Yu, “but, one day a client who had an expensive violin asked about my education. Upon hearing my answer, he took back his

Chung’s presence was so imposing, and her

extremely detailed demands aroused anxiety. After closely watching him restore her other self, she relaxed and flashed a bright smile.

violin and left. I couldn’t sleep that night. The

next day I made up my mind to go to Germany. a word in German. Before becoming a luthier, I worked for a good company, and the people

She politely expressed her gratitude with the

My son was four years old, and I couldn’t speak

kind of respect and dignity that only a virtuoso
16 korea january 2013

17

PEoPlE

colleague’s daughter, and she went abroad with

the violin to study music. He later took charge of the stringed instruments for the Daegwallyeong International Music Festival, which is the most prestigious classical music festival in Korea. FATHER TO SON

his own child. Yu became the great luthier he in large part because of his diligent hands, sensitive ears, and unwavering tenacity.

is today, even in the face of so many obstacles,

college, but his heart moved toward musical

His son studied business management in

There had only been a few people who

instruments as he watched his father give new life to old instruments. Yu’s son is now in Italy studying and training hard to follow in his together with his son some day.

professionally made and repaired stringed instruments in Korea. Clients were as rare, and they generally used cheap materials. Yu

father’s footsteps. Yu looks forward to working “The reason why instruments Guadagnini

decided to use only the best quality materials.

(To this day, he travels the world to find better

materials.) Clients were at first half in disbelief, who had their instruments repaired abroad started to knock on his door instead.

made more than three centuries ago and

but he soon made a name for himself. Musicians

Stradivariuses made more than 250 years ago are still highly appreciated,” explains Yu, “is because they have been maintained by good hands. The older an instrument, the deeper more exquisite his hands. I won’t put down

need to be just right. Instruments are very

Yu doesn’t work every single day. Conditions

its sound; the more experienced a luthier, the instruments from my hands until I die. I hope with my name and see a performer play it.”

sensitive to humidity and temperature, so he

constantly monitors the weather. If he is ill at

ease, he does not take up his knife, because he
1

someday I will make a truly superb instrument Yu Je-se has another dream. He wants to buy

believes that his mood and mind permeate into leaves a meticulous record as he writes down all the details from the moment it enters his

the instrument. Every instrument commissioned

a plot of land in Hoengseong, Gangwon-do and build a small concert hall where he will display instruments he has made or collected, allowing children to study music and music lovers to good times. gather together, play instruments, and share

around me did their best out of the goodness

of their hearts to discourage me from quitting

causing him to go to Germany to study, was his other teacher in life. After one year in Germany, Yu could hear

workshop until he gives it back to its owner. His work requires a high degree of concentration and artistry, and every instrument feels like

my job. They only had the best of intentions for

me and genuinely thought that learning how to This time, too, people tried the same thing, but nothing could change my resolve.” Studying abroad was never even remotely

make “fiddles” (their word for it) was ridiculous.

and speak German fairly well. His handling teacher recognized his great progress and

of instruments had improved remarkably. His started to pay him a salary. He even entrusted about to return home, his teacher gave him a wooden worktable made in 1859 as a gift. To strings on this very worktable.
1 Violins await repairs by the luthier. 2 Yu repairs old violins through intricate and delicate work and transform them into instruments of Heaven.

a fairy tale experience. Yu could not say

Yu with the key to the workshop. When Yu was

that everything went well even if he faced a challenge with the greatest passion and persistence. Communication was always

this day, Yu cuts and trims materials and tunes Koreans commonly make a huge issue out

difficult, his family was far away in Korea,

and learning was a slow process. He smoked and drank quite a lot. His diary was soaked times. One day, he felt himself becoming a nervous wreck, bit his finger, and wrote a in tears. He packed up and unpacked several

of educational background, which prevented

him from gaining due recognition. During his

struggles, one of his former colleagues extended a helping hand. When one colleague let him use his house as a workshop, Yu’s eyes brimmed with tears. He named the workshop “Yu Jemade in the workshop was dedicated to his

pledge to himself in blood. It was the genuine start of a true fight against himself. Then, he realized that the client who had hurt his pride,

se String Music Workshop.” The first violin he

2

18 korea january 2013

19

gREAt KoREAN

An Ancient Hero of Unification

General Kim Yu-sin
Over 1,000 years ago, the three kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje were in a continual state of war, each trying to expand its territory on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. General Kim Yu-sin of Silla finally brought lasting peace by conquering Goguryeo and Baekje with his outstanding strategy and military prowess. Let’s trace the footsteps of this great general of Silla. by Im Sang-beom / photographs with courtesy of Tongiljeon

K

im Yu-sin (595-673) was a military leader

feats in conquering Baekje and Goguryeo—

and politician of Silla who achieved great

3

the two other major kingdoms of Korea’s Three Kingdoms period (57-668)—and unifying the Korean nation under the banner of Unified Silla. He was not a member of the royal family of Silla, but he was so admired that title of King Heungmu the Great. Yu-sin

sealed when Chun-chu, known for his

The founding of Unified Silla was virtually

extraordinary diplomatic finesse, and Yu-sin, a gallant and sagacious warrior, joined hands.
2

he was posthumously granted the honorary was a grandson of the last king of the Gaya when his grandfather yielded to them. where he achieved a remarkable feat. When

POSTHUmOUSLY ENTHRONED

1 General Kim Yu-sin paved the way for Silla to unify the Three Kingdoms. 2, 3 The tomb of General Kim and the statues of the Twelve Zodiac Animals at Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Yu-sin won victory after victory in a long series of battles against Baekje, Goguryeo, and the exhausted, he took off his upper garment, In one of his more innovative actions, he Tang Dynasty in China. When his men were mounted his horse, and led from the vanguard. harnessed drums and drumsticks to a herd of cows to be released in the event of a surprise sound. attack to throw the enemy into confusion by the Yu-sin was devoted to the royal family and

confederacy, but became an aristocrat of Silla Not much is known about Yu-sin’s childhood

the two sides first clashed, the Silla troops lost enemy camp and came back with the head of for Silla.

their fighting spirit, but Yu-sin charged into the the Goguryeo commander, winning the battle By that time, Yu-sin had met Kim Chun-chu,

before his teenage years except an episode in

Goguryeo, and Baekje, 1145): Yu-sin had reportedly been in his mother’s womb for 20 months. As Boys), an elite group of specially educated a teenager, he joined the Hwarang (lit. Flower and trained boys. He was such an excellent He travelled across the kingdom with his

Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms of Silla,

who was perhaps the most important person in his life. Chun-chu later ascended the throne as The two became very close political partners as well as relatives through two marriages between their families. Their mutual trust and friendship were the 29th king of Silla and founded Unified Silla.

swordsman that he became the Hwarang leader. followers to train both his mind and body. A GALLANT WARRIOR

adamantly upheld the reputation of his family. hands of Tang forces, he requested the king to in hiding for the rest of his life. In a sense, he because he was not from Silla but Gaya.

