Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Korea's 3 traditions added to UNESCO list !

This is a big hearty news for Korea and the Korean fan who loves all about Korea.Korea’s traditional martial arts, tightrope walking and ramie weaving have been listed as intangible heritages.UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee inscribed the three Korean traditions in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at a session held in Bali, Indonesia, Monday.

With the new listing, South Korea has accumulated 14 intangible cultural heritages since 2001.

The three items were among six cultural traditions promoted by the Korean government for registration. The martial art, or “taekkyeon” in Korean, and the tightrope walking, or “jultagi,” were expected to be listed as they were recommended for registration at the stage of primary screening. The weaving of fine ramie from Hansan region, or “Hansan mosi,” was reserved at the beginning but included in the last minute.

The excluded three traditions were royal cuisine of the Joseon Kingdom, “seokjeondaeje,” or a Confucian ritual ceremony, and nacre craft.

Taekkyeon: Taekkyeon, the world’s first martial art to become the UNESCO-authorized intangible heritage, utilizes techniques with fluid, rhythmic dance-like movements to strike or trip up an opponent.

There are about 50 certified practitioners currently, and the Korean Taekkyeon Association plays a role in transmission of the martial art.

The committee decided that taekkyeon was qualified for registration because it is “a traditional martial art that has been passed from generation to generation and promotes cooperation and solidarity among its practitioners.” At the same time, the “inscription of taekkyeon on the Representative List could improve the visibility of similar martial arts around the world as an intangible cultural heritage,” it said.

Jultagi: Korea’s jultagi is different from tightrope walking performances in other countries in that it is accompanied by music and witty dialogue between the walker and another clown on the ground.

The tightrope walker presents acrobatic feats along with jokes, songs and dance, while the earthbound clown adds to the amusement by making witty remakrs.

The committee saw jultagi valuable as it is “a traditional performing art of great complexity that integrates musical, choreographic and symbolic expressions of Korean culture to delight and entertain audiences” and it is “a testimony of human creativity and its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to promoting intercultural exchange by drawing attention to the different types of tightrope walking worldwide.”

Hansan mosi: Hansan mosi is high-quality woven ramie clothing produced in Hansan in South Chungcheong Province, a favorite item in summer.

Weaving mosi, by female family members, requires a complicated process, including harvesting, boiling and bleaching ramie plants, spinning yarn out of ramie fiber, and waving it on a loom. The production, often done together with neighbors, also binds the community together, UNESCO source.

Hansan Ramie the Korean fabric Joins UNESCO Intangible Heritage List

Ramie fabric has kept Koreans cool during the sultry summer months for the past 1,500 years. Now the weaving of fine ramie in the Hansan region of Korea, a tradition that has come to symbolize the perseverance of Korean women, has been registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The craft has attained the same level of recognition as carpet weaving in Iran and Azerbaijan.

Bang Yeon-ok, a designated intangible cultural asset master, weaves ramie in Seocheon, South Chungcheong Province. /Yonhap The Cultural Heritage Administration said Monday that taekkyon, tightrope walking and the weaving of fine ramie in the Hansan region were included on the list during a meeting of UNESCO delegates in Bali, Indonesia.

Taekkyon is the first martial art ever to be registered on the list. Both it and traditional Korean tightrope walking were widely expected to be registered after being recommended by a UNESCO subcommittee.

But the application for ramie weaving was put on hold as the subcommittee said it required more information supporting Korea's bid. However, in a dramatic reversal, UNESCO approved it during its main session after Korean officials filled in the gaps.

As a result, Korea now has 14 intangible traditions on the UNESCO list. They include the Royal Ancestral Ritual at the Jongmyo Shrine and its Music (2001), the Pansori Epic Chant (2003), the Gangneung Danoje Festival (2005), and the Ganggangsullae Dance (2009).

Also on the list are the Namsadang Nori Performance, Yeongsanjae Buddhist Ritual, Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut Shaman Ritual, and Cheoyongmu Dance (all registered in 2009); and Korean traditional wooden architectural craftsmanship or daemokjang, songs based on traditional poetry from the Chosun era or gagok, and falcon hunting (in 2010).

Fine ramie from the Hansan region in South Chungcheong Province is a popular fabric for summer clothing due to its light weight and cool texture. But producing the fabric is highly labor-intensive. There are at least six different stages to the process, from gathering ramie plants to bleaching them, and a craftswoman has to spend three months weaving the filaments into fabric.

Ramie plants are also grown without herbicides, as it requires using lips and teeth to rip them into fine strings.

In the 1960s, many households in the Hansan region made their living by weaving ramie, but the craft faced extinction when Korea was flooded with synthetic fibers in the 1970s, and another onslaught by cheap Chinese ramie in the 1990s. It began to receive attention again during the mid-1990s.

The fabric is a specialty of Seocheon, whose government operates a center dedicated to promoting its fine quality and works to prevent this piece of cultural heritage from falling by the wayside.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Dokdo is Korea

Dokdo one of the precious lone Island little away from East Cost beautiful Island called Ulleungdo.Over the past many years Dokdo has been contoversial issue . Dokdo ("독도" in Korean)or the Dokdo island is a group of islands in the East Sea . These islands are collectively called Dokdo and the name means a "rock island." It has been a Korean territory throughout all known history except during the Japanese occupation of Korea between 1905 and 1945.

Dokdo is also called Liancourt Rocks after the French whaling ship, Le Liancourt, which rediscovered Dokdo on January 27, 1849. The Japanese name for Dokdo used to be Matsushima (松島) until 1905, at which time it was renamed as Takeshima (竹島) along with a Japanese territorial claim .
Dokdo has been under the control of South Korean since August 15, 1948, on which the Korea-based U.S. XXIV Corps transferred Dokdo to the newly born Republic of Korea.
Dokdo is actually composed of two islands -- east and west -- and surrounded by around 90 rock formations.

The two islands lie around 150 m apart. According to the maritime police guarding Dokdo, the water separating the two is very shallow -- it never dips below 2.0 m -- and traversable on foot, but the narrow channel is usually crossed by boat for safety reasons.

The South Korean government asserts that Korea has owned Dokdo all along since the beginning of known history. For this you can find at http://www.korea.net.

Dokdo and Ulleungdo are visible from each other. Anyone living in Ulleungdo for long enough knows that Dokdo is out there, at present people feel more connection and protecting Doko. Over many years Ulleungdo people are promoting Dokdo and sending messages to the mainlands and the people who comes to visit the island.

Tracing back from the past : Korean people lived in Ulleungdo since prehistoric times. Three Korean style dolmens (고인돌; goindol) attributable to a period between about 300 B.C. to about 1 A.D. have been located in Ulleungdo. Dolmens are ancient tombs of the bronze age and the early iron age. The Korean peninsula contains about 40 % of all dolmens in the world. The majority of the rest of the dolmens are within Manchuria, which was within the territory of the ancient Korean kingdom of Gojoseon ( ~ 2333 B.C to 108 B.C.). The dolmens prove that Koreans lived in Ulleungdo at that time.

