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Focus on Asian Cooperation at Korea-ASEAN Summit
Korea-Central Asia Culture Exchange Festival UNESCO Honors 500 Years of Korean Royal History
VOL. 10 / NO. 6
Opening a communicative space between Korea and the world
Publisher Korean Culture and Information Service Chief Editor Ko Hye-ryun Editing & Printing JoongAng Daily E-mail email@example.com Design JoongAng Daily
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News in Focus
• Focus on Asian Cooperation at Korea-ASEAN Summit • Forging an Energy Alliance With Central Asian Nations • Fragrance of Silk: Korea-Central Asia Culture Exchange Festival
• A Humble Operatic Mother: Cho Jeong-sun
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• Riding the Steel Horse Across a Divided Land: Mount Godae
Focus on Asian Cooperation at Korea-ASEAN Summit
Korea-Central Asia Culture Exchange Festival UNESCO Honors 500 Years of Korean Royal History
• Hwang Tong-gyu: A life of many deaths — and rebirths
• A Farmer’s Drink Made Trendy: Makgeolli
Cover Photo Birds and leaves herald the beginning of Summer by JoongAng Daily
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from Korea and the Korean Culture and Information Service. The articles published in Korea do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher. The publisher is not liable for errors or omissions. Letters to the editor should include the writer’s full name and address. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space restrictions. If you want to receive a free copy of Korea or wish to cancel a subscription, please e-mail us. A downloadable PDF file of Korea and a map and 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.
• Grateful Aid Beneficiary Gives Back to the World • Teaching Humanity How To Be Good Neighbors • Cutting Through Red Tape With 29,000 Answers • Winning the Green Race • Local Mayors Take Initiative
• Renewable Energy, With Water the Only Waste
New Growth Engine Industries
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• Samsung Makes Chips. EO Supplies Samsung.
• Finding His Spirit in Ink and Brush: Albrecht Huber • Gritting Her Teeth and Climbing to the Top: Oh Eun-sun
• Power Trio Takes Egis to the Top
• Meeting the Challenge of Division: Edward Reed
• Seoul En Pointe! • Celebrating the Wordsmiths: Seoul Book Fair • UNESCO Honors 500 Years of Royal Korean History
• Spinning a Web of Walkways Across the Peninsula
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News in Focus
Focus on Asian Cooperation at Korea-ASEAN Summit
The Lee administration hosts its first multilateral meeting June 1 and 2 on Jeju Island, hoping to strengthen economic and cultural cooperation
‘ASEAN is Korea’s thirdlargest trade partner and second-largest investment destination... [the event] will be an important stepping stone.’
6 korea June 2009
arking the 20th anniversary of the first talks between Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Korean government will host a special summit in June on the resort island of Jeju. President Lee Myung-bak, leaders of the 10 ASEAN member countries and ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan will attend the event June 1 and 2 to discuss cooperation on key issues in the region and in the wider international community, including the global financial crisis and climate change. The event will also be an opportunity to deepen Korea’s two decades of friendship with the regional organization, the Korean government said. “This year, the Korea-ASEAN Commemorative Summit celebrates the 20th anniversary of the relationship between Korea and ASEAN. [Of course,] Korea’s relationships with individual ASEAN nations go back more than a half century,” President Lee said May 18 as he addressed about 30 journalists from the 10 ASEAN member nations at Cheong Wa Dae. “This year, Korea announced the New Asia Initiative. Asia’s importance in the international community has grown in the 21st century. Korea wants to form deep ties with its Asian neighbors beyond the current economic cooperation. To this end, this commemorative summit will be an important stepping stone to further develop the Korea-ASEAN relationship.” Other officials also reaffirmed Lee’s commitment to foster ties between Korea and its Southeast Asian neighbors. “Korea’s relationship with ASEAN has steadily developed over the past 20 years in all aspects including politics, the economy, society and culture,” said Foreign Minister Yu Myunghwan. “ASEAN is Korea’s third-largest trade partner and second-largest investment destination. Every year, more than 3.5 million Koreans
visit ASEAN member nations.” The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Membership has since expanded to include five more countries: Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The organization aims at developing economic growth and strengthening social and cultural ties among its members. It also seeks to maintain peace and stability in the region. Korea established official ties with ASEAN in 1989. In 2004, Korea and the association adopted the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership, marking the 15th anniversary of the start of talks. “This event is the latest on the list of grand international events hosted in Korea, after the Seoul ASEM meeting in 2000 and Busan APEC summit in 2005,” Cheong Wa Dae said. “The June event will be an opportunity to promote Korea’s strong willingness to cooperate with ASEAN, expand the country’s diplomatic horizons and strengthen the capacity of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.” On May 31, the eve of the summit, an opening ceremony for a meeting of Korean and ASEAN CEOs and a performance by an ASEAN-Korea traditional orchestra are planned. The orchestra is composed of diverse traditional musicians from the 11 countries, Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, and the performance will build a stronger foundation for closer ties between them. On June 1, the end of the CEO summit will take place, and the first session of the commemorative summit between Korea and ASEAN state leaders will get underway. A welcome dinner and cultural performance will follow, under the slogan, “Partnership for Real, Friendship for Good.” During the first session of the commemoraJune 2009 korea 7
News in Focus
His Excellency Lee Myung-bak President of the Republic of Korea • Date of Birth Dec. 19, 1941 • Bachelor in Business Administration at Korea University, Seoul, Korea (1965) • Chairman and CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction (1988-92) • Representative, 15th National Assembly (1996-98) • Mayor of Seoul (2002-2006) • Honorary Doctor, Eurasia University, Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan (2004) • Honorary Doctor of Economics, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (2005)
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam • Date of Birth July 15, 1946 • Coronation 1967 • Honorary Doctor in Law, University of Oxford, UK • Honorary Doctor in Literature, University of Aberdeen, Scotland • Honorary Doctor, University of Chulalongkorn, Thailand • Honorary Doctor in Liberal Arts, University of Yogyakarta, UGM, Gadjah Mada, Indonesia • Honorary Doctor in Law, Singapore National University, Singapore
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia • Date of Birth April 4, 1951 • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1979~90) • Prime Minister (1985~89) • Joint Prime Minister (1993~98) • Honorary Doctor in Politics, Soonchunhyang University, Korea
His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono President of the Republic of Indonesia • Date of Birth Sept. 9, 1949 • MBA at Webster University, USA (1991) • Minister of Mines and Energy (1999) • Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs (2000) • Ph.D. in Agricultural Economy, University of Agriculture, Bogor (2004) • Honorary Doctor in Law, Webster University (2005)
His Excellency Bouasone Bouphavanh Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic • Date of Birth June 3, 1954 • Third Deputy Prime Minister • First Deputy Prime Minister (2003)
His Excellency Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak Prime Minister of Malaysia • Date of Birth July 23, 1953 • Deputy Minister of Energy, Telecommunication and Post (1978) • Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports • Minister of Education • Minister of Defense • Minister of Finance
His Excellency General Thein Sein Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar • Date of Birth April 21, 1945 • First Secretary of State Peace and Development Council (2004)
Her Excellency Gloria MacapagalArroyo President of the Republic of the Philippines • Date of Birth April 5, 1947 • Ph.D in Economics, University of Philippines, Philippines (1985) • Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (1987) • Chairperson of the Economics Department, Assumption College • Senator (1992) • Vice President (1998)
His Excellency Lee Hsien Loong Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore • Date of Birth Feb. 10, 1952 • Bachelor in Computer Technology, Trinity College, Cambridge • Master in Economics, Kennedy School of Government and Graduate School of Public Administration, Havard University • Minister of Trade and Industry (1986) • Vice Prime Minister (1990) • President of the Central Bank (1998) • Minister of Finance (2001)
His Excellency Abhisit Vejjajiva Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand • Date of Birth Aug. 3, 1964 • Bachelor in Political Economy and Philosophy, Oxford, UK • Master in Economics, Oxford, UK • Member of Parliament (1992)
His Excellency Nguyen Tan Dung Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
His Excellency Dr. Surin Pitsuwan Secretary-General of the ASEAN Secretariat • Date of Birth Oct. 28, 1949 • Master’s and Ph.D. at Harvard (1982) • Spokesman, Ministry of Home Affairs, Thailand (1988) • Vice Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs, Thailand (1992-95) • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thailand (1997-2001) • Chairman, ASEAN Regional Forum (1999-2000)
• Date of Birth Nov. 17, 1949 • First Deputy Prime Minister (1997) • Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (1998)
tive summit, the leaders will evaluate the cooperative relationship between Korea and ASEAN. They will also discuss future developments in politics, national security, the economy, society and culture at the session, with President Lee presiding. The second session of the summit is on June 2, when leaders will share their thoughts on how to overcome the problems international society is currently facing. According to the Foreign Ministry, “Ways to strengthen cooperative strategies on worldwide issues such as the global financial crisis, energy security and climate change” will be the main items on the agenda. Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will preside at this session. Next, a signing ceremony for a joint statement will take place, followed by a leaders’ luncheon and press conference. According to Cheong Wa Dae, the CEO meetings on the sidelines of the political summit are aimed at building networks between companies in Korea and ASEAN nations. Under the theme “Change, Challenge, and Collaboration for Asia’s Prosperity,” the event will be attended by 400 business leaders, academic experts and government officials from Korea and ASEAN countries. According to the Foreign Ministry,
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Laos The Philippines Cambodia
Thailand Malaysia Singapore Indonesia
‘For Korea’s success in the international community, the support of Southeast Asian nations is key.’
ASEAN member countries
the fund will be jointly used with ASEAN nations for further development.” The Green Technology Exhibition will be held in the lobby of the International Convention Center Jeju from May 31 to June 2, the Foreign Ministry said. The event is designed to promote Korea’s low-carbon, green growth vision to visiting government delegates and businessmen from ASEAN nations. Korea hopes to persuade ASEAN members to join the green growth movement through the exhibit. By linking the strategy with Korea’s proposal of the East Asia Climate Partnership, Seoul seeks to play a leadership role on the issue in the international community. The exhibition will also feature technologies and products that can be used
the participants will discuss the global economic outlook and Asia’s role as well as economic and social development through trade and investment. Corporate growth strategy amidst a changing global environment and the challenges governments and businesses face in relation to green growth are also set to be discussed at this rare gathering of regional business leaders. “Green growth and fighting climate change are not matters of choice. They are matters of survival,” Lee said on May 18 at a meeting with ASEAN journalists. “Many advanced countries have already made progress, and Korea will cooperate with ASEAN on this matter. Korea has contributed $200 million to the East Asia Climate Partnership, and I hope
in ASEAN countries to encourage cooperation on green technology in the region. According to Cheong Wa Dae officials, the special summit will be an important part of President Lee’s New Asia Initiative. Announced in March this year, this diplomatic plan seeks to engage Asia-Pacific nations, a shift from Seoul’s old foreign policy focus on relations with global superpowers. Noting that Korea’s diplomacy had been concentrated on Washington, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow in 2008, Lee said in March that the time has come to reach out to Korea’s regional neighbors. Under the New Asia Initiative, Seoul’s goal is to speak for Asian nations in the international community. According to Cheong Wa Dae, Korea seeks to cooperate with its AsiaPacific neighbors while playing a leading role in resolving transnational tasks such as the financial crisis and climate change. Seoul will focus on diplomacy to encourage free trade and investment within the region. As part of the initiative, Lee has made successful visits to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. In this context, Korea’s ties with ASEAN are extremely important both economically and diplomatically, officials of the Lee administration said. Bilateral trade between ASEAN and Korea was worth $90.2 billion last year, 10.5 percent of Korea’s total trade volume. Korea and ASEAN began negotiations on a free trade agreement in 2005, broken into four separate accords on merchandise, services, investment and dispute settlement. The agree-
ment on merchandise trade took effect in 2007, and the accord on opening up the service industry came into force earlier this year. Korea and ASEAN also reached an agreement on bilateral investment in April, which will take effect soon. Officials in Seoul also stressed the importance of ASEAN for inter-Korean relations. All 10 ASEAN member nations have diplomatic ties with both South and North Korea. Noting that the ASEAN Regional Forum is the only regional consultative body for security dialogue in Asia that counts North Korea as a participant, Seoul officials said ASEAN members can play an important role in establishing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula amidst the freeze in interKorean relations. “This is the first multilateral summit hosted by the Lee Myung-bak administration,” said Kim Young-chae, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Southeast Asia Division. “After China and Japan, Southeast Asian nations are Korea’s closest neighbors. They are important diplomatic, economic, cultural and tourism partners. For Korea’s success in the international community, the support of Southeast Asian nations is key.” Kim said Korea is also a good example for for the Southeast Asian nations on economic development and democratization. “They also have high expectations for development and cooperation,” Kim said. “In the future, ties between Korea and ASEAN will play a positive role in helping us tackle various By Ser Myo-ja global issues.”
