Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free screening of 63 Years On

I was asked to pass on this information:
The House of Sharing’s International Outreach Team will hold a FREE Documentary screening of “63 Years On”, the story of ‘Comfort women’ at Jogyesa Temple Theatre on Sunday, December 4th 2011. The film is in multiple languages with English subtitles. There will be an introductory speaker and group discussion after the film.

Date: Sunday December 4th, 2011 Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm Film duration: 63 min.
Where: Jogyesa Temple Theatre
Jogyesa Temple is located in Jongno, on the street behind Insa-dong. You can walk there in a short time from Jonggak Station, or it's also accessible from Anguk Station (Exit 6).

From Anguk station Exit 6, walk straight & pass the main street to Insadong. Cross the street to reach the temple structure in front of you. The theatre is in the new museum building behind the main temple structure.


This is an opportunity for both the Korean and International communities to further engage with the ‘Comfort women’ issue and to support the continuing fight for justice. A brief Question & Answer session will take place after the film, an opportunity for those who wish to share their thoughts on the film and ask any questions to members of the House of Sharing’s International Outreach Team.

In this film, award-winning Korean director Kim Dong Won presents the harrowing experiences of 5 international survivors of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery during World War II. The very personal telling of their experiences is supported by excellent research and archival footage to create a powerfully honest, determined, and often heartbreaking documentary.
I still have yet to see this, but other films I've seen by Kim Dong Won have been well worth watching.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I think I may have posted this before, but I missed it when posting my collection of English teacher cartoons. On February 19, 2010, the Donga Ilbo published an article which wasn't about foreign teachers at all (it mentions the native speaker way of thinking when studying English), but which included this bizarre cartoon:

"Correct expression", "accurate pronunciation"
(note that the artist also did this classic cartoon)

Absolutely bizarre. It certainly wins the 'big nose cartoon' contest. It would make a great t-shirt, though.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Korean teachers preferred over native speakers

Brian writes about this as well, and links to articles in English by Korea Times and Hankyoreh. The Chosun Ilbo has it in English here.

This GEPIK questionnaire for parents regarding foreign teachers is worth looking at as well.]

[Original post]

Yesterday Yonhap published the following article:
Korean students prefer Korean teachers for English education

Satisfaction in regard to native speaking teacher classes is high

Results of research by Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education into the realities of English education staff.

Satisfaction with native speaker English education in schools is high, but a survey has found that many think that in the long term, Korean teachers should teach English.

According to the results of the "Study analyzing the results of the Seoul English education strengthening policy and development plan" released by SMOE on the 27th, parents, students and teachers are satisfied with current native speaking teachers but the opinion came out that in the medium and long term Korean English teachers with English ability should be responsible for school English education.

The study was based on interviews with or online surveys by 28,761 students enrolled in 1,282 elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul, 11,980 parents, 2,406 English teachers, and 595 native speaking English assistant teachers, among others.

The survey found that 54.2% of parents thought that native speaking English assistant teachers helped their children improve their English skills.

The number of parents who were 'satisfied' with Korean English teachers' classes stopped at 39%. The reason for this was 'lack of English skills' (35.8%), lack of enthusiasm for class' (20.2%), and because 'students did not understand' (16.6 percent).

Among students as well, the number of those satisfied with the native speaking English teacher's class (60.0%) was slightly higher compared to Korean English teachers (55.3%).

However, when asked about what category of English teacher was most desirable, the most common choice among parents (62.2%) was "a Korean teacher with excellent English conversation ability who is good at teaching."

This was followed by "native speaking English assistant teachers" (26.9%) and "Korean Teachers who lack English conversation skills, but who are good at teaching (11.0%), which can be construed as a preference for Korean teachers as long as their English ability is sufficient.

Students as well chose "Korean teachers with excellent English conversation ability who is good at teaching" (53.7%) over "native speaking English assistant teachers" (29.7%).

62.4% of parents answered that there should be native speaking English assistant teachers, and responded negatively to the suggestion that English assistant teachers be reduced.

As for the opinion of Korean teachers in regard to native speaking English assistant teachers, they answered that they contributed to the improvement of students' English ability and confidence, but pointed out that there was difficulty managing co-teaching classes and level/graded classes (? 수준별 수업) with native speaking teachers.

As for their difficulties at school, native speaking English assistant teachers counted "Korean teachers lack 'know how' in regard to classroom management" (27.0%) the most, followed by "Korean teachers who are not familiar with co-planning lessons" (18.8%) and "lack of mutual understanding based on cultural differences" (14.3%).
This was reported by several other news outlets:

Newsis: 90% of native speakers say "Students' ability improves in my class"; but students prefer Korean teachers to native speakers.

Money Today: Half of students say "We can't interact with the native speaking teacher."

Financial News: "In the long term, it's better that Korean teachers teach English"

Asia Today: For English education in schools there is a preference for excellent Korean English teachers.

Money Today: Students-Parents: "Satisfied with Seoul public school English education"

Kukmin Ilbo: More than half of students and parents in Seoul prefer 'Korean teachers' over native speakers

Segye Ilbo: More participation by students in English class, increase Korean teachers

Hankyoreh: Native speakers are unconditionally the best in English education? "Korean teachers with excellent ability are preferable."

Financial News: "It's preferable that Korean English teachers with ability should teach."

Seoul Sinmun: "Preference for Korean teachers over native speaking teachers."

Asia Gyeongje: SMOE: "Reduce native speaking teachers and foster Korean English teachers."

EBS: "Korean English teachers more desirable than native speakers."