Check out at http://blog.dokdo.korea.com/?page=2 for further archeological details.
Photo above: An example of a Korean dolmen.

The rock carvings at Bangudae (반구대), Ulsan in Korea, shows images of whaling ships that accommodate about 20 sailors. If the ancient Koreans could sail to Ulleungdo to live there even if they cannot see Ulleungdo from the Korean mainland, surely they must have sailed to Dokdo that they could see from Ulleungdo.
Photo to the left:
Scholars believe that the rock carvings at Bangudae were made between the neolithic age and early iron age over a period of time.

Shilla, a Korean kingdom, conquered and annexed the local kingdom of Usan-guk in 512 A.D.

The first written reference to Dokdo appears in a Korean history book titled "Samguk Sagi" (삼국사기, 三國史記; meaning "History of Three Kingdoms") which was compiled in 1145 A.D. According to Samguk Sagi, Isabu, a general of Shilla, conquered and annexed "Usan-guk," which refer to Ulleungdo and Dokdo collectively.

Dokdo is included in Usan-guk.

Usan-guk includes the two islands of Mulleung and Usan, according to old Korean records such as "Sejong Shillok Jiriji," a publication in 1454 A.D. According to this record, the two islands are separated far enough so that they can be seen from each other only on a clear day. Only the pair of Ulleungdo and Dokdo satisfies this condition in the East Sea.

The [Korean] Ministry has developed an auxiliary textbook called “Getting to Know Dokdo” (독도바로알기) for all sixth grade students nationwide beginning the middle of this month. The textbook has over 60 pages of information about Dokdo’s natural environment and geography.

The textbook will be given the second-year middle school students and first-year high school students later this year, for a total of 60,000 to 70,000 copies. When students begin school they will use the textbook to begin learning about Dokdo’s history, geography, and international law in order to learn about Korean sovereignty. Gwon Yeong-min, head of the northeast Asia history research team in the Ministry, said that “this textbook was developed so that Dokdo education will be included in all ethics, social studies, and history courses… teachers may use the textbook in their regular classes or use it for original physical activities or other school events.”

The Ministry is expanding the number of “Dokdo Base Schools”. Beyond the current 62 participating schools, another 5 overseas Korean schools will be added this month. These schools will have clubs called “Protecting Dokdo Group” and “Loving Dokdo Group”, and have meetings on Dokdo research, lectures by visiting experts, and exhibitions. The schools will receive support from the Ministry.

There is also the online program “Dokdo Cyberclassroom” for teachers. The program teaches about the incidents in the history of Dokdo and Japanese incursions onto dokdo, and by this year had been viewed by 2,100 teachers. The Ministry also has the nationwide touring program “Dokdo Exhibition” which has been attended by 95,000 ordinary citizens.

Though the Ministry has strengthened Dokdo education in the style of a department store, many believe that regular classes need to be changed to show real effectiveness. This is because there are limits to Dokdo education carried out outside of regular classes, such as original experiences or school events.

Currently Dokdo-related materials are taught in elementary, middle, and high schools in ethics, social studies, and history classes. Elementary schools mainly begin by having Dokdo pictures in third and fourth grade textbooks, and middle schools teach that “Dokdo is within our borders and is therefore a part of the history of our territory.” In high school students learn in history class that Dokdo has been a part of our territory since the Three Kingdoms period and in geography class they see ancient maps and documents and learn that Dokdo is our territory. The Ministry plans to increase Dokdo understanding in textbooks and other materials in social studies and ethics classes.

Even before the distortions in Japanese textbooks there were strong voices for proper Dokdo education in our textbooks. The Ministry announced in May that it would correct minor errors regarding Dokdo in middle and high school textbooks. The materials in question were four pages in a social studies book, three pages in society, and one page each in history and Korean. The erroneous textbooks had errors regarding Dokdo’s longitude, latitude, and surface area and its unofficial designation.

Depending on weather conditions, visitors are usually only granted access to Dokdo for about 50 days each year. That means many are forced to turn back without ever setting foot on the islands.

Dokdo, Korea's eastern most territory, is open to both Koreans and foreigners, but the latter must go through a routine application process to gain admittance.
Although many foreign tourist visit Dokdo through Ulleungdo to see the glimpse of twin sister.

Please do visit Korea's Dokdo Island , as I find solace and lucky to be there with my other friends through Misnistry Of Korea Tourism who fecilitate to take us there. One of my precious and unforgettble moment which I am still cherishing and sharing to you all with some of my knowledge about Dokdo Island.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Three-Kingdom Era: Koreans bring culture to Japan

Korean Peninsula, Manchuria brace for three-way competition for 700 years

This is the second of a 10-part series on Korean history from its mythological, ancient beginning until the present day. This project is sponsored by several companies and public agencies including Merck Korea, eBay Korea, Daewoo Securities and Korea Post. ― ED.

After Korea’s earliest state Gojoseon fell in BC 108, three major powers rose up in Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula over the next 100 years to rule the region for much of the first millennium.

Goguryeo took charge of the northern part, while the southern part of the country was divided between Baekje in the west and Silla in the east. This period of three states has become known as the Three-Kingdom Era and marks a period that was rich both spiritually and culturally.

Although the three kingdoms were ruled by different kings in different ways, all of them were composed of ethnic Koreans and they had languages, religions and culture in common.

In particular, all three eventually accepted Buddhism, starting with Gorguryeo, then Baekje, and finally Silla. In addition, Confucianism was also introduced during this era. This also means that Chinese characters were used.

Throughout some 700 years, their rivalry was as dramatic as anything we could expect to find in a movie ― it involved long-term partnerships via marriages, brutal warfare, and betrayals.

For example, the smallest state, Silla, expanded its territory and defeated its two bigger rivals during the 7th century by making an alliance with the Chinese Tang dynasty forces. Silla later drove away its Chinese ally, who thought it would then take Korea over for itself, and instead, Silla established a unified dynasty on the Korean Peninsula.

Goguryeo ― northern defense line

Throughout the Three-Kingdom Era, Goguryeo maintained by far the biggest lands covering much of Manchuria, as well as the northern part of Korea. Initially, it was the most powerful among the three states.

The country’s fortune reached its peak in the 5th century under the rule of one of only two Korean kings who has the title “Great” in his official name: King Gwanggaeto the Great.

King Gwanggaeto expanded his nation northward so as to occupy the Liaodong Plains in Manchuria. There is a big stone stele in northeastern China, which praises his performances, erected by his son.

For the next century Goguryeo was a dominant force, and with its strong military power it set up the northern defense line of Korea under which its southern brothers and sisters could be protected from an invasion by Chinese forces.

During the 7th century the country withstood full-scale attacks from Chinese forces, the most powerful in the world back then. It eventually fell in 668 when Tang forces were united with those of Silla in the South.

From a cultural point of view, Goguryeo had great respect for the teachings of Confucianism and even had its own Confucian academy to train the sons of aristocrats.