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Forging an Energy Alliance With Central Asian Nations
President Lee Myung-bak signs agreements to develop oil and other resources on a five-day trip to meet with the leaders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
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Korean President Lee Myungbak, left, talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a joint press conference May 13 in the presidential palace in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
n a five-day visit to Central Asia in May, President Lee Myung-bak took another step toward cooperation in energy resource development with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Lee visited the two nations from May 10 to 14. It was Lee’s first visit to the region since taking office in February last year, and a stepping stone for Lee’s “New Asia Initiative,” which began earlier this year to broaden Korea’s diplomatic horizons in Asia and bolster Asia’s presence in the world. “President Lee will seek to reinforce our energy and resource diplomacy with the countries, which have rich reserves of oil and mineral resources, including uranium,” Cheong Wa Dae said in an earlier statement. “He will also seek to strengthen cooperation with Central Asia on global issues, such as climate change and overcoming the economic crisis.” Lee and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, issued a 12-point joint agreement on May 11, following a summit in Tashkent. They agreed to an upgraded strategic partnership and to enhance energy and economic cooperation. The Lee administration has made energy the focus of its presidential diplomacy, considering Korea’s dependence on imports. Russia, South America, Africa and Central Asia were selected as the key strategic areas for energy and resource development. “President Lee’s diplomatic tours have been based on the energy diplomacy map,” said Lee Dong-kwan, Blue House spokesman. “It began with trips to Russia last year, and then he went on to South America, Oceania, Indonesia and Central Asia. Lee has circled the globe for energy diplomacy.” During this trip, Korea and Uzbekistan inked 16 deals covering joint exploration projects for five new gas fields and to drill for new oil reserves. Korea’s state-run National Oil Corp. and the Uzbek national oil company Uzbekneftegaz also signed a memorandum of understanding to carry out the oil exploration project. “Both sides expressed satisfaction that their bilateral relations in political,
News in Focus
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan (far right) gives President Lee Myung-bak, center, a tour of the historic city of Samarkand, a stop on the old Silk Road.
economic, cultural and humanitarian sectors have significantly developed in recent years,” a joint statement read. After concluding a successful visit in Uzbekistan, Lee headed to his next destination, Kazakhstan. At a summit in the capital Astana May 13, Lee and President Nursultan Nazarbayev adopted an action plan designed to enhance bilateral economic and diplomatic collaboration in energy, trade, culture, labor and construction. The two leaders agreed to a “strategic partnership” through a set of measures that will increase their diplomatic and economic cooperation. “South Korea will support the Kazakh government’s efforts to diversify its economy, in addition to supporting energy cooperation between the two countries,” Lee said at the beginning of the summit. Nazarbayev called for efforts to boost ties, saying there still is “great room” for the relationship to grow. The two leaders also agreed to more joint development of oil fields and minerals in Kazakhstan. The presidents also agreed to cooperate in building infrastructure such as power plants, power lines and railroads, and in the shipbuilding and IT industries. The leaders signed 10 agreements at
the summit, including for joint development of the Jambil maritime oil block in the Caspian Sea, construction of a thermal power plant in Balkhash and wireless Internet networks. Another great achievement of Lee’s tour was deepened trust and friendship between the leaders. Uzbek President Karimov welcomed Lee at the airport upon his arrival in Tashkent on May 10, and accompanied him throughout his trip in the nation. The three-day tour concluded with a visit to the ancient city of Samarkand, added at the request of Karimov, who guided Lee around the historic monuments in this former stop on the Silk Road between China and the West. Kazakh President Nazarbayev gave Lee the opportunity to visit the sauna at the presidential retreat, a privilege only afforded to the leaders of select countries, including former Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is the highest level of welcome in Kazakhstan,” said a Cheong Wa Dae official. Lee’s aides said the two leaders conversed easily during the summit thanks to a quick rapport and trust. According to Cheong Wa Dae, both the Uzbek and Kazakh leaders also supported Lee’s “New Asia Initiative.”
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News in Focus
The Uzbek dance company Ofarin appears on stage at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on May 15. Wearing traditional costumes, they performed various folk dances from their native country.
Fragrance of Silk:
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Culture Exchange Festival
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News in Focus
Yu In-chon, minister of culture, sports and tourism, second from left, chats on the opening night of the festival.
Clockwise from top: Surkhon, a group of five men, and Ofarin, an acrobatic troupe, perform the traditional dance of Uzbekistan together; two dancers from Ofarin leap, and five members of the Kazakhstan State Symphony Orchestra play a wind quintet.
Top, the Kazakh soprano Smailova Torgyn performs with the Kazakh National Philharmonic Orchestra. Left, a member of Ofarin dances to traditional Uzbek music.
ast month saw an amazing opportunity to appreciate the culture and mystery of most of Central Asia in one place at the same time. “Fragrance of Silk: Korea-Central Asia Culture Exchange Festival” was held at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul from May 15 to 20. Famous orchestras, singers and dancers from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan presented their traditional and contemporary music and dances over these six days to strengthen cultural ties between Korea and the three countries, located along the Silk Road, giving the event its name. At this festival co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, curious spectators gathered following President Lee Myungbak’s first visit to the region, from May 10 to 14. “History fused with the strong spirit of their nomadic ancestors to create a unique culture of their own.” said Kim Hyo-jeong, a professor of Central Asian Languages at the Pusan University of Foreign Studies. Opening night was to feature an address by Culture Minister Yu In-chon and a rendition of Vivaldi’s “Summer” concerto performed by the Kazakh National Philharmonic Orchestra and Korean violinist Gwon Myung-hye. The festival featured six performing groups from the three countries. Highlights included the Uzbek singer-songwriter Sardor Rakhimbon, a group from Turkmenistan that played traditional instruments and the Kazakh National Philharmonic Orchestra, which accompanied an aria sung by Smailova Torgyn. Several movies including “Stalin’s Gift” and “With My Daddy” were shown at the Cinus Dansung Theater, while a photo exhibition called “Gems of Central Asia” took place at the National Museum of Korea in By Sung So-young central Seoul.
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Employees and executives of the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation pose during the JBIC-Korea Exim Bank 2008 Consultation on International Development Cooperation. The JBIC is in charge of the Japanese counterpart of the EDCF.
Olympic Stadium in Tunisia was built in 1997 with international support.
Grateful Aid Beneficiary Gives Back to the World
About Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund
orea is often cited as a success story for the effects of international aid. From a war-torn, povertystricken country in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War, the South has become the world’s 13th largest economy - fourth in Asia - in only two generations. Intense economic efforts by the government and the people are partly to thank, but according to economic historians and local policy makers, aid from around the world, which came in the form of grants and loans, also played a crucial part. The aid was funneled into major infrastructure building programs such as the Seoul-Busan Expressway, the Pohang Still Mill and the Soyang River Dam. The prestigious Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, or KAIST, known to some as the MIT of Asia, was also established with international aid. The contributions were so great, former Finance Minister Kwon O-kyu once said, that “without the money from USAID, IDA, various international organizations and developed countries, Korea would have not been able to supply basic necessities to its people in the aftermath of the Korean War.” USAID is the acronym for the United States Agency for International
Development, while IDA stands for the International Development Association under the World Bank. Among other major donors to Korea were the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program. From beneficiary to benefactor Korea has paid back almost all its financial debt from the aid, but the psychological debt lingers as gratitude, which prompted the country to turn from net recipient to net donor 22 years ago. The Economic Development Cooperation Fund has been a key instrument in that shift. The Korean government activated this bilateral loan program in June 1987. The Export-Import Bank of Korea is now responsible for operating and managing the fund under the general guidelines of the Finance Ministry. With the goal of supporting industrialization and economic development in developing countries, the EDCF was the first full-fledged aid program of the Korean government. Korea did implement some aid programs for less developed countries earlier on, including training programs sponsored by USAID in 1963, expertise sharing programs in 1967 and an inter-
national development exchange program in 1982. But unlike those smaller and temporary programs, the EDCF was designed as a permanent outlet for Korea to donate and contribute to the long-term economic development of its neighbors. Through the EDCF, Korea provides loans to developing countries to finance projects that are expected to enhance economic conditions for the recipients. And today, the EDCF is not the only full-fledged instrument for Korea to send out aid. In 1991, the government founded the Korea International Cooperation Agency under the Foreign Ministry, which has since implemented grants and technical aid programs. In the following years, some other ministries including the Education Ministry also began to create their own global aid programs, though in monetary terms they are relatively small. The EDCF and Koica both act bilaterally, with aid allotted for one recipient at a time. The Korean government later expanded coverage and has donated to programs that benefit developing countries through multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Development Agency.
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‘Recipient countries might like receiving aid with no strings attached, but much research has shown that countries that receive grants are not as motivated as countries receiving aid loans to develop the economy.’
Over the years, EDCF loans have tended increasingly to go to social infrastructure and services. The EDCF also often helps with manufacturing and emergency assistance.
Motivating new development Last year, Korea spent about 1 trillion won ($799 million) on overseas development aid, and 25.4 percent of that, or 237.1 billion won, was distributed through the EDCF, according to the Finance Ministry. Bilateral grant aid through Koica and some other government agencies accounted for 33 percent, with the remaining 41.6 percent going to multilateral grants. Among the three pillars of Korea’s ODA programs, however, the EDCF is still considered by many as the most effective. This is because the obligation to pay back debt motivates recipients to use the money more effectively, officials say. “Recipient countries might like receiving grants with no obligations attached, but much research has shown that the countries that receive grants are not as motivated as countries receiving aid loans to develop the economy,” said Kim Dong-jun, an official at the Finance Ministry. In fact, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, an international agreement announced in February 2005, sets out “ownership” as the first principle of aid. The Finance Ministry said EDCF loans encourage recipients to work on governance and fiscal management by keeping them vigilant. In addition, the EDCF can hand out far larger amounts in loans than it is possible to give away in grants, as loans are redeemable. This makes them suitable for funding the large infrastructure
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projects that become the basis of economic growth, the ministry said. “With grants, what we can give is limited to, say, a few hundred computers. But with the EDCF loans, we can build bridges,” Kim at the Finance Ministry said. “So we think recipient countries also prefer the EDCF program over grants.” The lending fund has grown over the years, to 2.306 trillion won as of the end of 2008, according to the de-facto fund manager, the Export-Import Bank of Korea. Loan volume has grown along with it. In 1987, when the EDCF started, only two countries — Nigeria and Indonesia — were approved for funds. That grew to 16 projects in 11 countries in 2006 and last year to 28 projects in 13 countries. That year the program disbursed 237.1 billion won. In its history, 45 countries have used EDCF loans for 200 projects worth $4.276 billion, the bank said. According to the Finance Ministry, both the size of the fund and the loans it makes possible will continue to rise in years to come. Usually, an EDCF loan program is initiated at the request of a candidate country. The country applies for the loan through Korea’s Foreign Ministry. The application, which should include detailed plans for how the applicant country will use the funds, is then reviewed by the Exim Bank. Based on the results of this review, the Finance Ministry makes the final decision on whether to give out an
Targeting the public good The purposes to which EDCF loans are put are also carefully selected rather than equally distributed. Sectors where Korea has competitiveness over other countries are preferred, since local companies often participate in EDCF-funded development projects. Over the years, EDCF loans have tended increasingly to go to social infrastructure and services. These projects made up just 19.9 percent of EDCF programs in 1996, but that had jumped to 60.5 percent by 2005. The EDCF also often helps with manufacturing and emergency assistance. The implementation of projects that
Above, a combined cycle power plant being built in Vietnam in 1996; right, a wastewater treatment facility in Jordan is enlarged the same year.
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provided by the Export-Import Bank of Korea
EDCF loan and how much. Most of the beneficiaries of EDCF loans, as the Exim Bank explains, are developing countries with strong economic ties to Korea or high potential for economic cooperation. Many have national per capita income of less than $5,000, and more than 70 percent are located in Asia. Their repayment capacity is also considered. In October, the government approved a $100 million loan to Vietnam, the biggest single loan to any country in EDCF history. Assistance concentrates on socioeconomic infrastructure likely to make a major contribution to economic development and on sectors related to basic human needs, such as health, education and the environment.
win EDCF assistance is monitored by the Exim Bank. Currently, 75 employees at the bank, or around 10 percent of its workforce, are assigned to the EDCF Group, the department in charge of oversight. “As the implementing agency of the fund, we monitor whether the programs are effectively being executed,” said Um Sung-yong, senior deputy director of the EDCF Group. Sometimes the implementation of a program is put on hold. In January 2003, the Korean government received a complaint from Uzbekistan about the quality of $34 million worth of educational equipment a Kore-
an company sold to the country. The Central Asian country paid for the products through a loan it had received from the EDCF. Korea recalled the products in question and replaced them. But the incident prompted criticism that Korea is hurting its image through a program that was meant to bolster it. Critics said the selection process for local companies to be involved in EDCF projects should be more thorough and transparent. This point was also raised at an international conference that Korea held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the EDCF in
July 2007. In a statement at the conference, the Finance Ministry said, “We will strengthen evaluation of each individual project to enhance the effectiveness of the EDCF.” The ministry said clear indicators of progress will be provided from the project initiation stage and throughout implementation to ensure successful completion. “In the evaluation report, lessons to learn and areas to improve will be clearly laid out, so that they can be referred to and utilized in upgrading aid projects,” it added
By Moon Gwang-lip
provided by Good Neighbors
Far left, a girl in the African nation of Chad welcomes volunteers. Left above and below, goodwill ambassadors Byun Jung-soo and Lee Bo-young, respectively. Above, the logo of GNI’s Good Buy campaign.
Teaching Humanity How To Be Good Neighbors
Korea’s first international NGO helps children, the poor
s the first international nongovernmental organization born in Korea, Good Neighbors International brings smiles and new hope to 3.45 million people in need around the world. For example, last year, the international organization donated 500 million won ($402,252) in relief goods such as blankets, tents, and clothes to victims of dislocation, disaster and other hardships. Established in 1991 in Seoul with only nine staff members, the non-profit charity group focuses on humanitarian and development issues guided by a vision of a peaceful world without starvation, prejudice, discrimination or death from preventable disease. Since then, the organization has supported people in need, including orphans, tuberculosis patients and the otherwise disadvantaged, while provid-
’We will keep on working hard to care for the 1.2 billion people [who] live on less than one dollar a day.’
ing support for poor children, emergency relief, help to families in need of a home and free medical services. The group also operates charity campaigns and rural community redevelopment projects. In one of its unique programs, the Korean organization sends cassettes of music to Bangladeshi children in its “Picture of Love” project. Good Neighbors has played an especially important role helping Rwandan refugees, dispatching food and medical relief teams and operating two schools at refugee camps since 1994, its first notable move overseas. GNI has now become the first Korean international NGO to receive general consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Today it has 942 staff members and 2,500 volunteers in Korea and at 22 overseas branches in countries such as Nepal, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Vietnam, Kenya, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia. “We will keep on working hard to care for the 1.2 billion poverty-stricken people in the world who struggle to live on less than one dollar a day,” said
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Clockwise from far left: Children in Korea also receive support from GNI; purchases of products with the Good Buy logo help raise money for GNI, and actor Choi Soo-jong helps a boy bathe as part of a GNI relief squad.
