KOREA published by the Korean Culture and Information Service


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published by the Korean Culture and Information Service.

Cove story of Maech 2014 issue:
Korea’s Museums and
Fascinating exhibit spaces are the repository of Korean art and culture.

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KOREA published by the Korean Culture and Information Service

  1. 1. 1 march 2014 VOL.10 Museums&Galleries Fascinating spaces are the repository of Korean art and culture
  2. 2. 2 cover story contentsMarch 2014 | korea vol.10 NO.3 14 PEOPLE Potter Park Jae-hwan Photographer Kim Atta 18 TRAVEL Gwangyang 22 SPORTS Korean Women Shine in Sochi 26 ENTERTAINMENT The Great K-pop Escape 28 Special Issue Remembering the Past So It Is Not Repeated 04 cover story Korea’s Museums and Galleries Fascinating exhibit spaces are the repository of Korean art and culture 30 CURRENT KOREA Mobile Shopping: A New Way to Shop 32 SUMMIT DIPLOMACY The Next 60 Years of Korea–US Ties 34 Policy Review An Investor’s Paradise 38 CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY Korea Opens Second Antarctic Base 40 Global Korea Sports Diplomacy 04 18 28 38 22 Publisher Won Yong-gi, Korean Culture and Information Service | Executive Producer Suh Jeong-sun | E-mail webmaster@korea.net | Magazine Production Seoul Selection | Editor-in-Chief Robert Koehler | Staff Writer Felix Im | Producer Shin Yesol | Production Supervisor Lee Jin-hyuk | Editorial Advisors Choi Byeong-guk | Copy Editors Gregory C. Eaves, David Carruth, Hwang Chi-young | Creative Director Jung Hyun-young | Head Designer Ko Min-jeong | Photography Ryu Seunghoo, Robert Koehler, RAUM Stidio | Printing Pyung Hwa Dang Printing Co., Ltd. | All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from KOREA and the Korean Culture and Information Service. If you want to receive a free copy of KOREA or wish to cancel a subscription, please e-mail us. A downloadable PDF file of KOREA and a map and glossary with common Korean words appearing in our text are available by clicking on the thumbnail of KOREA on the homepage of www.korea.net. 발간등록번호 11-1110073-000016-06 42 Great Korean Park Ji-won 44 MY KOREA An American on a Korean Campus 46 MULTICULTURAL KOREA Seok Ha-jung 48 Tales From Korea Mr. Lumpy and the Goblins 50 FLAVOR Bibimbap
  3. 3. 4 5 cover story Korea’s Museums and Galleries cover story Fascinating exhibit spaces are the repository of Korean art and culture Written by Kwon Mee-yoo T he opening of a new branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Seoul last November was the biggest event in the Korean art world in decades. New York has the Museum of Modern Art, London has the Tate Modern, Paris has the Centre Pompidou and finally Seoul has a decent museum dedicated to contemporary art, part of a continuing effort to expand the cultural influence and build a presence on the art scene. President Park Geun-hye expressed her high expectations for the nation’s flagship art museum as well. At the opening of MMCA Seoul last November, Park said she tries to visit museums when she tours foreign countries, as they are a repository of culture. “Museums are not only to view art work, but they also form the source of imagination and creative ideas, as well as provide psychological enrichment and artistic sensitivity,” President Park said. “I hope MMCA Seoul becomes the center of Korean culture and art, along with the Bukchon area and the galleries located there, and grows into a place where international artists visiting Korea can share this inspiration and artistic taste.”