When his son returned alive from a defeat at the have his son beheaded. His son had to live alone was a pitiable hero who had to seek recognition However, his unwavering determination and

very strong. When Chun-chu lost his daughter and her husband in a battle against Baekje, he Goguryeo detained him rather than sending went to Goguryeo to ask for military support. troops to help Silla. Yu-sin organized a special

Even at the height of the ongoing conflicts

among Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje, Yu-sin

hesitated to venture out onto the battlefield

because he was of Gaya descent, not Silla. It was
1

only when he was 35 years old that he followed his father into battle against Goguryeo forces,

unit to rescue him. At this news, Goguryeo set of a major war with Silla.

feats as a military leader were so extraordinary when they think about Unified Silla.

Chun-chu free in order to prevent the outbreak

that nearly all Koreans readily recall Kim Yu-sin

20 korea january 2013

21

SEoUl

aW alK seo Thr ul ouGh P

laz a

re laza bo ll Seoul P nearly a ng itness to w vals alo e uphea nt of th turbule nd Korea’s ration a d to libe ring roa ation du oderniz day, m tur y. To last cen the vorite cit y’s fa al it is the r cultur ation fo loc iet nd a qu events a our ead. A t ace to r t pl ould no e cit y w ut of th te witho comple l be gh Seou lk throu a-young / a wa D y Chung Plaza. b by Lee Jae-hui
phs photog ra

22 korea january 2013

23

SEoUl

Seoul Plaza. Located in the heart of the city, the Seoul Plaza is at the crossroads to all areas of old Seoul – Sejong-daero road will

I

f you are walking around downtown Seoul, you will almost certainly pass through

road was laid between Gyeongbokgung Palace and the main gate of Deoksugung Palace and a modern plaza was constructed in front of

during the 2002 FIFA World Cup when 80,000 people dressed in red shirts gathered there to cheer on the Korean national team. The mass of supporters clad in red, known as the Red of shouting and clapping in front of jumbo screens.

Seoul Plaza came under the global spotlight

and helmets for young children are available free of charge. The skating rink was first it has since become for young couples

Deoksugung Palace. The plaza was situated in Complex in Gwanghwamun, the Parliament

lead to Gyeongbokgung Palace, to the north is Cheonggyecheon Stream, and Myeong-dong Plaza has witnessed many history-changing
1 Desks are available all around the library for studying and reading. 2 The library is spacious and full of light for the convenience of visitors. 3 The five-meter high bookcase is a popular feature of the library.

a central location near the Central Government Building (now used as the Seoul Metropolitan in Jeong-dong, which was once the Supreme for the nation’s liberation movement from

Devils, cheered in a highly organized cadence

installed in 2004, and a popular dating site and a special treat for children with their parents.

and Namdaemun are a short walk away. The events in Korea for more than a hundred years. AT THE HEART OF SEOUL’S mODERNIZATION Seoul Plaza first took shape in 1897 when King Gojong returned to Deoksugung Palace after the 1895 assassination of Queen Min. A wide
3

Council), and the Seoul Museum of Art building Court of Korea. It soon became the center stage Japanese occupation including, most notably,

Government rebuilt the square to provide a Seoulites. In 2004, the traffic lanes that cut

After the World Cup, the Seoul Metropolitan

better city environment and a green area for across the square and the wide road that ran

the March 1st Independence Movement in 1919. The square was later an important location for rallies throughout Korea’s modern history. the pro-democracy movement in the 1960s and

directly past the old City Hall were removed Fountain was built at the west corner of the plaza. The fountain, a circle of water holes

NEW LIBRARY,

to make way for a vast green. The Floor Water

NEW CITY HALL New attractions of Seoul Plaza are the

bored into in the sidewalk with 48 floor lights, is an attractive feature of the plaza in the warmer months. Seoul Government hosts many cultural

old City Hall, which

reopened as the Seoul Metropolitan Library, and the new City
4 Ice skating in the middle of downtown Seoul is sure to be an unforgettable memory for many foreign visitors.

events throughout the year on Seoul Plaza

Hall building right behind it. The old City Hall was built in 1926, during the Japanese Colonial Period. After liberation in 1945, it served as a local

including the popular Hi! Seoul Festival and

various performances. This past October, the plaza as promised earlier to thank his fans for kick-starting the success of his viral hit

Korean pop star PSY held a free concert at the

government building, and for more than 60 years it served as the government building

song “Gangnam Style.” The singer had earlier vowed to perform topless if his song topped remaining at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week. The concert reached its
1 2

for the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The

government city decided to build a new city hall to house the expanding government offices and staff, and remodel the old City Hall as a public library. After four years of construction, the

iNFoRmAtioN

the U.S. chart, and he kept his promise despite

How to get there City Hall Subway Station, Line 1 or 2, Exit 5 Skating Rink Open: Dec 14, 2012 to Feb 3, 2013 / 10 AM to 10 PM Skate Rental Fee: KRW 1,000 per pair of ice skates, 30persent discount for group reservation of 20 persons or more. Website: www. seoulskate.or.kr/eng. php Seoul Metropolitan Library Open: 9 AM to 9 PM (weekdays), 9 AM to 6 PM (weekends) Website: lib.seoul. go.kr/www/html/en/ main.jsp

peak when the singer sang his hit song and

more than 100,000 fans did the famous “horse

government moved into the new building in Library opened its doors to the public. The halls of the old City Hall, symbolizing the historical heritage of Seoul.

dance” with the singer. According to the Seoul in Seoul Plaza since the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The city government supported the event by traffic within a three-block radius. providing the square grounds and diverting

September of last year, and Seoul Metropolitan library restored the main marble staircase and

Metropolitan Police, this was the largest crowd

transforms into a public ice skating rink for

Towards the winter festive season, the plaza

volumes and 20 computers to view 4,200 DVDs and audio books. Visitors are free to walk into affairs, or just take a break from walking. The the library to read books, catch up with current third floor displays the most iconic features of the library where visitors can see the restored and remodeled old Mayor’s Office, reception room, and meeting room.

The library has a collection of over 200,000

Seoulites and foreign visitors alike. The grass is temporarily removed from the square and an ice skating rink is built over the grounds.

