Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The streaking fad of 1974 and student columns on earning money and Western influence from 1968

For my latest Korea Times article, "'Naked in the streets!' - Korea Times reports on streaking fad of 1974", I look at how the fad of streaking, or running naked in public, spread from US college campuses to the rest of the world, including Korea, in the spring of 1974 (and wonder if the fad had perhaps originated elsewhere). Not included in the article is this map of the first streaking incident which took place in Korea on March 13, 1974, by a Korean youth near Korea University. 

The map marks out the location of the first witness to see him (at 8:15 am) and the last witness (at 8:17 am), as well as possible escape routes he took. This is from an article published in the the Kyunghyang Sinmun a week after the first incident, which reported that around 100 plain clothed investigators had been mobilized to find the culprit over the previous week, with no luck. After the first incident took place, 15 investigators were dedicated to the case and hundreds of people were questioned, but with no lead other than the description of the streaker as having long hair, which likely prompted the crackdown on long hair that was announced that day (which made the Korea Times on March 17).

Needless to say, the authorities in Korea were not about to tolerate streaking, and only a handful of incidents were reported after the initial ones in mid-March.

I realize, what with the book coming out, that I never posted about my previous article, "Student opinions on earning money, happiness, Western influence in 1968", about the student columns that first appeared in the Korea Times in 1968. There were hundreds of these columns published over the years, so I imagine they will be the topic of a future article or two.

Here are a few examples of the full columns, from October 27, November 24, and December 29, 1968, respectively:

Friday, May 27, 2022

Called by Another Name

After more than two years of work, David Dolinger’s memoir of his experiences during the May 1980 Gwangju Uprising, which I co-wrote, has been published in English and Korean editions. David served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea beginning in 1978, witnessed the violent suppression of citizens protesting a military coup by the military in Gwangju in 1980, and later worked with activist missionaries and Korean dissidents in the democracy movement of the 1980s. David also wanted to highlight the life of Tim Warnberg, another PCV who lived in Gwangju but who died in 1993 before he could finish a PhD in Korean literature, so we interviewed or sought contributions from those who knew him, and also reprinted his 1987 article on the uprising, the first such academic article to be published. I'm glad I got the chance to help David tell his story, and it’s nice to finally have a hard copy of the book in hand. The English edition is available for sale at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, and Kyobo; the Korean edition is also available at Kyobo.

David was interviewed in English by the Korea Times and Asia Times, and for the former article a photo of David and I at the Royal Asiatic Society office was used, which then appeared on the cover of the May 18 edition in a banner promoting the article. 

Needless to say, it's all downhill from here!

David was also interviewed by various news outlets in Seoul and in Gwangju, where he attended the commemoration ceremony at the 5.18 National Cemetery (along with the new president) and was interviewed by Gwangju News and the Gwangju Foreign Language Network.

The Hankyoreh has published a number of translated stories recently:

The latter article describes how the late Rev. Charles Betts Huntley, a chaplain at Gwangju Christian Hospital, took photos of the uprising, along with photographer Kim Yeong-bok, and how those photos eventually were sent to the US (and then returned for the publication of photo books in the late 1980s - including those horrific 'portrait' photos of the dead in the morgue). I found it interesting that one of the people involved in the effort to get the photos out was the head of the hospital’s nursing department, Ahn Seong-rye, who is mentioned (as Ahn Sung-ryea) in this post. The following photo interested me since the caption in the article says it's a Peace Corps Volunteer giving blood.

