Saturday, August 31, 2013

Actor Lee Sang-yoon finally graduated from Seoul National University (SNU) on Thursday. It has been 13 years since he first set foot on the university’s Gwanak campus.

Lee attended the the graduation ceremony where he received his diploma along with the rest of the class of 2013.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Folklore - treasure trove of cultural content

Professor Kim Byong-sun of Korean Literature at the Academy of Korean Studies
By Kim Byong-sun

“Hallyu” does not simply imply extending the domain of Korean culture into the world. It is sharing Korean life and cultural resources that have been produced throughout Korean history with the peoples of the world. Although cultural content made in Korea is now being highlighted overseas, a true “Korean wave” should be what contains Korean taste. I believe hallyu cannot be simply defined by the geographical origin of cultural content. Especially, Korean dramas that have been exported and gained popularity among foreigners have taken their subject matter from historical recordings, such as “The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.”

I have worked in the University of Pécs in Hungary for a year as a visiting scholar. At that time, a Korean drama named “Dong-I” was being aired by a Hungarian public broadcasting company. The local people I met were interested in Joseon Kingdom’s royal court system and what actually happened in history.

How the manufacturers of cultural content were able to access such sources was because our ancestors, especially in the royal court, had the custom of exhaustive recording, that such historical recording written in Hanja was translated for the general public in modern “hangeul,” and that it was digitalized in this new era.

Another source for such cultural content is our folklore. Even though they are now fading due to diverse dramas provided by the mass media, traditional tales and legends were created and transmitted along with the life of the Korean people through thousands of years. Folklore that strongly reflects life consists of the joys and sorrows of Koreans along their dreams and passions. People all over the world are able to sympathize with such a spiritual heritage. Folktales and fairy tales that are orally transmitted among the general populace are simple in content. However, as they are closely related to the very basic sentiments of the people, they can be accepted worldwide.

As the Academy of Korean Studies (the Academy) recognized the importance of such folklore, it began researching and collecting Korean folklore in the 1980’s and published it in a “book” comprising 83 volumes. This, “The Complete Works of Korean Oral Literature,” as it is called, is accepted as one of the major cultural projects to have taken place since the independence of Korea. The work was done to transcribe folktales that had been orally transmitted and publish them. For a certain period of time, Korean television programs that dealt with Korean legends reproduced parts of this work as dramas, providing Korean people with something interesting to watch.

Through the Korean Studies Digitalization Project done by the Academy, this content was digitalized and all of its components have been constructed into a database that is accessible via the Internet. This database contains around 15,000 folktales, which are categorized into standards invented by the Academy, and provides an opportunity not only to read the text form of the tales, but also to listen to a verbal form. However, as the budget provided by the government was cut short, the project was only conducted on a third of South Korean territory.
Fortunately, as a new folklore collecting project was chosen as a part of the Ministry of Education’s Korean studies promotion, the research continued on the rest of the land from 2008, and most folklore scholars nationwide are participating in it. This time, the project to be conducted for 10 years was adjusted to the advanced environment. Voices were recorded with the sound quality of a CD, while some of the content is being recorded with digital video cameras. From the very beginning of the survey, the digitalized content is stored on the server of the Academy via the Internet. The content can be searched not only from a desktop computer but also various mobile instruments. When we are finally able to collect content from North Korea and overseas Koreans, The Complete Works of Korean Oral Literature will compile a vast accumulation of folklore from the Korean people.

While the folklore is being surveyed, collected and digitalized, there is also an ongoing project to translate the metadata and to categorize it into internationally accepted standards, and to select and modernize the representative work. In the “International Conference on the Asian Folklore Digital Network” between Korean, Chinese and Japanese scholars held in 2011 at the Academy, all the participants acknowledged the advanced database of Korea and agreed in principle on establishing an interchange system between the three countries. Although there are countries that are more advanced than us in collecting folklore content, the Korean technique of digitalizing the content has developed to a level where many countries are taking a major interest in it. Should the plan to survey and research Korean folklore by digitalization succeed, this would contribute greatly in comparing our folklore content with foreign content. This is important as international exchange of folklore was not rare even in a time when transportation and communication was undeveloped.

As I am responsible for the revision and enlargement of The Complete works of Korean Oral Literature, I believe it is fortunate that such a cultural resource of my people is being preserved in digital form in this era of knowledge and information. I also hope that the content collected by scholars and students all over the country, who are visiting villages here and there, will be put into practical use as a new cultural resource for hallyu.

The writer is a professor of Korean Literature at the Academy of Korean Studies.

