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People & Culture

march 2011

korea’s
traditional house,
hanok
designs of the past exemplify
homes of the future

jeungdo island
life at a snail’s pace

social network
service
streaming new trends
to korean life
ISSN: 2005-2162

www.korea.net
Contents
march 2011 VOL.7 NO.03

02
cover story
Hanok, a traditional Korean house, embodies
the combination of beauty and science.

14
pen & brush
Paris-based artist Kwon Moo-hyoung gains
recognition abroad for his explorations.

18
people
The late Father John Lee, who spent years
helping others, lives on in spirit.

22
great korean
Philosopher and scientist Jeong Yak-yong
brought innovation to the Joseon Dynasty.

24
my korea
Poktanju, or Korean bomb shot, shakes the
02
senses and bonds social ties, one expat learns.

28
seoul
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Stream symbolizes
publisher Seo Kang-soo,
Korea’s past, present and tomorrow. Korean Culture and Information Service

30 Editing HEM KOREA Co., Ltd

travel
e-mail webmaster@korea.net
Jeungdo Island is one of Korea’s ”slow cities,“
offering tranquility and history in one. printing Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co.

34
special issue
14 18 All right reserved. No part of this
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Korea continues its strong rise in the winter KOREA and the Korean Culture and
sports field at the latest Asian Winter Games. Information Service.

36 The articles published in KOREA do


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Korea wises up to using SNS, social network for errors or omissions.
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Int’l cooperation saved the Samho Jewelry.
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발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06
cover story

Hanok, or traditional Korean houses, are a place where you can forget
all of the stresses of the modern world. Designed to withstand the
forces of the Korean climate, hanok are built with natural elements
such as trees, soil, stone and paper. The house offers visitors a chance
to learn about Korean history and culture while reconnecting with
Mother Nature. by Chung Dong-muk | photographs by Kim Nam-heon

Traditional hanok houses in Hahoe Folk Village


such an area was called “yeonhwabusu,” to the success of the Ryu family, the in Hahoe Village. “But there are traces
meaning “a lotus floating on water.” In village thrived and tile-roofed homes, of our forefathers in all corners of the
ancient Korea, people took account of which were traditionally reserved for house. I can’t just ignore them. I do this
such theories when deciding where to the aristocracy, started to appear in out of a sense of duty.”
build a village or house. If a location Hahoe. Today, 162 traditional hanok Visitors to Hwagyeongdang, one of
harmonized with the forces of nature, its houses with roof tiles remain standing. Korea’s best-known hanok, can feel
residents would be brought good luck. There are also 211 straw-roofed houses, the structure’s long history. Ryu Sa-
A house built in a manner contrary to traditional homes for commoners. chun, one of Ryu Se-ho’s ancestors,
those forces would meet with disaster. Aside from hanok, the village is also built Hwagyeongdang in 1797. Then in
Hahoe Village is home to many tile- home to 11 wooden masks designated 1862, his great grandson Ryu Do-seong
roofed hanok, or traditional Korean as the National Treasure No. 121. The constructed additional buildings to
houses, because it was a favorable area masks are used in the Hahoe byeolsingut complete it as the home of the nobility.
according to feng shui theory. tallori, or Hahoe Mask Dance Drama. Hwagyeongdang is now the largest in
The Korean government designated town and is listed by the government as
a protective home In 1392, when the entire village as one of the most No. 84 among important folk materials.
the Joseon Dynasty was founded, state important folk heritage treasures in A trip to Hahoe Village is not
official Ryu Jong-hye chose Hahoe as 1984. Last year, UNESCO listed the complete without a visit to Yangjindang
the home for the Ryu clan of Pungsan. village as a World Heritage Site, putting Korean traditional bedding is kept neat and Chunghyodang hanok as well.
Brothers Ryu Un-ryong (1539~1601), Hahoe in the global spotlight. and tidy in the room of a hanok (above). Yangjindang is the home of the head
Hwagyeongdang’s spacious daecheong, or
a renowned Confucian scholar, and “It’s not easy to preserve and maintain the main floor room, maintains cool family of the Pungsan Ryu clan.
temperatures during the summer thanks
Ryu Seong-ryong (1542~1607), a such a huge tile-roofed house,” says to the scientific flow of air (below).
And it was built by Ryu Jong-hye
prime minister who helped the dynasty Ryu Se-ho, owner of Hwagyeongdang in the 15th century and inherited by
overcome the Japanese invasion in 1592,
were both from the village. Thanks

Jangdok, porcelain pots used to store Korean


fermented sauces such as doenjang (soybean
paste) in the front yard of a hanok (left).
White rubber shoes are placed in front of a
traditional hanok door (below).

Starting at Hwangji Pond in Taebaek, piece of Korean heritage: Hahoe Folk


the Nakdonggang River winds some Village in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do
500km through southeastern part of Province.
Korea before flowing into the South Hahoe is a compound Korean word
Sea. It is the country’s longest river, and meaning “the water takes a roundabout.”
has been flowing through the peninsula The river literally winds around the
for thousands of years. Sitting along village in an “S” shaped bend. In
this natural jewel is another important topography-based divination theory,

04 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 05


his eldest grandson, Ryu Un-ryong. carried by four people. If she wanted to
Chunghyodang was home to Prime walk, she had to wear a long hood that
Minister Ryu Seong-ryong, and Ryu covered her entire body. The Korean
Un-ryong’s younger brother inherited word during this period to describe
the home. women literally meant a person who
The anchae (women’s quarters) and spends their time inside the house. Men,
sarangchae (men’s quarters) are shaped on the other hand, were free to come
like squares, typical of houses in the and go as they pleased.
southeastern part of the country. The
quarters are parallel to each other The Beauty of Natural Science
and connected by a pair of rooms on Hanok employ the laws of natural
either side. Shutting the inner door to science to circulate the air. When you
the sarangchae ensured the privacy of visit a hanok like Hwagyeongdang, you
women. During the Joseon Dynasty will notice that trees and flowers are
women from the noble class were not planted in the rear garden as opposed to
allowed to be seen by strangers. When the front yard. This allows the house to
the wife of an aristocrat traveled outside, keep cool during the summer and warm
she would ride in a closed palanquin during the winter. Most aristocratic
hanok have a wooden-floored hall, or
Part of the
magnetism of daecheong, in the middle of the anchae
hanok is that serves as the living room. The front
chagyeong, which
means borrowing side of the daecheong is wide open
scenery (above).
There is a shapely while doors shut off the backside. When
old pine tree in the sun beats down on the barren front
the back yard of
Hwagyeongdang yard, the temperature rises. The heated trees in the backyard serve as a private A view of the fascinating exterior the house, but the placement of trees
(left). Ryu Se-ho, characteristics of Byeongsan Seowon
owner of the
air rises and leaves the front yard in a garden. The aesthetic theory chagyeong, from the floor of the Mandaeru Pavilion and flowers and the location of the
(above). Traditional Korean utensils are
Hwagyeongdang vacuum. But in the back yard, plants and which means “borrowing scenery,” displayed in a hanok kitchen (below).
surrounding landscapes, be it mountains
in Hahoe Folk
Village, says it is trees absorb the heat, making the air a helped shape hanok gardens. While or rivers.
important to bit cooler. Such cool air travels through many Western houses have solid walls, Visitors to Hahoe Village can see
preserve hanok
(below). the wide-open daecheong and reaches Korean hanok have columns connected wonderful examples of chagyeong at the
the front yard. This by a series of windows and doors. These Mandaeru Pavilion of the Byeongsan
creates a natural openings serve as frames for the outside Seowon. Located near Hwasan
circulation of air. In world. If you open one door, you might Mountain on the east side of Hahoe,
the summer, you can see a small stream flowing across the the Byeongsan Seowon is a memorial
open the doors to the yard. If you open another door, you for the scholarly achievements of Ryu
daecheong and enjoy might see the flowers and trees in full Seong-ryong. Sitting on the second
the cool breeze that bloom. Instead of hanging paintings on floor of the broad Mandaeru Pavilion,
flows through the their walls, Koreans would open their you can see the Nakdonggang River
house. In the winter, windows or doors and “borrow” the flow by a picturesque mountain. Along
warm air will stay in scenery right outside their house. the river spreads a white sand beach
the house with the Hanok designers try to make small that glimmers in the sunlight. Wild
daecheong’s back doors and windows throughout the geese pass their time on the beach. If
doors closed. house so inhabitants can view their you come at dusk, the orange-colored
In addition to garden from different angles at different twilight covers the river like something
their practical use times of the day and in different from a gorgeous landscape painting.
as a temperature seasons. The designers had to take into Ryu Se-ho, the owner of
regulator, flowers and consideration not only the shape of Hwagyeongdang, decided to open up his

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And to turn back time and revive that Korea, you can experience the slow life
original meaning, Sungyojang will stay in seven places, including Hanok Village
open to everyone from around the in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do Province, and
world.” Hanok Village in Damyang, Jeollanam-
To accommodate modern visitors, do Province.
some of the old facilities of hanok have American Peter E. Bartholomew
been upgraded. For instance, many – who has lived in a hanok in
hanok owners have installed flushing Dongseomun-dong, Seoul, for nearly
toilets, standing basins and shower stalls. 40 years – will attest to the joys of living
To help facilitate these improvements, slowly in a hanok.
the Cultural Heritage Administration is “I love that I can spend time with
preparing a manual for the renovation myself here on the daecheong, sipping
and repair of hanok. Since many old tea and looking out at the garden,”
homes are registered as cultural heritage, Bartholomew says. “I am convinced
the government wants to ensure that that hanok is the world’s greatest form
the historical attributes of hanok are of architecture, with its scientific design
preserved, as homeowners make the that also embraces human emotions.”
houses more comfortable for visitors.
An elegant seat
hanok to visitors four years ago. He says Omokdae is where Yi Seong-gye threw national or local cultural heritage, and The movement to preserve hanok is awaiting
a party to celebrate victory of a
that he wanted to share the great science Hwangsandaecheop battle in the 14th in the past, we were always trying to comes after a century of disregard for visitors of a
hanok (above).
century (above left). A craftsman makes
and spectacular beauty of hanok with hanji (above right). Souvenirs can be
stay out of them for protection,” says Lee the traditional homes. Following the Hakindang is one
of the most
people from around the world. purchased at Jeonju Hanok Village (below). Gang-baek, head of the association and Joseon Dynasty, Korea was annexed famous hanok in
“Hanok can only be preserved when owner of Sungyojang in Gangneung, by Japan in 1910 and remained under Jeonju Hanok
Village (right).
people live there,” he says. “You have Gangwon-do Province. “But we could colonial rule until 1945. The five years Hakindang, built
in the 20th
to light up the fireplace in the kitchen only preserve the homes by having following the liberation were marked century, is a
and heat up the house made up of trees, people see them. Bringing in guests is by chaotic ideological conflicts. Then, cultural icon
showing
clay and stone to breathe life into it. If what I needed to do, too.” the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 traditional and
I wanted to bring in guests, I thought I Sungyojang is a 310-year-old house demolished what little was left on the modern
architecture in
might as well do it right and present the where 10 generations have lived, and it’s peninsula. Over some 50 years in the one building
(right below).
true beauty of hanok and great taste that one of Korea’s most famous hanok. In post-war era, Koreans had to constantly
you can enjoy there.” 2000, Sungyojang was ranked the top try to make ends meet and had little
Thanks to Ryu’s efforts, those who hanok in the country. The Gwandong interest in investing in the preservation material goods that cater only to our
stay at Hwagyeongdang get to enjoy region, or the eastern part of Korea, lies of cultural heritage. Koreans’ enthusiasm convenience, such as cars; and trying to
delicacies of a traditional Korean house. next to the dark blue East Sea and is for accepting Western culture led to a be thankful and satisfied with life each
They can stay warm on the ondol floor known for it beautiful scenery. Scholars materialism that valued the new and and every day. But living slowly in this
and sleep in the same type of beds and in the Joseon Dynasty with refined shiny over the old and traditional. fast-paced world is difficult. We know
eat out of the same brass utensils used artistic tastes always made Sungyojang It wasn’t until the 21st century that that the exhaust from vehicles speeds up
by noblemen of the past. a stop during their travels through the Koreans had reached a comfortable global warming, but we still pick up our
Gwandong area. income level and some began to car keys for even short trips.
Hanok REVIVAL Hanok tourism has “The reason there are many annexes question their harried lifestyle. They It’s quite meaningful that places that
been formally registered by the Ministry to hanok, such as haengrangchae, adopted “live slowly” as their mantra, value slow living such as Hahoe Village
of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a of ancient houses across the nation. It sarangchae and byeoldang, is to and took an interest in hanok and other in Andong and Yangdong Village in
business and is growing in popularity has helped open such homes to tourists encourage whoever was passing through traditional elements. Gyeongju have been registered as
nationwide. The Association for from Korea and around the world, to stop by and stay overnight,” Lee What does “live slowly” mean? UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Proprietors of Korean Culture Houses teaching visitors about Korean culture says. “It was never a house only for the Perhaps it’s no different than living as Another international organization,
has played a leading role in the industry. and heritage. owner. But in modern times, it has lost mankind should. That is, living trying the Cittaslow movement, has designated
Its members include 380 proprietors “Many of our member homes are its meaning and we’ve lost our heart. to coexist with nature; minimizing several Korean villages as “slow cities.” In