However, there was only one woman in the Peace Corps who was active in Gwangju during the uprising, and David confirmed it wasn't her, so I suspected - thanks to the explanations given to me in the past by Martha Huntley - that it was seminary student Kathryn Dudley. I asked Martha and she replied:
Yes, that is Kathryn Dudley. She and David [Dudley] were Presbyterian seminary students who took a year off as mission volunteers - great young couple. Here she is giving blood at Kwangju Christian Hospital - all of us missionaries went over to give blood. They wouldn't take mine, however - they said my heart was pounding too hard. I said everyone's heart is pounding right now, but they still wouldn't take it. I think they took all the other missionaries'.
The final photo in the article features journalist Don Kirk. I'd seen the photo before but had no idea Rev. Huntley had taken it.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this video - a May 26, 1980 CBS news report about the last day before ROK troops retook Gwangju. It features an interview with American Baptist missionary Arnold Peterson, and Martha and Betts Huntley, as well as their daughter Jennifer (who wrote this book about her experience), also appear. 

As I noted in this article, what led to this interview was this experience:

On May 25, after [Arnold] Peterson interpreted for reporters once again, he was interviewed by an ABC reporter but, conforming to the policy of the Foreign Mission Board, tried to stay as politically neutral as possible. Discussing his discomfort over this with John Underwood, Underwood argued that due to the atrocities that had been committed, “the issue was now more a question of right vs. wrong than it was a mere political issue.” After this conversation, he wrote, “I determined that if another opportunity arose, I would not be silent.”

As Arnold Peterson described it in his memoir 5.18: The Kwangju Incident [page 236], on May 26

A CBS news crew came to the Huntley house at about 9:30 a.m. and asked us to do an on-camera interview as a group. He consented. Inasmuch as I had been out and around the city more than had the others during the week, many of the questions were directed to me. As a group, those of us present affirmed that the root cause of the present disturbance was the misconduct of the military, not the students. We were asked about government charges that the activities in Kwangju had been instigated by communists or communist sympathizers. We denied that charge and affirmed that the instigators had been the soldiers. 

This CBS interview was an object lesson in the marvels of modern communications. The interview concluded about 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 26 in Kwangju. The city was surrounded by Korean troops and appeared to be cut off from the rest of the world. It seemed to us a marvel that the news people had been able to get into the city even though all roads were blocked by the military. I later learned that portions of the interview were broadcast on the CBS Evening News in the USA at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, about 22 hours after the interview occurred. Apparently the tape was hand carried to Seoul and then to Tokyo where it went by satellite to the USA.

In the book Korea Witness, CBS News correspondent Bruce Dunning explained how the tapes got out of the country (Page 347): 

The Seoul office managed to submit several innocuous tapes to the censors each morning to be screened and sealed. Fortunately the seals were easily slipped off these tapes and attached to the tapes from Gwangju, thus evading the censors.

According to Martha Huntley, pictured below, in front of the Huntley's house (in which 22 people were hiding), are Sandy Marks (a missionary dentist - his wife Kitty may be standing behind the reporter),the interviewer (likely Peter Collins, though Bruce Dunning may have been in the city by this point), Martha and Betts Huntley with their daughter Jennifer, Jean and John Underwood, Kathryn and David Dudley, and Arnold Peterson (his wife Barbara, their boys, and Michael Huntley had left the city on May 22).

One set of stories I have not yet encountered, in regard to the foreigners in (or near) Gwangju in 1980, is that of the airmen at Gwangju Air Base, though a chance encounter on Facebook may change that. The importance of the air base (which was actually an ROK installation with an American presence), is hinted at in this article. Hopefully more information will turn up before long.

I should also note that a new translation of 죽음을 넘어 시대의 어둠을 넘어 (Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age) has just been released. The original book, the first detailed history of 5.18, was published in 1985 with author Hwang Sok-yong's name on it in order to protect its actual authors, Lee Jae-eui and Jeong Yong-ho. It was translated into English by Kap Su Seol and Nick Mamatas and published as Kwangju Diary in 1999; a new edition of that book is available as a pdf here (clicking begins download). That translation removed Hwang from the list of authors since, as is made clear in this excerpt explaining how the original book was written, he only wrote an introduction and came up with the title. 

