Saturday, May 30, 2009
"Roh Seo-eun, a granddaughter of the late former President Roh, poses innocently for the camera during a funeral service in Bongha Village[.]"
I like the fact that she still has one eye closed.
I have a bad feeling there will be more reports like this.
[Hat tip to Scott Burgeson]
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The use of symbolic space in Seoul
As I pointed out here, this is arguably where Korea's first modern style protest movement took place, back in the days of the Independence Club in the late 1890s.
I couldn't help but be reminded of that when I saw this article about Seoul Plaza.
Tension is subtly building up around Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall between police and mourners for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun as certain civic groups are demanding the plaza be open to the public for mourning.
Upon the demand, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon asked the government to allow the opening of the plaza for mourning. However, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, which is in charge of the funeral preparations, rejected the request.
Since Roh's death, dozens of police buses have surrounded the plaza to block the entry of mourners.
Daehanmun can be seen in the background of the photo above. It was here where large protests took place during the Samil indpendence protests in 1919, which took place after the death of King Gojong.
It was also here where, on July 9, 1987, a million people gathered to grieve for the death of
Lee Han-yeol, a Yonsei University student killed by a tear gas grenade during the democracy protests of June 1987.
It is probably best known, in this millenium, as being the place where red-clad fans gathered to cheer on the Korean team during the 2002 World Cup, back when it was still a paved traffic intersection.
In 2004, Seoul city had it transformed into a grass covered plaza precisely because of its use during the World Cup.
The Seoul Plaza was once a venue for street cheering events by citizens during the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan and to relive its lively purpose, the city government decided to create an open square covered with grass, where citizens could relax and for various cultural events to be held there. [...]I guess it has turned out to be rather memorable, but not in the way the city (then under mayor Lee Myung-bak) planned it. I always thought that it was created to be a promotional space for Seoul City Hall, but they seemed to have had a myopic view of what that space stood for. A month of soccer rallies that did so much to raise Korea's brand value couldn't efface the symbolic meaning that this space has had for a century, and in any case, the planners must have misunderstood the meaning of those soccer rallies to begin with, because they really weren't about soccer, now were they? During the mad cow protests last year, it could be argued that Seoul Plaza had been re-imbued with the symbolic meaning it had during the twentieth century, but filtered through the nationalistic spirit of the soccer street cheering.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes Seoul Plaza will be another memorable landmark of Seoul.
Of course, Seoul Plaza was not the only place to suffer this; Lee was best known during his term as Seoul mayor for his reconstruction of Cheonggyecheon, and I couldn't help but chuckle at this comment he made last year:
“Rumors about mad cow diseases baffled me, and my heart hurt to see young students gathering to join in candlelight vigils in the Cheonggye Plaza, the very place I so enthusiastically restored.”
Cheonggyecheon's reconstruction was supposed to be a lighthearted romp through downtown Seoul by his former construction company (and their ilk) on the taxpayer's bill, a way to modernize and rebrand the area in preparation for the razing and reconstruction of much of the downtown core and to put his name in the spotlight as a modern, can-do leader embodying the best parts of Park Chung-hee in preparation for the 2007 presidential elections, not a project to create public space where people could try to bring down his presidency!
Urban space: it doesn't always turn out the way you want it to.
Oh, and the last paragraph of the Times article is worth noting:
Roh's supporters have teamed up with progressive civic groups to launch a campaign to impeach President Lee for orchestrating a "politically-oriented'' investigation and causing Roh's death. More than 70,000 citizens have shown their support, said an activist at the scene. "We will submit a petition containing supporters' signatures to the National Assembly after the funeral,'' the activist said. The anti-government move has gone to the Internet, with cyber campaigns to impeach President Lee underway at major portals.We may well soon see this space being used in a way the Lee government would rather not, which is precisely why it's being locked down at the moment.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Lessons for the Swinish Multitude*
Here is the location of the quarantined teachers in Seoul, from an interview with the author of An English Teacher under Quarantine in South Korea:
We’re at the Human Resource Development Center, a government run facility outside Seoul just a bit in Seocho-dong, close to Nambu Bus Terminal. Here’s the link to the location:
Sunday night I was reading on a bus stopped at a traffic light, tuning out the radio, when I realized I'd heard, right after the chime indicating the top of the hour, the words '외국인 영어 강사,' or 'foreign English instructor' more than once. "What now?" I thought. The sound of the bus moving again soon drowned it out, but I caught that more teachers had been found to have swine influenza. Then I went home and found out that Brian had discovered the blog An English Teacher under Quarantine in South Korea; soon two others, Ruby Ramblings, and Sparkling Chaos with Brian Dear became known (with the writer of the latter now confirmed as being infected). Brian has an information-packed post here, as well as others here and here. More can be found at the Hub of Sparkle (here and here).
I had my own experience today with my employer asking me if I was sick or if I'd met with foreigners recently. If she had realized we'd be quarantined - and unable to work for some time - if the answer was yes, I wonder if she would have asked. Oh, and she noted that parents have called her asking if my co-worker or I were sick or not. The media seems to be doing its job well. My former employer actually owns a franchise of the institute that has shut down it's Seoul campuses for two weeks. I can't imagine she's too thrilled (though it's probably better than this).
It should be pointed out that this is not the first time swine have invaded Seoul. A November 2005 Chosun Ilbo article titled "Seoul Trembles at Wild Boar Invasion" begins:
The capital is under threat from an unlikely invasion after wild boars were sighted at several locations around the metropolitan area. Last month there were repeated sightings at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel; now a den that is home to scores of the aggressive beasts has been discovered in Achasan.Not that these two invasions, or the media's treatment of them, are similar at all.