08 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 09


cover story

The Meaningful Life of


is a ginkgo tree that he planted about
20 years ago and that now stands a
good 15m high. When the typhoon

a Guardian of Hanok
hit his neighborhood, he was smoking
a cigarette on the main floor of his
home, watching to see if his tree would
be uprooted by the strong wind. But
Peter E. Bartholomew is an American expatriate who has lived in hanok for 38 years.
something incredible happened.
He believes the hanok is a piece of art that combines philosophy, visual aesthetics While the tree was getting whipped
and science. Bartholomew says he has studied architecture from around the world into all directions, the smoke from
and is convinced hanok boasts some of the world’s greatest design elements. his cigarette was shooting straight up.
“My god, that just had to be science,”
Bartholomew says. “There’s absolutely
It’s a Korean traditional house, or no wind protector between the main
hanok, in Dongseomun-dong in Seoul, floor and the courtyard, but the wind
the nation’s capital and by far Korea’s was blowing hard out there and not
busiest city. Peter E. Bartholomew, the here. Isn’t that amazing?”
American owner of this house, is seated The unique structure of hanok is to the Peace Corps. While working as an Peter E. Bartholomew has lived in hanok for 38
years and praises its unique structure (above).
at the table in the main hall, sipping thank for the strange wind patterns. English teacher at a middle school in A room of Bartholomew’s hanok showcases a
typical and classic interior (opposite).
coffee and soaking in the arrival of the Bartholomew’s house takes the shape Gangneung, he discovered the hanok
new season. Bartholomew is all smiles. of an inverted “L.” Most Korean houses Sungyojang, one of the most famous
“This is why I love hanok,” he says. face south, and Bartholomew’s house hanok in eastern Korea. He had been replaced with towering apartment
“When I work outside, I am constantly had its back on the north side and interested in ancient architecture since buildings. Bartholomew says there’s
stressed out. But when I smell this fresh turned slightly to the west. The house grade school, and for Bartholomew, something wrong with that picture. The
spring air at home, it all goes away. This was designed to keep the wind out. The Sungyojang was a museum. After he growing population obviously means
house is like a purifier for me.” typhoon was blowing in from the west visited the place four or five times to a rising demand for housing, but new
Bartholomew is known in Korea as at the time, and the wall on the western study it, an old landlady told him to just apartments should be built outside
a guardian of hanok. He has attended a side of his house blocked it all out. The move in. Bartholomew went on to live Seoul, he argues. He thinks there is no
series of seminars and debates on hanok eaves of the house also minimized the there for about five years and fell in love need to take down the hanok, important
and has been featured in the press, too. strength of the wind. with the house. It was during this time cultural and historic icons. Bartholomew
Korean people have also taken a liking to As Bartholomew discovered, the that he decided to settle down in Korea. says that Koreans treasure the landscape
this blue-eyed man who extols virtues of hanok is designed with the Korean Bartholomew found a job at a shipping paintings of Kim Hong-do and Goryeo
the traditional form of Korean residence. climate in mind. The specific length company and moved to Seoul, but he celadon, but hanok, something that
It’s a great irony that most Koreans of the house’s eaves keeps the sun out could not forget Sungyojang. In 1974, he captures people’s everyday lives,
actually prefer Western-style housing, during dog days of summer and yet moved to the hanok of Dongseomun- seems like its fading away. “You rarely
such as apartments, while Westerners helps bring the warm sunlight in over dong, where he lives to this day. see a country like this anywhere,”
like Bartholomew loves hanok. But if the main floor during winter. The Living in a hanok can be a bit more Bartholomew says, welling up. “When
you hear him talk about the science of artistic frame of the paper sliding door taxing on your body than a Western- I first came to Seoul, there were about
hanok, even the most skeptical Korean is covered in changhoji (traditional style apartment, since the floor constantly 800,000 hanok in the city alone. But
would be impressed. Here’s one story. paper of mulberry bark) to ensure air needs sweeping. But Bartholomew loves today it’s just left fewer than 7,000.”
Last summer, Korea was hit by a circulation. In the winter, the traditional his house because it is in touch with the Bartholomew calls hanok a complete
monstrous typhoon. It came in through floor heating system, ondol, keeps the slower way Koreans used to live. work of art that intertwines literature
Incheon on the west coast, swept house at a comfortable temperature. Bartholomew also had a few choice and visual aesthetics with philosophy
through Seoul and then left off the words for Korea’s policy on hanok and science. Perhaps it’s time for
east coast. The wind was so blustery Finding a place for hanok in and on construction as a whole. In the Koreans to take another look at hanok
that large trees were uprooted. Inside modern Seoul Bartholomew first name of redevelopment, traditional and rediscover the virtues that the
the courtyard of Bartholomew’s house came to Korea in 1968 as a member of homes are being bulldozed and traditional house has long provided.

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cover story

vendors are more intent on explaining which has a relatively low iron content, the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty -
the history of their hometown than on allows mulberry trees to flourish. The registered on UNESCO’s Memory of the
selling their goods. region is home to some of the best hanji World for its detailed recording of the
Jeonju came to national prominence craftsmen in the country, who use this dynasty’s history - is stored in Jeonju’s
during the Joseon Dynasty. Yi Seong- high-quality mulberry tree pulp in historic library is no accident. Other
gye, who founded the 500-year dynasty, their work. The quality paper has given hanji-based crafts, such as hapjukseon,
and his ancestors were born and raised rise to great calligraphers, too, which a kind of traditional fan, along with
in Jeonju. The city’s residents took great in turn led to the development of the pansori, a type of music performed with
pride in the fact that their hometown area’s publishing industry. The fact that a fan in hand, have all thrived in Jeonju
was the birthplace of the founder of for similar reasons.
the Joseon Dynasty, one of the most Visitors to Jeonju Hanok Village
important figures in Korean history. The should be sure to check out
Hanok Village stores the portrait of Yi Seunggwangjae, the home of Yi Seok,
Seong-gye in its Gyeonggijeon Shrine, the last living descendant of the Joseon
which honors the Yi family. Dynasty. He was born to Prince Imperial
The founding of Jeonju Hanok Village Ui, who was the son of Emperor
is also rooted in history. During the Gojong. He was born in Sadong Palace
Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju had a huge in Gwanhun-dong near Jogyesa Temple
fortress and four gates, just as Seoul did. in Seoul. Having spent his childhood
But during the Japanese colonial rule, in a royal palace, Yi Seok is particularly
three of the four gates were removed passionate about hanok.
and the Japanese started living where the “I still remember when I was a child,
gates once stood. So Jeonju people began my father, Prince Ui, put me in front
building hanok to protest the Japanese of him on horseback as we ran around
occupation. Seeing the traditional the front yard of the palace,” Yi said.
Korean homes nestled among Japanese “The towering ridge of that palace was

Traditions of the
and Western buildings in what today magnificent. The grand and yet elegant
is Pungnam-dong and Gyo-dong, the Seunggwangjae is the home of the last living hanok roof is part of my memories.”
descendant of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Seok
residents of Jeonju felt proud of their (above, below). The structure of hanok is These days, Yi lectures visitors to

Joseon Dynasty Live On


displayed in Jeonju Hanok Village (opposite).
heritage. Seunggwangjae on the history of
Joseon and virtues of the royal culture.
The Last Imperial Descendant Yi dreams of spending the rest of
Sadly, most of the hanok in the village his life reproducing traditional royal
Jeonju Hanok Village became the seventh Korean area to be named a “slow city”
are now gone and only about 550 wedding ceremonies at palaces such as
by Cittaslow International, last year. Still palpable are the traces of Yi Seong-gye,
remain standing. The Jeonju municipal Gyeongbokgung in Seoul.
who built the Joseon Dynasty, and Jeonju in Jeollabuk-do Province, southwest of government has a policy of preserving Last November, Jeonju became the
Korea, has become the place where people are proud of Korean culture and arts. those remaining hanok, a source of seventh Korean city to be designated a
pride for the residents. “Jeonju is a place “slow city” by Cittaslow International.
where our basic necessities of life and It’s the first such city with more than
The hanok village in Jeonju, located traditional souvenirs. office. It can be really crazy. We’re trying traditional culture are all vividly alive,” 50,000 in population. In keeping with
in the southern province of Jeollabuk- “We’ve got about 20 people who our best to serve every single visitor.” said Song Ha-jin, mayor of Jeonju. “We the new designation, the city also offers
do Province, is not your average rural provide commentary on culture, and on The passion and pride of Jeonju will try to make sure Jeonju will duly a slew of slow traditional Korean food,
village. On a typical weekend, Koreans weekends, we have so many visitors that residents for their culture and art are represent Korean traditions and help including bibimbap. With so much
and foreign tourists easily mix, to a all of our guides are out on streets,” said beyond imagination. For instance, globalize Korean culture.” Hanji, or history and culture, time almost stands
point that it can be hard to tell if you’re Kang Chul-min of Jeonju’s municipal there is no admission fee to walk on traditional Korean paper, has helped still in Jeonju and its hanok village.
actually in Korea. They are immersed in tourist information center, who guided these broad streets with so much to turn Jeonju into one of the country’s If you want to discover Korea and its
cultural experiences and shopping for us through the village. “Look at our offer. Parking is also free. And street top art towns. The city’s clean water, traditions, don’t miss Jeonju.

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pen & brush

Finding hope in death


Is it futile to struggle against the Kwon Moo-hyoung’s imposing 180cm figure has been a
central feature of his photographs and drawings for the last
truth that all beings are born to grow
decade. The artist often appears in ethereal settings with a
old and die? Kwon Moo-hyoung stringy black beard and long braided hair.
confronts this essential human Kwon’s works explore the ever-changing flow of life and
question in his works. He has delved time. After many years of experimentation, Kwon decided to
into the meaning of life and death focus on primitive rather than modern themes and techniques.
through his paintings, installation Kwon began his career as an artist producing Western-
pieces, performances and photo- style paintings. As a student, Kwon painted mostly realistic
graphs. Throughout them all there is paintings. In his late twenties, Kwon moved to Paris and visited
line of hope, suggesting that life does every classic and modern art museum in Europe. However, he
secretly felt ashamed of his own art. He says that his own art
not just end at death.
during that time was just an imitation of preexisting artworks.
by Lee Se-mi | photographs by Park Jeong-roh
Every project he planned had already been completed by
someone else using better materials on a larger scale. With his
doubts mounting, Kwon thought of quitting painting. So he
put down his brush and picked up a camera. For a year, Kwon
traveled with his camera looking for ways he could transform
his art into something that was both meaningful and original.
When the year was up, Kwon decided to turn his career in a
completely new direction.
“I started thinking about ‘time,’” Kwon says. “When others
were working in horizontal compositions, I started working in
vertical compositions. I walked away from the high-tech era
and chose to go toward more primitive themes. I realized that
for art, one must research and investigate one’s whole lifetime
to dig deep and find meaning. I wasn’t interested in the high-
tech, nor did I have the ability to follow such methods.”
There was another benefit to Kwon’s new path. As a poor
student studying abroad, high-tech projects were out of his
budget. He confesses that during that period, “I could not
work on projects that used quality materials.” The restrictions
of Kwon’s approach opened new doors to him and helped
shape the primitive artworks he is so well known for today.

