Saturday, September 29, 2012

They arrived just before you did...

[Update: I think I spoke too soon... ]

Perhaps this isn't quite the 'pinnacle of human achievement' that one comment describes it as, but it's still the best Gangnam Style parody I've seen yet.

(Via Liminality via Big Hominid.)

This one is kind of fun too...

And in a more serious vein, Mark Russell's article in Foreign Policy about Psy and the export of Korean pop culture is well worth reading (via his blog and the Marmot's Hole).

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Bad Trend

The shipwrecked Baileys and their rescue by Koreans in 1973

As I said in the last post, the rescue of the Baileys and their visit to Korea led to a couple of letters being published in the Korean press.

On July 26, 1973, the following letter appeared in the Korea Times a few days prior to the Baileys' visit to Korea:

There are many kind sentiments in this letter by Mrs. Huntley, who I know of mostly because she was present in Gwangju during the uprising in May 1980 (she was also a frequent contributor to the 'Thoughts of the Times' column). Another letter, however, was not so positive.

This letter appeared in the Kyunghyang Sinmun on August 10, 1973, the day after the Baileys left Korea:
Bad Trend
Kim Bo-gyeong, Seodaemun-gu, Nokbeon-dong

The piece of news that a Korean ship had rescued foreigners adrift on the Pacific Ocean hit like a sudden shower during this particularly hot summer. The captain gave his first-hand account and was proud, and the memories of the castaways were also good. They said they would come to the country of their saviours, Korea, but I was rather disappointed when I saw articles about them coming to Korea at a newspaper's invitation. The castaways, who didn't have much fuss made over them in their homeland, were thankful and said they would come to Korea on their own; did we have to invite them and give them money and free board and free tours? There was so much coming their way as to make them tired of it, and various news outlets had arguments to get exclusive media coverage.

One country's newspaper which listened to the facts of their being cast adrift undertook to confirm if they really were adrift for around 100 days. Courteous Korea has the politeness to entertain guests, but I worry that we are displaying a very submissive attitude towards foreigners.

At universities which hire young unqualified foreign instructors who are given high salaries, they are surrounded by students who pay without knowing what a waste it is, a confused group who offer to date foreigners.

Because this leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, I would like you to please consider this trend of preference, of giving unconditional hospitality to foreigners.
Well now - you didn't see that coming, did you? What an incredible segue into 'unqualified foreign instructors' - in 1973! One would imagine that there couldn't have been more than a few dozen foreign instructors in Korean universities at that time (especially outside of US military who taught English and Peace Corps volunteers, none of whom should have been teaching in universities). (Just for fun, an account of teaching at Korean universities from 1965 can be read here.) Not only are Koreans too generous to them, but what they teach is "a waste" and the (one presumes female) students who surround them are a "confused group who offer to date foreigners," something which "leaves a bitter taste in [his] mouth." Or as it was put in 1984,
"It's not just foreigners' prostitutes, now it's female university students or teenagers from good families who chase after foreigners and spend money on them, and when I see it I think it's pathetic," said Hong Gwan-pyo, who has sold souvenirs in [Itaewon] for 8 years, with a sour look on his face.
As for the "Koreans are too submissive in giving unconditional hospitality to foreigners" meme, it would resurface in 1984 during the French foreign language teacher scandal, in 1988 during the Olympics (when the Donga Ilbo asked, "Hasn't our overindulgence in humbleness brought about a self-degradation?"), and during the English Spectrum incident in 2005, just to name a few examples.

That said, it's not like I don't see Mr. Kim's point - it's just  that, at that time, Korea was still an aid recipient, and I remember coming across an article from the early or mid-1970s about the Canadian government helping to electrify villages in Gyeongsang-do. The point being, maybe it was a little early to be feeling bitter about being too hospitable to foreigners, especially when foreigners were contributing to the development of the country. On the other hand, anger at white barbarians who date Korean women, and especially towards the women who date them, has never really gone out of fashion.

Oh, and the castaways most certainly did "have much fuss made over them in their homeland" - they received a lot of money for the rights to their diary. So that's a bit overwrought on Mr. Kim's part. And returning to the topic of their rescue, on October 10, 1973, the Kyunghyang Sinmun reported that the captain and navigator of the Wolmi 306 had been arrested for smuggling around eight million won worth of contraband into Korea from Samoa. This was not the same captain, Mr. Suh, however - he had switched off with the captain Kim wanted for smuggling for that voyage.