It's nice to see Newsis having some fun with their title. I'd be curious to see more of the actual questions/possible choices for answers on this survey. That people would prefer, in the long run, to have Korean teachers teaching English instead of importing foreign teachers is a bit of a no-brainer, really. Who would disagree with that statement? No one was ever planning to keep hiring foreign teachers in public schools into the 22nd century.

It's interesting that there is opposition to the idea of reducing native speaking assistant teachers by parents, according to the survey. Last week, Park Dong-u, a councilor on the Gyeonggi Provincial Council (which oversaw the budget cut that left GEPIK in limbo) said at a council meeting on next year's education budget that native speaking teachers should be reduced each year beginning in the cities, because one can be exposed to more English in the cities as opposed to rural farming communities. As they are reduced, guidance counsellors should be increased.

In related news, 50 schools (half of them elementary schools) in Gyeonggi are implementing remote video lectures by native speakers for schools in rural areas, and are holding workshops for teachers from these schools in Bucheon and Ansan today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The gossip columnist from a hundred years ago

Tonight's Royal Asiatic Society lecture will feature Robert Neff and is titled "Scandals and gossip from Joseon Korea’s past." Having heard a few of the stories before, I'm sure it will be interesting:
In the 1890s and early 1900s, the Western community in Korea was quite small and consisted mainly of American missionaries, advisors and diplomats – all very highly respectable men and women. But even admirable people have their secrets and faults.
Some of these faults included alcoholism and gambling, among other things:
And, of course, sex also played a key role in scandals and gossip. Secret romances, troubles involving mistresses, babies born out of wedlock and even alleged sexual assaults. Perhaps even more shocking were the acts of infidelity including those committed by the British representative’s promiscuous wife.
More details can be found here. The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is north of (and behind) Jogyesa Temple, and is 5,000 won for non-member and free for members.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Uncontrollable 'yougle,' and other tales of drugs and crime

[Edit: I added the one other drug arrest of 2011 which occurred after this post went up, so this now covers all of the 2011 reports tying foreign teachers to drugs.]

On August 15, 2011, the Chosun Ilbo published this report:

Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)
The age of ordering through Google and learning about growing from Youtube

Earlier this year, police police learned that R, who had worked until last year as a native speaking English instructor at an elementary school in Seoul's Gwanak-gu, had smoked the new kind of drug 'JWH-018 (known as spice)' several times and launched an investigation.

Using the world's largest portal, 'Google,' R accessed a drug selling website to investigate how to import drugs into Korea. Using Google, one can access a drug selling site by entering a simple query, and by entering a name and address and paying with a credit card, one can easily get a hold of drugs.

Police in Seoul's Guro-gu learned that T, who worked at an elementary school as a native speaking instructor until last year, imported drugs through the same method, and are currently investigating. T's acquaintance, who tipped police off about him, said, "T 'ordered through Google' and showed me a bag of marijuana that had been delivered through international mail." R ordered drugs in a similar manner using a site found through Google. Both of them fled the country before the police investigation began to kick into gear.

The world's largest video site, 'Youtube,' has also been utilized as a drug route. Last month police arrested Mr. Seo (23), who had studied overseas, for growing and distributing marijuana after learning how to grow it by searching on Youtube. The video he watched was easily accessible from Korea by entering only a few drug-related words. Police revealed that Mr. Seo used Google to order marijuana seeds and have them sent to him.

As it easy to use Google and Youtube in this way with no particular restrictions to import drugs, among police officers on the front line of drug crackdowns it's being said "Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)."

Police understand the facts about how 'Yougle' is used to order drugs, but are struggling to find solutions and control methods. Most of the drug selling sites which appear in Google's search results are based overseas and there is no special member registration or need to enter a resident registration number.

According to the report "Analysis of trends in drug smuggling arrests for 2010" released by Customs in January, the number of arrests for drug smuggling via international mail increased 53% over 2009 with 67 cases, while use of courier increased 44% with 13 cases. Most were purchased over the internet. A Customs official said, "We use x-rays and sniffer dogs for customs inspections, but with tens of thousands of goods every day, it's difficult to check them all."
I only noticed this article after reading about it on Anti-English Spectrum. In fact, they've added it to their list of accomplishments (first result):
Made successful an article in the Chosun Ilbo related to native speaking instructors distributing and using new kinds of drugs
"Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)"
Notified the nation of native speaking instructors using youtube and google to spread new kinds of drugs
Reported 20 drug distributing sites to authorities
It's nice to see the Chosun Ilbo getting another stamp on its 'frequent article about AES' card. Once again this year we have a story of "former" foreign English teachers involved with drugs (or, in this case, foreigners "who had worked until last year" as teachers). I could only find one other case (from last year) mentioning a former teacher in connection with drugs. Including the two teachers mentioned above (who were allegedly investigated), there have been three or four 'former teachers' connected with drugs this year - out of a total of 11 foreign teachers in the news regarding drugs (9 who were arrested).

Compared to the 34-38 mentioned in the media last year as being arrested (up until late July, after which there weren't any arrests reported for nine months), it's quite a drop.

Here are other articles mentioning foreign teachers and drugs this year so far:

2011.01.30 Korean Customs service announces 2010 drug seizure stats. Of 200 arrests, 95 were foreigners, and among those, 28 were foreign native speaking teachers, "29.4% of the total number of foreigners arrested," (or 14% of the total). While over-represented in this category, foreign teachers weren't, as the the Kookmin Ilbo put it in the title of one article, "The main culprits in drug smuggling."

2011.02.07 Several media outlets report on new drug testing regulations for foreign teachers, which are meant to catch "test-savvy drug users" who "avoid being caught." According to an immigration official quoted in a Donga Ilbo article, "Incidents of some native speaking instructors taking drugs during lectures have been never ending and this is to block this from happening in advance."