Recording the order of nature Kwon Moo-hyoung


© Kwon Moo-hyoung

Kwon Moo-hyoung
started to thicken his paints. This painting project began in
1998 and as more layers of paints were added, the paint started
Kwon Moo-hyoung’s work, Stairs of Life b (above). to grow thick, crack and fall off the canvas from its own

14 | korea | march 2011


new life. There is no such thing as death.” religion. His artworks hint at these grand themes through
Kwon’s obsession with the cycle of life and death comes subtle imagery that pushes viewers to see things not visible to
from a traumatic childhood experience. When he was a young the naked eye. In this way, he photographs the wind, gravity
boy, Kwon nearly died because his esophagus was blocked. He and even hope. People will think the wind is blowing if they
says that from that point on he pondered death. see Kwon’s photograph of a fluttering piece of cloth. An image
To help articulate his vision of rebirth, Kwon employs his of a conch leads viewers to think of the ocean.
own hair. He observed how humans accommodate the rules of Kwon uses his own body in photographs to suggest other
One of Kwon Moo-hyoung’s
most representative photo- nature into their lives, cutting their hair and nails as they grow, aspects of nature. In one photograph, his braided hair reaches
graphed work, Meditation
(left). Kwon showed an
for example. He found that painting alone was too limited to toward the sky and his stringy beard stretches downward,
impressive performance to the capture this idea, so he began to use photography and video. alluding to a tree’s branches and roots. Another image of
audience, using his hair as a
brush, at 798 Beijing Biennale It was at midnight, February 28, 1999, that Kwon started Kwon with an egg to his ear makes viewers imagine that he is
in 2009 (below). Exhibits from a new project by cutting his hair and beard. This meant, he listening to a pulse. In most of his pictures, the artist’s eyes are
PIP Festival 2009 (opposite).
says, a returning to nothingness and being born again. Kwon’s closed. Kwon says he does this to break people’s expectations
hair started to grow like new sprouts from the earth and he about portraits and allow them to think freely. “When I close
waited for his hair to grow so long it touched the ground. my eyes, people see everything,” he explains. “Don’t look at my
Kwon decided that this would be his cycle, and he cut his hair eyes but how I am in the picture.”
again. He recorded the process of his body changing. His hair Kwon’s projects all have a common thread. His works give
and beard grew, only later to become grey then white and viewers an opportunity to forget the hassles of daily life and
start falling out. His face started showing signs of age spots meditate. Kwon says that this meditation is less like that of
and wrinkles. Kwon describes this process as “a documentary ascetic practitioners and more like a form of relaxation. He
of life through my own image.” He has been working on this compares it to the relaxation one feels upon seeing black
project for the last 12 years and his hair is now 170cm long spaces in Asian paintings.
and touches his ankles. When his hair touches the ground, While Kwon’s works are considered Asian in Europe, Kwon
Kwon will cut his hair again. considers himself a citizen of earth and refuses to be confined
by the boundaries of one country or culture.
Meaning of existence For Kwon, the death of one’s body Kwon is currently affiliated with the French government
is not the end, but merely returning into a handful of earth and is well known in Europe, the United States, China, Japan,
from which new life is born. This is the hope and meaning of Brazil and New Zealand. He went to Paris in 1996 to study
existence. and acknowledging his exceptional talent, the government
While the artist’s works document the eternal cycle of birth, assigned him a permanent workshop in the 12th District.
death and rebirth, Kwon’s philosophy does not rest in any one In 1998, the artist held his first private exhibition at the
Pavillon de l’Arsenal gallery and in
2000 submitted works to numerous
weight. The project lasted more than10 years and the canvas paintings can be about circles but it also can be just dots. The international art fairs, including the
Kwon painted weighs more than 25kg. repetition of the action of painting starts to pile up. It is like Art Cologne art fair in Germany. In
Kwon drew billions of circles with his paint. From a distance writing a diary. As the wrinkles on a man are the trace of time, 2007, Kwon Moo-hyoung was an invited
the circles look like dots, from up close they become a plane a painting’s thickness and cracks are also the traces of time artist at the Contemporary Istanbul Art
and from an adequate distance they seem to be curved lines. for a painting. And sooner or later, the paint will fall off the Fair and was recognized as one of eight
Through the painting, Kwon expressed the never-ending cycle canvas. I call this an ‘out-of-body experience.’ I will paint until featured artists at the fair. Last year,
of nature with simple but symbolic circles. my body and spirit are separated from each other.” Kwon won the Film and Video Award at
For Kwon, circles have no start or end, like the cycle of However, Kwon says that if his work ends here he will the Pingyao International Photography
seasons. Just as autumn passes and winter sets in and spring feel empty. The paint that falls off will corrode and become (PIP) Festival.
afterwards, numerous circles overlap into a painting without a powder and return to its original state before once again Kwon is preparing for an invitational
anyone knowing when this cycle will end. The artist explains, becoming paint. private exhibition in Beijing this coming
© Kwon Moo-hyoung

“the boundaries of the canvas is the body and my action is “Paint falling off the canvas is not death,” Kwon says. “It is a June. Additionally, the artist is planning
the spirit. Many paintings that sell well are not important to return to nature. It is a lump of hope to be born again. It will to hold a workshop in Manhattan, New
me. What is important is that I draw until the day I die. My one day become paint again or it can become the fertilizer for York, this autumn.

16 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 17


people

The late Father John Lee spent


the second half of his life in
Sudan, as a priest and doctor,
to help those suffering from
poverty and illness (right,
below, bottom). A documentary
film, Don’t Cry for Me Sudan,
reflects on Father Lee’s noble
life and has touched many
Koreans’ hearts (opposite).

Koreans recently became aware of Father Lee’s remarkable


story through the documentary film, Don’t Cry for Me Sudan.
The film was released last September, and 400,000 people
have seen the film in theaters so far. While it was originally
screened in five theaters around Seoul, more than 60 theaters
across the country have agreed to show the documentary.
The film’s audience has expanded from Catholics to the
nonreligious, everyone from students to government officials.

© The Sudan Youth Education Foundation (top, middle, opposite); Mountain Pictures (bottom)
Group trips to see the film arranged by government bodies

The late Father John Lee as well as enterprises have added fuel to Father Lee’s growing
popularity in Korea. Father Lee explains in the film, Don’t

Miracle of Love
Cry for Me Sudan, why he chose to dedicate his life to serving
those in Africa.
“I am often asked why I went all the way to Africa when
I can help many with medicine and there are so many poor
people in Korea, too. There is no special reason. It’s just that
there is this noble duty that affected my life: the words of
Tonj is a small village in Sudan. In this land, scarred by a brutal civil war, there was a man who Jesus, who said whatever you did for one of the least, you did
dedicated everything he had to help others. His name was Father John Lee, or Lee Tae-seok for him; Doctor Albert Schweitzer who gave up everything
(1962-2010) in Korean, and he passed away on January 14, 2010, at the young age of 48, after to dedicate his life to Africa; the devoted lives of fathers and
spending a year fighting cancer. Father Lee served as a priest, doctor, architect and conductor, sisters I witnessed at an orphanage near my house as a young
boy; and most of all the honorable life of my mother who
but more than anything he was a trusted neighbor to the people of Tonj. Though he is no longer
sacrificed her life for my 10 siblings. These are the beautiful
with us, the love he showed throughout his life lives on in the hearts of many. by Lee Se-mi scenes that moved my heart.”

18 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 19


Lee’s work felt throughout Korea Father Lee even helped out with the education program by teaching a
graduated from medical school. Yet instead of beginning a mathematics course to middle school seniors and high school
promising career as a doctor, Lee decided to become a priest. freshmen. The children of Tonj were excited to learn. While
While studying at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, there weren’t enough desks or chairs for the 120 high school
Lee took part in a voluntary program in Nairobi, Kenya. There seniors that filled one class, students willingly shared desks or
he met the Indian priest, Father James, who had been working stood in order to learn. Around 150 students who came from
in southern Sudan for two decades and Father Lee decided villages far away would stay at the dormitory set up near the
that he, too, would work in Sudan. In November 2001, Father school to concentrate on their education.
John volunteered as the first Korean priest to work in Africa. Father Lee was also talented in music. He had already
Father Lee proved to be a charismatic figure that Koreans begun composing when he was in middle school. Throughout
could rally around. His book Will You Be My Friend, published medical school and priesthood, music stayed with him. In
in June 2009 when he was fighting cancer, is a best-selling 2005 when Sudan signed a peace treaty putting an end to the
book in Korea. The book touchingly describes the days of civil war, he wrote a song titled “Shukuran Baba” or “Thank
poverty and pain he spent together with the people of Tonj, you God.” Then he formed a brass band, believing that the
and is the only book Father Lee wrote. Fans of Father Lee children who had their hearts broken by the long war would
who read his book and saw the documentary about his life fill be filled with joy and hope once they learned music. He selected
Internet forums with praise. 35 musically talented children, taught them instruments, wrote
The first thing Father Lee did upon arriving in Tonj was take
care of the ill. As he was the only doctor in Tonj, people would
walk as far as 100km to meet him. He saw an average of 300
patients per day. The lights of the hospital in Tonj would never
go off. Father Lee poured his heart into serving the ill, and
refused to turn away patients regardless of the time of day.
There was no electricity in Tonj when Father Lee arrived,
so to protect the vaccines that needed to be kept cold, he
installed solar panels on the roof of the hospital and bought
refrigerators. In order to administer to patients living in
remote villages, Father Lee kept vaccines in a portable icebox
and visited his patients in their homes once a week. When
Father Lee made a trip to a village built for those with Hansen’s scores and dressed them up in uniforms sent from Korea. The Three students from Tonj came to Korea to study medicine
disease, more commonly known as leprosy, he threw himself image of the children holding the instruments as they once and agricultural technology, giving organizations hope to
into helping the villagers. The village was far from Tonj in a held guns was striking. It was the first brass band in southern implement a regular study abroad program for Tonj students.
place where most Sudanese avoided for fear of getting sick. The late Father John Lee especially cared for the children of Tonj Sudan, and the government frequently invited the children to The village has seen more volunteers recently, and beginning

© The Sudan Youth Education Foundation (above); Mountain Pictures (left, opposite)
village and concentrated on their education (above, opposite).
Father Lee built the villagers brick houses, set up water pump He also built schools and even formed a brass band using his musical official events. at the end of February a new doctor will arrive to resume
talents (below). medical services.
facilities and gave them specially made shoes that fit their
toeless feet, decorated with pictures he designed himself. Love is Sharing The Sudan Youth Education Foundation, When Father Lee came to Korea at the end of 2008 for
Father Lee’s selfless life is breaking down religious barriers a group that sponsored Father Lee’s works during his lifetime, a short visit, he was diagnosed with terminal colorectal
in Korea today. Last January, at the Memorial Hall for the has continued the projects that he started in Sudan. While cancer and could never return to Tonj. Even on his sickbed,
History and Culture of Korean Buddhism at Jogyesa Temple, the foundation had 800 supporters at the time of Father Lee’s Father Lee missed and worried about the children of Tonj.
the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, death, they now have more than 4,000. Members of their web Throughout his illness, Father Lee stayed positive and was
more than 200 religious leaders, including Head Ven. Jaseung community have gone from 2,000 to 18,000. During the same never seen without a smile on his face. Right after he was
and Buddhist priests, as well as those belonging to Christian, period, donations to the organization more than doubled. diagnosed, he played the guitar and sang at a charity concert.
Confucius and Chondogyo groups, gathered together to watch Improvements to Tonj and its surrounding villages have His last words summed up his life philosophy: “Everything
the movie and discuss the true role of religion. continued energetically. The construction of Don Bosco High is good.” Father Lee dedicated his life to helping the most
Father Lee has left a lasting legacy on Tonj’s schools. He School was recently finished through the linking of three disadvantaged. His belief that everyone can help a neighbor
built schools in the village and then brought in experienced shipping containers. With more material support, stationary gives Koreans hope that we will see more people follow his
teachers from Kenya to instruct the children. Father Lee and hospital equipment have been secured in larger quantities. path of compassion in the future.

