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Korea’s traditional clothing is practical and beautiful
Eun Hee-kyung Muju
CONTENTS JANUARY 2014 VOL.10 NO.1
C over S tory Embodying age-old philosophies, Korea’s traditional clothing is as practical as it is beautiful
14 18 20 24 26 28 30 32 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
PEN & BRUSH
Novelist Eun Hee-kyung
Master Watch Repairman Back Jun-duk
Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon
Sejong City: Part II
Korea's Toilet Revolution
Publisher Woo Jin-yung, Korean Culture and Information Service Executive Producer Suh Jeong-sun E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Magazine Production Seoul Selection Editor-in-Chief Robert Koehler Producer Shin Yesol Production Supervisor Lee Jin-hyuk Editorial Advisors Jang Woojung, Im Hyeong Doo Copy Editors Gregory C. Eaves, D. Peter Kim, Hwang Chi-young Creative Director Jung Hyun-young Head Designer Ko Min-jeong Photography Ryu Seunghoo, Robert Koehler Printing LEEFFECT All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from KOREA and the Korean Culture and Information Service. If you want to receive a free copy of KOREA or wish to cancel a subscription, please e-mail us. A downloadable PDF ﬁle of KOREA and a map and glossary with common Korean words appearing in our text are available by clicking on the thumbnail of KOREA on the homepage of www.korea.net. 발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06
The IT Healthcare Era
Korea Lends a Hand to the Philippines
• Assisting events that introduce Korean culture to non-Koreans • Producing foreign-language publications and different types of promotional materials on Korea • Operating the government homepage, www.korea.net • Assisting intenational academics, opinion leaders and foreign media reporting on Korea
Hockey Player Brock Radunske
TALES FROM KOREA
The Princess and the Idiot
Seolleongtang and Kkakdugi
C over S tory
Embodying age-old philosophies, Korea’s traditional clothing is as practical as it is beautiful
Written by Samuel Songhoon Lee
C over S tory
Since being elected in December 2012, President Park Geunhye has surprised the world—and the Korean people—with her steadfast devotion to wearing Hanbok on official occasions. Her devotion to Hanbok traces back to the influences of her mother, Yuk Young-soo, who, in her role as first lady, oversaw Korea’s miraculous economic rise from being one of the most impoverished countries in the world in the 1960s to being one of the richest today. Yuk preferred to wear Hanbok instead of Western dresses. This instilled a sense of pride and confidence amongst Koreans who were struggling to pull themselves out of the destruction and destitution of the tragic Korean War (1950–1953) and the brutal colonial rule of Japan (1910–1945). Widely known for her humble lifestyle and abstention from luxuries, Yuk was unrestrained in her concern and devotion to the livelihood of the common people, regularly paying visits to the poor and sick. Today, even the staunchest political opponents of President Park openly express their admiration and respect for her mother. President Park rekindled the people’s yearning for such benevolent leadership when she opted to wear Hanbok at key post-inauguration ceremonies in January 2013. She donned a red durumagi, or outer coat, and a blue chima at the goodwill ceremony that took place minutes after her inaugural address.
here is perhaps no other artifact that captures the richness of Korean cultural heritage as well as Korean traditional attire, known as Hanbok. While the origins of Hanbok can be traced back millennia to the ethnic origins of the Korean people, historical records in the form of murals painted during the early period of the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.–A.D. 668) show that Koreans began to wear a modern form of Hanbok as early as the fourth century B.C. The basic design of Hanbok comprises of twopieces, an upper and lower garment. The upper garment, the jeogori, is a bolero blouse-like jacket worn by both women and men. For the lower garment, women wear a chima, a full-blown skirt that reaches past the ankles, and men wear a baji, a pair of roomy trousers. On top of these basic garments, a wide variety of accessories and outerwear can be worn for different seasons and
different occasions. What is most astonishing about hanbok is the way in which its form and design have been preserved, despite a time lapse of two thousand years. While the particular style and specific length have undergone changes over the years, the basic appearance of hanbok has stayed intact. In looking at Goguryeo period murals dating from the fourth century B.C., one will see an uncanny resemblance to the Hanbok being worn on the streets of modern Seoul. It is this remarkable preservation of Hanbok that provides a window into the rich cultural heritage of the Korean people. Although Hanbok is popularly worn today on special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, there is renewed interest among modern Koreans in wearing Hanbok as everyday wear, just as their ancestors once did. The revival has been touched off by Korea’s first female head of state, President Park Geun-hye.
1. The traditional Hanbok is still worn on special occasions today. 2. The many Hanbok worn by President Park Geun-hye at various diplomatic functions.
The symbolism of the color combination did not go unnoticed: the colors red and blue, found on the Korean national flag, have historically represented the harmony of opposites. Many took her outfit as a plea for unity amongst the Korean people. President Park has also been dazzling the global stage with her Hanbok, a policy that has come to be known as “Hanbok diplomacy.” In her official visits to the United States and China, she donned several varieties of Hanbok, each laden with different symbolism and meaning to mark the particular occasion. In an honorary dinner to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korea-US alliance at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., President Park wore a cobalt-colored chima and beige jeogori with elaborate embroidery. According to Kim Younsuk, designer of President Park’s Hanbok, the colors of the president’s Hanbok were carefully selected in consideration of the many U.S. veterans of the Korean War who were in attendance. The cobalt color symbolized the Korean sky and the elaborate embroidery adorned with flowers and trees marked the prosperity and cultural refinement of Korea today. Toward the end of her visit, President Park traveled to Los Angeles, which has historically been a popular destination for Korean emigrants. When meeting with Korean emigrants, she wore a pink Hanbok. In an interview with a newspaper there, Kim said he wanted to accentuate the motherly warmth and feminine grace of the nation’s first female president.
C over S tory
The Beauty of Hanbok
Flowing lines When discussing the aesthetic delight of Hanbok, what inevitably emerges is the beauty of its flowing lines. Indeed, it is this attribute that distinguishes Hanbok from other East Asian traditional outfits, such as the Chinese cheongsam or the Japanese kimono. Korean Hanbok incorporates both straight and curving lines, which combine to create a sense of naturally flowing harmony. When the wearer moves, the flowing lines of Hanbok create an undulating silhouette that is subtle yet palpable. The collar of women’s Hanbok, which forms a V-shape, can be adjusted to accentuate or subdue the neckline. The rounded curve of the sleeve’s in-seams bring out a sense of gentleness. The straight line that is projected from the hanging goreum, the coat string-like long ribbon that ties the jeogori closed, presents a simple but elegant look. The layers of wrinkles that gradually spread out from the waistline of the chima to the bottom also add to the subdued elegance. Color arrangement Another distinguishing feature of Hanbok is the contrast in complementary colors. The color schemes often found in Hanbok are variations of the primary colors of red, blue, green and yellow, as found in the natural world, along with black and white. The East Asian philosophy of yin and yang and the five elements that are believed to be the basis for the cosmos also yield great influence on how colors are picked and arranged. The contrast in complementary colors adds to the elegance and refined beauty of Hanbok. White was the default shade historically favored by the Korean people for its symbolism of modesty and pure spirit. Red signified good fortune and prosperity so it was the color used in bridal Hanbok. Indigo represented dedication so it was the color used in Hanbok worn by court ladies and the official attire of government officials. Black, which symbolized eternity and the
1. A Hanbok by designer Lee Young Hee at the Korea-Turkey Traditional Fashion Show in Istanbul on Sept 11, 2013 2. The spring 2011 collection of designer Carolina Herrera is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Sept 13, 2010. 3. Fashion show by designer Kim Young Seok at the Wedding Fair at the Westin Chosun Hotel, Seoul, June 2012. © Traditional Korean Costume Kim Young Seok
Hanbok Captivates Global Fashion Runways
The beauty of Hanbok has also been recognized on the runways of the world’s most respected fashion shows. Since the 1990s, Korean fashion designers have left their mark on the Western fashion world with Hanbok-inspired collections. In 1996, Lee Young Hee, one of the most respected Hanbok designers, dazzled the Paris fashion world with her exhibition “Hanbok: Clothes of the Wind” at the Musée de l’Orangerie. Lee was also the first Korean designer to have her works featured in France’s esteemed prêt-à-porter collection. Her collections feature Hanbok adapted to modern sensibilities that stretch the boundaries of the imagination. Lee’s Hanbok collections have often been described as daring and experimental. Indeed, some of her women’s Hanbok did away with jeogori, and had chima befitting a Western dress. Leading French media took notice of Lee’s collections, and Le Monde praised the seamless way in which Hanbok drapes over the human physique in smooth, flowing lines while retaining its elegant and sophisticated demeanor. The beauty of Hanbok has also not gone unnoticed in the eyes of Western fashion designers, who have come to draw inspiration from the centuries-old Korean traditional attire. Carolina Herrera, whose collections have been worn by such prominent figures as Jacqueline Kennedy and actress Renée
Zellweger, showcased Hanbok-inspired dresses for her 2011 S/S collection. In particular, Herrera incorporated the ample spatial feature of the chima with an added emphasis on the naturally flowing silhouette lines. “The dresses made by Herrera retain the unique Korean concept of the silhouette,” said Kim Eun-jung, a clothing and textiles professor at Chonnam National University. “The way the clothes envelop the body and the ample folds of the chima all point toward how well she understands the emphasis on lines found in Hanbok.” Herrera also featured female models wearing gat, a wide brimmed hat with an emerging center usually worn by Confucian scholars during the Joseon period. Another Western designer who has drawn inspiration from Hanbok is the Belgian Dries van Noten, who was once described by The New York Times as “one of fashion’s most cerebral designers.” For his 2012 Paris Collection, van Noten incorporated prints found in the paper collar of the jeogori. His fascination with jeogori led to a unique collaboration with Korean Hanbok designer Kim Hye-soon, whose extensive research into the upper Hanbok garment led to her authoring the book Our Beautiful Jeogori (2011), which traces the evolution of the jeogori over more than 600 years. Van Noten featured several jeogori designs and patterns found in Kim’s book in his own collection.