It does seem that the media (the English-language media at any rate) is not reporting about the forced isolation of foreigners who had been in contact with those infected. The opinion of people being quarantined is that it is only foreigners who were in contact with those who contracted swine flu who are being taken to quarantine facilities, but not Koreans, who are told to stay home. According to Brian Dear,
The Korean staff and our staff-instructors who were with our orientation the entire time, in close quarters are being quarantined in place. I know this from an email I received from my trainer. The trainer thought I'd be able to be the same (I emailed him before I was "caught") and he told me to simply stay in my apartment for a week and call my school boss or headquarters. Also the other people who were in daily contact with us are not here either. The most specific "proof" is simply that our orientation instructors aren't here, based on the email I received explaining that my instructor was "not leaving his apartment." I probably would rather be here. I think it's a much better situation since we aren't slipping through the cracks. More importantly, I realize that the danger of spreading the disease is very high. Of course, for the quarantine to work, it must be consistently applied.Standards to protect people - especially children - focusing on E-2 visa holders and not being consistently applied across the board? As if that would ever happen.** He also mentions that
some folks had no notice.. the CDC showed up at their doors at 4am in some cases and told them that they were "going for some tests" -- so a few people brought absolutely nothing with themThere have been numerous comments about Korean behavior like lack of hand washing and not covering mouths when coughing from people commenting that Koreans would be more likely to spread the flu. Perhaps they're overstating the point, but in a post last year I noted this global survey from ACNielson, where we're told that South Korean people are the world’s most vulnerable (52%) to cold.
People in South Korea seemed to be the sickest, suffering from most ailments and topping the global rankings for suffering from colds, indigestion, heartburn and toothaches.Hmmm. Perhaps kimchi doesn't stop colds after all. I'm sure it helps with the indigestion and heartburn, however.
My favorite quote from Ruby Ramblings?
The first thing the head adminstrator said when we arrived at the quarantine facility was that they have not tried a quarantine of this scale before, and that “Japan and America have both failed at containing the flu virus. We are going to prove that we will not fail, but succeed at this.”Well, that's one way to get back at Japan for the World Baseball Classic, and at America for embarrassing Korean nationalists with its actions in 1945 and 1950 (and for Ohno!). How will they succeed at containing the flu virus? According to this Joongang Ilbo article,
a spokesman at the Health Ministry said even if some of those [Chungdahm] branches continue operation, there are no legal grounds currently available to force them to close.Ah, I see. No 'excessively harsh measures' for members of the danil minjok who came into contact with infected persons - they get 'quarantined in place' at home - but foreigners who came into contact with infected persons can be rounded up with no warning or explanation at 4am and detained for an uncertain amount of time, and those with no indication that they've had any contact with infected persons can be told "not to interact and meet with any other foreigners for the unforeseeable future as they could be carriers of the disease."
“Unless a specific regional administrative unit sees an outbreak of the flu, it’s impossible to bring the branches under the law,” said the spokesman. “If we do so, we could face criticism from the public that we are taking excessively harsh measures.”
Considering I've been told in the last week that 'Koreans aren't catching the swine flu because they eat kimchi,' and considering the misunderstanding of the disease (helped along by the media) that it's a foreign virus, and considering the way this is playing on xenophobic attitudes that die hard, I can't help but see the similarity to the belief held by some a year ago that because of a misunderstanding of the science, media disinformation, xenophobia, and a belief that Koreans were 'special' (genetically) and therefore more susceptible, mad cow disease was going to ravage the Korean peninsula.
Oh well. It could be worse. In 1888 there were riots in Seoul because people believed foreigners "kidnapped children, killed them, and made a powder from their bodies that was used for photographic film."
Speaking of which, I've only got one picture left on my current roll of film, so I should finish this up.*** I really do hope things turn out well for those who are detained at the moment, and that these quarantines don't expand unreasonably.
*The title means nothing; I just liked the title of the 1790s weekly paper published by Thomas Spence that I came across while doing research (Pig's Meat. or Lessons for the Swinish Multitude).
**Perhaps now might be the time for Anti-English Spectrum to release some new comics about depraved foreign teachers (NSFW). May I suggest, in addition to the priapic teacher high on E clutching a fake degree and syringe full of AIDS-tainted blood chasing a group of elementary school girls, that we add a runny, pig-like nose? If drawn in a cute enough manner, the comics could probably be aimed at children and published in the Korea Herald, where they would go well with this article.
*** Just kidding. I use a digital camera these days.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Video of days past
More on Convenience Stores
The Asian economic crisis also helped trigger a reshaping of the retail sector, which saw the rapid growth of hypermarkets, chain supermarkets and convenience stores. Korean consumers traditionally buy at so-called 'mom-pop' stores and traditional wet markets, which account for a 72 per cent market share. Visitors to Korea would easily notice that retail shops are smaller than might be expected for the size of the Korean economy, which ranked among the world's top 20 biggest economies. Nine out of ten retail shops had fewer than two employees, with an average selling space of ten metres. The sales volume of the small stores accounted for around 80 per cent of the total market in 1995, while the share of modern retail formats such as department stores was only about 14 per cent.So it seems to be saying that markets and mom and pop stores accounted for 80% of retail sales in 1995, but that number dropped to 72% by the time the article's was written (2003, though figures are dated no later than 2001). An article(pdf) from 2004 (using 2003 figures) has lower figures:
Traditional markets (including wet markets and 'mom and pop' type stores) still account for the majority of food retail sales in Korea (67 per cent), however market share of hypermarkets and supermarkets is growing. Traditional wet markets in Korea take the form of large wholesale markets, which tend to specialise in fresh produce.As for convenience stores, this book tells us that "In May 1989, 7-Eleven opened its first store in Korea to become the first foreign convenience store, followed by Lawson and Circle K." The first source above continues:
The wholesale markets serve as the supply for the ‘mom and pop’ type stores. The number of conventional markets dropped to 1,100 in 2000 from 1,500 in 1996, and has continued to decrease in the following years. This is partly due to the fact that owning a car is now quite common for most Korean families, and since the economic crisis consumers are willing to drive to a hypermarket store despite the distance, to obtain lower prices and one-stop shopping
Introduced in 1988, convenience stores posted robust growth rates to reach over 2,000 in 1998. By the end of 2001, the total number of convenience stores in Korea reached 3,753. Leading players in the sector are LG 25, Family Mart (owned by the Bokwang group) and 7-Eleven Korea. Although growth slowed down due to the economic malaise, Korea's convenience stores are expected to widen its reach and replace the traditional mom-and-pop stores.Another article provides figures from July 2002:
The Korea Herald has reported that there have been more than 800 new convenience stores opened in South Korea during the first half of 2002, a better than 70-percent increase over the number opened during the same period last year. The total number of convenience stores in South Korea now is just shy of 4,600.Thus almost twice as many stores as there were in July 2002 have opened since then. So it took ten years to get to 2000 stores, another four years to reach 4,600, and seven years later there are over 12,000. This article talks about the presence of the Japanese franchise Family Mart in Korea, and its attempts to spread overseas:
The retailer has been expanding aggressively in Asia, and it has about 4,200 stores in South Korea and 2,300 in Taiwan.Korea would need around 17,000 stores or so to reach the saturation rate that Japan has, though in this article a spokesperson for the convenience store association "anticipates some 20,000 convenience stores will be operating here by 2015." There seem to have been some ideas for expanding stores on 'Korean' soil back in 2002:
It will be the first major Japanese convenience store chain to enter Vietnam, as FamilyMart and rivals like Seven-Eleven look overseas amid a gloomy outlook in Japan due to an ageing population and a saturated market with over 40,000 stores.
