People & Culture

APRIL 2011



ISSN: 2005-2162
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april 2011 VOL.7 NO.04
Korea’s pop stars touch the hearts of audiences all over the world.

Choi Young-mi is an iconic poet who represents the 1980s youthful spirit.

Climber Park Young-seok reaches the South Pole in an eco-friendly way.

Yi Sun-sin, who lived in the Joseon Dynasty, is one of the most well-known heroes in Korea.


Seoul’s Insa-dong is famous for its traditional atmosphere and unique galleries.

PUBLISHER Seo Kang-soo, Korean Culture and Information Service EDITING HEM KOREA Co., Ltd E-MAIL PRINTING Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co.


Once a typical industrial city, Ulsan has renewed its natural environment.

Cafés became ubiquitous in Korea very quickly. And café culture is ever evolving.

With more than 20 mountains in Seoul alone, hiking is a must-do activity.



All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from KOREA and the Korean Culture and Information Service. The articles published in KOREA do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher. The publisher is not liable for errors or omissions. If you want to receive a free copy of KOREA or wish to cancel a subscription, please e-mail us. A downloadable PDF file of KOREA, and a map and glossary with common Korean words appearing in our text are available by clicking on the thumbnail of KOREA on the homepage of 발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06

PyeongChang is giving its all to win the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

President Lee’s visit to the UAE for an oil deal.

Korean technology spreads worldwide.


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cover story

The power of music leaves us in awe. It’s no longer unusual to hear people on the opposite side of the planet hum along to K-pop songs. Korean music is spreading throughout Asia and around the world. As it leads the new Korean wave, just how far can K-pop go? by Jeong Deok-hyeon
© Playcube

Boy band Beast gives a showcase of the Legend of Beast - Vol. 1, in September 2010 in Japan.

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Dream High, a popular Korean TV drama that wrapped up in February, told the story of a young musician named K, who goes on to win a Grammy Award in 2018. Even for a drama, the exaggerations can be a bit too much to handle, but they’re somewhat related to the ongoing evolution of the new Korean wave. K-pop, which is leading the way for the new wave, has already transcended Asia and has begun to reach America, Europe and even South America and the Middle East. If the drama Dream High comes across as extra ambitious, that’s likely because the show cast some of the top K-pop artists of the day — Taekyeon and Woo-young of 2PM, Suzy of Miss A, Eun-jeong of T-ara and IU. Bae Yongjoon and Park Jin-young, both top artists themselves now involved in talent development, appeared side by side. Bae’s agency Keyeast and Park’s company

Bae Yong-joon in TV Drama Dream High (above). Dream High highlighted the enthusiasm of Korea‘s young musicians; the show caught audiences‘ attention because it starred some real K-pop stars like Taekyeon (right and below), Suzy of Miss A, Eun-jeong of T-ara, IU and others (below).

JYP Entertainment co-produced the drama, but their appearance is significant not just in terms of their business but of pop culture. It proved the barrier between TV dramas and pop music is slowly but surely coming down. Their appearances brought together the first generation and the second generation of Korean wave stars. In the drama, Bae is a director at Kirin Art High School and recruits future K-pop stars. He appoints Park as one of the teachers before leaving for Japan. This was a symbolic development. It was almost as if Bae, who started the Korean wave with his hit dramas, had passed the torch to Park, the face of the new Korean wave led by K-pop music and agencies. The influence of K-pop is now the subject of popular TV shows — nothing better

displays the state of the Korean wave today.

Kara’s first Japanese single, Mister, reached No 5 on the Oricon Weekly Chart in the first week of its release last August. They became the first Asian [besides Japan itself] girl group to crack the top 10. And Kara’s greatest hits compilation album debuted at No 2 and sold 50,000 units in its first week. It also ranked second on the weekly chart. And the recent DVD titled Kara Best Clips sold 132,000 copies in its first week to top Oricon’s weekly DVD chart. This was an unprecedented feat for a female artist since Oricon started tracking DVDs in 1999. Girls’ Generation, who debuted in Japan last September, put their first single, Genie, at No 4 on Oricon’s monthly chart after selling 45,000 units in its opening week. The group has sold 121,000 units of its album to date. Girls’ Generation ranked second only behind AKB48, the Japanese equivalent of Girls’ Generation, on the girl group power ranking compiled by Nikkei Entertainment, based on record sales last year. It’s noteworthy that Japanese media have taken an interest in Korean girl groups. News Watch 9 on NHK, the mostwatched news program in Japan, once allocated five minutes at the top of the program to a story about Korean girl groups. Many other private broadcasters have reported on Korean girl bands on morning shows. Most of

2NE1 makes an intense impression with a unique visual style (above). It’s easy to see why Girls’ Generation has attracted both male and female fans of all ages, both at home in Korea and around the world (below).

the programs took a serious approach to the phenomena: What separated Korean girl groups from Japanese groups, and why teenagers and 20-something Japanese girls went crazy over Korean artists. The Japanese industry felt the need to analyze the rush of

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© YG Entertainment (above); SM Entertainment Co., Ltd

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Korean girl groups and decide how they should respond to it. This is phenomena is reminiscent of how “Bae Yong-joon Syndrome” first took Japan by storm. Yon-sama (Sir Bae Yong-joon in Japanese) fever started with middle-aged women who went head over heels for Korean dramas. And the Korean actors, who were polite and gentle to them and treated them like ladies, were easy to like. The rise of Korean girl groups in Japan is similar to the Yon-sama fever in that even though there was no Japanese equivalent, there was clearly enough demand.

Korea’s brand new boy group ZE:A, which made its debut last year, gives a performance in Japan in September 2010 (above). 4Minute played overseas shows in Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere (below).

Before the second Korean wave took shape, people took note of idol groups’ dominance in local digital music markets. Idol groups gradually developed more talent as they underwent systematic training. The rise of Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation and Big Bang helped usher in an era of digital music and dispel any lingering worries of recession in the recording

industry. Still, the explosion of K-pop, leading to the second Korean wave, was beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The catalyst for the success was the Internet. Girls’ Generation’s Japanese showcase on Aug 25, 2010 saw about 800 fans greet them at the airport, much

to the shock of the group members themselves. They had never even been to Japan before, let along performed on a Japanese stage. That first showcase drew 22,000 people. Even before Girls’ Generation set foot in Japan, the group had already built a huge fan base thanks to their songs and music videos made readily available via online sites. K-pop has taken a leading role in the new Korean wave, largely because its content is so web-friendly. Music videos and music files — content that can be consumed in a short time — are a much better fit for the Internet than TV dramas. The spread of music is also less impeded by any language barriers, unlike dramas. So Korean songs that are spread through the Internet have transcended the boundaries of the old Korean wave. No longer limited to Japan, China and Southeast Asia, K-pop has seen its horizons expand to the rest of the world in real time. Be it the US, Europe or the Middle East: wherever there is Internet, the Korean wave has transcended language and racial barriers and reached international audiences., the world’s largest Korean wave community site, headquartered in the US, boasts 700,000 members worldwide. And they’re all nonKoreans, including Caucasians, AfricanAmericans, Hispanics, Arabs and people of mixed backgrounds. The emergence of social networking services has altered K-pop marketing strategies. The costs have been reduced. Agencies don’t have to directly market to the public when fans themselves build their own networks online and share content. So it really comes down to the content itself and whether it can appeal to the global audience. Companies can gauge possibilities in new markets around the world through the Internet and then focus on regions with potential

by releasing albums. The singer Rain traveled uncharted territory with his world tour, but today artists can be a bit more precise in their preparation. Rain, Wonder Girls or other artists aren’t so much trying to hit the foreign markets as they are ‘visiting’ foreign countries. That has made it possible for Kara to come back to Korea to release a new single, all the while their stock continues to soar in Japan. Time and space have been rendered less important. You can take the stage in Korea and Japan, and fly over to South America and the US if necessary. These changes to marketing strategies

T.O.P, a member of Big Bang, is becoming a big hit thanks not only to his work as a singer, but also for his acting (right). Girl group After School joined with several Japanese artists on their albums (below). With its powerful stage show, boy group 2PM has seen its popularity soar. (bottom).

language. Some cover bands emulating Korean artists have sprung up in the US. Their mimicking of K-pop dances are uploaded on YouTube and generate more interest. The new school of thought is that it’s better for Korean artists to stay true to themselves rather than trying to be American.
K-POP GOES GLOBAL Now that K-pop

is catering to a global audience, the most important asset is content with international appeal. Producing music is increasingly becoming a global project. For instance, Girls’ Generation’s singles such as Hoot and Tell Me Your Wish (Genie) were written outside of Korea. A group of Danish writers composed Hoot and a Norwegian composing group named Design Music wrote Tell Me Your Wish. Words are written and songs are arranged in Korea, and choreographers from the US and Japan create the routines. It’s truly a global project. Because K-pop songs

have also led to a shift in strategies on localization. Park Jin-young once said the words ‘Korean wave’ themselves are obstacles to the very movement they describe. His point was that the only way to carve a niche in the US is to become Americanized. Many people agreed at the time. For all that Korean wave, it would all be for naught if audiences couldn’t relate. But Park’s theory can’t explain the recent trends of the new Korean wave. Today, international fans tend to be enamored with the Korean lyrics. Fans in Japan, Taiwan and even in South America are trying to sing along with the Korean words of these songs, some going as far as learning the Korean

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© YG Entertainment (top); Pledis (middle); JYP Entertainment (right)

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sexiness. Kara, unlike in Korea, enjoyed a quick rise to stardom in Japan because it had both the girly image of Japan and the sexy image of K-pop. If Girls’ Generation members seem like goddesses that are hard to approach, Kara girls have a friendly, more downto-earth image. K-pop artists and producers have experimented with global music in an attempt to reach out to international audiences. In the past, Korean agencies merely tried to copy the Japanese system and musical trends. Today, these agencies catch on to the latest trends in the US and Europe and apply a Korean twist. Because of this, K-pop has become the trendsetter for pop music in Asia. The same can be said for boy bands such as 2PM. These young men have given K-pop a clear identity. The worldwide spread of Korean pop music has, amazingly, reached all the way to South America. Chile, for instance, held the 2nd K-pop contest in Santiago last November. It seems that K-pop has many fans in that country, with many expressing a great interest in the Korean wave. The syndrome doesn’t stop there. Argentina also hosted Latin America’s K-pop contest last October, which was attended by more than eleven teams have such diverse backgrounds, they are that much more likely to be accepted internationally. Just because K-pop music has become global doesn’t mean it has lost its Korean character. As previously mentioned, girl groups like Girls’ Generation found success in Japan because they separated themselves from their Japanese counterparts. Japanese girl groups a cute image, while K-pop girl groups sought to portray an air of confidence and
Boy band SHINee is popular among young girls all over the world (above). Girl group T-ara are known for their cute and friendly image (right).

from six countries from throughout Latin America.

the new Korean wave, which retains its local identity as it moves globally, the idea of nationality is no longer important. What has become more important is the distinct nature of the culture. Lee Soo-man, producer of SM Entertainment, was buoyed by Chinese enthusiasm for the boy band H.O.T. and saw the possibilities of K-pop in Asian markets early on. By joining forces with Japan’s Avex, Lee helped build successful Japanese careers for BoA and TVXQ. That was the very start of the ongoing success of the new wave. Korean girl group After School collaborated with Amuro Namie on the artist’s greatest-hits compilation, the success of which suggests there could be more international collaborations involving Korean artists in the future. The album features songs on which Amuro was featured. After School also joined other Japanese artists such as AI&Anna Tsuchiya, Kawabata Kaname and Yamashita Tomohisa on working on their albums. M-flo, a leading black music artist in J-pop, has an interesting lineup. The group consists of VERBAL (born Ryu Yeong-gi), a third-generation ethnic Korean, and DJ Takahashi Taku. The group itself is global, and they have worked with such Korean artists as Wheesung, BoA and Alex. They believe that a cultural bond through hip hop is more important than their nationalities. Some K-pop groups themselves have broken down these barriers. Sandara Park of 2NE1 started her career in the Philippines, and Park Jae-beom, formerly of 2PM, is an American born to Korean parents. 2PM even recruited a foreign national: Nichkhun, from

the management system unique to K-pop has been key to building ties with agencies in Thailand and Taiwan. They’ve created synergy effects that cross international boundaries.