C o ver S tory
Traditional Clothing as Foreign Policy
Designer Kim Young Seok helps foster global friendships through Hanbok
Interview by Robert Koehler
he reached his mid-30s that he began to design Korea’s traditional attire professionally. Complete with fur neck
1. A Russian visitor dons a Hanbok at a Korean homestay facility. 2. Koreans often wear Hanbok on traditional holidays.
warmer, he presents the very image of a fashion designer, not just one who fashions the wardrobe of VIPs, including corporate executives, first ladies and, of course, President Park. Kim says traditional clothing such as hanbok reflects the
origin of all creation, figured in men’s hats. Yellow, which represented the center of the universe, was the color preferred by royalty and its wearing by common people was strictly regulated. The complementary colors are one of the most captivating aesthetic attributes of Hanbok. The contrast of bright yellow against deep blue, or light green against solid red, for example, are among the more popular color arrangements preferred for their eye-catching quality. During major events, such a color scheme is worn by the primary participants or important guests. Beauty and Practicality Although it may appear at first to be a daunting attire to be worn every day, Hanbok in reality maximizes practicality and comfort. Because Hanbok is sewn in a curved fashion in accordance with the general shape of the human body, it allows easy movement and mobility. Because its silhouette and flowing lines are not directly tied to the wearer’s physique, Hanbok can be worn by people of all body types without compromising individual dignity or elegance. Simple changes in color arrangements allow the wearer to create a variety of looks with different underlying emotional tones. The ample room of Hanbok also allows it to be easily fitted to adapt for changes in physique. Hanbok is also widely known for its durability. Because the attire is colored using natural dye, its faded color can easily be restored without
compromising its original colors. There have been growing efforts to modernize Hanbok so it can be worn as everyday wear along with popular clothing such as blue jeans. One pioneer is Hanbok designer Park Mi-yeon, whose brand “Armi” (pronounced ar-MEE) has a distinctively casual flair (www.armbang.co.kr). She has adapted Hanbok to modern, casual sensibilities that could be easily worn along with other daily wear while preserving the fundamental design and spirit of Hanbok. Park’s brand is carried by more than 50 chain stores throughout the nation. Another pioneer in modernized Hanbok is Lee Gi-yeon, who heads her own brand, “Jil Kyung Yee” (www.jilkyungee.co.kr). Since the 1980s, Lee has led research and production efforts to adapt Hanbok as everyday wear. She goes about achieving the adaptation by looking further back in time in attempting to bring out the spirit and philosophy of the ancestors into modern light. The “modernization” of her Hanbok collection comes from adapting the clothes with consideration for increased mobility and also the blood circulation patterns of the human anatomy. “We embed our culture into our clothes,” Lee said in a TV interview. Modern Hanbok maximizes mobility and function. Some collections do away with the draping goreum, the coat-string like tie that drops below waist, and also shortens the width and length of the chima while extending the length of the jeogori.
history and lifestyle of a country. “I think Hanbok is a lot like architecture. It’s very structured,” he says. Like Korean architecture, hanbok reflects what’s inside. It’s very deep and very layered, like the dresses of Victorian-era Britain. According to the designer, the beauty of Hanbok doesn’t immediately present itself at first glance, like any good art. “Too much perfection ruins beauty,” he says, pointing to the Mona Lisa, whose beauty contains a certain sense of unease thanks to her missing eyebrows. “Hanbok is the same. When you first look at it, it’s as if something’s missing. But it makes you want to keep looking even after the person has passed. First we go ‘Eh?’ and then we notice it’s beautiful.” President Park has earned both domestic and international admiration for wearing Kim’s Hanbok at international events, including in her May visit to the U.S. “When we get invited to a friend’s home, we wear nice clothes. When we meet foreign friends in particular, one of the ways we can spark interest in one another is wearing traditional clothing or presenting them with something that they take an interest in,” says Kim. “Hanbok diplomacy is something that can smooth a first meeting and build a sense of friendship.” So how can Korea promote Hanbok both at home im Young Seok wasn’t born a Hanbok designer, let alone the one for President Park Geun-hye. “It started out as a and abroad? “Speaking generally of the culture, we need efforts to get people to wear Hanbok more,” says Kim. “Instead of simply complaining that Hanbok is uncomfortable, we must improve the aspects that are uncomfortable.”
hobby,” he says. “When people die in Korea, they burn all their things, so very few old, traditional things are left. I wanted to recreate some of those old things as a hobby.” It wasn’t until
C over S tory
HANBOK AccORDING tO SOcIAL CLAss
hroughout the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910), Korea was governed by a neoConfucian philosophy which emphasized social harmony and reﬁning oneself through dedicated scholarship. This was reﬂected in the different Hanbok each class wore. Neo-Confucian scholars believed that a dedicated scholar must refrain from excess, and as such, the children of noble families studying for the royal civil service exam often took to wearing simple hanbok that stressed austerity and reﬁnement. The king wore a specially prepared Hanbok made of red silk satin. It was most noted for the carefully sewn golden dragon emblem on the chest and also on the upper sleeve of each arm. The queen’s Hanbok also stood out for its elaborate embroidery consisting of pheasants and plum blossoms. Men belonging to the middle and aristocratic yangban class were easily identiﬁable by their gat, a cylinder-shaped hat with a wide brim made of horsehair. What clothing material Hanbok was made from was also an important status symbol. Silk imported from China was seen as the ultimate luxury fabric for Hanbok, while commoners tended to wear Hanbok made of cotton. Aristocratic women also distinguished themselves with colorful chima, with the most popular colors being red, purple and yellow. It was quite ample in its depth, to allow for a full silhouette, and extended to the ground to conceal the ankles. The chima worn by common women were narrower and shorter and showed the ankles. In addition, aristocratic women were fond of elaborate embroidery sewn around their chima, while common women were not allowed such a luxury. The color of women’s Hanbok was also an important signiﬁer of marital status. Red chima were for single women without children while navy-blue chima were for married women. A combination of yellowish green jeogori and red chima were for newlywed brides. Widows wore white chima. The variety of Hanbok colors was limited to the upper class. Pink, yellow or other brightly colored Hanbok were worn mostly by children. Most commoners were restricted to wearing white hanbok as their everyday wear. Because the color gold held signiﬁcance as the center of the universe, only royalty was allowed to wear goldcolored Hanbok. Hanbok worn by government ofﬁcials was distinguished by the square-shaped pattern embroidered on the front. Military ofﬁcials had a tiger while civil servants had a crane embroidered on. The different types of embroidery distinguished the wearer’s rank. Professional female entertainers, known as gisaeng, tended to wear colorful Hanbok enveloped in elaborate ﬂoral patterns. They preferred Hanbok in strong primary colors that were captivating to the eye. It was a great honor for a gisaeng to have one of her patrons paint a picture or write a poem directly onto her skirt. For a wedding Hanbok, the bride wore a crimson chima and a special type of yellowish-green jeogori. They also wore an extensive white sleeve that reached to their knees to cover their hands. The groom also wore an elaborate set piece that strongly resembled the ofﬁcial court attire. They also c arried a folding paper fan to cover their mouths.
1. Commoner’s clothing 2. A white Hanbok worn by a seonbi, the rustic scholars of the Joseon Dynasty. 3. Queen’s Hanbok from the early Joseon Dynasty 4. A gisaeng’s Hanbok 5. Wedding Hanbok
ThE HANBOK IN KOREAN DRAMAs
1. Cast of the 2010 MBC historical drama “Dong Yi” 2. Actress Ha Ji-won in Joseon Dynasty-gisaeng dress for the 2006 KBS2 drama “Hwang Jini”
he global popularity of Korean TV dramas, commonly referred to as Hallyu, or the “Korean Wave,” has brought Hanbok to the world’s attention. They include mega-hit dramas set in the past such as: “The Jewel in the Palace” (2003), which starred Lee Youngae, one of Korea’s most beloved actresses; ﬁlms such as “Untold Scandal” (2003) with Bae Yong-joon, the middle-aged Korean actor popular with Japanese housewives, who plays a libertine, pleasureloving scholar of aristocratic background; “Chunhyang” (1999), where a pair of star-crossed lovers battle fate in pursuit of love; “Forbidden Quest” (2006), where two talented aristocrats create some of the most sensational adult literature of the period; “Hwang Jini” (2006), where the daughter of an aristocratic family voluntarily becomes a gisaeng; and “A Frozen Flower” (2008) which follows the conﬂict between a king’s male lover and the queen. “The great appearance of Hanbok in Korean movies has not only led to more opportunities to introduce Korean traditional dress to the world, but has also made it feel more familiar to Koreans,” said Lee Hye-soon, a highly acclaimed hanbok designer who supplied costumes for “Untold Scandal,” “King and the Clown” (2005), and “A Frozen Flower” (2008). While staying faithful to the tradition and customs of the period, Lee said that in “Untold Scandal,” she made
variations to the speciﬁc hanbok worn by each character depending on the character’s personality and image. For example, for the character of Mrs. Cho, who was known for her voluptuous beauty and sensuality, a tight-ﬁtting jacket with wide skirts in radiating colors was provided. The government ofﬁcial’s wife, on the other hand, wore jackets with more breathing room in plainer colors. Perhaps no other celebrity has raised the global recognition of Hanbok as much as actress Song Hye-gyo. Her portrayal of Korea’s most legendary gisaeng in “Hwang Jini” led to her becoming the ﬁrst Korean celebrity to grace the cover of Vogue Korea in June 2007. Song wore Hanbok in Paris and her photographs were taken by one of the world’s most recognized fashion photographers, the Italian-born Paolo Roversi. Following the recent surge of interest in Hanbok, Korean movies featuring the attire have opted to showcase its beauty and elegance in new ways. Prior to the opening of the ﬁlm “Queen: the King’s Concubine” (2012), a fashion show was held at Gyeonghuigung Palace in Seoul, where the royalty of the Joseon Dynasty once resided. Cast members wore their movie customes and walked the runaway, putting on display the exquisite beauty of hanbok.