  4. 4. 6 7 covering a variety of themes from history and art to chocolate and teddy bears. The national museum system alone includes 13 sites, including the flagship National Museum of Korea in Seoul and the recently opened Naju National Museum, the first national museum in Korea’s southwestern province of Jeollanam-do. Tellingly, 12 of the 13 museums are located in provincial areas. In addition to relating a national story, the system also aims to promote Korea’s many rich regional histories and cultures. The Naju National Museum, for instance, focuses on the history, art and culture of the Mahan Confederacy, an ancient confederacy of small kingdoms that dominated southern portions of the Korean Peninsula between the first century BC and the third century AD. The Korean national museum system operates centrally, reducing tension between museums and ensuring that exhibits are fairly distributed. Museums are important spaces for communication between the past and present. During the peak season, the National Museum of Korea’s flagship museum in Seoul receives over 30,000 visitors a day. In line with the Park Administration’s policy of expanding access to culture under the name of “Culture Enrichment,” museums have even begun taking their exhibits on the road in the form of bus-born “mobile museums” to give residents of isolated rural regions an opportunity to experience their cultural and artistic heritage. To further expand access to museums, the government has designated the last Wednesday of every month as Culture Day. Participating institutions offer discounts or free admission. Some 8,000 institutions nationwide participate in the program, including all the national museums. Likewise, museums and galleries are increasingly being transformed into points of communication and exchange between Korea and the wider world. The flagship National Museum of Korea, for instance, conducts two or three overseas exhibits a year. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance, held the “Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom” exhibit through Feb 23. The show featured about 100 relics from the Silla Kingdom (57 BC–AD 935), including the famous gilt-bronze Pensive Maitreya Bodhisattva (National Treasure No. 83), one of Korea’s most beloved national treasures. The National Museum of Korea is also organizing the “Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty” exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through May 26. History of Korean Museums According to Kim Dalgin Art Research and Consulting, a total of 167 new art and history museums and galleries were established in Korea last year. Of these, 67 opened in Seoul, and of these, 27 are located in Jongno-gu, where the MMCA Seoul is located, making the area a gallery- focused neighborhood. However, the history of museums in Korea is not so long. The first modern museum appeared in Korea in 1909 when the Imperial Household Museum, later Completed after four years of construction, costing roughly US$227 million and covering over 50,000 square meters in the center of Korea’s capital, MMCA Seoul is located right next to Gyeongbokgung Palace, where kings resided and administered during the Joseon era (1392-1910). The ultra-modern museum, designed by Mihn Hyun- jun, is composed of a red brick building, gray concrete boxes and a traditional Korean house, exhibiting the site’s historical value. The Hanok, or traditional Korean building, dates from the Joseon period and was used for several royal offices such as the Jongchinbu, the office of royal genealogy. The red brick building was built during Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945) and first served as Gyeongseong Medical College Hospital. It was later used as the Defense Security Command headquarters. Mihn said he designed the complex more for scenery than as a building. “There were ‘historical fragments’ on this site, and I had to construct scenery that could be shared with other structures instead of something totally independent,” the 45-year-old architect said. Bearing all its rich history, the site has been transformed into a depository of cutting-edge art. Currently, the newly-opened museum is hosting a slew of inaugural exhibitions featuring the works of top-notch Korean and international artists. “Connecting_Unfolding” features works from seven artists—Tacita Dean, Kim Jones, Amar Kanwar, Marc Lee, Lee Mingwei, Kishio Suga and Yang Min-ha—handpicked by seven international curators, representing the museum’s direction in an era of convergence. “The Aleph Project,” named after a short story by Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, shows the more interactive, experimental side of the museum. “Zeitgeist Korea” is MMCA Seoul’s attempt to move modern art from the abstract art of the 1960s to something more contemporary, reflecting on the loneliness of modern people. Space for Communication Korea’s museums and galleries are the repository of 5,000 years of history and culture. The country is home to no fewer than 1,000 museums and galleries nationwide, cover story Seo Do-ho’s Home within Home within Home within Home within Home, part of his Hanjin Shipping The Box Project Children take in painter Suh Yongsun’s work at the Seoul Museum of Art.