2011.02.23 After reports on the suicide of a foreign teacher in Busan are followed by an article in the Busan Ilbo painting him as an alcoholic, the same paper publishes an editorial stating that "One can only be aghast" that a suicidal drunk was teaching children, going on to say "Criminal acts and various scandals by native speaking teachers are nothing new. The various crimes that we know of up to now include assault, child molestation, sexual assault and, of course, taking and selling drugs. " It also asserts that "the current employment health exam cannot also determine drug or alcohol addiction."

2011.04.12 Doctor's News reports on a hospital chosen to administer new drug tests which will "distinguish whether a foreign English teacher is a drug addict or alcoholic." The article complains about foreign instructors who do not have legal visas who have "caused incidents which have led to social criticism" and then says that in order to determine whether these illegal teachers are alcoholics or drug addicts, more stringent tests have been developed for the... legal teachers.

2011.04.22 A British hagwon English instructor in Incheon is busted for importing 6.5 grams of synthetic marijuana (JWH-250) and marijuana seeds and growing marijuana in his home. This is the first reported drug bust involving a foreign English teacher in nine months.

2011.05.03 The Gyeongin Ilbo reports that a new bill will make foreign teachers working for hagwons have to take drug checks and all teachers (including Koreans) will have to have criminal record checks, among several other provisions. The title of the article? "'Expel' drug addicted, molesting foreign instructors."

2011.05.04 Yonhap reports on a meth bust involving a South African drug mule and a Nigerian in Korea who worked variously as a factory worker, clothing seller, and illegal English teacher, and chooses the title "Former native speaking instructor caught smuggling philopon." A police official is quoted saying "This is the first time that a native speaking instructor has tried to smuggle a large amount of philipon, rather than marijuana," ignoring the fact that Nigerians are usually not included in the immigration defined "native speaker" category in Korea. YTN follows this up later in the day with a report titled "Native speaking teacher arrested for smuggling large amount of Philipon," which effectively erases the South African (the actual smuggler) from the story to focus on the Nigerian who "worked as a native speaking English instructor." This is similar to a series of stories Yonhap and YTN published in 2009.

2011.06.15 The Maeil Gyeongje reports that Incheon Police booked without detention Korean American English instructor for taking philopon at a motel he was staying at. It quotes police who say that "[i]t is estimated that there are a good many foreign instructors working in Korea who have not had their qualifications verified." "We are expanding an investigation against them for drugs and various crimes."

2011.07.13 Medical Today reported about the availability of new kinds of drugs to children. One paragraph reads:
Section chief Yun Heung-hui explained that "The recent increase in new kinds of drugs has been greatly influenced by foreign instructors and young people who spent their childhood years studying abroad." "This is because sometimes they take the drugs they used abroad like yaba or ecstasy to Korea and spread it among their peers."
We'll see that section chief again.

2011.07.20 NoCut News reports in an article titled "From housewives to English instructors... Drug ring arrested for selling and using" that a Mr. Hong was caught after smuggling 2.2 billion won worth of meth into the country from China by using a freighter, and that "Among the 17 users who were caught were a former university instructor and native speaking instructor, a taxi driver and a housewife." It's not clear from the sentence if "former" includes the native speaking instructor or not.

2011.07.22 Yonhap report on drug busts in Busan, noting that American English hagwon teacher P (30) stood accused of smuggling 3.58 grams of marijuana from the US through international mail on February 5.

Also, three Korean Canadian English hagwon instructors including a Ms Park (22) were charged with smuggling 2.84 grams of ketamine through international mail in April or May and taking it ten times at clubs in Seoul and Busan. Busan MBC reported on September 11 that they were found guilty (though the substance changed to philopon/meth) and sentenced to 6-10 months suspended for 1-5 years.

2011.08.19 Asia Today published an article excerpted below:

[Republic of Korea, stoned] 3. The world's drug distribution hub, Korea
As native speaking instructors and foreign workers increase, there is an impact on the expansion of drugs [...]

As we greet the global era, foreign tourists and foreign workers increase, and due to an overheated English education boom, there is an increasing influx of foreign students and native speaking instructors who are having a large influence.[...]

As the number of foreigners living in Korea gradually increases, surpassing 1.26 million in 2010, the number and frequency of drug crimes by Chinese, Russian sailors, southeast Asian workers from places like Sri Lanka or Thailand and native speaking teachers from English speaking countries like the US or Canada is increasing, and drugs are expanding.

The United States, Canada, and Africa are the main countries from which marijuana is smuggled and it is mostly hagwon instructors from English-speaking countries who are responsible for much of the small-scale smuggling cases. [...]

The kinds of drugs that are smuggled include not only methamphetamine, but also various drugs such as ecstasy, YABA (a synthetic drug), kratom (a stimulant), benzyl-piperazine (a stimulant made from a pesticide raw material), JWH-018 (synthetic marijuana), and ketamine (a sedative), brought into Korea via various routes by international students/those who have studied overseas, foreign hagwon instructors, and ethnic Koreans from China.
It's nice to see Asia Today refraining from engaging in hyperbole ("The world's drug distribution hub, Korea" ??).

2011.08.23 Seoul Sinmun publishes an article titled "[Exclusive] Teens exposure to drugs, drug crimes increase, sex crimes also more serious," which includes a statement from the previously quoted section chief:
In regard to the increase in youth drug crime, Yun Heung-hui , Chief of Dongdaemun Police Station's violent crimes division, said "With the increase in the inflow of drugs via students who study abroad and foreign instructors, youths easily learn about drugs in the areas around Itaewon clubs." "These days things like hemp cookies and ecstasy pills are prevalent." Cases of young people inhaling butane gas or glue to get high have almost disappeared. Section chief Yun emphasized that, "It is necessary for school health education to actively make them aware of the dangers of drugs."
This same paragraph appears in an article published the next day titled "Our children exchange pencils...for drugs; Youth drug crimes increase by 4 times in 4 years," which includes this graphic:

(Drug crimes among youth aged 12-19)

(I suppose it's never too late to simply drug test every child in Korea.)