PEN & BRUSH
Novelist Eun Hee-kyung finds inspiration in solitude
Written by Felix Im
WRITING IN ISOLATION
n 1994, a former aspiring writer turned ordinary mother, worker and citizen found herself stuck in the one-way flow of a complacent life: a preset path where circumstances stayed static while time continued to rush by, increasing in speed every year. “I just realized that my life was set in stone at 34. I’d received all the education I was going to get; I was married and a mother; my job was steady and stable. There were no more great changes awaiting me,” she recalls. She is now one of Korea’s most wellknown and successful novelists, with work that has been translated into English, French, German, Russian and a host of other languages. Her name? Eun Heekyung. Surprisingly reserved in demeanor, almost to the point of shyness, she chooses her sentences carefully, seemingly hesitant to speak before proofreading their content once more inside her head. “So I decided to do something about my situation; I needed a change; I needed to step off the main path and run away to some random alley and find myself again.” It was in such an alley where Eun actively took her first steps to realizing her lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. “I’d always written and always liked writing, but I think I never gave it a real shot until then,” she says. So after acquiring a month’s vacation from her day job, she ran off to the countryside, isolating herself with her pen. It was her first experience with true solitude. “I had so much to say. It had all been stuffed down during all those years of living quietly. The result was five short stories. After my month of freedom was up, I had to return to work, but still managed to finish a sixth.”
PEN & BRUSH
bases villainous characters on herself. “I don’t want to hurt anyone I know, so I model all bad characters after myself. Either that, or it’s my husband,” she adds, laughing. Asked if her recognition abroad has changed her, Eun calmly shakes her head. “The only thing that’s changed is my experience, going
outside of Korea and seeing things I’d never have seen had I stayed in Seoul. When I go abroad for an event, book signing, or just travel, the main thing I’m looking for is a fresh perspective. My writing hasn’t evolved to some more ‘worldly’ level. It just continues to evolve as it always has. When I went to New York for two months, I just lived as an ordinary person, not as a writer. That’s what I wanted: a new experience.”
Life Unperturbed (Changbi Publishers, 2012)
Talking to a Stranger (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., 1996)
A Gift from a Bird
Ironically enough, it was that sixth short story that she wrote after coming back to work that officially started her career: “Duet” won that year’s literary contest held by the major daily Dong-A Ilbo. It didn’t elicit the response Eun was hoping for, however. Worse, it got little response at all. After a few silent months passed, she decided to throw something a little heavier at the world and went off into seclusion again, this time for two months. The result was her first full-length novel and perhaps her best-known work, A Gift from a Bird. The cynical yet humorous narrative, told from the perspective of a precocious 12-year-old girl, got the attention the author had been seeking, as well as her first Munhakdongne Novel Award. “I didn’t plan on being some huge success,” Eun says. “But I knew I didn’t want to leave that place until I’d finished my first novel. To be honest, it was rather fun. It was my first full-length novel and I fully enjoyed the writing process. After that, I was able to write prolifically for a number of years. I just had so much to say. But I’ve slowed down a bit now.”
since racked up an impressive list of literary honors, including the prestigious Yi Sang Literary Award. “I actually only recently started writing in cafes, which is hinted at in my latest work Life Unperturbed,” she says. “Now, it’s not as easy as it once was to just take off and seclude myself, but I still can’t write at home. That’s where my ‘ordinary’ life is. A certain occupation awaits me there—a wife or mother or socialite—so I can’t write there. I need to be alone. I don’t want to see anyone I know. I think most writers are like that.” Something unique to Eun, however, is her habit of rarely taking notes or jotting down anything on a notepad. “Even if I do write something down on the go, I never know what to do with it later, when I’m actually writing. Most of the time, I don’t even know why I wrote it.”
In with the New
Just as when she first ran off to the countryside, Eun is always looking for something new, be it a fresh approach to writing or an unfamiliar experience, anything to inspire her. While certain authors spend their careers focusing on perfecting a singular world, Eun approaches every novel as a new experiment, each its own separate world. As a result, every work evokes mixed reactions. Fans of one her books don’t like the next one and so on. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is that she always
The Value of Solitude
Sticking to her tradition of creating in isolation, Eun made it a point to go somewhere new and secluded every time she wrote a novel. The process has obviously worked for her, as she has
hen someone looks at me, the first thing I do is split myself into two selves. One self remains inside of me, while the other self that’s been split off from my real self leaves my body and plays my role. While the other self that goes outside of my body is exposed to others and acts exactly like me, my real self stays inside my body and watches the self that’s gone outside of my body. I have one self act like the self that others expect to see, and the other self watches this. All this time, I’m split into the self being seen by others and the self that is watching, which is myself. All the while, of course, my real self isn’t the self being seen but rather the self that’s watching. Since it’s the self being seen that is pressured and humiliated under the gaze of others, the real self that’s watching isn’t hurt as much. By separating myself into two selves this way, I’m less exposed to the eyes of others, and I can keep myself intact. Since I’m showing others not my real self but a self I’ve made, I used to think that this might be hypocritical or pretentious. I thought that splitting myself into two selves might be wrong because I’m trying to look good or be dishonest, but after I learned the word “artificiality,” my doubts were dispelled. My habit of self-splitting wasn’t hypocrisy, it was artificiality. Artificiality is a much more complicated emotion than hypocrisy, but isn’t immoral in the strict sense of the word.
Excerpt, A Gift From a Bird (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., 1995), p22–23. In addition to the Korean original, the novel is available in French, Spanish, German and Chinese, too.
have exhausted all other avenues. “A Korean-Brazilian man recently flew here with his watch from Brazil,” he says. “He’d tried sending it to other countries for repair, but none of them could do it. I fixed it for him.” Despite being at the top of a highly specialized profession, Back remains disarmingly humble and clearly enjoys nothing more than his work.
Natural Flair for Mechanisms
Adverse circumstances forced Back to abandon his education after elementary school and seek work. “I started off by asking the boss of a lighter repair shop,” he says. “But he pretty much laughed me off. Lighters used a variety of mechanisms in those days. I managed to persuade him to give me one to fix on my own, which I did by fixing the cogs inside it. He was surprised.” Back later got the manager of a watch repair shop in his hometown of Daegu to teach him. This only lasted for three months, however, but Back later spent several years improving his skills and grew more confident as a watchmaker. “After 10 years, I lost my confidence,” he says. “I started feeling that I’d actually been damaging all the watches I fixed until then, and that I needed more theoretical knowledge.” Back studied at one of Korea’s two horological academies for six months, then began teaching there at the request of the director. Afterwards, Back began seeking concrete recognition of his expertise. “I went to the Labor Ministry, but the department that used to deal
with qualifications for craftsmen had closed,” he says. “I was too old to enter any of the domestic skills competitions. I joined the American Watchmakers Association, but that just meant I was a member and received its magazine. I sent a letter to Switzerland asking about certification, but it said it had no national accreditation system there and referred me instead to the British Horological Institute.” After doing distance study, Back took the final exam and became one of only eight among some 300 highly skilled applicants to gain a top qualification. “I scored 80 percent in the practical section,” he says. “Nobody has done that since.” Back demonstrates the tools of his trade, principally, the lathe and milling spindle. He shows examples of the latter that he has made himself, an esoteric device that in the right hands can be used to create minute cogwheels and other parts to tolerances of one thousandth of a millimeter, created entirely from brass rods.
Master watch repairman Back Jun-duk keeps alive the magic of analog timepieces
Written by Ben Jackson Photographed by Shin Gukbeom
Seeing Back at work is mesmerizing, especially the skill and patience with which he takes apart watch mechanisms, makes new parts, heat-treats tiny, deformed springs back into shape and restores their elasticity. He is a one-man rebuttal to today’s overwhelming culture of disposable, low-quality materialism. As long as artisans like him are around, the mechanical miracle of the analog watch looks set to stay alive. “I’ll keep doing this until the day I die,” he says.
