Friday, May 30, 2014

The first phase of the Magok development nears completion

Back in 2009, just before Line 9 opened, I made a visit to Magongnaru Station; here's a short video of the visit:

This station finally opened last weekend, five years later. I decided to disembark from the train here yesterday evening to see how it looks. And to be honest... not very different at all.

Here's one view in 2009:

And here it is yesterday (the glass panels at right above have been removed):

Yesterday (the gates are now installed, as is a convenience store):

That must be an interesting covenience store to work at, since there are almost no people getting off at the moment, though that will change over the next month or two when people start moving into the thousands of apartments that have been constructed over the past three years, which can be seen in the top right corner and center bottom section of this Google Maps satellite photo:

There are still more apartments to be built in the bottom right corner, as can be seen below, though the rest of the development will include research and development facilities. As well, the Gimpo Airport Emart, the immigration office in Mok-dong, and Gangseo district office will move here.

You might notice in the satellite photo above a large body of water. That was originally part of the Han River Renaissance Plan developed by former mayor Oh Se-hoon, before he blundered his way out of his job. The Magok development was to receive a lagoon connected to the Han River (by tunneling the Olympic Expressway under a water channel) as well as a lake park.

As the Renaissance Plan began to tank, the lagoon suddenly was reduced to a lake park:

A real estate agent showed me plans last October which made clear the plan had changed yet again, this time to a Botanical Park, with much of the water disappearing, allowing more room for buildings:

Also, ironically, in the station name 'Magongnaru,' the 'naru' part means 'port' or 'mooring' (for example, Yeouinaru), but now that the connection to the river is never to be constructed, the name is rather... incorrect. One wonders if it will ever be changed, or if it will stand as a testament to big development plans which were never realized.

I'm glad there's still some water, but there were also supposed to be canals throughout the Magok area (see below), but those have been turned into park space instead.

As for the construction of the apartments, I'm curious to see if the surrounding infrastructure will be ready in the next couple of weeks. Sidewalks still need to go in, roads still need to be paved, trees are still being put into park space (though most facilities within each apartment complex seem almost ready), but construction crews were quite busy yesterday, so I wouldn't be surprised if it looks ready in a week or two.

From the building on the left I took these photos last summer, including this one looking north (replacing this neighbourhood)...

... and this one looking south (or to the right two photos above):

The Magok area has had lots of construction going on in it for years now, with the construction of Line 9 and the AREX line taking place throughout it. The area used to have far more interesting neighbourhoods nearby, such as this one, which disappeared to make way for the Magok development.

Needless to say, up until five or six years ago, the area used to be far more scenic; for some reason I preferred these summer and fall views...

... to this one taken in about the same spot yesterday:

Likewise, I preferred this spring view...

... to this one taken yesterday (you can make out the same apartments in the distance, and the open space you see is the same open space at the right in this photo):

There are some benefits, however. In the photo below is another complex beginning construction on the right, while at left are two finished complexes as well as a new building that the nearby Gonghang Elementary School will move into, replacing the 30-year-old building 200 meters away (the demolition of which will allow another apartment complex to be built). A friend who works at the school is looking forward to working in the new school.

Still, I miss bike rides though the Magok that once was...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Simpler necessities

From Seoul Through Pictures 5: Expanding Seoul (1971-1980) (published by The City History Compilation Committee of Seoul) comes this 1976 poster calling for preparation for emergencies showing life necessities needed for an emergency kit for a family of five intended to last 10 days. On the bottom it says 'Let's all prepare emergency supplies!'

The emergency necessities include, clockwise from top, 30kg of mixed grains (an average of 600g per person per day), 30 yontan, one 500g bag of sugar, one 600g bag of salt, a flashlight, 12 candles, and one 350g bar of soap.

Somehow I imagine the needs of a family today would be quite a bit more.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Foreign instructors receiving education about Korean culture

Back in 2009, KBS reported the following (via Brian):
S.Korea May Force Foreign Teachers to Learn about Nation

A lawmaker is seeking to make it mandatory that foreigners who are hoping to work as English teachers in the nation’s schools or private institutes become more educated about Korea’s culture and the expectations of teachers in Korea.