Baekje ― mentor of Japan

Baekje was built around the Han River, now modern-day Seoul, by two sons of Goguryeo’s founder. They are recorded as having fled a succession clash and after fleeing south, conquered nearby chiefdoms to take over southwestern Korea including the Han River area.

It was not Goguryeo but Baekje that has stood out first on the peninsula as it was stronger in the 4th century. Back then, the country dominated most of the western part of the peninsula.

However, its fortune waned in the following century with the rise of Goguryeo, and Baekje was forced to move its capital from the Han River area to more southern cities twice. It collapsed in 660 due to the allied attack of Silla and Tang forces.

The nation was famous for having the most advanced religious and artistic culture among the three kingdoms, and it was Koreans from Baekje who were responsible for transmitting Chinese characters, Buddhism, and Confucianism to Japan.

Ajikgi and Wang In are the two Koreans recorded in the earliest Japanese historical records for having brought their superior culture and Chinese writing to the Japanese. Meanwhile, Buddhist missionaries from Baekje brought their religion, as well as their advanced knowledge of art and architecture.

Silla ­ the winner takes all

In the southeast of the peninsula, Silla absorbed nearby city states to become the strongest power there. It was initially the smallest and weakest in the three-way rivalry, and formed an alliance with Baekje in 433 in the face of the threat of Goguryeo.

Strengthened by marriages between royal families of the two countries, the cooperation lasted for 120 years through the mid 6th century.

However, Silla broke the time-honored partnership in 553 by attacking Baekje to take the area surrounding the Han River, which prompted Baekje to join hands with Goguryeo.

In answer, Silla formed an important relationship with the Tang Dynasty to destroy its two rivals in the 660s, and it ousted its Chinese allies out of the peninsula to assume the lands south of Pyongyang.

During the 7th century Korea saw two of its greatest Buddhist philosophers, Wonhyo and Uisang, whose ideas were influential in China. Both emphasized harmony and equality.

In addition, the great Bulguksa Temple (which means ‘the country of Buddha’) was constructed as well as the famous Seokguram Grotto. Both Bulguksa and Seokguram Grotto have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo

History books say that Silla conquered Usan-guk in 512, which was based on Ulleungdo in the East Sea. Korean scholars believe that the event made Dokdo belong to the country.

Dokdo is a set of volcanic islets situated in about 90 kilometers east of Ulleung Island where people can see Dokdo with naked eyes when the weather is clear. In contrast, the closest Japanese land is up to 160 kilometers away where Dokdo cannot be observed with human eyes even when the weather is super clear.

It has been under the control of Korea with armed policemen stationed there but Japan claims sovereignty on Dokdo, which the country calls Takeshima, by coming up with various logics.

Dokdo, also dubbed the Liancourt Rocks, has emerged as bone of contentions between the two countries through various events.

Dr. Kevin N. Cawley is currently the Director of the Irish Institute of Korean Studies at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland - the only institute in Ireland dedicated to promoting Korean studies ― funded by the Academy of Korean Studies, South Korea. He was previously a Gyujanggak Fellow at Seoul National University.

In detail

Goguryeo (BC37 ­ AD668):
An ancient Korean kingdom in the northern Korean Peninsula and Manchuria

Baekje (BC18 ­ AD660):
A kingdom in southwest Korea

Silla (BC57 ­ AD935):
A kingdom in southeast Korea

Liaodong Plains:
Plains located in the northeast of China

Currently the capital of North Korea. It is located at the heart of the country.

Tang Dynasty (AD618-907):
An imperial dynasty of China, which flourished in terms of cultural capacity and military power.

Han River:
A major river in South Korea flowing through its capital Seoul.

King Gwanggaeto the Great:
The ninth monarch of Goguryeo. Over his reign between 391 and 413, he has expanded territory greatly to make Goguryeo become a super power of East Asia. He died in 413 at the age of 39.

Ajikgi and Wang In:
Scholars of Baekje. They taught the Japanese people the Chinese letters and the Confucianism.

Wonhyo and Uisang:
Buddhist monks and great philosophers of Silla. They were close friends.

Bulguksa Temple:
A big temple built by Silla in its capital. It is enlisted at the UNESCO World Heritage.

Seokguram Grotto:
A hermitage as part of the Bulguksa temple complex. It is added to the UNESCO World Heritage.

The country based on Ulleungdo and the nearby islands during the Three-Kingdom Era. Silla occupied it in 512.

Korea’s easternmost volcanic outcrops. Both Korea and Japan claims Dokdo but Korea has strong grip on it, which is located about 90 kilometers southeast of Korea’s Ulleungdo.

Source: The Korea Times

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Observations of time

BUNDANG, Gyeonggi Province — Photographing another photographer, especially an artistic inspiration and mentor, is never an easy task. Rather, it can be intimidating and nerve wracking.

However, Koo Bohnchang turned this experience into a memorable one, filled with ease and great conversation.

The shoot took place at his modern home-studio, built with tall windows and a Zen garden. The trees by the gate created beautiful shadows, inspiring a rich backdrop for Koo’s portrait. The artist’s reflective nature and gentle spirit instilled his presence with a quiet strength, similar to that felt in his photographs.

There was a certain elegance about the way Koo spoke and moved. Dressed in a white button-down shirt, black vest and khakis, his black-rimmed glasses framed his observant eyes. Soft mid-day light hit his studio window, revealing all the dust and scratches. Waiting for the perfect moment when his eyes aligned with that streak of sun against the window, the camera seemed to weigh heavier.

When Koo’s eyes did meet the sun or the camera lens, it was worth the wait. Sometimes you make things happen — a photograph, or a moment. Then there are times that you wait, and allow them to create themselves. The portrait session with Koo revealed that sincere observation takes time, as do all meaningful things in life.

Jesse Chun is a fine art photographer whose works have been exhibited and published internationally. Chun earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography from Parsons School of Design in New York. Visit www.jessechun.com (fine art) or www.jessechunphotography.com (editorial).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Korea's 2040 generation, onscreen and on the pages

Faced with uncertain prospects birthed by the worldwide trend of the jobless economic recovery, the young people of Korea have redefined themselves as a politically and socially potent demographic. A 2010 opinion poll conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of 1000 young people in their 20s found that the primary issue of concern among respondents was employment.

Following with these developments, the term “2040 generation” has emerged not only as a buzzword in Korean media and social commentary but also a theme of contemporary culture. The unprecedented turnout of “2040” voters in the recent 2011 Seoul mayoral election, in particular, was seen as an effort by younger generations to engage the wider society in a much-needed dialogue on their needs. At the same time, books, dramas, and movies depicting the struggles and dreams of young Koreans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, continue to attract a wide audience of viewers and readers..

The 2040 generation, which refers to young people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, is emerging as a significant political, social and cultural demographic in Korea today (Photo: Weekly Gonggam).