Ice skates can be rented at a reasonable rate of

KRW 1,000 (USD 0.93) for one hour, and lockers
24 korea january 2013

25

travel

A Stage for Dancing Birds

Geumgang Estuary
Geumgang Estuary in Gunsan is an excellent spot to observe baikal teals. They appear to dance in groups when they take to the sky. The city of Gunsan flourished during the Japanese colonial period, and vestiges of that time remain here and there.
by Lee Jeong-eun / photographs by Moon Duk-gwan

26 korea january 2013

27

travel

1

3

4

5

W

hen the sun sinks below the horizon

glows in shades of wine, a long island in the What seemed to be a mere island a moment

behind Geumgang Estuary and the sky

center of the flock as possible, where it is safer. migratory birds from Siberia every winter. The Korean Peninsula greets numerous

temple, and residences from the period remain. Especially famous are Dongguksa Temple, a two-story wooden house built by a Japanese the railway village in Gyeongam-dong.

from the 1.2-kilometer embankment, the fields River and the hills of Gunsan far off in the distance. When you get your first hunger pangs

spread unbroken all the way to the Geumgang

river comes alive. Did you read that correctly? before is a colony of migrant birds. These birds hunt together and soar high into the sky every day around sunrise and sunset. When the

Geumgang Estuary is an especially important destination for those winged visitors with its nearby that afford excellent spots for resting and hunting. Some 90 percent of the world’s baikal teals come to this very estuary every year to spend the winter. The teals rest all day long in the river, shallow waters, gentle currents, and vast farms

named Hirose dubbed “Hirose’s House,” and If you visit Gunsan with children, don’t miss

3, 4 Vestiges of the Japanese colonial period remain all over the city. 5 The Japanese chose Gunsan for shipping out their plunder of rice and resources from Korea, building a port and railways.

the Jinpo Maritime Theme Park in the inner of Jinpodaecheop (Great Battle of Jinpo), infiltrators in the Geumgang Estuary in

during your visit, you may want to try a bun Korea’s oldest Western-style bakery, which was founded in 1909 and run by Japanese

leader takes off, hundreds of thousands follow, blocking out the sky with their numbers and
1 Numerous migratory birds from Siberia return to the Geumgang Estuary every winter. 2 Gunsan was the fastest growing city in Korea in the early 20th century.

harbor. The park was built in commemoration a major Korean triumph against Japanese August 1380, the sixth year of the reign of King U of the Goryeo Dynasty. General Choe Museon, who was also a scientist and inventor, his own invention charged with a powerful

stuffed with adzuki bean paste at Yiseongdang,

making for a spectacular, surreal scene of

owners before liberation in 1945. Every day, the bakery sells about 1,000 rice buns stuffed with and croquettes stuffed with curry and glass noodles. adzuki bean paste. It also offers vegetable buns

continuously shifting shapes. People think

of their impromptu movements romantically as “group dancing,” but in fact the birds are jockeying with one another to be as close to the

and when the sun sets, they fly over Mt. food, coming back at dawn.

Manghaesan to the Gimje Plains in search of They can be seen from a number of bird

observatories, the best of which is Napo Sipjatteul Bird Observatory. A CITY OF HISTORY

led Korean forces to victory using cannons of form of gunpowder. On display in the park are retired military vehicles used by the Korean Army, Navy, and Air Force. Dongguksa is a typical Japanese temple

travel information
what to eat Jjamppong at Bokseongnu Dozens of people can regularly be seen lined up in front of Bokseongnu eagerly waiting for a bowl of Gunsan-style jjamppong, a big bowl of noodles filled to the brim with soup containing lots of seafood such as cockles and clams and Seoul topped with softly panfried pork as a garnish. how to get there Car It takes about two hours from Seoul to Seocheon Interchange via Seohaean Expressway. Train It takes around three hours from Yongsan Station to Janghang Station. Bus It takes roughly one hour from Seoul to Janghang.

Visitors to Gunsan are strongly recommended to see the Geumgang River. Gunsan was the fastest growing city in Korea in the early
th

surrounded by a lush bamboo forest. All

20 century, serving as the port of choice for the Japanese for shipping out their plunder of Korea’s bounty, be that rice, minerals, or

the parts of the temple including the main

buildings, toilets, and bath are connected by a of Japanese architecture.

corridor, revealing some of the salient features The reed field in the village of Sinseong is

other resources. The Japanese built a port and

railways, and Japanese culture firmly took root
2

across the entire city where about half the 16,000 residents were Japanese. The customs house,

not part of Gunsan but of Seocheon. Still, it is near the bird observatories and is one of the four most important reed fields in Korea. Seen

Gunsan

28 korea january 2013

29

feStival

contest, search for “gifts of fortune” buried in

the sand, and enjoy a celebratory performance 9:30 a.m. and the swimming contest begins at 11:00 a.m. The “penguin” swimmers will warm up

by a brass band. These other events will start at

by doing aerobics with professional aerobics

practitioners, and then jump into the water at jing.

the sound of a Korean traditional gong called How many will turn out on the beach

to swim this winter? Every year, beautiful

Jungmun Saekdal Beach has seen 500 to 800 people take the penguin plunge, with more than 2,000 visitors enjoying the other events. usually have fun paddling their feet in the

The penguin swimmers are of all ages. Children water, and some group participants give shouts of joy and excitement or play a mock cavalry youth. Yet, the water is so cold that even the an hour. battle in the water to show off their health and heartiest of them have to get out after about half This extraordinary winter event attracts
1

JEJuDO AS uNESCO WORLD HERITAGE Being Korea’s largest island, Jejudo is a fascinating tourist

Swim Your Dream in Jejudo

locals and foreign visitors alike. Catherine Rusk, a Canadian English teacher at a middle school on Jejudo, mustered up the courage to become a penguin swimmer in January 2012. She recalls that the coldn was bearable enough. that it was indeed cold, but she had so much fun One of the most delightful moments for

destination. It is off

The Seogwipo Penguin Swimming Festival
Courageous people gather together on Jejudo to swim in the cold winter waters to make a wish for the New Year. This is the 14 th Seogwipo Penguin Swimming Festival. by Lee Jeong-eun

the southern coast of Marado, the nation’s

the Korean Peninsula. southernmost island, is only eight kilometers off Jejudo. Jejudo is
2 1 The Seogwipo Penguin Swimming Festival is held to put the last year behind and plan for a brighter new year. 2 Around 2,000 to 3,000 people visit the festival every year.

penguin swimmers may be when they pick

home to Mt. Hallasan, which rises from the center of the island and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with the lava tubes that run all over the island.

up a “ball of fortune” while swimming. The

organizers of the festival scatter balls of fortune in the sea beforehand, and getting your hand on one of the balls means that you can stay at

and New York City on New Year’s Day. At Haeundae Beach in Busan and Jungmun

T

These and other unique features make Jejudo breathtakingly beautiful wherever you go. Still, Jungmun, where the Penguin Swimming

he so-called “polar bear swimmers” take a plunge into the cold waters in Vancouver

on January 5, 2013. The theme of the festival this year is “A Power Start for 2013,” which planning for a brighter new year. encourages putting the last year behind and The festival features lots of exciting things

a hotel in the Jungmun tourist district, have a

meal at the ICC Jeju (International Convention Center), or play golf at the Jungmun Golf Club free of charge.