Bokwang Family Mart Co. will open two convenience stores in Mount Geumgang, North Korea, Thursday, the convenience-store chain company said Wednesday. The two convenience stores [are] the first of their kind ever opened in the socialist country[.]I doubt they're open these days.
Tom Coyner looks at the history of Korean retailing over the past two decades here.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The NHRCK report
The Rise and Fall of E-2-visa HIV testing in South Korea, 1988 - 2017
Part 1: The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 2: HIV testing for foreigners in the aftermath of the 1988 Olympics (unfinished)
Part 3: Anti-English Spectrum begins to link foreign English teachers to AIDSUsing their own articles, Anti English Spectrum petitions for E-2 visa changes
In response, many E-2 visa holders have complained that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas. They are urging the government to use the same restrictions on teachers holding E-1 (professorship), F-2 (spouse of a Korean) or F-4 (ethnic Korean) visas.
"The visa rules for E-2 visa holders should be revised as they clearly discriminate on the basis of national origin,'' said Benjamin Wanger[sic], a professor of Kyung Hee University.'We see that in the first paragraph, the author has restated the thesis of his October article, but then follows it with an unrelated statement from Wagner which makes it appear as if he is supporting the previous paragraph. Other problems occurred in a February 05, 2009 Joongang Ilbo article titled "Visa rules for foreign English teachers challenged." A “non-adversarial approach” and "This was a disingenuous way to introduce the requirements," Wagner argued. "Over the past year nearly 20,000 non-citizens have been subject to in-country HIV and drug tests, without reasonable grounds" are actual quotes from him. The other quoted material in the article was never said by him. This includes a quotation which made it appear as if he was speaking for ATEK. As he has made clear to me, "I do not and have never represented ATEK."
First, requiring submission of criminal and health records is a matter of whether or not to allow entry of foreigners with visa issuance, not a matter of restricting the constitutional basic rights of person regarding employment of certain occupation.Wagner's response, in a March 18 Korea Times article titled "Correcting ‘Misunderstanding’ of Visa Rules," included this:
In 2007, when the E-2 visa "policy memo'' (without the status of law) required over 17,000 E-2 visa holders already residing in the ROK to report to national hospitals for HIV and drug tests, this was not "entry requirements.'' These foreigners had long since entered the country and had taken up residence. The Constitution of this nation most certainly afforded them protection. Article 37(2), which Lee is so quick to brush aside, demands that a legitimate and non-discriminatory law (not a "policy memo") be enacted before the rights and freedoms of individuals can be restricted.Due to this statement by the Korea Immigration Service, Wagner then researched and submitted another report to the NHRCK challenging the "entry requirements'' argument.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Roh Moo-hyun
I'm sure everyone was shocked to hear the news of former president Roh's suicide Saturday. I couldn't help but feel that the photo at the top (from this post) was even more pertinent. The Korea Times reports on psychologists fearing that copycat suicides will follow.
Hyun Myung-ho, a psychologist with JoongAng University, said the media's role is very important in a time like this. "The media's tendency to go into details about the ex-president's death can produce more suicides."Of course, within hours his suicide note was released. What was once a list of entertainers who have committed suicide now contains a former president, and I really have to wonder about the long term effects of such a prominent figure killing himself upon the already high suicide rate in Korea.
I think I'll choose to remember him this way:
In January 1990, Roh opposed the politically motivated three-party merger between the ruling and two opposition parties. Through this merger Kim Young-sam, a long-time symbol of anti-dictatorship and pro-democracy movement in Korea, and Kim Jong-pil, a symbol of the dictatorial Yushin Constitution, became partners in a coalition government with the ruling party headed by Roh Tae-woo, a former general and successor to Chun Doo-hwan of the Fifth Republic. The ruling party needed the merger to secure a majority in the National Assembly. Roh Moo-hyun opposed the merger citing it as an act of betrayal against the interests of the public which desperately wanted a new, democratic regime.Oranckay wrote about this years ago, but his blog no longer exists. Essentially, the public had voted against Roh Tae-woo's party in the national assembly, and Kim Young-sam's party agreed to the merger in exchange for having the way paved for Kim to become the next president. The motion was passed quickly, and it was assumed no one would object. Roh did, however, and paid a political price for it, as he would lose subsequent National Assembly elections.
While some have assumed that his death would be used politically after the mourning period, it seems it's already starting. Roboseyo took photos and video of confrontations between police and mourners at the memorial in front of Deoksugung Saturday afternoon, while Scott Burgeson has posted photos of protests that took place that night.
More on Roh can be found here and here.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Quick E Marts of Korea, unite!
The number of stores jumped 12.9 percentThis is interesting:
to[2,209] in 2008, compared with growth of 11.4 percent to[1,429 stores] in 2007. There were 12,485 convenience stores across the country at the end of 2008, which meant there was at least one branch for every 4,000 people. Overall sales also increased last year, to 6.5 trillion won ($5.2 billion), a 16.7 percent jump from 2007.
The association credited the rise in the number of branches to corporate layoffs in recent years, which left more businesspeople ready to start their own franchises.
The percentage of store managers who were female rose 0.8 percentage point last year from 2007, bringing women up to 43.9 percent of all convenience store heads. Ten years ago, only 15 percent of store managers were female, while in 2003 that figure had increased to 27.7 percent.A 2007 Hankyoreh article reveals looked at other aspects of this trend:
Every day for the last four years, eight mom-and-pop stores have disappeared from the streets of South Korea, and six new bars have been set up.It might be worth noting that it was only in 1993 that the first Emart opened and traditional markets began to lose their popularity.