GNI distributes food to disaster areas across the world.
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63-year-old president Ilha Yi. “The GNI announced its ‘Vision 2020’ last year. The goal is to develop our organization into the seventhbiggest NGO,” said Yi. “As a representative of Korea, we will help more people and make a contribution to make this world better.” Currently, 498 staff members are stationed overseas, offering assistance to anyone regardless of race, nationality, religion and region. GNI volunteers have also rushed to disaster sites all over the world. For example, last year the international organization donated 500 million won ($402,252) in relief goods such as blankets, tents and clothes to earthquake victims in Sichuan, China. In 2006, two GNI relief teams were dispatched to help quake victims in Indonesia and Pakistan. The following year, the group sent relief goods to Jakarta after catastrophic floods. “I always felt sorry for poor people in the world. So this February, I decided to go to Cambodia to be help them as part of GNI,” says Lim
Hae-rim, 24, a female volunteer. “I still remember rebuilding a bathroom for three siblings who lost their mother in a hitand-run.” GNI is also active in Korea. The group recently visited 107 schools nationwide to provide free lunches for 2,590 undernourished children. In addition to dealing with the critical nutrition issue, the organization offers counseling services to needy children, helping them deal with school life. According to a report released last year by the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, 294,599 children nationwide have suffered from hunger. Of course, starvation is much more severe in North Korea, and GNI has been providing humanitarian assistance to children there since a famine in 1995. In 1998, the charity organization sent 200 pregnant milk cows directly to the North as part of a long-term project. Last June, GNI donated 100 million won ($80,450) worth of
food including powered milk, bean oil and wheat flour in order to help tackle a chronic food shortage in North Korea. GNI also donated 320 million won to renovate a hospital located in the city of Nampo, South Pyongan, to give North Koreans high-quality medical services with the most advanced equipment. “I’m very excited to be a help to others. I feel happy when I assist other people,” said Lee Ji-hyun, a staff member at GNI. “I will continue to try more to help more people worldwide.” Good Neighbors has even taken its campaign online. At the beginning of National Family Month in May, the group launched an online fundraising drive called “Give Start,” at www.givestart.org. As of Tuesday, May 13, a total of 8,892,000 won ($7,154) had been collected from 960 netizens. The money will be used to help needy people around
‘I still remember rebuilding a bathroom for three siblings who lost their mother in a hit-and-run.’
the world. Korean entertainers are also pitching in to help children in need, participating in a variety of charity events hosted by Good Neighbors. Last month, Lee Min-ho, the male lead in the recently-concluded hit TV drama “Boys over Flowers,” took part in a nationwide charity event called “Coffee Free Day,” leading thousands of people to donate money for malnourished children and impoverished families. Earlier this year, two Korean movie stars, Kim Ha-neul and Lee Jun-ki, traveled overseas with GNI to give direct help to the poor. Over a week in Tanah Merah, Indonesia, they visited three siblings who had been orphaned. The two stars helped build a basketball court and computer lab room at a local school, contributing a priceless gift – the gift of hope. “Though it was only a one-week visit, it will be a great memory,” said Kim. “I will continue to try to help other poor children.” Including the charitable events described above, GNI has contributed 37.1 billion won worth of direct aid to the poor in 2008. By Park Sang-woo
June 2009 korea 23
Global Korea Before the center opened, Seoul residents had difficulty finding information about living here. Each government department had a different phone number, so they had trouble finding the right one. “Even if they succeeded in calling the right places, they found it inconvenient because of overlylong automated messages and the absence of a civil servant in charge. What’s worse, many residents complained about repeated call forwarding,” said Yoo Gil-jun, director of customer service at the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “At the same time, civil servants suffered stress caused by repeated phone calls with the same requests, which eventually led to unfriendliness to customers and a drop in worker efficiency.” In a bid to build a communication channel readily accessible to customers at any time from any place, Seoul City opened the Dasan 120 Seoul Call Center in 2007 after an eight-month trial. The center integrated all the numbers and phone services provided by the city and its affiliated institutions. Over 220 Dasan counselors provide services around the clock, 365 days a year. “Seoul residents’ satisfaction with the city’s call service was as low as 41 percent in 2006. But in a recent survey, 92.3 percent said they were satisfied,” Yoo said. Counselors at Dasan answer calls in an average of 15 seconds and handle 90 percent of calls for information and services directly without forwarding them to other departments, according to a report from the city. The secret of its instant response is that Seoul has compiled a list of some 29,000 frequently asked questions and answers on civil affairs. With this database of information, counselors can provide accurate and instant information to callers in as little as three minutes, depending on the question. The number of incoming calls
Satisfaction with Seoul’s call service was 41 percent in 2006. But today it’s 92.3 percent.
professors at U.S. graduate schools of public affairs and administration tour the Dasan 120 Seoul Call Center on Feb. 24.
Cutting Through Red Tape With 29,000 Answers
he Dasan Call Center, a onestop service for callers with inquiries or complaints about Seoul’s city services, has become a benchmark for governments in other countries and businesses looking to implement similar information systems. The center provides information on all Seoul city government services and everyday life in Seoul, answering questions on everything from the operating hours of public transportation (buses and subway trains) to how to pay one’s water bill before moving out. As of April 13, over 330 public servants, scholars, reporters and
24 korea June 2009
businessman from 23 countries around the world, including Russia, China, Germany, Spain, Vietnam and Turkey, have visited the center, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Nguyen Huu Cat, a civil servant from Hanoi, Vietnam, said his March visit to the center was very helpful in mapping out measures to improve his city’s call center. “It was impressive that Seoul put a lot of effort into pursuing civilian-centered administrative services to help its citizens.” he said. Low Hock Meng, managing director of the Singapore Produc-
tivity and Standards Board, visited the call center a second time with staff from other companies, saying that he was impressed by the service mindset and attention to customer satisfaction during his first visit to the center. Bangladeshi government officials have also visited the center twice. Some 360 institutions in Korea, including central government administrative bodies such as the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and local governments in Busan, Daegu, and Gwangju, have sent officials to the call center to observe.
has tripled from 4,588 a day on average in September 2007 to 15,000 in 2009. The day before Children’s Day (May 5), the center received over 20,000 calls about what parks and facilities would be holding events on the holiday. “Many citizens find it very convenient because they can get instant answers just by dialing 120,” Yoo said. To ensure equal access to the service, the call center launched a video counseling service in June 2008. About 40 hearing and speech impaired people call the center each day, with counselors answering their questions in sign language. As of February 2009, over 4,300 people had used the video service. “There was one time a hearing impaired person called the center and requested a counselor because he wanted to order Chinese food for lunch,” Yoo said. “The center’s counselor ordered for him.” Robert Shick, a public affairs and administration professor at Rutgers University’s Newark campus, visited Dasan in February with 14 other U.S. college professors. Shick called the video and text service “particularly notable.” He even mentioned the Dasan 120 Call Center in his class as an example of how government can be more responsive to its citizens. “Students usually respond positively to call centers as some of them have used them and were satisfied with the process,” Shick said. Seoul is currently in discussions with graduate schools of public administration at 15 U.S. colleges including Cornell University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Georgia to discuss the Dasan call center as a case study in policy management. Dasan will be included as an example of Seoul’s citizenBy Kim Mi-ju centered policy.
provided by Seoul Metropolitan Government
Left: An official at the Dasan Call Center shakes hands with a public servant from Bangladesh visiting the center. Top: public servants from Hanoi, Vietnam, look around the call center in March.
June 2009 korea 25
Winning the Green Race
n January this year, the Korean government announced one of its most ambitious plans to date, to spend 50.5 trillion won ($40.4 million) over the next four years to bolster the country's economy through eco-friendly measures and create over 956,000 jobs. Dubbed the “Green New Deal,” the plan will include government investments in 36 eco-friendly projects including the revitalization of four major rivers, upgraded water facilities, expansion of low-carbon transportation such as high-speed railways, development of eco-friendly vehicles and construction of 2 million energy-efficient homes. Finance Minister Kang Man-soo said the plan has three objectives: job creation, expanding future growth engines and establishing a basis for lowcarbon growth. Of the total sum, 37.5 trillion won will come from the state while 5.2 trillion won will come from regional governments. The rest, around 7.2 trillion won, will come from the private sector. With this plan, President Lee Myungbak has been called one of the world’s most eco-friendly leaders in newspapers and magazines around the world. The Berlin-based newspaper Die Tageszeitung last month wrote that no other G-20 member has invested more of its national stimulus package in green growth. The paper added that President Lee Myung-bak, who led the renovation of Cheonggyecheon as mayor of Seoul, has made Korea one of the leading environment-friendly economies. The Cheonggyecheon project, in which Lee oversaw the transformation of an aging highway into a stream with an urban park along its banks, is seen by many in the media as early evidence of Lee’s interest in environmental projects. Earlier, the American magazine Newsweek wrote: “As a politician, it was Lee's
‘Only South Korea is now spending enough... to cut the costs of climate change.’
green efforts in Seoul during his stint as mayor from 2002 to 2006 that brought him to national prominence. Koreans share these priorities: A recent poll reported that 53 percent think environmental protection is more important than development.” Another German daily, Frankfurter Rundschau, wrote in an article published in March that out of all the countries at the G-20 summit in London, Korea had the most pro-environment economic stimulus package. The daily added that one-third of the total investment will be used to revitalize the four rivers, helping Korea ease its chronic water shortage. In fact, many global media groups have pointed out that out of all industrialized countries with economic stimulus packages, Korea may be the only one spending the bulk on “green investment.” The Financial Times reported this March, “The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that only South Korea is now spending enough of its stimulus on green investment to cut the costs of climate change.” The British newspaper the Guardian also reported last month: “No matter what the the UK promises, it will pale in comparison with the green boasts of South Korea's 50 trillion won plan.” But the paper expresses skepticism about Korea's plan as well. “With few specific details about how the money will be spent and no estimate of the impact on carbon emissions, environmental auditing of the plan is difficult. Diplomats and local journalists said the true amount of green spending was likely to be far below 81 percent. In the short term, some suggest, South Korea's carbon footprint could even go up as a result of the burst of construction.” Korea's green policies have come a long way since just a few years ago. Chinese magazine Liaowang Weekly early this month reported that in 2005, Korea's EPI (Environmental Performance Index) in 2005 was 122nd of 146 countries — one of the worst in the OECD. Korea's present status as a world leader in green growth is a result of the country's economic development. The move to become proactive in protecting the environment is seen by most media groups as a beneficial step for economic development as well. In the Guardian, John Ashton, special representative for climate change for the UK Foreign Office, said, "There seems to be growing consensus in Korea that being an early mover in the low carbon transition is good for the By Cho Jae-Eun Korean economy.”
June 2009 korea 27
26 korea June 2009
Local Mayors Take Initiative
Ansan and Suncheon planting trees and committed to alternative energy
Seoul En Pointe!
Korea’s most spectacular ballet festival ever begins June 4
hether you don’t know a toe shoe from a tutu, or you can name all the latest winners of the Prix Benois de la Danse, you won’t want to miss the 2009 World Ballet Star Festival. As its name suggests, the event invites world-famous ballet troupes to perform in Seoul. But this is more than a regular show. The 2009 World Ballet Star Festival will include highlights from well-known ballet pieces, both classic and contemporary, including “The Nutcracker,” “Cinderella” and “Don Quixote.” “Ballet novices will have a chance to taste what ballet is like with familiar classics. People who love ballet can see ballet stars on one stage without traveling around the world,” said Lee So-young, a secretary at the Seoul-based World Dance Center. The 2009 World Ballet Star Festival is co-organized by the WDC and the JoongAng Ilbo, one of the nation’s leading daily newspapers. “It usually takes between three and four months to decide who will perform at the festival because all of the ballerinas and ballerinos have hectic schedules,” said Yoo Kyung-su, an official at JoongAng Culture Media. The cast includes principal ballerinas and danseurs from the Russian Kirov
The world’s greatest ballet dancers from Korea, Cuba, Russia and more will gather in Seoul to show off at this two-day extravaganza.
Ansan City employees view the city hall building’s 72-kilowatt solar power board.