At any rate, I was asked how I came upon the story of the Baileys; I doubt anyone suspected it was via the earliest news reference I could find to "unqualified foreign instructor."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Baileys visit Korea

The shipwrecked Baileys and their rescue by Koreans in 1973

When we last saw the Baileys, they remained in Honolulu as the Wolmi 306 departed without them. As this Donga Ilbo article points out, the Donga Ilbo played its part in the media frenzy by offering to pay for a Korean Air flight to Seoul. On the Afternoon of August 1, 1973, they arrived at Kimpo Airport, as this front page Korea Times article from the next day relates:

 Unsurprisingly, the Donga Ilbo gave a great deal of coverage to their visit, publishing the photo below and reporting that they drove into Seoul via the Han River and Han River bridge, and got a view of Namsan before going to the Sejong Hotel:

On August 2 they were interviewed by the Donga Ilbo at their hotel, and said they would come to Korea when they sailed again. They thanked the Korean people and said they wanted to meet captain Suh in Busan, visit the old palaces, and go to Panmunjeom:

They were given a key to the city and honorary Seoul citizenship by Mayor Yang Taek-sik on the morning of the 3rd before flying to Busan that afternoon:

The Korea Times had a little more on the ceremony:

The following Korea Times article from August 4 says that they arrived in Busan and that they plan to attend Captain Suh's wedding. I can find no other reference to this wedding, however (not even in the Korean language press).

On the morning of August 4 the Wolmi 306 arrived in port and they were reunited with captain Suh:

This Korea Times article from the next day described their meeting:

On the 5th they went to Ulsan to see a shipyard and to Bulguksa and Seokguram in Gyeongju (the latter they termed 'a miracle'), and then returned to Seoul. This article says they also went to Haeundae that day,which would make for a busy day, if true.

On the 6th they went on a USFK-led tour of Panmunjeom and then had lunch with the British ambassador before going to see Gloucester Valley, the location of the 1951 Battle of the Imjin River.

Also on the 6th, MBC aired the story of their rescue which was broadcast over three nights.

Oddly enough, coverage of their visit dropped off completely in the Korea Times. This is the final, tiny article about them, from August 7:

On August 7 they toured Changdeokgung and Biwon, and on August 8 they went to Korea University and then later that day attended a ceremony where Captain Suh and three other crew members of the Wolmi 306 received commendations from the Korea Marine Industry Development Corporation.

On August 9 they boarded a plane at Gimpo Airport for Los Angeles, from where they would go on to London. There, holding gifts, they said goodbye to Captain Suh:

(From the Kyunghyang Sinmun)

Then they boarded the plane and off they went.

(From the Donga Ilbo)

Wikipedia has some more information about them, as does this obituary for Maralyn (who died in 2002 - I'm not certain if Maurice, who'd be in his early 80s, is still alive or not). This article discusses Maralyn's resilience, while their book about their ordeal, 117 Days Adrift, can be searched through at Amazon. A book titled Second Chance, published in 1977, reveals that they had a new boat built and sailed around South America, apparently, according to this review, cursing the "boatbuilder who sent them to sea in a sieve."

And so ends the tale of the Baileys. Well, almost. Their visit led to some letters about their rescue and visit being published in Korean newspapers. I'll take a look at those next time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

RAS lecture tonight on 'Revelations from the Russian Archives' regarding the Korean War

Tonight Dr. Kathryn Weathersby will be giving a lecture for the Royal Asiatic Society titled "The Decision on War in Korea: Revelations from the Russian Archives." Anyone familiar with the Cold War International History Project, especially in regard to the Korean War, has most likely come across her Dr. Weathersby's work before, such as this paper. Here is a summary of tonight's lecture:
The decision to launch a full-scale assault on the Republic of Korea in June 1950 brought incalculable suffering to Korea and its allies and continues to shape the life of the peninsula. Yet it was not until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 that records of this fateful decision became available to scholars. Dr. Weathersby, the first Western historian to examine Soviet documents on Korea, will discuss what Russian archives reveal about when and why Kim Il Sung, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong decided to use military force to bring all of Korea under communist control. She will conclude with thoughts about how knowledge of this history can inform our approach to inter-Korean relations today.
More details can be found here. The lecture will be held at 7:30 pm Tuesday 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-members and free for members.

The Baileys arrive in Honolulu

The shipwrecked Baileys and their rescue by Koreans in 1973

On the afternoon of July 13, 1973, the ship arrived in Honolulu. Maralyn Bailey described her time on the ship:
Our time on the ship had amongst these fun-loving people had been a time of suspension – a limbo between our life of solitude and the maelstrom of civilization which awaited us in Honolulu and beyond. It was a happy time, a time to renew human relationships, a time of recovery, of hope, of planning.

The Baileys on the Wolmi 306 in Honolulu (from here).