According to data announced by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on June 21, about 11,000 small stores closed during the four years from 2001. As a result, the number of such small, family-run shops declined to 95,967 in 2005 from 107,365 in 2001. In the meantime, the number of big supermarkets and convenience stores increased by 78 and 707, respectively, during the same period.
Many experts say that competition from such large-scale retailers have continually put the squeeze on smaller businesses, forcing them to close.
The number of bakeries and tea and coffee shops decreased to 32,008 in 2005 from 42,585 in 2001. However, the number of large shops with ten or more employees rose to 409 from 249, showing a 64-percent growth. However, such a situation has happened mainly due to an increase of chain coffee shops, such as Starbucks.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
How to stop suicide in its tracks
The Korea Times tells us that
Keywords "suicide methods'' and other words related to suicide will be, in principle, banned from input for online communities, blogs and other communal cyber spaces, the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs said Monday.To counter growing group suicides in the nation, the ministry will join hands with police, telecommunication authorities, civic groups and portals to ban keywords related to suicide and block access to Web sites.One wonders what will happen to the suspected suicidal people who are reported to the police. While this may be just another example of the government controlling information on the internet (for citizens' own good, of course), my first thought was that this plan would likely be a lot cheaper than building screen doors on every subway platform in Korea to prevent the many suicides that occur there. Originally, every station in Seoul was to have screen doors by 2011. At that time we were told that "A total of 65 people committed suicide at metro stations [in 2007], when only 39 stations in Seoul, or 15 percent, had the protective system installed." As of earlier this month, the plan is now for all stations to have screen doors by the end of 2009:
Among the banned words are "suicide,'' "suicide methods,'' "group suicide,'' and other terms pertaining to suicide. Postings containing information about suicide will be deleted and the operators of online cafes on the subject could be prosecuted. The prosecution recently arrested a Web site operator of an online suicide information cafe.
Rental car dealers, charcoal brisket sellers as well as hotel and inn managers are encouraged to report any "suspicious groups of people'' they notice to local police. Those who report such activities will be rewarded. Newspapers and other media outlets are also requested to "refrain from describing the methods and locations of sites'' to prevent further copycat suicides.
So far, the doors have been installed at 92 stations in total, but installations at the remaining 173 stations have been delayed for budgetary reasons.[...]One wonders whether they were true accidents, like this one, or whether they were "accidents," like the one mention in this letter to the editor, in which the author writes:
"We received the approval to use a supplementary budget from the National Assembly last month,'' the city said in a statement. "The installations at all Seoul subway stations will be completed by the end of the year, a year earlier than the original target of December 2010.''
According to Seoul Metro, 272 people fell on the subway tracks in the capital between January 2004 and August 2008 ― 172 being killed after being hit by a train. Of them, 239 were attempts at suicide, while the others were accidents.
The train-track jumper sacrifices himself in front of hordes of people because he wants to leave a message. And I’m pretty sure that message is not: “Put more doors on subway platforms”.Again, I'm left wondering just what systems will be in place to treat those who are reported to police for seeming suicidal. If that part of the solution hasn't been developed, there is, I think, merit in both placing the screen doors in the subway stations (Kushibo makes a good case here), as well as in trying, if not to ban the word 'suicide' (a new one will take its place), then at least stopping the media from reporting on it so much. Note that in my previous posts about suicide, there was no problem at all to find videos of people killing themselves - something that really isn't necessary. I remember in high school being told that the media in Toronto never reported on subway suicides in order not to encourage them. This comment touches on this:
It's not that stories of subway or bridge suicide are specifically avoided in the media, suicide stories (except 'suicide-by-cop' or 'murder-suicide') simply aren't covered, period. Suicide is a major buzzkill and there appears to be a tacit agreement on the part of city desk editors to avoid suicide stories as much as possible. There may be some pressure from emergency services and law enforcement to that end as well.Perhaps that's what's going to begin here as well. Of course, you have to ask yourself why reporting on suicide is so common here as compared to Canada (if the above comment is correct). It's not something I've really thought about before. Does anyone else have any ideas?
Finally, this article is interesting:
The country's three largest life insurers ― Samsung, Kyobo and Korea Life ― said Sunday that they paid 192.4 billion won in death benefits for suicides in fiscal year 2008 up 9.8 percent from the previous year. The number of such insurance claims also rose 4.9 percent to 1,685 cases in the one-year period from April 2008 to March 2009.[...]I imagined life insurance companies would never pay out after a suicide, but I was wrong. I was curious what percentage of people were insured when they died, and this article says that "The National Police Agency recorded 14,011 suicides by South Koreans in 2005." The article notes that the founder of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention* "said he recently won agreements from Internet search engines to link the keyword "suicide" with centers providing counseling, instead of sending the people to sites that would help them devise ways to kill themselves." If ways were found around blocked keywords then, I really have to wonder how useful this new plan is. As always, fostering positive attitudes in regard to mental health and treatment would be far more useful than continuously hiding the keys to the proverbial gun cabinet.
Life insurers mostly adopt a two-year rule ― they don't pay death benefits if an insured person kills themselves within two years after signing up for a policy ― as a means to discourage suicides, but after this period they are required to payout for suicides just like any other death.
*More comments from the president of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention can be found here. What I found interesting was this comment:
What has changed most, Hong says, is family structure. Before the economic miracle, multiple generations lived together in one home. Now, a South Korean household might consist of only three or four people.This reminds me of the mother of a large family from the countryside who traded places with a city mom for one week on a TV show, and her observations, which I wrote about here:
"What that means is that the social support system has changed," he said. "Previously [it was] very close-knit family, mutually dependent, helping each other. Now it's very independent, small family, and when things happen you have very little support from other people."
“This week, I learned that families in the city respect each other’s world. Each and every person has their own thing going on and they rarely interrupt other people’s private space. In the long run I believe such a lifestyle would end up deepening isolation and loneliness.”