Festival takes place, is definitely one of Jeju’s Botanical Garden, the tiered Cheonjeyeon

best tourist destinations, famous for the Yeomiji Waterfalls, and the Jungmun-Daepo Columnar Joints. The area has excellent accommodations and leisure facilities including hotels,

Saekdal Beach on Jejudo Island, the “penguin

swimmers” venture into the sea to ring in the New Year with hope in their hearts. This year Festival. Extreme swimming enthusiasts will bring excitement to Jungmun Saekdal Beach by fearlessly plunging into the winter waters
30 korea january 2013

to see and do in addition to the swimming with their wishes for the New Year, ring containing their New Year’s resolutions,

specialties of Jejudo—momguk (a thick pork and seaweed soup), dombe gogi (broiled sliced pork), and other wonderful dishes, all prepared by villagers nearby. This warms the bodies and winter sea.

The finale of the festival is eating traditional

marks the 14th Seogwipo Penguin Swimming

competition. Participants will send up balloons the “Bell of Promise,” bury a time capsule compete in the “Penguin Wrestling King”

condominiums, golf courses, windsurfing areas, and shopping centers. This is, needless to say, an extremely popular area for tourists.

hearts of the “penguins” after their jaunt in the

31

entertainment

a reversal in 2007 and domestic movies soon represented less than half of the market. Korean films were performing poorly and

racking up substantial losses in 2008, posting the worst-ever average return to investment of 43.5 percent.

of Korean movies is especially gratifying.

In light of this setback, the recent comeback

When cumulative annual ticket sales topped 100 million in 2012, many industry experts declared a renaissance of Korean cinema.
4

A STRONG SYSTEM AND GOOD STORIES The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) attributes the milestone of 100 million tickets sold to the effective production systems of major Korean movie studios. They set specific audience

exclusion of all else, but well represented today.

numerous different genres are The audience is more
5 1 Gwanghae: The Man Who Became King passed the threshold of ten million tickets sold. 2 The Thieves attracted a wide range of viewers with a cast of different ages. 3 A Werewolf Boy was an unexpected success during the off-season of the film industry. 4 Unbowed was the most noteworthy low-budget independent film of 2012. 5 Nameless Gangster is a noir blockbuster that attracted over 4 million viewers.

diverse than before. According

targets for individual films and allocate funds

to KOFIC, each Korean watched 3.12 films in theaters on average in 2012, ranking Korea fourth in the world after the United States,

accordingly. The movies All About My Wife and
1

An Introduction to Architecture are cases in point.

Back to the Movies

Neo-Renaissance of Korean Film
In Korea, more than 100 million people of all ages went to the theater to see domestic movies in 2012. This is an astounding figure, and it naturally raises the question: what brought people back to the movies? The answer is well-planned production of films spanning various genres with compelling stories. by Yang In-sil
2

The average Korean person saw more than three Korean movies in theaters. Two Korean films even passed the threshold of ten million tickets sold: The Thieves and Gwanghae: The Man Who than four million tickets. Became King. Another nine films each sold more The number of Korean films produced each

F

Lion at the Venice Film Festival. This put or the first time ever, Korean films exceeded 100 million in annual ticket sales in 2012.

Another factor was Pieta winning the Golden

France, and Australia. KOFIC explains that the of different genres dealing with a wider range of subjects targeting specific segments of the

diversity is in response to the screening of films

Korean movies in headlines all over the world and piqued the interest of the Korean public. Controversy over the oligopolistic structure of the Korean film industry continued to seethe, but positive publicity about Korean movies drew the public to the theaters in droves. The the year was another important factor. There was no slow season in 2012. Experts believe that the current boom in

movie-going public. Films that dealt with social

issues such as Unbowed brought back moviegoers in their 30s and 40s. The blockbuster The Thieves starred actors and actresses of different ages, age from their teens to 40s. attracting a huge bloc of moviegoers ranging in Now that the neo-renaissance of Korean

dense lineup of movies debuting all throughout

year has remained remarkably steady for some time. Of the 441 films screened in Korea in the year to December 14, 2012, 146 were Korean, compared with 150 in 2011 and 140 in 2010. However, annual ticket sales are up sharply audiences’ rising interest in Korean movies. movies is somewhat lower: 35 percent in in 2011.

cinema is upon us, countless movie buffs at

Korean movies is also very much due to their diversity in genres. At one time, film noir dominated the screen to the near complete

home and abroad are taking greater interest Korea next.

and eagerly anticipating what will come out of

from 70 million only a few years ago, reflecting
3

korean filmS awarded at major film feStivalS
Director Kang Dae-jin’s The Coachman was the first Korean movie to ever win a major international award. The film won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1961. In the 2000s, an especially transformational period for Korean cinema, international film festivals started taking much more notice of Korean directors. In 2002, director Im Kwon-taek won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for Chihwaseon, while director Lee Changdong’s Oasis won four awards including the Best Director Award at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2004, director Kim Ki-duk received the Best Director Award at the Berlin Film Festival for Samaritan Girl and also at the Venice Film Festival for 3-Iron. In the same year, director Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy clinched the Grand Prix at Cannes. In 2007, Jeon Do-yeon became the first Korean actress to receive the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her performance in Secret Sunshine, directed by Lee Chang-dong. Park Chan-wook’s Thirst won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009, and Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry received the Best Screenplay Award at the same film festival in 2010. In 2012, the jury of the Venice International Film Festival honored Kim Ki-duk with the Golden Lion for Best Film for Pieta, making him the first Korean director to win major awards at the three most important international festivals.

In other countries, the market share of domestic Germany and France and 49 percent in Japan The Korean movie industry grew rapidly

in the early 2000s. It hit an intermediate peak in 2006 when almost 98 million tickets were sold and the market share of domestic movies

reached 63.8 percent. The industry experienced
32 korea january 2013

33

SPORTS

A Climber at the Top

Jain Kim

J

ain Kim clinched gold in women’s lead

China in 2007 and has since remained No. 1 in the world. She is not bulky, but short, nimble, and pretty, standing a mere 153 centimeters and weighing 43 kilograms. When her tiny awestruck.

climbing at the IFSC Climbing World Cup in

tears, overwhelmed with joy.

another world—concentrating with her hand in control of a hold, facing the unique challenges of the route at every moment, and feeling as one with the rock. The joy of being immersed and the thrill of completing a route draw her when climbing does she have a serenity of toward climbing like a powerful magnet. Only beingness that few others ever experience. This the experience and to keep climbing as long as

When she climbs, she feels happy as if in

Jain Kim is ranked No. 1 in the world in professional lead climbing with a score of 545.91 points according to the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). Her toes are contorted; her hands are coarse, but her tiny body moves with incredible strength and nimbleness to the awe of spectators. by Im Sang-beom / photographs with courtesy of AT Sports

body climbs spectators hold their breath, nearly Her parents met at an alpine club, naturally

hiked the mountains frequently as a small

child. Jain was in sixth grade in elementary school when she first started climbing. Her major discipline is lead climbing in which

explains her utter determination to not let go of she can. Towards that end, Jain forces herself to adhere to a strict diet of only one meal and two pieces of fruit a day. Now that she is in her mid-20s, Jain believes

competitors climb a 15-meter route and attempt to reach a higher position. Unlike bouldering, once within five minutes, only one attempt where a climber can attempt a route more than is allowed in lead climbing, which Jain feels

that she must focus more on keeping herself

suits her personality. Of course, she also enjoys bouldering, in which she can try climbing in different ways.

in good shape and avoiding injury rather than honing her skills further. She hopes to remain in competition as long as her stamina allows Games should sport climbing become an it. She wants to compete in the 2020 Olympic official Olympic sport by then. She will be 32 in 2020, and we also want to see this diminutive dynamo continue to climb for years to come.