The 880,000 Won Generation, an economic critique published in August 2007, sold a record 25,000 copies within months of publication and launched the self-help and self-improvement book boom in Korea. The book, titled after the average relative pay rate that individuals in their 20s were estimated to receive in 2007, traced the economic and social history of the decade following the financial crisis. Its analysis focused on the widening generation gaps and structural inequalities that have made for the socioeconomic challenges faced by twentysomethings today.

“Our time is short, but it is not too late,” wrote Woo Seuk-hoon, the author of The 880 Thousand Won Generation. “Now is the best time to free ourselves from the mire, from the pull, of ‘winner-takes-all.’ Now is our chance to act, and for whom? For our youths? It may appear so, but as we may suspect and soon discover, the changes will be for all of us and our shared future.”

The present reality of Korea’s younger generations has also played out on film and television.

The popular 2010 romantic comedy My Dear Desperado paired a provincial university graduate preparing for employment with a small-time gangster. Sae-jin, played by Jeong Yumi, having graduated with top honors in data processing and successfully completed her master’s degree, comes to Seoul to find a job that will make good use of her professional skills. Nevertheless, she soon finds that a degree from a provincial university lacks the minimal name brand value esteemed by potential employers. With few interview opportunities, Sae-jin settles into a lifestyle of part-time jobs and monthly rent in a semi-basement one-room, and together with neighbor Dong-chul, played by Park Jung-hun, she seeks her own way in the big city.

Third-rate gangster Dong-chul (left, played by Park Jung-hun) and provincial university graduate Sae-jin (center, played by Jung Yu-mi) are neighbors seeking to make a life for themselves in Seoul in the film My Dear Desperado. In the drama series Protect the Boss, No Eun-seul (second to right, played by Choi Kang-hee) agrees to work as a secretary and bodyguard to Cha Ji-heon (far right, played by Ji Sung) on the condition that she receive official status as a regular employee (Photo: Gonggam Weekly).

In the SBS drama Protect the Boss, No Eun-seul, played by actress Choi Kang-hee, also hails from a provincial university outside of Seoul. After a series of twists and turns working a racket of temporary jobs to make her rent and pay back tuition loans, Eun-seul is recruited as a secretary, bodyguard, and all-around girl Friday to the immature youngest son of a corporation owner. The best part of her compensation is the official certificate identifying her as a regular employee.

MBC sitcom Highkick! The Revenge of the Shortlegged features a similar situation. Actress Baek Jin-hee plays a plucky heroine of the same name, who keeps herself busy at various part-time jobs to keep up with her loan repayment but finds herself at a loss after a plan to lease her own place falls through. While the slapstick genre makes for some exaggerated plot developments and scenarios, viewers can sympathize with the “real-life” difficulties and triumphs that Jin-hee experiences.

The heroine in Scent of a Woman, which ran on SBS in 2010, finds herself at a different stage of life than young Jin-hee, but her struggles attest both to similarly deferred dreams and a similarly forged resilience. Lee Yeon-jae, played by Kim Sun-ah, had it relatively easy when she was hired with a high-school education as an employee at a travel agency. But after ten years of making the best of the less-than-satisfactory working conditions and treatment by her boss, Yeon-jae receives a notice of dismissal. For the first time since she was hired, she gives voice to her aches, as she implores her boss for just a little more trust, a little more respect, and a little more care.

Among the bestsellers currently up for selection as the best books of 2011 by various online book retailers such as Interpark Books and Yes24, several rose to popularity on account of their direct, relevant, and even compassionate message about the issues and attitudes of younger generations.

Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is based on the Harvard professor of political philosophy’s popular lecture series. Since its release in 2010, the book has sparked conversations in Korea on the relationship between rights and justice and the meaning of morality in government, economics, and other sectors of society. Having sold over a million copies in Korea, Justice and the questions it poses have resonated with and fostered a deep cross-generational interest in the topic.

The ten books written by Alain de Botton, who has been dubbed “the philosopher of our daily life,” have also sold more than a million copies in Korea, which has the largest readership for Botton’s work outside of his native England. Among his bestsellers, the popular Status Anxiety explores why people care about status and how the drive to compare and envy can be harnessed for productive and positive means.

We Call It Youth Because It Hurts, written by Seoul National University professor Kim Nan-do, has sold over a million copies since its publication and remained at the top of national bestseller lists for 20 weeks. A collection of practical counsel and encouragement written for young people struggling with their uncertain futures, the book builds on the belief that such worries and longings afford a value to youth that cannot be found anywhere else.

While themes of intergenerational conflict continue to appear in the media, a steady wave of books and films has drawn attention to the idea of social progress as a sometimes bumpy and often trial-ridden path that yields particular pains and joys within and across generations. In a recent interview with Weekly Gonggam, Ham In-hee, a professor of sociology at Ewha Womans University, put it this way: “In our present situation, it is important to define the relationships among generations not by conflict and confrontation but by cooperation. Seeking out the wisdom of harmonious coexistence, of life lived together, will require all of our combined energies.”

Source: Korea.net

Exhibition marks 1,000 years of Buddhist scripture

For the Buddhist community, this year has been the year of the millennial anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana, the world’s oldest Buddhist canons in Chinese script carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century.
UNESCO described the Tripitaka Koreana as “one of the most important and most complete corpus of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world.”

Various museums across the country have been celebrating the landmark year with special exhibitions, the latest of which is being held at the National Palace Museum of Korea until Dec. 18.

Organized by the Cultural Heritage Administration, the exhibition shows rare original copies of texts that served as the basis for the Tripitaka Koreana during the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392).

A little background knowledge of Tripitaka Koreana is key to appreciating the exhibition.

It was believed that the scriptures would be helpful in guarding the country from foreign aggression. So the Goryeo Kingdom started to establish the wooden canons, but they were burned by Mongolian forces in 1232. The Tripitaka Koreana, stored at the Haein Temple in South Gyeongsang Province, was reconstructed as a replacement. Fortunately for posterity, the original texts of the burned canons still survive in various locations here and in Japan.

Excerpts from these texts and related artifacts are being shown at the ongoing exhibition at the National Palace Museum of Korea.
The exhibition is also an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Over 40,000 artifacts from the palaces of Joseon Kingdom (1392-1897) and the Korean Empire (1897-1910) are on display at the museum in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. Admission is free.

For English speakers, there is a guided tour at 3 p.m. The museum is open daily, except for Mondays. For more information, visit www. gogung.go.kr or call 02-3701-7500.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lamp to Lit up the World Culture

Once upon a time, Korean ancestors spent overnight with a lamp. Students prepared the national exam with a lamplight. The story ‘Han Seok-bong’, a leading mid-Joseon period calligrapher, is very well-known for the episode that mother checked his son’s improvement, chopping the rice cake next to her son while he was writing calligraphy without a lamplight.

This story became an old tale, which seems impossible in these days. However, in Tong-yeong city of Gyeongsangnam-do, people enjoy wind lamp game at night of Donji day. In Joseon period, students used to play the game with other school students. The key is whose lantern flies the highest and floats the longest.
It tells us that we should light up the darkness, and wish for safety of family members toward the floating lantern on the sky.

Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival

In October, the night sky over the Jinju river become full of fantastic lanterns. It is Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival. The festival, which started in 2002, has won the top prize in last five years in a row. In addition, floating lantern festival is designated as one of the best festivals in Korea this year. Now, it began to step forward to the world.

Ancestors used floating lanterns for military use. Floating lantern is more advanced tool than signal-fire tower in terms of alerting the enemy’s invasion to other regions. In October, 1592, during the war against Japanese troops, General Kim Shi-min used wind lanterns and torch as military signals. They were pretty effective ways to stop Japanese to cross the river. In addition, the lanterns were used for communicative methods between soldiers and their families.

(Source: IS Plus Corp)

You can have hands-on experience, such as making rice cakes, playing traditional games during the festival.

Lanterns describing Korean troops and enemies in their costume, fire arrows, and water cannons will be reproduced for war of Jinju fortress. Moreover, there will be lanterns that symbolize each country, such as Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan. Ranging from small lanterns to 15 meter-high lanterns, the various lanterns will light up the night of Nam River.

Fantastic Feast of Light Decorates a Night Sky of City

(Source: YonhapNews, Newsis)

The festival has continued to be held in downtown. The traditional lantern festival in Bongeun temple and Seoul world lantern festival in Cheonggye stream welcome us.

Lantern show of Bongeun temple starts near Buddha’s birthday. The show focuses on Buddhism so there are many religious works. You can feel fantasy because the show is held in exhibition hall. If you feel stuffy, please go outside for lantern festival.

Lantern parade from Dongdaemoon stadium to Jogye temple is a big festival of Buddist culture. You may have generosity when you watch the light of Buddhism arising in city building forests.

(Source: Seoul Lantern Festival blog)>

Lantern festival, which was held in November, last year, will be held on Cheonggyecheon. The previous festival gave wonderful and warm memories not only to Seoul citizens but also the foreign visitors.

Lanterns of Haechi and ten symbols of longevity were displayed near Mojeon Bridge. There were some lanterns invited from abroad: Koshogawara Dachneputa from Japan, Byungum Mask from China, Giant lantern in San Fernando festival from Phillipines, Heitiki lantern telling about Maori tribe from New Zealand and Jaeshinsongbo from Taiwan. They were displayed near Gwangtong Bridge under the theme of the ‘light of the globe’.

Meanwhile, the theme of festival near Jangtong bridge was the ‘light of recollection’. It presented daily routine of Korean, fairy tale and history, which drew a lot of attention from visitors. Near Samil bridge, many artworks, such as characters, animals, hot air balloons, lanterns made by new artists and LED lanterns, reminded visitors of a floating museum, creating a forest of light.

Lanterns Lighting up Asian’s Heart

Let’s see other lantern festivals in neighbor countries. China has a lantern festival in January 1st, as a Spring Festival. Chinese hang paintings like carps for luck on the wall and have a big lantern festival outside.

(Source: OhMyNews, Hakata Lantern Festival (Japan)>

In particular, you can watch a variety of splendid lantern works displayed in a small city in China, Chukung , which is three hours away from Chungdu. Most of Chinese people spend Spring Festival, enjoying the enormous lantern.

How about Japan? There is a very popular lantern festival in Fukuoka, which is called Hakada Lantern Festival. It displays lanterns based upon the geographic locations. The shape and size of lanterns are very different from those of Korea and China.

In earlier days, the lantern events called ‘Cheondeungmyeong’ used to be held in shrine or temple during summer. They cut bamboo trees into half, put sand and seashells inside, poured oil, stuck a wick and lighted it. The event has continued to develop and degenerate and finally became a Hakada Lantern Festival. It is very popular to couples for its beautiful scenery.

Lantern tells us a hope. It is like jewel lighting up surroundings. Why don’t we turn the light on without harming nature? You should be careful especially in a windy day to prevent fire. Plus, if we care about our neighbors with the sincerity we light up the lantern with, our heart will be warm like a lantern.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Facts about Korea : "Felix Bijno" Seoul's first Western hotelier

Sontag Hotel is often said to be the first Western hotel in Seoul but there were others before it, including the Seoul Hotel owned by Felix Bijno.

Italian hotelier Felix Bijno is one of those characters in history who appears for a short time and then disappears without a trace.
We know that he worked with the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs service from February 1887 until he was discharged in January 1894. It appears that Bijno, still a bachelor, took his severance money and eventually made his way to Seoul where he purchased a large two-story building and went into business in April 1897.

It was not easy for Bijno. Although he had purchased the land and building he had trouble obtaining the deeds and had to apply to the British consul for assistance. Despite the British government’s aid, Bijno was still fighting for his deeds in the summer of 1898.

The smallest of his businesses was a provision store that sold amongst other things, roll butter, cube sugar in bulk, the best Ningchow tea in tins and boxes, scotch whiskey, spirit of wine, creams, candies, other sweets and Egyptian cigarettes. But it wasn’t the provision store that Bijno is best known for — it was his hotel which occupied the entire second floor and part of the lower floor.

It isn’t clear what inspired Bijno to establish a hotel nor what earlier experiences he may have had that enabled him to run one with any success — especially alone. The advertisements describing Seoul Hotel (also known as Central Hotel and the Oriental Hotel) noted that it was located “within the Imperial Palace grounds” and was equipped with “spacious, commodious and well-fitted bedrooms.”

The food served in the hotel was “cuisine of the best French style.” It isn’t clear who was preparing the food but it was apparently quite good. It was popular not only with the small Western community but also with the Korean government which used it to cater for its international state dinners including Empress Min’s funeral on Nov. 21 and 22, 1897.

It appears that his success brought a greater desire for stability as evidenced by this notice in the Seoul-based English-language newspaper, The Independent:

“On Wednesday, June 22, 1898, Mr. F. Bijno married Mademoiselle Ravagot of Shanghai, China at the Roman Catholic Church in Seoul. In the evening of the same day the bride and groom gave a dinner party for a number of their friends of the Oriental Hotel, where an elaborate menu was set up for the occasion.”

The hotel continued to enjoy great success.

Horace N. Allen, the American minister to Korea, described it as “a stopping place in the foreign quarter, where four rooms over a dining room and provision store afford all the comfort that an accommodating Italian and his wife can furnish.”

Rooms were 4 yen or 2 dollars (gold) per night. But Allen noted that change was rapidly coming to Seoul with the construction of the Seoul-Chemulpo Railroad and it was “supposed that better hotel accommodations” would soon be provided.

Allen’s words were truly prophetic. By the end of 1899 there is no mention of Bijno’s name amongst the growing number of hotels in Seoul. What became of the hotel? It appears that Bijno and his wife sold their businesses to a Frenchman and moved back to China.

Their fate has been lost with the passage of time.

Source: The Korea Times

South Korean Island Jeju chosen as 'new natural wonder'

JEJU ISLAND (Yonhap) -- A Korean resort island, Jeju, has been listed as a "new natural wonder of the world" in a world-wide poll, a Switzerland-based organization announced Saturday.