1. Back Jun-duk at work 2. It takes many parts to make a watch tick. 3. Tools of the trade
ime is money”—so the saying goes. Sometimes, though, it feels as if the two exist in an adversarial relationship and that money has just about defeated personal time. The same goes for timepieces. Where a clock was once a fabulously expensive and exclusive possession, a highly accurate digital watch can now be bought for peanuts and has been rendered virtually obsolete by the inclusion of a time function on every device imaginable. But the innards of a well-made analog watch remain a
miracle of human ingenuity and precision. The interaction of tiny springs, cogs, dials and hands remains a work exclusive to a small number of highly qualified individuals. In East Asia, one of the few people who fall into this illustrious category is Back Jun-duk, a master craftsman working out of a small shop at a Daegu mall. The lone watch repairman in East Asia accredited by the British Horological Institute, Back is to whom many desperate owners of high quality watches turn with problems when they
A national park and ski resort form a winter wonderland
Written by Robert Koehler
Snow encrusted branches at the peak of Mt. Deogyusan, Deogyusan National Park
Where to Eat Muju Deogyusan Resort has a wide selection of food and entertainment choices: Korean and Western restaurants, snack stores, bars, karaoke and cafés. For something a bit more rustic, try eojuk, a spicy ﬁsh stew. Geumgang Sikdang (T. 063322-0979), near Muju County Ofﬁce, is a good place to try. Interestingly, the region is known for making its own wine from wild grapes. The wine is aged in a renovated tunnel originally built for the construction of a hydroelectric plant. Where to Stay
hile most travelers in Korea head to the wilds of Gangwon-do in search of winter scenery, some of the best snowy vistas in the land can be enjoyed about two hours south of Seoul in the county of Muju, one of Korea’s biggest winter sports centers. The host of the 1997 Winter Universiade, Muju is blessed with high scenic peaks and plenty of snow—some of the heaviest snow fall in the country, in fact. On Mt. Deogyusan, the centerpiece of Deogyusan National Park, the wind and snow combine to produce a surreal landscape of “snow flowers” that mesmerize hikers intrepid enough to brave the heights and cold.
Olympics, a “Rookie Hill” is intended for beginners. The courses are also snowboarder-friendly. The complex is modeled after the great alpine resorts of Austria, as undoubtably noticeable from the faux-alpine architecture. For the full Austrian experience, get a room in the resort’s five-star Hotel Tirol, where the suites are lined with Austrian larch. It’s like sleeping in an alpine forest. About 1,000 Austrian-style condo rooms are available, too. On Seolcheonbong Peak—where the gondola drops you off—an impressive three-story Korean pagoda cuts a pretty dramatic figure, especially when the snow and wind are up. From here is also a trail that leads to the peak of Mt. Deogyusan.
1. Downhill skiing at Muju Deogyusan Resort 2. Nighttime skiing at Muju Deogyusan Resort 3. The gondola will get you to the top of the runs.
for the wind and snow. Be sure to wear crampons. To hike the main ridge will take about 12 hours, though it could take considerably longer if there’s deep snow—and there probably will be. The ideal plan is to take in the sunrise from the peak. If you’re lucky, the clouds will be below you to form what Koreans call a “sea of clouds.” To do this, though, you need to spend a night at Hyangjeokbong Shelter (T. 063-322-1614, KRW 8,000). Be sure to call ahead to make a reservation as it fills up quickly. At the higher elevations are clusters of ancient yew trees, twisted by the elements into fantastic shapes. If you’ve got a camera, try to capture the trees’ silhouette against the morning sky.
Muju Deogyusan Resort has three hotels: the deluxe Hotel Tirol, the Family Hotel, and the modest Kookmin Hotel. The latter offers many sixperson rooms where visitors sleep on the ﬂoor and share a kitchen. Another option is to stay at the little village down the road or in an overnight sauna, called a jjimjilbang. Getting There Intercity buses depart from Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal to Muju Bus Terminal at 7:40am, 9:20am, 10:40am, 1:40pm and 2:35pm. From the back gate of the Muju terminal, in front of the Jeil Clinic, take the free shuttle bus to Muju Deogyusan Resort. T. 063-320-7113.
Muju Deogyusan Resort
Muju’s chief tourist draw is Muju Deogyusan Resort, one of Korea’s most popular ski destinations. The resort boasts both the country’s longest slope, the 6.1-kilometer Silk Road Course (vertical height of 810 meters), and steepest run, Raider’s Slope with a 70-degree incline. For those not training for the
Deogyusan National Park
Mt. Deogyusan is one of Korea’s higher peaks at 1,614 meters. The 20-kilometer main ridge sports several peaks of more than 1,000 meters. It’s a broad mountain, however, so while hikes are long, they aren’t especially arduous. The biggest danger in winter is the cold. Dress warmly and be prepared
Written by Kim Tong-hyung
Figure skating superstar quiets doubt ahead of Sochi Olympics
or the first time in as long as anyone can remember, Kim Yuna performed at an international figure skating competition and did not wow the audience, though this did not change her position at the podium, which has been inexorably in the top spot. Coming off a three-month layoff due to injury, the two-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medalist made her season debut in December in the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia. She quieted most doubts over her form by blowing her competitors out of the water. Despite that, her performance did not meet the lofty standards she has set for herself. After scoring 73.37 points in the short program, Kim showed a bit of rust in the free skate, falling on her first jump combination, a triple lutz-triple toe loop, before recovering with a smooth finish. The fall came after she botched the landing on her double axel, considered one of the easier jumps, in the short program the previous day. Still, Kim’s score of 131.12 in the free skate gave her a combined 204.48, or nearly 30 points ahead of runner-up Miki Ando of Japan, who finished with 176.82. Kim’s performance reinforced what many believe: barring another injury or a career-altering slump, the 23-year-old will be the surest bet to win the gold in next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She is also seeking to become only the third woman ever to repeatedly become Olympic champion. “I was a bit shaky, but overall I’m satisfied with my performance,” she said. “I felt some pressure as I was coming back from an ankle injury and this was the first competition of the season. I was surprised after the jump as I’d never fallen that hard in practice, but I was able to concentrate more after the mistake and skate cleanly the rest of the way.” 2 She added that her recovery is at the “80-90 percent” level and expressed confidence about finding her peak form by the beginning of the Winter Olympics in February.
1. Kim Yuna at the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia on Dec 6, 2013 2. Commemorative coins issued to celebrate Kim's gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games 3. Fans root for Kim at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
A Fierce Rivalry
In Sochi, Kim’s biggest competition is once again expected to come from longtime rival Mao Asada of Japan, who earned her fourth career win at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Tokyo last month, but it actually hasn’t been much of a rivalry. In Kim’s historic performance in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, she earned a record of 228.56 points, 23 more than runner-up Asada. In their most recent meeting in the 2013 world championships in March, Kim won with a dominating performance of 218.31 points, while Asada finished a distant third. When at her best, Kim makes it clear that she is simply at a different level than her competitors. The speed and tightness of her spins are from another world, and so are the balance and fluidity that allow her to glide on the ice and land like a feather after moments of controlled violence in the air. Asada can be said to be the more gifted skater in athletic ability, being the world’s only woman who can land triple axels with anything resembling regularity. But she has failed to display this skill in the biggest competitions, such as the Olympics and world championships. If Asada does land that jump in Sochi or brings a more complete game, she could finally give Kim some real competition. The world should hope that Asada does. As great as Kim has been throughout her career, whether the world has seen her best truly remains to be seen. It is difficult to tell how far Kim can go, considering she has yet to encounter legitimate competition.
E N T E R TA I N M E N T
wordless narration told though martial art dance and music, a new composite of the old. In this hybridization, “Lyeon” follows in the footsteps of Cookin’ Nanta, a hit show that is an amalgam of traditional percussion and non-verbal comedy. Yet while Cookin’ Nanta creates a new cultural product by merging characteristics of the production Stomp with Korean traditional music, “Lyeon” does it entirely with traditional cultural materials. Indeed, the titular “lyeon” means connection, specifically between two art forms and between the past and present.
A Long Pedigree
Originating perhaps as early as the Three Kingdoms period, (57 B.C.–A.D. 668) taekkyeon became a popular martial art during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), with its public competitions often depicted in period murals and paintings. While taekwondo and hapkido, a martial art that combines kicking and punching techniques with joint locking and throws, have large international followings, the former is an official Olympic sport while the latter remains relatively ignored. Practical knowledge of taekkyeon was nearly lost when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. Just one master, Song Duk Ki, remained after Korea’s liberation in 1945, and from him all modern taekkyeon practices stem. Taekkyeon, the first martial art to be included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, relies on an almost rhythmic pattern of stances and fluidity of movement that give it a dancelike quality. In this respect, the martial art shares something in common with tai chi and capoeira. Unlike tai chi, however, taekkyeon has combat as its purpose, and unlike capoeira, taekkyeon is not a dance. Nevertheless, the Korean martial art’s dance-like qualities make it a natural choice for accompaniment with music. “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon” sets taekkyeon’s choreography to “Arirang,” Korea’s most famous
TAEKKYEON ARIRANG LYEON
Non-verbal performance blends two classics of Korean cultural heritage
Written by Charles Luskin
1. A ﬂying taekkyeon kick during “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon” 2. “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon” brings together Korean martial arts and Korean music.
folk melody. Like all old Korean folk songs, “Arirang” has innumerable forms and variations, but the most common version tells the story of a jilted woman separated from her lover by a mountain pass. Many passes in Korea’s mountains are called “Arirang,” so the setting of the tragedy is as malleable as the lyrics. In addition to this famous song, “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon” is choreographed to samul nori, Korean traditional percussion, and performed with other traditional instruments, including the gayageum, an ancient 12-stringed zither. The performing company’s world tour will cover 30 countries and 70 cities over the next five years, starting November 15 in Washington, D.C. “Lyeon”’s novel combination of artforms, rivaled only by Cookin’ Nanta in scope, is not the only manifestation of the desire to explore the artistic vacuum of Korean traditional arts in the world’s eye. Metal bands like Wool and reggae bands like I and I Jangdan also combine traditional Korean sounds with other genres, albeit on a much smaller stage. Nonetheless, it is hoped that “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon’”s tour will generate enough global interest to spur new combinations of the new and old—and the old and old.
lthough the popularity of pop culture has grown exponentially over the past ten years in East Asia and around the world, interest in traditional performance arts has lagged. This disparity exists, in part, because of lack of exposure. While foreign audiences can easily consume popular music, TV and film, and often do, performances of traditional music and dance are often shown to domestic audiences only. “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon,” however, might change this.