SMALL BUT STRONG

In any discipline of sport climbing, Jain endurance. In order to overcome the

demonstrates remarkable flexibility and disadvantage of her small size, Jain has spurred has to attempt more jumps than taller climbers in order to reach distant holds, which requires

Indeed it is not for nothing that she is popularly known as the empress of climbing, spider girl, and the Kim Yu-na of climbing.

herself with the most stubborn doggedness. She

1 Kim feels the happiness of life when she climbs. 2 Kim hopes to remain in competition as long as her stamina allows.

extreme flexibility and dexterity. her foot up higher than her

She likes to “high-step,” swinging shoulder, because it affords her an advantage with her tiny body and size is also an advantage in tight spaces. She became a sport climbing exceptional flexibility. Her bantam

athlete about 12 years ago. The 2009 World Championship in Qinghai, China is her most

memorable competition. She won silver after achieving her long1

harbored dream of completing the final-round route. She burst into

2

34 korea january 2013

35

SPecial iSSue

FIRST-EVER FEMALE PRESIDENT OF KOREA The media at home and abroad has noted the marking a watershed in the history of the

fact that Korea will have a woman as president, Republic of Korea. Le Monde, AFP, The New China outlets reported that Park clinched victory with strong leadership in a male-dominated society. demonstrated more powerful leadership than Dubbed the “Iron Lady,” Thatcher News Agency, and other major foreign media

many male leaders and is fondly remembered “British disease” by reviving the economy, especially through tight fiscal policies.

by many for having put an end to the so-called

Thatcher reportedly called herself a “politician of convictions,” and Park likewise says she emphasizes keeping promises and principles. common traits of the two by saying that In her autobiography, Park described the

the economic and diplomatic policies that

Chancellor Merkel pursues are similar to hers

The First Female President-Elect of the Republic of Korea

and that both are the leaders of conservative parties. Merkel studied physics and Park studied electronic engineering in college.

Park Geun-hye

in a by-election in Dalseong County, Daegu. She took the helm of the Grand National Party (the was in crisis just before the general election slated for April 2004. In that election, she forerunner of the Saenuri Party) when the party

Park became a politician in 1998 when she ran

1

Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, was elected in December 2012 as president of the Republic of Korea for the next five years. She is the first woman to be elected president of the country at a high percentage of 51.6 percent. by Lee Jeong-eun

prevented a political disaster for the party and

female president-elect of the Republic of Korea in the recent presidential election, which was seen as a contest between a conservative and a has consolidated its position and will remain election set some new records.
Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, was elected as the first female president.

P

saw it win 121 seats in the National Assembly. ark Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, became the first 1963 to 1979, and she is the first presidentelect to win a majority of votes since the in 1987. re-introduction of direct presidential elections Park garnered 15.75 million votes, or 51.6

1 Park delivered an address in which she said she would usher in an era of happiness for all Koreans. 2 Some 75.8 percent of eligible voters voted. Voters are taking pictures in front of a polling station.

In 2007, she lost to President Lee Myung-bak in the contest to win the party’s presidential nomination, but she made a strong comeback

in the 2012 general election. Before the election, the party faced another serious crisis, but Park led the party to win a majority of 152 seats in the National Assembly as head of the party’s emergency response commission.

progressive. With the victory, the Saenuri Party in power for some time. The latest presidential Park will not only be the country’s first-ever

percent of the total votes cast. Her major

was confirmed, she delivered an address in Gwanghwamun Square in which she said

After her victory in the presidential election

opponent, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic

United Party (DUP), won 14.67 million votes, or 48.0 percent of the total votes. Some 75.8 percent of the 40,507,842 eligible voters, or

she would usher in an era of happiness for all and she would keep the three promises she

Koreans so that they can achieve their dreams made during the election. The three promises being of the public, always act on her words,

female president but is also from the family of a former president. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, who was in power from

30,722,712 Korean citizens, turned out for this election. The margin of victory was only 1.08 million votes.
2

are that she would always take care of the welland help heal the divisions in Korean society.
37

36 korea january 2013

glObal kORea

individual partner countries’ needs. The theme of each KSP project is selected in accordance with the partner country’s demands and requests.

been incorporated into partner countries’

policies. In 2009, Korea and Vietnam signed

a memorandum of understanding to expand bilateral cooperation, and the KSP provided comprehensive consulting on the entire economy of Vietnam, based on which

program helps partner countries accomplish their development objectives by providing specific and practical policy solutions so that

Second, the KSP focuses on policy. The

Vietnam devised its 2011-2020 socioeconomic development strategies. Kuwait reflected

1

2 1 The final briefing in United Arab Emirates. 2 The KSP project is selected in accordance with the partner country’s demands and requests.

Sharing Korea’s Experience in Economic Growth

they can achieve sustainable economic growth. economic cooperation. To that end, joint Finally, the KSP is aimed at comprehensive

the KSP’s policy consulting into its five-year development plan, and Kazakhstan did so development plan. into its 2010-2014 industrial innovation and Cambodia and Mongolia both introduced

The Knowledge Sharing Program

research and policy consulting are conducted on the purposes of individual KSP projects. The program also invites the policymakers and experts of partner countries to Korea in order to maximize learning effectiveness and thereby It is no wonder that the KSP program

The Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) shares Korea’s experience and knowhow in economic growth with other countries, especially developing countries. Since 2004, the KSP has helped provide uniquely Korean policy consulting to 39 countries. by Yang In-sil in cooperation with the Korea Development Institute

public-private partnership (PPP) programs after private investment. The two countries are now amending applicable laws concerning PPP. The KSP also helped establish the Indonesia is seeking to found a trade promotion

receiving the KSP’s consulting on how to attract

forge solid, long-term cooperative relationships.