2011.09.11 Busan MBC, NoCut News and Yonhap report that the three Canadian gyopos whose arrest was announced in July (for Ketamine) were found guilty of importing and using philopon/meth and sentenced to 6-10 months suspended for 1-5 years. Yonhap provided the following photo:

It's just a file photo, however (one of two in the article), as one might guess from their clothes (not something one would wear being arrested in July!).

2011.09.16 KBS, in a news report titled "The new drug 'spice' spreads among young people... crackdown difficult" reports about a Korean dance teacher who was arrested for spice, who got it from someone in the US military. It also mentions the busts of US soldiers in Itaewon in July for selling spice, and then finishes with this statement:
Police, working with US military investigative agencies, are expanding their investigation into new kinds of drugs to target US soldiers and civilian workers as well as foreign instructors.
I guess now is not the time to mention that there have been only three cases reported in the media connecting foreign teachers with spice in the last two years.

2011.09.19 National assembly representative Park Young-a calls for stricter recruitment standards for foreign teachers after a teacher was rehired after failing a drug test - ignoring the fact that it was the lack of strict enforcement of existing standards (not the lack of standards) that was responsible for the teacher being rehired (due to a successful retest based on a claim that the first result was a false positive).

2011.10.02 A comparison between two Kukmin Ilbo articles that were published at the same time looking at 'unregistered' Korean and foreign hagwon instructors, in which the foreign teachers are portrayed as potential threats due to "never ending" "drugs and molestation." Job and Consulting is also used as a source (previously seen here: 1,2,3,4).

2011.11.07 Busan Ilbo reports that a Canadian teacher was arrested for taking a 'new kind' of drug - hashish. Yonhap then follows up a 'just the facts' article on this bust by reporting that Ulsan's reputation is hurt by fat, lazy, argumentative foreign teachers.

2011.12.04 Yonhap reports about an arrest with the headline "Native speaking instructor smuggles 'spice' which is 5 times more powerful than marijuana," and notes that the Australian who was arrested passed an earlier drug test.

2011.12.17 NoCut News reports on the previous reported arrest, refers to the "continuous crimes such as taking, distributing or importing drugs by foreign instructors like these," and argues that the newly amended Hagwon Law was not being followed. They state that "Foreign instructors should be hired after confirming a drug test but this has not been implemented," and that this is a threat to children which worries parents.

So out of a good many instances of foreign teachers being linked to drugs in the media this year, only a handful of cases involved actual arrests for drug possession or smuggling (9 arrested in 6 cases, if the Nigerian meth smuggler who taught English illegally is left out). I'm not sure what the relation is between reported cases and actual arrest statistics - it might be useful to review statistics going back to 2006 or so to find out. At any rate, if they are connected, then it looks like there may be a drop in the number of cases involving foreign teachers (so far) this year - which would certainly be a good thing. The odd thing, however, is that 5 of the 9 arrests were for meth, while three were for marijuana and one was for spice, which is certainly not how drug arrests for foreign teachers generally play out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

G'old Korean Vinyl

Do check out G'old Korean Vinyl if you're into Korean music from the 70s and 80s - they provide downloadable songs at the site of rare songs from that time period. In addition, on November 26 @ Fabric in Busan they're holding a party:
G’OLD (Good Old) is a party featuring several hours of rare, vintage Korean tracks alongside all types of indieLink and dance music. We have been given access to a massive library of out-of-print Korean vinyl and are picking out the best Garage, Soul, Disco, Pop, Psyche and Synth from 1950-89 Korea. We will be showcasing these crazy, awesome gems at a series of parties. The party will feature rare Korean music finds from our archives as well as indie, dance and alternative sounds. Curated by Super Color Super & Gopchang Jeongol.
Gopchang Jeongol, if you don't know it, is in Hongdae (near Sanullim theatre) and is a fun place to hang out, full of tons and tons of classic LPs.
(Hat tip to Mark Russell)

On the classic front, the Seoul Sinmun has photos of dancer Choi Seung-hui to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth; I've posted about her before. I hadn't known until I read The Cleanest Race that she performed for Hitler.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bits and pieces

The Joongang Ilbo interviewed Professor Lee Chong-sik, likely best known for co-authoring the book “Communism in Korea,” with Robert Scalapino. In the interview he talks about the trilateral meeting held in London from Sept. 12 to Oct. 2, 1945:
[R]elations between the United States and the Soviets deteriorated after the London conference. Before that, they were on lukewarm terms .?.?. but their ties froze up in London. We could describe this as the de facto onset of the cold war. [...]

The Soviets wanted the northern part of Hokkaido in Japan after the war, but the United States refused to agree. But what really enraged Russia was the refusal by the U.K. and the U.S. of its demand to take over Tripoli in Libya. The records of the London Conference show that then-Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov asserted Russia’s need for a port in the Mediterranean for its commercial vessels. He said it was for the country’s commercial vessels, but evidently the Soviet Navy wanted to have a base through which to expand its forces around the world. [...]

After Molotov disputed the port issue with his U.S. and British counterparts on Sept. 15-16, Soviet policies regarding the Korean Peninsula and China were completely changed. On Sept. 20, Stalin made a secret order to set up a “democratic government” in North Korea.
The article is titled "Revisiting Stalin’s role as Peninsula’s puppeteer." Some might object to such an idea, since Jeju 4.3 took place when Korea was under US control and the UK apparently helped design Japanese Zeros (hint for those wanting to put the UK in the 1등급 victimizer-of-Korea range - a search for 'Anglo-Japanese Treaty' might be more fruitful) (see more here). On a note related to the Joongang Ilbo's interview, this article has a great deal of information about how Korea came to be divided into zones of occupation by the USSR and US.