Mariinsky Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba and the Berlin Staatsoper Ballet. Korean ballet stars Kim Juwon, Jang Un-kyu, Hwang Hye-min and Um Jae-yong will take part. When asked how someone who has never had the chance to enjoy a ballet before (or perhaps has fallen asleep at a few) can learn to appreciate the form, Lee at the WDC replied, “In order to enjoy this kind of ballet
festival, which consists of highlights, you should focus on the dancers’ techniques, not the stories. The dancers are there to show you their skills at this kind of gala. “And if you research the performers and their personal backgrounds, you might enjoy this festival even more,” he said. Polina Semionova is one of the most popular ballerinas among local fans. The 25-year-old Russian became
28 korea June 2009
here was something different about the utility bill that Choi Sun-min, 46, received in March. It said that she used 176 kilowatt hours of electricity, which emitted 74.6 kilograms of greenhouse gases, and that to counterbalance CO2 emissions, she should plant 43.8 trees. But she’s used to it by now. Some 45,000 households in 65 apartment complexes in Ansan, Gyeonggi, have since 2007 received similar bills alerting them on the impact of their CO2 emissions. With people growing more aware, the complexes cut their electricity use 15.4 percent last year, saving about 25 kilowatt hours per home each month. As a resident of Ansan, Choi received 22,000 points on the “Evergreen Environment Certificate System,” introduced by Ansan City in 2007 in a bid to promote green growth. Her membership status is now blue. Ansan City is planning to allow residents to use their points to buy eco-friend-
ly products and gift certificates. Implementing the certificate system saved the city electricity, it said. Last year, residents used 649,946 fewer kilowatt hours, a savings of 2.6 percent, equivalent to the amount used by 177 households in a year and 271 tons of CO2. Ansan’s environment-friendly plans date back to 2006. Prior to implementing the system, Ansan City Hall built a 72-kilowatt solar power board that can generate 3 percent of the electricity used by the building. To expand their efforts to go green, Ansan plans to plant 7 million trees. Late last year, they’d reached 1.44 million. It also plans to construct three 750kilowatt wind power plants this year in Seongam-dong, Danwon District, and change guard lamps in apartment complexes for more efficient light-emitting diodes. “Ansan will be reborn as a green growth city and a mecca of reusable energy with wind, tidal and solar energy,” said
Park Joo-won, Ansan mayor. Along with the city in Gyeonggi, Suncheon, South Jeolla is also contributing to promote green growth. Roh Kwan-kyu, the city’s mayor, recently said Suncheon will plant 5 million trees by 2010 in a bid to offset emissions of greenhouse gases. The city in 2007 said it would plant 3 million trees, but has already reached 3.87 million. Suncheon also created a 570-squaremeter city forest with 2,000 trees and is now promoting bicycle use. By 2020, the city hopes 50 percent of its residents will use bicycles to get around. “We will decrease the volume of greenhouse gases and become an ecological city,” Roh, the mayor, said, noting that the city hopes to set a good example for other regions nearby. Meanwhile, Suncheon recently took out telephone poles located in the habitat of hooded cranes, which come looking for reed swamps. By Lee Eun-joo
the principal dancer of the Berlin Staatsoper Ballet at 18, which made her one of the world’s youngest prima ballerinas. Her repertoire includes “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker.” At the Seoul festival, Semionova will perform “Le Corsaire” with her elder brother Dmitry Semionov. Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes will also show Korean audiences the definitive Kitri. Valdes first filled the role in Don Quixote at age 19 and received rave reviews from critics for her balance and spins. Meanwhile, two prima ballerinas will face off during the festival. Kim Ju-won and Ekaterina Kondaurova were both named best female dancer at the 2006 Prix Benois de la Danse. A single winner could not be chosen, leading to the first shared best female dancer award in the competition’s history. But at this event, you can judge for yourself. The prototype for the festival ran in 2000, and this year marks the sixth. The 2009 World Ballet Star Festival will be held at the Opera Theater of the Seoul Arts Center on June 4 and 5. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won ($24) to 200,000 won. For more information, call 02-751-9630 or visit http://culture.joins.com/balletstar. By Sung So-young
June 2009 korea 29
Celebrating the Wordsmiths
ain, Italy, India, Japan, China, Czech Republic, Canada, Thailand, Poland and the Philippines to join in. The event was divided into four different sections: domestic, international, book art and the “guest of honor” booth, this year devoted to Japan. Some 232 Japanese publishers took part in the event, displaying 2,800 books, from novels to comics. A number of high-profile Japanese authors including Kaori Ekuni, Hitonari Tsuji, Shuichi Yoshida and Yoko Kamio signed autographs during the event. Ekuni and Tsuji are the co-authors of “Between Calm and Passion: Rosso,” which has been made into a film. Yoshida has won both the Yamamoto Shugoro Award for entertainment novels and the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for “Park Life.” Kamio is famous as the artist and writer of the manga “Boys Over Flowers,” which was adapted as a TV drama in Korea, Japan and Taiwan, a credit to its enduring popularity across Asia. At the fair, Ekuni met and talked with female Korean author Jeong Yi-hyeon. Korean cartoonist Huh Young-man also signed autographs to commemorate the publishing of his comic “Sikgaek” in Japan. The comic was turned into a Korean film called “Le Grand Chef.” Exhibitions of Japanese calligraphy and kimonos also took place. Korean authors who met fans at the event included Han Seung-won, Cho Gyeong-ran and Eun Hee-gyeong. Visitors enjoyed 16 films including “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Changeling.” The exhibition of art based on books and original illustrations for book covers attracted many spectators. The drawings were the same ones shown at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March, where Korea as guest of honor exhibited 64 illustrations.
By Limb Jae-un
Joy of collaborating
Kaori Ekuni and Hitonari Tsuji introduced their second collaboration, “Right Shore/Left Shore,” at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on May 13. Tsuji greeted the press in Korean and said he “always wanted to come to Korea.” The book is a compilation of six years of serials about a 50-year friendship. “After finishing ‘Between Calm and Passion: Rosso,’ Ekuni and I talked about how to write a story about a lifetime,” Tsuji said. “In the book, I wanted to illustrate the series of meetings and separations experienced by one person.” “An important theme of the story is the fact that the two main characters were together in childhood,” Ekuni said. “Even when they are old, they always have each other. One is on the left side of the river and the other is on the right side. They don’t look at each other across the river, they walk in the same direction. Although they are not together all the time, they always have each other if they look aside.” They said it was not easy for two established writers to co-author a novel, but they gained a lot from working together. “Co-writing has some disadvantages. There are limits in the way one can write, but I did not have such disadvantages when I worked with Tsuji,” Ekuni said. “Creative destruction is important in writing, and Tsuji played that role.” Ekuni said she has a lot of trust in Tsuji. “I believe that he will never disappoint me in terms of his work. He is a solid partner.” Tsuji also met with Gong Ji-young, a bestselling Korean author, and gave a lecture on Korean poet Yun Dong-ju at Yonsei University. “Yun is a great poet and he is incomparable,” Tsuji said. “His humanism and philanthropic spirit inspired me a lot.”
The focus of this year’s Seoul book fair is the nexus of art and literature.
he biggest book fair in the country took place at COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, from May 13 to 17. The 15th Seoul International Book Fair 2009, which was organized by the Korean Publishers Association, not only showed off books but also offered a display of book cover illustrations and book-themed art. Screenings of films based on books also took place. The theme of the event this year was the significance of books in art and film. A total of 836 publishers from 20 countries, including 330 Korean publishers, participated. Companies came from the United States, Germany, France, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Ireland, Brit-
Clockwise from top: The festival was divided into four sections this year, with Japan as the guest of honor; children look over a pop-up book at the fair; book illustrations were part of this year’s artistic theme; and one of this year’s more creative booths.
Kaori Ekuni, left, and Hitonari Tsuji introduce their second collaboration, “Right Shore/Left Shore,” at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on May 13.
June 2009 korea 31
30 korea June 2009
World Honors 500 Years of Royal Korean History
The 40 tombs of the Joseon dynasty would be 9th local UNESCO site
Above, the tomb of King Sejong the Great near Seoul is one of 40 UNESCO is likely to approve as a World Heritage site. Below, statues overlook the tomb of the revered king.
NESCO is likely to designate the 40 royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) a World Heritage site in June. The Cultural Heritage Administration in Korea announced on May 13 that the International Council on Monuments and Sites had decided to include those 40 tombs on the prestigious World Heritage list. “No historic site recommended by Icomos has been rejected by the UNESCO World Heritage committee,” said Kim Hong-dong, director of international relations at the Cultural Heritage Administration. Once the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty pass through the final procedure at the 33rd Session of the World Heritage Committee this year, they will be officially listed as a World Heritage. The meeting is set to take place in Seville, Spain from June 22 to 30. Included in the listing are the royal tombs for 27 generations of kings, queens, crown princes and even nobles overthrown or posthumously recognized as kings during the dynasty, which lasted 519 years. The tombs are mostly located within 40 kilometers of Seoul, the capital of Joseon and now of South Korea. Historians take particular note of the tombs as an extremely rare preservation of an entire royal lineage. The royal tombs reflect Joseon’s unique cultural traditions, including its architecture, rituals and Confucian practices. The fact that ancestral rituals and other intangible traditions related to the tombs continue to this day was also well received by the council. The royal tombs won further points for being well managed and maintained overall. Korea already has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Seokguram Grotto and Bulguk Temple in the Gyeongju Historic Area in North Gyeongsang, Jongmyo Shrine, the Changdeok Palace Complex in central Seoul, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress in Gyeonggi, dolmen sites in three areas of Gochang in North Jeolla, Hwasun in South Jeolla and Ganghwa in Gyeonggi. The Tripitaka Koreana at Haein Temple in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang, Jeju Volcanic Island with its lava tubes and the Seongsan Ilchulbong crater are also included. The royal tombs will become Korea’s ninth World Heritage site, assuming the those tombs win final approval this month By Hong Jin as expected.
June 2009 korea 33
32 korea June 2009
A Humble Operatic Mother
Cho Jeong-sun won’t dwell on missed chances: The music’s the thing
left him, Alfredo comes back to Violetta, but soon after they are reunited Violetta, who is ill, dies in his arms. “I was so impressed when the audience, who looked to be in their 60s or 70s, were singing the arias with me, crying” when Violetta was dying, Cho said in a recent phone interview. This was probably the moment she realized how important it is to convey the lyrics clearly to the audience. Many people take it for granted that the lyrics of arias are not clearly heard. But in fact, it is not supposed to be that way. It is a matter of a singer’s ability to pronounce words clearly and at the same time smoothly glide through the notes. Cho is one of a few opera singers who are blessed with this ability. The words are clearly understandable even if you have never heard the song before — assuming you know the language. “Personally, I think lyrics are very important. Every music has a message in [the melody itself], but what sets songs apart is that they have lyrics. If you succeed in conveying the words through the human instrument, you get closer to the audience,” Cho said. When she sings, she tries hard to deliver the words of the song. She ponders where it would make sense to pause and how to express the nuances of the words. Her talent shines in particular when she sings traditional Korean operatic songs, called gagok. The Korean language is hard to pronounce clearly when singing, since it is not as rhythmic as Western languages such as Italian. Singers who try too hard to pronounce the words clearly can end up sounding blunt and harsh. But those who don’t try enough end up mumbling. When asked about her secret, she laughs and denies that there is such a thing. But insist and she says, “I read Korean poems out loud a lot.” When reading poems, she focuses on where to breathe so as not to break the sentence and ponders how to express the emotion that the words contain. Though she sounds like someone from a musical family, she is in fact the first professional musician among her relatives. Her mother was a member of a mothers’ choir at Cho’s school, and her father had a great voice, but didn’t usually sing. Born in the small town of Onyang, South Chungcheong, as a girl Cho was always singing. “A couple of years ago I met a friend who went to kindergarten with me, and her instant response was ‘Oh, Jeong-sun, the girl who was singing all the time!’,” she laughed. “I don’t even remember when I started loving singing, but I always said I would become an opera singer” whenever her school teachers asked. In fact, she wasn’t clear what an opera singer was and didn’t know what to do to become one. Only when she entered middle school in Hongseong, South Chungcheong, did she learn vocalization from one of the school’s music teachers, who had majored in opera. When she entered high school, she sought out private lessons during vacations. “Living in a small town, I barely had any information. And I thought what was given to me was everything there was,” Cho said. When she was a senior in high school, Cho won the top prize at a musical concours hosted by Mokwon University in Daejeon, which offered her a four-year scholarship. She took the offer without thinking too much about what else was out there. “If I had made a different decision, my
‘Sometimes I think I could still be performing in Europe... But I believe there must be a reason for that.’
Cho won praise in Italy before returning to Korea. She now lives in Daejeon.
y general snobbish standards, soprano Cho Jeong-sun may not merit media coverage. She did not graduate from a renowned school. She has not won prizes at global competitions. She has not recorded a single solo album. And she is not yet widely known even here. But all that has nothing to do with her most important asset: a voice that moves the heart. Soprano Maria Callas once said, “When music fails to agree to the ear, to soothe the ear and the heart and the senses, then it has missed the point.” By this standard, the 42-year-old Korean soprano is successful, her songs infused with sadness, beauty and love. Cho’s voice has ample power, yet it is
graceful; her clear ringing instrument floats evenly throughout her range without a trace of stridency, producing notes above a high C seemingly effortlessly. No wonder she won praise as “the best Violetta ever” when she debuted as Violetta in Verdi’s opera La Traviata at the Teatro Manzoni in Rome in 1997. She performed an encore at the request of local musicians and reporters. “I was honored and very pleased,” Cho said. La Traviata is a tragic love story: Violetta is a famous courtesan in Paris who changes her life after falling in love with Alfredo, a nobleman, who has long admired her. But when Alfredo’s father demands she end the relationship for the sake of his family’s honor, she does so, breaking her heart. After learning why she
After many false starts and dashed hopes, the Korean soprano Cho Jeong-sun is finally starting to receive the attention she deserves.
life would have been very different,” Cho said, elaborating that she could have gone to school in the capital Seoul, where she would have been exposed to more culture. After finishing college and graduate school at Mokwon, she went to Italy, hungry for a challenge. For four years starting in late 1993, she studied at the G. Rossini Conservatory, Roma Arts Academy, and the Accademia A.I.D.M., just to name a few. But the 1997-98 financial crisis hit her hard, and she had to come back to Korea. “Just before I came back, I received a job offer from an Italian opera agency, but because of the economy, I couldn’t stay any longer and by that time I had already arranged a job in South Korea,” she said. Cho became senior trainer for the Daejeon city boys and girls’ choir. “Sometimes I think I could still be performing in Europe if I had taken the offer, and regret missing the chance. But I believe there must be a reason for that,” says Cho, a devout Christian. Based in Daejeon, she had many chances to sing operatic arias at concerts in the city. Once she even performed as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. But she didn’t have many opportunities to perform in Seoul until she met Lee An-sam, a composer of gagok, about two years ago. That was when she realized the true value of the opera-like Korean form. “It’s embarrassing, but before, I didn’t realize that there are so many people who just love gagok. To be honest, I just considered the songs as those that are added at the end of concerts” as a kind of bonus. “But I found them more attractive both in terms of music and lyrics, which contain Korean sentiments that as a Korean singer I could understand better. I think blood tells a lot.” Cho plans to perform gagok regularly at various recitals. Through them, she expects to impress audiences around the nation, and eventually around the world. Maybe it’s not how fast they become popular that makes the big names important. Cho is making converts slowly but steadily, just as she prepares breakfast for her three kids every morning, even on recital days. It’s as a music critic once said: “Cho Jeong-sun has proved that a splendid profile is a mere mirage.” It’s the music that matters, after all.