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Korea’s cultural ‘Davos’ CCF to start Sept.1

Participants try out Korean traditional cuisine at Si.Wha.Dam Seoul, in this Sept. 6, 2012 file photo.
/ Courtesy of Corea Image and Communication Institute

Choi Jung-wha
President of Corea Image and
Communication Institute
James Suckling
Wine expert
Jair Oliveiria
Brazil’s foremost samba and jazz musician
Gabrielle Trainor, chairman of Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive
Actor and director Park Joong-hoon
By Kim Ji-soo

Culture has a special place in the Park Geun-hye administration. In her inaugural address, she put emphasis on achieving “cultural flourishing,” and a government-supported panel on cultural flourishing has been launched as well. It’s a timely acknowledgement of the rise of Korean culture and the popularity of “hallyu” or Korean wave.

“There is a lot of anticipation, more so with this year’s Culture and Communication Forum (CCF). We are hoping to turn the CCF 2013 into a stepping stone for cultural flourishing,” said Choi Jung-wha, president of Corea Image and Communication Institute (CICI). Choi is also the president of the organizing committee for the CCF2013. James Bemowski is the vice president of the organizing committee.

The CICI will host the 2013 Culture and Communication Forum from Sept. 1 through Sept. 3 in Seoul under the theme: “Old vs. New:Presenting the case for traditional or modern culture—First Mover, Fast Follower.”

Choi has said in previous interviews that Korea stands both economically and culturally at a point where it must think whether it will continue to fast follow or move first.

“Also, I can feel the participants’ love for Korea deepen every year,” said Choi. “Some joked whether they would get to see Psy this year. I hope the CCF will help spark a deeper and broader interest in Korean culture for those whose interest first began with ‘hallyu.’”

To that end, before the day-long conference on Sept. 3 that will be held at Westin Chosun’s Lilac Room, participants will experience Korean royal cuisine with Han Bok-ryeo as well as contemporary Korean food with chef Kang Leo. They will also have a chance to experience Korean architecture as well as a variety of performances from around the world, from traditional Korean music performances such as “gugak” as well as Brazilian samba music.

The CCF 2013 will see the gathering of 16 specialists in the field of culture and arts from around the world. The event will be hosted by the CICI and supported by Samsung Electronics, Asiana Airlines and Pernod Ricard.

Participating in this year’s CCF are the top experts in music, film, literature and publishing, food and wine. The participants include the world-renowned wine expert James Suckling and Paolo de Maria, owner chef of Paolodemaria and La Taverna, Brazil’s foremost samba and jazz musician Jair Oliveiria, Mexico’s painter and choreographer Luis Arreguin, French writer and curator Ludovic Burel.

Heads of cultural bodies including Joachim Sartorius, head of the Goethe Institute will be attending the three-day event. Gabrielle Trainor, chairman of Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive, Natalia Sipovskaya, director of the State Institute of Art in Moscow, Helun Firat, managing partner of Cer Modern Center for Modern Arts in Turkey and Andrew Pettie, head of culture for the Daily Telegraph will also attend.

From Asia, leading figu­ res in field of fashion and performance have been invited. They are Tian Qinxin, director of the National Theater of China, Kazuko Umewaka, CEO of Umewawka International involved in Japanese traditional Noh productions, Archan Kapoor, publisher of Hard News and an independent filmmaker, and Lisa Mihardja, a batik designer from Indonesia will attend.

From Korea, actor and director Park Joong-hoon will partake in the forum.

Choi said that she is encouraged by the response that the participants show after the conference, where they will return to respective countries and take initiative in hosting Korean culture-related events such as “hansik” or the Korean food festival that was held in Mumbai and New Delhi in September 2011. That festival was the creation of Hemant Oberoi, executive chef at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in India who was a previous CCF participant.

In the days leading up to the main conference,they will visit Changdeok Palace, Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, Leeum Museum and the Hyundai Card Design Library.

The CCF, in its fourth edition this year, was launched at the G20 Seoul Summit. Since then, it has established itself as the cultural and communication forum to promote Korea and Korean content overseas.
Source: The Korea Times News

Hallyu Line

Park to make big screen debut

Park Yoo-chun
Park Yoo-chun, an actor and member of the K-pop group JYJ, will make his big screen debut. He will be acting in “Sea Fog,” a film that will be produced by director Bong Joon-ho of “Snowpiercer,” Park’s talent agency C—JeS Entertainment said Monday.

The film will deal with the stories of sailors on a smuggler ship, and will be directed by Shim Sung-bo. It is a directorial debut for Shim, who wrote the screenplay for “Memories of Murder.” Park is expected to play one of the sailors with co-star Kim Yoon-suk.

Park made a successful small screen debut in 2010 with “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” that was followed by another hit “Rooftop Prince” (2012).