Kim Hyun-joong, once a member of boy group SS501, is widely popular in several countries, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand (above). Miss A is a global project group which has Chinese members Zia and Fei (below).

Thailand. He was born to a Thai-Chinese family and is now a national star in Thailand. Victoria and Amber of the girl group f(x), and Zia and Fei of Miss A, are Chinese. This sort of globalization has helped change the perception of K-pop groups. For fans, Korean groups aren’t “them” but “one of us.” Such a strategic partnership that transcends borders isn’t confined to group members. The know-how for

smartphones and tablet PCs become more widely available, you will likely experience an even bigger revolution than ever. K-pop’s contents may go beyond songs and could well blend with dramas, films or other genres. A project such as Dream High serves as an example, and the fact that more recording companies are investing in storytelling contents such as dramas and films reflects this shift. K-pop is expanding its horizons because of the obvious advantages of its storytelling contents. K-pop is pretty competitive with its songs, but in order for it to be constantly consumed and talked about, it needs to tell stories one way or another. Music videos have done the job so far, and now producers are trying to be more aggressive in dramas and films. This transition suggests that K-pop won’t be confined to music for too much longer. K-pop wields the biggest influence as a champion of Korean pop culture, but it may also have a more practical impact on the industry. It’s significant in many ways that Girls’ Generation has been tagged as the Asian face of Intel. It means multinational corporations have recognized the global economic values of K-pop artists, and that those companies have taken interest in the rising popularity of K-pop as its contents have reached all over the world through the Internet. The new Korean wave, led by K-pop, has moved on from music to pop culture and now to an entire industry.

© SM Entertainment Co., Ltd (left above); Core Contents Media (left)

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cover story
hit the charts in the US and Europe, too. To this day, Gee has been viewed more than 33 million times on YouTube alone. YouTube is now serving a launching pad for K-pop artists. With the term ‘YouTube Silk Road’ being tossed around, K-pop is actively using YouTube to reach out to foreign markets. For instance, in October 2010, SM Entertainment introduced a teaser clip for the new Girls’ Generation single Hoot and then the full music video on YouTube. Within two days, these videos attracted 1 million clicks. That’s almost on par with the leading pop artists of the world. Last September, and Spain also watched the music video on YouTube. It’s truly a global list. This is all thanks to the power of SNS. Big Bang’s new album reached No 7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart, which tracks titles from ‘new or developing acts,’ and No 3 on the World Albums chart. Last January, TVXQ’s new single, Keep Your Head Down, made it to No 4 on the United World Chart at the German site Media Traffic. Neither TVXQ nor Big Bang resorted to direct local marketing, but still achieved outstanding results, mostly thanks to SNS and the new Korean Wave. K-pop stars can indulge themselves and keep fans up to date on what’s going on with them in Korea. SNS also wields a great deal of influence on the activities of fan clubs. Last September, when artists of SM Entertainment put on a joint show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, some 2,000 members of SM Town fan clubs had a spontaneous gathering. And it all started with a seeming innocuous Facebook posting by a 20-something female American fan. When that message took a life of its own, fans decided to get together for a giant party, taking SM officials by surprise. It was also encouraging that while most of the

Stars and Fans

Connected by SNS
Through Social Network Service (SNS) such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, K-pop stars are broadening their horizons. This magic service that transcends time and space helps turn Korean stars into global icons.
It took several years for the TV drama Winter Sonata to find its footing in Japan before leading to Yon-sama syndrome. At the time, Korean pop culture contents could only be moved along the retailing system. Contents had to first reach the market and then be signed on to local broadcasters or agencies before making it to the program listing just to reach an overseas audience. But K-pop, which is leading the second Korean wave, is spreading across the globe at the speed of light. The magic that is SNS enables K-pop stars to reach out to their fans all over the world. It also carries K-pop music videos and footage from TV show programs to all corners of the world in real time. Compare, for instance, the situation for TVXQ when it first entered the Japanese market to what the market is like today. TVXQ was virtually

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© YG Entertainment (above); JYP Entertainment (opposite)

unknown in Japan and it had to hit the streets first to build a name for itself. A few years later, Girls’ Generation didn’t have to do all of that work. The girl group had already secured tens of thousands of Japanese fans through YouTube, and their first showcase drew 22,000 people. The girls had to hold three shows to accommodate all of their fans. It was all thanks to the power of YouTube. With the group’s videos widely available, some eager fans began to mimic the girls’ dances and produced their own videos. Those clips also made it to YouTube. The video for the single Gee by a group of Japanese high school girls was a sensation in both Japan and Korea. Today, you can easily find K-pop music videos on the list of the most viewed clips on YouTube. Nobody by Wonder Girls in 2008 got the ball rolling, and Gee by Girls’ Generation

YG Entertainment put music videos by 2NE1 on YouTube and they had 10 million clicks in just two weeks. Most recently, Tonight, the lead single off a mini album by Big Bang, was spread around the world through YouTube. It has surpassed 3 million viewers, topping the list in Korea. It also led all music videos in Japan, enjoyed the most comments, made the most favorites lists and received the highest ratings. The video has also fared well in non-Asian countries. It was the secondmost watched music video in Australia, fourth in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and fifth and sixth in New Zealand and France. Fans in India, Sweden, Mexico

Wonder Girls recorded a big worldwide (above). Big Bang throwed an exclusive concert, the Big Bang Show, in February 2011 (opposite).

on Facebook, Twitter or me2day, a Korean equivalent of Twitter. Today, pop stars see Twitter as the most important window of communication with fans. And often, Twitterians with the most followers are celebrities. Super Junior boasts a massive following. Donghae has 320,000 followers, the top among Korean stars. Kim Hee-chul has about 284,000 followers and Choi Si-won is followed with about 283,000. Nichkhun of 2PM has 267,000 people following his tweets. Through Twitter, K-pop stars spread the word about their new albums

audience was expected to be KoreanAmericans, there were more Caucasians and African-Americans. SNS won’t stop there. Once smartphones and tablet PCs become more widely used, the impact SNS will have on K-pop will be beyond your wildest imagination. With more media platforms, cultural content will transcend music videos or footage of concerts, and dramas and movies — so-called storytelling content — could take over. After dramas and films started out the first Korean wave, the second wave will be all encompassing of all contents as it turns global. The K-pop will be placed on a different pedestal. | 11

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cover story
the tip of the iceberg. On the Internet, you can find a string of websites where you can watch Korean programs live and even add your own subtitles. And Korean pop artists are the hottest celebrities. Music programs are there, and variety shows featuring idol stars have helped show different sides of musicians behind the stage to fans around the world. Though countries may be divided by their boundaries and languages, people in different countries can enjoy their K-pop music all the same. As K-pop grows more popular, foreign broadcasters are taking greater interest in Korean music. Ura Kara, a Japanese TV drama starring Korean girl group Kara, has drawn an average of 3.13% ratings over seven shows, which is a quite success in Japanese drama field. What’s really fascinating is a number of K-pop-related programs that air outside of Asia. The Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange keeps track of K-pop’s popularity through its stringers, and it’s getting some interesting news. Last February, Sans Chichis, a program on Belgian public TV station RTBF, introduced SHINee and Girls’ Generation as the leading artists of K-pop. A reporter named Sophie Frison walked into the studio to the beat of Gee by Girls’ Generation and greeted her audience with, “Annyeonghaseyo,” or “Hello” in Korean. The panel discussed how stars are groomed and nurtured in Korea. They marveled at the music video for SHINee’s Hello, and one member of the panel proudly claimed to have known long ago of SHINee’s exalted status in Asia. Park Geum-jeong, a Mexico-based stringer, said a program on a Guanajuato local affiliate of Televisa showed K-pop music videos. “This program plays dance music and b-boy routines, targeting young people who are into dancing,” Park said. “Some viewers requested K-pop music, and the program played 2NE1, 4Minute, BoA, Girls’ Generation, 2PM, G-Dragon, Super Junior and SHINee.” Lim Jeong-hee, a stringer in Brazil, said Leitura Dinamica, an entertainment program on Rede TV, a terrestrial network, played Tonight by Big Bang. “The music video for Tonight capped off the program after midnight on Feb 28, after a series of world famous artists were introduced,” Lim said. The host of Leitura Dinamica said, “Big Bang is the most accomplished group in Asia and within just two days of the release, the group’s new album was an instant hit in Canada and New Zealand.” On this program, Drunken Tiger and his wife Yoon Mi-rae greeted their Brazilian fans with fluent English and Korean. In Uzbekistan, K-pop become popular among the Goryeoin, overseas Koreans
Korea’s girl group Kara gets a fame overseas, especially in Japan (below). Super Junior is one of the most well-known K-pop star all over Asian countries (opposite).

K-POP Music

in the Soviet Union, according to the stringer Lee Myung-sook. North Korean songs and dances dominated the air until recently, but the youth of today mostly listen to Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation, Rain and TVXQ, among other K-pop stars. Older generations have caught on and they’ve developed interest in old Korean pop. As K-pop artists continue to make strides in countries like Mexico and Brazil, where actual performances are limited, local agencies have turned their eyes to overseas. Digital music files have narrowed the chasm between publicity and revenues, and are breaking down barriers between countries. Through major satellite and cable platforms, K-pop is creating a new Korean wave in almost real time. The K-pop fever is also attracting even more broadcasters. In the Middle East and South America, K-pop is only just breaking ground. Still, it’s encouraging to see international audiences falling in love with K-pop. The Korean wave road that K-pop is paving is delivering Korea’s culture to television sets all around the world.