  5. 5. 8 9 known as the Yi Royal Household Museum, opened in Changgyeonggung Palace. It was originally used for storing the imperial family’s collection of artifacts, but it was later opened to the public, along with a botanical garden and a zoo. A formal museum building was built for the Yi Wangga Museum in 1938 in Deoksugung Palace and displayed the royal collection, which included ancient ceramics, sculptures and paintings. Later, this collection of the Joseon royal family was transferred to the National Museum of Korea (NMK), which after liberation from colonial rule first settled in a Japanese-built museum building in Gyeongbokgung Palace and then moved to its current Yongsan location in 2005. In addition to state-run institutions, many notable museums are privately-led. The Bohwagak in Seongbuk- dong, the first modern private museum in Korea and now called the Gansong Art Museum, was founded by Jeon Hyeong-pil (1906-1962). Jeon—also known by his pen name Gansong—was a renowned collector of cultural properties and an educator who tried his best to prevent the outflow of Korean cultural legacies during Japanese rule. Gallery Hyundai, Korea’s first commercial gallery, opened in 1970, introducing foreign talent and supporting local artists by helping them gain international exposure. The private sector continued to lead in establishing museums. In the 1980s, large corporations entered the field of art collecting, which led to an era of conglomerate- supported museums. Samsung was one of the first, building the Ho-Am Art Museum in 1982 and later expanding with the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. Big Museums Growing and Improving MMCA Seoul is not the only large-scale addition to Korean museums last year. The Buk Seoul Museum of Art, a branch of the Seoul Museum of Art (SEMA), is emerging as a new landmark in northeastern Seoul, a neighborhood which may be lacking in cultural facilities. Located between Hagye Station and Junggye Station on Subway Line 7, the Buk Seoul Museum of Art aims to be a “community-friendly public art museum.” Situated in a park near residential areas full of high-rise apartment complexes and department stores, the museum attracts residents who are out for a walk. The Buk Seoul Museum of Art is currently hosting through March 23 the “New Scenes” exhibit, an inaugural exhibition selected from the SEMA collection. The six-story museum, with three floors above the ground and three floors below, specializes in public art and photography. Kim Hong-hee, director of the Seoul Museum of Art, said photography has become a popular genre of contemporary art, a genre that is expanding the boundaries of art, and that the Buk Seoul Museum of Art reflects such a trend. The opening of a photography gallery has influenced the SEMA’s collecting policy. Currently, the SEMA has some 3,600 artworks in its collection, and more than 80 percent of them are paintings. “[The SEMA] will soon collect more visually impactful photographs to reflect the new paradigm,” Kim says. In addition to the Buk Seoul Museum of Art, the SEMA has its main building in Jung- gu and two other annexes in Gyeonghuigung Palace and Gwanak-gu. As for other museums, the Art Center Luvina opened in Seongnam last November. It is a non-profit art museum operated by the jewelry brand Luvina. The center aims to introduce contemporary art in the wealthy suburban neighborhood and support local artists. The museum has a spacious hall with the highest ceiling amongst private museums. Its inaugural exhibit features works from 30 artists residing in the Seongnam area, showcasing the vibrant diversity of contemporary art. Reusing The Past Korea has joined the international trend of renovating historic buildings and turning them into intriguing cultural spaces. In this way, the history and heritage of a building can live on through the new space. These cover story renovated museums are unique to their neighborhoods and have a rich history. The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History in Gwanghwamun reused a former government building to house a museum of modern Korean history. The edifice was first built in 1961 as a government office, and the Economic Planning Board used it from 1963 to 1989, when the Ministry of Culture took it over. In 2012, the building was reborn as a museum of modern history. The museum has a permanent exhibition covering modern Korean history from the Korean Empire (1897–1910) to the present, showcasing how the country leapt into the ranks of developed nations. The southern city of Daegu renovated a former tobacco- manufacturing factory warehouse and turned it into an art institution, the Daegu Art Factory. It has exhibition and performance halls as well as a residency program for young artists. The city of Anyang in Gyeonggi-do recently revamped the Alvaro