Koreanology Lab at Waseda Univ.

Waseda University, a prestigious private school in Japan, will open a Koreanology laboratory in October.

“Since Japan is at a turning point, there is a growing interest about the relationship between Japan and Korea. We are building this lab to train the next generation of researchers so that they have a broader perspective regarding Korea, and the relationship between Korea and Japan,” said Professor Lee Jong-won, Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies at Waseda University, according to Yonhap News.

Lee will head the Koreanology lab. He is joined by Prof. Lee Sung-si, who specializes in the history of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), and Prof. Hotei
Doshihiro, who specializes in Joseon modern literature.

Kim Ki-duk's 'Moebius' Due Out in Early September


Kim Ki-duk's "Moebius" will be released in Korea on Sept. 5, after it underwent a re-edit to appease local censors.

It is the first film by the award-winning director since he picked up the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival last year for "Pieta."

"Moebius" was officially invited to Venice this year, which will kick off on Sept. 3.

It drew much controversy as it received a "restricted rating" in Korea due to scenes of incestuous sex, meaning it could not be screened at local theaters. It rater earned the local equivalent of an NC-17 rating after the director agreed to cut three minutes of sex scenes.

The film, a tragedy, focuses on a young man and his adoption of religion after seeing his family rent apart by sexual desire.


UN Chief to Visit Korea


Ban Ki-moon Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Korea on Thursday on biennial home leave.

The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Ban will meet with President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Chung Hong-won during his six-day visit to discuss issues related to the Korean Peninsula and relations between the country and the UN.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Samsung Retakes No. 1 Spot in LTE Phone Market


Samsung Electronics has retaken the No. 1 spot in the global fourth-generation LTE mobile phone market after losing the position to Apple three quarters ago.

According to market researcher Strategy Analytics on Sunday, Samsung sold 27.2 million LTE phones in the second quarter of this year, beating Apple, which sold 13.6 million.

Samsung's global LTE phone market share rose from 25 percent in the first quarter of this year to 47 percent in the second, while Apple's share fell from 41.3 percent to 23.5 percent.

The Korean electronics giant retook the lead thanks to strong sales of its Galaxy S4 smartphone, which surpassed 20 million units just two months after its release in April.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics accounted for four percent of the global LTE mobile phone market to rank fourth after Sony's 6.2 percent. It was the first time that LG lost its third place since it released its first LTE smartphone in the second quarter of 2011.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Korea to Ease Path for Foreign Tourists


Foreign tourists will be able to enjoy a 10-percent discount in Korean hotels from next year, and a tourist police will be introduced in October to crack down on nuisances for visitors.

According to the plans announced by the government on Wednesday, foreign tourists will be entitled to a 10-percent VAT refund on hotel bills at the airport or port from early next year. The scheme will be test-run for one year.

The aim is to attract Japanese tourists, whose numbers has dwindled drastically due to weak yen and sour relations between Korea and Japan over territorial and other issues.

The deficit in Korea's tourism industry against Japan in the first five months of this year was US$1.6 billion, 11 times greater than a year ago.

Also, multiple entry visa will be issued to many more Chinese nationals to promote tourism in Korea. About 3,000 people including spouses and children of Chinese nationals who already have a multiple entry visa for Korea, residents of Beijing or Shanghai, or students at 112 universities chosen by the Chinese government will benefit.

There was a 17-percent increase in the number of Chinese travelling abroad last year, and their spending soared by 40 percent to $102 billion.

Visa requirements for Southeast Asians will also be eased, giving those who have visited Korea before and without a history of illegal overstay a 30-day multiple-entry visa.

The government will set up a separate 100-man tourist police under the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in October this year, and expand it to Busan and Incheon later. They will patrol tourist sites such as Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Dongdaemun Market, and Itaewon, and crack down on overcharging, illegal taxis and unlicensed tourist guides.

Casinos exclusively for foreigners will be allowed to open on Korean cruise ships.


Potatoes Prove Economic Way of Trimming Waistlines in Summer


Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are typical diet foods. The former are rich in dietary fiber, which gives the feeling of fullness, while the latter are low in calories with 55 kcal per 100 g, making them a sensible choice in the summer when people are watching their waistlines more closely.

Sweet potatoes are harvested from August and regular white potatoes from June, but, ironically, their consumption tends to fall as the mercury rises.

Lotte Mart reported that last year 40 percent of the sweet potatoes it sold were snapped up in the winter months from January to March. Over the same period, the discount chain also sold 32.9 percent of its white potatoes.