S

ustainable economic growth and inclusive development require sound policies and

national growth is a priceless asset. Korea rose

systems, and knowledge about economic

rapidly out of crushing poverty to join the ranks of advanced countries and is now widely hailed as one of the greatest success stories of all time: a one-time aid recipient that is now a donor with a great deal to offer. PARTNER-ORIENTED

encompasses a broad range of fields: economics, science and technology, agriculture, education and training, green growth and new and renewable energy sources, and e-government. PRACTICAL HELP

Bond Pricing Agency (IBPA) in 2009. Cambodia organization in cooperation with the KSP, while the Dominican Republic is planning to found an export and investment center and an import/ export bank, also in cooperation with the KSP. Korean technology and knowhow through can have better name recognition in the Partner countries have naturally acquired

development policies and systems should be

shared across the world for the prosperity of international outreach is the Knowledge

all. One of the ten major programs of Korea’s Sharing Program (KSP), a Korean-style official to spread Korea’s knowhow in economic growth. The KSP is the brainchild of the Development Institute (KDI).

The first partners of the KSP were Vietnam in 2004. Since then, the KSP has conducted

development assistance (ODA) model designed

The KSP is intended to provide comprehensive Korean-style policy consulting that addresses countries. the specific needs and circumstances of partner The program has three salient features.

and Uzbekistan, which joined the program policy consulting and joint research on over

the KSP, which benefits Korea as the country international community and Korean companies can seize more opportunities to do business in the partner countries. Ultimately, the KSP will

Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Korea
Industrial inspection in Cambodia.

440 subjects in 109 projects with 39 countries: Middle East, and one in Eastern Europe.

12 in Asia, nine in Latin America, seven in the In many cases, KSP policy consulting has

A country’s experience in and knowledge of

First, it provides services designed to meet

benefit both Korea and partner countries alike.
39

38 korea january 2013

SuMMiT DiPlOMacY

ties in 1983, the leaders praised two-way trade volume reaching USD 1.56 billion last year. They also recognized South Korean companies’ increasing involvement in a variety of sectors steel, and transport, Lee’s office said. in Pakistan including construction, chemistry, Following their summit, Korea’s Ministry

of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs

and Pakistan’s railway ministry signed a cooperation in the country’s railway development.

memorandum of understanding on bilateral

agreement on Seoul’s assistance to spur

The two governments also signed an

Pakistan’s social and economic development, strengthening Korea’s legal and institutional grounds for more systemized support to the country. Separately, Bank of Korea Governor Kim

matters to strengthen the development of the as the opening up of polar shipping routes.

Choong-soo and his Pakistani counterpart Yaseen Anwar signed a memorandum of understanding to share Seoul’s banking Under the MOU, the two banks are to

Arctic nation’s environmental policies as well The two leaders also agreed to continue efforts for economic cooperation and development between the two nations. On the same day, Prime Minister Kleist

Prime Minister Kleist visited South Korea for official talks on the economic cooperation and development between the two nations.

South Korean President Greets Leaders of Pakistan and Greenland
President Lee Myung-bak met President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist of Greenland in Cheong Wa Dae on their official visits to Korea. by Chung Da-young

experience and technology with the country. strengthen their cooperation and expand

joint research regarding currency policy and foreign currency reserves. The two will also exchange staff to increase people-to-people exchanges.

visited several private minerals companies in

Seoul including Hyundai Steel Company and

Korea Gas Corporation. He was accompanied seek ways to explore mineral resources in the Arctic region. The Greenlandic leader also met Minister

by ten-odd businesspeople from Greenland to

GREENLANDIC PREMIER RETURNS VISIT

KOREA, PAKISTAN TO ExPAND

DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

made by Cheong Wa Dae, the two leaders

President Lee about bolstering economic and President Zardari arrived on Monday for a on the second day to hold a summit to

P

akistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari visited Korea from December 3 to 5 for talks with

agreed to cooperate to develop hydroelectric in Pakistan.

Vandersee Kleist arrived in Seoul on December 12 for a five-day visit at the invitation of South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. President Lee visited Greenland on

F

ollowing the visit of President Zardari, Greenlandic Prime Minister Kuupik

Kim and discussed ways to deepen cooperative ties between South Korea and Greenland in various areas, including economy, trade,

power water resources, and rail infrastructure During the talks, the Pakistani president

sustainable development of the Arctic, climate join the Arctic Council.

change, environment, and South Korea’s bid to Prime Minister Kleist expressed his

other cooperation between the two countries. three-day official visit and met President Lee discuss ways to expand substantial cooperation mainly in the areas of trade, infrastructure, and development aid. According to a statement

expressed his gratitude for Seoul’s official

September 9 and 10, laying the groundwork for cooperation in green growth and sustainable development of the Arctic region. Prime follow-up measures. Minister Kleist’s visit was arranged to seek On the second day of his visit, Prime Minister

development assistance to his country and a non-permanent seat on the UN Security

congratulated Lee on Seoul’s success in securing Council for the years 2013-14. Recognizing that sectors since the opening of their diplomatic

government’s support for South Korea to join the Arctic Council, a group of eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle.

President Lee and President Zardari inspect the Traditional Honor Guard at Cheong Wa Dae.

the two countries’ ties have deepened in various

As a temporary observer of the council, South observer of the Arctic Council.

Kleist met the South Korean president at Cheong Wa Dae for an official luncheon and discussed

Korea is working to be elected as a permanent

40 korea january 2013

41

now in korea

Hallyu and Shopping

Ten Million Visit Korea a Year
The number of annual visitors to Korea surpassed ten million for the first time in 2012. Why are they coming? Interest in Hallyu (Korean wave)? International events? Let’s have a closer look at Korea as a tourist destination. by Yang In-sil in cooperation with the Visit Korea Committee

three million Japanese, 600,000 Americans, and roughly 1.5 million from Southeast Asia. The appreciation of the Japanese yen,

holding events such as the Busan Fireworks Festival and the Jeju Olle Walking to streamline the

the spread of Hallyu, and regional tourist

attractions such as the Boryeong Mud Festival Japanese traffic to Korea. The Chinese were accorded a visa waiver to Jejudo, although

and the Andong Maskdance Festival increased

Festival and its efforts country’s visa issuance process. Yet another factor cited by the ministry is effective overseas marketing by the Visit Korea

incentivized group tours, shopping tourism

O

n the afternoon of November 22, 2012,

Airport was crowded as usual, but one She was Li Tingting (

the arrival hall of Incheon International

Korea, I searched the Internet for information: I visited the homepage of the Korea Tourism Organization and so on. I had no difficulties Korean well.”

packages, and overseas school trips were the to Korea. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Korea’s tourism industry expanded 13.2 percent in 2012, the fastest growth of any G20 country.

main factors in the increase in Chinese visitors

foreign visitor was given a special greeting.

the ten millionth visitor to Korea in 2012. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Tourism Organization, the Visit Korea

) from Shanghai,

getting information even though I cannot speak

Committee which was

1

organized for the 2010-2012 period, designated as the Visit Korea Years.