Monday, May 18, 2009
518 after 29 years
Today is the 29th anniversary of the Kwangju Uprising. I've written quite a bit about the uprising before, as the 'Kwangju Uprising' label will attest. A brief timeline is here, there are also background posts about the coups of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan, as well as the situation in 1979-1980. I've written more in-depth looks at the events of the uprising, such as the violence on the first day, the escalation of violence over the first three days, forcing the military out of the city, and the retaking of the city by the military (I have yet to look closely at liberated Kwangju or the situation on the outskirts of the city between May 21 and May 27). The single post I'm happiest with is likely this one, about the death and memorialization of a high school girl killed during the uprising.
A bibliography of books in English about the uprising is here, a links to literature inspired by the film are here, and contemporary US news broadcasts can be found here.
This year, as Yonhap tells us,
Prime Minister Han Seung-soo on Monday called for national unity and efforts to build a first-rate state based on the lessons learned from the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 29th anniversary of the uprising, Han said South Korea is capable of overcoming any difficulty as long as the spirit and lessons of the movement are revived.
The photo above is from this newscast, which reveals more about the ceremony. After speeches, the attending delegates then released 2009 butterflies (from Hampyeong). Democratic Party leader Chung Se-kyun bemoaned president Lee Myung-bak's absence this year.
People (local delegates, it seems) protested against the destruction of the old Jeollanam-docheong (provincial hall, which Brian has written about here) which is viewed as a historical site due to its importance during the uprising. If you look at the photos in Brian's post, you'll note that one of the smaller buildings has been demolished in the photo below, taken during festivities commemorating the uprising on May 17.
The biggest annoyance of the day was the Hankyoreh's cartoon:
On May 18, 1980, the South Korean military, led by Chun Du-whan, killed several citizens who were demanding democracy. On May 16, 2009, the police brutally arrested members of the Korea Cargo Transport Workers‘ Union who participated in a rally to launch a general strike.Yes, Chun Doo-hwan is just like Lee Myung-bak, isn't he? I'd be more pissed off at their hyperbole if they hadn't already made ridiculous comparisons between Chun and Lee twice before. Needless to say, they do a great disservice to those who died 29 years ago by comparing these two leaders and the suppression of these two protests (more about Saturday's protest, inspired by this suicide, can be found here and here). Of course, seeing as that protest was organized in the name of 29th anniversary of 518, (squint at the poster here), perhaps the Hankyoreh's equation shouldn't be too surprising.
Chun Du-whan, the former South Korean President who is responsible for the Gwangju Massacre, tries to stop the current President Lee Myung-bak from imitating him. Upon hearing Lee opening his speech with the phrase “I am...,” something pundits remarked on Chun’s frequent use of, Chun says, “Why are you imitating me? You are centralist, aren‘t you?”
Friday, May 15, 2009
Some commentary on perceptions of English teachers in Korea
The view of the "foreign English teacher" has shifted in the Korean public consciousness from being a respected and distant figure (the Confucian default) to an exotic, sexualized (and approachable - thus the danger) "entertainer/consort" of sorts.The second piece worth reading is by Scott Burgeson, from the introduction to his new book "더 발칙한 한국학":
I see the law trying to keep pace with this shift in the E-2 visa policy, especially the HIV test.
Have you seen the Lady Kyunghyang (women's mag) article on dating foreigners? There was a poll taken by XY in Love and the Lady K where they asked Koreans (men & women) how they tried to hook up with foreigners for sexual encounters.
The number one answer (120+) was trying to meet English teachers through language hogwans. Respondents were about 6 times more likely to attempt a hook-up at a hogwan than at a Hongdae nightclub (20). (Clubs where E-6 type workers would be found weren’t even mentioned.)
The law sees sexualized foreigners as a dangerous public health risk.
Korea's "Prevention of AIDS Act" (No. 7451, March 31, 2005) requires ‘risky long-term stay foreigners’ to receive HIV tests before visas will be issued. Foreign English teachers are not defined as one of these risky types of foreigners under this Act. (The E-2 visa ad hoc policy memo fills the gap though, I would argue).
So who are the risky ones? A separate ordinance of the AIDS Prevention Act defines them as follows: “Those who enter the country with the goal of sojourning for 91 days or more . . . to engage in performance entertainment/show business, sports and other entertainment-related businesses or activities in order to make a profit . . ."
(The new E-2 visa, an E-6 visa for men?)
Again, I'd argue that in the current Korean consciousness the foreign English teacher falls squarely in the "other entertainment-related business" category. Thus, the E-2 visa HIV test is less of an aberration than it seems. It really has very little to do with the goal of protecting children as it claims. I'd suggest that, just like the de jure E-6 visa foreign "merry-maker" already covered under this Act, the E-2 visa English teacher has been identified as a de facto foreign "merry-maker" that the law needs to protect the public against.
At this point, the meme of "low-quality native English teachers" has become so pervasive and powerful in the local media that I believe Western English teachers in Korea have become the new "GIs" in the eyes of many South Koreans: Just as GIs have traditionally been seen here as a "necessary evil" who are only tolerated for "the good of the country," and were widely resented in the past when they were still relatively "rich" by local standards, it seems that many South Koreans today view native English teachers here in much the same harsh light. During WWII, a great many GIs were stationed in Britain as part of the Allied war effort against Nazi Germany, and a popular expression used at the time by Brits to describe them seems to mirror the way many Koreans feel about native English teachers here today: "Overpaid, Oversexed and over Here."
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Murder of an English teacher 11 years ago
Oct 21 1998This is obviously the same murder Brian mentioned here; The other death I know nothing about. A search on KINDS turned up nothing about the first death.
Korean Patriot Murders American English Teacher
On Sept. 7, 1998, a Korean man walked into Sunchon Boys High School, located in the South of Korea near Kwangju, and asked if there was an American teacher employed there. Due to a lack of security or concern by the Korea staff, the inturder [sic] soon found the American teacher.
The man engaged him in a brief conversation, then proceeded to stab him in the back as he was walking away, going down the stairs from the second floor. The victim, Scott James Kennedy, 33, from North Dakota, died upon arrival at a hospital in Sunchon.
When interrogated, the attacker said that he murdered Scott because he didn't want Americans in Korea teaching Korean children. It was also noted that he said foreigners should not be allowed to hold jobs here while many Koreans are unemployed.