The subtropical volcanic island south of the Korean peninsula was selected along with six other areas -- the Amazon River, Komodo in Indonesia, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Vietnam's Halong Bay, South Africa's Table Mountain and the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River, according to the Web site of the New7Wonders foundation in Zurich.

Voting to select the New7Wonders began in 2009 on the Internet and by phone.

Known for a combination of scenic mountains, waterfalls, forests and beaches, Jeju has drawn plenty of honeymooners and other tourists from South Korea and nearby nations.

"A good harmony of human and nature is the characteristics of Jeju Island," said Chung Un-chan, who led the National Committee for Jeju New7Wonders of Nature.

Chung, a former Korean prime minister, said the selection of Jeju as a natural wonder will boost the country's image as a tourist and cultural spot in addition to its fame for speedy industrialization and democratization.

"Most of all, the tourism revenue of Jeju Island will sharply increase and other regions of South Korea will have related effects," he said. "The enhancement of national status will be a more valuable effect."

Jeju Governor Woo Geun-min also said that it will open a new chapter in the island's tourism industry.

"Now, we have gained confidence that Jeju can be attractive to the world," he said.

The natural wonder designation is expected to increase the number of foreign tourists to Jeju by up to 73.6 percent a year, according to the Jeju Development Institute.

In 2002, Jeju was designated as a "biosphere reserve" by UNESCO and listed as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2007. It was also awarded "geopark" status last year, becoming the only place on the planet to receive all three UNESCO honors.

Source: The Korea times

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hotel Lobby

Novotel Ambassador Gangnam

Novotel Ambassador Gangnam’s European restaurant, The Bistro, offers “Chef’s Special Recipe” presented by the hotel’s chief chef Gerard Mosiniak who recently marked 50 years of culinary experience.

His authentic French cuisine in the promotion is offered in a three-course dining _ chartreuse of crab meat, melted leeks and crispy asparagus as appetizer; black pork belly confit, sweet and sour caramelized red onion and fettuccine sauteed with thyme flowers as the main dish; and dark rum baba served with whipped double cream as dessert. It is priced at 58,000 won.

The restaurant also introduces newly-renovated private dining rooms that can host any type of dining occasion comprised of six to 15 guests. For more information, call 02-531-6604.

Renaissance Seoul Hotel

Renaissance Seoul Hotel has had Frederic Nef as its new director of food and beverages (F&B).

Born in France, Nef began his culinary career in 1981 and has worked at hotels around the world including England, Russia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Turkey. After joining Marriott International in 2005 at Marriott Beirut, he moved to Marriott Paris Rive Gauche Hotel and Conference Center and to JW Marriott Seoul in 2009 as executive chef.

Nef will oversee all F&B-related departments from restaurants to conventions. “The Renaissance Seoul is very well located in the heart of Gangnam where the major corporate companies are, so we will develop a new approach of F&B offering that local and foreign guests may enjoy,” he said.

Grand Hilton Seoul

Grand Hilton Seoul presents Bridal Shower Package for those wanting a special party with friends to celebrate the upcoming marriage.

Available until September next year, the package for a group of up to six people, includes a one-night stay in a three-bedroom suite, balloon decorations, a cake, a bottle of wine, a chocolate box, two bottles of lemonade, imported beer and Hydroxydase water, respectively, some other drinks and donuts.

Six cocktails are also available for free at Club Babalu, so guests can continue to party through the evening. The package is priced at 500,000 won. For more information, call 02-2287-8400.

The Shilla Jeju

The Shilla Jeju offers a Big Jazz Festival where guests can enjoy live jazz music at the outdoor pool through the end of November.

Throughout the week except for Monday, jazz artists and bands from Korea and overseas present various jazz genres, such as swing and bossa nova. The stage is set up at Soombi Spa Zone, which is comprised of an outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. A heating system maintains the pool water temperature at between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius, allowing guests to enjoy swimming even in wintertime until midnight under the moon light.

The poolside bar also offers seven kinds of draft beer from seven countries. During Happy Hour between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., guests can enjoy unlimited beer at 32,000 won. For more information, call 1588-1142.

Millennium Seoul Hilton

Millennium Seoul Hilton’s Japanese restaurant Genji offers a swellfish promotion during November. Swellfish has the finest flavors and most tender textures during this season, as the fish fatten to survive the cold.

Both a la carte and special set menus are available. The dishes include swellfish sashimi, boiled swellfish with vegetable, deep fried swellfish, grilled swellfish, vinegared swellfish with vegetables and swellfish porridge. Prices range from 42,000 won to 220,000 won.

For more information, call 02-317-3240.

Building in the Paris of Asia: architect Paul Q. Davis

Seoul is the Asian Paris, according to American architect Paul Davis.

“There is a strong cultural content that’s going on right now which is manifested in vibrancy, excitement, music, fashion. We take all that in when we’re building buildings,” said Davis, who runs design atelier DRDS with partner Steve Ryder.

Enthusiastic, crafty and corky, he articulates a million miles per minute with ideas shooting from every crevice of the mind. There’s an exciting and somewhat animated edge about Davis that makes him personable and extremely interesting. So there is no wonder why clients in “the Paris of Asia” have time and again chosen this particular one to design some of the nation’s modern landmarks.

The Milwaukee native’s atelier is based in both Seoul and Los Angeles. Although this “Midwestern-turned-city boy” legally resides in LA, he spends over 100 days a year in Korea, and calls Seoul his second home.

“I love Korea. Working in Korea is more personal,” he explains. “We’re interested in our clients. We want to get to know the people _ we want to know who they are.”

This is very different from the work mentality that a rather large portion of the working population in America possesses. Whereas the “get it done and go home” disposition is prevalent in the Western hemisphere, it’s a whole new ballgame working in Asia. In business, there are various procedures of getting to know each other and engaging in after-work activities.

“There is quite a bit of karaoke,” Davis adds, immediately followed by a five-second rendition of Korea’s famous ballad, “Bogoshipda” by Kim Beom-su.

Korea is famous for endless nights of business outings, including Korean barbecue, soju and other party flavors, and there’s a strong mindset that you have to get close in order to work together, Davis says. He is in the know about the important relationship-building process here and furthermore, very respectful and appreciative of the culture, implementing it into his work.

Engaging with clients and their culture and spending a lot of time working at their offices is pivotal in learning from them to design the buildings that are felicitous to their lifestyle and environment.

DRDS, on the other hand, has derived from large corporate settings and is comprised of serious, hardworking employees who put in 50- to 60-hour workweeks, make frequent trips due to extensive international work, and focus on design and client satisfaction. Yet employees take turns DJ-ing in slippers with their iPods, not to mention “‘board meetings” every Friday that require surfboards.

“We’re a very comfortable bunch,” Davis explains. “We wanted a different kind of lifestyle, not an 8-to-4:30 suit-and-tie thing.”