Designed by taekkyeon master Lee Yong-bok and choreographer Im Hak-sun, the show, as the name suggests, displays two of Korea’s traditional art forms: the martial art taekkyeon and “Arirang,” the nation’s most famous folk song. Both of these traditions have been included on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. “Taekkyeon Arirang Lyeon” explores the beauty of both arts by choreographing taekkyeon movements with Korean traditional folk music. “Lyeon” is a
SeJONG CITy: PART II
2nd-phase relocation of public offices breathes life into new administrative city
Written by Robert Koehler
1. The massive Government Complex Sejong 2. The architecturally inspired National Library of Korea, Sejong © Park Young-chae
he National Library of Korea, Sejong, the first provincial branch of the country’s national library based in Seoul, was opened Dec 12 in Sejong City in a ceremony attended by 300 dignitaries, including Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yoo Jin-ryong. With a massive capacity of 3.3 million books, the library is also Korea’s first to specialize in government policy. The facility’s objective is to become a policy support hub that shares policy-related data and materials with not only government ministries and public bodies but also private institutions. The opening marks the start of the muchanticipated second phase of development of Sejong City, Korea’s new administrative hub in the heart of the nation’s central region. From Dec 13, six ministries and 10 agencies began relocating to the city, joining six state offices and the Strategy and Finance Ministry, which relocated there last year. The influx of 4,888 public servants is expected to bring new life to the fledgling town. Said Lee Chung-jae, chairman of the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction Agency, “We’ll strive to achieve our grand aim of building a worldclass city and a residential environment where officials can settle down.”
“smart” office that snakes four kilometers around downtown Sejong. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. With 604,248 square meters of space, the eightfloor structure will, when fully occupied, house 16 state-run ministries and agencies. Thirteen thousand civil servants will work here, making it a city onto itself. The second phase of the relocation took place Dec 13–29, when the ministries of education; culture, sports and tourism; trade, industry and energy; health and welfare; employment and labor; and patriot and veterans’ affairs made the 120-kilometer move southward. They were joined by the Korean Culture and Information Service, the National Labor Relations Commission and eight other agencies. The move raised the number of civil servants in the city to 10,000. Go Yeong-seon of the Office for Government Policy Coordination said, “Accordingly, we look forward to the beginning of the ‘Government Complex Sejong Age’ in earnest.”
An Engine of Balanced Regional Development
The drive to build Sejong City began in the early 2000s. By relocating major ministries there, authorities aimed to not only reduce overcrowding in Seoul, but also spur development in the nation’s central region. Optimally situated on major rail, road and air lines, Sejong City will also house a high-tech hub with research, education and cutting-edge industries. With Sejong City growing more lively after its secondphase relocation, authorities are busy improving living conditions there by expanding the transportation net and educational opportunities. Eleven new schools—four kindergartens, three elementary, three middle and one high school—will open by March. Another four schools will open by September. Facilities at the massive, dragon-shaped government complex, including restaurants and coffee shops, are being greatly expanded, too. “With the second-phase relocation going as scheduled, a foothold has been made to raise Korea’s national competitiveness to the next level,” said Chairman Lee. “By linking the construction of 10 other ‘innovation cities’ with the relocation of other government agencies nationwide, Sejong City can play a role in reducing gaps in regional development.”
The Dragon Awakes
The center of the new city—and its most striking architectural landmark—is the massive Government Complex Sejong, a dragon-shaped
The Toilet Goes Deeper
But the toilet awards are more than just about clever designs and pleasant smells. They’re part of a greater campaign for public health and sanitation, one that gained major momentum from the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan. During the preparatory stages for co-hosting the world’s largest soccer tournament, the Better Korea Movement (BKM) convened to revamp Korea for international visitors across three key areas: cleanliness, friendliness and order. One of their major concerns was that international visitors would poo-poo the state of Korea’s public restrooms, so they launched a national campaign to transform public bathrooms into spaces of beauty and culture. Another pioneer in toilet reform was the late Sim Jaeduck, who was born in 1939 in an outhouse, an event that, when viewed retrospectively, seems to have forged his fate as inextricably linked with toilets. His place of birth resulted in many of his peers nicknaming him “gaettong,” which can be delicately translated as “dog poop,” an unfortunate moniker that lasted throughout his childhood. Not until he was elected mayor of Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, did he drastically improve the city’s waste management systems. He also founded the Korean Toilet Association and started a bathroom revolution, transforming his toilet image into a positive one. He didn’t stop there. He became a key founder
of the World Toilet Association, an international beneficiary organization that works with the United Nations and other NGOs in the noble pursuit of one simple goal: to provide every person in the world the opportunity to use a clean and comfortable toilet. Sim was so passionate about toilets that he even had his house rebuilt to look like one. He is now known as Mr. Toilet.
Better Future through Better Toilets
So why the obsession with bathrooms and hygiene? Mr. Toilet realized that clean public facilities go beyond pleasantries. They’re an essential feature for a healthy, progressive society. Although taken for granted by many, sanitary restrooms aren’t as common as they should be. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 42 percent of the world population lives in chronically unsanitary conditions, which indirectly causes more than two million deaths per year. More than 400,000 children under age 5 die annually from diarrheal conditions that could be drastically reduced by effective waste management. Cholera, typhoid, paratyphoid and dysentery can also be greatly reduced through proper water management and waste disposal. Still think the bathroom awards and toilet associations are silly? Look at the statistics. Think about what life would be like without clean toilets and then reconsider.
FLUSh WITh PRAISe
Korean Toilet Awards highlight the importance of human waste management
Written by Felix Im
1. Lovely views from the bathroom of N Seoul Tower, Mt. Namsan 2. Mr. Toilet House, the toilet-shaped former residence of late Suwon mayor Sim Jae-duck. Now a toilet culture exhibit hall. 3. A dung beetle-shaped bathroom at an insect sanctuary in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do © www.bkm.or.kr
ublic toilets are an issue that many people would rather avoid discussing. Yet noble people in Korea have been working hard over the past decade to ensure that this dire topic is not ignored. That’s what the Korean Toilet Awards are about. What’s that? You didn’t know of an awards ceremony for clean and sanitary public restrooms? Even though 2013 marks the award’s 15th year, the lavatory is still a taboo topic. The annual awards were held Nov 29 at the Korea Press Center, with participants from more than 100 organizations around the country. Public bathrooms nationwide were inspected by a team of judges from July to September, and
the winner was announced Nov 14. The criteria were tidiness, sanitation, convenience of use and design. The top prize this year went to a Busan toilet located along Daecheoncheon Stream at the base of Mt. Geumjeongsan. Completed in July, the facility offers a constant stream of relaxing classical music, mountain fragrances and a calming color scheme to relax the nerves. The women’s restroom contains stalls designed for children, one for mothers accompanied by children and an additional powder room for doing make-up. Both men’s and women’s restrooms are equipped with entrances at both ends for proper ventilation and offer windowed ceilings for clear views of the blue sky.
to visit Seoul. During their second summit this year, the two leaders had in-depth and useful discussions on a wide range of issues, including the boosting of major substantive, cooperative projects such as the Rajin-Hassan logistics partnership, the enhancement of people-topeople and cultural exchanges, and the latest developments surrounding the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. The two heads of state shared the understanding that Korea’s policy aimed at promoting Eurasian cooperation and Russia’s policy focusing on the Asia-Pacific region could be combined to create increased bilateral cooperation, thereby helping further regional cooperation in Eurasia. In this connection, they adopted a joint statement outlining the direction of future developments and concrete measures for collaboration sector by sector in the hope of forging new Korea-Russia relations and charting a new era for Eurasia.
1. President Park sits with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 2. President Park shakes hands with President Almazbek Atambaev of Kyrgyzstan. 3. President Park holds a summit with Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone.
Summit with Kyrgyz President
President Park hosted President Almazbek Atambaev of Kyrgyzstan at Cheong Wa Dae on Nov 19. He was the first head of state from Central Asia to make an official visit to Korea since the new administration was inaugurated. During their summit, the two leaders discussed boosting substantive cooperation across a wide range of areas, including bilateral relations, business, trade, energy, resources, agriculture, and development cooperation, as well as people-to-people exchanges. They also covered recent developments surrounding the Korean Peninsula and other regions as well as cooperation on the global stage.
World leaders visit Seoul at the end of the year
A BUSy DIpLOMATIc SchedULe
resident Park Geun-hye had a busy diplomatic schedule in November and December, holding talks with several visiting leaders and dignitaries from around the world, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Vice-President Joseph Biden.