As sales have dipped recently due to the unusually early spike in temperature, prices are also falling. At the Seoul Agro-Fisheries and Food Corporation, 10 kg of first-grade sweet potatoes were being auctioned for W21,892 (US$1=W1,155) on June 10, down 48.3 percent from W42,330 last year. Meanwhile, 20 kg of first-grade white potatoes plunged 57.4 percent to W14,633.

"The prices are expected to fall even lower as the summer gets into full swing," said a Lotte Mart staffer.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to rule on Weibo

Shown above from top are Weibo accounts of Psy, Jang Keun-suk and Lee

Rapper/singer Psy
Jang Keun-suk
Lee Jun-ki
By Chung Ah-young

Social networking services (SNS) are becoming a crucial tool for hallyu stars to communicate with their fans. But like a double-edged sword, their reputations can be tarnished overnight due to controversial messages thoughtlessly posted, or it can effectively boost their profiles.

Regardless of its disputable function, a growing number of hallyu stars are relying on SNS activities to promote themselves. They upload their day to day activities from what they eat, where they go or when they go to bed.

Among several popular microblogs, a soaring number of hallyu stars are choosing Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, with its 365 million users (100 million of which are active as of August, 2012), as it is home to their young Chinese-speaking fans. Also, it relieves their concerns of possible controversies they may cause regarding remarks they might make on SNS with a large number of Korean users. Actor/singer Jang Keun-suk has recently attracted more than 10 million followers on his Weibo account, which is regarded as a barometer of popularity in Chinese-speaking countries. The number of Jang’s followers is second to singer/rapper Psy’s 25 million.

Jang, whose Twitter followers once reached more than 250,000 followers among Korean users, vowed to quit using it in November 2011, to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding from his postings.

Since then, he has concentrated on Weibo activities and now has the second largest number of followers among Korean stars.

His recently soaring popularity has been attributed to the television drama series, “You’re Beautiful,” (2009) which gave him the nickname “Asian prince.” It began airing through China’s Central Television 8 (CCTV 8) on July 18.

Both Jang and Psy have expanded their Chinese fan bases due to “You’re Beautiful” and “Gangnam Style,” respectively. However, Jang’s recent success on Weibo is a bit different.

Keen on adapting himself to a fast-changing media landscape such as launching his mobile application a few years ago, Jang has made good use of his popularity in China by using different methods to gain potential fans. Since opening his account in August 2011, he has continuously uploaded his recent activities mostly in Chinese. His Chinese fans instantly respond to his postings. It gives his fans a sort of intimacy as his schedules and activities can be known directly through him and not through his management agency.

In order to communicate with his fans, he has been eager to learn the Chinese language in the same way that he has learned the Japanese language. He recorded his songs in Chinese, Japanese and Korean for the album titled “I Just Wanna Have Fun” with Team H, his project band.

Actor Lee Jun-ki has garnered some 6 million followers on Weibo, revving up his popularity in China since he opened an account in February 2012. Renowned for his movie “The King and the Clown,” he has returned to the small screen with “Two Weeks” on MBC.

Lee was specially featured on Hunan TV’s variety show “Happy Camp” in May with the highest ratings among other shows in the same timeslot. Lee’s Chinese fans have already been posting a banner of his new drama “Two Weeks” on the subway to support him, according to his management agency.

“His popularity in China is getting higher due to his new drama. Many Chinese fans have been interacting constantly with Lee through Weibo,” the agency said.

In Korea, SNS has been often used by ‘socialtainers’ or ‘politainers,’ such as Lee Hyori, Kim Je-dong and Kim Mi-wha, who like to post their socially conscious messages. However, since some sensitive postings put them in the hot seat among Korean users, a growing number of stars are avoiding their SNS activities. Instead, Weibo is becoming an attractive means for hallyu stars who can communicate with more potential fans while avoiding potential trouble.

Han Chae-young also moved her microblog from the Twitter account popular with her Korean fans to Weibo after her New Year greeting in her Lamborghini in January sparked a sudden controversy over her extravagance.

Also, Choo Ja-hyun, whose semi-nude photos taken on her hanbok for a Chinese magazine, came under fire from Koreans for damaging the national costume’s image. After that scandal, she does not use Twitter and instead is active on Weibo.

“Small problems can lead to big controversies on SNS in Korea. Also, there are more encouraging and supportive comments than malicious ones. Because of this, hallyu stars who can converse in the local language are moving to Weibo,” an official of one of the entertainment agencies said.

Comic Book to Tell Story of WWII Sex Slaves


The government is commissioning a comic book about women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese army in World War II and enter it to the Angoulême International Comics Festival, which takes place in January next year in France.

Minister of Gender Equality and Family Cho Yoon-sun on Tuesday said, "We decided to make a cartoon to raise global awareness of the issue and to enlist the help of the international community in urging Japan to resolve it."