Also in the Joongang, in its [GLIMPSE of KOREAN CULTURE] series, is an article about the Yakult ajumma.
Korea Yakult first started with 47 saleswomen in 1971 but the number of saleswomen has jumped to 13,000 in the first half of this year, according to Korea Yakult. [...] The company said the average age of a Yakult ajumma is 44.3 years old and their monthly income is about 1.7 million won. They walk around 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) on average per day.
If there's one kind of food I can count on to be better in Korea than back home, it's yogurt.

Another article in the series looks at marriage officiants (Jurye); I hadn't realized that such a wide range of people could officiate at weddings until a friend who is a high school teacher told me he was going to do so for a former student. Which is kind of neat.

And the KT looks at a documentary (and photo book, etc) about stray cats. I used to have a lot around my old place (in a villa). In fact, I came home one night to see a dozen cats at the end of the alley where the gate to my place was. They scattered pretty quickly, which I imagine disrupted their planning session for the takeover of the neighbourhood from the humans.

And I'm no Picasso brought up Korean poetry in translation yesterday, so there are lots of links and suggestions in regard to reading material in the comments.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Korea references in the Simpsons

The hotties that he chills with...

On this week's Simpsons, Marge and the kids end up in an Ethiopian restaurant* after their car breaks down, and though skeptical, they love the food and, after meeting foodies, become food bloggers themselves. The foodies don't come off too well:

Foodie 1: "We discovered Korean barbeque in this town."
Lisa: "Uhhh... before the Koreans?"
Foodie 2: "Oh sure, they cook it, but they don't get it."

Of course, the Simpsons has taken on hipsters for a couple decades now, and that conversation pales in comparison to (and takes as a blueprint):
[Sarcastically] "That's cool."
"Are you being sarcastic?"
"I don't even know anymore."

It also pales in comparison to this evisceration of foodies (the responses are just as much fun).

At any rate, they end up hitting all kinds of restaurants, and make a trip to "K-town":

(I guess the coffee is hot...)

There's quite a bit of detail - comics, noraebang, video, pharmacy, galbi and even a golf place:

(Not being American, I knew nothing about Pinkberry)

One more step in the globalization of bibimbap and bulgogi, I guess....

*I've never come across an Ethiopian restaurant in Seoul. Has anyone ever seen/ been to one?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The land of rok and roll


Forgot to mention, as noted here, that the Wondergirls new cd has a song which takes a great deal from Shin Jung-hyun's Miin (titled 'Me in'). It can be found here, but the youtube video would need to be viewed through a proxy to listen to it in the ROK. I really can't decide if it's sacrilege or if it's a good thing to have JYP paying homage to Shin's work. I doubt it's going to attract many of the Wonder Girls' fans to his music...

[Original post]

I discovered Ju-Hwan Kim's dissertation "Relocating the Alliance: The U.S.-South Korea Military Alliance in Cultural Representations" (downloadable here) while looking for more information about Nam Jeong-hyeon's 1965 novella Bunji [Land of Excrement], which Kim describes:
In an epistolary format, the story of Bunji is narrated by Hong Mansu [a direct descendent of Hong Gil-dong] addressing to his deceased mother. Several days after the 1945 liberation of Korea, Mansu’s mother who came out to welcome the U.S. forces with hand-made Korean and star-spangled flags in her hand gets raped on the way by American GIs. Back home, she exposes her defiled body to her son and daughter, Mansu and Buni. Unable to overcome her shame, Mansu’s mother refuses to eat and dies in a few days after a convulsion. Upon his discharge from the military, Mansu, unable to find a job, begins black-market trading with American goods that his sister Buni obtains from Sergeant Speed, an American soldier she lives with. Buni also ends up in misfortune as she experiences sexual torment by Mr. Speed who often disparages the “lower half of her body” comparing that with his wife’s. In resentment of the sergeant’s abuse of his sister, Mansu determines to see Mrs. Speed or Mrs. Bitch as he names her, for himself.

By this time, Mrs. Speed leaves the U.S. to make an unexpected visit to see her husband in South Korea. Mansu, not to miss this God-sent chance, tricks Mrs. Speed to accompany him for tour during which he rapes her in a mountain. Learning the news, the U.S. government mobilizes a mass-scale retaliation dispatching “as many as ten thousand missiles and artillery pieces” including a nuclear bomb to destroy the whole mountain where Mansu is hiding.
Sounds like a blast. Needless to say, the authorities were not amused, and Nam was arrested and and given a 6 month prison sentence and a seven-year prohibition from publishing for breaking the national security law. Kim describes the story as a critique of the state, and places it at the opening of a chapter which includes examples of others who contested Park Chung-hee's view of the nation and state, including poet Shin Dong-yeop, and 'godfather of Korean rock' Shin Jung-hyun (which I obviously took great interest in). Kim's writing about Shin is engaging enough, though the specific details are based on Mark Russell's interview with Shin and especially the essay "The Birth of ‘Rok’: Cultural Imperialism, Nationalism, and Glocalization of Rock Music in South Korea, 1964-1975" by Pil Ho Kim and Hyunjoon Shin, which can be read pretty cheaply here and is the basis of this post (which has some great photos and music from the Add 4 up to Sanullim). I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but certainly plan to. Here's what they wrote about Miin (Shin's classic rock song with the Yupjuns (brass coins) from 1974, which apparently sold 100,000 copies - huge for its time (and probably even today)), as quoted in Kim's paper:
“Miin” had monumental cultural impact. Ordinary people, especially young
schoolchildren on the streets, were humming along with the folksy melody and
rhyme loosely based on changt’aryŏng, the traditional beggar’s chant for food.
Shin blended this with an apparent homage to Jimi Hendrix, borrowing a motif
from “Voodoo Chile” to create the famous guitar riff in “Miin.” In addition. Shin
gave it a touch of vibrato akin to nonghyŏn, a technique widely used with
traditional Korean stringed instruments. As a result, the lead guitar in “Miin”
sounds like the kayagŭm (a twelve-stringed zither), generating a hybrid of
Western rock and traditional Korean music.