Siza Hall, designed by its namesake Portuguese architect. The original beauty of Alvaro Siza’s column-less building is still there and is now filled with various new arts programs. A part of the Anyang Public Art Project, the building was renewed to serve as a library for public art. Siza designed the building to embrace nature, allowing plenty of natural light to flood into the library. Seochon, an old neighborhood of Seoul sitting west of National Museum of Korea The flagship of Korea’s national museum system is home to over 300,000 artifacts, 15,000 of which are on display at one time. Its collection includes many of Korea’s greatest national treasures, including the a fifth century Silla crown (National Treasure No. 191), a gilt bronze Bodhisattva seated in a pensive pose (National Treasure No. 83) and a 10-story marble pagoda from the 14th century (National Treasrue No. 86). Gyeongju National Museum Arguably Korea’s second finest museum, Gyeongju National Museum houses thousands of relics from the ancient Silla Kingdom (57 BC–AD 935). Highlights include several Silla gold crowns, the giant Bell of King Seongdeok (National Treasure No. 29) and a treasure trove of artifacts recovered during the excavation of Anapji Pond. Buyeo National Museum The Buyeo National Museum is one of two museums dedicated to the ancient kingdom of Baekje (18 BC–AD 660). The pride and joy of the museum is a fantastically decorated 6th century gilt-bronze incense burner excavated from the site of old Baekje temple in 1993 (National Treasure No. No. 287). Gongju National Museum Also dedicated to the Baekje Kingdom, this museum has got over 1,000 relics on display, including relics uncovered from the the tomb of King Muryeong of Baekje (r. 501–523). National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has three branches: Gwacheon, Deoksugung and the newly opened Seoul branch next to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The system is the leading repository of Korean modern art as well as a display space for international art of different time periods. The centerpiece of the Gwacheon branch is a 22.8m-high pagoda made of 1,003 TV sets erected in 1988 by iconic artist Nam June Paik. Artist Nam June Paik’s The More the Better at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje (6th century) at the Buyeo National Museum Notable National Museums
  6. 6. 10 11 cover story W hat sets Korea’s national museum system apart from the rest of the world? To National Museum of Korea director Kim Youngna, the answer begins with a combination of efficiency and consistency. Korea’s national museum system consists of a flagship museum in Seoul and 12 regional museums in Korea’s old royal capitals like Gyeongju and Buyeo, as well as major cities like Busan. The system acts as an organic whole, not competing separate institutions. “Because of this, cultural benefits can be spread out rather than being concentrated,” she says. “I think this is efficient and lends a sense of consistency in terms of policy.” Directors and curators rotate between Seoul and the provinces. She says, “We think of ourselves as one family.” Korea’s regional museums are filled with items and artifacts particular to those regions, allowing the museums to preserve regional traditions and history. The Buyeo National Museum of Korea, for instance, houses a fantastic guilt bronze incense burner that is considered one of Korea’s greatest natural treasures. “Because it was excavated in Buyeo, you have to go to Buyeo to see it,” says Kim. Only in Korea The National Museum of Korea’s Pensive Bodhisattva—recently sent to the United States for an exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—has proven to be quite popular among visitors, but Kim says visitors find the golden crowns of Silla to be especially spell-binding. “The museum currently displays about 20,000 artifacts, but the crowns have their own room,” she says. “Foreign visitors like the pensive bodhisattva, but they especially like the crowns because you can find such crowns only in Korea. Of the 10 gold crowns in the world, seven or eight are in Korea.” The National Museum’s hosting of exhibits overseas has not been without controversy—some have complained that Korea’s greatest treasures are sent abroad too often, putting them at risk of damage. Kim, though, feels there’s little to worry about. “Packing and transportation is done scientifically nowadays, so there’s little concern for damage, and artifacts like the Pensive Bodhisattva are in excellent states of preservation,” she says. At any rate, overseas exhibits have proven to be a boon to the national image. Pointing to the recent exhibit of Silla treasures at the Met in New York, Kim said, “One of the New York papers even said if you see this exhibit, you’ll want to visit Gyeongju.” The growing popularity of