By Park Woo-won June 2009 korea 35
Provided by Cho Jeong-sun
34 korea June 2009
A life of many deaths — and rebirths
One of Korea’s most revered modern poets uses motifs of travel and the natural world to renew the self.
Source: Korea Literature Translation Institute 36 korea June 2009 June 2009 korea 37
wang Tong gyu, born in 1938, is one of the most revered poets in Korea. A former professor of English Literature at Seoul National University, Hwang has participated in the Iowa International Writers’ Program and taught at New York University. He has received numerous honors, including the 1980 Korean Literature Award, 1991 Isan Literature Prize and the 2002 Midang Literature Prize. Though his early poems tended to focus on the sense of melancholy, desolation and longing that pervade the poet’s inner world, Hwang soon overcame his preoccupation with the theme of individual alienation to achieve communion with external reality. What characterizes his poetry from this point onward is strength of perception and lucidity of mind. In order to attain this clarity, Hwang often
employs the theme of journey or travel. Stasis, in Hwang’s poetry, signifies death, and movement the possibility of rebirth. Traversing varied landscapes in search of renewal, the poet faces death but also experiences regeneration in new encounters. Passing through mundane everyday reality, nature that keeps silent, forgotten history and hostile strangers during his travels, the poet seeks to engage in what he calls “methodological love.” Synonymous with “vital movement,” “methodological love” designates the process of opening up to “the other” that enables a being to be reborn. Hwang’s poetry not only describes the new awareness attained as a result of this candid opening to the outer world and sincere dialogue with the self, but enacts this process itself, inviting the readers to participate in the new awakening.
One Clear Day (Eotteon Gaein Nal, 1961) Snow Falling in Samnam (Samnam-e Naerineun Nun, 1975) When I See a Wheel, I want to Make It Roll” (Na-neun Bakwi-reul Bomyeon Gulligo Sipeojinda, 1978) A journey to Morundae (Morundaehaeng,1991) Wind Burial (Pungjang, 1995) Strong Winds at Misi Pass (Misiryeong Keunbaram, 1998) A Love Song in Berkeley Style (Beokeullipung-ui Sarang Norae 2000) There Were Times When I Depended on Chance (Uyeon-e Gidael Ttae-do Itseotda, 2003) Essay collections The Root of Love (Sarang-ui Ppuri, 1976) Winter Song (Gyeoul Norae. 1979) The Light and Shadow of My Poetry (Na-ui Si-ui Bit-gwa Geuneul, 1994)
This volume of poetry, written over a period of 14 years, records the development of the poet’s awareness of death as he transitions from the peak of his life — his mid-40s — to the beginning of his twilight years — his late 50s. The 70 poems collected here are linked by the motif of the “wind burial,” the folk tradition of leaving the corpse out in the open and allowing it to decompose and disappear gradually. The poet’s wish to be “buried in wind” rather than cremated or lowered into a grave reflects his desire to confront and accept death, or the natural process of “disappearing.” In death, the poet envisions himself alone on a deserted island in late autumn. Bathing himself in the cold sun, he wants to let his flesh dry and play with the wind until the last drop of blood in his body has evaporated. On his “last journey,” the poet will leave everything behind, even “the moisture on the tip of the tongue,” but he will take “a lungful of air” with which to laugh at the people still struggling in the world. Though death is always tragic, the poet does not lament or fear it. For him, it signals a return to nature to become once again a part of the cycle of life. The “wind burial” also represents a purification process, in which nature and time gradually “wash” away the “grime” encrusting one’s soul.
by Hwang Tong-gyu
A Winter Night at 00:05 Hours
I walked watching the stars. I was about to cross after I got off the local bus behind the apartment’s back entrance, but I just kept walking. The stores’ shutters came down, as if trying to conceal their inner cold. Still, one or two snowflakes blew in the wind from the snow that had briefly fallen late that night. The dust must have died down for now. How long had it been? I adjusted my coat, collected myself, and walked to the last stop watching the stars. The last bus stop. Not so long ago, on one side of the small triangle-shaped square, an ironmonger’s with scissors and knives hanging outside its window like baroque music, was demolished, and a farmer’s market with the sign “To the Field” took its place. The building lights go off and a streetlamp reads the sign. On the opposite side, a Shilla Bakery closes its doors for the night. Where the last side begins, a woman stares hollow-eyed at her cell phone, as if waiting for her daughter or husband on the last bus. She is tall, her waist slightly bent, and she is memorizing something in a just audible voice. I stand by her as if I know her while rubbing my hands together, and look up to the sky. In the sky that seems to have frosted over, Ursa Major, over there, Cassiopeia…and Orion. None torn into separate stars, all still alive! The woman in a just audible voice now says decisively, “Now I’m going to kill myself.” The streetlight just shines off her pale face. There is no murderous trace staining it. I feel somewhat at ease. Silently, I also think, “Just let him or her come!” several times. A star brightens, and asks, “What are you waiting for? Someone who might not come? A world without darkness? A world without dust? The life of a comet radiating light as its body of dust freezes and melts in the dark is probably not a bad life.” Who let out a dry cough? If someone hadn’t been next to me, I would have spoken up precisely to the star, “I won’t speak about the dark or the light next to those desperate in their waiting!” Like the outside of a scuba diving mask, the stars shimmer, then stop. It’s time for the last bus to arrive.
Translated by Krys Lee
There Were Times When I Depended on Chance
Youth prefers the idea of “causality,” with definable logic and predictable consequences, to that of “chance,” guided only by randomness. Growing old, however, one often comes to realize that a large portion of life, from birth to relationships with people and choice of career, is shaped by chance, not by human will. By accepting the unknowable workings of powers beyond human cognizance, the poet attains a sense of leisure and abundance expressed in the poems in this volume. The world of chance, according to the poet, breaks the chains of time and frees one from worldly desires. “Heart that clings like the claws of a crab / Cut it off — snap, snap — as one would with the claws of a crab! and live without a heart.” So the poet aspires to a state of perfect freedom in which the heart, empty of greed, is unaware even of itself. If Wind Burial embraced death as a way of cleansing oneself of desire, this book transcends even the idea of death as a means to a certain end. In “Step by Step Fading Away Thusly,” the poet refuses to flop down and leave “engravings of knees” in place of his “fading footprints.” He will simply continue to walk until his feet leave no tracks. The poet wishes to lead a simple, unfettered life, and simply succumb to death when he must without a murmur of protest in his heart.
Book Title Strong Winds at Mishi Pass Wind Burial Les racines d’amour Posada de Nubes y otros poemas Windbestattung Year of publication 2001 1990 2000 1998 1996 Genre Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Language English English French Spanish German
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Renewable Energy, With Water the Only Waste
07 New Growth Engine Industries
Benefits The electrical power of fuel cells ranges from several hundred kilowatts to dozens of megawatts.
Provided by Hyundai Kia Automotive Group
After being announced as one of 22 new growth engines by the Lee Myung-bak government, the fuel cell power generation system has received much more public attention. However, people need more information to understand why fuel cells are thought of as revolutionary generators capable of speeding up economic growth. Fuel cells, which have been in commercial use since the 1960s, have only recently become big business. Although the basic principle of the fuel cell was discovered in 1839, further development for commercialization started only after many decades because exploitable resources such as crude oil and coal provided much cheap energy. With the depletion of fossil fuels and climate change looming, sustainability has become more important. There are two ways to realize this sustainable growth. One is to conserve fossil fuels and the other is to produce renewable energy. Fuel cells, a highly efficient and ultra-clean power-generation system, efficiently save on non-renewable resources with much less pollution compared to conventional power generators such as gas turbines. Fuel cells are now available as an alternative source for renewable energy. Moreover, with further technological
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development, they are expected to provide energy from hydrogen anytime, anywhere. The fuel cell business compares to a rough diamond that hasn’t been cut yet. It’s the jeweler who brings out its brilliance. Likewise, Korea, aware of the full potential of fuel cells, will lead a new energy era by developing fuel cells to contribute to national growth. Before fuel cells are industrialized, some fundamental issues need to be addressed. Basic principles of fuel cells A fuel cell is an enviromentally friendly form of energy technology that works by combining hydrogen and oxygen through an electrochemical reaction to produce electricity and heat. Because it directly converts chemical energy in hydrogen and oxygen atoms to electricity, it is highly efficient in generating power. Because it burns nothing, it releases substantially fewer pollutants than conventional power plants, which burn fossil fuels.
Amid increasing energy demand and costs as well as growing public awareness of energy conservation, fuel cell power plants are becoming the choice for on-site power with around-the-clock availability. This green technology has become increasingly popular with facilities looking to implement an environmentally friendly electric power generation system without sacrificing efficiency, availability or performance. First of all, fuel cell power generation systems make much more efficient use of fuel than other technology such as reciprocating engines and gas turbines. That means that they can make more usable electricity from the same amount of fuel. They are 47 percent efficient in the generation of electrical power and up to 90 percent efficient in combined heat and power applications. Conventional thermal power plants operate at about 35 percent electrical power generation efficiency. Fuel cell power systems generate virtually no pollution or emissions of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide (NO) and sulfur oxide (SO), and dramatically reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. They also eliminate emissions generated by fossil-fuel-based backup generators which are often required by wind
Fuel cells can power entire cities or individual cars, like this fuel cell electric vehicle made by Hyundai Motor.
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Basic principles of fuel cells
Hydrogen, the universe’s most abundant element, will be the linchpin of the new energy economy.
Source : IEA, Experience curve for energy technology policy,2000 Special Series
07 New Growth Engine Industries
and solar power facilities. Because fuel cell plants make the least noise compared to fossil fuel power plants, it is possible to install them in residential and office areas in cities. Unlike wind and solar technologies, which generally have an overall availability of 15 to 25 percent, fuel cell technology operates independently and has an availability of 95 percent. A continued fuel supply is much easier because various gases can be used, such as natural gas, methane gas and gas generated from sewage disposal plants and landfills. A number of industrial and agricultural plants generate this gas in the manufacturing process. Fuel cell power plants can even use byproducts of methane gas as an energy source, although they generally use natural gas. They can also use alternative fuels such as synthetic natural gas and coke oven gas, which will be commercialized within a few years. In the long term, when a hydrogen economy is realized, hydrogen generated by electrolysis of water will be the main nourishment for fuel cell power plants. Market prospects As an independently modulated system, fuel cell power plants are
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ideal for a wide variety of markets and applications, spanning industrial, institutional and commercial customers. They can be installed in almost any place that needs energy: food and beverage processing or manufacturing plants, hospitals, prisons, hospitality facilities, universities, even water treatment plants. Fuel cells, which provide reliable, on-site and uninterrupted power 24 hours a day, are ideal as an emergency backup power source. They can be useful in public facilities such as telecommunications base stations, police stations and fire stations. Based on its diverse use, the global fuel cell market is dramatically growing at 80 percent a year. Experts forecast the market will reach $60 billion by 2018. Research and development Generally, fuel cells are categorized by the type of electrolyte they use. The three main electrolytes for the industry are phosphoric acid fuel cell, molten carbonate fuel cells and solid oxide fuel cells. Phosphoric acid, commercialized the first among the three, had an efficiency rate of 37 percent. It was installed in more than 200 sites in the late 1990s. However, because of expensive raw materials and the lack
of reliability, the number of installations has not increased since then. In the early 2000s, a new type of fuel cell, the MCFC, was commercialized. Its efficiency rate, operating at high temperatures of 600 to 750 degrees Celsius, was between 50 to 60 percent, depending on cogeneration with gas turbines. MCFCs are under development for use with a wide range of conventional and renewable fuels. MCFC development has focused on large stationary and marine applications. As of now there are three types, producing 2.8 megawatts, 1.4 megawatts and 350 kilowatts of electricity. More than 60 commercial units are operating at about 50 locations all over the world. The market is now rapidly growing, with the trend heading toward larger units and multi-megawatt electricity generation. SOFCs, called the next generation of fuel cells, are still in the developmental stage, but Korea aims to commercialize them within five years. Due to high operating temperatures of around 700 to 1,000 degrees Celsius, the efficiency rate is expected to increase to 55 percent and, possibly to 60 or 70 percent in case of cogeneration. Other major benefits of SOFCs include the lowest cost and the smallest size of installa-
tion sites among the large stationary fuel cells. Outlook Fuel cells, one of the best prospective alternatives to fossil fuels, are at the final stages of becoming our next major power source. The technology gap between advanced nations and late starters can be narrowed in a short time, because it was only in the 1990s that developed countries like the United States, Germany and Japan began to develop fuel cell technology in earnest. Future investment will be the decisive factor to become a leader in the fuel cell industry. That means that Korea, having already started boosting the fuel cell industry, has the potential to be the next energy leader in the world. Second, the fuel cell industry has a ripple effect that can create a new market for metal, electricity, machinery, and related equipment. It could bring about a huge economic impact. The market has huge potential not only as an alternative to fossil fuel power plants but also as emergency backup power sources for ultra-clean marine transportation systems such as commercial or naval ships.
According to the Lee Myung-bak government, the large stationary fuel cell industry will be able to produce 1,290 megawatts of electricity by 2012, and the market will grow to $60 billion by 2018. The government plans to support development, aiming to control 40 percent of the global fuel cell market and developing the industry into one of the nation’s top nine export industries by 2018. The government also expects 9,000 new jobs will be created over the next five years and 68,000 jobs over the next 10 years in the sector. Fuel cells could play an important role in preparation for a hydrogen-based economy. Hydrogen, the most abundant element in our universe, needs to be extracted from fuel sources — traditionally natural gas and more recently renewable waste gases. Raw hydrogen is not yet used as a fuel because its storage, transportation and production are seriously under-developed at this time. Although experts have differing points of view about when a hydrogen society will arrive, they generally agree that the energy industry has yet to undergo a significant transition from a carbon base to a hydrogen base. In the future hydrogen society, fuel cells will certainly be a core part
of power generation. Efforts for industrialization There are three significant ways to realize the mass production of fuel cell power generation systems. One is a government support to boost the market in the beginning. Second, research and development should focus on localization and securing original technology. Last, manufacturing capacity should be continuously advanced to reduce costs to an extent where competition with conventional power generators is possible. With the government’s announcement of new growth engines on Sept. 22, the government and private sector prepared a long-term plan to focus on market growth by expanding incentives to R&D and manufacturing facilities. With policy makers paying unprecedented attention to fuel cells, the government has used a so-called feed in tariff, or FIT, system, since 2006. FIT is an incentive program to cover the margin between the standard price of fuel cells and the average price of electricity, as conventional power plants are still cheaper than renewable ones. This program guarantees a certain profit as the unstable renewable energy business gets its start.