20 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 21


great korean

Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon in early 1792. He used a device


of his own invention called a geojunggi, a type of pulley, to help
construct the fortress. Jeong became a secret royal inspector in
Gyeonggi-do Province in 1794, investigating the misconduct
of other government officials. This experience awoke Jeong to
the large scale of corruption in the government bureaucracy
and may have inspired some of his later writing on the proper
roles of government.

Jeong Yak-yong While King Jeongjo protected Jeong from political rivals
who disliked the philosopher’s investigations into corruption,
the king’s successors were not as kind. When King Sunjo
A showroom of Dasan Cultural Hall (above left). The entrance of the
Museum of Silhak (above right). One of Jeong’s works, Suwon Hwaseong
fortress (below). Jeong’s statue at his birthplace in Namyangju (opposite).

The Joseon and Queen Jeongsun seized power, they sought to get rid of
reformers like Jeong. He was exiled to Gangjin, Jeollanam- his books on the art of governing, Mokminsimseo or The Mind

Dynasty’s Social
do Province, for 18 years. During that period, Jeong lived in of Governing the People and Gyeongseyupyo or Design for Good
poverty and studied the plight of rural Koreans. His writing Government, were written during this period.
during this time covered everything from land systems and Jeong was pardoned by King Sunjo in 1819, but his health

Reformer political structure reforms to the fairer distribution of wealth


and abolition of the social hierarchy system.
In keeping with the Silhak philosophy, Jeong asked how
had suffered from his years of exile. He died in 1836 in his
hometown, Namyangju.
Even today, Jeong is revered as an ideal Korean bureaucrat.
As a leader of Silhak, or Realist School of Confucianism could be applied to solve the problems of He was a brilliant inventor who introduced baedari, a bridge
Confucianism, Jeong Yak-yong became one of poverty. He concluded that the government should play a made of many boats, and the geojunggi pulley, and he was an
the greatest social reformers in Korean history. major role in improving the lives of the poor. In his writing, upright politician. While Jeong was unable to see his vision
Jeong blended the traditional values of Jeong stressed the importance of a fair governor who of a fair and responsible government materialize during the
maintains his integrity during every official action. Jeong’s Joseon Dynasty, he never stopped believing in the egalitarian
Confucianism with a philosophy to find
important work on jurisprudence, Heumheumsinseo, as well as principles found throughout his writings.
solutions to real-world problems. Through
Silhak, he introduced technologies for Korea’s
modernization. by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Kim Nam-heon
INSIDE THE ARTICLE

Jeong Yak-yong as a master of Silhak


Most Koreans have heard of Jeong Yak-yong. He was a Catholicism. While Jeong’s new religion helped shape his
prominent philosopher during the Joseon Dynasty, which later work with the Silhak Movement, the conversion created Silhak was a Korean Confucian social reform movement in
united Korea under one ruler and propagated Confucian problems for him with the government. The government the late Joseon Dynasty. It developed in response to the
increasingly metaphysical nature of Neo-Confucianism that
ideals throughout the country. But what many people don’t repressed freedom of religion and discriminated against seemed disconnected from the rapid agricultural, industrial
realize is the critical role of Jeong played in modernizing Catholics in particular. While Jeong was appointed the and political changes that occurred in Korea between the late
the peninsula. governmental positions of Gajuseo and Geomyeol in a row, he 17th and early 19th centuries. At the age of 28, Jeong
suggested that boats could be strung together to form a
Jeong Yak-yong was born in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do was exiled to the small town of Haemi not long after receiving pontoon, and when he was 31 years old, he discovered the
Province, as his family’s fourth son. From a young age, he these posts. King Jeongjo took pity on Jeong, however, and he principle of the pulley while building the fortress wall in
© Tasan Cultural Foundation (above); Topic Photo (right)

devoured the books of his family’s library and showed a was able to return to court after only ten days of exile. Suwon. He was also interested in an early form of vaccination
and his books carry notes on inoculation. Most of the Silhak
remarkable talent for writing. Jeong passed gwageo, or civil In the late 18th century, Koreans became interested in scholars were from factions excluded from power and other
service examination, in 1783, and served the government in using scientific methods to help improve public welfare. The disaffected scholars calling for reform. Jeong was the most
various capacities for the rest of his life. His first post was as Silhak Movement arose as philosophers like Jeong tried to renowned Silhak scholar and his pen name, Dasan, remains
synonymous with the movement. He advocated for an
the Gyeongui Jinsa to give a lecture in the Royal presence. blend Western concepts and philosophies with the dominant empirical Confucianism deeply concerned with human
In the next year, he became interested in Western ideas and ideology of the day, Confucianism. Under his pen name, society at the practical level. He argued for reforming the
Roman Catholicism through one of the founding fathers Dasan, Jeong published numerous books that explained and rigid Confucian social structure, land reforms to relieve the
plight of peasant farmers, redefining the traditional
of the Catholic church in Korea, Yi Byeok. Jeong and his applied Silhak to everyday life. relationship with China, promoting Korea’s own national
brothers were among the earliest Korean converts to Roman Jeong was appointed to supervise the construction of identity and culture, encouraging the study of science.

22 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 23


my korea

When I arrived in Korea for the first time in the spring of drops a shot glass of booze (usually a hard liquor or liqueur)
2009, some cultural aspects seemed very foreign and unusual into a larger glass of something else (normally beer) before
to me, though others, while still different, felt very familiar. chugging it down as quickly as possible. In Canada, it’s almost
It had been only three years since I had graduated from always consumed by a group of people simultaneously – unless
college, during which I had learned about a lot more than you happen to be the loser of a drinking game – as part of an
just journalism. I had lived in something of a fraternity, evening of merriment.

Poktanju:
and while it wasn’t exactly Animal House, we explored the It wasn’t something my friends and I did that often, but
various creative manners in which to consume alcohol when we did, we all knew what kind of night it was going
like it was our job. Be it Boilermakers (beer with a shot of to be. When I would be scraping myself out of bed the next
whisky) or Jagerbombs (beer with a shot of Jagermeister) morning, feeling the agony of too much drink the night before,

Getting
or, on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Car Bombs (Irish cream and it wasn’t uncommon for me to think to myself, “I never should
whisky dropped into a pint of Guinness), I was already well have had that bomb shot. It all went wrong after that.”
acquainted with bomb shots upon my arrival in Seoul. Little did I know that in Korea, bomb shots are not just
A bomb shot, for those who are unfamiliar, is when one a “sometimes drink” but a significant part of the drinking

Bombed
Korean
STYLE Knocking back a glass of beer with a shot
of soju or whisky in it might seem like a good
way to get tipsy quickly. But the Korean bomb
shot, called poktanju (literally, bomb alcohol),
is a central part of Korean communal
drinking culture. The traditions and
customs that go along with drinking
poktanju help colleagues bond
while getting bombed. Foreigners might
find the poktanju ritual daunting at first,
but it offers a great opportunity to
get to know your coworkers in a
laid-back atmosphere.
“One shot!”

24 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 25


was just about to sink. Once he had prepared known for their consumption of vodka, Germans for their love Korea, it’s quite common for companies to hold retreats, where
two glasses, he handed them out to the of giant mugs of beer. But if there is one thing that separates the staff goes away for a few days to a hotel or resort under the
first two victims. Korea’s drinking culture from all others, it’s speed. auspices of Membership Training. In many cases these MT
They stood up and promptly Koreans may not be the world’s biggest drinkers, but they retreats are less about professional development and more
downed these little cocktails in may well be the fastest. about the bonding experience with your fellow coworkers. As
“one shot,” to light applause. Perhaps it’s because of the famed ppali, ppali (hurry, hurry) you might expect, poktanju serves as a catalyst.
Those same two beer glasses mentality that predominates here, but at happy hour (or even On one company outing, at the end of the day, we gathered
and two shot glasses were then lunchtime), the soju flows fast and easy. I learned very quickly in one big hotel room. We played a game where we all took
refilled for the next people. that in this environment, an empty glass rarely stays empty for turns singing a solo for the room. When it was my turn, I was
Two-by-two, everyone took long. It’s customary for someone to give you a refill as soon as handed a cup of beer and soju and was told it was my turn
his or her turn. they notice you’ve consumed it all. It doesn’t take long until to sing. As was the custom, I downed my poktanju in “one
Sitting at that long table you begin to spot “bombed” office workers heading for home, shot” and launched into my own rendition of Hotel California.
of newspaper journalists, perhaps destined to fall asleep on the subway, awakening only Then it was my turn to mix a drink and hand it off to the
there were a few distinct after they’ve completed a round trip on subway line No. 2, as a next vocalist. It was a great night, but fast forward to the next
groups: those for whom friend of mine once did. morning and the whole occasion seemed a lot less joyous.
downing a few poktanju Because soju is so cheap and ubiquitous, it is the most But back on that spring day in 2009 when I had my first
meant just another day at common liquor used in poktanju. But it can also be a whisky taste of Korean bomb shots, we ate galbi (roasted ribs of pork
the office, so to speak; those and beer mix. I’ve always been puzzled by the practice of or beef) and drank many more poktanju at the urging of my
who recoil in disgust when the dropping an expensive fine whisky into a glass of beer. It seems boss. By the end of the evening, he told me he was proud of
glass is handed to them, dreading like such a waste of a quality liquor to dilute its taste in beer. me, and assured me that I’d do just fine in Korea. I felt good
each and every time it’s their Some dispense with the placing of the shot glass in the beer about that, although by the next morning I wondered whether
turn to drink and the attention and glass, and simply mix the two together, a drink referred to as all those bomb shots were really such a good idea.
embarrassment they will face if they somaek if it’s made with soju. While some disagree, I feel that Korean drinking culture can be a little complex for some,
refuse; and those who can’t wait for it to be adding a little soju to beer makes it taste a little better. While especially when it comes to drinking with colleagues. From the
their turn again. Korean beer is refreshing and crisp, it’s also quite plain. way you hold your glass, to the way you touch glasses during
culture. In my first job in Korea, I worked at a newspaper, When it came to me, I was anxious to give it a It’s been my experience that bomb shots, ironically, are not cheers, to who gets to pour the drinks for who, it can be a
where I quickly learned about a corporate culture that try. Along with one of my foreign colleagues, we rose and that popular among university students, even though a similar lot to remember. But these traditions for me make it a little
promoted evenings of drinking as staff bonding experiences knocked them back, and I gave the glass a little shake to show communal drinking culture does exist. Some student friends more interesting. All over the world, people gather together
where sobriety is sacrificed in the name of camaraderie. And I’d drank it all. I know many foreigners who dread the taste of mine introduced me to a drinking game called Titanic, and drink to get to know each other a little better. Through
there are few quicker ways to sacrifice sobriety than drinking of soju. But this, I thought to myself, was really good! Truly, a where each person takes turns pouring soju into a shot glass experiencing the poktanju culture, I did a lot more than just
poktanju (literally, bomb alcohol). cultural experience I could embrace wholeheartedly. floating in a glass of beer. The one who sinks it, must drink it. get bombed. I became a little closer with my colleagues and
The first time I encountered the Korean version of a The poktanju ritual, where everyone takes his or her While in North America, institutions of higher learning are gained some insight into the Korean way of life. by Matt
Boilermaker was after a company soccer game, when the boss turn drinking from the same glass, is central to the Korean the centers of this type of drinking activity, the poktanju ritual Flemming | illustrations by Jo Seung-yeon | photograph by Park
took everyone out for barbecue, despite our outfit’s loss at the communal drinking culture. The boss, or the most senior seems to be most common among office workers here. In Jeong-roh
hands of a rival media company. person at the table, has bottle rights, which means he or she
While some Korean bosses can be very conservative and will be the one pouring the drinks for everyone (except him
traditional, their serious demeanor often disappears the or herself, of course). But with great bottle rights come great
moment they leave the office. bottle responsibility: to ensure everyone at the table is on their
My boss at that time, who on any given work day wore a way toward intoxication, whether they like it or not. PROFILE
dour expression of disappointment, was in his element sitting And really, getting drunk as fast as possible is what a bomb
at the middle of the table, happily handing out drinks to one shot is all about. For us Canadian beer drinkers, we might Matt Flemming is Canadian who
has been living in Seoul for almost
and all like it was Christmas Day. Immediately after we sat have a Boilermaker on a special occasion like a birthday or a
two years. He is currently the
down, bottles of soju and beer arrived at our table and the going-away party. But visit a busy hof or barbecue restaurant in English editor of MorningCalm,
fun began. central Seoul around quitting time and you’ll see that poktanju the in-flight magazine for Korean
Air. He enjoys exploring Seoul,
I watched as he took a small beer glass and filled it halfway, needs no special occasion.
indulging in delicious Korean
then half-filled a shot glass with soju. He then floated the shot Many countries’ drinking habits and traditions play a big cuisine and playing ball hockey
glass inside the beer glass and topped it off with soju until it role in the nation’s overall cultural reputation. Russians are near Olympic Stadium.