Their arrival was reported in newspapers worldwide (see for example American news reports here, here, and here).

On July 15 the Korea Times published this article at the top of its front page:

Here they are getting off the ship (as they met the Korean consul) (from here):

Being presented with leis by girls representing the Korean community (from here):

As Maurice Bailey described it, they
docked in Honolulu amidst a tumultuous reception with a typical Hawaiian welcome of lies and kisses. Newspapermen and television reporters crowded around us with their many questions unanswered due to the crush. Once more Captain Suh came to our rescue and we were ushered away and taken into the city by the Koreans who bought more clothes for us.
One wonders if this photo was taken during the 'crush':

On July 17 the KT published this article, which stated that the Wolmi 306 would leave Honolulu July 19:

On the 19th it was reported that the Baileys would stay for a week in Korea.

However the next day it was reported that they were not on board when the ship left Honolulu on July 18.

So would they make it to Korea after all? Stay tuned to find out...

Every other day

The Korea Times published this sobering report today:
A total of 875 people jumped off one of the river's 24 major bridges in Seoul in suicide attempts from 2008 to August this year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a report submitted to Rep. Kang Ki-youn of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Of them, 408 people died, it noted.

Mapo Bridge, which connects the financial district of Yeouido to Mapo, central Seoul, turned out to be the most favored place for suicide attempts, with 85 people, or 9.7 percent, jumping from the bridge.
On average, that works out to someone jumping off a bridge in Seoul every other day.
Over at the Wall Street Journal's Korea Realtime, Evan Ramstad looks at the reconstruction of Namdaemun, which was partly destroyed by fire in 2008. It's hard to believe four and a half years have gone by since.
With the structural restoration mostly done, most of the people who have been working inside Namdaemun the past few months have been painters. They are overseen by Hong Chang-won, a historian and expert in Korean traditional ornamental painting, or dancheong.[...]
“It’s difficult to know what patterns were originally used” on Namdaemun, he said. “There are few examples left of early Chosun dancheong.”
He found some in a temple called Muwisa, in Gangjin, South Jeolla. The most noticeable difference is the paintings then were green and blue. Red and yellow did not become common until later in the Chosun period.
 Some photos of Muwisa Temple can be found here and here. One good thing about what happened to Namdaemun was that it allowed archeologists to dig around Namdaemun's foundations and turn up interesting things.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wolmi 306 Captain Suh's account of the rescue of the Baileys part 2

So far I've published two posts about the June 30, 1973 rescue of Maurice and Maralyn Bailey by the Korean fishing vessel Wolmi 306 after the British couple had been adrift at sea in a life raft for 118 days.

Here are parts 7-13 of an account of the rescue by the ship's captain, Suh Chong-il, which was published in the Hanguk Ilbo and Korea Times.

On July 25, the Korea Times published the part 7 of the captain's account (unfortunately, little can be discerned from the photos):

Captain Suh's account ends with their arrival in Honolulu; below is a photo of the Bailey's on board the Wolmi 306 as they docked at Honolulu (from here).

In the next post I'll look at their arrival in Hawaii.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wolmi 306 Captain Suh's account of the rescue of the Baileys part 1

Yesterday I posted the story of how, on June 30, 1973, the Korean fishing vessel Wolmi 306 discovered Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, a British couple who had been adrift at sea in a life raft for 118 days. Several weeks later, the ship's captain, Suh Chong-il, wrote accounts of the rescue which were published in the Hanguk Ilbo and Korea Times. Here are the first six of the 13 installments, as well as commentary from the Bailey's book '117 Days Adrift.' On July 18, the Korea Times published the first part of the captain's account:

This photo from 117 Days adrift shows them being brought aboard, and gives a clue as to how emaciated they were:

Maurice Bailey also describes, in the book, how the captain was worried that they might be Russian, and also how the captain found his northern England accent to be difficult to understand, so his wife answered a lot of the questions.
I looked around at the sea of faces in that small cabin and, unable to disguise my happiness, I smiled at each one, regretting my inability to show our gratitude more effectively. Crew members would pass the door and, unable to speak English, were content to stand and smile at us. A feeling of well-being enveloped us; we had goodwill for everyone.

A photo from the book of one of their first meals:

I'll post the other installments tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The rescue of the Baileys by Wolmi 306

The shipwrecked Baileys and their rescue by Koreans in 1973

On June 30, 1973, sailors aboard the Korean tuna fishing vessel Wolmi 306, which was sailing in the Pacific Ocean west of Central America, made a surprising discovery.

(Hoisting the raft and dinghy aboard; from here.)