A substantially-expanded version of the book was published in Korean in 2017 with Hwang's name given top billing with the other, main authors, and it is this version of the book that has just been translated and published as Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Leading an RAS excursion to Jeong-dong this Saturday

This Saturday at 1pm I’ll be leading a Royal Asiatic Society excursion to Jeong-dong, the historic area behind Deoksu Palace, where missionary schools, churches, and Western Embassies can be found. There I’ll tell the stories of how Americans, Canadians, British, and others took part in Korea’s history between 1883 and 1945, a period of initial contact, wars, and resistance to Japanese imperialism. 

On this excursion we’ll visit sites such as the former National Assembly, the Anglican cathedral, the former Korean Supreme Court building, Baejae Hakdang, Jeong-dong First Methodist Church, Ewha Girl's High School, Jungmyeongjeon Hall, the Salvation Army building, and the remains of the former Russian Legation.  We will also observe various dilapidated or vanished buildings and paths that are currently being restored and discuss the preservation of the past in Jeong-dong.

For more information or to make a reservation, please look here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Samgakji in the 1920s (or so)

The Facebook page for Designersparty is well known for posting historical photos of Korea by the hundreds, though perhaps a better description would be that it is 'notorious for' doing so, since it does so without permission and most of the time does not list any information about the source or photographer. That said, occasionally, interesting photos pop up on my timeline, like one I saw today that is supposed to be Yongsan in 1927. 

I immediately noticed that the street it focused on was pointed at Inwangsan and also was blocked by the building in the foreground. A look at an online map instantly made clear that what we are seeing here is Samgakji intersection, back when it was clearly triangle-shaped (hence the 'samgak' in its name). I placed it side by side with a section of this 1946 US Army map of Seoul (which is, itself, based to a great degree on a 1939 Japanese map).

The arrow and red lines show the vantage point and parameters of the photo, the coloured streets are matched, and the red circle denotes the apparent location of that forested section on the right (note the topographical rise in the top right corner of the map). [Update - I'm wrong about where that hill - actually likely two hills - is; the closest, on the left, is actually 600 meters to the north, in Galwol-dong, just north of the northern boundary of Yongsan Garrison, while the other hill is further northeast and closer to Huam-dong (hat tip to Jon Dunbar).] 

The street in purple is today's Hangangdaero. On the map you can make out a stream flowing south and running parallel to this street, and in the photo you can just make out the banks of the stream and perhaps the train line. That is what is known today as Manchocheon, which today runs almost entirely underground; the best exploration of that stream and its history is Jon Dunbar's Transactions article "Exploring Manchocheon, Seoul’s Underground River," which can be downloaded here (scroll down to Volume 93, the second-last volume).

What's interesting is that there doesn't seem to be any development beyond that what is now Camp Kim (army warehouses) on the left of the street, and, on the right, beyond the tributary of Manchocheon that runs through Yongsan Garrison and under Gyeongnidan today. Also interesting are the tree-covered hills on the right, which today are covered in buildings.

At any rate, the photo speaks to a time when Yongsan and central Seoul were apparently separate from each other, even though Yongsan had been incorporated into the city by that point.


Here is an updated version of the map, using the 1927 map I found here. It would seem that the forested area in the blue circle is the spur of Namsan that can still be seen today, where the Chosen Shinto Shrine was built. Considering the lack of buildings in the distance in the photo, compared to the urbanized areas seen in the 1927 map, this photo must be from either the early 1920s or the 1910s.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Yangcheon Hyanggyo and Gaehwasan excursion next Saturday

I’ll be leading an excursion next Saturday, April 16 for the Royal Asiatic Society to the Gungsan area, where we will visit Yangcheon Confucian Shrine, Gyeomjae Jeong Seon Museum, and the Gungsan Tunnel History Exhibition Hall. We will then visit Gaehwasan (near Gimpo Airport), a low mountain covered with temples, tombs, a Korean War memorial, and spring flowers; it also overlooks Haengju fortress, site of Imjin War and Korean War battles. 

For more information about the tour, see here (though I'll note that the mountain part of the walk will be only about a 2 km-hike now).