26 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 27


seoul

Situated on the border of the Jongno-gu and Jung-gu districts, blight in the area was to completely cover the stream.
Cheonggyecheon Stream is a tourist attraction and a resting Construction began in 1958, and by 1970 Cheonggyecheon
place for citizens. Nearly every week of the year, people gather Stream was hidden under an overpass. In the 1990s, the area
along the stream for various cultural festivities and events. The was a hotbed of noise, automobile exhaust fumes and traffic
stream’s modern form is the result of the Cheonggyecheon congestion with the gathering of large and small shopping
Stream Renovation Project that took place between September districts specializing in tools, printing and lighting. Finally, in
2005 and July 2007. The project was led by then-mayor of 2003, the Cheonggyecheon Stream Renovation Project was
Seoul, Lee Myung-bak. The 6km-long, newly renovated stream implemented to create a green center, leaving behind the area’s
begins at the Dong-a Ilbo building in Gwanghwamun and polluted past.
flows to the Sindap railway bridge in Seongdong-gu District.
Cheonggyecheon Stream was called Gaecheon during the new paradigm for eco cities The Cheonggyecheon
Joseon Dynasty. Gaecheon means to “dig a stream,” indicating Stream Renovation Project helped spark an interest in the
that the stream was modified to meet the requirements of environment in Seoul and was the city’s first step toward
everyday life. The stream was originally a natural watercourse becoming an eco city. Since the renovation project, other
that formed where water gathered in the center of Seoul from waterways in the Seoul metropolitan area have seen
the mountains surrounding the city. Consequently, heavy revitalization projects including the Seongbukcheon,
rains would cause flooding in the area, damaging surrounding Jeongneungcheon and Hongjecheon streams. Such stream-
houses. Due to continuous damage in the area, King Taejong, based urban environment renovation projects have become
the third king of the Joseon Dynasty, started to structurally models for other cities like Tokyo and Osaka, who are
maintain Gaecheon. interested in making their metropolises more eco-friendly.
While Taejong confined his renovations to the stream’s Cheonggyecheon Stream is a leading tourist destination in
main channel, his successor, King Sejong the Great, worked to Seoul today. The banks are filled with plazas and parks that
control the stream’s sub-branches. All the small tributaries that feature landscape architecture, fountains and special lights
flowed into Gaecheon were renovated and supyo, or pillar with that give the stream a different feel at night. The trails on each
gradations to measure water levels, was installed in Gaecheon bank of Cheonggyecheon Stream are perfect for tourists,
to prevent flooding. King Yeongjo renovated the stream because they connect popular sites such as Gwanghwamun,

Cheonggyecheon Stream
further by piling rocks on the banks and altering its flow so Jongno, Insadong, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun. Visitors
that it went in a straight path. to the stream can eat at a variety of nearby restaurants or

600 years of Seoul


The name Cheonggyecheon Stream, which means “clear immerse themselves in one of Seoul’s oldest and most famous
flowing stream,” first appeared during the Japanese colonial traditional markets, Gwangjang Market.
rule. Presumably, the stream got its name in 1914 when Japan The Cheonggyecheon Stream of Korea’s past, where children

history
renamed all the streams. Following the 1945 liberation from would swim and nobles would gather, no longer exists. But
Japanese rule and the end of the Korean War in 1953, the the stream is slowly collecting new memories from its visitors.
Cheonggyecheon Stream area became the slums of Seoul. The Five years have passed since the renovation project and the
government decided that the only solution to the economic future of the Cheonggyecheon Stream area is bright.

Cheonggyecheon Stream served as a political


© Korea Tourism Organization (left, opposite bottom left, middle)
center for the monarchy as well as a place
where people made their livelihoods and
celebrated special events during the Joseon
Dynasty. After being covered by a highway
overpass, the stream found new life through a
2005 renovation project. Today,
Cheonggyecheon Stream is flowing in the
heart of Seoul and once again breathing life
into the city. by Lee Se-mi | photographs by Kim Hong-jin Cheonggyecheon Stream is not just a stream itself, but also a stage for many cultural events (above left, middle, opposite top). A view of the scenery near the
starting point of Cheonggyecheon Stream (opposite bottom). Walking along Cheonggyecheon, you can encounter Gwangjang Market (above right).

28 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 29


travel

Jeungdo Island
Time Runs Slowly Here
Just as it takes a certain amount of time for it to turn from winter to spring,
the Cittaslow movement believes that there is a proper pace to human lives.
The movement designates places around the world as “slow cities,” where
traditional ways of living are valued. A journey to Korea’s slow area of
Jeungdo Island is a vacation from the fast lane and a chance to return to the
natural speed of our body and soul. by Seo Dong-cheol | photographs by Kim Hong-jin

© Korea Tourism Organization

A sunrise at Ujeon-ri, Jeungdo Island


Time always flows at a certain speed. Yet in the global spotlight in 1975. In that sea fish belonging to the Goby family, travel information
the way people experience that time can year, a fisherman accidentally fished up mudskippers use their pectoral fins to
vary widely. If you’re very busy, you’ll celadon pottery from the ocean, which walk across the land. If you walk along transportation
find that a month or even a year has led to a large-scale excavation project. the 470m long Jjangttungeo (meaning
Train Take the KTX or Saemaul trains at
flown by without you noticing it. You Treasures that had been buried beneath mudskipper in Korean) Bridge that cuts Yongsan Station in Seoul to get to Gwangju
Seoul
might grab a cab to get to work instead the sea for several hundred years once across the middle of the intertidal zone, or Mokpo. Transfer to an intercity bus bound for
of walking, and you might eat fast- again saw the light of day. Between 1976 you see the mudskippers hopping along Jeungdo Island.
Bus Take an express bus from Central City
food or a candy bar instead of a proper and 1984, as many as 28,000 Chinese the mud. Between the mudskippers and Terminal in Seoul to Gwangju or Mokpo Bus
dinner. Your idea of a break might be artifacts dating back to the Song and the millions of other living creatures Terminal and take an intercity bus to Jeungdo Island. Jeungdo Gwangju
having a cup of instant coffee and some Yuan dynasties were salvaged. squirming in the mud, the intertidal For more information, visit http://eng.shinan.go.kr.
Car Take Seohaean Expressway and head Mokpo
cookies from a cafe chain. While Jeungdo Island is no longer zone looks like a living creature moving south until Hampyeong Junction to take the
The Cittaslow movement rejects life digging up jewels from the ocean, the this way and that. Gwangju-Muan Expressway. Exit through Bukmuan
in the fast lane in favor of slow living. island is still a treasure. Jeungdo Island If you cross the bridge and continue IC and head toward Saokdo on Route 24. Then cross
Jeungdo Island Bridge.
In its designated “slow cities,” you can is home to salt fields that produce walking along Ujeon Beach, you’ll come
taste dishes made from organic seasonal high-quality bay salt, restaurants that upon Jeungdo Mudflats Eco Exhibition Dining
ingredients that have been prepared cook fresh and healthy slow food and Hall on your left, standing in front of the
Salt Restaurant Located next to the Salt Cave Healing Center, Salt Restaurant serves
with a care that takes time. In a slow city, residents that are kind and welcoming. El Dorado Resort. The hall hosts a well- traditional Korean dishes that are foreigner-friendly. All dishes are seasoned with bay salt
people work and rest according to the organized exhibit showing how mudflats and glasswort, making them tasty as well as healthy. Glasswort is a type of plant known to be
Pine trees thrive
sunrise and sunset. While it may sound just beyond are formed, the vast ecosystem of effective in preventing high blood pressure and diabetes and is also rich in dietary fiber that helps
Ujeon Beach, fight obesity. The menu includes roast fish, glasswort chicken fries with sweet sauce, glasswort
old fashioned, local culture thrives in providing a
mudflats and what mudflats in different minced meat and more. For more information, call +82 [0]61 261 2277.
such cities. perfect trail parts of the world look like.
(above). A
The Cittaslow movement began in farmer makes Along with a rich ecosystem, the Lodging
the small Tuscany village of Greve in salt at a island is home to Taepyeong Salt Farm,
Taepyeong bay El Dorado Resort The El Dorado Resort sits on the hills of Ujeon Beach. This 121-room,
Chianti, Italy, in October 1999. Started (right). You can which produces bay salt. Formed in elegant resort will make you feel like you‘re in a private villa. In keeping with the island’s
experience
as a slow food campaign, the movement some of the 1953, the farm sits in the middle of the eco-friendly spirit, greens are found in every corner of the resort grounds. El Dorado also features
Ocean Spa Land, with its salt cavern, germanium hot spa, seawater spa and massage facilities.
soon spread throughout Europe effects of salt at island and farmers harvest salt from For more information, call +82 1544 8865, or visit www.eldoradoresort.co.kr.
the Salt Cave
and then the globe. In December Healing Center the lake the same way they have been
(below).
2007, the Cittaslow Organization doing for almost 60 years now. It is
accepted Jeungdo Island (Sinan-gun Korea’s largest salt lake and every year
County), Changpyeong-myeon Village 16,000 tons of bay salt are produced
(Damyang-gun County), Cheongsando the art of being slow When you in the wind and sun. Climb up to the
Island (Wando-gun County), Agyang- cross Jeungdo Island Bridge, the first salt field observatory on the eastern
myeon Village (Hadong-gun County), thing that comes into view is the vast part of the island and the 300m-wide
Daeheung-myeon and Eungbong- intertidal zone. The mudflats lining the field will come into view. More than
El Dorado Resort Ugeojitguk soup Tteok-galbi ribs
myeon villages (Yesan-gun County), southwest coastal lines of the Korean 60 salt storage units stand next to the
Jeonju Hanok Village (Jeonju City) Peninsula are a biological treasure shimmering field, creating an exotic
and Yuchi-myeon Village (Jangheung- trove. In particular, the coasts of Sinan- scene you will find nowhere else. months to a year to dry out. Once the You don’t just have to eat to benefit
gun County) as slow cities of Korea. gun County teem with sea life such as Jeungdo Island’s bay salt is different salt is dry, farmers harvest the salt for from Taepyeong’s gorgeous bay salt. The
Korea was the first country in Asia to fish, crabs, clams and octopus as well from the common refined salt that is consumption. Salt Cave Healing Center, located next
have designated slow cities. Since then, as countless seashore plants including produced by electrolyzing seawater. Bay salt only accounts for 2% of to the Salt Museum on the eastern side
Agyang-myeon Village (Hadong-gun glassworts, sweetbriers and more. The bay salt is truly a “slow food” as it is the world’s salt production and it is of the island, gives visitors a really good
© Korea Tourism Organization (middle)

County) and Daeheung-myeon (Yesan- UNESCO recognized the island’s unique created with assistance from the wind, currently produced in Australia, Peru, chance to improve their health through
gun County) were added to the list, intertidal ecosystem and designated it a sunlight and human labor. It takes about China, France and Austria among other inhaling small particles of salt. The
indisputably making Korea a leader of biodiversity conservation area. a month for seawater in the field to turn places. Jeungdo Island’s mineral-rich anion and micro salt emitted by bay salt
slow cities in Asia. The wide intertidal zone that into salt. As salt crystals flower on the ocean water and intertidal zone makes is known to heal asthma, bronchitis, and
One of these slow cities, Sinan-gun stretches across the west coast of the surface of the field, they are raked into a Taepyeong’s bay salt some of the best in even psychological conditions such as
County’s Jeungdo Island, was first put island is famous for mudskippers. A storage house where they will sit for six the world. depression.