It should be noted that Scott's murderer had a history of mental instability and was institutionalized in the past.
Although Scott's murderer had a history of being mentally unbalanced, I believe that his anger and hatred are shared in various degrees by many Koreans who have been often considered to be highly suseptible [sic] to the psychopathology of xenophobia which is often interpreted to mean fear of foreigners, but can just as well be understood as hatred toward foreigners.
Scott is the second American English teacher to be murdered in Korea this year. Mr. Beau Smith, a young man from Fort Lupton Arizona, died a horrible death in Seoul after being exploited and extorted by his Korean employer who took his passport, airplane ticket and cheated him on his wages. His body was found dumped into a construction site.
Is this yet another repercussion of the economic crisis sweeping through Korea or just another example of a Korean stealing from a foreigner? In this case, his life.
Monday, May 11, 2009
There had to have been a better place to park
Friday, May 08, 2009
The Joongang Ilbo has a fascinating article on 'accidental' Joseon era mummies:
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the upper classes placed their dead in hoegyeok, a type of tomb. The corpses were put in double-sided coffins and covered with a layer of a limestone mixture, or hoe. This process completely isolated the body from water and air, which cause decay.[...]Read the rest of the article here.
The exceptional quality of the mummies, artifacts inside the tomb and body parts, from the brain to the intestines, has allowed scientists to answer questions about everyday life in those times. They were able to identify not only the cause of death but also what the usual diet was and the rampant illnesses of those days.
Yes, censor that mummy! If you don't, who knows how it might affect the youngsters who come across it!
A comic take on Kim Yu-na
Eyebrows were raised after Lee Ki-su, university president, said on Wednesday that the institution "delivered" the 18-year-old, repeating a statement from late March that drew widespread criticism at the time. Reacting, KU students and graduates spoke of their embarrassment at the latest claim.On a related note, I saw one of my students with this comic book today:
Lee said that KU pumped the spirit of the school into Kim so that she could win the World Figure Skating Championship 2009.
"We can say KU delivered Kim,'' Lee told a forum at a meeting arranged by Kwanhun Club, a senior journalists' group in Seoul. "You can tell Kim made totally different performances from the ones she performed during her high school era. It is a result of the injection of the KU spirit into her. I called and told her a leader in the 21st century should retain an ethnic, pioneering spirit and a conviction for victory."
Hopefully she's being compensated for this likeness(?). Roboseyo has more on Kim Yu-na here.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Robert Dunn: Making presidents by photography
The article can be found here, and was published in Appleton's Magazine, September, 1907, Pg 359.
ROOSEVELT was the first statesman to rebel at the notion of president making by photography. It happened at the Philadelphia convention, just after he had been nominated for vice-president, and was starting for the platform, his address in his hand, to make his speech of acceptance. I, who had adjusted my camera on three chair tops, so as to command a view of the scene, shouted;
"One moment, please! I want your picture."
Depew, Roosevelt, Leslie Ward, and Odell halted. Roosevelt was highly incensed, and Platt, who was sitting near by, snickered aloud at his discomfiture.
"Don't you do it!" bellowed the vice-president-to-be.
But I had already snapped my shutter. There was a great commotion at once. My camera was upset, and fell toward a man who shoved it off so that it grazed Mr. Roosevelt.
"Get that man out of here," he commanded, pointing at me, "or I won't speak."
I was unceremoniously ducked under a platform and kept there for over an hour, so that I never got a picture of him in the throes of his oratorical acceptance. I amused myself, however, by cutting a hole through one of the planks with my pocketknife and making through the aperture plate after plate of the convention assembled.
Curiously enough, four years later the camera was adopted as a means of exploiting this same rebellious Mr, Roosevelt, who had long before forgiven the offending photographer of 1900 and had many times aided me in securing important and interesting pictures. To-day the Department of Pictorial Publicity is a recognized factor in the making of presidents, vice-presidents, governors, and the like, and is utilized gladly by the National and State committees.
Up to about the year 1904, the process of newspaper exploitation of the various candidates by means of quickly prepared photographs for press uses was in its infancy; the newspapers in each town had to depend upon their own artists and photographers for pictures of the candidates which would possess a local interest, and though the National Committee flooded the press with staple photographs of their men, these became well known so early in the campaign that they came to possess little or no news of value.
This was the condition of affairs at the opening of the Roosevelt-Fairbanks campaign when I was drawn into service.
I fitted up a dark room at one end of the Campaign special car and had just about arranged my chemicals, supplies, ice, and water — we used thousands of gallons of water and literally tons upon tons of ice, frequently bringing the train to a stop simply to allow me to stock up on these two commodities — when the telegrams began to pour in. These wires came from local delegations up the line telling what sort of an affair the candidate was to expect in this town or that, how many people, how prominent they were, how they were dressed, on which side of the track the depot was located, whether it was in the sunshine or not, and such information. They came in by the peck, and they nearly swamped me at first; but they proved very reliable.
At the smaller towns, where there wasn't much of a crowd present, I stood on the back platform, close to the candidate, and deliberately posed him before their very eyes. At such times he assumed an attitude which gave a sort of "spread-eagle" effect; these pictures, I found, got more space in the newspapers. By having no background except a bit of the car platform, photographs could be palmed off on any community as being taken in that very town, whereas they may have been taken a week before in a town five hundred miles away. The candidate grumbled at being posed in this open-and-above-board fashion, but I got around that difficulty by convincing him that it was absolutely necessary in order to get the pictures, and by making the crowd believe I did not belong on the train with him.
Soon, however, we began to cut out the little five-minute stops and center our efforts on more prominent places, allowing ourselves forty-minute stops in such towns. Here was where quick work had to be done. To take a typical instance, I remember at Salt Lake City, I was out mingling with the crowd before the train had slowed down. Of course, all through the campaign I tried to keep secret the fact that I belonged on the candidate's special train; hence, the need for mingling in with the crowds about the stations en route.
As the delegation moved up to greet the candidate he quite naturally made room for them on the platform of the car, unostentatiously disposed the local dignitaries about him in a hail-fellow-well-met group, while others of our party gently maneuvered them into the sunlight (all by previous arrangement with me), and I did the rest.