This past weekend I headed over to the area to make sure everything was open and accessible and took a few photos:

Yangcheon Hyanggyo, or Confucian shrine and school, first built in 1410 and the only remaining part of the government complex that was here when Yangcheon was its own prefecture during the Joseon era.

Painting of part of the Yangcheon magistrate's complex by painter Jeong Seon, who served as magistrate from 1740-45 and has a museum dedicated to him, Gyeomjae Jeong Seon Museum, nearby.

Mitasa Temple, with its large Buddha statue dating from the late Goryeo period.

Scenic view of an azalea-covered cliff on Gaehwasan.

More azaleas.

I lived next to Gaehwasan for 11 years but this was only the second time I'd seen a chipmunk there, pointed out to me by a man who was throwing rice grains in its direction (and then getting annoyed when a bulbul landed and started gobbling them up).

I suspected this was a Eurasian Jay (어치), though I wasn't sure until I was able to zoom in on this photo at home. I'd seen them near my house in central Seoul, but it was the first time I'd heard one, and they make the oddest sound.

Yaksasa, which likely dates back to the late Goryeo or early Joseon era, judging by its pagoda and a statue.

More azaleas. 

One of the many tombs of the Pungsan Shim family, whose members helped overthrow Yonsan-gun and, generations later, organize righteous armies during the Imjin War.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Korea: Location of a long-lost Greek colony...

What happens when an American electrical engineer – almost certainly of Russian ancestry – works in Korea between 1947 and 1948 as part of the postwar US military occupation and hears Koreans saying, “네, 네” and thinks, “Hey, that sounds like the Greeks I heard saying ‘ne, ne,’ which also means ‘yes’”?

Well, you get Wladimir W. Mitkewich’s completely wrong-headed 1956 book “Koreans Are White,” which attempts to prove that Korea is a long-lost Greek colony. 

I first learned of this book in the essay “Incredibly Strange Books About Korea Written By Honkies,” which appeared in Scott Burgeson’s book ‘Korea Bug’ (2005; also originally in his zine, Bug 5, 2001). I stumbled upon it in the stacks of University of Washington Library and scanned it. It’s only 44 pages long, with 30 pages of text, so it’s a quick, unintentionally-amusing (if not exactly mentally nourishing) read.

The book can be read or downloaded here.

[Update: And then Robert Neff reminds me of Scottish writer N. McLeod's "Korea and the Ten Lost Tribes" [of Israel] - another book Scott reviewed in his "Incredibly Strange Books" essay.]

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Lifting South Korea's curfew in 1982

For my latest Korea Times article, I look at the lifting of Korea's nationwide curfew in January 1982 (something I previously looked at here). The lifting of curfew and regulations regarding school uniforms for middle and high school students were heralded by the Korea Times as being a part of the winds of 'liberalization' under President Chun (to make up for the utter lack of political liberalization), while foreign news articles noted that the lifting of curfew was also aimed at a foreign audience, especially considering that Seoul had just been awarded the 1988 Olympics weeks earlier.

Just for fun, here are some colour photos of the first curfewless night from the January 17, 1982 issue of Sunday Seoul

Friday, January 14, 2022

Leaving and returning to Korea during COVID

I thought I would write out my experience of leaving and re-entering Korea over the past two months, as it might be helpful to people since information is often spotty and unreliable. 

Caveats: Some of this information may no longer apply: I applied for a re-entry visa in late November 2021; got a PCR test to leave Korea December 19, 2021, and re-entered Korea on January 9, 2022.

Getting a re-entry visa:

When I applied for a re-entry visa, the application form actually included an incorrect (outdated) document (“재입국 전 진단 및 진단서 제출 동의서 (CONSENT FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATION AND SUBMISSION OF DIAGNOSIS BEFORE RE-ENTRY)”). This may have since been corrected.

It should be easy enough to find the re-entry permit application on the main page of the hikorea site. You can apply online anytime up to 4 days before you leave. 