“Miin” was soon banned by the government as “too noisy” and “vulgar"; as Kim notes, "a popular joke at the time was to change the song’s lyrics from, “Seeing her once, seeing her twice, and I can’t stop looking her” to “Doing it once, doing it twice, I can’t stop doing it.”

The same year (1974) that Shin found such success (showing that rock music had indeed become popular), director Lee Jang-ho's debut "Heavenly Homecoming of Stars" perfectly captured the youth culture that had been coming together and broke box office records (selling over 400,000 tickets). The music for the film was done by Lee Jang-hee, whose music is showcased in this music-video-like scene from the film:

Just like Shin Jung-hyun, Lee Jang-hee (who had been introduced to marijuana by an AFKN dj) and Lee Jang-ho would see their careers put on hold for half a decade after being arrested for pot in 1975 and 1976).

And on the academic paper front in regard to music from this time are also the two chapters by Roald Maliangkay - ‘Supporting Our Boys: American Military Entertainment and Korean Pop Music in the 1950s and early 1960s’ and ‘Pop for Progress: South Korea’s Propaganda Songs’ - in the book "Korean Pop Music: Riding the Korean Wave" (Keith Howard (ed.), Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental: 2006). For those not wanting to drop almost $200 on the book (fascinating though it looks to be), both Yonsei and SNU have it in their libraries (but not the main libraries, the music and international studies libraries, respectively).

I should also note that Roald Maliangkay's website has a collection of older Korean LP covers; the cover of the Kim Sisters' first album certainly wasn't designed to conform to any orientalist ideas about what Asian women should look like, right?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stories Heard From a Girl in an Opium Den

Byul's new CD '아편굴 처녀가 들려준 이야기 Stories Heard From a Girl in an Opium Den' is out now, and more information is at their site here. One of the songs on the album (which compiles a lot of their best stuff from the Monthly Vampire CDs over the last ten years, along with a new track or two) is Pacific:

More information about the release is also here, and here you can listen to another song on the CD, Blue Marble, which sounds a bit like Seefeel backing Spandau Ballet after taking codeine and playing backward... or something. Here's the video for the title track:

SECRET STORIES HEARD FROM A GIRL IN AN OPIUM DEN - BYUL.ORG 아편굴 처녀가 들려준 이야기 - 모임 별 from DNFF on Vimeo.

The album is being released on vinyl in the US by Burnt Toast Vinyl, and at their site I found this video of Byul's remake of 리듬속에 그 춤을 (the mid-80s Kim Wan-sun song written and produced by Shin Jung-hyun which I posted here):

Worth noting is that the Pacific CD (first video above) also has an mp3 disc collecting some of their earlier songs - between it and this new album you basically have a 'best of' collection...

Oh, and I just remembered Byul's remake of BoA's 'No. 1,' which can be listened to here (or the entire tribute album can be downloaded here).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ulsan's reputation hurt by fat, lazy, argumentative foreign teachers

Describing of the "mental structure that Koreans... hold," Hyunah Yang writes:
The main feature of the structure is the way that it dichotomizes Koreans and Japanese - us and them, victim and offender, good and bad. These categories appear exclusive and independent, but are mutually defined by one another. Through blaming, the existence of an enemy is made visible, and this in turn helps to define the collective identity of "Korean." Within this dichotomy, however, Korean identity is built only upon victimhood.*
Yonhap published the following story on Monday in the wake of the story of the Canadian teacher who was busted for the 'new kind' of drug - hashish.
Some 'poor native speaking instructors' in the Ulsan area hurt its reputation

Problems caused by some native speaking instructors who work in Ulsan area elementary and middle schools are hurting the reputation of Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education.

At the end of last month, Ulsan MOE received a letter of resignation from S(35), a middle school native speaking instructor who was arrested and charged for smoking cannabis resin (AKA hashish) by the Busan prosecutor's office on the 7th,

S had 29 grams of hash sent to his school from Canada and is suspected of smoking it twice by the Taewha River in Ulsan.

Last year and in 2009, twelve (3+9) native speaking teachers did not have their contracts renewed and were expelled by the office of education for poor teaching methods and having a poor attitude towards their service.

Native speaking instructors renew their one year contracts after being reviewed.

The instructors who were expelled often yelled at students, argued with their co-teachers or dressed poorly.

As well, the office of education said some were too fat and visited the hospital often, so classes progressed poorly, and some refused to teach after school classes.

An official at the office of education said, "There are 180 native speaking instructors working at elementary and middle schools (119 and 61 respectively) in the Ulsan area and most have outstanding experience and carry out high level classes." "However because of some instructors, the image of Ulsan and of course the excellent instructors is being damaged."
Once again, Korea is victimized by foreigners, in this case instructors (or teachers - they can't seem to keep that terminology straight). It's good to see government-funded Yonhap reinforcing the xenophobic, victimized aspects of the Korean identity by reminding people of the harm caused by these fat, poorly dressed foreigners who do not understand that the term 'optional' (in regard to after school classes) means anything but (like the 'democratic' in 'DPRK'). One wonders if, by yelling at the students, the teachers were merely trying to be heard over the din.