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Samsung Makes Chips. EO Supplies Samsung.
Semiconductors may be a leading export product, but that wouldn’t be possible without the laser markers EO Technics specializes in. A relatively young company, EO holds a 50 percent global market share in the machines, which use lasers to engrave materials like microchips, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. Even during this economic downturn the company has continued to perform well. EO’s operating profit last year was 9.1 billion won, up 23 percent from the 2007. Revenue increased by 23 percent to exceed 100 billion won. The firm also saw a 40.4 percent surge in profit to 9.8 billion won. Its outlook is promising with market analysts expecting the global marker and display sectors to grow over 100 percent and 40 percent, respectively, this year thanks to a bigger non-memory chip market. EO signed a contract worth 796 million won with Samsung ElectroMechanics in February, and a month later inked a $1 billion contract with a Chinese company to export laser equipment for manufacturing liquid crystal displays. EO Technics was founded in April 1989. Five years later the company established its own research institute. In March 1999, EO set up its first overseas office in the United States. The second opened in Singapore that May. Today the company operates branch offices also in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, India and Japan. The company entered the Chinese market, setting up an office in Tianjin, in February 2003. It now has other offices in China in Qingdao, Shenzhen and Suzhou. The company was listed on Korea’s secondary Kosdaq market in 2000. Though in its early years EO Technics’ main target was manufacturing laser markers, the company has since expanded into other laser solution businesses including laser deflashers, laser wafers, level makers and laser trimmers, used in the manufacturing of semiconductors and displays. Today its laser equipment drills, cuts, trims and repairs memory chips and flat panel displays. CEO Sung Kyu-dong stresses innovation and aggressive expansion. The company used every resource available including support from the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, which helped its exports to Japan reach $3.7 million just two years after entering the country in November 2006. In April the company unveiled a new laser marker at an exhibition. Not only could it burn letters with precise accuracy according to the specified size, it was shown to be safe even at the level of under 25 micrometers. The laser marker is also effective in making different products, including mobile phone keypads. The process is now four times more efficient, with the machine able to write 4,000 words a second, eight times faster than curBy Lee Ho-jeong rent markers.
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Source : IEA, Experience curve for energy technology policy,2000 Special Series
07 New Growth Engine Industries
Today, the standard price of power from fuel cells using LNG is up to 274.04 won per kilowatt, after FIT. The official price falls 3 percent every year, while the support program will only support capacity of up to 50 megawatts. However, the market is growing more quickly than expected and the 50-megawatt ceiling is likely to be reached within one or two years, while LNG prices fluctuate. Experts say the 50 megawatt ceiling should be lifted to a higher level as well as reflecting increased LNG prices. In the private sector, POSCO has injected $15 billion toward developing technology and establishing product lines. In 2007, POSCO started a fiveyear project to develop 180-kilowatt SOFC systems, aiming to become the world’s first company to commercialize the next-generation fuel cell power system. Currently POSCO has developed a five-kilowatt stack and completed the basic design for a 50-kilowatt system. The success of this SOFC project would be recorded as a significant milestone for the Korean energy industry, because it means the localization of the most advanced practical power generation system in the world. In addition, POSCO has made an effort to ramp up manufacturing capability to meet current and future
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demand and realize economies of scale. In September 2008, POSCO completed construction of the world’s largest fuel cell power generation facility, with a net capacity of 50 megawatts from MCFC cells, at Pohang. This plant has the capacity to generate enough electricity for 17,000 ordinary households. An additional 50-megawatt MCFC plant will be built near the already completed plant by 2011. Conclusions A transition in the energy industry is now taking place, with scarce and dangerous fossil fuels phasing out and sustainable renewable sources emerging. Korea needs to take immediate action on this significant change to secure its survival and establish energy leadership in the global market. There are two main ways to develop sustainable energy. One is to develop renewable energy such as sun, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal heat and biomass power in a sustainable way. The other is to discover new energy sources such as fuel cells, which are one of the best solutions to replace fossil fuel generators in terms of efficiency, eco-friendly features and fuel flexibility. Fuel cells are also one of the most effective alternatives to natural energy, which is limited by its intermittent
nature. In short, fuel cell power generation systems are a central pillar of a future built on sustainable energy, as well as a national new growth engine for green industry. The future of this remarkable technology in Korea depends on our next move.
Chung Ki-suk is manager of the research and development department at the fuel cell business division of POSCO Power. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Postech. Previously, Chung served as manager of the manufacturing technology department at the semiconductor business and memory division of Samsung Electronics, from March 2003 to September 2005. E-mail: kisukch@poscopower. co.kr
Holds over 50 percent of the global market for laser markers
[Provided by HJC Helmet]
Provided by EO Technics
Power Trio Takes Egis to the Top
Hur Jae, Ha Seung-jin and Choo Seung-kyun lead team to Korean championship
asketball is a team game, and every player has a role. But the KCC Egis owe their 200809 season championship largely to three standouts. The Egis were able to overcome some mid-season distractions to finish at the top thanks to the leadership of head coach Hur Jae, the dominating presence of center Ha Seung-jin and the quiet confidence of 12-year veteran Choo Seung-kyun. At the end of the post-season, Choo was named the finals MVP, Ha was named Rookie of the Year and Hur was given the reins to Korea’s national basketball team. It’s not easy to win a title as a player and then another as head coach. Some of the greatest champion players have failed to succeed off the court. But since he took on the head coach post for the KCC Egis in 2005, Jae, the lanky, scrappy guard who won so many accolades as the player wearing number 9, has found great success as a coach too. He now has the difficult task of leading an injuryplagued national team in the preliminary round of the FIBA regional tournament, which takes place June 8 to 14 in Nagoya, Japan. If the team can place in the top two, they will secure a spot in the FIBA Asia tournament to be held in Tianjin, China on August 6 to 16. The KCC owe their success not to Hur alone but also to Ha and Choo. So it’s a good sign that both have been included on the national team’s roster for the summer tournament. If Ha was the star who drew attention from the media and fans for his thunderous dunks and colorful facial expressions, Choo was the opposite, his veteran leadership a calming influence. Ha Seung-jin was in fact the first Korean to play in the NBA, drafted in 2004 in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers. Ha had the size to fill the shoes of an NBA center but looked awkward and lost in his precious few minutes on court during his short career overseas. In his rookie Korean season this year, not everything went smoothly for Ha. The duo of Seo Jang-hoon and Ha were supposed to provide the basis for a dominating squad.
KCC Egis players celebrate after winning game seven of the KBL finals, 98 to 82, on home court in Jeonju, North Jeolla
But the team’s star center, Seo, angry at the decreased playing time, demanded a trade. Ha had his outbursts too. After a January 15 game against the KT&G Kites, when Ha was still getting acclimated to the KBL, he complained at a press conference about what he perceived to be the less than adequate playing minutes he was being assigned. But as the season progressed and the post-season started, Ha began to mature on and off the court, improving with each game. The KBL had never seen a true seven footer dominate the paint. It also helped that Ha came from a family of ballers. His father was once a national team member, and his sister currently plays on the Shinhan Bank team. Ha’s only flaw seemed to be his dismal numbers from the free throw line, where he averaged less than 50 percent during the regular season. During the finals, Ha was hobbled by what was thought to be an ankle sprain, but an MRI on the ankle after the season revealed two ligament tears that will require surgery. “I enjoy playing for the national team. I have never pulled out of the national team by using injury as an excuse. I hope my teammates can play well in the upcoming tournaments so that we can secure a place in the tournament in China in August. I wish to join my teammates in August,” said Ha at the national team’s first meeting on May 13. Choo, a solid but not a spectacular player, stepped up and took charge in the finals to earn an MVP award. It was the first time the 34-year-old guard had won an award in his entire 12-year career. He was also selected as one of the best five players of the year. “I believe I won this award for my consistent play during my 12-year career. I don’t think I can reproduce this season’s performance, but I will continue to work hard to win another title with the younger guys on the squad,” said Choo at the awards ceremony. Having gone through a lengthy and physical postseason, it remains to be seen whether Choo can deliver for his coach on the national team. But the future of the KCC Egis looks bright. Ha, the centerpiece of the KCC squad, is still young, and joining him to form a formidable inside and outside threat will be half-Korean point guard Tony Akins. The left-handed Georgia Tech grad has the ability to dominate the back court and feed crisp passes to Ha in the post. Although it’s never easy to make accurate predictions on sports, at this point, it would be hard not to pick KCC to repeat their win By Jason Kim next season.
Left, the coach, Hur Jae; below, the star, Ha Seungjin, and bottom, the veteran, Choo Seung-kyun
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The Olle Walkway on Jeju island combining 400 kilometers of trails along 12 routes.
Spinning a Web of Walkways Across the Peninsula
Over 1,200 kilometers of pedestrian paths are planned to stretch across South Korea by 2017
rom the packed sidewalks of Jongno to the blind curves of narrow back roads, Seoul is not a particularly pedestrian-friendly place. But those who really enjoy a good walk will have a place to go, if the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has anything to say about it. The ministry plans to complete a massive network of walkways through scenic areas by 2017, with a budget of 100 billion won. The ambitious project seeks to expand existing walkways and pave new ones, essentially creating a web of paths crisscrossing the country that visitors can use to wander. Each will have a theme, such as history or art. Currently the ministry envisions a history and culture walkway along the Nakdong River. In order to protect the local environment and reduce damage from construction, the ministry plans to utilize existing walkways to their fullest potential and reopen ones that may have closed or eroded away over time. Once completed, the whole network will be an impressive 1,200 kilometers in length. Starting in 2009, the ministry plans to complete about 130 kilometers each year. “This project will be centered around the four main rivers, old walkways and the demilitarized zone,” said an official at the Culture Ministry who declined to be named. “We want to create a space where culture and the ecosystem coexist together for a green cultural journey.” The official added that the project aims not only to provide citizens an opportunity to take a walk and improve their health but also to bolster the tourism industry and spark local economies. “We are aiming to create a new trip culture as people reflect by talking a stroll. Each walkway will
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More than simple hiking trails, each walkway will have a theme — historical, cultural or natural — with guides on hand in designated locations to help illuminate the local landscape.
Students on a field trip harvest salt at a salt pan on Jungsan Island.
have its own story to tell,” said the official, adding that workers will be on hand in some places to teach visitors the local history or folk tales associated with the area. In order to ensure the best possible outcome, the ministry in March asked tourism experts, citizens and private travel clubs to recommend possible locations. Delegates from the various groups took fact-finding trips and mapped out five test courses in accordance with preselected themes. The ministry has also laid out plans on how to best utilize this vast network of walkways once completed. For instance, special trips for troubled youth and adult mentors are in the works. The thinking is that a prolonged walk in the woods will help form a bond between the youths and their mentors, to help them get on the right track. Certificates will be available for walking a certain distance on the network, giving a sense of satisfaction for those who choose to explore. To help bring citizens together, the ministry plans to facilitate meetings online and off between those interested in a stroll. At designated points the ministry will establish information centers to provide information on the surroundings, from the ecosystem to the walkways themselves. To maximize effectiveness, each walkway will have a Web page, where visitors can obtain information on traffic, overall length, underlying theme and nearby accommodations. Needless to say, in order to maintain quality, visitors will be surveyed periodically, while constant monitoring will ensure the increased inflow of visitors poses no threat to local wildlife. The whole plan is well in line with the government’s national green growth agenda. Culture Minister Yu In-chon said earlier in April that the Korean tourism industry, now based just on having fun and eating, needs to change its approach for the future. “Green growth tourism in the 21st century is tourism that nurtures one’s internal energy,” the minister said. “As part of green growth tourism we will restore walkways to integrate them with the culture and the ecosystem, and we will also build eco-culture cities.”
Experts say the government’s plan needs careful coordination in order to achieve the desired results. “There needs to be a strategic approach in determining who is going to be the main customer here,” said Lee Mu-yong, a professor of culture at Chonnam National University. Lee stressed that if a walkway is to be developed along a river, the individual soul of the river should be considered, with a unique philosophy for the walkway, along with entertainment factors. “Making a walkway filled with culture is the key for the overall success of this project,” said the professor. The ministry plans also to actively promote cultural assets along the walkways that have fallen into obscurity in an attempt to revive popular interest in tradition and history. In a separate project, the ministry is scheduled to produce a map that will record designated cultural assets along the nation’s four main rivers. Since the walkway project also dovetails with the government’s plan to restore those rivers, experts such as Kim Seong-beom, who heads the Naju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, have pointed out that the initiative provides an opportunity to restore historic sites or even discover new ones. “In a recent survey in the Yeongsan River area 61 possible sites have been identified as containing relics,” said Kim. “After discovering such sites and doing the proper research it’s important to package them together as resources for cultural tourism.”
By Brian Lee
Korea’s latest government push has been for biking as transportation — but that doesn’t mean these paths can’t be used for pleasure as well.