Korean pop culture—the so-called “Korean Wave”— has sparked increased interest in Korean tradition. The National Museum of Korea has been keen to promote this by supporting Korea-related exhibits overseas. Kim boasts, “There are currently 77 Korean galleries in 22 countries; 30 of them are in the United States.” Kim says that Korea’s museums are very user-friendly, with good facilities and plenty of conveniences. There is still room for improvement, though. “I think we should expand our collection a bit,” she says. “The British museum has 13 million pieces. The National Museum of Korea has just 300,000 artifacts...so I think expanding the collection is something we’ll need to do in the long term.” National Museum of Korea director KimYoungna explains what makes Korea’s museums special Interview by Robert Koehler Efficient and User Friendly 11 Gyeongbokgung Palace, welcomed a small but lovely new museum last year. The Jongno Park No-soo Art Museum was established thanks to the late painter Park No-soo (1927-2013), who donated his house, paintings and antique collection to the Jongno-gu Office. The house itself was built in 1938, combining Korean, Chinese and Western styles. The original owner of the house was government official Yun Deok-yeong (1873– 1940), who gifted the house to his daughter. Later, painter Park bought the house and lived there from 1972 to 2011. The house itself is a little gem, showcasing modern Korean architecture, and Park’s paintings on display for the opening exhibit “Moon and Boy” portray Park’s efforts to modernize Korean traditional painting. Museums unto Themselves Some museums attract visitors not only with content, but with architecture itself. Internationally acclaimed architects such as Ando Tadao, as well as Korean talent, have designed spaces for art and history. Japanese architect Ando completed his eight years’ work on the Hansol Museum in Wonju, Gangwon-do last year. He let his imagination freely unravel onto a 70,000 square meter site atop a mountain. The Hansol Museum is composed of a Flower Garden, a Water Garden and a Stone Garden, repleat with Ando’s distinctive use of simple geometric forms, exposed concrete and natural light. The highlight of the museum would be the James Turrell building, which is solely for the American artist’s works exploring sky, light and space. Four of Turrell’s works—“Ganzfeld,” “Horizon Room,” “Skyspace” and “Wedgework”—can be experienced in the museum, artworks that respond to the environment. A white building resembling a white porcelain teacup in Seogwipo on Jejudo, is the Lee Wal-chong Museum, founded by artist Lee Wal-chong. The 69-year-old artist moved to Jejudo in 1990 and fell in love with the island. He now signs his works with “Seogwipo Wal-chong.” Lee wanted to share something with the public, and the idea of putting up a museum came to mind. Co-designed by Swiss architect Davide Macullo and Korean Han Man- won, the museum expresses the life of the artist as well as the natural beauty of Jejudo. The soft curves and elegance of the building match Lee’s works inspired by the island. Seoul also has an architectural gem, the Vogoze Gallery in Samseong-dong. The craft gallery, designed by Jang Yoon- gyoo and Shin Chang-hoon of Unsangdong Architects, is a piece of contemporary art in itself, let alone its content. Its atypical shape immediately catches the eye, providing an impeccable balance of sharpness and lightness. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon Exhibit of Silla treasures, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art
  7. 7. A rt museums are so close yet so far from daily life. Except for a few art connoisseurs, going to an art museum is an annual event for the general public, inspired only by news of blockbuster exhibitions, such as the works of Paul Gauguin or Tim Burton. Museums can be a boring place, but some museums defy such a stereotype and provide a fun experience for their visitors. Fashion-conscious visitors will love the museums dedicated to handbags and hats. The Simone Handbag Museum is located in a bag-shaped building on Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. Founded by local handbag company president Park Eun-kwan, the museum has a comprehensive collection of handbags ranging from antique silk bags from the 16th century to a contemporary Hermes Birkin Bag worth over US$10,000. The museum tells the history of women’s style and rights and how they’ve influenced bag design throughout the centuries. (www.simonehandbagmuseum.co.kr) The Luielle Hat Culture Center, located in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, is all about hats. This is the only museum in Asia dedicated to headgear. The hat museum has some 300 hats on display ranging from traditional Korean hats such as the gat, made from bamboo and horse hair, to the modern