I snapped several views and then, while he was delivering the speech, I hurried around the front of the car to the dark room, developed those plates, and my assistants printed dozens of the photographs and actually made a score or more of very large bromide enlargements before the train was ready to leave the town. With these under my arm, and some of them hastily autographed by the candidate, I jumped down into the crowd again, presented the various local dignitaries with photographs of themselves and the candidate, scattered others around among the citizens, and even had a number of the enlarged pictures displayed in the shop windows of the town. The various newspaper representatives were each given an exclusive plate, made right in their own city, you know, and as a consequence we left behind us a highly satisfied lot of people.
In another town, where the entire population had gathered around the public square, I climbed a pole and took a comprehensive photograph of the whole gathering, hastened back to the car, made several enlargements at least four feet high, and stuck them up in store windows with the query above them: "Can you find yourself in this picture?" It mattered little to us whether they could or not so long as they stopped, looked at the photograph, and recalled the occasion. This whole business was also accomplished before the train pulled out.
The matter of dress, alluded to heretofore, is a thing which may appear humorous rather than important. But if you will look closely at all campaign pictures (not necessarily those reproduced here) you will see that the candidate invariably wears the same style of hat and clothes as do the members of the visiting delegation which welcomes him. This is not always due to a freak of chance. The secretary on the private car frequently receives a telegram ahead of time "tipping us off" as to what to wear. Thus, on one occasion, the wire ran:
When Fairbanks went through Indiana he wore a slouch hat and slouchy clothes, as any native son should do, but when he got across the line into Illinois, out came his high hat, Prince Albert coat, and white vest.STATE CAMPAIGN SPECIALArrangements perfected; train will remain outside station in sunlight; committee wearing high hats, frock coats, will greet party on arrival.
(Signed) State Reception Committee.
The accompanying photograph of Roosevelt in a mirth-provoking pair of trousers shows him unconsciously "doing as the Romans do," The audience on that occasion was a plain, everyday audience.
As for adapting appearances to the country through which a candidate is traveling, I have known times when even the train has been changed, the luxurious private cars being discarded and the cheapest, tawdriest coaches possible being substituted.
Bryan, of soft-hat fame, did not need to make any change, as everybody knew his invariable rule. Indeed, the "Great Commoner" made no appeal by this perfectly legitimate method of "faking"; the enthusiasm which he aroused for his democracy was always natural. He really got along better with the local press than any other candidate, but he did not get the advantage of new methods of photography as he might to-day. In 1896, when he was jocularly known as "The Boy Orator of the Platte," only the big dailies had perfected a rapid system of half-tone reproduction. The smaller papers could not afford the expense, and hence, though Bryan frequently had me on board his train, the photographs were generally unused by the papers.
The mania for souvenirs has often caused candidates considerable trouble. On one occasion some one stole Mr. Roosevelt's half-hosiery, on another his supply of handkerchiefs, on another his shirt, and on the occasion of a famous Waldorf banquet, some one made away with his evening coat. The resourceful Oscar at once took in the situation and at the last moment, Mr. Roosevelt walked into the banquet room in a coat, the sleeves of which were three inches too short for him.
The main point about campaign photography is the press publicity it can obtain for the candidate. Newspaper space is practically invaluable; there is no way of computing how much it is worth. And although the cost of maintaining a completely equipped photographic apparatus en route is very heavy, the National Committee does not grumble. It costs probably $50 all told, counting the expense of a private car, to make a dozen pictures on the train, which would cost but $3 in a local gallery — and in some towns we turned out these pictures in great numbers.
Such pictures as they are, too! What reader does not realize the marvelous characterizations of Theodore Roosevelt that have been caught in the open air by the campaign photographer, showing the vigor and energy of the man — an effect impossible of attainment in a tamely posed gallery picture. Sometimes 1 reproduced these pictures life-size and sent them ahead to be hung in the hotels where the candidate would lodge, thus helping to work up local interest in him several weeks before he put in an appearance. For the enlargement work of some of my candidates I carried the usual arc light, and the electricity to supply this, of course, had to be generated on the train. Thus by day or night we could get our enlargements, and it was generally by night while the candidate slept that we were busiest. Sometimes, though, the great man would sit up overtime himself, autographing the more imposing photographs.
The method we pursued with these large, signed pictures might prove of interest to the reader. If we were due in San Francisco, say, in a short time, I would look up the editors of the various papers and send each of them one of these autographed pictures — each, of course, being a different pose. With it would go a note;
Dear Mr.____: Mr.____ (naming our candidate) happened to remember his old acquaintance with you, and has requested me to send you the inclosed photo. It is considered one of his best likenesses, etc.The result generally was that, before this photograph was framed and hung in the office, it was run in that editor's paper.
I have told how we posed the candidate and the local committeemen and turned out dozens of prints from the negative inside of forty minutes. This is by no means a record. Upon one occasion I left New York City after my candidate had been speaking there at the Broadway noonday meeting. By the time we had made the run from Jersey City to Newark, some fifteen minutes, I had my photographs of that meeting finished, sealed in packages, and ready for our porter. He took them and met a porter on an incoming train going back to New York.
"Carry these to Jersey City," said our porter, handing the other a $10 bill. "A messenger boy will meet you at the train."
This messenger boy was on hand when the train pulled into Jersey City, took the bundles, and delivered them in turn to a score or more of boys who were waiting at the ferry. These then spread out and delivered the photographs to the newspapers designated, all in time for the afternoon issues.
The New York Tribune also printed a flashlight of the Ohio Society dinner, held on Saturday night, March 3, 1900, at the Waldorf-Astoria, which was taken by me at 7.03 P.M., rushed downtown (almost an hour's ride in those days) up to the top of the Tribune building, there developed and printed, twelve duplicate half-tone plates were engraved from it, and before the banquet had ended a messenger boy was delivering printed copies of the Tribune, with the picture on the front page, to the various banqueters. President McKinley autographed each copy. It was considered quite a newspaper feat at the time.
One way of working the press occurs when the candidate arrives in a city too late for a photograph to be taken. He is going to speak that night, we will say, and intends to leave early the next morning. This happened at Cincinnati once, when I was out with another one of my candidates. About seven o'clock in the evening the train pulled in, and was besieged by a band of newspaper men. They were referred to me for photographs.