Capturing the World´s Imagination
© DSP media (right); SM Entertainment Co., Ltd (opposite)

K-pop is heating up the tubes around the world. Korean music programs are readily available in living rooms across Southeast Asia via satellite and American and European TVs are busy promoting K-pop music, which has carved its niche through the Internet.
Music Bank on KBS often runs global events for international audiences. Leading K-pop artists such as Big Bang, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation and Kara can connect with their fans in Southeast Asia. Those who are signed to Astro in Malaysia, SCTV in Vietnam and Sky Cable in the Philippines can watch Music Bank in real time, at the same hour as Korean viewers. Korean stations are all available on major satellite and cable rotations. KBS World is providing its programs to Direct-To-Home (DTH) channels such as Echo Star and Time Warner in the US, and also to American cable channels Comcast and Cox. Astro, Hong Kong Cable, Star Hub (Singapore), SCTV, Sky Cable, and Sansar TV (Mongolia) across Asia. On Astro, the largest satellite platform in Southeast Asia, KBS programs rank among the top 10 in ratings in 80 countries. But these programs just might be

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pen & brush

Forever Thirty
by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Choi Ji-young

The poet sighed when the party was over. She imparted a new meaning to the age 30, and she became an icon for those drifting between “before thirty and after thirty.” Though she doesn’t want to be defined as a protagonist of the unstable and drifting youth, she still lives and writes as if she will forever be thirty.
The party is over. The bottles have run dry, Wallets are emptied and, Finally, even he’s left. But although they paid their dues, And found their shoes, And left the place deserted, I know someone is still lurking. Someone will be here, alone, Wiping the tables clean and Shedding tears bearing all the memories. She will set up the table and Call them back before the sunrise. She will light the stage once more When the preparations are done. But does it matter now? – At Thirty, the Party is Over
Choi Young-mi wrote the poem At Thirty, the Party is Over, shortly after celebrating her 30th birthday. As if illustrating a selfportrait, Choi’s words resounded with those floating somewhere between the vitality of youth and the stagnation of aging. Reflecting back on that night, Choi says, “I met my old friends for the first time in a long time. We drank together that night and talked about a lot of things, a lot of the trivial things surrounding us and our routine lives, but nothing intrigued me as much as it did when I was in my twenties.” Nothing special happened that night. It was a quiet, normal night. But Choi says something changed within her. When she saw her friends wearing designer shoes and taking money out of

Choi Young-mi
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their wallets to pay for drinks, she suddenly realized that the days when she was a part of them and when they were an inseparable part of her life were over. She saw the essence of this life from this ordinary scene on her birthday, and translated the vain, futile sense of loss into a poem. Her first poem collection, At Thirty, the Party is Over, released in 1994 and became a best seller with more than 500,000 copies sold in the first year.
LOVER OF LITERATURE Choi is the eldest child in her family, but

she wasn’t the first born. She had an older sister with a chronic illness who passed away. As a child, her parents’ focus was on the health of her older sister, so young Choi found an escape in books. She could forget her real-life worries, even if it was for mere moments. At that time, she wrote two types of diaries. One was her official diary, and the other was kept in secret. In her secret diary, she wrote connotative paragraphs, rather than describing her emotions like other young girls of her age. Every week, she memorized two to three poems on her way to school and back home. She even made a book out of her favorite poems, which was a special gift she gave to herself. All of these aspects of Choi’s life developed her writing skills and expanded the scope of her thoughts and feelings, while providing valuable opportunities to establish a sense of self. “As a child, I would read anything, especially poems,” she says. “I was not an outgoing person. I was a quiet girl. Most of time, I spent my days reading poems by Byron, Baudelaire and Han Yong-un. The time I had for eating, sleeping, and socializing with friends was all dedicated to reading and writing.” Choi was received several outstanding prizes in her youth, including the Hankook Ilbo’s Best Poem Prize, which further inspired and motivated her to continue creating poems. Choi says she was sensitive and wanted to spend more time and energy in exploring the world of literature. She was also an intellectual and would go on to attend one of Korea’s most prestigious universities, Seoul National University.
CANDID POEMS Choi says she never was a

era both politically and socially in Korea, and she decided to become actively involved in social movements. “In general, I’m a dull and introverted person. I liked to be alone and didn’t want to bother or be bothered by other people,” she says. “But I could clearly see what was going on. I just couldn’t pretend as if I didn’t see or know anything.” She made her writing debut with eight poems, including In Sokcho, in Creation and Criticism magazine in 1992. Choi was thrust into the spotlight with the publication of her first poetry book, At Thirty, the Party is Over, in 1994. Her poems were cynical, provocative and sensational. No poet like her had come before her. Her work was truly unique. One critic said of Choi, “We finally have a poet who speaks for and about our oppressed generation.” In 1997, her first essay, Gloom of the Time, was published and her second poetry book, Stepping on the Pedals of My Dreams, was released the following year. Through these poems and essays, she shared her frank confessions. There was no boundary to her writing, and she was eager to write about everything in all genres. While her readers were waiting for her next collection of poems, she released her first novel, Scars and Patterns, in 2005. Choi did not want to be defined as a writer entrapped in one specific genre. Robert Hass, former head of the Academy of American Poets, once said after hearing her recite in the U.S., “Choi’s poems are like the paintings by American abstractionists.”
A SELF-ENRICHING LIFE For the past three years, Choi has been


Language Japanese Published 2005 Publisher Shoshiaokisha Choi’s first poetry collection was published in 1994 in Korean. With it, she won fame on her first attempt with this outstanding piece. The book contains lyrical yet provocative poems that describe those who spent their twenties fighting a violent and oppressed society, and lived their thirties struggling to settle back into a routine life. When the book was released, it became a sensation among the younger generation for asking such questions like ”What is the identity of the 1990s?“ and by declaring ”The life we shared in the 1980s is over.“ She also described the young soul with an urban sense. Choi was not afraid to talk about sex and sexual desire as an active narrator, and poems such as Memories of the Last Sex and First, That are perfect examples of her boldness. She even reveals her disillusionment of the circumstances at the time through the phrase ”Innovation became hackneyed before it started. Love also became hackneyed before it started“ in the poem Before Love and Innovation Even Start. This collection of poems is widely loved by her readers and arouses sympathy through the sense of loss. It was one of the best-selling books of the year.

leader or activist. As a university student, she wanted to be passive and focused on her academics, but circumstances surrounding her own life did not allow her the quiet existence she desired. The beginning of the 1980s was a turbulent

living in Chuncheon, a one-hour drive away from her hometown in Seoul. Her life has become much simpler and lonelier, but it’s also a little clearer since her move to this lakeside city. Currently, Choi teaches writing at Kangwon National University and is working on her a next novel. She says she enjoys the rural life. Though she gained fame with her outspoken poems, she says there is something she never wanted to face through poetry. “I realized [through my writing] that I didn’t love myself that much at that time. I was self-destructive. If I could live my thirties again, I would definitely love myself more and live a selfconfident life.” When she looks back to her thirties, Choi says she feels guilty that she didn’t do the best she could for herself. Witnessing some indescribable changes in her fifties, she completed a new poetry book titled Life That Has Not Arrived. “I still don’t know where I am. But I know that I don’t get bumped against the world surrounding me any more. Where am I heading? I don’t know where I am heading. I still don’t know the last destination in which I will arrive,” she confesses as her voice trails off like a drifter in her thirties.

Language Japanese Published 2000 Publisher Doyobijutsusha Shuppan This collection contains literary criticisms that introduce and critique poems written by new generation poets in Korea. Criticisms written by Sagawa Aki, renowned Japanese poet and critic for the poemspecialized journal, are collected in the book. It is notable that the critic focuses on Choi’s poems more than others. Aki devotes over 20 pages to introducing Choi’s major work of poetry. The writer critiques some outstanding poems such as Personal Computer and Songs from a Sad Café from her poetry book At Thirty, the Party is Over and said Choi’s poems as sharply illustrating and reflective of many aspects of a turbulent Korean society.

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The Challenge isn’t Over
Climber Park Young-seok cannot be described without the modifier “world’s first.” A living legend in the Korean mountain climbing scene, Park shocked the world last January by reaching the South Pole with an eco-friendly snowmobile running soley on solar power. by Seo Dong-cheol
Park’s list of records is nothing short of outstanding. He climbed all 14 of the 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas in less time than anyone had before, and he set a record for scaling six 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas in one year. He established a new fastest time for reaching the South Pole, and did it without any food supply. Also among his feats, in 2005 he was the first to complete a true Adventure Grand Slam (reaching the highest peak on each continent, 14 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas, and both poles). After a recent revisit to the South Pole, Park began a new challenge, with an environmental focus. “We all hear that we should not be using fossil fuels and that the earth’s health is deteriorating, but no one feels or sees it more than mountain climbers,” Park said. “Mountain climbers travel to the peaks of the world and actually see the glaciers melt and the geography change. This was my third South Pole expedition and the state of the South Pole was worse than ever. The South Pole is supposed to have an arid climate similar to that of a desert, but when we were there it was snowing every three days. I wanted to send a message about global warming by reaching the South Pole with nothing but sunlight and wind.” The first thing Park needed for this expedition was an environmentally friendly snowmobile. He visited every Korean electric automobile company with his plans but faced rejection after rejection. It was impossible, they said, to make a battery that would be able to withstand the South Pole’s harsh climate, even with modern technology. So Park bought a snowmobile and created his own “eco-

Park Young-seok
Park climbed up Mount Everest in 2008.

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mobile.” He removed everything except the frame, replacing the motor with an engine, filling the remaining space with solar-cell batteries. He tested the snowmobile at ski resorts and refrigerating rooms. It took about eight months to complete. All the foreign explorers at the South Pole Union Glacier Camp were amazed at Park’s creation, and in awe of the challenge he would face. Nobody expected Park to succeed in reaching the South Pole without carbon dioxide emissions. The Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) personnel even guaranteed failure, promising a bottle of expensive whiskey if Park’s team succeeded. The “green” explorers left the base camp on Dec 19 and

very highly of our feat, reaching the South Pole by only using sunlight,” Park said.
REACHING THE SUMMITS Park’s dream of becoming a

mountain climber started in elementary school. He says he still remembers being deeply moved after reading a book by late professor of geography Kim Chan-sam, considered the first Korean to travel the world. During a time when passports were hard to come by, Kim traveled around the world for 30 years. “My heart started pounding when I read about salmon being dried at the North Pole and experiences of eating minced meat in Africa. I probably read that book more than a hundred times. After that, I knew I wanted to travel the world,” Park said.

accident each time. Park has lost many companions on the mountains, and faced several difficult life-or-death decisions. Among the peaks, Mount Everest always awed Park. He lost two team members on his Mount Everest expedition in 2007, trying to establish a new Korean route on the Southwest face; he had to turn back 450m from the summit on his second try, at the

following the trails and footsteps of others climbers, becoming some of the forerunners of the world mountain climbing community. The eco-friendly South Pole expedition was also an extension of this trend.”

were not individual feats. They were all possible through government and local company support, Koreans’ love for mountain climbing and the passion and perseverance of team members. Park established “Korea’s Expedition of Hope,” eight years ago, to teach university students about the spirit of challenge. He also created the “Hike for Hope” program,

faced numerous unexpected obstacles along the journey. “Climate change brought frequent snowfall, which hindered the recharging of our batteries using the solar cells,” Park said. “When we finally charged the batteries the motors would malfunction. After we would take care of the motors the solar cells started giving us problems. These problems occurred because we never tested our eco-mobile out on the field. At about 100km outside the South Pole, the weather turned for the worse, allowing the team to advance only 10km and having to charge every 20 hours.” Despite the obstacles, and the harsh elements, the team reached the South Pole on Jan 28, 2011. This was 41 days into their journey battling -30 C weather and blizzards. This feat was accomplished on the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole for the first time in 1911 using dog sleds. “When we returned to the base camp, the ALE personnel and foreign explorers prepared a feast for us. They spoke