"I don't think you'd even hear a nuke if the north dropped one on you!"
(Kyunghyang Shimun, June 11, 2007)

I love the assertion that "because of some instructors, the image of Ulsan and of course the excellent instructors is being damaged." Yes, I'm sure most casual observers (who think about Ulsan regularly (don't you?)) were willing to give a city that is mostly chemical plant industrial sprawl the benefit of the doubt until they read about the 5% of foreign teachers who didn't have their contracts renewed for being fat and lazy ("That's the last straw - we're going to Haeundae this summer instead!").

While I'm sure things have improved since this July 19, 1970 Stars and Stripes article was written, it gives some idea of Ulsan's past:
Ills Traced To Smog

SEOUL — The Ulsan city health center released a report, to local press sources Thursday charging that an almost epidemic rash of headaches and nausea caused by air pollution has hit that highly-industrialized city 185 miles southeast of Seoul.

The center reportedly said a low-pressure weather front had caused toxic sulfur monoxide fumes to hang over the city for several hours Thursday, causing residents of the city's three most crowded districts to complain of severe headaches and vomiting.

According to the Health and Social Affairs Ministry in Seoul, the 10 major plants of the Ulsan industrial complex, just two miles from heart of the city, caused almost $500,000 in pollution damage this year, as well as adversely affecting the community's health.
This event appears to have inspired a story in Cho Se-hui's The Dwarf, in which the city of Ungang (a barely veiled Incheon) suffers a similar incident.

As for the Yonhap article, one wonders what editorial decision led to its creation...

* From "Re-membering the Korean Military Comfort Women: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Silencing," in Dangerous Women: Gender & Korean Nationalism

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Pagoda teachers clean Cheonggyecheon

To celebrate moving into a new building, Pagoda teachers, students and staff cleaned around Cheonggyecheon for an hour yesterday. The hagwon obviously thought that the deed was in and of itself worthwhile, and did nothing to draw attention to the participants or itself.

As Financial News noted, the teachers dressed in 'our traditional village teacher' clothing, students dressed as unmarried pupils, and staff as commoners.

Yonhap again

Yonhap once again

Is Pagoda's motto still "I can do"? I guess this goes to show that it doesn't matter what foreigners are doing in hanboks (picking up garbage?), as long as they are in the hanboks and experiencing 'Korean culture.'

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

RAS lecture by Andrew Salmon tonight on British and Australian Soldiers in the Korean War

Tonight's Royal Asiatic Society lecture will feature Andrew Salmon and is titled "Scorched Earth, Black Snow: British and Australian Soldiers in the Invasion of North Korea." Salmon's previous book, "To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951" is well regarded (haven't had a chance to read it myself, but plan to one of these days), and the presentation sounds like a must-see:
In autumn 1950, UN forces defeated the North Korean Army in the South, and counter-attacked across the 38th parallel. The result of the free world's only ever invasion of a communist state would be utter catastrophe and the entry of a new superpower onto the world's stage. In a presentation illustrated with some 200 photographs and paintings Andrew Salmon, author of Scorched Earth, Black Snow (London, 2011) will bring this grim struggle back to life as he tells the story of Anglo-Australian forces in those dramatic and terrible months.
The description ends with this: "It is hoped some characters from the book will attend the presentation."

More details can be found here. The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is north of Jogyesa Temple, and is 5,000 won for non-member and free for members.

Canadian teacher arrested for taking 'new kind' of drug

[Update: As it turns out, he ended up getting a suspended sentence as well (2 and a half year sentence suspended for three years, along with a 1,450,000 won fine) at the end of December.]

In a story involving a stakeout, a Canadian English teacher was arrested for mailing himself a 'new kind' of drug and smoking it. The Busan Ilbo broke the story yesterday morning, followed by Yonhap ("Busan prosecutors arrest and charge native speaking instructor with smoking marijuana"). The Maeil Gyeongje cribs a lot from the Busan Ilbo, which has some howlers about the "new kind of drug" the teacher used.
Canadian English instructor arrested and charged for hiding drugs in international mail delivery to school
Caught smoking new kind [of drug,] hashish

It has been exposed that a foreigner working as a native speaking English instructor at a middle school sent and received a new kind of drug through the international post and smoked it, for which he was arrested and charged.

The violent crimes division of the Busan Prosecutors Office revealed on the 7th that they had arrested an charged S (35), a Canadian, for importing a new kind of drug, hashish, through international mail and smoking it, contravening the Drug Control Law.

Hashish is the amber coloured resin separated from the leaves and flowers of the female marijuana plant and contains 3-4 times more THC than normal marijuana, and so is a more hallucinogenic narcotic. If one becomes addicted, it is known that it can lead to impaired endocrine functioning and mental illness like schizophrenia.

S began working at K middle school in Ulsan's Ulju county at the start of this year and on September 3 at a post office at Vancouver airport sent 29 grams of hashish using a different name in a plastic butter container in a box. The address he wrote on the package was his school's, and on October 21, the package was delivered by postman to the school. Prosecutors explained that after receiving it, he smoked 3.5 grams on two occasions by the Taehwa river and was charged for this.

An official from the Busan prosecutor's office said, "In this case, we were notified by the Busan International Post Office that a packaged assumed to be drugs had been sent to Korea from Canada, and after it was delivered to S we carried out a stakeout and arrested him at the scene where he smoked."
I guess we have to watch out for English teachers smuggling "new kinds" of drugs - how are police supposed to keep up with them when they keep trying to sneak in susbstances no one has ever heard of?! It'd be different if hash were something that has been used for thousands of years, or literary types had been writing about for at least 150 years - but no, it's not! And it's a shame a new drug that is so strong that it causes "mental illness like schizophrenia" is being imported into the country. When will it end?