The Olle Walkway
Hoping to provide walkers with insight into the heritage of Jeju Island, the Olle Walkway was created by combining 400 kilometers of trails along 12 routes. “Olle” refers to the narrow pathway that led to the front gates of a traditional house from the street, giving some idea of the cozy atmosphere of this path. The routes provide scenic views of Jeju’s famous shores. The culture of tourism in Jeju has already changed thanks to these paths. Until recently, the first step on arrival was to rent a car and drive to the cabin where the family would stay, but today more tourists come with nothing but backpacks and water bottles. The Olle pathway has won notice from other regional governments for its economic and ecological benefits. As of this March 39,000 tourists have used it. The government of Seogwipo, Jeju estimated each visitor spent an average of 10,000 to 60,000 won on lodging and food. Just last year, the value created by the walkway was estimated at over 10 billion won. With just 10 million won spent to develop each walking course, the walkways have been a boon to the island’s economy. Due to the increasing number of tourists, additions to the path for the entertainment and convenience of visitors have taken place. More markings and guideposts have been added along with regularly scheduled walking programs. Also, distinctly themed events have been sprouting up on the pathways such as the Honeymoon Couples event, the Walking Backwards event and a network of classes teaching about the regional culture of Jeju called the Olle Academy. The first walkway in the network was opened to the public in September 2007, and since then the Jeju Olle Exploration Team has added 11 more, with others still on the way.
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Accessible by train, Mount Soyo, also called Mount Godae, is located at the edge of the demilitarized zone, the most heavily fortified border in the world.
Riding the Steel Horse
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Across a Divided Land
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fter World War II, the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States tore the world apart. In Germany and Vietnam that division was felt quite viscerally, with the countries themselves split in half. But today, years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., those nations are reunited. Only Korea remains cut apart, into north and south, 56 years after a ceasefire ended the Korean War. Until recently South Koreans could travel to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong in North Korea for pleasure and business, but a state of war still technically exists between the two halves and there’s no way to tell how long even these limited cooperative projects will continue. In many ways the peninsula is still united by its mountains, all part of a range known as the Baekdudaegan. Most mountains in Korea can be reached by bus or car. But of course the
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Today a sign at the terminal declares, ‘The steel horse wants to run through.’
most romantic way to visit the mountains is by train. Convenience and reduced carbon footprint are extra bonuses. The Korean mountains accessible by train are: Mount Samak in Chuncheon, Gangwon (645 meters) via the Gyeongchun Line; Mount Mindung in Jeongseon County, Gangwon (1,023 meters) via the Taebaek Line; Mount Jiri in South Jeolla (1,915 meters) via the Jeolla Line; Mount Deoksung in Yesan County, South Chungcheong (495 meters) via the Janghang Line; Mount Sobaek in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang (1,440 meters) via the Jungang Line, and Mount Godae in Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi (832 meters), via the Gyeongwon Line. It takes around 10 minutes by car from Sintanri Station to reach the trailhead on Mount Soyo, also known as Mount Godae, at the edge of the demilitarized zone. The Gyeongwon Line opened in 1914 connecting Seoul and Wonsan, and until the national division Sintanri was just a small stop on the way to the city in Kangwon in North Korea. But after the Korean War, Sintanri Station became the end of the line. Today a large sign at the site reads, “The steel horse wants to run.”
Top, Sintanri Station has been the last stop on the Gyeongwon Line since the end of the Korean War. The original terminus, Wonsan, is in North Korea. Above, hikers climb Mount Soyo.
The most convenient way to reach it is to take the subway to Dongducheon Station, near the U.S. army base at Camp Casey, then switch to the train. Many people think the name Mount Godae means “large whale” in Korean, but more likely is a connection to the area’s topography — deep valleys and high ridges and peaks. The 45-minute train ride up the mountain offers a scenic view of the Korean countryside. From the trailhead three routes stretch on a steep slope up the mountain. Route No. 1 and 3 are along gorges. Route No. 2 runs along the ridge that leads to Maldeung Boulder and on to the peak. The second route offers a great view, but it’s crowded and too steep for beginners, so it may be more peaceful to take the easier third route. Over two hours of hiking will take you to Daegwang Peak, where the second and third routes reunite. The top of Mount Godae is just 10 minutes away. Route No. 1 is best for coming down the mountain, which takes about an hour and a half. The path runs through a trench for about 300 meters and past a military barracks, reminders that this is the front line against North Korea. Most of Korea’s mountains are shaded by coniferous pines and firs, but Mount Godae is covered with bushes. Trees cast shadows, natural hiding places for infiltrators from the North. Stretching out below Mount Godae is the Cheorwon Plain, over which the North and South fought fierce battles during the war, one of the most famous atop Baekma Hill. It’s said that the mountain was scarred during the war and that’s why trees refuse to grow here. The ridge connecting Mount Jijang (877 meters) in Pocheon, Gyeonggi; Mount Bogae (752 meters) in Cheorwon County, Gangwon and Mount Godae is popular among serious hikers. With the full trip taking more than 10 hours, perseverance and strength are necessities. They say life is too short to hurry. Train travel helps us realize the beauty of going slowly. Though the agony of Korea’s separation still continues and signs of the confrontation between North and South still remain, at least one thing of beauty has come from it: The demilitarized zone, free of human interference for 64 years, is now a thriving natural preserve. Perhaps one day it will become a park that all Koreans can enjoy together in peace.
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Sightseeing Goseokjeong: The only place in South Korea with deposits of volcanic basalt, these cliffs on both sides of the Hantan River create a mystical atmosphere. In the middle of the river stands a 10-meter-high boulder. About 2 kilometers up the river from here are the Jiktang Falls, while 2 kilometers down lies Sundam Gorge. During the reign of King Myeongjong of the Joseon Dynasty, a sort of Korean Robin Hood, Im Kkeok-jeong, gathered some followers, stole tribute to the royal court and distributed it to commoners in need here. The area is full of legends about his chivalrous acts. Sambuyeon Falls: This 20-meterhigh, three-tiered waterfall is located in the middle of Mount Myeongseong and is regarded as one of the eight most outstanding sights of Cheorwon. Water runs here throughout the year, while the
Legend has it a dragon ascended to heaven near Sambuyeon Falls.
splendid rockface provides a spectacular setting. Koreans believe the three levels look like three Korean traditional cast-iron pots, which is why it was named Sambuyeon, meaning waterfall of the three iron pots. Legend has it a dragon flew to heaven here, and so the village is called Yonghwa-dong, meaning a “village that has transformed into a dragon.” Supposedly, in the past, when a drought hit the area a stage was set up below the waterfall and a shamanist ritual to pray for rain was held there. Sundam: Located 5 kilometers northwest of the Cheorwon City Office, this is the most beautiful of the gorges and streams along the Hantan River. Fantastic boulders, steep cliffs and ponds dot a white sand beach, a rarity here, drawing tourists all year round. Beyond the gorge is a famous rafting spot, a favorite of water sports clubs here. The Second Underground Tunnel: North Korea’s second underground infiltration tunnel was found in March 1975 on South Korea’s side of the demilitarized zone. The spot where the tunnel opens is a thick layer of granite. It runs between 5 and 160 meters beneath the earth and is 3.5 kilometers long in total, with 1.1 kilometers on the south side of the mil-
itary demarcation line. The tunnel itself is two meters high with an arch-shaped ceiling. Thirty thousand heavily armed troops and field artillery could pass through the tunnel every hour, the government estimates, meaning the North presumably meant to use this tunnel for a large-scale incursion. Fortunately, that never happened. Weoljeongni Station: A whistle stop on the Gyeongwon Line and the closest train station to the border, this is a must-see spot for tourists visiting Cheorwon with an interest in a divided Korea. Now only part of the remains of a train are still here. Office of the Workers’ Party of North Korea: After liberation from Japanese occupation, North Korea set up an office here in order to strengthen the communist Workers Party and bolster their control of the local population. It was used as the office of the Cheorwon branch of the Workers’ Party of North Korea until the Korean War broke out. For five years, North Korea governed Cheorwon, Gimhwa, Pyeonggang and Pocheon. Terrifying stories remain of citizens arrested, tortured and slaughtered. In a bombproof shelter behind the building, skeletons, countless bullets and wire were found, telling a tragic story. The building was eventually designated Modern Cultural Heritage Site No. 22. Cheorwon Peace Observatory: This exhibition hall opened November 2007. It offers views of the natural landscape inside the demilitarized zone, the fortress of Gungyedoseong and the capital of the old Korean kingdom of Hugoguryeo, Sonjon Village, now located in North Korea. Telescopes and a model of the local topography bring visitors into close contact with the realities of national separation. By Kim Se-jun
Transportation and restaurants
Yangpyeong Sondubu Restaurant (031-834-8297) specializes in pork duruchigi, or pan-broiled pork and seasoned vegetables. Fatty pork is cut into large chunks and grilled atop a large metal barrel, which also serves as a makeshift table. Three-year-old kimchi is then put on top of the pork bits. The finishing touch is handmade tofu, or sondubu. Though the owner shouts swear words in Korean, it only adds to the lively atmosphere. There’s just one rule: Even if you come alone, there’s a minimum order of about 600 grams of pork. From Sintanri Station, the restaurant is across the rails on the left side. Pork costs 20,000 won, half a cake of tofu is 5,000 won, and dwenjang jjigae, or bean-paste stew, 5,000 won. Pyongyang Memil Makguksu (031834-7782) has all the signs of a delicious hole in the wall — awful interior and huge crowds. The specialties are makguksu (buckwheat noodles in cold kimchi soup), and chogyetang, cold noodles with chicken. Makguksu, a traditional dish of Gangwon Province, tastes close to the more common naengmyeon noodles. The watery soup contains dongchimi and nabak kimchi. What most people think of as kimchi, baechu kimchi, made of cabbage, is also used, with beef stock sometimes added. The chicken dish before the main is called chogyetang, part of Korea’s old royal cuisine. Boiled chicken is served cold with vegetables. Rice vinegar and mustard to cut the fat. Traditional breeds of Korean poultry are used, with unusually chewy skin. Cold kimchi water makes a refreshing accompaniment. The restaurant is in front of Sintanri Station. Train information: Trains depart every hour from Dongducheon Station, 6:50 a.m. to 10:50 p.m., and back from Sintanri Station, 6:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m. A one-way ticket costs 1,000 won, and the trip takes 45 minutes.
Clockwise from far left: Beautiful landscapes abound in the sparsely populated area; Sambuyeon Falls got their name because their three tiers resemble Korean cast-iron pots; boaters ride the rapids on the Hantan River past the Sundam Gorge; visitors wander into the ruins of the Cheolwon offices of the North Korean Workers’ Party. Above: Handmade tofu, or sondubu.
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June 2009 korea 57
A Farmer’s Drink Made Trendy
Once considered old-fashioned, makgeolli is making a comeback — and not just in Korea
nyone who’s been out in Korea at night knows about soju, the popular Korean distilled liquor, always served with samgyeopsal, strips of pork belly. But soju isn’t the only traditional tippler on the peninsula: There’s also makgeolli, fermented rice wine, which was ubiquitous until the 1960s but later lost ground to soju and Western alcoholic beverages such as beer, whiskey and wine. But makgeolli is now back, this time winning fans in an unexpected quarter: among Japanese tourists. This isn’t just because of the price difference — a one-liter bottle of makgeolli sells for 800 yen in Japan but the equivalent of just 150 to 200 yen here — but also because the wine supposedly tastes better before going through the sterilization process required for export. Perhaps the most important reason, however, is the appeal of the special experience of tasting makgeolli
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in a minsokjujeom, a traditional Korean drinking house. Accordingly, local tourist agencies are busy coming up with packages offering Japanese visitors trips to jujeom, most located in the Myeong-dong and Jongno areas in downtown Seoul. Meanwhile, in Japan, makgeolli is no longer an exotic novelty, with the number of bars offering several different types on the rise in trendy Tokyo areas such as Shinjuku, Ginza and Shibuya. “We have sold 3.4 billion won ($2.74 million) worth of makgeolli in Japan last year, and sales of the liquor have grown 20-25 percent annually over recent years,” said Lee Jin-seong, director of E-dong Rice Wine Brewery, the first Korean company to export makgeolli to Japan, through a Japanese affiliate established in 1993. At Foodex Japan 2009, an international food trade show held in March at Makuhari Messe near Tokyo, the
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Unlike soju, which comes in glass bottles, makgeolli is typically served in bowls or kettles.