12 PERCENT RISE IN VISITORS

Committee, and Incheon International Airport mark in the number of annual visitors.

The number of visitors to Korea has increased ten fold over the past 35 years. In 1978 the country received one million visitors; by 2000, it was five million. In 2011, it reached 9.8 million, have seen an explosive rise in tourists from visitors came to Korea in 2012, along with and finally hit ten million in 2012. Recent years China and Japan. Some 2.44 million Chinese

believes that the surge in visitors to Korea in

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

recent years is largely due to the success of the

SHOPPING AND HALLYU

Corporation together celebrated the ten million “My mom and I enjoy watching Korean TV

G20 Summit and the Nuclear Security Summit

While walking along the alleys of Myeong-dong, dubbed the First Avenue of Shopping in Korea, you could be forgiven if you thought you were in China or Japan. Much of the conversation is area alone now sees over 1.5 million shoppers lining the streets and alleys annually.

hosted in Seoul, Pyeongchang’s winning the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the worldwide awareness and perceptions of Korea. Other important factors are the ministry’s cooperation with regional governments in rising tide of Hallyu, all of which have improved

soaps,” said Li Tingting, “and I’m interested
A group of tourists dance to a K-pop song at Gwanghwamun Square.

in foreign languages in the crowded streets. This browse and purchase things displayed in shops

in Korean food and cosmetics, so I really

wanted to come to Korea. Before coming to

1 Hallyu Dream Festival commemorates the 20102012 Visit Korea Year campaign. 2 Major department stores are popular shopping destinations for foreign shoppers.

2

42 korea january 2013

43

now in korea

FLAVOR

sales of products made in Korea. Sales of Korean products have been somewhat weak because of the lukewarm domestic economy but they are now selling briskly through duty-free shops.

The rise in foreign shoppers also means more

and Tourism’s 2011 survey on tourism, the

number one reason why foreign visitors came to common answers were to try Korean food and to enjoy the beauty of Korea. The most-visited districts were Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun The most-visited cities and provinces were do, and Jeju Island in that order. The most

Korea was shopping. The second and third most

Tteokguk

One of Korea’s duty-free chains received more than six million shoppers in 2012, a 27-percent rise from the previous year. The surge in tourists caused tourism revenues to soar from USD 6.1 billion in 2007 to USD 14.3 billion in 2012, or by 134 percent in only six years.

A bowl of tteok soup for the New Year
Tteokguk is a Korean traditional dish enjoyed during the celebration of the Lunar New Year. It is also sometimes eaten on New Year’s Day, January 1st. According to Dongguksesigi, a 19th century history of the Lunar New Year’s Day goes as far back as

Market, and Namdaemun Market in that order. Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Gyeongsang-do, Gangwoncommonly purchased items were perfumes and cosmetics, food, and clothing, while the most popular shopping places were Myeong-dong and duty-free shops at airports. Shopping was also the most satisfactory

at the tables of a café that was a major part of the setting of a Hallyu TV drama five years ago. Musicals featuring Hallyu entertainers

Chinese and Japanese tourists are still seen

book, the custom of eating tteokguk in the morning 108 BC. It is believed that a bowl of tteokguk would

bring good luck for the forthcoming year and ensure that one lived through the next year. Thus came the you eaten?” to ask a person’s age. custom of asking “How many bowls of tteokguk have White tteok called garae-tteok is sliced into long

attract audiences from across the Korea Strait. There can be no doubt that Hallyu has been a major attraction for Korea. Music fans listen to PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and other K-pop

aspect of tourism in Korea, followed by safety, hospitality, food, and entry and departure procedures at the airport. Tourists, however, finding information or signs in their own languages were often issues. WHAT TO IMPROVE

songs all over the world, director Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta and other Korean films are recognized in international film festivals, and Korean food is increasingly enjoyed worldwide. All these Korea.
Myeong-dong is dubbed the First Avenue of Shopping in Korea.

also responded that the language barrier and

ovals and cooked in a broth to make this dish.

Traditionally, pheasant was used to make the broth, but most households today use beef as the base for cooked eggs, marinated beef, and dried seaweed called gim. the soup. The dish is usually garnished with lightly

factors pique global villagers’ curiosity about

Korea has obviously become a popular global

tourist destination, but ten million visitors also mean that efforts must be made to improve the tourism experience. “We’ll develop more high value-added tourism sectors involving health services, performances, and MICE tourism (meetings, incentives, conferences, and

KOREA AS SHOPPING HAVEN

by Chung Da-young / photographs by Lee Jin-ha food & styling by Kim Young-bin

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports

exhibitions),” says Choe Kwangsik, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism. “With a target of 20 2020, we’ll improve the tourism infrastructure.”

million annual foreign visitors by

facilities to accommodate the ever-increasing number of

Korea also needs more lodging

tourists, develop more tourist

attractions across the country,

and diversify tourism attractions besides Hallyu in order to make again and again.
44 korea january 2013

more tourists want to come back

45

MY korea

The Korean Language’s Deepest Rewards Are Only Revealed with Time
Korean has a reputation for how the language has built-in levels of respect. But what might surprise you is the level of affection that is also embedded in it.
by Joel Killin / illustrations by Moon Sin-ki

what’s in a name

about another word PSY used: oppan. Again,

she mispronounced it – no, Mom, he does not

in society, which is as a man of good taste, one whom women like and can respect. This was nearly as well-explained as could have been done. I’m glad to have another opportunity I want to take you on a journey. sufficient explanation for my parents, but not

say “open Gangnam Style”. After correcting her, she prodded me to explain about this word, too. I leaned back in my chair then, puzzling over how best to elucidate this concept. Oppan is a variant spelling of oppa (in

here. Grant me your patience, dear reader, for Sometime shortly after stepping off the plane

Korean: 오빠), particularly an adjectival form. Oppa, in its most basic meaning, is the word for older brother. In Korean, there are several

for the first time at Incheon Airport, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

S

words younger siblings may use to refer to their my gong. I concluded, “Just pronounce the older siblings, depending on one’s gender. A initial G a little harder – like Gangnam,” I said. My dad had joined my mother at the computer by this time, and I heard them both pronounce Korean lesson,” I said. boy with an older sister would call her nuna, but with an older brother would call him hyeong, while a girl would call him oppa. All this flashed through my head very

Left, right, up, down – a series of indecipherable signs greeted me, along with arrows telling me to go left, right, or straight. I found immediate all the signage. Not having slept for roughly all the way to baggage claim. About the comfort in the English translations underneath 24 hours at this point, I carried myself slowly time I reached the immigration counter just before baggage claim, however, I realized I still hadn’t filled out my arrival documents.

