Saturday, August 30, 2008

Patriotic summer fashions

Dokdo hat, anyone?

An August 1 Korea Herald article (er... yes, you're probably going to see a few articles over the next week that are based on older news (like "Beef protests enter second week") as I play catch-up...) titled Companies jump on Dokdo bandwagon looked at, well, what the title says:
Korean firms are scurrying to promote themselves as guardians of Dokdo, tapping into rising anti-Japanese sentiment following Tokyo's claims to the sovereignty of the East Sea islets. Companies have raised funds to help civic efforts promoting Korea`s sovereignty over Dokdo, while also marketing goods and services related to the issue.

On July 18, Interpark, a leading online shopping mall, started to produce and sell a "Dokdo T-shirt" bearing the inscription, "Do you know Dokdo? Dokdo belongs to Korea." It costs 2,900 won, plus free shipping. More than 20,000 Dokdo T-shirts were sold on July 18 alone, the company said.

As Brian relates here, these were also available at Dunkin' Donuts until Liberation Day. The article also tells us that, "Sales of Dokdo travel packages have also soared during the summer holiday season." As well they should; I hear the seafood restaurants and the hotels on Dokdo are first rate, as is the water park they recently built there (called the "East Sea", though those damned Japanese call it the "Sea of Japan").

Okay, jokes aside, hopefully they'll spend some time on Ulleungdo, which really is a beautiful place. I visited it about six years ago:

Squid, anyone?

The article continues:
The Dokdo marketing blitz is reminiscent of 2005 when the nation saw a sweeping corporate propaganda campaign. At that time, Japan`s assembly designated Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day," Takeshima being the Japanese name for Dokdo, spurring outrage among Koreans.
For those of you who thought "Japan`s assembly" was in Tokyo, you'd be surprised to learn from the Korea Herald that it's actually in Shimane Prefecture, where Takeshima Day was proclaimed. Very surprised, I'd imagine.

At any rate, as the summer winds down and unsold summer clothing goes on sale, you might want to take advantage of those low prices to buy some clothes for next summer. As it turns out, there are, for the discerning consumer, a great many choices when it comes to Dokdo-related items. It seems that companies here have learned a great deal from the first Dokdo Diplomatic War back in the winter of 2005, and have been able to move even faster to flood the market with merchandise to sell to thoughtful, patriotic citizens. If you're worried about Dokdo merchandise not being in style in the future... (have you ever written a sentence you just couldn't finish?)

So, let's start with t-shirts, as there are lots to choose from:

"Dokdo is a Korean Territory." It's one of many, I suppose...

Don't we all?

Haven't found what you're looking for? Try this site! Anyways, now that you have a T-shirt, let's cover the rest of the body. Something I haven't seen advertised during this Dokdo skirmish, but which was sold in 2005, is underwear:

(More can be found here)

Now we need something to cover that underwear. How about shorts?

They're designed by Victor Lee, and, as you can see here, they're modeled in China by actress Geum Seong-a (who I've never heard of before). Moving downwards, let's look for some socks!

(From here)

(From here)

Very good. Now, that Korea Herald article continued further:
Top retailer Shinsegae Department Store and its E-Mart affiliate have been raising "funds to guard Dokdo" to be donated to a civic group. They sell cakes decorated with chocolates imprinted with "Dokdo Love" and set aside 1 percent of revenues earned from the sales. [...] The campaign is a demonstration of "Shinsegae`s affection for Dokdo, which is part of Korea`s territory," its spokesperson said. "As one of companies of the Republic of Korea, we have rolled up our sleeves (to raise public awareness about the issue)," he said.
Wow, who knew Shinsegae had such affection for Dokdo. Just once I'd like to hear some exec from a major company tell the public, "Y'know, I've never really cared for Dokdo. Something about them has rubbed me the wrong way for years..." Of course, seeing as its downtown branch is in what was once the Mitsukoshi Department Store, I guess Shinsegae has to watch what it says. At any rate, Emart had more in store for Dokdo related goods:

Models show sneakers inscribed with three designs of the Dokdo islets at an E-Mart in Hwanghak-dong, central Seoul, yesterday. On Korea’s 63rd Independence Day, the chain introduced the sneakers that feature the islets, a source of controversy with Japan.
According to this video (where the photos below come from), these shoes are, for lowtops, 19,800 won, and for hightops, 23,800 won.