"Fellows," I said, "we haven't anything exclusive but a lot of half-tone plates, already made up,"
“All the better," was the chorus.
Of course, by pre-arrangement, these plates were enormous affairs, twelve or fifteen inches high, and depicting the candidate (another trick) with outspread arms. All in all, each plate must have covered the half of an ordinary newspaper page. They were dealt out to the various newspaper men, put on the presses, and the next day the town was simply plastered with enormous reproductions of the campaigner in various of his perfervid, spread-eagle moments. It was a very impressive exhibition, and we obtained about five times the usual pictorial publicity.
Another subterfuge which the campaign photographer works — he must never, never associate himself publicly with that private car down in the yards — is to walk into a newspaper office casually and say, "I see that So-and-so (who, by the way, is his candidate) is in town tonight."
"Yes," replies the managing — or perhaps city- or art-editor.
If the photographer happens to be known in the office, then the conversation takes a personal turn for a while. At last, drawing a bundle of photographs from under his arm, the "pictorial publicity" agent says:
"By the way, I've got some good pictures of So-and-so here that I took myself some time ago. They're exclusive stuff, and I thought they might come in handy to you. Just happened to be in town on some private business, I'll make you a present of them."
Naturally enough, the photographs are accepted with avidity, for they really are exclusive and generally very good, expressive likenesses.
In the year 1900, when I was in Kansas City at the Democratic National Convention in Convention Hall there, a rather amusing circumstance took place, Bryan had just been nominated amid the most tumultuous sort of hullabaloo, and people were jumping to their feet, tossing their hats, and shouting. I took a flashlight of the New York part of the celebration, and started to move my camera toward another part of the house, when a messenger approached me.
"Didn't you just take a picture of that bunch?" he asked, pointing his finger at the Empire State delegates.
"I did," I answered.
"Well, Mr, Croker asked me to ask you not to print it. Take another." He disappeared.
I looked at Croker. He was on his feet, cheering and roaring louder than the rest, in anticipation that I would come back and photograph his enthusiasm. Later in the dark room I understood.
You will observe from the picture I give here (the one that Mr. Croker didn't wish reproduced) that he kept his seat morosely during the first pandemonium. Croker never was for Bryan, and I happened to catch him. He was sitting very languidly in his chair, the only man of the crowd who wasn't on his feet and cheering. That was what was the matter.
"Dressing the part," as I have said, is one of the features of a campaign. Roosevelt in baggy trousers, Roosevelt in military uniform with a "dee-lighted" smile (one of the hest "dee-lighted" photographs ever taken of him, and one which I tried for months to get before finally obtaining it), Roosevelt with a sunflower in his buttonhole (could this occur in any other Stale save Kansas?) are not always circumstantial happenings.
There are other tricks of the game, there are other ways of being democratic, of being "all things to all men." Senator Dolliver, of Iowa, had a habit of appearing with a "quid" of tobacco in his mouth. The audience tittered as he stood before them, rolling his "chaw" in silence. Gradually the titter spread to a guffaw. Dolliver spoke not a word. Finally, when the merriment had reached its highest, he would dig a finger into his jowl, extract the "quid" and throw it on the floor amid a burst of democratic applause. By expectorating profusely as a finis to his ruse, he gained his point. Everybody was in a high good humor when his speech began.
Senator Charles W. Fulton, of Oregon, was another "stumper," whose methods were as effective as Dolliver's. He would begin something like this: "Well, I must say I'm disappointed at this crowd! Look at all the ugly men! Not a good-looking man in the whole convention! How does it happen that such a lot of misshapen features on the masculine side have been able to attract so many beautiful female partners? Here I've been a bachelor for forty years; but if I had known you fellows could do as well as you've done I'd never have been a bachelor for fifteen minutes," etc. By this heart-to-heart method he placed himself on the best of terms with his hearers and then took a dive into politics. The joke of it all was that his wife was probably sitting in the audience listening to his remarks. [...]
Such were the subterfuges by which the campaign orators held the crowds in good humor until they could get at the meat of their speeches, and, incidentally, until I could get my plates and have them developed.
Roosevelt, from a photographic point of view, has always been an almost impossible subject. He has a mode of address which makes it extremely difficult to catch him. The grotesque picture of him here given, with his mouth wide open, speaking off the rear end of his train, was taken at a time when he was delivering himself of his favorite "personal appeal."
"You" he would say in impassioned tones, pointing his finger directly at some one in the audience, "you of the Blue —" — everybody craned his neck to look — "and you," continued the speaker, pointing in an opposite direction — "you of the Gray!" By this time half the town audience would be on its feet to see which of its citizens had been designated. The speaker's appeal would immediately follow, burning with patriotism. It is highly probable, but hardly necessary to add, that there wasn't a war veteran within forty miles of his voice. Or, if it was another subject under discussion, he would point down and shout, "You, mother with your baby in your arms!" and perhaps there was no such person in the hall.
Speaking of the soldiers reminds me of the fact that the committees and their adjutants are prone at all times to assemble the veterans, the lodge members, and other uniformed bodies and parade them prominently about with the candidate. They are placed on the speaker's stand, appealed to in the oratory, always photographed, and otherwise raised to honor because of their votes and their influence. It is a great card to play.
And that is the way the business of making a president is conducted. No small part is played by the man behind the camera. If you get a glimpse of statesmen hurrying into old pantaloons and slouch hats in the aisle of a railway car, or hustling their local delegations out on the rear platform to get their pictures taken arm in arm with the great ones, or if you can imagine a hot night in a dark room with the camera man developing negatives and the candidate autographing pictures while the train makes sixty miles an hour, this bit of reminiscence will not have been written in vain.
If you made it this far, then here's something Korea related: An excerpt of a letter Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Hermann Speck Von Sternberg on August 28, 1900, before he became vice-president, referring to the Boxer Uprising:
I hope the Powers do not get embroiled in a war in the interior of China. Surely any Chinese troops that now come to attack Peking will be little more than an undisciplined mob. I should like to see Japan have Korea. She will be a check upon Russia, and deserves it for what she has done. But I do earnestly hope there will be no slicing up of China. It will be bad for everybody in the end.
* The obituary H.L. Mencken wrote for William Jennings Bryan may be the most mean-spirited ever written.