This goes to show the lengths some will go to to make the connection between more serious drugs and foreign teachers stick (there have been only two reported drug cases this year that sounded for certain to have involved E-2 teachers). Other cases have involved 'former' teachers or Korean American/Canadian teachers. On the bright side, this is the first negative article about foreign teachers in over a month.

And, hopefully this case goes to show that the likelihood of being caught mailing yourself goodies from home is quite high (ahem).

There have been a few other cases which I forgot to post on - I'll do that soon. But first - tomorrow - I'll post Yonhap's response to this case, which is what I've come to expect from a news outlet funded by the Korean government.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Concerns about foreigners in 1995

I stumbled across this August 28, 1995 Yonhap article about Seoulites' views of the foreigners in their midst.
As the number of foreign residents increases, there is concern about decadent, pleasure (seeking) culture

There is a great worry among Seoul residents that the increasing number of foreigners living in Seoul will lead to an influx of decadent, pleasure (seeking) culture.

According to a "Survey of citizens regarding foreigners living in Seoul" announced by the city on the 28th, among 273 people questioned about the increasing number of foreigners living in Seoul, 37.5% were concerned about the influx of decadent, pleasure (seeking), low quality culture.

This was followed by worries over problems with public order due to increasing crime, deteriorating working conditions of Korean workers, and the spread of infectious diseases such as AIDS.

As for what fields they would like foreigners to work in, 54% chose technically specialized jobs, 15.6% chose foreign language teaching, 14.4% chose simple laboring, showing that it was hoped they would enter the country to work at specialized jobs where cutting edge techniques could be learned rather than importing cheap labor from southeast Asian countries.

However, as to whether Seoul should adjust to globalization by hiring foreigners as public servants, 63.6% were opposed, showing an overwhelmingly conservative reaction.

In relation to the human rights of illegally overstaying foreigners, 88.2% chose the answer that they "should be protected," revealing sympathy for illegally overstaying foreigners.
Well, things have certainly changed in the last 16 years. One can certainly understand the aversion to pleasure seeking culture, since there's such a dearth of it here. Ahem. It seems a rather strange first worry though. One wonders what this survey actually looked like. It's interesting to see some of the same fears are still present: the fear of growing crime (despite the Korean crime rate being twice that of the foreign crime rate) and AIDS. Also interesting is the use of certain terms in the phrase "decadent, pleasure (seeking), low quality culture." "Low quality" (저질, 'low,' 'substandard') has been applied to foreign teachers by anti English Spectrum and their friends in the Korean media (for example Break News and New Daily), and also appeared on some of their posters, such as this one from February 2005:

Note also the inclusion of "퇴폐," translated as 'decadent' in the Yonhap article above and 'degenerate' in the poster above. Such language was used by anti American, anti-USFK activists in the late 1980s to describe American culture, and by none other than Park Chung-hee in the 1970s (here, for example), who justifed his crackdown on marijuana and youth culture in general in 1975 and 1976 as protecting the indigenous culture of the Korean race. As it was put at the time, the “indiscriminate” acceptance of “degenerate fashions introduced from foreign countries” had to be stopped to “protect and develop our own cultural heritage.” It was made quite clear that it was American culture that was being talked about.

On the other hand, it's interesting that 88.2% of people thought human rights of illegally overstaying foreigners should be protected, though I don't know how deep that well of 'sympathy for illegally overstaying foreigners' was, especially since the Industrial Trainee System, which essentially mass produced illegal overstayers, would lead to there being over 200,000 of them 8 years later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Zombies march against university entrance exam

I was walking through Hongdae Monday night and saw this procession:

The banner reads "University entrance exam zombie, spec zombie Halloween march," with the text below reading "대학입시거부로 세상을 바꾸는 투명가방끈들의 모임", or "The invisible 'schoolbag strap' group to change the world by rejecting the university entrance exam." 'Spec' refers to the combined educational background, grades and TOEIC scores of people looking for jobs, while the length of one's 'schoolbag strap' refers to the amount of education one has - PhDs have the longest 'straps', while high school graduates have the shortest. Those who haven't graduated high school, such as the students taking part in the protest, would have no 'strap', hence its 'invisibility.'

Those taking part in the march carried placards with messages such as:

If you don't go to university you are not a person
University entrance exam paradise = mistrustful hell

The zombies also had signs, often on their backs, detailing the reason for their death and zombiehood:

It’s because of my laziness
Sudden death.

Rather clever, I thought. One participant handed me this small flyer:

An invitation for you to [take part in] the November 12 street action to change a society and education (system) which imposes competition and [emphasis on] educational background.

Let’s change our unhappy and anxious today and tomorrow!
The declaration of refusal of the university entrance exam
On the back it reads in part, "In a society that demands we constantly aim for a higher score, a better university, a better job, a better educational background and greater status, we are unhappy and anxious."

I don't have time to translate more, but their site, with its declaration of refusal of the university entrance exam, is here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

An in-depth look at the reaction to 'The True Origins of Pizza'

For those who would like to delve into the various reactions to 'The True Origins of Pizza' video by western, Korean, and Japanese netizens, I recommend the article The True Origins of Pizza: Irony, the Internet and East Asian Nationalisms by Stephen Epstein and Rumi Sakamoto published today at Japan Focus. I had been unaware of the Japanese reaction to the video - and I now realize I missed some of the references in the video, such as zig zag man. Seriously, though, some of the different interpretations of the video depending on the positions of the viewers are quite interesting; do give it a read.

(I should also thank them for mentioning this blog!)