32 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 33


special issue

riding
men’s 5,000m and the gold medal in the men’s 10,000m at the
Vancouver Olympics, a first for an Asian speed skater. At this

high in
year’s Winter Asian Games, Lee won gold medals in the men’s
5,000m and 10,000m races. He grabbed his third gold medal

winter
of the games in the mass start race, which made its debut as a
competition this year in the Asian Games. Lee went down in
history as the first male speed skater to complete the feat.
In ladies’ speed skating, Noh Seon-yeong rose from

sports
obscurity to snag two gold medals in the mass start and team
pursuit competitions. In the ladies’ 5,000m, Park Do-young
won the silver medal, rounding out Korea’s skating success.
Mo Tae-bum and Lee Sang-hwa surprised the world by
finishing first in the men’s and ladies’ 500m speed skating
competitions, respectively, to win gold medals at the
Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. While they both were
recovering from injuries and not in top form at the Asian
Games, Mo took home silver medals in the men’s 1,500m and
team pursuit competitions while Lee won the bronze medal in Kwak Min-jeong, bronze medalist in ladies’ figure skating, performs (above
left). Skaters who won a gold medal in speed skating ladies’ team pursuit
the ladies’ 500m competition. carry the Korean flags after their winning race (above right). Lee Seung-
hoon celebrates his gold medal (opposite top). Kim Sun-joo won two gold
Veteran skater Lee Kyou-hyuk, who took part in five Winter medals in the 7th Asian Winter Games (opposite bottom).
Olympic Games, won the bronze medal in the men’s 1,500m
and took the silver medal in the men’s team pursuit at this
year’s Asian Games. Lee was recognized as a champion short- Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games, both Cho Ha-ri and
distance skater this January after winning gold medals for Park Seung-hi took home gold medals at the Asian Games.
two straight years at the World Sprint Championship, held
this year in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. Lee has won a Remarkable Advancement in the Skiing Event While
total of four gold medals (2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011) at the Korea has not traditionally excelled in skiing events, the
Once again, Korea has proven that its success at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games last year
championship. He and three other athletes who have each country won four gold medals in the Asian Winter Games at
was not a fluke. Korea ranked third by winning 13 gold medals, 12 silver medals and 13 bronze won four gold medals at the championship share the honor of Astana-Almaty. Kim Sun-joo became Korea’s first female skier
medals in the 7th Asian Winter Games in Astana-Almaty, held from January 30 through February taking home the second most gold medals in the history of the to win two gold medals in the Asian Games by finishing first
6. Korean skaters won nine medals in ice sports, while in the skiing competition Korea won four championship. in the downhill and super giant slalom events. Rookie Jung
gold medals, the most ever in a single sport in the history of Korean sports. by Kim Hyeon-jin While “Queen” Kim Yu-na was too busy preparing for this Dong-hyun won the gold in the super combined.
March’s World Figure Skating Championship in Tokyo to take Lee Chae-won showed great potential by winning Korea’s
part in the Asian Games, Korea’s Kwak Min-jeong took the first gold medal in the ladies’ cross-country event in the Asian
Korean athletes have been lauded for their competitiveness bronze medal in Astana-Almaty. Kwak is rising as a star figure Games. The Korea Ski Jump Team won the precious bronze
in winter short track events, but it wasn’t until the Vancouver skater, and she is expected to follow Kim Yu-na’s success. medal in the large hill K125 group competition, as well.
Winter Olympic Games that the world saw just how versatile Kwak’s medal is Korea’s second medal in the figure skating Thanks to Korea’s efforts to bring the Winter Olympic Games
the country’s winter athletes could be. Last year, Korean event and Korea’s first in the single figure skating event in the to Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Province, more and more
competitors won gold medals in speed skating, figure skating history of the Winter Asian Games. Koreans are interested in winter sports. The government has
and short track at the Olympic Games. In the Astana-Almaty In the short track events, where Korea has traditionally also been improving Korea’s winter sports infrastructure and
Winter Asian Games, Korea continued its balanced growth excelled, Korea grabbed four gold medals at the Asian Games. providing more support for athletes, which has translated into
by winning five gold medals in speed skating and four gold Noh Jin-kyu took home two of those gold medals, one for the better performances in international competitions.
medals in short track. men’s 1,500m and one for the men’s relay. Noh is the brother Korea is in the midst of its third bid to host the Winter
© Yonhap News Agency

Lee Seung-hoon, a world-class speed skater, took home of speed skater Noh Seon-yeong, and the siblings set a new Olympics in Pyeongchang, this time for the 2018 Games.
three out of five of Korea’s gold medals. Lee changed his record at the Asian Games for winning a combined four gold While the country was disappointed in its previous failed bids,
specialty from short track skating to speed skating in August medals at the games. While Korea had not won any gold Koreans are more optimistic than ever about their chances of
2009. Just seven months later, Lee won the silver medal in the medals for ladies’ short track competitions since the 1994 hosting the global winter sports festival.

34 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 35


now in korea

One of Korean telecommunications and mobile phone operator, LG Uplus, launched SNS service apps “placebook” and “Wagle” in January (above).

As more and more people buy smartphones, social network services (SNS) are
revolutionizing the way we interact with others. Applications like Facebook mobile keep
people connected 24 hours a day and are used throughout the world. But as one of the
leading countries in the IT sector, Korea’s take on the SNS revolution has been different.

Homegrown Korean companies have released their own, homegrown answers to Twitter and Facebook.
And they’re finding success in the country’s mobile market. by Seo Dong-cheol

SNS in the © (clockwise from top left) Daum Communications ; SK Telecom; Kakao
Last month, Kim Hyeon-woo, a resident of Sillim-dong in program, and Me2day, a micro blog service, I felt that I was in

Limelight
Seoul, bought a new smartphone. Kim’s previous phone a new world.”
was still functional and new enough that he had to pay a Mun Eun-jin, an employee at TDK Korea, has changed the
cancellation fee because he got rid of his old phone before way she talks with friends after purchasing a smartphone. Mun
his contract was finished. But Kim couldn’t wait to buy a says she now communicates with her friends mostly through
smartphone any longer. He was starting to feel out of date, KakaoTalk, as most of them also have smartphones.
seeing his friends and colleagues build networks through SNS “I have seldom used SMS [Short Message Service] since
© Yonhap News Agency

and communicate with their friends anytime and anywhere getting a smartphone,” Mun explains. “I like it, as I can send
with their sleek, new smartphones. photos or videos free of charge.”
“Smartphones have a lot of functions. But I bought one to She adds, “A big benefit is the fact that I can talk to multiple
use SNS,” Kim said. “While using KakaoTalk, a free messenger people without a computer.” For example, when Mun made

36 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 37


travel plans with five friends, she invited all of them to The Strengths of Korean SNS The number of smartphone 1.2 million people sign up for KakaoTalk every month. Thanks Me2day the competitive edge they need in the SNS market.
KakaoTalk and they easily decided the schedule and course users in Korea surpassed 7 million at the end of 2010 and is to this application, 80% of smartphone users in Korea now Korean companies are also making use of SNS to develop
of the trip. now close to 8 million. The three wireless telecommunication enjoy text messaging free of charge. KakaoTalk expects the the social commerce market. A social commerce business
Smartphones have radically changed how Koreans like Mun carriers in Korea aim to reach 20 million smartphone users number of registered users to surpass 20 million by the end of allows companies to interact with and sell products to
and Kim communicate. According to a survey conducted in by the end of this year. SK Telecom hopes for 10 million, this year. In January, KakaoTalk made headlines for becoming customers through SNS. The front-runner of the Korean social
January by Scotoss Consulting, a management consulting firm, KT wants 6.5 million and LG Uplus expects 3.5 million. The the most popular free application in Hong Kong, Macao and commerce market is Ticket Monster, which was established
Koreans spend more time using SNS than e-mail. The survey number of smartphone users in Korea is expected to triple in four countries in the Middle East: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar with just five employees in May 2010. Seven months after
of 650 people in their 20s to 50s found that Koreans used SNS 2011 from last year. and the United Arab Emirates. its founding, the start-up venture hit 20 billion won in
for 44.5 minutes per day during the week and 47.1 minutes Since the SNS market is so tightly connected to the Analysts attribute the success of KakaoTalk to the sales. Ticket Monster has been showing amazing growth
per day on the weekend. This smartphone and tablet application’s uniquely Korean characteristics, which set it apart and the company aims to have 500 employees and post 200
compared to an average of just market, competition from Twitter and Facebook. KakaoTalk billion won in sales in 2011. The social
24.9 minutes per day during the in Korea between was the first to offer smartphone users a commerce market is expected to heat up
week for e-mail and 18 minutes SNS providers has group chatting service. in Korea as Groupon, the world’s largest
on the weekend. This means they been fierce. Korean “Facebook and Twitter are more social commerce company, is considering
spent nearly twice as much time applications like stranger-based communication services, making inroads in the region.
on SNS than they did writing or KakaoTalk and Me2day, compared to KakaoTalk,” says an Korean SNS companies continue to
reading e-mails. The survey also however, are proving to application developer who wished to evolve and record rapid growth. Among
found that the Koreans surveyed be strong players on this remain unnamed. “KakaoTalk users the newest SNS applications are SK
talked to people on the phone for market that includes communicate mainly with acquaintances Telecom’s Social Talk and Checking.
30.9 minutes per day and sent foreign brands like whose phone numbers are saved in their Social Talk enables users to upload
text messages for 22.7 minutes Twitter and Facebook. smartphones. This is more Korean.” recorded voice messages to personalized
per day on average. This led KakaoTalk is a The developer added that KakaoTalk voice blogs that they can then share with
researchers to conclude that SNS keeps improving its application. others. Checking enables people to share
has become the most popular “KakaoTalk is expanding into diverse reviews of TV shows and movies. KT
communication tool among Daum, one of the
sectors. For example, KakaoTalk began currently has a text-based messenger
Koreans. leading Internet a ‘gifticon’ service to send online gifts application, Show Talk, and is planning to
companies, offers
Celebrities have been quick to pick up mobile Internet to friends in partnership with KT at the release a new communication messenger,
phone service that
on this shift in communication methods. is popular in the
end of last year.” Olleh Talk. The new messenger
By utilizing SNS, everyone from musicians Me2day, another homegrown SNS, is will connect the functions of