In high school, Park stumbled upon a parade celebrating Dongguk University’s mountain climbing club, which had succeeded in reaching one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, the Manaslu (8,156m). “That is when I wanted to go to college,” he said. “The only reason I tried to get into college after failing my first year was to join the Dongguk University mountain climbing club, the cradle of Korean mountain climbers.” Park’s love for mountains deepened after attending Dongguk University in 1983. Starting with the Northern Alps in Japan in 1985, he successfully climbed the Langtang Ri (7,205m) and the southwest face of Mount Everest (8,848m) in Nepal; the highest point in North America, Mount McKinley (6,194m); Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in Tanzania; Annapurna (8,091m) and Lobuche (6,171m) in Nepal; and K2 (8,611m) in Pakistan. He has challenged the world’s peaks, summits and poles about 60 times in his life, miraculously avoiding a deadly

Park climbed 14 mountain peaks over 8,000 meters, including the southeast face of Mount Everest (opposite right, above two). Park used a snowmobile powered by solar energy – a first for a successful South Pole expedition – in February (opposite left).

mountain after sudden winds destroyed his equipment in 2008. Park finally succeeded on his third try and successfully established a new route in May 2009. Thanks to the efforts of Park and other Korean climbers, the Korean mountain climbing scene has received more respect from the global community in recent years. As Park said, “The Korean mountain climbing scene was only starting to take its baby steps in the 1980s. Koreans started climbing the 8000m peaks in the 1990s and showing promise. In the 2000s, Koreans started to pioneer their own trails rather than just

which offers help and hope for disabled children. Park has also worked with senior citizens and troubled youth since 2004. “I am also helping the families of Nepalese Sherpa who lost their lives on the mountains,” he said. “I started building school classrooms and donating computers to remote Nepalese village schools last year. I am trying to return the love and help I received domestically and internationally through my climbing career. I established the ‘Park Youngseok Exploration and Culture Foundation’ to systematically help these charities.” Since his return from the South Pole, Park has been preparing yet another challenge: A new route on the South face of Annapurna in the Himalayas. “After achieving the Adventure Grand Slam, I feel a burden has been lifted off my chest. Now I can freely look to unknown routes and climb the summits in different methods never before attempted. I have survived numerous life threatening situations, which I believe means that I still have much more to give to the sport of mountain climbing.”

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great korean
Yi Sun-sin is generally accompanied by the phrase “seongung,” which means “great hero.” This expression suits the Admiral well, as he protected Korea during the Imjin War (1592~1598). Undisputedly one of the most important figures in Korean history, vestiges of Yi’s heroic deeds are easily found in many places throughout Korean culture. His portrait is featured on the Korean 100 won coin; his statue stands in Seoul’s downtown Gwanghwamun Square; a Korean Navy destroyer was named after him; and his name adorns artistic facilities and streets. There are many local festivals in honor of the Admiral, one is the Gunhangje Festival, or Naval Port Festival, usually held in Jinhae-gu, Changwon around the end of March or beginning of April. The festival was first held in 1952, when Korea’s first statue of Admiral Yi was erected. Also known as the Cherry Blossom Festival, it attracts more than 2 million tourists annually, and flowers are offered in honor of Korea’s greatest military hero. Yi’s significance is also visible in Korea’s modern-day culture. He appears in many TV shows, movies, documentaries, novels and even in online games. Yi Sun-sin was born in 1545. At 27, he took a test to become a military officer, only to fail after falling off a horse. Four years later, Yi began his military career as a junior officer on the northern frontier. When Yi was assigned to be the commander of the Left Jeolla-do Province Naval District (present Yeosu), he prepared for Japan’s probable invasion by increasing the fighting power of the Korean Navy, making weapons and improving military strongholds. Historical records depict the turtle ship, or geobukseon, as follows: The head of a dragon was placed at the top of the ship near the bow, with the capability to fire cannon balls from the mouth. Metal spikes were used to cover the top of the ship to deter boarding tactics used by the Japanese. Although the interior was blocked from external view, one could see through to the outside from the inside of the ship. It was designed to fire artillery shells after charging enemy warships. In addition to creating the ship, Yi developed a new gun that combined the technology of Japanese rifles and Joseon-era guns. The Imjin War broke out in May 1592, and totally 200,000 Japanese troops invaded Korea. Although the Japanese troops overtook Seoul, Yi destroyed about 40 Japanese battleships at Okpo, Happo and Jeonjinpo, and won battles off the coast of Sacheon, Dangpo, Danghangpo and Yulpo. In August, he turned the tide of the war by making a surprise attack on the Japanese fleet near Hansando Island. In 1593, Yi was appointed Naval Commander of the Three Provinces (Gyeongsangdo Province, Jeolla-do Province and Chungcheong-do Province) leading the combined navies of the three Southern provinces. He trained soldiers, expanded armaments, took care of refugees and promoted economic industries. When the Japanese troops reinvaded Korea, Yi secured victory by defeating 133 Japanese warships with only 13 Korean ships in the Battle of Myeongnyang. Yi’s exemplary and humane behavior stood out during times of war, when military commanders had to secure the livelihood and resources for military administration on their own. He implemented various plans including fishing, production and sale of salt, managing garrison farms and issuing permits to ships. His love for his country led to his love for the people. Yi paid a lot of attention to the people’s safety, especially during times of war, ensuring that they were able to make a living by farming and fishing. Yi’s compassion should also be noted, as he always let one or two enemy battleships escape, worried of enemy retaliation. A person of high character, never compromised with injustice, he pointed out mistakes his superiors or men in power made, often putting himself at a disadvantage. Yi was even stricter in regard to his personal expectations. He once asked for punishment for losing a warship during his return from the Battle of Ungcheonpo. Yi also asked the government to award prizes to his soldiers who were killed or injured in battle. He offered opportunities to render distinguished service to officers under his command, and evaluated their performances objectively for fair compensation. In addition, he hired engineers from scorned areas and highly evaluated their achievements. Such anecdotes are recorded in his Nanjungilgi War diary, which documented a period of seven years from the beginning of the Imjin War to the Battle of Noryang. The wartime diary details Yi’s personal agonies and military tactics, and enables readers to understand the sheer depth of his character. The diary is highly regarded from a literary standpoint as

Jeollanam-do Province holds a Great Battle of Myeongnyang Festival every year (above). A statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin locates in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square (opposite far left).

Yi Sun-sin Immortal Hero
Admiral Yi Sun-sin is a historical figure who’s had a major impact on Koreans. Not only because Admiral Yi never lost a battle during the Imjin War, but also because of his fearless sense of loyalty, compassion and modest character.
by Lim Ji-young | photograph by Park Jeong-roh

Yi‘s portrait of the deceased, the turtle-shaped geobukseon and Hyeonchungsa Shrine appear on front and back of the past 500 won bill, which is not in use nowadays (left).

it contains moving quotes and Chinese poems. “We can live if we are unafraid of dying in battles. But we will die if we are afraid of dying in battles.” This famous quote was recorded by Yi in a diary entry dated September 15, 1597. He had made this remark to encourage his soldiers before taking part in the Battle of Myeongnyang. Yi was the greatest hero of the Joseon era. His diary also contains entries that express his love for his mother, and laments feeling like he failed her. Yi felt guilty for having to go to war even after hearing that his mother passed away. In 1598, the combined fleets of Korea (Joseon Dynasty) and China (Ming Dynasty) fought a final battle by launching a sudden attack on retreating Japanese troops off the Noryang. During the fierce battle, Yi was shot and died on the dawn of December 16, 1598. He was 53 years old. “The battle is raging on. Don’t tell the soldiers if I die. You should not shock them,” Yi told his eldest son and nephew, worried that his death might upset his forces. The Battle of Noryang was the last sea battle of the Imjin War and one of Korea’s greatest navy victory. A Ming commander praised Yi, naming him “Heaven’s Admiral” in his report to the Ming government. During the Imjin War, Yi fought a total of 23 battles against the Japanese invaders, never losing a single one. He distinguished himself by saving his country and his people. He was an intelligent military strategist, a brave leader and a man of noble character. Admiral Yi Sun-sin was, is and always will be an immortal hero among the Korean people.

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You’d be forgiven for assuming the area’s galleries feature nothing more than conventional paintings based on age-old techniques and traditions, but there is nothing like seeing all that Insa-dong has to offer with your own eyes. The galleries and museums feature contemporary or fusion art that mixes the traditional with the modern in ways that immediately grab your attention. Kyung-In Museum of Fine Art is the perfect example of a gallery that offers fresh surprises and unexpected exhibition themes. The exquisite art museum with four exhibition halls and an atelier is famous for its superb mixture of tradition and modernism. Its lush outdoor garden and tea house, a favorite among tourists, create a calm and surreal atmosphere, in intense contrast to the modern exhibition space. Satisfy your thirst for cultural insight at museums such as the Central Buddhist Museum, Choonwondang Museum of Korean Medicine and Bona Museum/Gallery. You will definitely discover the pleasure of learning through play. Once your pilgrimage to the galleries and museums is complete, check out other areas of Insa-dong. Ssamziegil, a culture complex of sorts, is perfect for those who love to shop, as it is both energetic and traditional. It was named Ssamziegil (gil means street) because fashion brand Ssamzie designed and organized the space. Since this unique complex opened in December 2004, it has fascinated and entertained tourists with its colorful attractions that include an organic tea house, mini gallery and craft shops. There are even vendors who help you create your own art. The four-story wooden Ssamziegil building is a must-see attraction for tourists and was bestowed the honorary nickname “Little Insa-dong.” Having tea in a traditional tea house or indulging in authentic Korean cuisine is another experience not to be missed in Insa-dong. Rather than those eateries that boisterously call to tourists from Insa-dong’s main street, we recommend you seek out the hidden gems in the back alleyways. If you’re ready to try something new, visit Insadong’s Buddhist restaurants, which specialize in tasty and healthy vegetarian cuisine. If you crave something hearty, take a chance on Korean traditional barbeque or naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles). When you’re ready to turn in for the night, nothing will complete the experience of Insa-dong like spending the night in a hanok, a Korean traditional house. There are several types of accommodation near Insa-dong that range from original hanok houses to renovated hanok-style guesthouses. A humble night’s sleep - like Koreans in the olden days - will make your trip to Insa-dong stand out from all the others.

Insa-dong, one of Seoul’s must-see spots, offers a glimpse into the city’s past. Find countless gems hidden in the alleyways, where traditional tea houses and restaurants, old-fashioned calligraphy shops and modern art galleries coexist.
by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Choi Ji-young

Where Yesterday Meets Today

Insa-dong is a mecca for Korean art. The surrounding areas of Insa-dong, Gahoe-dong, Anguk-dong and Samcheong-dong were once home to a nest of affluent families during the Joseon Dynasty. Items that once belonged to the wealthier citizens of Seoul were auctioned off on the streets of Insa-dong, making the area a hub for trading art and antiques. The area first became known for its antique collections during the 1930s, when antique dealers set up shops and bookstores on the main thoroughfare. After the end of the Korean War in 1953, Nagwon markets opened and a “rice cake street” formed near Insa-dong. In the 1980s, more antique shops, art galleries, special collectors’ shops and craft shops opened their doors, and the street became known as the home of Korean art. Though the area is a haven for the arts, Insa-dong’s specialty shops, galleries and museums appeal to more than just art and history lovers. Insa-dong boasts a variety of galleries and museums of different themes and sizes, including INSA Gallery, Kyung-In Museum of Fine Art and Gongpyeong Gallery.

The main street of Insa-dong is always full of visitors experiencing Korean culture (opposite). Traditional souvenirs that you might see on the streets (above left). You can also visit hanok restaurants serving traditional cuisine (above right). Foreign visitors shop for antiques at a street shop (below).