Makgeolli is derived from a fermented rice paste called nuruk, which is then diluted with water to achieve an alcohol content of 6 to 7 percent. The active cultures in raw makgeolli are thought to have health benefits.
makgeolli booth at the Korea Pavilion almost always had a long line of curious visitors awaiting their turn to sample the rice wine and perhaps even strike an import deal. According to the Korea Customs Service, 4,891 tons of makgeolli were shipped overseas last year, a 25.4 percent increase from 2007, worth $4.02 million, a leap of 53 percent on-year. Bae Yong-joon, the Korea Wave star known in Japan as “Yon-sama” – “sama” is an honorific suffix in Japanese – has climbed on the bandwagon, inking a deal with Kook Soon Dang, Korea’s leading traditional wine brewer, to produce a special makgeolli named Gosireh, after his restaurant chain in Japan. “Gosireh makgeolli, which was introduced in Japan in April, had sold about 30,000 bottles as of the first week of May, ranking at the top in terms of all kinds of liquor sales in the online market on Yahoo! Japan,” said Koh Bong-hwan, marketing team manager at Kook Soon Dang. Even taking into account Yon-sama’s huge popularity in Japan, such high sales in such a short period says something. Why are so many Japanese customers attracted to makgeolli? “Makgeolli is gaining popularity because it is low
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Shin Woo-chang deputy director of the research institute of Kook Soon Dang Brewery shows “ehwa nuruk,” a special nuruk used to make “ehwa wine.”
proof, with an alcohol content of 6 to 7 percent, so that weak drinkers can also enjoy it, and it’s also been proved to be healthy, as it contains lots of lactobacilli and fiber, matching up with the ‘well-being’ trend sweeping the world and Japan,” said Shin Woo-chang, deputy director of the research institute of Kook Soon Dang Brewery. The liquor was even found to be effective in suppressing cancer as well as preventing high blood pressure in a report released last year by the research team at the Department of Food and Nutrition at Silla University in Busan. Makgeolli brewing mainly consists of two processes – the making of the rice malt, or nuruk, and the fermenting of steamed rice. Nuruk is an essential ingredient to make makgeolli, as it facilitates the fermentation of rice starch into sugars. It is usually made with crushed rice, placed in a wooden box for about a week until it begins to mold. The nuruk is then added to a mix-
ture of steamed rice and water to produce an undiluted makgeolli, which will later be mixed with a fixed quantity of water to get an alcohol content of 6 to 7 percent. Makgeolli dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), when it was also called “ehwa wine” – ehwa is the Korean word for pear blossom. The name came about because nuruk was usually made about the time the pear trees bloom. “Since it was the first wine made by our ancestors thousands of years ago, it is fair to say that makgeolli is the prototypical traditional wine of Korea. Other Korean rice wines, like yakju, actually originated from makgeolli,” Shin said. In fact, makgeolli was the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea until the 1960s, when it accounted for about 70 percent of domestic alcohol consumption. At that time, Korea was still an agrarian society, with the greater part of the country’s population being farmers. Nongju, another popular term for makgeolli, literally means “farmer liquor” in Korean, after its traditional consumers. “Makgeolli was called ‘nongju’ due to its popularity among farmers, though it was not meant solely for them,” said Yu Tae-jong, a food engineering professor at Korea University. “Makgeolli was actually the alcoholic beverage usually enjoyed by commoners due to its accessibility, as it is made from rice, the staple of the country,” he explained. However, with the ban on the use of rice to make makgeolli by the government in 1965 due to a chronic food shortage, makgeolli makers started to use other grains instead, affecting the taste and turning the public against it. The ban on rice makgeolli was lifted in 1971, but by then the damage was done. With the introduction of various Western alcoholic beverages like whiskey and wine in the boom years of the 1970s, the percentage of the population consuming makgeolli fell as low as single digits. But the drink recovered a few years ago and is now back in the limelight, Shin at Kook Soon Dang said, thanks to the “well-being” health craze. Scientific research purporting to show that the fermented rice wine had health benefits, in addition to its low price and relatively low alcoholic content, helped boost the popularity of makgeolli, he said. “Advances in the quality and taste of makgeolli in recent years apparently contributed to recapturing the old generation, who often feel nostalgia for makgeolli, which they used to drink in their younger days, while makgeolli makers’ efforts to popularize
First made around the 10th century A.D., makgeolli was the basis for all the Korean rice wines that came after.
the liquor by packaging it in cans and fancy bottles have succeeded in winning the hearts of young and new customers,” Shin said. And as evidenced by the introduction on the local market in April of the so-called “cocktail makgeolli,” a more versatile and colorful variety mixed with fruit flavors such as strawberry and grape, makgeolli’s evolution continues down the path to capturing the hearts of Korean customers and those around the world.
By Park Sun-young
Top: “Cocktail makgeolli“ varieties are now available in fruit flavors. Bottom: A significant percentage of makgeolli sales now derive from Japanese tourists, who come to Korea to buy it for its health benefits and low alcohol content.
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Albrecht Huber, a German literature professor at Chungnam National University, paints a Korean landscape with a brush and ink on hanji, traditional Korean white paper.
Finding His Spirit in Ink and Brush
Professor Albrecht Huber has an unusual hobby: painting classical Korean landscapes
f you’re passionate about something, it may find its way into your work. Even if your work has nothing to do with your hobby. Take Albrecht Huber, 52, a German literature professor at Chungnam National University in Daejeon, central Korea. His passion: classical Korean painting. Huber held his second solo art exhibition, displaying 26 traditional Korean ink paintings at the university museum from April 30 to May 23. His first (though not of Korean paintings) took place in 1989 in Freiburg, southern Germany. The exhibition was subtitled in German — “Geistesland: Philosophische Landschaft” — meaning “Spiritual Land: Philosophical Landscape.” Anyone who has the opportunity to glance at these paintings for a moment is immediately drawn into Huber’s nature scenes. Although, since the paintings are done in Korean ink, none are in color, they somehow manage to project peace and calm, an expression of the birth of a close friendship between humanity and nature. Huber believes a profound philosophy exists within Korean ink landscape paintings. “I began to get interested in ink paintings of beautiful
scenery as well as how the human spiritual world was expressed using nothing but a brush and ink,” he says. “I was able to see those characteristics in masterpieces by late Joseon painters Kim Hong-do and Cheong Seon, as well as contemporary painters Pyeon Kwanshik and Cho Pyeong-hui, in many albums and exhibitions.” This artist-professor says Korean paintings were not meant to be realistic. Instead they were created with – and require – deep imagination. The artists express their own thoughts in their landscapes. In this way, they intertwine the natural world intimately with the human one. Huber says, “My perspective on Korean landscapes is that they cannot exist without humans, and vice versa. Both entities are correlated and should be harmonized.” Though he majored in both German literature and geography during his college years, he once dreamed of entering art school and has long been interested in painting. In 1994, he earned his doctoral degree in German literature at Freiburg University. While he was in a post-doc program, a female friend who was studying German literature at the same university suggested he look into teaching in Korea. The female friend from Jeonju, North Jeolla, contacted a professor whom she know at Chungnam University and recommended Huber for their German language and literature department. Huber came to Korea in 1997, at first as a visiting professor, in the department. His love affair with classical Korean ink painting began when he happened upon brushes, ink stones or byeoru and traditional hanji paper while in downtown Daejeon. “I still recall the moment I discovered the most precious treasures in my life,” he said.
‘In the world, there is no country like Korea, [with so many] fairytale-like landscapes.’
Albrecht Huber’s “Stone Gate” (top) and “Acheron River” (bottom) [JoongAng Ilbo]
While still in Germany, he had many chances to see classical Korean ink paintings in art books and study their characteristics, but he never dreamed of actually seeing and touching the tools used to make them. Huber said he had never taken a lesson on Korean painting until he came to Korea. After buying brushes and ink, he painted for hours three to four days a week after work. Huber tries to finish paintings in one try, instead of going over them several times until he is satisfied. “I start painting spontaneously without any plan. This act begins basically from the point where there is nothing, rather than from premeditation,” says Huber. “Naturally, this is an informal and a free gesture that allows the brush to move quickly.” The professor says humanity’s longing for the spiritual world is evident in imaginative Korean paintings, which offer a portal to that other plane. In 1999, Huber married a Korean woman, a junior high school art teacher in South Chungcheong Province. His wife went to Germany that year to earn her master’s degree in art, and Huber went along. After staying in Germany for four years, he came back to Chungnam University. “My wife knows much more about painting than I do. Although I paint Korean paintings and my wife majored in Western painting, she has been providing me with a lot of criticism and advice on my work,” he says. “She has been very helpful and I want to thank her.” The German professor has been traveling across Korea, mostly in the central and southern regions, to gather material for his landscapes. He says he has toured national parks, Buddhist temples and countryside villages. In particular, he says he has been searching for places with lively and powerful gi, or primal energy. “I get a lot of inspiration for my paintings from those sites. In the world, there is no country like Korea, where you can actually see many fairytale-like landscapes,” Huber says. “Korean ink painting has the potential to show the genuine nature of the world with just three tools – the brush, ink and white paper. I will keep on painting the beauty of the Korean landscape.” Finally, he says, “I want to introduce the greatness and beauty of classical Korean paintings to the world, so that someday everyone will be as fascinated with Korean paintings as I am.” By Lee Min-yong
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June 2009 korea 63
Oh Eun-sun, 43, is in a tight race with four other women to climb the tallest peaks in the world. By Kim Min-gyu
Gritting Her Teeth and Climbing to the Top
Oh Eun-sun is in a race to become the first woman to climb the world’s 14 tallest mountain peaks.
ountain climber Oh Eunsun is tough. There’s no other way to describe this hard-nosed woman, who has recently climbed the Himalayan peak Kangchenjunga without supplementary oxygen. Kangchengjunga, at 8,586 meters above sea level, is the sixth-highest peak in the world. According to her sponsor, Black Yak, Oh left base camp (altitude 5,600 meters) on May 4 and reached the top on May 6 after a climb that took 19 hours and 40 minutes. She left Korea on March 19. Oh has conquered 10 peaks to date, and this eager climber’s goal is to conquer all 14 that stand above 8,000 meters by next year. There aren’t many who have conquered all 14, and if Oh is successful, she will be the first woman to do so. Oh climbed her first Himalayan peak in 1997, reaching the top of Gashenbrum II (8,035 meters). Then in 2008 she became the first woman to climb four peaks in one year — Makalu (8,463 meters), Lhotze (8,516 meters), Broad Peak (8,047 meters) and Manaslu (8,163 meters). Finally, she has the distinction of being the first Asian female to reach the top of the world’s highest, Mount Everest (8,848 meters). The 43-year-old Namwon, North Jeolla native is known to grow determined and stone cold when driving towards her goal. As Oh is just 155 cen-
timeters (5 feet one inch) tall and weighs ing seems to have won out. 48 kilograms (106 pounds), it’s hard to Oh is on a solid pace to complete all imagine how she can carry 20 kilo- four peaks by next year, but there are grams of climbing equipment on her three women ahead of her. Spain’s back through treacherous conditions Edume Pasaban, Austria’s Gerlinde without extra oxygen. To say it takes Kaltenbrunner and Italy’s Nives Meroi willpower would be a vast understate- have all conquered 11 Himalayan peaks ment. to date. Oh even has Ko Mi-young folDuring her 2004 Everest climb, she lowing closely behind her with eight passed the lifeless body of Korean peaks. climber Park Moo-taek, but continued The feat of conquering all 14 Himaon to the top. layan peaks might seem improbable to She caught a lot of flak from the most, but after one meeting no one media when she returned home for would doubt this diminutive but iron“lacking compassion.” But in an inter- willed climber is up to the task. By Jason Kim view in March prior to leaving for her latest climb, she said things are different near the top, and that people don’t think logically when faced with life or death situations. Oh’s no ordinary woman, that’s for sure. But prior to trekking up her new path in life in 1997, she was like any other working single woman, employed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Although she dabbled in business, Oh cimbs to the summit of opening an Italian Kangchenjunga. She successfully climbed restaurant a few years her 10th summit over 8,000 meters on May 6, making her ago, her love for climbthe first Asian woman to achieve that feat.
Provided by Black Yak
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June 2009 korea 65
Meeting the Challenge of Division
Though South Koreans don’t think about the North on a daily basis, the division of their nation still has a subtle but serious psychological impact.
Edward Reed is the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Korea. For more than 30 years Dr. Reed has been involved in development including as a Peace Corps volunteer in Korea. He was country director for North Korea for World Vision from 1997 to 2000, developing a $4 million program for relief and agricultural assistance in the North. From 1994 to 1997, he served as Quaker International Affairs Representative for Northeast Asia, organizing seminars and exchanges involving a wide range of actors in South and North Korea, China, Japan, and the United States. He has published articles on agricultural development and humanitarian assistance to North Korea.
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apid change is the hallmark of modern South Korea. Everyone knows the story of how Korea advanced from one of the poorest countries in the world following the Korean War (1950-53) to join the ranks of industrialized nations in little over a single generation. Korea is definitely not the same place that it was when I first arrived here as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in 1970. And change continues at a dizzying pace as Korea competes to seek its place in the world. But there is one very important reality about Korea that has not changed: Korea is still a divided nation. The Cold War line still splits the peninsula into two very different and antagonistic states. Visitors see the vibrant, modern society in the South and it is easy to forget that this is not the only Korean reality. North Korea doesn’t directly intrude into life in the South and its existence can almost be overlooked. The young have created a consumption culture that seems oblivious to the misery of their fellow Koreans just to the north. Local and foreign businessmen talk of a “Korea discount,” but the stock market continued to climb the day after North Korea launched a longrange missile into the Pacific Ocean. In the South Korea of the 1970s the division was a constant and stark reality. Slogans were screamed from every office and classroom: “Oppose Communism! Report Spies!” (“Ban gong bangcheop!”) The midnight to 4 a.m. curfew caused a mad dash to catch taxis or board buses. Military police boarded public transit to check the IDs of travelers. It was understandable. Just two years before I arrived, North Korean commandos intruded across the DMZ in an attempt to assassinate President Park Chung Hee, and reached the mountain behind the presidential mansion before being stopped. Once I picked up a crudely made flyer near my rooming house and showed it to my host. He was shocked and frightened when he saw it was a North Korean propaganda leaflet, known as ppira. This constant sense of threat and tension was certainly one factor prompting Koreans
to keep their heads down and work hard to create the new modern economy we see today. Most South Koreans probably do not think much about the North, but I think the division of the peninsula is still the most important fact about Korea. The modern industrial economy that Koreans have created is trapped on an island created by the DMZ, preventing the Korean people from bringing into play the full resources of the peninsula, both natural and human. Until that is achieved, Korea’s true economic potential will not be realized. The yawning gap between the living conditions of Koreans in the South and North is a chasm that must be bridged or it is likely to generate serious economic and social problems for generations to come. The 15,000 North Korean refugees who have sought asylum in the South are harbingers of what is in store. Most have found it very difficult to integrate into the highly competitive society of the South and have met with widespread discrimination and prejudice. Many observers also contend that Korean politics will continue to be distorted and deeply divisive as long as the national division persists. More than anything else I think the division of Korea has a subtle but serious psychological impact. Koreans are ready to take a leadership role in Asia and the world, but there always seems to be an insecurity that holds them back. I think this can be traced to the incomplete nationhood that is the legacy of the Cold War. The threat posed by the North may not be shouted in slogans as in the 1970s, but it still plays its role. The amazing thing is that in spite of this handicap, and in the face of a real threat, South Koreans have pressed forward at a record pace. They have lifted themselves out of poverty and seized control of their future. I am confident Koreans will rise to the challenge and eventually overcome national division. It will take all the wisdom and energy they have demonstrated over the past 50 years, but eventually Korea will be whole and its transition into the modern world complete.