The ministry wants to commission a 100-page comic book and some 50 short cartoons by November from the Korea Cartoonist Association. These will document the life of victims from their youth, showing the readers what their childhood was like, how they were forced into sexual slavery, and how they lived with the aftermath.

The Angoulême International Comics Festival, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the world's biggest cartoon and comics festival. Last year, over 200,000 people attended including 1,200 cartoonists and 7,000 others from the industry.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Korean traditional gardens draw interest in China

The Joseon-era garden of Myeongokheon in Damyang, South Jeolla Province, shows simple and natural designs.
/ Courtesy of Damyang County

Park Kyung-ja, president of the Institute of Traditional
Landscape Conservation
A book cover of “Chinese and Korean Classical Gardens” published by Tsinghua University Press
By Park Jin-hai

A Northeast Asian garden expert opined that while traditional Oriental gardens are based on Taoism, countries have put their respective interpretation to create different styles.

“Koreans in the Joseon Kingdom wanted to bring Taoism to their homes but worked in a Confucian environment,” said Park Kyung-ja, 61, president of the Institute of Traditional Landscape Conservation. “So Korean gardens are simple and natural, while Chinese ones are larger, flashy and artificial,” she added.

“Japanese gardens tend to depict nature in an abstract manner,” Park noted.

Since 2003, Park has been a frequent visitor to China, publishing four books on the Korean urban landscape, residential designs and water landscapes there. Her recently published book, “Chinese and Korean Classical Gardens” is her fifth work. The over-500-page book, published by Tsinghua University Press, is the result of two years of research with nine scholars from Korea, China and Japan, followed by three additional years of preparing the work.

“A Chinese publisher was interested in Korean modern garden designs, especially how we incorporated western designs into Korean ones,” Park said.

“Japan is a few steps ahead of other Asian nations. The Japanese rock gardens of the Heian Period (784-1185) are frequently copied in modern gardens.”

“But, Korea and China still are in their infant stages,” she added.

She listed three representative gardens in the three countries ― the woodland Joseon-era Garden of Myeongokheon in Damyang, South Jeolla Province for Korea; the Classical Gardens of Suzhou in China; and the Royanji Garden in Kyoto, Japan.

Park stresses the importance of bringing Korean classic gardens into the context of modern botanical culture.

She is also in talks with the Gyeongju provincial government to recreate a traditional banquet that took place in “Poseokjeong” the site of an oval-shaped waterway in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province in 2014.

The King’s officials and guests ― from as early as the Unified Silla Kingdom (668-935) ― sat along the watercourse and played a poetry-reciting-and-drinking game. They had to recite poetry as a floating wine cup on the winding waterway came near them. If they couldn’t, then they had to drink the wine.

Park said that visitors to the historic site often complain because it only has the dried-out stone canal base, and no event replicating the ancient banquet. She hopes to change this.

“There were some similar local re-enactments, but they didn’t happen at the historic site nor were they it based on historic facts,” she said.

She also expressed regret over traditional gardens being made over with modern botanical designs. “We have these stellar gardens such as Anapji, a palace pond built in the Silla period, yet we haven’t really worked hard to reinterpret the tradition in a modern style,” Park said.

According to her, recent urban landscapes such as the Cheonggye Stream in downtown Seoul are eyesores. “Too many bridges over the stream and steep stone walls along the waterway leave an impression that it has been constructed hastily,” she said.

Park says gardens are meant for rest. “People don’t have to be wealthy to have gardens, because for those living hectic city lives, national parks can be their gardens.”

Park holds a doctorate in comparative studies on palace ponds in Korea, China and Japan from Seoul National University. She has devoted herself for almost 40 years to study and preserve Korean traditional gardens and landscapes. Her book “Landscape Design of South Korean Residential Communities” won the gold prize at the Asia Pacific Publishing Association Book Awards in 2006. Currently she heads the Institute of Traditional Landscape Conservation, under the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Source: The Korea Times

Friday, August 9, 2013

Creativity: interaction between individuals, organizations

Professor So Won-hyun of international Korean studies at the Academy of Korean Studies
By So Won-hyun

In the 21st century, we are competing for creativity in order to survive in a rapidly changing world. Being creative is now a must for individuals or organizations to be pioneers and to meet their various needs within a society. But what is it that leads to creativity?

Are we born with it? What leads to variations in levels and types of creativity within and among individuals? The current prevailing theory is that creativity is not only a product of individuals, but also a product of interaction between an individual and an organization. The necessary characteristics of individuals and organizations to be creative are as follows.

Amabile (1983)’s well-known research on creativity states that for individuals to be creative on a given task, they must possess expertise in the task domain, cognitive skills relevant to creativity, and task motivation.