In the back alleys that have been designated ‘pedestrian-only’ streets, a variety of events and performances are held on Saturdays (afternoons only) and Sundays. No cars are allowed to pass through the streets, so experiences like shopping, dining and enjoying the fresh air become much more comfortable and relaxing on the weekends.

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A sea breeze makes its way across the ocean and up the river toward the shores near Ulsan, gently rocking the bamboo blades. The breeze follows the bamboo stalks to the Adonis plants, commonly found in mountainous areas, which are the first to blossom with the coming of spring. The bamboo groves are thick and block out the sky above, and cover the area in every direction as far as the eye can see. Although it seems like a scene from a scarcely populated area, this bamboo grove is actually in the heart of the bustling city of Ulsan. The Taehwagang River is located on the southeastern end of the Korean Peninsula and flows for about 50 kilometers around the city of Ulsan before emptying into the East Sea. Ulsan has led the way for the modernization and industrialization of Korea since the 1960s, and the city is home to large industrial complexes specializing in heavy industries like shipbuilding and refining. Ulsan played an important role in the modernization of Korea, where the expression the “Miracle of Korea” is often referred to as the “Miracle of the Taehwagang River.”

Ulsan has led Korea’s industrialization since the 1960s, and for years had a reputation for smog and pollution. But over the past 10 years, numerous species of fish and birds have reclaimed their natural habits in the area. Ulsan has transformed itself into an ecological city.
by Chung Dong-muk | photographs by Park Jeong-roh

A hiking trail in Ulsan‘s famous Simni Bamboo Grove near Taehwagang River (above).

development, however, also had its pitfalls. Like other industrial cities around the world, pollution took its toll on the river. As Korea’s roads swelled with cars and buses and property development increased, the Taehwagang River — the lifeline of Ulsan — became increasingly polluted. Fish species were wiped out by the contamination, migratory birds left and the citizens were left with a foul-smelling river. People started to appreciate the importance of the river in 2002, around the time of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan. The Ulsan city government decided they could not exist without

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A resident enjoys a bike ride along the Taehwagang River (above). Ganjeolgot, located near Ulsan, with its fascinating ocean views (left). A craftman of Oegosan Onggi Village concentrates on making pottery (below).

and 200 billion won to create an ecofriendly environment. The city was successful in its endeavor. The BOD (biological oxygen demand) levels improved from a Grade Six with 11 ppm quality rating in 1996 to a Grade One with 2 ppm rating. This turnaround also brought wildlife back to the area, transforming it into an impressive ecosystem with 430 different species of plants and animals, including 48 different species of birds and 41 species of fish. Sweetfish, salmon and otters, which only live in Grade One water, started populating the river. In the summer, 4,000 white herons migrated to the river and covered the riverbanks with nests. And as the sun set one winter afternoon, 46,000 crows — which are believed to bring good fortune — flew in from the west and blessed the citizens with a beautiful sight that only nature can provide. The Taehwagang River has now become a pivotal part of the city of Ulsan, where water festivals and swimming competitions are held annually.

the Taehwagang River and searched for methods to restore its health. The city paid substantially for its years of abuse. After extensive feasibility studies, sewage treatment facilities were built, sewer pipes were organized and laid underground, and the accumulated sludge was dredged from the river bottom. Ulsan planned a large bamboo grove by creating the Simni Bamboo Grove. Bamboo was planted along the shore and riverside to help protect the natural flow of the river. They also created trails for citizens to take a stroll or ride a bicycle. A total of about 600 billion won (US$ 545 million) was spent on this project: 400 billion won for water improvement

reason the Taehwagang River is garnering so much attention from Koreans is in part due to the whale watching cruise tours offered here. Ulsan borders the East Sea, where the warm currents during spring and summer attract whales. Prehistoric cave paintings in the Ulsan area depict men hunting whales — proof of the long connection between whales and Ulsan. Before it was prohibited, one of the ports in Jangsaengpo, Ulsan, was infamous for whale poaching. Citizens now join whale watching tours to admire these great mammals. In April, before warm currents have yet to flow in, whale watching cruise tours are offered once a week. In June and July the

tours run daily. “We do not encounter whales every time we set sail,” says Kim Chul-seung, manager of the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum. “However, we spot thousands of dolphins playfully greeting the ships. Swimming in the ocean and flying in the sky have always been the dreams of many people, and observing these whales and dolphins brings about a certain feeling of satisfaction.” Tourists who do not spot any whales on their tour recieve free admission to the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum. The building itself is in the shape of a whale. The museum — the only one of its kind in Korea — describes in detail the life of a whale. Next to the museum is the Whale & Ocean Experience Center, where a large water tank houses Ulsan’s mascots: Three dolphins named Arong-e, Darong-e, and Kkotbun-e. If calling Ulsan an “ecopolis” with its environmental history and struggles is not an exaggeration, there is another place that deserves mention as well: the Oegosan Onggi Village. Driving south toward Busan from Ulsan, you will encounter a small mountain called Oegosan. In the foothills of Oegosan, 40 master craftsmen make pottery using only natural clay, sunlight and fire. The pottery has something that modern porcelain does not: It breathes. The clay that is used to make the pottery forms microscopic pores. These pores are important for the fermentation process used to make Korean traditional dishes like kimchi. The pottery is made from clay found in the area, naturally dried by the wind and finished by fire techniques. Although the process as described might seem simple enough, a meticulous science is involved in the procedure in which one piece of pottery depends on the strength of the wind, a difference in


Train You can take the KTX (Korea Train eXpress) train from Seoul Station to Ulsan Station. There are at least 1-2 trains every hour. Bus Buses are available from Seoul Express Bus Terminal every 30 minutes, starting at 6am. Airplane Korean Air and Asiana Airlines offer daily flights from Gimpo International Airport in Seoul to Ulsan Airport.
Ulsan Seoul

Jangsaengpo Whale Museum If no whales are spotted on the Whale Watching Cruise Tour, visitors receive free admission to the Whale Museum. They also recieve a 40 percent discount on admission to the Whale & Ocean Experience Center. For more information, visit or call +82 [0]52 256 6301. Ticket sales 09:30~17:00 Opening hours 09:30~18:00 (closed on Mondays) Admission Whale Museum (main building): Adults 2,000 won, children 1,000 won Whale & Ocean Experience Center (annex): Adults 5,000 won, children 3,000 won 4D Theater: Adults and children 3,000 won Package Deal: Adults 9,000 won, children 6,300 won

Olympia Hotel Conveniently located downtown, the Olympia Hotel is close to the station, bus terminal and airport. Amenities include restaurants, sauna, barber shop and coffee shop. For more information, visit or call +82 [0]52 271 8401. Lotte Hotel Ulsan Located near the Taehwagang River, Lotte Hotel Ulsan offers stunning views from its rooms. Amenities include a fitness center, sauna and restaurtants. For more information, visit or call +82 [0]52 960 1000.

Jangsaengpo Whale Museum

Aquarium at Whale & Ocean Experience Center

Camellia at Daewangam

humidity, the temperature of the fire, and the philosophy and the heart of the craftsman. Driving south from the village and toward the ocean, visitors arrive at Ganjeolgot, where the sun rises before anywhere else on the Korean Peninsula. The sunrise, whether it is New Year’s Day or any other day of the year, is known to give people new determination and

hope for the future. With the rising sun, the morning stars slowly give way to dawn. A clear and intense scarlet wave of light covers the ocean and land. The grand sunrise will bring light to the land and all the wildlife that thrive in the area. Once again, we realize within this “ecopolis” that humans are nothing but a small existence compared to the majesty of nature.

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now in korea

Café Evolution
It’s not hard to spot a coffee shop or a café in Korea today. There are even themed cafés that specialize in helping visitors create special experiences while providing a fresh café latte or Americano. The cafés where one simply enjoyed a cup of tea are evolving into hubs for crafts, travel, counseling and more.
by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Park Jeong-roh

Through Time:

Jeongja-dong in Seongnam is famous for its Café Street, especially for lovers and social get-togethers (above).

A flat, silver plate is cut and engraved with patterns. Then, as it takes the shape of a ring through seemingly effortless skill, the hearts of a couple seem to fill with joy. This is scene from a Metal Craft Café in front of Hongik University in Seoul, where customers can make their own rings and experience metal craftwork, while enjoying a cup of their favorite tea or coffee. Park Yoo-geun, the manager of the café, introduces the place as “A café to enjoy coffee comfortably, a gallery to visit an exhibition and a space to experience metal crafts.” The city’s modern-day coffee shops are not just a place for coffee and good company. Some have become complex cultural spaces. From book cafés to magic cafés, bed cafés, eco-friendly organic cafés, fortune-telling cafés, vintage cafés and craft cafés, there are numerous themes to choose from. In accordance with the taste of the younger generation — who choose to pursue something unique and new — cafés that absorb culture of various genres provide cultural contents far beyond a cup of coffee. There are also travel cafés that focus on transporting customers to another place and time with décor and souvenirs from exotic destinations. Slides of famous tourist attractions decorate the walls, visually enhancing customers’ experiences. “This is a place for those who want to recall memories from their trips or discuss trip plans with others,” explains No Geun-young, the owner of Cafe 1010, the travel café. One corner of the shop is dedicated to travel books, magazines and photo albums of places No has visited.

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Within that complex café culture, psychological cafés predict people’s fortunes. Different teas are served according to the fortune, providing a shelter-like atmosphere for the mentally exhausted.
CHIC CULTURE CAFÉ The first-generation cafés in Korea

were Dabang, meaning “tea rooms.” Most Dabang in the 1980s hired DJs to attract young people, and Dabang DJs became the icons of youth culture. Since the mid-2000s, Dabang have been replaced with specialized coffee shops, the second generation of cafés. Many coffee shops opened one after another, but they eventually began to close because of the appearance and ambiance of the third-generation cafés, known as fusion cafés, a place regarded as a chic meeting point among young people. In the late-2000s, coffee shops that evolved into fusion cafés were upgraded to culture cafés, the fourth generation of cafés in Korea. Culture cafés provide cultural experiences related to art, music and movies, combined with a cup of coffee. In the beginning, fourth-generation culture cafés could be seen only

in downtown Seoul. These types of cafés gained in popularity and began to pop up across the country. These developments in café culture are closely related to the dense urban scene. In the suffocating surroundings of the busy city, people wanted a shelter where they could escape reality and relax, if just for a moment. These days, coffee is not the only purpose for visiting a café. People go to take in the cultural elements, and with that cup of coffee release stress and soak in inspiration and motivation. In this heyday of the modern café, coffee lovers may have trouble deciding where to go. Garosu-gil Street in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, is the front-running café street in Korea. The cafés there are characterized by foreign influences on architecture, interior design and café concept as well as menu options. Book cafés, flower cafés and Japanese-style vintage cafés are recommended. Cafés near Hongik University are more experimental, just like the streets around it. Since the first bed café in Korea opened in the area, many unusual cafés - including a chocolate café and loft café - have captured the curiosity of the younger generation. The quality coffee is an added bonus to these cafés. Also, relatively reasonable prices make the experience even more (Clockwise from top) Most of the pleasant. Jeongja-dong cafés have openair tables which are pleasant for Samcheong-dong is chatting; there are several book synonymous with Koreanized cafés in Garosu-gil Street, Sinsadong; cafés are a familiar place cafés, which are clustered in for chocoholics; cafés also offer an appropriate place for the area’s maze-like alleyways. working. Some of them even provide mini galleries featuring art collections. Even the signboards of the cafés look different in Samcheong-dong. Jeongja-dong in Seongnam, southeast of Seoul, is proud of its own Café Street, where most of the cafés have quaint porches with shaded areas that infuse the streets with exotic fragrances. From a 24-hour café to a flower café that gives customers potted plants to take home, Jeongjadong’s Café Street is among the most popular. Its upscale interior design and romantic atmosphere suggestive of streets in Vienna make for a one-of-a-kind setting.
ECO-FRIENDLY CAFÉS “While I lived in Sydney, I used to