Maurice and Maralyn Bailey had been sailing from England to New Zealand in their yacht, the Auralyn, when it was hit by a whale and sank - 118 days earlier. They managed to transport supplies and food into a life raft and dinghy and live on rainwater and sea animals. In the meantime they had drifted 2,400 km, lost about 40 pounds each and had seen seven other ships, all of which had failed to notice them.

In the Baileys' book '117 Days Adrift,' they note that the Wolmi 306 had also passed them by, but the captain decided to take a closer look at the dark shape in the distance. Here is a later, posed photo of the couple in their raft (from here):

When the captain of the Wolmi 306, Suh Chong-il (서정일), got a reply after radioing his employers, he was surprised by the response, as described in the title of this Donga Ilbo article: "World media pursuing the Wolmi as war for coverage of the rescue of the near death castaways takes off." Or as Captain Suh put it to the couple in '117 Days Adrift,' "You are a world sensation." Below is a photo of the Wolmi 306 and Captain Suh Chong-il, as well as a shot of the radio center in Incheon which was in contact with him:

Here is how the Korea Times reported it on July 5, 1973:

A report from the Korea Times the next day:

On July 7, the Korea Times reported that the ship was to stop in Hawaii so they could receive a medical examination.

A July 8 Korea Times report:

This July 10 report describes some of their health problems and their recovery on board the Wolmi 306:

The initial plan was to sail to Korea, but the couple were urged to stop in Hawaii:

As noted in '117 Days Adrift,' this decision to stop in Hawaii
caused a lot of disappointment to the Captain and his crew as we had promised to spend time with them and to meet their families in Busan. They sadly thought that once we had landed at Honolulu and tasted the comforts of American living we would not wish to travel to Korea. We tried to reassure them that it was our wish to continue on board Weolmi to Korea, but we felt that they were unconvinced.
The same day as this entry in their diary (July 13), the Donga Ilbo published a report titled "Captain's cable to home in Seoul: 'The English couple's care is my responsibility, we arrive in Honolulu tomorrow'" which featured this photo of his parents and sister (in the center) reading the telegram:

They arrived in Honolulu later that day. I'll save that for part two, though.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Foreign teacher sent to prison for molesting students

Last night the Gyeongbuk Maeil published the following story about the outcome of the trial of the foreign teacher accused of molesting 4 elementary school boys at a school in Daegu in 2010. He fled the country after it happened but was caught and sent back to Korea in April of this year.
American native speaking instructor who habitually molested elementary school student[s sentenced to] prison

An American native speaking instructor who habitually molested male elementary school students has been sentenced to 4 years in prison.

On September 16, Mr. M (56), an American English instructor who had been charged with habitually molesting male elementary school students (contravening the special law punishing sex crimes), was sentenced by the Daegu District Court to 4 years in prison and completion of a 120 hour sexual abuse treatment program, as well as 5 years of having his personal information made public.

On that day the court gave as reasons for this sentence, "The defendant had serious self reflection and had not been criminally punished before and also settled with some of his victims."

Mr. M, who worked at an elementary school in Daegu from 2008 to June 2010, was arrested and charged for molesting 4 boys at the school, including an 11 year old, by reaching inside their underwear and touching their genitals several times.

Immediately after the incident, Mr.M fled to the United States, but during the first half of this year, through international law he was caught and sent back to Korea.
You'd think fleeing the country would have led to a higher sentence, but 'self reflection' and settlements with victims can go a long way. I suppose this guy is lucky he wasn't brought back a year from now, considering all the newly proposed laws purporting to end sex crimes against children.

This case in 2010 led to the announcement of new E-2 visa rules (as noted here and here), and assertions in the media such as 'Deviant and criminal acts by foreign teachers are now common'. The new visa rules involved including marijuana in drug testing and the requirement of federal criminal record checks for North Americans E-2 visa applicants. I guess if you're going to test for drugs, actually testing for the one foreign teachers are caught with most would make sense. What didn't make sense so much sense was leaving HIV tests in place for foreign teachers while removing them for other visa categories. But that's another story.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Namsan: Of vanished history and unfulfilled plans