Expertise refers to factual knowledge and skills in the domain in question; one must first be familiar with an area in order to be highly creative within that zone. Cognitive skills relevant to creativity include the exploration of a new cognitive style: thinking out of the box, in other words.

In order to think creatively, people need to broaden their scope of attention and cognition, and this process leads to flexible cognition. Understanding various aspects and complexities of the problem allows for diverse ways of thinking. In addition to expertise and creative skills, task motivation is necessary in order to perform creatively. While a general definition of motivation refers to energy, direction and persistence toward a goal, task motivation is defined as the willingness to work hard and includes an individual’s reasons for performing the task.

The reasons for a person’s behavior may lie between the two opposite poles of authentic interest and external control. It has been found that creativity is closely associated with intrinsic motivation: the innate tendency to seek out novelty, challenges, and thus genuine interest toward a task. The needs of competence and autonomy have been identified as the basis for an individual’s intrinsic motivation which enhances learning and creativity.

Individuals experience competence when there are optimal challenges and constructive and informational feedback without the pressure of evaluation in environmental conditions.
However, competence itself does not automatically enhance intrinsic motivation, and individuals must experience an internal locus of causality by perceiving a sense of autonomy. This may also imply that external rewards or punishments undermine intrinsic motivation. Tangible rewards may be potentially detrimental to intrinsic motivation and in turn to creativeness.

Furthermore, it is not only tangible rewards but also punishments, pressured evaluation, deadlines, and imposed goals which signal external locus of causality. These factors decrease intrinsic motivation and opportunities for individuals to exercise their potential to be creative.

It is crucial for individuals to internalize and assimilate organizational regulations, thereby acquiring autonomy in their performance. Conversely, when individuals experience autonomy, they internalize external regulations. Therefore, giving individuals a sense of freedom for their actions while they follow the policies and rules of the organization helps them to maintain their intrinsic motivation.

Organizations may look for “how-to” lists of steps to increase their members’ creativity.
However, this approach may better translate into three questions: 1) How can we avoid diminishing intrinsic motivation? 2) How can we increase feelings of competence and autonomy within the organization? and 3) How can we help individuals to internalize external regulations?

First, the way that a goal is assigned to individuals by a leader may influence their creativity. If individuals are allowed to participate or voice their concerns when setting a goal, and if goals are aimed at more global considerations of development and training rather than immediate performance improvement, individuals are more likely to integrate the goal as their own and show a commitment to producing creative output.

Second, if leaders show support and concern for individuals and provide constructive feedback, rather than closely monitoring their behaviors or directing them to act in a certain manner, they are more likely to increase interest in pursuing a task and producing creative solutions to a given problem.

Third, it is also possible to increase creativity among members by establishing a positive climate which is encourages peer support, cognitive stimulation through the exchange of ideas, and cooperativeness by helping and being considerate of others. Next, an organization needs to provide an environment which is safe and open enough to allow opportunities to make errors and permit risk taking. It is crucial that organizations encourage members to take risks and to generate ideas without self-screening, allow a collaborative flow of ideas, and show positive evaluations of new ideas.

The above suggestions apply to any type of organization seeking to establish a creative culture, including schools, companies, or governments. This will in turn lead to a creative society that grows by maximizing its members’ opportunities to fully exercise their creativity.

The writer is a professor of international Korean studies at the Academy of Korean Studies.

Appetizing Menus Keep Energy Levels High in Incheon in Summer


We should be particular about food habits as it is important to eat well during the scorching days of summer, when the high humidity can leave you feeling drained, dehydrated and lacking in energy.

From authentic Chinese cuisine to recuperative soups and fresh seafood, Incheon is a city that always stimulates the appetite and palette with its range of delicious and nutritious food options.

◆ Exotic Dumplings in Chinatown

Some of the most famous dishes can be found in Chinatown, which is heavily populated with famous restaurants adorned with red lanterns and traditional nibbles. One of the most popular eateries here, Siprihayng, offers four types of traditional dumplings from Tibet that are a top draw with tourists. Called Onggibyeong, they are made using crisp dough and especially soft fillings. Demand is such that purchases are limited at weekends to two per person.

On the same street, Mandabok serves up jajangmyeon, or black-bean-sauce noodles, just as it used to be made 100 years ago. Although Koreans prefer to consume it nowadays by mixing the noodles with chunjang, or black bean sauce made with meat and various vegetables, here the noodles are served only with meat that is stir-fried with black bean paste. The lack of vegetables and seasonings hark back to the days when such ingredients were hard to come by.