visit several interesting cafés around my house. All of them looked so different from each other. I wondered why Korean

cafés look similar to each other. That experience inspired me to open this unique café,” says Kim Se-young, owner of Stefani Café on Garosu-gil Street. The café recently opened its second location. It attracts a certain type of customer with its eyecatching menu that includes fair trade coffee and organic, homemade cookies. “We try to use as many organic ingredients as possible, as well as fair trade coffee. Customers have become more aware of the value of the money they spend. For them, it is worthy of spending money on fair trade coffee.” According to Kim, one of the trends in modern cafés is offering coffee and other products that are both eco-friendly and sustainable. It’s not as difficult as it once was to find a café that offers fair trade coffee. Organic coffee cultivated in accordance with organic farming standards, without the use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides is the most sought after coffee as customers become more conscious of the environment and their own health. If organic coffee is regarded as the best option, fair trade coffee is seen as the second best for conscientious coffee drinkers. As public awareness of fair

trade increases, more people are willing to pay more for fair trade coffee, which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee, to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic incentives for producers.

1 Samcheong-dong Take Subway Line 3 and get off at Anguk Station, exit No1. Walk 10 minutes in the direction of Jeongdok Public Library. 2 Hongdae (Hongik University) Take Subway Line 2 and get off at Hongik University Station, exit No 9. Walk straight until you see the main entrance of Hongik University. 3 Garosu-gil Street Take Subway Line 3 and get off either at Apgujeong Station (exit No 5) or Sinsa Station (exit No 8). Whichever you choose, walk for about 10 to 15 minutes. It may take a little longer from Apgujeong Station, but it’s easier to find. 4 Jeongja-dong Café Street Take the Bundang Line to Jeongja Station, exit No 4. Walk straight down the street for about 100 meters.

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my korea
My family and I drove up Mount Washington once when I was young, although I don’t really remember the visit. I only know we made the trip because my brother stuck a bumper sticker that we got on that trip on the mirror of my bureau. I was forced to go through all of high school looking in the mirror and seeing a “This car climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker plastered across my forehead. The point of this story is that I was never really into mountains. So when I moved to Korea and found out that its geography comprises 70 percent of mountainous terrain, it didn’t register in my head what that really meant. I knew mountains were out there, but I just thought those mountains were over in Gwangju or Daegu or some other far-off sounding “gu.” I only saw markets, saunas, sidewalks, subways, Noraebang (Korean karaoke) and street foods. I had come to Seoul to get out of the country. I was sick of living in the woods! I was reinventing myself as a city girl, a modern woman! My Seoul experience would not include mountains. I guess I started noticing that I was living in the midst of a massive city among mountains when I first moved to Itaewon. My new apartment was just a 10-minute walk from the base of Mt Namsan. I took a walk through the park one day, detoured onto a little trail through the woods that led on up to the peak and suddenly I realized I’d been missing my old friend Mother Nature! How relaxing! How peaceful! What’s that smell? What smell? I don’t smell anything. Oh, you mean the fresh, clean air smell! Yes, heavenly! I realized that I loved being able to escape to this sanctuary in the middle of all the city chaos. Thinking that I was a real mountaineer after taking several walks to the top and hosting the odd picnic here and there up on Mt Namsan, I was convinced to join a trip organized by a hiking group my friend found on Facebook. We all gathered at the meeting place at 11pm and climbed onto a bus for a sixhour drive to Mt Wolchulsan in Jeollanam-do Province (the southwestern corner of the Korean Peninsula). The trip started out great with lots of snacks and light conversation with new friends. I just knew I was going to love hiking! We arrived at the mountain at daybreak. Please keep in mind that it was January and my first time hiking a mountain other than Mt Namsan. I didn’t know it, but I was in for a surprise. Wearing old sneakers, cotton sweatpants and not nearly enough layers, I quickly got uncomfortably wet and freezing cold. Not only was it unbelievably cold, but it was nothing like a hike up my perfect little Mt Namsan. There were ropes we had to climb, chains we had to hold onto so that we wouldn’t fall 100 meters down a rock face to our deaths. There was ice, so much ice, as there also happened to be a sudden freak blizzard when we got to the top so we couldn’t even enjoy the view we had worked so hard to see. The hike took eight hours both ways. It’s 800 times longer than my typical jaunt up and down Mt Namsan. I can say with confidence that the hike was a complete disaster. Until the end. The glorious end! Once we made it down

Mountain hiking experience started when Michelle Farnsworth moved to Seoul, even though she grew up in New Hampshire, a state famous for its peaks. Korea filled with countless hiking opportunities, it’s the perfect place to explore the beautiful mountains.

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the mountain, we slowly gathered our cold, wet, shaking, shivering selves at a little non-descript restaurant at the foot of the mountain. Ajumma (a name given to middleaged Korean women who have grown children) had wood stoves burning where we could warm our hands. They cooked us hearty and delicious spicy dakbokkeumtang (Korean-style chicken stew) and served us life-giving, mood-lifting, soulsoothing makgeolli (Korean rice wine). I’m not sure I would be alive to tell you this story today without the warmth, food and makgeolli at the end of that hike. Despite the good eats at the end, I swore I would never, ever hike again! But then, as it always does whenever I say “never,” it came back to bite me in the proverbial buttocks. My buttocks were bitten, so to speak, when I met Kevin, who is now my boyfriend, a few months later. Kevin loves mountains, hiking, running and all the gear that goes along with it. He has never tried rock climbing but he already knows he loves that too. He loves the many easily accessible mountains in Seoul’s backyard,

and takes advantage of hiking them every chance he gets. So when he suggested that we join another hiking group and hike Mt Seoraksan in Gangwon-do Province, I agreed that it sounded like a lovely idea and that I couldn’t wait. “What?!” you may ask in surprise, “After your horrible hiking experience, hiking Mt Seoraksan sounded lovely?” “Well,” I say to that, “You know how it is when you start dating someone: ‘Sounds great, honey!’” By this time I had also realized the reason Mt Wolchulsan hike had been such a hiking disaster, was simply because I had not been prepared. I needed the proper gear, and I was determined not to let the same unpreparedness ruin this trip to Mt Seoraksan (or my new relationship for that matter). I headed over to the hiking section of Namdaemun Market and bought hiking boots and clamp-ons (snow chains and spikes for the bottom of your shoes), hiking socks, a rain jacket, a headlamp, quick dry shirts and towels, and waterproof gloves. When we gathered at the meeting place at 11pm to get on the bus to Mt Seoraksan, I had a backpack full of snacks, several additional layers of clothing, about 12 pairs

of socks, and multiple reserves full of water. I had no idea how I was going to carry all of this stuff up the mountain. I looked ridiculous, but no one would ever say that I was unprepared. We arrived at Mt Seoraksan around 2am. Kevin convinced me to leave about 75 percent of my supplies on the bus, but I kept the essentials and a few extra items. We put on our headlamps and started heading up the mountain. That’s the only way I can describe the beginning of the hike, “up.” Although it was intimidating and tough, and there were some ropes and chains we had to use, we had a big, supportive group with all different levels of hikers and we all made it to the top. We stopped for breaks and snacks along the way, and I was surprised that I was generally having a pretty good time. It was dark, quiet, fresh and clean. Night hiking by headlamp … an experience only found in Korea! Around 8am we reached the peak. But wouldn’t you know, it had started raining and we couldn’t see the landscape around the mountain. Again! No view! The rain was coming in from all angles. But oddly enough, in my hot pink waterproof rain coat and, in my opinion, cute purple waterproof hiking boots, the situation was funny rather than exasperating and discouraging. A great anecdote to tell friends later, instead of a disabling longing to lie down and wait to get airlifted from one of the helicopter pads. We rested in a little camp near the peak, and shared snacks and stories. We were exhausted, but accomplished. We were soggy, but happy. When we finally got to the bottom around noon (10 hours later), we found ourselves a little restaurant with an ajumma to feed us some scrumptious fried seafood pancakes, warm tofu and freshly fermented kimchi. Of course, we imbibed in a little of the Korean hiker’s nectar: makgeolli. This time, I swore I would definitely be hiking again. It is amazing to me now how blind I was to the mountainous landscape when I first arrived in Korea. When I look out of almost any window in Seoul the first thing I see now, is a mountain or even a whole range of mountains in the not-toofar distance. Are you in Seoul now? Look outside. Look right now. I bet you can see at least one mountain. While I still love visiting Namsan, the thrill is checking out the many different mountains in and around Seoul. Kevin and I regularly travel around Seoul to climb different mountains during all weather conditions. Mt Gwanaksan provides a

great panoramic view of the city, Mt Cheonggyesan is a solid morning stair workout and Mt Bukhansan has enough trails to keep you busy for a month of Sunday hikes. Hiking around Seoul is an easily accessible escape to the outdoors and has contributed greatly to the quality of my life and experience in Seoul. Just get on the subway, or head to the bus stop and follow the Koreans with the hiking sticks and backpacks. Get yourself some gear, and get out there! by Michelle Farnsworth | illustrations by
Jo Seung-yeon | photograph by Park Jeong-roh

PROFILE Michelle Farnsworth is an American who has been living in Korea for eight years. She is the Foreign Client Relationship Manager at the Shinhan Bank Seoul Global Center. She can be reached at

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special issue
level of 91.4%, comparatively higher than that of the two competing cities. The central government also expressed its support for the bid as President Lee Myung-bak hosted a welcome reception for the delegation, and Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik hosted a welcome dinner, affirming Korea’s hopes of winning the bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Commission Chairwoman Gunilla Lindberg said at the IOC press conference, “I must also mention the passionate support of Gangwon-do residents.” On Feb 20, as the IOC Commission members were leaving Korea, around 8,000 residents formed a human chain from Songcheon Bridge to Hoenggye Interchange, waving goodbye to the delegates. Though it failed in its two previous bids for the Winter Olympics, PyeongChang has not given up on its goal. Instead, through continued efforts, it has worked to make improvements to its infrastructure. In October 2000, PyeongChang first appeared on the international stage by announcing its wish to place a bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Then an unknown city to many, PyeongChang competed against eight others and made the three-city shortlist. During the first round of votes at the IOC session in Prague, PyeongChang surprised everyone by coming in first. In the second round, however, the Korean city lost to Vancouver. PyeongChang gained confidence and made its second bid years later. Of the seven cities bidding to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, PyeongChang again made the shortlist with two others. Though it came in first in the first round of votes, PyeongChang lost to Sochi, Russia, in the second round. In September 2007, PyeongChang announced its wish to bid again for the 2018 Winter Olympics. In September 2009, it was selected as one of the three final candidate cities for the Olympics, along with Munich and Annecy, France. In March 2010, PyeongChang became involved once again in the bidding process by turning in the candidate file to the IOC. PyeongChang has undertaken thorough preparations for its third attempt. During the IOC site inspection four years ago, the city had only secured the area for the stadium on an empty piece of land. But this time around, the IOC delegates were able to see the actual facilities. In all, seven of the proposed 13 competition venues had completed development. The accommodation facilities and transportation networks were also well structured. In addition, PyeongChang has staged the Dream Program annually since 2004, a promise made to the IOC that it would carry out during its first bid. To ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics,

Young athletes show their support for the 2018 Winter Olympic bid (opposite). Residents of Gangwon-do Province sing a welcome song for the IOC Evaluation Commission members on Feb 18 (above). The IOC commission make an inspection for Alpensia Ski Resort‘s ski jump lounge on Feb 17 (below).