Representative Cho Jeon-hyuk of the ruling Grand National Party, who is also a member of the parliamentary committee on education, proposed on Thursday revisions to laws on schools and private institutes.

The revised bills seek to make it mandatory for private institutes to have foreign teachers complete educational programs on South Korea’s culture and people.

Cho said most foreign teachers in the nation do not have enough of an understanding about Korea’s culture and practices. He said the revisions are aimed at raising the quality of the nation’s English education programs by mandating that foreign teachers have better knowledge of Korea.
These revised bills were never passed for public school teachers, but the one applying to hagwons was incorporated into the large-scale revision of the Hagwon Law in 2011. Since then such educational programs have been put into place for foreign instructors, and on May 20, Buddhism Zero News, along with several Daejeon news outlets, reported on training for foreign hagwon instructors taking place the next day:
Foreign Hagwon Instructor Training Implemented

On May 21, the Daejeon Metropolitan Office of Education will hold the 2014 Foreign Hagwon Instructor Training Education, organized by the Daejeon branch of the Korea Association of Hakwon, in the auditorium of the Daejeon Institute of Education and Science from 9:30 to 11:30 in the morning.

This training is for 309 foreign hagwon instructors on E-2 visas working at 122 hagwons under the DMOE's jurisdiction and is to be held for the purpose of preparing them for their roles as social educators and to help them adapt to Korean culture.

This training is to strengthen the capability of foreign teachers by inspiring a sense of responsibility and sense of duty as lifelong educators and to educate them about 'understanding Korean culture' and 'prevention and punishment of of sex crimes against children and youth.'

The plan for this year's training is for foreign instructors to have an understanding of Korean culture and laws to prevent such things as sex crimes from happening in hagwons beforehand and to be the starting point for quality instructors to work in Daejeon hagwons.
A whole two hours of educational programs for the foreign instructors, with a large chuck of it devoted to educating them so as to prevent sex crimes against children? Impressive.

Such 'Criminal Prevention' tips for foreign teachers released by the Daegu office of education in 2010 can be seen here, and in the fall of that year, 'sex crime prevention training' for foreign teachers was reported to have taken place in Asan and Busan; a photo from the Asan session is below:

This being Daejeon, the mention of the the session being organized by the Daejeon branch of the  Korea Association of Hakwon made me wonder if this was the same group behind this campaign involving some 200 banners back in the late spring of 2007 (first mentioned on Dave's ESL Cafe and then reported on by Chris Gelken in the Korea Herald:

As it turns out, however, the organization behind this was the was the Daejeon Foreign Language Education Association, a group of foreign language hagwon owners (as is made clear by the Korean sign):

So no, not the same groups at all.

Needless to say, having a significant section of an educational program about Korean culture for foreign instructors devoted to the punishments for sex crimes against children might give them insight into an aspect of Korean culture that the organizers didn't intend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Walk around Yancheon Hyanggyo and Mt. Gaehwasan this Saturday

This Saturday I'll be leading a walk around the area of Yangcheon Hyanggyo Station and Gaehwasan Station for the Royal Asiatic Society. The former location was the seat of Yangcheon Hyeon, or district, during the Joseon period and still sports the only remaining Hyanggyo, or Confucian Shrine, in Seoul, as well as a number of other historic landmarks and a museum to the innovative Joseon Era landscape painter Jeong Seon (1676–1759). I've mentioned the area before (here and here), and this post at Seoul Suburban covers many of the spots we'll visit.

(Yangcheon District in the 1870s)

From there we will take the subway to Banghwa Station to explore Mt. Gaehwasan. After passing through a park with a number of 400-year-old zelkova and gingko trees, we'll head up the mountain to see the numerous tombs, flanked by stone statues, of the Pungsan Shim clan, who for several generations served the Joseon kings and were memorialized for their meritorious deeds. 

We will also go to Yaksasa Temple and see a statue of the Buddha and a three-story stone pagoda which date back to the Goryeo Era.