◆ Traditional Honey Chicken

Dakgangjeong, or honey-drenched fried chicken with hot sauce, is the most popular food at the city's Sinpo Market. Chinese sailors developed a taste for it decades ago when it was hard to preserve food, as they found that frying the chicken and coating it with hot sauce stops it from going off so quickly.

Upon entering the market, the dish's scent immediately tickles the olfactory glands, tempting passersby with its mouth-watering aroma. The chicken is fried, coated in red sauce and served with chopped peppers and peanuts. Fans rave about the addictive taste of the crispy skin and tender meat.

◆ Cold Noodles

The type of naengmyeon, or cold noodles, served in Hwapyeong-dong is just as famous, especially in summer. It is made by adding vegetables, meat and an egg to chewy noodles, then pouring cold meat stock on top and adding vinegar and mustard sauce.

The area is dense with naengmyeon restaurants selling surprisingly generous portions of the dish at shockingly low prices, much to the delight of tourists. In fact, their bowls are three times larger than those used in other noodle restaurants. There are two kinds of cold noodles sold here, each for W5,000 (US$1=W1,113) -- making them W1,500 to W3,000 cheaper than in other areas.

◆ Grilled Mackerel with Makgeolli

An area in eastern Incheon is a famous den of alleyways full of restaurants selling grilled mackerel. Because the area used to house a brewery, it began to draw laborers and college students with little money who wanted to unwind with alcohol, and mackerel was a perfect accompaniment to drinks because it is cheap but healthy.

The most popular dish divides the fish into two parts, each cooked in a different way. As the restaurants use local mackerel, it is smaller than those sold in other restaurants. But it is also softer and more succulent, and goes down a treat with some cold beer and makgeolli, or traditional Korean rice wine.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Dorky is the new sexy in K-pop

The five girls of Crayon Pop are identified by their bicycle helmets, polo shirts and dorky music. / Korea Times file

By Baek Byung-yeul

Female acts in K-pop have become known for their skimpy stage wear, raccoon makeup and aggressive thrusts. Then there is Crayon Pop, a hot new girl group that successfully betted on being dorky in the sea of sexy.

The five girls ― identified by their bicycle helmets, polo shirts and sweatpants beneath their miniskirts ― seem to be everywhere these days, from television music shows to Saturday Night Live Korea.

They are a riot in social media. The video for their song, "Bar Bar Bar,’’ has reached 1.3 million views on YouTube and their robotic, "five-engine’’ dance has touched off a craze unseen since Psy rode the invisible horse.

Crowds at full-capacity baseball stadiums, including the one at LG Twins’ home game in Jamsil Stadium last week, have sang and danced to Bar Bar Bar, ranked highly on every download chart.

It’s safe to say that the popularity of Crayon Pop has been the most unexpected event of an otherwise nondescript year in K-pop.

"We have fans in every age group. But 'uncle’ fans (middle-age male) seem to account for the majority,’’ said Gummi, the leader of the band who probably borrowed her stage name from a fruit jelly.

"They say our music and dance give energy to them when they commute to work. I really appreciate their generous reactions.’’

According to Hwang Hyun-chang, CEO of Crayon Pop’s management company, Chrome Entertainment, the idea was to make a girl band that would be funny, goofy and likable, but would also run screaming from sexiness.

In explaining how he picked the girls, interestingly, Hwang inadvertently exposes his own sexual stereotypes. He didn’t want any of the members to be taller than 1.65-meters because they would look too leggy in those tracksuits. ''Sexy faces’’ were avoided too.

''We started the band with the question that why does every girl group in K-pop have to go through the same route to garner public attention and end up looking the same,’’ he said.

Crayon Pop seemed like a failed experiment at first, with their songs quickly appearing and disappearing from download charts in July last year. Then the "word-of-mouth’’ generated by Facebook and Twitter gave them a second life, which has proved to be bombastic.

"We will explore different business models. We can’t compete with the pop stars of bigger management companies like SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment, which continue to dominate pop shows on national television and throw lavish concerts. We believe we are crafting a smart niche market in an age where everyone’s devices double as a camera and portable Internet gateway,’’ said Hwang.

Crayon Pop have been frequently seen performing on Seoul’s leisure districts like Myeongdong, Shinchon and Dongdaemun. They have also broadcasted talk shows on their official fan site (

Boring Layovers Replaced by Eye-Opening Excursions at Incheon Airport


Maria Roldes Dobasio and her younger brother Gionardo stopped over at Incheon International Airport on the way back home from Greece and Turkey to the Philippines recently. As they had a three-hour layover, they decided to join a transit tour package.

Of the various tour packages offered for free 11 times a day at the airport, the Dobasios opted for a two-hour course that let them choose between either a municipal museum or a war memorial hall and Heungryun Temple. The tour began with them learning some basic Korean phrases on the bus, such as greetings and asking about prices.