You’ll need documents from here; scroll down to “재입국 허가 관련” section near the bottom. There are three documents. You likely shouldn’t need the first translation document if your PCR test (before you return to Korea) is in English. You will need to submit the other two documents as part of your application. You need to print them out, sign them, scan them, and attach them: 

번역확인서 Certificate of Translation 
재입국허가 신청 사유서 Application For Reentry Permit 

Paying, of course, was frustrating, and took me several tries and about 30 minutes. This advice should make things go faster. You click on your bank to pay by card. I had no app for my bank on my computer, but it gives you the option of paying without an app. I then used the option to verify with my Kakao account – not Kakao Pay; you simply sign into Kakao, it sends a message to your Kakao account on your phone, you click it, and are good to go. As always, there are repeated calls for the same information, but eventually the process worked. 

You will eventually receive approval for your re-entry visa by email. 

Getting a PCR test before leaving Korea: 

I’m not sure how many places do pre-flight PCR tests; I went to the National Health Center near Dongdaemun Design Plaza (and ran into a friend who lives in northwestern Jongno-gu, which suggests these test centers are few and far between). 

At the National Health Center, the testing center is behind the main building, not far from the funeral home. It is open for registration at 8:30 am, and testing starts at 9 am. There is a limited number of tests they do daily, so you should show up as early as possible. 

You need to bring your passport, and it cost me about 142,000 won. After registering, I left my credit card (and maybe passport) at the payment window, waited in a heated tent for the testing to start, then lined up and got the test, then picked up my card and receipt from the payment window. They text message you the next day (about 24 hours after your test) and tell you the test certificate is ready, and you return and pick it up on the first floor of the main hospital building. 

Update: a friend on Facebook adds, "PCR with results in English: I was happy to find that the ENT clinic just by my office does them. I'm sure many others do too. It was KRW110,000 with the result coming the next morning."

Returning to Korea:

You know, I’d figured Canada’s quarantine and testing procedures at Pearson Airport in Toronto would be a hassle, especially arriving just before Christmas with Omicron starting to blow up, but I was wrong. It was all very efficient, and the one omission of information (that I should call a certain number within two days) was solved when I got an automated call from the health authorities instead. 

Returning to Korea, on the other hand… 

Getting the PCR test in Canada to return was easy enough, though as of today Korea has reduced the timing of the test from 72 hours before departure to 48 hours before departure (still a PCR test; effective January 20). 
Arriving at Incheon Airport:

Upon arrival at the airport, I needed to submit a customs form, a yellow health form, and a white health form. The latter was not given to us on the plane, so people were scrambling to fill it out on a few small tables. The tables are located at the first hurdle, where an officer makes sure you have the white and yellow forms, your proof of vaccination, printed PCR test, and passport ready. 

Then you move a bit further and line up for the next hurdle, where your documents are looked at and your health forms and PCR test paper collected, and you are given a sheet explaining quarantine procedures.* 
Note that the white health form and other signs had QR codes for the quarantine app or indicated that you needed to have the app installed when you reached the above hurdle. This is not true; the app isn’t needed at the airport at all (at least in my case). 
Next you move to immigration, or “immigration part 1”. Your documents are looked at, you sign a form or two, receive some documents (like ‘Notice of Quarantine’ and ‘Restriction order on the scope of activities’) and the officer puts stickers on your passport reading ‘PCR 제출자’ and ‘국내 예방접종완료자’ (‘submitted PCR test’ and ‘fully vaccinated in Korea’). [I don't know what happens to people vaccinated outside Korea.]

Then you back out of the immigration booth and walk over to another set of immigration booths for “immigration part 2,” in which your passport and Alien Registration Card are examined and your fingerprints and photo are taken, as usual, and you’re sent through to get your luggage. 

Upon leaving customs after turning in your customs form, someone will look at your passport. With the two stickers on my passport, I was allowed to leave the airport.