On the Eurasian Initiative in particular, President Atambaev said he strongly supported President Park’s vision, especially her idea of a Silk Road Express that would connect the Eurasian region by rail. President Park said it would be good for both countries to not only deepen cooperation and mutual assistance but also to work more closely together at the United Nations and in the world community.
Boosting Relations with Russia
President Park held summit talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Cheong Wa Dae on Nov 13. President Putin was the first leader of one of the four major powers closely related to Korea
Sports Diplomacy, Cooperation with Laos
President Park also met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at Cheong Wa Dae on Nov 21.
Strengthening the Alliance with the U.S.
On Dec 6, President Park hosted a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, which was followed by a working luncheon at Cheong Wa Dae. They discussed a wide range of global issues, including further deepening and developing the comprehensive strategic alliance between Korea and the United States, the North Korean nuclear problem and the latest regional developments in East Asia, as well as Iran and Syria. President Park noted that the bilateral alliance, which has been Korea’s most integrated and closest alliance over the past 60 years, has served as the lynchpin for stability and prosperity in the AsiaPacific region. She proposed that the two countries continue to step up efforts to crystallize the comprehensive strategic alliance founded on the Joint Declaration in Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America, which was adopted this past May by both countries. Vice President Biden emphasized that the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea is firm and its decision to rebalance to the Pacific Basin is not in question. He added that their alliance, which is playing a key role in the rebalancing policy, has served as the foundation for increased efforts for cooperation in Asia and beyond. He also proposed that the two countries work together to improve cooperation and mutual support in a variety of fields.
The meeting was a courtesy call by Bach on President Park, the head of state of the host nation for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. They discussed working together for the success of the PyeongChang Olympics and increasing people-to-people exchanges between Korea and the IOC. The next day, President Park and Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone held a bilateral summit. The two leaders noted that in the less than 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral relations have made remarkable progress in such diverse fields as exchanges of senior-level officials, trade, investment, culture and tourism. With President Choummaly’s historic visit, both leaders agreed to continue to elevate friendly and cooperative relations. They pledged to further develop mutual trust and friendship via reciprocal visits by high-ranking officials. They also welcomed the signing of an MOU on exchanges and cooperation between the political parties of the two countries. In addition, the two heads of state agreed on the need for further exchanges and collaboration in the defense sector.
Meeting with Greek President
President Park held a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at Cheong Wa Dae on Dec 3. President Papoulias was the first Greek leader to visit Korea since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. President Park said the visit by the president of Greece, a European country that sent troops to fight in the Korean War, was especially meaningful on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Welcoming him to Korea, President Park said the noble sacrifices of Greek soldiers during the Korean War would never be forgotten. She stressed that Greece played a critical role in the development of Korea’s shipbuilding industry and that it is still the largest destination for Korea’s ship exports. She asked President Papoulias for his support and interest so that mutually beneficial cooperation between Korea, a leading shipbuilding power, and Greece, a global shipping powerhouse, would continue to deepen.
Summit with Singaporean Prime Minister
President Park and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held a summit at Cheong Wa Dae on Dec 11 in her last scheduled summit for this year. Their discussions focused on bilateral economic cooperation to facilitate the advancement of Korean and Singaporean businesses ties as well as on investment, construction and the creative economy. President Park began by saying the two countries share the common experience of achieving remarkable economic growth by fostering human resources, despite a lack of natural resources and adverse external economic conditions. Bilateral cooperation, she said, should be further expanded not only in the economy but also in politics and security, including East Asian security. To this, Prime Minister Lee echoed her opinion and proposed the sharing of experiences to meet the challenges posed by the complicated global economic environment, as well as a variety of regional security concerns and the higher expectations of society.
1. President Park escorts Greek President Karolos Papoulias. 2. President Park welcomes US Vice President Joe Biden 3. President Park holds a summit meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The key to Korea’s tech success
Written by Kim Tong-hyung
challenges we face today,” Park said. “The government will provide the maximum level of support to strengthen the Daedeok research cluster, which will serve as an essential part of building a creative economy.”
in November last year, President Park Geun-hye called the research hub integral to the government’s plan to nurture a “creative economy” driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. Government-employed researchers will be encouraged to get aggressive in exploring new technologies and research areas that private companies have yet to touch or struggled with, she said. The intellectual property produced at the Daedeok complex is taking on an increasingly critical role for younger and smaller firms, which would otherwise struggle to secure leading-edge technologies. “This is the country that, after the Korean War, had no resources and no capital. However, we quickly realized the opportunity provided by science and technology, which drove our rapid economic growth in the past decades. Science and technology will undoubtedly help us overcome the economic Established in 1973, the Daedeok complex is home to 30 state-run think tanks, five universities, including the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and dozens of private R&D centers. More than 1,300 companies, many of them IT ventures, are located within the cluster, taking advantage of the wealth in research talent. Their combined revenue in 2012 was nearly USD 16.1 million and they employ nearly 64,000 people. The state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), located in Daedeok, is credited for helping advance domestic semiconductor technology in the 1980s. Collaborating with a number of companies, including Samsung, and researchers from Seoul National University, the think tank developed the country’s first 4-megabit DRAM chip in 1989 just three years into the project, and the world’s first 256-megabit DRAM in 1994. Korea is now the world’s leading producer of computer memory chips, a market where Samsung and chief domestic rival Hynix run a duopoly. In the 2000s, the ETRI worked with American chipmaker Qualcomm to commercialize CDMA communication technology, this has proven critical in developing the mobile Internet technologies used in smartphones today. Also in Daedeok, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) marked a milestone in January last year when the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), a rocket jointly developed with Russia, took off from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, Jeollanam-do, and delivered its payload into orbit. This made Korea the 11th nation to launch a satellite from its own soil. KARI will independently develop and launch a bigger KSLV2 rocket by 2020, a project that will represent a truer test of its capabilities. Korea started developing rocket technology in 1989 with help from the University of Surrey in the UK, a project that resulted in Korea launching its first two spacecraft, Uribyol 1 in 1992 and Uribyol 2 in 1993. The number of Korean satellites
riven initially by labor-intensive goods, Korea’s rapid industrialization over the past fifty years has also proven to be a technological success. Export items of the sixties were highlighted by textiles, footwear and wigs, but this list is now headlined by computer chips, cars, smartphones and flat screens. Daedeok Innopolis, a state-financed research cluster in Daejeon that was formerly known as Daedeok Science Town, has made critical contributions to integrating technology into Korea’s economic makeup since its establishment in 1974. While its function has started to be duplicated by the research units of private companies, including global business giants Samsung and LG, the complex continues to find ways to help domestic technology stay a step ahead of the competition. In a ceremony celebrating the facility’s 40th anniversary
1. Cutting-edge research in a “clean room” at Daedeok’s Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) 2. Trial run of a maglev train at Incheon International Airport in November 2012. Scheduled to open in March 2014 3. Successful launch of Korea's Naro-1 rocket on Jan 30, 2013
has since increased to 11, including the latest to go into orbit, the Science and Technology Satellite-3. The Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), another Daedeok tenant, is dedicated to researching highspeed, magnetic levitation trains. These futuristic trains are designed to exploit magnetic force and float several millimeters above the tracks, which reduces friction and allows faster speeds than conventional trains. KIMM recently announced that it has developed the core technology for a magnetic levitation engine that allows train speeds of more than 110 kilometers per hour. The technologies developed here point the way to Korea’s future. Said President Park to the Daedeok’s researchers, “The world is now experiencing a great wave of convergence. I hope science and technology specialists like you find a breakthrough for human development and happiness by joining forces to conduct convergent research that overcomes boundaries.”
1. Personal health maintanence program “Health-On” by Health Connect, a joint venture between SK Telecom and Seoul National University Hospital 2. “Style U-Health” tele-health program by KT and Gangnam Severance Hospital 3. Wrist-worn health care monitor designed by the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute
The IT healthcare Revolution
Tailored health care using tech to take on the most chronic diseases
Written by Sohn Tae-soo
atients might no longer have to visit hospitals or clinics for check-ups. Text messages sent by doctors could offer routine medical advice and automatically alert patients to early signs of problems before the symptoms develop into more serious ailments. High-tech gadgets such as smartphones show increasing promise as new safety nets for those afflicted by chronic diseases. In tandem with growing efforts to combine domestic
medical services with IT and the Park administration’s drive to develop creative industries, the growing popularity of “ubiquitous health,” or U-Health, allows patients to receive healthcare services anywhere and anytime. The benefits of the remote monitoring of chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, are gradually being felt across the nation, with more hospitals and public clinics offering such services.
For example, the U-Health team at Seoul National University’s hospital in Bundang, a suburb of Seoul, announced in August this year that it had acquired a patent for a tailored system to monitor blood sugar levels. When a patient checks his or her blood sugar level the data is automatically transmitted to the hospital server. Doctors can then give advice immediately by sending a text message to the patient. After six months of testing on 150 diabetics aged 60 and over, researchers found that 30.6 percent properly managed their desired blood sugar levels, as opposed to the 20.4 percent who regularly checked theirs otherwise and the 14 percent who did not. A doctor on the team said the system will try to kill two birds with one stone by managing a patient’s health and relieving the burden of medical costs, given that in the past, diabetics used to receive necessary treatment only every oneto-three months, on average. In another study since March this year, the Jung-gu Office in downtown Seoul has been operating a system of metabolic syndrome management for district residents who are at risk for high blood sugar or high blood pressure. As a result, the average blood-sugar level of the 30 residents who received two months of care improved from 125mg/dl to 115mg/dl. The patients in this case were sending check-up results through a phone-like gadget to the data broadcasting
center. The healthcare agency confirms the information and sends advice such as proper care, nutrition and exercise recommendations to the patients via text messages.