hunting cap and beret. Visitors can make a hat of their own at a studio in the museum. The Tteok Museum in Jongno-gu, Seoul, gives an insight into traditional Korean food and kitchen culture. The three-story museum features the kitchen gadgets and utensils used to make chewy rice-based treats. Visitors can have tteok, a traditional rice-cake, with tea at the café on the first floor. (www.tkmuseum.or.kr) Gyeongju Orgel Museum in Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, is a museum with music boxes from over 150 years ago, including Thomas Edison’s earliest tinfoil phonograph. The dance organ, or mechanical automatically-playing organ, also draws interest from visitors. (www.gjorgel.com) The Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living in Incheon, west of Seoul, recreated a hillside shantytown from the 1960s. The museum depicts the lives of ordinary people who lived in the town, such as a willower, a barber and a briquette seller. (www.icdonggu.go.kr/museum/index.asp) S eoul has a constellation of big and small art galleries that exhibit artwork for sale. These galleries showcase works of international artists such as Robert Indiana or Louise Bourgeois and represent outstanding Korean artists such as Kimsooja or U-Ram Choe. Seoul’s biggest gallery district would be Bukchon, where the MMCA Seoul opened last year. The opening of the flagship museum made the area the best destination for art lovers visiting Seoul, and a slew of 18 galleries or museums also opened in the neighborhood last year. The Bukchon area already had Korea’s top galleries, including Gallery Hyundai, Kukje Gallery and the Hakgojae Gallery. Currently, the Gallery Hyundai features Korean modern paintings, while Kukje Gallery is holding an exhibition of British artist Julian Opie’s works. Among some 60 galleries and museums in the district, the Artsonje Center is home to cutting-edge contemporary art. Its first exhibition this year, “6- 8,” is open only from 6 to 8PM and invites visitors to unconventional spaces within the art museum, such as the parking lot and rooftop. There are many small galleries in the winding alleys of Bukchon, each one carrying its own hidden gem of Korean contemporary art, craft or antiques. The Gallery DOS offers “Masse du Sensible” by HyunJoo, and the PKM Gallery presents the work of installation artist Koo Hyun-mo “Sajik-dong.” An interesting addition to the area will be the renovated work of an acclaimed Korean architect. The Arario Gallery will open a new art museum in the Space Group Building, built by the late architect Kim Swoo-geun (1931-1986), also near the Bukchon neighborhood. The building was on sale because the architectural firm and owner Space Group was financially troubled in early 2013 and Kim Chang- il, owner of the Arario Gallery, bought the iconic building. He will transform it into a museum while leaving the distinctive glass-and-brick building intact. The Hongdae area has more daring, experimental galleries, including the Alternative Space LOOP, and Itaewon and Hannam-dong also have spaces for young artists such as the Daelim Museum Project Space Gu Seul Mo A Dang Gu Jang, a billards hall- turned-museum. I n this tech-savvy era, when everyone carries a smartphone, the development of mobile internet has changed the way people find information about museums. Those who want to find out which art exhibitions are in town can use mobile applications such as “Mu:um” and “Artday.” These applications have information about ongoing exhibitions and use GPS to locate the nearest museum. The Korean Art Museum Association provides a similar service through its mobile website (m.artmuseummap.com). Smartphone and tablet-PC accessibility are getting better in museums. Many museums offer QR codes on exhibits or mobile websites to transform smartphones into a personalized digital guide. The Daelim Museum in Jongno-gu, currently showing American photographer Ryan McGinley’s “Magic Magnifier” pictures, has a nice mobile application that includes a curator’s explanation about the photos, as well as virtual coupons for frequent visitors. The Seoul Museum of Art’s app helps visitors to easily locate works of art. It also allows visitors to bookmark their favorite works to create a personalized digital catalogue. The Korea Tourism Organization offers a free audio guide app for five national museums, including the National Museum of Korea and the Gyeongju National Museum of Korea, at the App Store and Google Play. The application, available in English, Japanese and Korean, has a map of the museum and item-by- item audio guides to enhance the museum experience. cover story 1Korea’s Unusual Museums 2Seoul’s Main Gallery Districts 1312 3Mobile Museums Simone Handbag Museum Gallery Hyundai Museum of Korean Embroidery Gahoe Museum World Jewellery Museum Dongducheon Museum of Chicken Arts