The tour bus first arrived at a memorial hall commemorating the Incheon Landing Operation led by UN Commander in Chief General Douglas MacArthur during the 1950-53 Korean War. The hall explains various aspects of the war including its cause and the armistice that finally stopped the fighting. The Dobasios were able to take photos in front of the weaponry and military uniforms of the participating countries, among other well-preserved artifacts.

"I'd heard of the Korean War, but I didn't know the details," Maria said. "Everything about the war was explained there in a number of languages, so I could learn about it. I was particularly impressed by the three-dimensional miniature of [MacArthur's] landing operation."

Afterwards, the tour bus spirited them to Heungryun Temple. Maria bought a small sculpture of a child monk at a souvenir shop and put it on a rock to make a wish. Looking back on the tour, she said she got a great return on her investment considering how much she learned about the country in such a short timeframe.

Other tour packages include a three-and-a-half-hour trip that takes in Wolmi Park and Incheon Port, an early gateway for foreigners to enter the country; and a five-hour trip to Seoul.

On weekends, transit passengers also can tour a K-pop-themed exhibition hall in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. Other options include trips by Maglev to Yongyu Islet in Incheon and by Airport Express to Seoul Station in the heart of the capital.

For more information, either visit the transit tour desk in front of Gate 8 on the first floor of Incheon International Airport, call 032-741-3139, or log on to

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Biggest City of South Korea: Busan a Mecca for Seaside Activities


From kiteboarding and jet skiing to high-speed boat rides, aquatic leisure activities abound in Busan, the nation's second-largest city that is well-known for its beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, summer holiday vibe and succulent seafood. Numerous seaside activities are also available at neighboring coastal cities in the south.

◆ Gwangalli Beach

Gwangalli Beach in Busan offers great night views created by a cluster of skyscrapers and an illuminated Gwangan Bridge. By day, visitors can soak up the sun and enjoy diverse marine sports.

A motor boat pulls a banana-shaped boat past Gwangan Bridge. A motor boat pulls a banana-shaped boat past Gwangan Bridge.

Various boat rides are on offer, from regular motor boats to those shaped like bananas. The latter are pulled by speed boats and see riders dunked in the water as the boat makes sharp turns. Others shaped like red sharks offer a drier ride and make several rounds before returning to the beach via the bridge. Rides cost between W15,000 and W20,000, but discount packages are also available (US$1=W1,123).

Left: A father and son learn how to surf. Right: A couple enjoys some time kayaking. Left: A father and son learn how to surf. Right: A couple enjoys some time kayaking.
◆ Dadaepo Beach

Dadaepo Beach in the western part of the city is known for its beautiful sunsets, which have attracted numerous TV and film production crews. But recently it has become more famous as a kiteboarding spot.

Kiteboarders make for scenic views at Dadaepo Beach. Kiteboarders make for scenic views at Dadaepo Beach.

With its shallow waters, small waves and plenty of wind, it serves as a perfect spot for this extreme sport, which harnesses the power of the wind using a large controllable kite to be propelled across the water. The area is so popular on windy days that the sky becomes a palette of colorful power kites.

Kiteboarding takes in both the sea and the sky. Kiteboarding takes in both the sea and the sky.
◆ Nakdong River

Nakdong River is emerging as a hot spot for water sports activities. A sports center in Hwamyeong-dong, in the city’s northern area, offers a range of marine adventures such as banana- or peanut-shaped boat rides or wakeboarding. Wakeboarding boats were recently made available and have become hugely popular. The boats can take up to 16 passengers and water is pumped into and out of ballast tanks from the surrounding water, adding more fun to the rides.

People enjoy a banana boat ride on the Nakdong River. People enjoy a banana boat ride on the Nakdong River.
◆ Jinha Beach in Ulsan

Jinha Beach in the neighboring city of Ulsan is also a good place to enjoy water sports. From May to November, a range of marine activities are available from windsurfing to speedboating and riding on dinghies. Visitors also can use facilities at the beach for free. For the last few years, international beach volleyball and yacht competitions have been taking place every summer. A marine sports center will be built here next year.

People enjoy a wakeboarding boat ride. People enjoy a wakeboarding boat ride.
◆ Deokpo Beach in Geoje

Also close to Busan, Deokpo Beach in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province is recommended for those with an adventurous spirit. Visitors can enjoy zip-lining over the sea, with the rides beginning from a 17-m high tower. The zip line consists of a 400-m cable stretched between points of different elevation, a pulley, and a harness or bar for attaching a rider. It offers refreshing views of the sea and draws over 500 visitors on weekends.