Helping Those at Risk
Experts say U-Health can help save those who are at risk of death or disability due to poor emergency management systems, adding that since the death rate from trauma is high in areas with poor medical infrastructure, the use of selfmonitoring IT is a must. Potential beneficiaries include not only post-surgery outpatients but also those with physical disabilities and other sufferers in remote areas. As in many other economies, doctors will be able to monitor patients with diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic diseases in distant regions. The full-scale introduction of “telemedicine” is also expected to help manufacturers of medical equipment used in home care, creating jobs, and cutting costs for healthcare providers. The Health and Welfare Ministry plans to revise related laws and introduce an in-home care system by 2015. If and when the system is fully legalized, chronic disease sufferers or post-surgery outpatients will easily receive routine medical advice from doctors through the use of smart phones without relying on hospitals. Analysts say that after the revision of the law, the healthcare IT market is expected to be worth USD 1.9 million in value and create as many as 13,000 jobs per year.
ReTURNING The FAVOR
South Korea repays the Philippines with relief aid after Typhoon Haiyan
Written by Robert Koehler
assist the Southeast Asian country in its moment of need, but this was no mere act of kindness. Some 60 years ago, the Philippines was one of the first nations to assist Korea in its moment of greatest need by sending troops to fight under the United Nations flag during the Korean War. Accordingly, Seoul’s relief package is part of a continuing effort to repay its enormous debt to the world, especially to its wartime allies.
KOICA heading the relief effort. The Korean private sector is also lending a hand. The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation has pledged USD 1 million in assistance.
Repaying a Debt
The Defense Ministry has also joined in the relief efforts for the Philippines. On Nov 21, it announced the dispatch of 540 military engineers and medics to the archipelago in mid-December, pending parliamentary approval. The personnel will be transported to the disaster site on a pair of amphibious landing craft. Korean Air Force C-130s are also being used to ferry relief aid and personnel, as well as evacuate residents from affected areas. Korea has dispatched troops to the Philippines 17 times since 1991, when the former joined the United Nations. The mission this time, however, holds extra meaning for Seoul. The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian nation and fifth overall to recognize the fledgling government of the Republic of Korea, establishing diplomatic ties on March 3, 1949. The Philippines was also the lone Southeast Asian state to send military support to Korea during the Korean War, with Manila rushing an expeditionary force to the Korean Peninsula in August 1950, almost immediately after the conflict broke out. A combined 7,420 Philippine troops fought in the war, the fourthlargest contribution amongst South Korea’s 16 allies. Of them, 112 were killed and 299 were wounded.
1. Members of a South Korean Disaster Team help with disaster relief in Tacloban city, Nov 27, 2013. 2. Gyeonggi-do chapter of the Red Cross load 1,000 boxes of relief supplies bound for the Philippines onto a truck in Suwon. 3. A doctor from the Korean Disaster Relief team treats a typhoon victim.
Rushing to Lend a Hand
The Korean government sprung into action as soon as the extent of the destruction became apparent. On Nov 12, Seoul held a meeting with the private sector on jointly assisting the storm-ravaged nation. Both sides decided to send USD 5 million in relief aid, one of the largest contributions offered by a nation, and dispatched to the scene of the disaster the 40-member Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT), including 20 medical personnel, 14 emergency rescue workers and representatives from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry also deployed a separate team of 19 rescue workers to an area near Tacloban, a Philippine city that was one of the worst hit by Haiyan. Soon after its initial contribution, Seoul boosted its assistance package with another USD 20 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in the devastated areas. To be provided from 2014 to 2016, this aid will be sent through Korea’s official overseas development assistance (ODA) program, with
n Nov 8, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, its hellish winds and unforgiving storm surges leaving almost unprecedented destruction on the islands of Leyte and Samar. The Philippine government set the official
death toll at 5,924, with another 1,779 missing and more than 12 million affected. Called Yolanda in the Philippines, the catastrophic superstorm was one of the strongest on record. Korea was quick to join the international effort to
G R E A T K O R E AN
Buddhist monk and poet who also participated in the pro-independence movement
Written by Violet Kim
an Yong-un, also known as Manhae, was a Buddhist monk, reformist, religious and political leader, poet and activist. Any educated Korean will immediately recognize the opening lines of his classic poem “My Love Has Left,” commonly seen as an ode to a Korea free from Japanese colonization. Born Han Yu-cheon in 1879 in Hongseong, Chungcheongnam-do, Han grew up in the age of the Korean Empire (1897–1910) years amid the political uncertainty of foreign invasion and domestic instability at the turn of the century. His activist tendencies emerged early. In his teens, during the 1890s, he joined the Donghak Peasant Revolution for social reform before taking up the robe of a Buddhist monk at Oseam Temple on Mt. Seoraksan in 1905. This retreat from the world did not signal his retreat from politics. Rather, it was the beginning of his activity as a Buddhist reformer and leader. In 1910, Korea officially fell under Japanese colonial rule and Han’s style of Buddhism entered the fray. Arguing both for reform and for the potential of Buddhism in politics, he promoted a modernized and more accessible form of Buddhism that recognized political reality and offered an alternative to the oppression of the time. His influential guide to Buddhism, Bulgyo Yushinnon, was published in 1913, followed by Bulgyo Daejeon and the magazine Yushin.
his activism also stands alone and earns him a place in Korean history as one of the nation’s early independence heroes. He played a leading role in the organization of the March 1st Movement in 1919, the first large-scale demonstration of Korean resistance to Japanese colonization. He helped in both the drafting and the signing of Korea’s declaration of independence the same year. Three years in prison did not deter him and he continued to write and campaign for liberation while incarcerated. In 1926, the monk published his first volume of poetry, The Silence of My Love. Of the 88 poems in this collection, the most famous and widely taught is Nimeun Gatseumnida, or My Love Has Left The “nim,” translated into English as “beloved,” “love” or even “Lord,” is unspecified. Grammatically, “nim” is an honorific way of saying “you.” Various interpretations see the “you” referred to in this poem as the Buddha, a woman or the motherland. The narrator laments a beloved that has left while simultaneously denying the departure. The “nim” might have left but the narrator did not send this “nim” away, and thus rejects this absence. This juxtaposition of the departed lover as a stated reality and the refusal of the narrator to accept this are often interpreted as an expression of hope for Korean independence, as defiance toward the reality of a colonized Korea, with the “nim” representing the motherland. Han’s oeuvre as a poet includes more than 300 poems, and while his works have and will forever be tied to the liberation movement, 2 this does not lessen the value of his poetry or its place in Korean literature. Rather, an understanding of the underlying history can enrich appreciation for his works, as his achievements were an important part of the formation of the Korean cultural identity of resistance and liberation.
1. Simujang House, Han’s old home in Seoul 2. The Silence of My Love, a collection of Han’s poetry released in 1926
An Activist Monk
Although Han’s political ideas were influenced by his religion,
K O R E A
Outdoor food stalls offer good food with a side of Korean warmth
Written by Steve Miller Illustrated by kim Yoon-myong
t was a late Saturday afternoon. I had just completed a 10-kilometer hike scouring the jagged ridges on Saryangdo, a small island near the coastal city of Tongyeong in the southern part of Korea. While I was prepared for the hike, clambering up and down the fixed ropes needed to complete my trek took more out of me than I’d like to admit. That’s why when I reached the dock to catch my ferry back to the mainland, I was thrilled beyond belief when I saw several pojangmacha lined up waiting for me. Okay, so they weren’t necessarily waiting for me, but you get the idea. They were there, sitting in all their orange-tented glory, ready for hikers and passers-by alike. In Seoul, pojangmacha, translated as “covered wagons” but easier to describe as street food stalls, are just about everywhere. Some specialize in sausages, sweet treats or spicy staples like tteokbokki, spicy rice cakes, and twigim, fried snacks. Coming down from the mountain, I was hoping at least one, if not more, of the stalls would have my favorite Korean hiking snack: haemul pajeon, fried seafood pancake. I neared the first stall but it was empty. My heart sank just a little, since I could tell by the burners and batter that whoever ran this stall had all the ingredients needed to make my beloved snack; however, he or she had momentarily stepped away. My gaze passed to the two other stalls nearby and was met with a delightful smile from a short ajumma, an older Korean woman. She beckoned me to come over by raising her arm and motioning to me. Despite being tired, I picked up the pace and obediently complied. Her stall wasn’t large. From what I could tell, she had a two-burner gas range under a griddle and a small prep area. The counter had about a one-foot lip sticking out from it, but was enough for me to sit down on the hard plastic
stool and use it as a table. “Annyeonghaseyo,” I said sitting down. Her eyes gleamed back. “Annyeonghaseyo,” she said melodically. Now my Korean isn’t the best, but thankfully, when it comes to pronouncing food, I’m usually spot-on. While I couldn’t craft a long, complete sentence inquiring about the menu, I simply intoned, “Haemul pajeon?” A nod accompanied by “Ne,” or “yes” let me know that she understood. She said something I couldn’t catch and when she sensed that I didn’t comprehend, this wonderful woman made her sentence simpler. “Makgeolli?” My eyes lit up and I nodded again. She reached into a cooler and retrieved the standard green bottle that I know oh-so-well from Seoul and gave me a small bowl from which to drink. Then she went to work. She fired up the griddle and laid down a layer of batter. The heat from the iron below quickly made a sizzling sound as it began to cook. She added stalks of green onion and bits of seafood to the mixture as well. While she was cooking, I saw a few other members from our group approaching. They also looked haggard from the trail, so I called them over. When they saw me pouring makgeolli into bowls for them, they hastened their pace. Tired, they plopped down beside me along the cart’s rim and we toasted not only to our adventure but also to the wonderful ajumma preparing our pajeon. Our group quickly fell into a pattern of eating, drinking, and chatting. It is exactly this spirit of camaraderie that makes dining at a pojangmacha enjoyable. A group of people, friends and nonfriends alike, coming together to eat, drink and be merry. We finished our meal, paid the tab, thanked our host, and quickly made our way to the ferry before it left port. This experience isn’t unique or limited to Seoul. It’s a facet of life across all of Korea, and one that I truly love.