A few days ago my friend Hamel sent me many of the links to photos that follow, and that got me started on this post, so I tip my hat to him. The photos at this blog post have dozens of photos and maps of the Chosen-jingu on Namsan - the central Shinto shrine in Korea - during the colonial period. It was built in 1925, and its construction caused life to become more difficult for Koreans in general, and Christians in particular:
The beginning of this new colonial situation may be dated to the erection of the central Shinto shrine for Korea in Seoul in 1925 and the enforced attendance at the shrine's ceremonies by students and ordinary citizens. This was not the first Shinto shrine erected in Korea. Probably the first Shinto shrine in Korea was erected to Amaterasu omikami in Inch'on in 1883. Shrines such as these, however, were intended for the use of Japanese residents in Korea and were not officially considered to be State Shinto shrines. Shrines given the latter designation were not considered legally to be religious structures but were said to be places for the performance of patriotic rites associated with the ancestors of the imperial family and the nation. With the construction of the Chosen-jingu in 1925, the religious situation changed dramatically. It was plain that in the future, all Koreans could called upon to perform a "patriotic act" at one of these shrines. By the end of the colonial era in 1945, there were a total of 1,140 shrines associated with the State Shinto cult. Thus, during the colonial era the shrines of an allegedly non-religious (ie. patriotic) cult became prevalent throughout Korea, visibly reminding Koreans of the fact of the colonial domination of their country.
This domination could mean bowing while you were on the streetcar and it passed near the shrine, or it could mean being made to walk up the many stairs to the top to bow before it (something students were subjected to often). This became a major issue for Christians, with some churches refusing to bow and being punished for it, and others acquiescing (in one case saying that they weren't bowing, they were just taking a closer look at their shoes). The photos below are from 'Seoul Through Pictures' volumes 2 and 3.

Here's a shot of the torii and stairs leading up to the shrine (near Namdaemun).

A closer view of the stairs can be seen here. Below is the shrine itself; Seoul Station can be seen at the bottom of the hill about an inch in from the right.

Of the 1,140 shrines built in Korea (some of which are pictured here), all but a handful (such as this one in Gyeongju) were destroyed after liberation. (In fact, this 1965 Donga Ilbo article says that according to Government General figures, 134 Shinto shrines or other 'enshrinements' were destroyed or burned between August 15 and September 8, 1945 (when the US forces arrived to accept Japanese surrender)). In the Joseon Shrine's case, the buildings at bottom left of the photo above were destroyed before the Korean War, but the others survived through the war, as this color photo taken during the war reveals. The same photographer has a shot taken at the same time of the stairs (with the torii removed) which were by that time known to foreign visitors and soldiers as the '1,000 steps,' a tourist landmark at the time.

The Korean government found new uses for the area after the Korean War, such as turning it into a park, as can be seen here:

A color photo taken in 1959 from a different angle is here. Standing in the middle of the park is this ever so modest statue of Syngman Rhee, which was put up while he was president:

Here's a view of the area from the air in 1958:

It's easy to see how imposing it was and how it loomed over the city.

One of the things I was reminded of when looking through these photos - which prompted this post - was this 1959 ceremony which took place in front of Rhee's statue:

This was the groundbreaking ceremony for the new national assembly building.

I wondered if there were still plans for the building that could be found, and then remembered the existence of a site called 'Google,' and a search turned up this:

This building was all set to go, but in 1960, president Rhee was overthrown by a student uprising and his statue was torn down (part of it is currently in someone's backyard). Plans remained to build the new national assembly until Park Chung-hee's Coup in May 1960, and in December of that year the plan was canceled (the assembly would remain in what is now the Seoul Metropolitan Council building (across from city hall) until the new assembly building was completed on Yeoiudo in 1975).

Instead, in 1969 the area on Namsan came to house a park dedicated to Kim Gu, an Ahn Jung-geun memorial hall, and other statues and memorials to Korean patriots. It's don't think it's too hard to figure out why tributes to two of Korea's best known anti-Japanese assassins independence fighters would be placed there. In addition the '1,000 steps' (actually, according to Ohmynews, there were 384 steps) were removed. I'd be interested to see if there was any other justification used for removing them other than erasing an unpleasant part of the past.

The area also had park space and a fountain built, and became home to the Korea Children's Center, which was completed in 1970. The building then housed the National Library of Korea from 1974 to 1988, and now houses the Seoul Education Research Institute, and because of where it is placed and it's distinctiveness, the building still stands out in Seoul's landscape today.

The building and the park feature prominently in the 1975 Lee Man-hee film "A girl who looks like the sun," which is worth watching because many locations around Seoul feature as backdrops, and for its featuring of the youth culture of the day (it even has the original version of Shin Jung-hyeon and the Yupjuns' Mi-in (which is different from this better-known version) on the soundtrack).

I'm not sure if those steps would have been part of the original steps to the Joseon Shrine or not - as this picture shows, the area where the main section of the stairs was has been changed so much as to be unrecognizable. Which is really too bad - I imagine the park would be far more accessible if the stairs were still there. On the other hand, I can understand how people who were likely forced to walk up those stairs many times to bow and honor the emperor of their colonial overlords might see them - and the entire area - as a scar upon the city, and relish the idea of banishing them to the dustbin of history.