© Daum Communications (above); LG Uplus Corp. (left); Kakao (opposite above); NHN Corp. (opposite below)
SNS field (above).
LG Uplus recently
and movie stars to cartoonists and cultural held an SNS also rapidly growing. It has increased its popular SNS such as Twitter,
critics have found a new way to interact promotion with registered users from just 28,000 at the Facebook and Me2day.
Samsung’s Galaxy KakaoTalk, Korea’s
with the public. Without the hassle of a Tab (right). end of 2008 to 4 million today. Me2day popular NHN, the operator of the giant Internet portal Naver, will
application, offers
publicist or even a journalist, celebrities has made inroads in the SNS market English service soon launch a new SNS-friendly homepage called Naver Me.
now express their opinions and communicate directly with by differentiating itself from similar (top). The site Naver is used daily by 3.4 million Koreans, about 90% of
symbol for Me2day,
their fans on Twitter and Me2day. One Korean singer even homegrown application through which smartphones are able applications like Twitter. While Twitter Korea’s home- the total number of Internet users in Korea. Naver Me will
grown SNS
used SNS to gather ideas from his fans on how he might help to exchange messages from anywhere in the world. Through functions like an open blog, where anyone application (above).
be a social homepage where people are able to use not only
marginalized people and then implemented some of the ideas, this service, people are able to chat in real time and can share can see what you post, Me2day limits personalized web services such as e-mail and address books
creating a new paradigm for celebrity-fan interactions. photos and videos without a sending fee. viewers to people you’ve approved, giving the service a more but also SNS pages such as Me2day, blogs and message boards
The Korean government has been actively using SNS as a The application pulls information from the smartphone’s intimate feel. on a one-stop basis.
tool to publicize policies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and phonebook, so users can seamlessly communicate with their “Me2day is clearly different from Twitter,” said Korean Last year, the world saw how smartphones and SNS could
Trade signed a partnership deal with NHN, Korea’s largest friends or colleagues without having to create a whole new singer Ho Ran after using both services. “I feel that Twitter revolutionize the way we communicate with each other.
Internet company, in January and it now delivers government contact database for the application. In this way, KakaoTalk is like a window and Me2day is like a space. The difference While SNS designers got a late start in Korea, industry leaders
news to SNS-savvy Koreans through NHN’s Me2day service. helps users keep in touch with their friends in a convenient between Twitter and Me2day might be the difference between like KakaoTalk and Me2day have proved that homegrown
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also has a and cost-effective manner. a plaza and my room. Twitter is more Western and individual. applications can compete on the global market. With
Me2day account that offers news and information on culture, Since its release in March 2010, KakaoTalk has seen Me2day is more Eastern as Eastern people want more trust smartphone sales expected to increase again this year, people
sports and tourism. These government services have been dramatic growth. The number of KakaoTalk’s registered users and stronger personal relationships.” will be looking to Korea for exciting and innovative SNS
popular among concerned citizens. exceeded 6 million just 10 months after its release. Today, This different cultural approach may give KakaoTalk and applications that bring people closer together.

38 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 39


summit diplomacy

Oegyujanggak books
heading home
It has been 145 years since French troops looted precious palace records
from Korean soil during Byeong-in yango, the French invasion of Korea in
1866. In the fires of Byeong-in yango, historical records from the Joseon
Dynasty stored in Oegyujanggak library disappeared. Now, the ancient
books are heading back to Korea after a two-decade-long battle.
by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Kim Nam-heon

On September 18, 1866, French forces Joseon government. The encounter was the invasion. The 5,607 books kept in the
invaded Ganghwado Island, west of the first armed conflict between Korea and royal library, Oegyujanggak – an annex
Seoul (then, Hanseong, the capital of the a Western power. of Kyujanggak royal library in Hanseong,
Joseon Dynasty). The invasion is known as The overall result was a French retreat known as the safest library in the Joseon
Byeong-in yango, which means “Western and a check on its influence in the region. Dynasty – were set on fire or stolen. The
disturbance during the byeong-in year.” However, historically important books books recorded and illustrated all of the
France invaded the country to retaliate for and documents on political and cultural rituals, formalities and daily routines of the
the execution of French missionaries by the events of the period were looted during royal court during the Joseon Dynasty.

Looted books rediscovered The South Korean Ambassador to France Park Heung- ceremonies were made with high-quality
shin (left) and Paul Jean-Ortiz, French foreign
records taken by the French include 297 silk covers and are valued for their artistic
ministry director, signed an agreement in France
texts, with dates ranging from the 14th to (above). The exterior of Oegyujanggak in and documentary value. The records were
the 19th centuries. These books would go on Ganghwado Island (opposite). stored in Oegyujanggak on Ganghwado
to become the core of the Korea collection Island, since that library was considered
in the National Library of France. It was safer than the those in the capital.
not until 1975 that a Korean librarian, Park – with their silk covers, elegant binding, When the French looted the island, they
Byeong-seon, who worked at the National quality paper and sumptuous illustrations.” stole many of the royal uigwe, denying
Library of France, discovered that the Uigwe have important historical Koreans a precious historical asset. Korean
Oegyujanggak books still existed. value because they describe how official historians who have examined the uigwe at
“When the French army came to government and royal events were held the National Library of France found that
Oegyujanggak on Ganghwado Island during the Joseon era. Uigwe were 30 of the 297 records are the only existing
where these palace records were kept, they developed as a reference for government copies in the world. This uniqueness has
burned most of the books as well as the and court officials planning these events, excited historians, who hope the uigwe will
building itself, except for the uigwe,” Shin and include details such as the proper give them greater insight into important
Byung-ju, a history professor at Konkuk procedure and cost of various ceremonies. events that occurred in the latter part of
University, told the JoongAng Daily in The records cover everything from the Joseon Dynasty.
© Yonhap News Agency
2008. Uigwe are ancient documents that coronation and royal marriage ceremonies For a long time, it looked as if
dictate the protocols of royal ceremonies to state funerals. researchers in Korea would be unable
and events of the Joseon Dynasty. There were two types of uigwe, one for to see the uigwe stolen by the French
“It was because even foreigners the king and royal family and another for firsthand. The Korean government argued
recognized the value of these documents general purposes. The uigwe covering royal that the books should belong to Korea

40 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 41


saying that it amounted to sacrificing
more cultural properties in order to have
Renowned Korean Treasures Scattered format is not ideal, historians are excited
to finally be able to access the important
what was stolen from them. Koreans were
Around the World records in Korea.
becoming more aware of the importance Jikji: The oldest moveable “Paradise in a Dream”, and was based on a The uigwe deal is a hard-earned victory
1
metal-typed book Jikji is a book of dream that Prince Anpyeong had. The painting
of cultural heritage during this period and for Korean historians, after 20 years of
Buddhist scripture created in 1377 with the features verses and calligraphy by Prince
pressed the government to be firm with lobbying. Yet, Korea still has hundreds
world’s oldest moveable metal type system. The Anpyeong and is 106.5cm long and 38.7cm
France on the uigwe matter. book was published at Heungdeoksa Temple in tall. While Mongyu dowondo is unclear when
of thousands of cultural assets that
In January 2002, a five-member Korean Cheongju and is currently managed by the the painting was handed over to the Japanese, were stolen during the 1950-53 Korean
delegation – which included historian French National Library. Collin de Plancy, who it is believed the painting left Korea in the late War and Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule
Kim Mun-sik, now a history professor at worked in Seoul from 1890 to 1903 as a French 19th century. The painting was sold to antique of the peninsula. Experts say that more
Dankook University – headed to France diplomat, took the second volume of the book gallery Ryusendo around 1947 and then sold than 760,000 ancient books, documents,
to examine the books in the National along with other historic collections to France. to Tenri University, where it resides today. craftworks and other forms of cultural
Library. Because the Korean historians were Later, Jikji passed into the hands of antique Mongyu dowondo is a highly valuable painting assets are now in about 20 different
collector Henri Vever in France and was because it is believed to be the last remaining
allowed to check out only one book at a countries around the world. The majority
donated to the French National Library by his artwork by An Gyeon.
time, they could examine only 100 out of of the artifacts are in Japan, which seized
family in accordance with Vever’s will in 1950.
the 297 books. the Korean artifacts during its colonial rule.
The book was printed nearly 70 years before Suwol gwaneum do: A
A Seoul-based civic group filed a lawsuit 4 After the French government’s decision,
the famous Gutenberg Bible printing in representative Goryeo
against the library in France in 2008 to get Germany, and is clear evidence that Korea was Buddhist painting Together with Goryeo the Japanese government has agreed to
the stolen books returned to Korea. But the first nation in the world to design and use celadon, Buddhist paintings from the Goryeo return 1,205 ancient artifacts it seized,
the Paris court turned down the demand metal type. Together with the Seungjeongwon Dynasty have high artistic value. Suwol although the agreement still needs
in the following year, saying the Korean ilgi, Diary of the Royal Secretariat, Jikji was gwaneum do portrays the journey of Sunjae, a approval by its parliament. Historians are
The Kyujanggak library at books were French national property. designated a UNESCO Memory of the World. child monk, to meet the Buddhist Goddess of hopeful that the return of Oegyujanggak
Seoul National University Eight years passed since the historic Mercy at Mt. Botarak. Suwol means “the books will give their efforts to return
Museum has many Wang ocheonchukguk jeon: moon reflecting over the water,” an expression
archives (above). An
on-site inspection, and Korea’s royal 2 the stolen artifacts momentum. One day
Korea’s first overseas of vain desire in Buddhism. Suwol gwaneum
exhibition hall in documents remained in France. Korean Korean historians may be able to study the
travelogue Written in 727 during the do is currently kept at Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo,
Oegyujanggak on historians continued their lobbying work history and culture of this land by traveling
Ganghwado Island (left). Unified Silla Period, Wang ocheonchukguk jeon Japan. It is assumed that the painting was
during that time and finally saw their records the experiences of the monk Hyecho as either presented to the Japanese during the no farther than the National Museum of
efforts payoff last year. he traveled through India, the Middle East, Goryeo Dynasty or looted at the end of the Korea in Seoul.
Persia and Central Asia for four years. The Goryeo era or during the Japanese invasion
Books are returned to korea after travelogue’s name comes from the Chinese of Korea in 1592. Antique books and exhibition artifacts are on
145 years The long-running dispute word for India in the 8th century, Cheonchuk. display in the Oegyujanggak building (below).
reached a turning point when French Translated literally, the book’s title is “A Report
After Traveling Five Cheonchuk Countries.” In
President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged in
1908, French archeologist Paul Pelliot
November last year in Seoul to return
discovered an abridged version of the Wang
the centuries-old Oegyujanggak books
ocheonchukguk jeon in Cangjingdong within
since they were looted during the war. Kim Young-sam one of the 297 books and during the G20 Seoul Summit meeting. His Dunhuang’s stone cave in China. The book
It took ten years of meetings before the promised to return the complete collection promise helped begin negotiations that took the form of a scroll where a total of 227
French government agreed to send the in coming years at the Korea-France would resolve the thorny diplomatic feud © Kyujanggak Institute For Korean Studies (top)
rows of Chinese characters were written. Pelliot
books back to Korea. summit in Seoul. Mitterand used the book between the two countries. After months took the scroll with him to France and it now
as leverage in his bid to export technology of discussions, the two sides reached a resides in the French National Library. Korean
The battle to retrieve the ancient for France’s high-speed train TGV to Korea. formal agreement in Paris. historians are eager to get a hold of the scroll
The French government will return the because of its historic descriptions of India and
books Korea was met with fierce While France won the bid, the president
Central Asia in the 8th century.
opposition from France when it began reneged on his promise to return the uigwe Korean royal books taken by France this
lobbying for the uigwe to be returned records to Korea. France suggested that spring. In accordance with the agreement
Mongyu Dowondo: A
in 1991. It wasn’t for two years that the instead of returning the books, they could between the two parties, all 297 volumes 3
masterpiece of Korean art
country saw any progress on the matter. permanently “loan” the uigwe to Korea will be relocated to the National Museum An Gyeon, an important painter of the Joseon
In September 1993, French President in exchange for other ancient Korean of Korea in Seoul by May 31 on a Dynasty, created this marvelous roll painting in
Francois Mitterand gave Korean President documents. Koreans rejected this proposal, renewable five-year lease. While the lease 1447. Mongyu dowondo translates as