We'll see an even larger such statue dating from the early Joseon period outside Mitasa Temple, on the other side of the mountain. The statue was found buried in the 1930s, when the temple was rebuilt. Both temples were destroyed during the war, but the pagoda and statues survived.

Next to Mitasa is the Memorial to the Loyal Dead, which was erected to remember the 1,100 soldiers of the Korean 1st Army Division who died defending Mt. Gaehwasan - which overlooks Gimpo Airport - during the opening of the Korean War, which will provide an opportunity to learn more about the fighting which took place on the mountain during the war, as well as its military importance in the present.

Being a mountain, of course, there will be lots of opportunities to take in views of the Han River and surrounding area and enjoy what nature has to offer.

If you feel like joining us, please do! The cost of the tour is W20,000 for RAS members and W25,000 for non-members. The excursion will set off this Saturday, May 17 at 1:00 pm from exit 3 of Yangcheon Hyanggyo Station (양천향교) #906 (subway line number 9). For more information, see here.

Bits and Pieces

Over at asiapundits, Jon Twitch takes a lengthy look at the messy process through which Dongdaemun Design Park came to be, a topic I've touched on before here, here and here. It's well worth reading, and his photos of the destruction of the two Dongdaemun stadiums and of the last days of the flea market alone are worth seeing.

Vanity Fair takes a lengthy look at Samsung's business practices and the Samsung Apple patent war (hat tip to Scott Burgeson).

This Joongang Daily article about discriminatory practices by clubs in Seoul slipped my mind, and isn't particularly surprising (the fingerprint ID only requirement is a nice touch, though), but it did remind me of F5 Waeg's comment that "it does make sense to wish for pure blood if you're a big fan of the incest."

And here's an interview with author Gong Ji-young, perhaps best known for writing Dogani, which was turned into a film of the same name which created enough outrage to bring about new sex crime laws.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Free subtitled screening of Im Kwon-taek's 'Mismatched Nose' (1980) this Saturday

This Saturday, May 3, at 3pm Barry Welsh's Seoul Film Society and Royal Asiatic Society's Cinema Club will team up to show, with English subtitles, Im Kwon-taek's 1980 film "Mismatched Nose," which tells, mainly through flashbacks, the story of a police officer who has pursued a 빨치산, or North Korean guerrilla, for decades after losing him and ruining his career thirty years earlier. More information about the film can be found here. The film will be preceded by a brief presentation by myself about director Im's career and background as the son of a 빨치산 (see here), the history of the partisans around the time of the Korean War, and Korean films which have dealt with the subject.

Much of the story of the 빨치산, who could be either North or South Korean and were essentially anti-(South Korea) government guerrillas, revolves around the 1948 '4.3' Jeju uprising and its suppression by the US military government and the Republic of Korea. The uprising and its suppression left perhaps 30,000 dead and over half the villages on Jeju burned as the population was forcibly removed to coastal areas (see here for photos). The uprising was a forbidden subject even into the 1990s, with the 1978 publication of Hyun Ki-young's story Suni Samchon resulting in his arrest and torture, and the 1997 documentary 'Red Hunt' being banned from TV and film festivals. The uprising also triggered the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion, when South Korean Constabulary (fore-runners of the ROK army) being sent from Yeosu to Jeju to suppress the uprising in Jeju rebelled and took over several towns in the area before being defeated by South Korean troops (see here for Life Magazine photos). Hundreds of soldiers fled into the mountains, especially Jirisan, where they augmented the numbers of the existing bands of guerrillas and were subjected to punitive expeditions by the South Korean army. They would continue to be active into the mid 1950s after the war until eventually being captured, killed, or forced to surrender by the South Korean military. I'll bring up much of this in my introduction, and the film will be followed by a discussion for those who wish to take part.

If you're around this weekend, feel free to join us.

Date: Saturday, May 3rd.
Time: 3pm.
Admission: Free
Place: Haechi Hall in Seoul Global Culture and Tourism Center
(5th Floor M Plaza in Myeong-dong) (See here for more information on Facebook and see here for directions.)