PyeongChang is gearing up for its third bid to host the Winter Olympics. Results from the IOC Evaluation Commission’s on-site inspection of PyeongChang in February showed bidding preparations were going well. by Kim Hyeon-jin
The people of PyeongChang will continue to exert their efforts as representatives of the Korean people, in order to win their bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics – the winner of which will be announced in Durban, South Africa, on July 6. In February, the IOC Evaluation Commission conducted on-site inspections of the three candidate cities to host the 2018 Winter Olympics - Annecy, France; Munich, Germany; and PyeongChang, Korea. The three cities underwent fierce competition to demonstrate to the Commission what each could offer. It’s difficult to determine which city stood out most to the visiting IOC committee, but it’s believed that PyeongChang captured the attention of the delegation, particularly because of the upgraded infrastructure since their previous bids and the delegation’s previous on-site inspections. During the inspection, more than 1,000 residents and students gathered along the streets surrounding the competition venues, expressing nationwide support for the bid by waving their hands and warmly welcoming the delegation. This public showing was symbolic of Korea’s national support

Third Attempt for the Winter Olympics

it was also important to prove to other countries that Korea is competitive in winter sports. So the Korean government, along with various public and private enterprises, extended their support for the improvement, promotion and invigoration of winter sports. As a result, Korea ranked fifth on the medal table at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics – its best performance at the Winter Olympiad to date – earning gold medals for short track, speed skating and figure skating (total medal count: six golds, six silvers, and two bronze medals). Korea also earned four gold medals in skiing at the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan – its best performance to date in skiing. These are all examples of how the Korean people are exerting their efforts to become united in their hopes to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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summit diplomacy

President Lee Myung-bak paid a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from March 12 to 14, upon an invitation from President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During his visit, Korea won an oil development deal in Abu Dhabi that will see Seoul secure a total of 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil, worth roughly 132 trillion won (US$116.6 billion). The deal is one of great significance for the president and for Korea. by Kwon Kyeong-hui

President Lee Myung-bak scored an oil development deal that will see 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil (worth about 132 trillion won) flow into Korea. President Lee signed the deal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a battleground for major players in international oil. The deal comes on the heels of a nuclear power plant construction agreement worth US$40 billion completed in December 2009. President Lee’s back-toback coups in energy diplomacy has further fortified the strategic partnership between the two countries. On March 13, President Lee attended a summit with President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. The leaders shared the satisfaction of having improved bilateral ties since establishing a strategic partnership in December 2009, and held in-depth discussions on cooperation in energy, construction, defense, public health, medicine and the environment on both regional and international platforms. Slightly more than a year after the UAE government named Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) as the developer of UAE nuclear plants in December 2009, the two countries broke ground on the new reactors. The two countries also agreed to remain in close consultation to ensure construction of top-quality nuclear plants. President Khalifa expressed his gratitude to President Lee regarding Korea’s dispatch of the Akh military unit to the UAE. The leaders also agreed that they should further strengthen their strategic partnership through the Akh unit, which means brother in Arabic. KOREA-UAE SIGN DEAL FOR OIL DEVELOPMENT, NEW GROWTH ENGINES President Lee met with President Khalifa and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, and signed three major deals covering oil development — memorandums of understanding (MOU) on oil and gas, and a deal on three oil fields — and future growth engines, with an MOU

President Lee Myungbak, middle left, receives the Zayed International Prize for the Environment from UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, middle right, on March 14 (opposite). President Lee smiles after the ceremony held on the same day (above). Korea and the UAE agreed to sign a bilateral document on oil and cooperation (right).

on cooperation on new growth engines. Korea becomes the first country in almost 40 years to sign an oil development deal with Abu Dhabi since the Emirate closed its oil fields to outsiders in the 1970s. Abu Dhabi has the world’s sixth-largest volume of oil reserves, and has one of the richest fields in Middle East, the area which holds 57% of all reserves in the world. For that reason, only a selected number of oil majors have set foot there, including the US, Britain and France — which made their way in the 1930s and 1940s — and Japan, which arrived in the 1970s.

Since signing the nuclear power plant deal in late 2009, Seoul and Abu Dhabi have steadily improved their strategic economic ties, and Korea was able to build on that partnership to enter the UAE oil fields. The Abu Dhabi deal is for 1.2 billion barrels, which is more than 10 times larger than Korea’s second-biggest oil deal with Vietnam. By becoming the fifth country to gain access to Abu Dhabi’s oil, Korea is looking to become a major player in oil. The oil field in the UAE deal is the single-largest field that Korea has ever

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acquired and it is said to contain more than half of what Korea has secured in about 60 occasions over the past 30 years. Separately, Korea signed another deal on three undeveloped oil fields. According to the Korean government, the two countries agreed to build storage in Korea to hold 6 million barrels of Abu Dhabi oil and allow Korea to use the oil when necessary. Korea will save 700 billion won in costs for stockpiling oil. Korea’s energy self-sufficiency ratio for oil and gas is also set to rise from 10.8% to 15%, as President Lee took another step toward meeting his pledge of hitting the 20% mark during his administration. The deal also brings some stability to Korean national energy security amid an unstable international crude oil market. PRESIDENT LEE HELPS DAVID BEAT GOLIATH President Lee’s moves behind the scenes were said to have had a critical impact on signing one of the largest oil development projects in the Middle East. Korea was the proverbial David against the major players in global oil. But thanks to the trust the UAE has developed in Korea over the years, Korea was able to stage an upset. For the past year, Lee, under the tightest of security, had been leading oil field negotiations with the UAE, and his staffers say whenever the talks hit a snag, President Lee dealt directly with Crown Prince Mohammed. It was after reaching the nuclear power plant deal with the UAE in December 2009 that President Lee apparently developed an interest in the oil fields. But those within the Korean government weren’t so convinced. KEPCO is just 77th among oil companies in the world and it was considered reckless to be challenging international powers in Abu Dhabi. But Lee called for more optimistic and proactive thinking. In February last year, a task force was formed with the Presidential Council for Future

President Lee, left, chats with the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, on the way to the summit conference on March 13 (right). President Lee, left, gives his sincere condolences to Masatoshi Muto, Ambassador of Japan in Korea, about Japan‘s tragedy on March 18 (opposite).

and Vision at the core, and preliminary talks with Abu Dhabi began. Abu Dhabi wasn’t so keen at first to discuss oil field-related business with Korea. When talks were going nowhere, President Lee himself stepped in. When Crown Prince Mohammed, who has had a close relationship with the president, visited Seoul in May last year, Lee said it was an important starting point in bilateral cooperation for the UAE to give Korea, which has no oil reserves, a chance to develop oil fields. Kwak Seung-jun, chairman of the Presidential Council for Future and Vision, went to Abu Dhabi eight times as special envoy, and on seven of those trips, President Lee sent a personal letter. During a press conference following the Korea-UAE summit on March 13, Lee said the process resembled “a 007 operation.” Abu Dhabi began to open up, first by signing an MOU on rights to three undeveloped oil fields in August. Kwak, along with officials for the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea

PRESIDENT LEE WINS ZAYED PRIZE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT Another feat was the praise President Lee received for being an ecofriendly leader. President Lee was named the winner of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment. Lee won in

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© Seoul Economy Daily (above); Yonhap News Agency (opposite)

National Oil Corp., invited UAE officials to go skiing in Korea during winter. Concrete negotiations took place ahead of Lee’s UAE trip. The MOU on the undeveloped fields was upgraded to head of terms (HOT), and an MOU was reached on development of an oil field worth at least 1 billion barrels, so as to avoid having double contracts with majors already involved in the business. During his summit, President Lee noted the steady progress of their bilateral nuclear cooperation, and the two leaders agreed to maintain close cooperation to ensure the best nuclear power plants. UAE also agreed to participate in ecofriendly projects by Korea’s Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), set to be the first international agency headed by Seoul.

the category of global leadership at a ceremony at the Dubai World Trade Center on March 14. The award, launched in 2001, is named for former President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who helped turn the desert country into a green state. It recognizes those for their international environmental achievements. The ceremony was attended by about 1,000 people, including Hereditary Prince of Dubai Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum; Oktay Tabasaran, secretary general of World Water Forum; and Klaus Töpfer, former executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). President Lee was recognized for his achievements in green growth and the development of new growth engines to respond to climate change as well as job creation. The panel of judges said Lee’s vision and leadership have been critical to turning the Korean economy into one of low-carbon and high efficiency. They took note of his pioneering role in green policy in the international community since introducing his green growth strategies, aimed at sustainable long-term growth, in August 2008. In his acceptance speech, President Lee asked people to share his dreams and visions of green growth as a response to climate change, one of the main challenges facing mankind, and to build “a plant-responsible civilization.” President Lee pointed out the UAE, once a desert country, and Korea, once devastated by war, both believed in the power of their dreams to achieve prosperity. He also said that with the opening of the GGGI office in the UAE, people should be more humble before Mother Nature and together lay the groundwork for new and sustainable prosperity. As a former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, President Lee played an impressive role in building a Korean legend in the Middle East, thus creating special ties with the UAE.