42 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 43


global korea

Operation Dawn a success thanks


to international cooperation Korean Navy special forces,
the UDT/SEAL, conduct an
exercise off the coast of
The Dawn of the Gulf of Aden operation
began at 4:58am on January 21, 2011, when
Pyeongtaek on January 22. the 4,500-ton destroyer Choi Young of the
An operation led by the South Korean Navy’s Cheonghae anti-piracy unit Korean Navy inched closer to the Samho
Jewelry. As a Lynx helicopter provided
rescued the freighter Samho Jewelry from Somali pirates on the Arabian Sea on
covering fire, rigid inflatable boats (RIBs)
January 21, 2011. Launched just before the sunrise, the operation Dawn carried Underwater Demolition Team (UDT)
of the Gulf of Aden was a resounding success thanks to the agents toward the Samho Jewelry. It was
international assistance Korea received. Many countries provided these agents that freed Samho Jewelry’s
reconnaissance jets and warships in nearby waters crew, but the navies of several countries
during the operation. by No Ju-seob aided in their success.
A P-3C patrol plane owned by the
United States Navy flying above the Samho
Jewelry passed on intelligence to Korean
rescuers that there were three people
on the hijacked ship’s stern, four on its
bridge and four others on the middle deck.
The Samho Jewelry was blocked on both
sides during the operation by the South
Korean destroyer Choi Young and a 394-
ton Omani naval destroyer. When the US
helicopter passed on the intelligence about
the pirates’ locations, Choi Young was
2.7 nautical miles away from the Samho
Jewelry, while the Omani destroyer was 4.7
nautical miles from the hijacked vessel.
As the Cheonghae soldiers forced the
pirates to surrender, they played a pre-
recorded message in the Somali language
warning the pirates to give up their
weapons if they wanted to live. A Dutch
naval destroyer had helped the Korean
Navy record that warning. Once the ship
was recovered, an SH-60 helicopter from
the US Navy helped to quickly transport
Seok Hae-kyun, the wounded captain of
the Samho Jewelry, to a hospital in Oman.
The Foreign Ministry in Seoul praised the
South Korean Naval officers who closely
coordinated their efforts with Oman,
Britain and the United States to make the
operation a success. Oman helped Korea
by treating and evacuating the injured.
© Yonhap News Agency

The US and Britain provided military


assistance during the operation. The entire
crew of the Samho Jewelry was rescued
from the Somali pirates on the strength
of collaboration between Korea and its

44 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 45


three allies. The operation also served as a is expected to feature some the finest INSIDE THE ISSUE
powerful warning to pirates that Koreans filmmaking staff Korea has to offer. The
will not bargain with them in any future company said the script is now in its final BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE Samho Jewelry
hijackings.
The Geummi 305, which was hijacked
phase and they will start shooting around
September, with February next year as the
RESCUE, Diplomacy played A huge role
The successful rescue operation of the Samho the news of the successful rescue operation
on October 9 by Somali pirates off the target opening date. The company hopes
Jewelry ship, which had been hijacked by reached them. Along with ministry workers in
Kenyan coast, was recently released to distribute the film worldwide. Somali pirates, was largely aided by diplomatic Seoul, the Korean Embassy in Oman played a
unconditionally. The ship’s release was wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. While huge role in ensuring the success of the rescue
partially due to the fact that Geummi Pirates becoming smarter, more the Defense Ministry led the military operation.
Fishers, which owned the boat, had filed brutal Somali pirates started emerging in operations, the Foreign Ministry provided Ambassador Choe Jong-hyun and four Foreign
for bankruptcy and could not pay the the early 1990s at the onset of the Somali support as the agency handling piracy cases. Ministry officials are stationed at the embassy in
ransom demanded. But it is likely that the Civil War. With unemployment high in On January 15, immediately after the hijacking, Oman. They were able to secure support from the
Navy’s swift action in the Samho Jewelry Somalia, teenage boys turned to hijacking the Foreign Ministry set up an emergency task Oman government from the beginning of rescue
force in Seoul and operations headquarters in planning. The embassy actively engaged with the
case also played a role in the pirates’ ships. The ransom paid per hostage in
the Korean Embassy in Kenya. The ministry Cheonghae unit and the Oman government once
decision to give the ship up without a fight. a hijacking can be tens of thousands of
quickly began discussing necessary measures the destroyer Choi Young reached the coastal
dollars, making it a lucrative, though with Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of waters of Oman and prepared all necessary post-
The Dawn of the Gulf of Aden movie dangerous, career. Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and other operation measures.
Christmas Entertainment, which invested Korean authorities are investigating related agencies. About 10 Foreign Ministry In particular, the embassy gained Oman’s support
in the popular Korean film The Host, the five pirates who hijacked the Samho officials – including Baek Joo-hyun, director- in transporting the injured people and also in
recently announced it would produce a Jewelry and were captured alive by the Sailors aboard the Samho Jewelry replace the general of the Overseas Koreans and Consular providing a destroyer. When three soldiers were
nonfiction film, tentatively titled The Dawn Cheonghae unit. They are all young men existing members on January 31 (above). The Affairs Bureau, and Kang Seok-hee, head of wounded by pirates’ gunshots during Cheonghae’s
chief engineer from the Samho Jewelry during an the Overseas Korean Nationals Protection and
of the Gulf of Aden. The company said the in their teens and 20s. Their names are Ali first operation on January 18, the Oman
interview with the press (right below).
Crisis Management Division, plus a military government carried them in a helicopter to a
film won’t just focus on the rescue of the Cho Young-joo, commander of Choi Young Abdullah, a 21-year-old former soldier; Arai
destroyer (top). Five Somali pirates were officer from Combined Maritime Forces – were local university hospital. The next day, the Oman
Samho Jewelry, but will also tell the stories Mahomed, a 23-year-old fisherman; Serum
sent to Busan, Korea, for investigation dispatched to Oman as quick response team. navy sent out a destroyer to the operational area
of the UDT agents in the Korean Navy. (above). The Samho Jewelry and Choi Young Abdullah, a 21-year-old cook; Ali Abukad- 19-year-old student Brallat Aul.
Their goal was to provide the Cheonghae and monitored the pirates. Buoyed by Oman’s
The film will cost 20 billion won and docked at an Omani port (below). Aeman, a 21-year-old former soldier; and The Kenyan Foreign Ministry recently anti-piracy unit with any necessary supplies assistance, the Cheonghae was able to carry out
reported that Somali pirates collected before the unit’s rescue operation began. The the operation with success. Ambassador Choe
US$150 million in ransom in 2008 alone. In quick response team also worked closely with spoke with Oman’s navy commander and kept in
a country that has made little industrial and the local embassy and helped three close contact with other Oman government
economic progress under volatile political Cheonghae soldiers and the Samho Jewelry officials.
situations, piracy has grown into the most captain receive treatment at an Oman hospital. When the rescue operation ended successfully,
promising and steady industry. Analysts The team also made sure the rest of the Samho Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan was hosting a
Jewelry crew returned home safely and Lunar New Year reception for about 100
say as long as hefty ransom changes hands
handled the legal issues involving the captured ambassadors and heads of international agencies
and those in dire financial standings enter
Somali pirates. And before the operation, the at the ministry headquarters. He delivered the good
piracy, it will be virtually impossible to Foreign Ministry informed related countries, news and drew applause from the diplomats.
completely eliminate piracy. through diplomatic channels, of the situation
As piracy becomes more entrenched, and sought cooperation.
Somali pirates have become more violent The Samho Jewelry had two sailors from
with their hostages, physically abusing Indonesia and 11 from Myanmar. The Korean
them and torturing them, or sometimes government told those two governments,
using them has human shields. Buster through local embassies, about the rescue
operations and discussed cooperation. The
Howes, the operation commander major
ministry also sought help from its allies with
general of the European Union’s Naval
© Yonhap News Agency experience in military operations against
Force Somalia (NAVFOR), testified that pirates, such as the US.
some Somali pirates hang their hostages Officials at the Samho Jewelry headquarters,
upside down and put their heads into who remained on the edge of their seats
the sea, or lock them inside a refrigerator during the first six days of the hijacking,
and beat them up. breathed a sigh of relief on January 21, when

46 | korea | march 2011 www.korea.net | 47


international cooperation necess-
ary to fight piracy Over the last two
decades, Somali pirates have evolved
from rough-and-tumble groups trying to
make a living to more sophisticated units
that bring in hired guns to terrorize ships.
Only through international cooperation
can nations hope to eradicate this violent
industry. Pirates have been having a field
day attacking foreign commercial vessels
that sail to and from Saudi Arabia and
other oil exporting countries in the region.
Foreign vessels often carry huge
amounts of crude oil and have a large
crew. With so much oil and so many human
lives at stake, ship owners have little choice
but to shell out large ransoms. The ransoms
have allowed pirates to institutionalize
their industry.
They have even set up a stock market of Seven South Korean crew members from the been in operation since April 16, 2009,
Samho Jewelry were warmly welcomed by their
sorts now, with investors that help maintain with the Choi Young Korean destroyer on
families and citizens upon their arrival to Busan
their pirating. Each pirate organization on February 2 (above). Somali waters.
registers at the pirates’ market, just as a Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, the secretary-
company lists itself on the stock market. work together on anti-piracy missions general of the International Maritime
Investors provide operational costs or and governments could eradicate the Organization, attended the general
weapons. Once the pirates earn ransom, international financial networks through assembly of the International Association
investors get a return on their investment. which pirates make their investments of Maritime Universities held at Korea
There are about 100 such “piracy" and share ransom money. Maritime Maritime University. He argued that
companies in Somalia. The military there is countries and representatives of some in order to resolve the Somali piracy
reportedly involved in some of them, too. 10 international agencies attending problem, the complex political situations
With Somalia’s government and military the meeting expressed their concern in Somalia must be taken care of. He
unable to stop piracy, prompt international about the uptick in piracy and called for added that nations must also ensure the
efforts are needed to tackle the problem. stronger military coordination. Participants safety of crews and secure routes for
Korea has endorsed six piracy-related also talked about setting up a special ships passing through the region, increase
resolutions by the UN Security Council international court in a neighboring humanitarian aid to Somalia and finally,
and is a member of the Contact Group on African country to Somalia, in case a Somali encourage coordination between navies in
Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). court releases pirates captured by foreign the Gulf area. Mitropoulos also said that
Yet, the effect of these actions has been armed forces. the political situation in Somalia could be
minimal, says the Foreign Ministry. Instead, Combined Task Force 150, a multinational solved by a new, more stable government
the ministry says that ensuring peace in coalition unit, has been battling the pirates in the country that can unite Somalis and
Somalia, increasing the self-defense abilities around the Gulf of Aden since August end the civil war there.
of shipping companies and coordinating 2008, and Korea, Japan, China, the EU and When a stable government has taken
anti-piracy efforts with international NATO have dispatched troops to the task control, Somalia can develop a coast guard
© Yonhap News Agency

players will be key to ending piracy. force. or navy of its own to fight piracy. The
One step toward better international The Korean National Assembly in March secretary-general urged the UN Security
coordination was taken at a UN meeting 2009 passed a motion on dispatching Council, the African Union and NATO to
on eradicating Somali piracy. Participants soldiers and the Cheonghae unit was keep providing humanitarian support to
discussed ways in which militaries could founded on March 3 that year. They’ve Somalia until the country is stable.

48 | korea | march 2011


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Falconry Inscribed in 2010 on UNESCO’s
Representative List of the Intangible Heritage
of Humanity, Falconry is the traditional
activity of taking quarry by means of trained
birds of prey. It has been practiced for
4,000 years and in 60 countries. In Korea,
a few falconers, including Park Yong-soon
(pictured on this page), have helped keep
this ancient human heritage alive.
© Choi Ji-young