It is the kind of work environment one would call a professional utopia, one that many Koreans dream of while slaving away in their tiny, claustrophobia-inflicting cubicles. It is no surprise that Davis seems to be married to his work.

“I don’t have any hobbies,” he states, “because I’m always doing architecture.”

He describes his profession as an all-in-one job, entailing travel, art, math, politics, interaction, people skills, marketing, and more.

DRDS has nine projects in Korea currently in progress, two of which will be completed this month (the Aerodome Sports Arena in Ilsan and Hwaseong Sports Complex in Hwaseong). It has designed some eye-catching and sophisticated buildings and sports complexes, some of which have won prestigious awards and recognitions; for instance in 2010, the NHN Building received an LA AIA Award. The Nuritkum Square in Digital Media City has been used as a background in a number of TV commercials and ads.

Although many of them are sleek and modern, there is no distinct style representing Davis’ company because each building is individually tailored to its client’s needs, he says. Mostly a modernist, Davis is rather evasive and hates to be pinned down to one specific concept because his vision is constantly shifting and evolving.

He prefers to stay creatively open and ever-changing without having to define it in any specific term or category. Simply taking advantage of the tools available and creating exciting buildings is what he wants to do, and exactly what he’s doing.

“It’s always experimental and interesting; there is a big gradation of style and culture,” he said with a grin.

Source: The Korea Times

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let’s Go for Some Apples!

Red apple is very luscious enough to make everyone eager to have one bite. Perhaps it might be natural that the witch of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs chose the apple to fascinate the snow white.

(Picture: FlickrⓒMuffet)

Well, thanks to the technological development, we can see apples at any season of the year. There are some people who don’t even remember which is the apple season. What do you think it is the season? The answer is “Autumn” that sunshine paints all the fields gold and apples red. Shall we go for some apples with family? Pick out the apples and enjoy the local attractions.

(Picture: Flickrⓒedenpictures)

By the way, did you know there is an event that let you pick those delicious apples? You can have hands on experience from the end of October near Mt.Sobaeck, Yeongju. You can buy the apples you pick at a discount, too. All the apples will be harvested by the early November, which means it’s better to reserve the event as soon as possible. If you bring your children, they will learn the value of labor.
Moreover, Yeongju has more wonderful attractions to visit other than the apples. It has many cultural legacies around Mt.Sobaek such as Buseok temple, Sosu shrine, Seonbi village and Jukryoung old road. There are many things for families to do in Yeongju.
Especially, Buseok temple is one of ten greatest Buddhist temples in Korea. It has five national treasures and six national valuables including Murayangsujeon. You may want to lean on the pillar of Murayangsujeon. There is another attraction called Sosu Seowon which is the first Confucius educational institutes named by the King. Many leaders of Joseon were the students of this Seowon. It has a lot of precious materials and documents as well.
Now, let’s take a walk along the national treasures. It is the old road of Jukryoung which is 696 meters high from the sea level located between the second Younhwa peak and Dosol peak. The road was used for 2000 years but it was abandoned for tens of years because of the advancement of transportation system. However, the Yeongju city government restored the road of 2.5 kilometers from Hibangsa station to Jukryoung jumak in 1999. Take a walk along the old road and take a breath of forest with your family, looking at autumn foliage. Are you ready ?

Pick Munkyoung Apples and Enjoy festival!
Munkyung is one of the best places for planting apples because the location and the climate are just perfect. Grown in the limestone soil of Mt.Sobaek, apples become very hard and sweet. Although the very wide daily temperature range, and the low temperature at night, plants control their own nutrients, so that they are very sweet, juicy, colorful and aromatic. In addition, Munkyeong apples are very popular for its wonderful climate, rich soil and clean natural environment.

(Picture: FlickrⓒWxMom)

There will be an apple festival around Munkyeong provincial park until the end of month. The title of the event is “Munkyeong apple festival beloved by Snow White”. It sounds like they already have all the delicious and pretty apples to fascinate us.
Once you enjoyed the Picking Apples program and festival, we strongly recommend you the trip to Munkyoung Sae Jae.
Munkyoung Sae Jae is Jo Ryoung mountain ridge used for TV drama shooting spot. It is so steep that there is a word saying “Even birds cannot fly over the mountain”. There are electric cars specially made for children and seniors, which shows the efforts of Munkyoung city government to clean the Mother Nature. Munkyoung Sae Jae Park provides tourists with various things to see. It’s good to walk along the road of old time’s national examination which was chosen as one of 100 beautiful roads in Korea. You can enjoy hiking barefoot there because yellow soil starts from entrance gate to the peak. Children are likely to smile with tickling the soles of their feet. Moreover, there are many other things to enjoy such as a tower of wish, old tavern, and waterfalls. Munkyoung has something that your family would love.

Pick Yesan Apples and Enjoy Festival!
Grown first in 1923, Yesan apples have been well known for hardness and juice produced by the fall sunshine and daily temperature range in rich soil. A variety of apples such as Shinano sweet and Fuji are grown in Yesan. Apple pick-out is available from late September to middle of November. Yesan apple pick-out program attracts many people because it is major producer and located near Seoul metropolitan area.

(Picture: FlickrⓒBryan Maleszyk)

Plus, the Apple Wine festival is held in early November every year. Can you imagine the taste of apple wine? I’ll tell you one thing. Yesan apples are very fresh. You can make it on your own and taste it, too.
Why don’t you refresh yourself in nature forest and pick out some apples in Yesan? Opened in 2007, Bongsusan natural forest has a variety of accommodation for rest. Natural and artificial forests are harmonizing together and many wild life species are existing. Besides, beautiful scenery with Yedang resevior will attracts your mind.
The Hiking course in forest is various from one hour to three-hour course. Hiking course is not tough so it is easy to walk on. You can smell the pine trees with the forest bathing. There are many amusement sites such as houses, children’s park, square and the hand-on hall. These are the rest places for families and group tourists. In addition, tourist can travel Deoksan spa, Sudeok temple, Chungeui temple and a house of Kim Jeong Hee near the forest. What a travel!

(Picture: FlickrⓒAdam E. Cole)
Take a fresh air, have a delicious food and experience a variety of culture on this coming weekend.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Did you know that

The first female war correspondents

Irish-Canadian Kathleen “Kit” Coleman is generally credited as the first accredited female war correspondent for her work in Cuba during the Spanish-American War of 1898. But was she?

That honor may belong to another Canadian-born writer, Margherita Arlina Hamm.

Hamm was born on April 29, 1867 (some sources say 1871) in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada but her family soon moved to Bangor, Maine, where her father (Rufus Hamm) started a successful timber business. She was of French and Spanish descent and was able to speak English, Spanish and French fluently which helped her greatly in being published in American and French newspapers when she was only 13 or 14 years old. Not only was she very attractive but she was also extremely tenacious, if not overbearing, which enabled her to interview several leading American politicians when other, more experienced (and male) journalists had failed.