GIVING KOReA A ShOT
Canadian-born hockey player Brock Radunske dishes on diversity on the peninsula
Written by Loren Cotter
he Korean national ice hockey team is not an institution associated with multiculturalism, but that’s where you can find Brock Radunske, the first foreign hockey player to become a Korean national. The Canadian-born Radunske came to Korea six seasons ago to join Anyang Halla, one of Korea’s three professional ice hockey teams. “My agent presented me with the opportunity. I did a little research,and I decided to take a chance on coming to Korea,” he says in an interview with KOREA Magazine. Radunske came to Korea predominantly to play for Anyang, but acquired Korean nationality in spring 2013 to join the national team. Korea competes in the world hockey championships every year, and the Canuck joined in time for the 2013 tournament in Hungary. “You have to have a passport [to play for Korea], so that was a prerequisite for me to participate for Team Korea,” he said. Radunske takes the ice with Anyang Halla. Korea is 26th in the world hockey rankings, but seeks to improve in the hope of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by the country in PyeongChang, Gangwon-do. The national team has made steady progress in the sport, but Radunske is modest about how much of an impact he has had. “It’s hard for any one player to have a huge impact,” he says. “There are a lot of little things going on at the same time … If they come together, there’s potential for Korea to become a better hockey country. I guess they consider me one of the small things.” While Korea is not famed as a melting pot, the blondhaired Radunske says he experienced a distinct reaction to his appearance in comparison to his Korean teammates in the national championship. “There was a lot of curiosity, especially
from the media,” he says, “because I look different and my last name is different. But as far as my teammates are concerned, we’ve played together for a long time now and they’re very supportive. I’m happy that we play together on the same team.”
A Hockey First for Korea
Korea is making great strides toward becoming more multicultural in sports. Officially, Radunske is the only hockey player to become a Korean national, “but there are two more players waiting for their turn,” he says. “They’ve also been here for two or three years now and are hoping to be a part of the national team going forward.” There are many benefits to Korean sports embracing diversity, according to Radunske. “Hockey is a very multinational sport,” he says. “In the top teams in the world, in the National Hockey League, any one team could have 10 or 12 countries represented on that team. So for a long time, different players from different countries have been playing together on the same teams and they’ve had success with this model. If Korea adapts to it, and it looks like they have, it gives the Korean players a chance to play with new players in different styles, and it gives them the opportunity to improve their game.” Radunske also says Korea is becoming more multicultural off the ice as well as on. “I feel like Korea’s a very fast-paced country. They obviously have their certain cultural manners with their history, but they are willing to adapt,” he says. “I think the reason I’ve felt so comfortable here is because of the willingness of the people we meet and the organization I play for to really help us, and it also improves who we are and makes us a part of what’s going on here.”
TAles From KoreA
The Princess and the Idiot
Behind every good man is a great woman
Written by Felix Im Illustrated by Shim Soo-keun
The Odd Couple
When she entered Ondal’s humble home, Princess Pyeonggang immediately explained to his weak mother that she wanted to marry her son, who was out fetching tree bark for food. His mother identified the princess as a person of noble upbringing by her perfume and soft skin. The mother explained that she and her son were very poor and that a woman of high birth had no place there. The princess, however, showed no change in her determination. When Ondal arrived, the princess once again explained her reason for visiting. Ondal was instantly suspicious, however, and angrily sent her away. After the princess spent the night outside his house and offered to buy him a new house, food, land and a horse with the money she earned by selling her gold ring, Ondal was soon won over by her sincerity. The princess not only brought Ondal and his mother out of poverty, but also paid for his education and gave him professional training in the martial arts.
he story of Ondal the Idiot and Princess Pyeonggang of Goguryeo may seem strange or even implausible at times. As a result, the tale is often viewed as a historical folktale about a man’s rise from destitution to greatness and the woman who had the wisdom to believe in his potential.
A Stubborn Princess
The tale begins in the royal palace of King Pyeongwon of Goguryeo, who ruled from 559 to 590. Among his children was Princess Pyeonggang, a chronic crybaby whose crying was so persistent and got on the king’s nerves so much that he often threatened to marry her off to Ondal the Idiot if she didn’t stop. Ondal was an infamous beggar who lived outside the palace
gates and was reportedly as ugly as a donkey. He was often seen begging for food for himself and his blind mother. His ugliness, dirty clothes, and seemingly foolish behavior earned him the ridicule of everyone who knew him, as well as the nickname “The Idiot.” When the princess turned 16, her father attempted to marry her off to a wealthy and powerful noble. His stubborn daughter, however, put up fierce resistance and insisted that the king keep his promise of marrying her off to Ondal. Bewildered and angry, King Pyeongwon said he had just teased her, that it was only a joke, but the princess refused to relent. Their argument ended with the princess leaving the palace to roam the streets in search of her future husband.
arts competition, so much so that he caught the eye of King Pyeongwon, who asked him for his name. When Ondal gave his reply, the king was so taken aback and impressed that he made the former beggar an honorary general in the royal army. Ondal soon displayed his bravery and military prowess when armies from what the Northern Zhou Dynasty in China invaded Goguryeo lands. Legend has it that he singlehandedly slew more than 20 soldiers in an instant, a sight that inspired his entire army to victory. Ondal the Idiot had officially become a military hero and the recognized son-in-law of King Pyeongwon.
Death for a Country
When the king passed away, he was succeeded by his eldest son Yeongyang. One day, General Ondal asked his new king if he could lead an army to reclaim lands in the south that had been taken over by the Silla Kingdom. Convinced that Goguryeo needed to strengthen its southern presence, King Yeongyang consented to the request. Unfortunately, the brave beggar-turnedhero never returned from the campaign, for he was shot with an arrow and met his end near Mt. Achasan. Ondal has since been remembered in Korea as a rags-to-riches symbol.
From Idiot to Hero
Ondal, who ended up extremely talented and far from being an idiot, quickly became an excellent soldier. He went on to excel in an annual martial
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othing warms the soul in winter quite like a bowl of seolleongtang. A specialty of Seoul, the dish is a milky beef broth soup made from ox bone and brisket. To get the full flavor from the bones, the soup is sometimes boiled for an entire day. The very first bowl of seolleongtang is said to have been prepared after seonnongje, a Joseon Dynasty ceremony in which the king prayed for a good harvest. Today selleongtang is a popular dish for the masses, and its rich but not spicy flavor makes it a hit with foreign visitors, too. Seolleongtang is usually eaten with a bowl of rice and kkakdugi, or sliced white radish kimchi that removes the distinctive meat smell of the soup and supposedly aids digestion. The contrast of the soup and the crunchy kkakdugi also adds a bit of fun to the dining experience.
The line is busy
Let’s learn Korean expressions for making a phone call.
Ne, Sejong yeohaengsaimnida.
여보세요. 민수씨있습니까? 민수씨 좀 바꿔주세요.
Yes, this is Sejong Travel Agency.
Yeoboseyo. Minsu ssi isseumnikka? Minsu ssi jom bakkweojuseyo.
Hello. Is this Minsu? May I speak to Minsu, please? 잠깐만 기다리세요. 민수씨는 지금 통화중입니다.
Jamkkanman gidariseyo. a, Minsu ssineun jigeum tonghwa joongimnida.
그래요? 그럼, 제가 나중에 다시 전화하겠습니다.
Geuraeyo? Geureom, jega najoong-eh dashi jeonhwa hagesseumnida.
Please hold. Oh, Minsu is on another line.
Really? Then I’ll call again later.
The following are Korean expressions used in making a phone call. Please read and say together.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Hello. The line is busy.He/She is on the phone. Please hold. You have the wrong number. May I ask who’s calling? May I speak to OO?
지금 통화 중입니다.
jigeum tonghwa jungimnida.
Read the above expressions then fill in the blanks with the correct answers.
OO씨 좀 바꿔 주세요.
OOssi jom bakkwojuseyo.
Is this Sejong Travel Agency? Geogi Sejong yeohaengsajiyo?
Is this Minsu’s home? May I speak to Minsu? Geogi Minsune jibijyo? Minsu jom bakkwojuseyo.
Seolleongtang and Kkakdugi
Written by Shin Yesol Photograph courtesy of Seongbuk Seolleongtang
Oh, sorry. Jhoesonghamnida
This is Minsu’s friend Naoko. Ne, jeoneun Minsu chingu Naoko-imnida.
answer (④ 잘못 걸었습니다.)
answer (⑤ 실례지만 어디세요?)
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