Hey, they're stylish, and, like all of this merchandise, you know they spent all the money working out that fantastic design and didn't bother to waste it by hiring a proofreader. So, before heading out to the beach, you might want to stay cool (in both senses of the word!) and say "Dokdo is our land" - with a hat:

You can then start adding a few accessories, like watches... (more accessories are here)

...or buttons (hat tip to Brian).

Now that you have your Dokdo T-shirt, underwear, shorts, socks, shoes, hat, watch and buttons, you're all set leave the house, right after you have a shower and dry off with one of these:

Actually, those towels were reported on back in March, 2005, so they might not be so easy to come by nowadays. No matter. You can just tell people you have one; when you're wearing a Dokdo T-shirt, underwear, shorts, socks, shoes, hat, watch and buttons, I imagine people would give you the benefit of the doubt.

It's possible that Korea Inc. has found its niche market here, at least when it comes to images that pop into people's heads when they hear the name of a country. "America" might conjure up mickey mouse, hamburgers, or an F16, while "Japan" might bring to mind samurai swords, sushi, or tentacle rape anime (or astroboy!) . If Korean companies and netizen groups keep this up, Korea might become known for two rocks (or black splotches) accompanied by somewhat comprehensible English printed on clothing and published in full page ads in American Newspapers. And it will be all the poorer for it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So Hot

I guess someone wanted a fan so badly they couldn't wait for the store to open the next morning.

I took these photos on Thursday night in Banghwa-dong. In the photo below, a man is throwing a weight attached to a rope at the remaining glass to make way for a new pane. Every time a piece was hit and fell off, the man jumped back as it smashed to the floor, causing the middle-aged women in the small crowd watching to gasp.

The tow truck in the photo above was carrying an SUV which had only minor dents and scratches. I'm not entirely sure if it was the vehicle which stopped a little late or not.

My apologies for the lack of updates, replies, etc. these days. It's just too hot (why, no, I don't have air conditioning!). The pace should pick up once it starts to get cooler (I mean geez, it's well after midnight and it's still frickin' 29 °C!).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Down by the river

It's always nice having the Han River Park near my house. Out near the Banghwa Bridge there's an actual shore where people often come to fish.

I almost ran over this little guy on my way down the path out to the shore.

One creature I didn't almost run over was something that bounded away into the tall grass. I barely got a glimpse of its rear end, but thought to myself, "That was either a very large rabbit or a very small deer." Both options seemed unlikely until I mentioned this to a student who told me he'd seen two deer near the same spot while rollerblading in Han River Park. He'd also mentioned he'd seen a TV show which mentioned deer living near the Han River. This slipped my mind until another student mentioned seeing one there the day before, so I decided to figure out what kind of deer they were. The answer: water deer, or gorani (고라니) in Korean. As that page tells us, they're quite small, and "[t]hey run with rabbit-like jumps," which helps to explain my confusion. Photos of them can be found at naver.

Photo from here.

A 'close-up' video of one caught in a snare is here, while a news video about a gorani family near, of all places, the Banghwa Bridge, can be found here. The video also shows footage of a leopard cat, or salkwaengi (살쾡이 - more photos here), and a raccoon dog, or neoguri (너구리). I had no idea such wildlife was a short bike ride from where I live.

Above and below are shots of the Banghwa Bridge during the day and night. The Haengju mountain fortress, the site of a Korean victory during the Imjin War, can be seen behind it

Bukhansan is seen shrouded in mist above, while below the still-under-construction Incheon Airport Railway Bridge can be seen.

Below is a crab I saw while on the bike path by the Han River. I hadn't realized there were freshwater species.

Setting up this shot certainly got a few stares from passersby...