o there I was a couple months ago, sitting in my apartment on a quiet, cool Sunday

morning, chatting on Skype with my parents. My mom was telling me with excitement that a Korean song had become popular of late uncertainly. “The song is called Gangnam in the U.S. “The singer is PS-PSY?” she said Style,” she finished, mispronouncing the first syllable of the title. I laughed. “It’s not like ‘gang’,” I replied, “as in: a gang of thieves stole my money.” No, I told her, it’s pronounced closer to ‘gong’, as in: the gang of thieves stole

a girl with an older sister would say eonni. A boy

it together – correctly. “There you go. Your first Next, they wanted to know what the song

quickly, as I mulled where to begin. My parents, however, were waiting with bated breath, so I plowed through an answer. In truth, all I was really able to convey to them was that when

meant. I explained that Gangnam is a famous

district in Seoul, known for its wealth and posh lifestyles. PSY, I told them, was elaborating on common perceptions toward the people who

PSY repeats the mantra “Oppan Gangnam Style” throughout the song, he is referring to his status

Scrambling, I ducked out of line and went to

write my information on the papers. Less than 30 minutes later, laden with my two suitcases and an overstuffed backpack, I was through, relieved.

live in that district. My mom interjected, asking

wide-eyed, into the arrivals hall, exhausted and

Eemo
Can I please get a bowl of rice? (Auntie)!

of experiences that followed was nothing short of life-altering. The food, of course, was a kick to my taste buds, which, I discovered, were woefully unprepared for the burst of flavor restaurant. The interpersonal customs, too,

That was over four years ago. The succession

that came with my first meal at a dwaeji galbi stuck out – the way people bow to one another, how one is supposed to accept a gift, or the manner in which one pours drinks for other. and certainly one could come, live, and Korea is an amazing and unique country,

experience numerous of its pleasures in a short visit. In fact, many do just this, hopping in for two weeks or a month or some other length time to unravel. For instance, the language. of time. Some of Korea’s secrets, though, take When one sits down to learn it initially, it is

46 korea january 2013

47

MY korea

Learn korean

unravel; and you’d be surprised how much you miss until someone points it out bluntly. For me, that moment came one day at work. I had been in Korea just over two years, and all the refer to my coworker Mark as oppa. “Oppa,” sudden I heard a couple of the Korean teachers they said together, “it’s your turn.” They meant it was his turn to take out the trash, a task my school rotated from week to week among the and in that moment became about as docile

As I said, some pleasures take time to

if You want to go skiing...

What do you want to do in Korea? There are many attractive places in Korea. If you want to go skiing, ski resort in Gangwondo is recommendable. If you want to go hiking, Jeju Island is recommendable. Let’s talk about what you want to do in Korea.
A: 민수 씨, 스키를 타고 싶어요. B: 나오코 씨, 스키를 타려면 평창으로 가 보세요.

Minsu, I want to go skiiing. minsu ssi, ski-reul tago sipeoyo.

Naoko, I suggest you go to Pyeongchang for skiing. naoko ssi, ski-reul taryeomyeon Pyeongchang-euro ga boseyo.
B: 평창에 가려면 버스를 타야 해요.

English teachers. Mark turned red and laughed,

A: 서울에서 평창까지 어떻게 가요?

as I ever saw him. When he came back, I took called him.

the opportunity to ask him what the girls had That was the moment I first learned about

How do I get to Pyeongchang from Seoul? Seoul-eseo Pyeongchangkkaji eotteoke gayo?

You have to take the bus to Pyeongchang. Pyeongchang-e garyeomyeon busreul taya haeyo.

oppa. I had already known before this time that oppa meant older brother. However, Mark was definitely not the older brother of my Korean coworkers! He explained to me how it was very evident that Korean is a language built around respect. In every culture, of course, there is a difference in how one – for example adults. The Korean language takes this a step an affectionate title. He said he liked it when

Let’s practice

Which place did you visit in Korea? Try to make a conversation as suggested by the following example and vocabulary.

anyone called him oppa, because it made him him that once not long after, forgetting that riotously and said, “You’re not a girl!”

feel appreciated and respected. I tried calling oppa is only for a woman to say. Mark laughed I have since learned many other words which

쇼핑을 하다 - 동대문

스키를 타다 - 평창

– speaks to children versus how one speaks to further by cementing this respect into the very grammar of the language itself. Moreover, this level of respect is not simply between children and adults. It extends to family, to friends, to authority figures, to business partners – and even to strangers.

shopping-eul hada – Dongdaemun go shopping

ski-reul tada – Pyeongchang go skiing

in Korean are terms of endearment. Oppa is

just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of others that are similar, more than I know – and way more than can fit here. Nonetheless, fun using them.
한정식을 먹다 - 전주

basics. I learned how to read Hangeul easily, navigate through just about any ordinary
about the writer
Joel Killin is an American who moved to Korea in 2008 with the intention to "stay two years" if he really liked it. More than four years later, Korea still fascinates him. He loves music and has had his music criticism published, as well as some of his fiction and poetry. He also enjoys economics, comedy, and, best of all, being with the friends and strangers who make life so memorable.

For my first two years in Korea, I learned the

despite my incomplete understanding, it’s still The cook at my school, who is a sweet lady

and I shored up my vocabulary so that I could situation – ordering at restaurants, taking a

and wonderful at her job, I have started calling eemo, which means aunt. She smiles whenever anyone calls her that. I sometimes call my makes them giggle so much that I start to giggle, too.

hanjeongsigeul meokda - Jeonju go to eat Korean Table d’hote

영화제를 보다 - 부산

taxi home, or getting directions. English, too,

is common enough in many places that I often was able to rely on it solely, a fact that is truly a testament to the effort Koreans have made toward accommodating foreign residents. Anytime I did attempt to study further, all

female Korean friends nuna, a distinction which

도보여행을 하다 - 제주도

a few times have Korean women called me

At 26 years old, I’m still fairly young. Only

doboyeohaeng-eul hada – Jejudo go hiking
A: 나오코 씨, 스키를 타고 싶어요?

yeonghwajereul boda – Busan go to film festival

the respectfulness which is bound up in the language overwhelmed me, and it obscured for a long time that Korean is also a very affectionate language.

oppa. Every time they do, though, I am only

able to laugh and sigh contentedly. Though it’s

B: 스키를 타려면 평창으로 가 보세요.

a pleasure that can take a while to understand, Korea.

(Naoko, do you want to go skiing?)

once you do it’s just another thing to love about

(I suggest you go to Pyeongchang for skiing.)

48 korea january 2013

49

ne pas affranchir

priority / priorilaire by airmail / par avion
ibrs / ccri n° : 10024-40730
no stamp required

reply paid / réponse payée korea (seoul)
kocis 15 hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu seoul (110-040) republic of korea

“Group dancinG” of miGratory birds at the GeumGanG estuary

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