The sheet explaining quarantine procedures* mentioned above stated that we were not to take public transportation home. To make a long story short, with those two stickers on my passport, I was able to take the subway or a bus (though airport bus service to the closest location to my house was not operating). At the AREX gates, a worker examined my passport, saw the stickers, and waved me through. However, as it was reported today, this will change as of January 20, and presumably arrivals will have to take either special taxis or buses (special KTX trains were also described on signs at the airport):
The health authorities decided to ban all entrants' use of ordinary public transportation upon arrival and tighten rules on the proof of negative COVID-19 test results to stem the inflow of the virus. The measures will go into effect on Jan. 20.
Hopefully the airport will make these things much clearer when the rules change.

Dealing the the app:

The incorrect information about public transportation was not the only such mistake. The QR codes on the white health form for the quarantine app took me to a broken Google Play Store link or, after downloading an “App store” installer, opened a Kakao map (?). I searched on Google Play for the app, found one alternately titled “Quarantine” or "Self Check", entered my information, and submitted a self health check. Good to go! But I wasn’t. This app is not the right one, and I don't understand why it's still on Google Play:

Needless to say, there is no point in installing the app until you talk to the case officer assigned to you. They will give you their code, which you need to enter as the last step before it is fully installed and ready to go. For Android users, the app you need to install is, on Google Play, the 자가격리자 안전보호 앱. 

The English name is "Self-quarantine Safety Protection," but searching for that (or anything else like "Korea quarantine app") turns up the wrong app as the first result.

[I'll spare the details, but needless to say, my inability to access the correct app led to great frustration for me and my case officer, someone so obtuse that the person he tasked with translating for me all but yelled at him in exasperation...]

The correct app has several language options when you begin installation. At one point it gives two options, one being something like ‘resident in Korea’ and ‘overseas…’ something. You want the ‘resident’ one, as it is the only one which gives the option to enter the case officer’s code (which is the final registration step). 

As per the instructions on the information sheet I was given, I called my local health center the next morning after I arrived and told them I was quarantining. (Since I’ve had to quarantine before, I was already in their system.) I was told to get tested ASAP. 

It is entirely possible that you don’t actually need to call – I’m sure my information was sent from the airport to the local health office and a case officer assigned. He eventually called me, gave me the code, and gave me instructions. When I got my negative result the next day, I forwarded the text message to my case officer’s cell phone. 

Eventually someone from the health office will visit you and give you a document with the exact time of your release from quarantine and a request to visit the health center the day before my release. I also received masks, a big spray bottle of disinfectant, regular and bio-hazard garbage bags and other things not really applicable to someone living alone – these things are really meant for people living with others. No instructions were given regarding the use of these things.

The app sucks your phone battery due to its location tracking function, and it alerts you if you have not used your phone for two hours. 

(I’ve gotten 13 notifications now that I’m outside of my quarantine place, despite never leaving, leading once to a call from my case officer – moving my phone further away from the wall seems to have stopped this.) (Or not, I just got my 14th notification a moment ago when I checked my phone.)

It also says that motion tracking is only in effect from 8am to 9pm, though this means you only get warnings that you haven’t used your phone during that time period. As well, it’s not really true – I was woken one morning at 7:40 by a ‘you are outside of quarantine place’ warning. 

You are expected to enter a self-health check on the app at least two times a day. At 4:30 every afternoon I get an automated call asking me yes or no questions about my health. (You are asked to confirm your name and then asked if you have a fever, cough, or sore throat, and then you are told to wash your hands and “wear a mask in public.” Because Quarantine offers so many chances to go out in public.)

I'm currently halfway through my quarantine period, and will update here if there are any new surprises.

Update: A friend on Facebook adds, "Changing quarantine place: arriving expats are supposed to quarantine at home but then there's a risk of infecting other family members. We put our son in an AirBnB and brought him home 2 days later after the result of the first PCR. This worked fine. I informed the Jongno Health Center when we moved him and they changed the address on their records. To play safe, I went there in person to tell them. The people there were really nice (I'd been there before to find out if it was possible, so they kind of knew me by then)."