At every opportunity he had during his UAE stay, President Lee urged Koreans, Korean immigrants and the international community to show compassion and support for Japan, devastated by a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11. In a meeting with Korean residents in the UAE on March 14, President Lee explained the depth of Japan’s suffering after the quake and tsunami, and said that it wasn’t just a problem for Japan, but that every nation should step up to help Korea‘s neighboring country. President Lee said there’s nothing humans can do to avoid natural disasters and added, “When humans have been hit by disasters, the rest of the world should come together to give help and offer deep condolences. We have to do even more for Japan because we’re close neighbors.” The president said he was

“touched” upon witnessing the calm reaction and poise of the Japanese in the face of the major disaster. “Every country will think highly of Japan’s disaster prevention system, and the way they’ve handled the aftermath.” President Lee stated that considering the situation in Japan, the groundbreaking ceremony in Abu Dhabi was toned down. He also began his acceptance speech of the Zayed Prize with condolences to Japan, saying, “Boundaries have no significance in the face of natural disasters. As a neighbor of Japan, we will try our best to help our fellow mankind in difficult times. I urge the international community to come together to help get Japan back to normal.” President Lee also placed a call to Japanese Prime Minister Kan Naoto from Abu Dhabi offering to send in a rescue team. During the press conference after the Korea-UAE summit, President Lee discussed his phone conversation with Prime Minister Kan, “I was impressed that the Japanese people have responded to the disaster in a calm and mature manner. On behalf of the Korean people, I would like to offer my condolences to the people of Japan.” | 43

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global korea

Utilizing IT technology to enhance administrative efficiency is a major tool the government employs to raise competitiveness in the 21st century. Korea’s advanced e-Government system topped the UN Global E-Government Survey, prompting global interest in Korea’s tech-savvy techniques. The Korean-style e-Government system will provide a new challenge for domestic IT companies, while also helping spread the word about Korean administrative culture to overseas companies. by Lee Se-mi

© Samsung SDS (opposite, top); Public Procurement Service (right)

E-Government system exports have seen steady growth since 2006. The market stood at a mere US$9.87 million in 2007, but over the past three years, that number has at least doubled annually, reaching US$150 million, or a 223% increase from the year before. From 2002-10, Korea exported 15 systems worth US$297.2 million to a total of 23 countries. Systems for a variety of fields, including those for tariffs, procurement and patents, which can be internationally generalized and standardized, are actively exported. Ecuador’s electric customs clearance system, Indonesia’s electric patent application system, Bangladesh’s national telecommunications system, Mali’s government management network, and Sri Lanka’s tariff system are good examples. Such a rise in overseas exports of e-Government systems can be attributed to an increase in interest in Korea’s e-Government programs ever since it was ranked No 1 on the UN Global E-Government Survey. It is also due to support of exports through inter-government cooperation and improvements on IT companies’ overseas marketing environment. At the same time, it is a reflection of Korea’s development of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) that provides a basis for e-Government. At the moment, Korea is working with 43 countries to help them establish e-Governments and providing support in the combined format of overseas exports and information on public development funding programs. EXPANSION OF EXPORT ROUTES The Korea Customs Service’s Universal Pass, known as UNI-PASS, is often mentioned as a successful example of Korea‘s exportation of administrative system. The Korea Customs Service has continuously promoted the computerization of customs affairs since 1992. It was the first nation to establish a 100% electric

Automatic ticket machines by Samsung SDS in Guangzhou, China, 2007 (opposite). Samsung SDS lauched Mer-Link, an electronic procurement system, in Costa Rica last year (above). Vietnamese governors got a meeting with Korea‘s officials from PPS (below).

other government institutes, delivering customized information for each company’s needs. With the system, it takes less than 2 minutes to clear export customs, 2.5 hours for import customs, 5.2 hours for tariff refunds and 10 minutes to pay taxes, which makes it one of the most successfully managed customs service information system among the World Customs Organization’s 176 member countries. UNIPASS was presented with the ‘eAsia Award’ from the Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT) in 2007, and has earned the international

customs clearance system in 1998. It was then developed into an online customs clearance system in 2005 so that it could be used anywhere, anytime conveniently and cheaply. UNI-PASS has employed and integrated seven systems related to trade customs: an export customs system, import customs system, tax collection system, trade freight management system, refund system and unified customs channel system. Furthermore, it is an intelligent network that connects 110,000 customers, including trade and shipping companies, custom services, bonded warehouse and

standard of ISO 20000 in the management sector in 2006. Its excellence was further noted when it was ranked as the world’s top system in the Trading Across the Border category of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 assessments. Thus, the interests and needs of developing countries increased, adding energy to the export of the system. Starting in October 2005, when a contract was signed on digitalization of Kazakhstan’s BPR/ISP sector of custom management, exporter countries are expanding into Central and South America,

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Central Asia and Africa. In July 2010, the e-Customs system was established as part of Mongolia’s customs services. Taking Korea’s electric customs system as its model, Mongolia has finished setting up five systems for freight management, trade customs, data warehouse (DW), risk management (RM) and Internet customs portal system. So far, Korea Customs Service has opened up new markets in Central and South America by helping Dominica and Guatemala establish new systems, and has actively promoted system exports by providing consultations to Central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. In December, a US$24 million contract was signed with Ecuador’s customs service institute to export UNI-PASS. Ecuador’s e-customs system will be set up over the course of two years, and will include major systems needed for customs service such as trade customs, tax collection, trade freight management, tax evaluation, tax refund, risk management and integrated management of tariff information. The system will be modified and redesigned according to the local environment, following analysis of Ecuador’s customs management process.

T-money, a smart ticketing system of Korean public transportation from Seoul, exported to Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand in 2008 (top, above and below).

While past UNI-PASS exports to the Dominican Republic and Guatemala were supported by domestic grants and credit assistance, construction of Ecuador’s US$24 million e-customs system was executed purely through its own funding, making it an actual acquisition of foreign money. Nara Marketplace, part of Korea Public Procurement Service, is another internationally recognized e-procurement system. Nara Marketplace is a unified channel for Korea’s public procurement that handles the entire procurement process of registration, bidding, contract and payment online. It is used by more than 40,000 public institutions and 190,000 enterprises. The system gives all information on procurement services in real time, securing transparency and cutting costs on procurement transactions. Nara Marketplace, a public procurement service, was first set up in 2002 and through consistent upgrade it has been recognized worldwide by such organizations as the UN and OECD. Most recently, high-ranking officials from overseas are increasingly visiting PRS. This is due to a recent need in these countries to enhance procurement transparency in regard to funding through international organizations, adding value to Korea’s world famous e-procurement system, Nara Marketplace. Based on such assessments, Nara Marketplace was exported to various countries, starting with a demonstration case in Vietnam in November 2008, then to Costa Rica in 2009 and Mongolia in 2010. In Vietnam, the demonstration system, including user registration, announcement, bidding and commencement, was set up in three institutions: The City of Hanoi, the Electric Power Corporation and Telecom Corporation. It began to fully operate services last July. Mer-Link was launched in August 2010 in Costa Rica, where the Costa Rican government signed a contract in 2009 agreeing on e-procurement establishment.

The Korean government has so far provided consultations in four areas of task redesigning, training, list information and inspection. Korea signed an agreement with the Mongolian government on the same system, e-procurement establishment, in 2007. SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION RELATED IT PROGRAMS OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is supporting developing countries wishing to digitalize their education system. The support program is a part of the Development and International Cooperation on e-Learning Industry strategy that started in 2002 and has been praised by the international community. To globalize this web-based e-Learning Korea program, Korea is providing used PCs, e-Learning training, international consulting, international exhibitions and conferences as resources for developing countries. People from more than 60 nations will visit Korea yearly to benchmark the e-education system. From 2005-10, MEST provided 18,481 reassembled PCs to 23 countries and e-Learning training for 2,717 teachers and education administrative staff members from 29 countries, including Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kenya and Guatemala. International consulting support was provided in 12 exchange partner countries to set up e-Learning policies from 2006-10. The PCs were donated from education institutions when they replaced their computers. They were reassembled using Pentium III-level parts so as to ensure they were fit to be used educationally, and Korean software was installed. As both domestic and international IT companies are enforcing cooperation with such projects, many companies actively took part in the support for developing countries and have provided related software free of

charge. Windows 98/2000 from Microsoft Korea, a word processor from Hancom, Computer Aided Design (CAD) software from Intel Korea, Namo Web Studio (a web editor program) from Sejoong Namo Tour, KOSNET program from National Institute of International Education and a mental arithmetic soccer game from Korea Education Frontier Association are the software provided to developing countries. In its early stages, e-Learning globalization projects provided reassembled computers, but now new PCs, laptops, ICT packages (projectors, digital cameras, laptops) are supplied and construction of ICT centers are provided by the education authorities of cities and provinces depending on the country’s conditions. Korea’s e-Learning support program is expected to contribute to close the information gap among countries by elevating ICT utilization in developing countries. In the future, e-Learning is expected to provide customized consulting services to those countries actively requesting consultations.

SEOUL’S INTELLIGENT TRAFFIC SYSTEM Seoul is the leading city in the world of e-Government. In the UN’s biennial Global E-Government Survey on the top 100 cities, Seoul was chosen as No 1 consecutive times since 2003. According to the World e-Government Assessment Council, Seoul has the most outstanding webbased administrative services among 100 metropolises. In 2004, when Seoul actively became involved in exporting e-Government, Lee Myung-bak, then the mayor of Seoul and current President of South Korea, visited Moscow and signed an MOU on the e-Moscow project modeled after Seoul’s e-Government system. The limelight is on the intelligent traffic system that covers IT-based transportation cards, integrated billing and metering systems and traffic information centers.

Minister of Public Administration and Security Maeng Hyung-kyu, right, looks through the Smart Electric Government Exhibition, which was held in Central Government Complex in Seoul in December 2010 (below).

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© Seoul Metropolitan Government (left); Yonhap News Agency (opposite) | 47

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Azerbaijan recently opened TOPIS (Transport Operation & Information Service), a center that manages and operates general traffic conditions. Seoul TOPIS is in charge of management and operation of monitoring traffic on major roads of Seoul, city bus services, unmanned camera systems and more. Seoul’s T-money transportation card system was exported to Wellington, New Zealand, in 2008, then to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2010. Currently, more than 400 buses in Wellington are running on the T-money transportation card system, and these cards are also used in about 200 retail shops as methods of payment. The system is also in the process of being installed onto about 1,000 buses in Kuala Lumpur to be in service later this year. The T-money card is a RF (radio frequency) typed contactless card that can be used at a distance of 3cm without any power source. More than anything, the transportation card system makes it possible to systematically collect and analyze data on card usage, which can result in scientific establishment of transportation policies. In the case of Seoul city, for instance, a daily average of 35 million pieces of public transportation usage data obtained through the T-money transportation card system are used as basic information to set up scientific traffic policies. The number of passengers in each bus section, the fastest and slowest speed of different times, travel distance of passengers and number of transfers are all included in this database, and are used as valuable information to Seoul city’s public transportation policy that includes route adjustments, frequency of bus dispatches, route management and fee adjustments. Such an outcome of Seoul’s public transportation policy has attracted benchmark visits from more than 1,000 people from 30 countries, including overseas civil servants and traffic specialists aiming to transform their traffic systems.

E-GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE In order to promote e-Government as a nextgeneration export item, the Korean government has been commercializing efforts by providing intellectual property rights of e-Government to export companies, supporting e-Government framework development, providing documentation of e-Government systems and more. An MOU has already been signed with Brunei, Bulgaria and the Inter-American Development Bank. An IT Cooperation Council was held with Vietnam, Bulgaria and Kuwait to promote collaborative projects. In addition, information resource centers were set up in Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan and Rwanda. Support is provided in conjunction with e-Government export of digitalization ODA projects, including invitations of more than 200 IT specialists from 43 developing countries to participate in special programs.

The Chinese governor from Shandong visited Gangnam-gu Office in Seoul to research the office’s Electronic Government System in May 2010 (above).

Director General of IT Promotion Shim Duk-sup from Ministry of Public Administration and Security says, “Due to the topography of overseas markets for e-Government, domestic IT companies need to make sales to foreign governments that call for inter-government cooperation. In the future, cooperation projects will be expanded centering on government collaboration projects, to achieve US$200 billion in export of e-Government systems by 2011.” Overseas exports not only earn foreign currencies but also play a big role in job creation and enhancing Korea‘s image in IT. Much is anticipated in Korea’s future as an IT power player with effective use of e-Government.

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© Yonhap News Agency


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© Choi Ji-young



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korean heritage

The Royal Ancestral Ritual in Jongmyo Shrine and its Music The Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul is the setting for a Confucian ritual dedicated to the ancestors of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) that encompasses song, dance and music. The ritual is practiced once a year, on the first Sunday in May, and is organized by the descendants of the royal family. The ritual was inscribed in 2008 on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2001).

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