On Oct. 14, 1893, Hamm married William E. S. Fales, a lawyer and former newspaperman who had been serving as the American vice-consul to Amoy, China since 1890. Following their wedding, they departed for Asia where, according to various newspapers, Hamm became a war correspondent when the Sino-Japanese War broke out in the summer of 1894.

According to one writer, “She scored a journalistic beat of major proportions with her account, sent to a number of American newspapers, of the attacks on the palace at Seoul, the attempted assassination of the Queen of Korea, and the declaration of war.”

She is further glorified by the claims that she performed nursing duties following some of the battles. As one newspaper noted “Hamm’s experiences were very lively and vivid.” But were they accurate?

Despite her fame, her visit to Seoul is not mentioned in any of the journals or books written by Westerners residing in Korea at the time. Other journalists — including those from newspapers she reported for — were duly noted and written about. It is also strange that her husband, a vice-consul, is not mentioned in the American diplomatic dispatches in Seoul.

Her time in Korea, and for that matter, the Far East, during the war was very short. The Sino-Japanese War official officially began on Aug. 1, 1894 and yet she and her husband were in the United States by at least Sept. 22, because he attended a dinner party thrown for him by the New York Press Club on that date.

Unfortunately, many of the articles of the Sino-Japanese War to appear in the American newspapers did not have the authors’ names so we have no real record of what she wrote during this hectic period.

Hamm went on to capitalize upon her experiences in the Far East. Famed for her “conversational gifts,” she went on to give lectures throughout the United States about the Far East. In 1896, she was declared “the womanliest woman on two continents” and elected as an honorary vice-president of the Writer’s Club of London. Newspapers in the United States noted that she had “traveled more in the interests of the press than any other representative of her sex” and was “the first woman war correspondent.”

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Hamm went to Cuba to cover the fighting and also to serve as the head of the nursing staff for the National Guard. Obviously Hamm’s journalistic achievements were overshadowed by Coleman who was “an accredited” correspondent, but she was later recognized by the president of Cuba for her volunteer efforts.

Fame comes with a price and being away so much from her husband was apparently detrimental to their marriage and it ended on July 29, 1901. Somewhat damning to her character is to note that two days after her divorce she married 26-year-old John Robert McMahon, a fellow newspaperman. Their happiness was short-lived.

On Dec. 17, 1907, Margherita died. She was followed 8 years later (May 1915) by her nemesis, Coleman. It wasn’t war that claimed the lives of two of history’s earliest women war correspondents — it was pneumonia.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seogwipo Olle Market on Jeju Island

Autumn is the season of high skies and plump horses. For those who want to enjoy the clear autumn weather and delectable items, Seogwipo Olle Market on Jeju Island awaits.

A whole mackerel pike rolled in rice and seaweed; "omegi" rice cake made with red bean, millet and glutinous rice; a combination of seaweed rolled rice, dumplings and fried pancakes in "tteobokki" sauce; and "bingtteok," white radish strips rolled in buckwheat pancake ― all these unique foodstuffs are available there.

Formerly named the Seogwipo Maeil Traditional Market, the market is situated along the sixth Jeju Olle course.

The market is not only popular among locals but a must visit place for tourists visiting Jeju Island. Going to a market might sound weird for a traveler’s itinerary, but it is an interesting way to take a step into the local life, fully relishing the charm of the region.

The sixth walking course starts from the Soesokkak estuary, passes through downtown Seogwipo and finishes at Oedolgae rock. The course takes around four to five hours and the market comes into view mid-route when walkers may start to tire.

In the market, some 500 shops sell various items from food to industrial products. Instead of a disorderly fashion, stores line up in lots next to a wide path for pedestrians.

For more information on the market, visit sgp.market.jeju.kr or call (064) 762-2925.

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

22 Flavorful Authors Serve Up a Delicious Korean Studies

‘The Pleasure of Korean Studies`
By Ju Yeong-ha et al., Humanist, 412 pages, 19,000 won

This book, were it dinner, would be a “Jeolla-style” multi-course meal. So many dishes are served up, so some might inquire, “Would not a sole palatable dish be more enjoyable?” To which the answer would come from the 22 authors who participated in writing “The Pleasure of Korean Studies.” As one reads, worries about a Korean studies cooked up with “random ingredients” recede. It`s all good as the reader gets a taste of the topics that are brought up: a multi-faceted selection, from history, culture and philosophy to traditional dwellings and K-pop.

Traditions stemming from long histories, transformed into present phenomena, are difficult to ponder. Thus, the book asks professionals the question, “What is it that is the most Korean?” and then furnishes its answers. The first entry is “The Korean Heart” by literary critic Jang Seok-ju, which somewhat blandly examines the “han (恨)” concept, the works of poet Kim Sowol, and “trot” vocalist Lee Mi-ja`s rendering of “Camellia Girl.” Yet clearly the Korean heart is comprised of a slew of dishes.

And the next portion, “Korean History” by author Nam Gyeong-tae, is fresh. Not a university lecturer, the author is free from the “one state history trapped on Korean peninsula” thought process, and thus analyzes the reason “why dogmatic upholding of one`s cause is a legacy of the past era.”

Joseon society was lead by the ruling literati class. The king governed by name, and it was this group of nobles that actually held power. While rarely visible, they were always at work behind the scenes. During power struggles one group of these elite scholar-bureaucrats would use the king`s name to purge an opposing group from power. These “severely unethical strategies (p. 229)” were common. The author notes with a sharp tongue that they were even meaner than Machiavellian power games or bloody civil war, and one cannot help but nod in agreement.

Assisting further is “Korean Thought” by Konkuk University professor Sin Byeong-ju. He demonstrates that Koreans are not all subsumed by the Confucian mind that embraces moral duty and ritual. Yi Ji-ham (pen name Tojeong), famous for his astrological text “The Secrets of Tojeong” (Tojeong bigyeol), Jo Sik (pen name Nammyeong), a Confucian scholar with sword, and others show us why they were post-Confucian. That`s right. This portion hints that not all Korean thought didn`t come out of a single cookie-cutter.

The best remains to come: “Korean Drama” by a cultural critic with innovative analytical sense, Lee Young-mi. American drama is suspenseful, Japanese drama is exaggerated, and Korean drama is haphazard, yet it is Korean. If the finessed Japanese dramas are “hard to get,” the foreshadowing American dramas are “new to the taste,” then, Korean dramas are the “brazen bunch” of the Korean Wave (hallyu), she states.

According to Lee Young-mi, “although loosely plotted, Korean dramas are stylish and easy on the eyes (p. 270).” Handsome actors and actresses frequent unexpected secret births, incurable illnesses, forbidden love, and similarly patronizing other motifs, which are a neat fit for their viewers` irrational propensities. Thus, the obvious weaknesses of Korean dramas become their salient strength. This textual inquiry into slices of Korean cultural composition gives us hope for future possibilities. This is, in fact, “the pleasure of Korean studies”;there still are a lot of topics that have yet to be explored, and authors who will contribute. We await these expectantly.

Source: Korea Focus this month issue