  8. 8. 14 15 I n the town of Osong in Chungcheongbuk-do, a precariously narrow dirt path leads to the workshop of Park Jae-hwan, onggijang. An onggijang is a potter who specializes in a type of glazed earthenware called onggi, the clay jars Koreans use especially for fermenting foods like bean paste, soy sauce and makgeolli. Onggijang Park is especially venerated in the onggi community as he is a government-designated Intangible Cultural Property of Chungcheongbuk-do. The workshop lets in as much wind as it does natural light, without any modern heating facilities. According to Park, it’s too cold to work in the winter. 1,000th Time’s a Charm Despite the cold, he is full of stories, some about his craft, others covering everything from a recent trip to Israel to his popularity as a young man. Park shifts naturally from topic to topic, first talking about his Catholic faith, then reminiscing about one of his first successful pots— a ttongjangdok, or portable chamber pot for fermenting excrement into fertilizer. At 82, the master potter has been creating onggi for some 50 years. “I started when I was 11, in 1943,” he says. He would run errands and help out at the family workshop. “The most difficult pot to make was the ttongjangdok. However, someone gave me this piece of advice: no matter how difficult it seems, after 1,000 attempts, you’ll get something usable.” Practical Art It took Park 300 tries. But when he placed his finished ttongjangdok in the field—in Park’s words—“everyone was wowed when they discovered it was me. Just a few years earlier I’d barely reached the height of my craft, so they were surprised at how well it had been made.” The ttongjangdok was also the onggi that Park selected to feature in a 2010 exposition. The ttongjangdok has a special place in farm life, according to Park, because of Korea’s mountainous terrain. “It’s not easy to push around a wheelbarrow full of fertilizer,” said Park. “So people would put their excrement in these onggi to ferment and carry the pot to the fields to use as vitamin-rich fertilizer.” The same note of pride present in Park’s recollection of his ttongjangdok success is there when he reminisces back to the heyday of his twenties. “Even the best potters could only create about seven of those 400-liter makgeolli pots a day. I would work later and create ten.” Keeping Things Simple Park’s knowledge of the process itself is perhaps as impressive as his productivity. Onggi are baked at 1250 degrees Celsius after a month of drying. Back when there were no thermometers installed on the kilns, Park would read the temperature in the color of the flames. He’s also able to identify types of onggi—another crucial part of the job—of which are there are hundreds. Yet Park maintains a refreshing pragmatism in his attitude towards pottery. There’s no schmaltzy rhetoric in his simple admission that he likes creating onggi because it’s a good way to make a living. He has little patience for those who, perhaps with some poetic license, describe onggi as “breathing” in reference to their porous surface. “Saying that onggi breathe is a lie,” declares Park. “Animals breathe. Plants breathe. Onggi are solid objects. They do not breathe. They do not leak, if properly made. Our clay is the finest in the country. Our pots don’t leak.” Other than fine clay, Park has no secret to success except hard work. “Where a working day is usually eight hours today, I worked about 16 hours a day,” he says. “Because you can work like that with a skill. You can do that, and make it into an art.” Park Jae-hwan appreciates his work. People Expert Korean potter Park Jae-hwan has been perfecting his craft since childhood Written by Violet Kim Turning Hard Work into Artwork
  9. 9. 16 17 K im Atta’s spacious studio in Paju Book City is a scene you know from Hollywood movies. As you approach the hallway you hear classical music flowing through the air. By the end of it, you see his work covering the tall white walls of his studio, which seems larger than most galleries. You slowly walk about, taking in the scale of his works—but you begin to feel like an intruder. Just then, Kim rises from his corner, his presence so tall and striking that it somehow explains the size of his studio. The moment feels strangely orchestrated. Kim is a world class photographer. He remains the only Korean photographer to have held an exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York and the first Korean to be published by The Aperture Foundation. His two projects, The Museum Project and the On-Air series, were both critically acclaimed and drew public interest, especially in the United States, but in his recent project, Drawings of Nature, no cameras are involved. Kim places enormous empty canvasses in numerous locations around the world, leaves them there for months to years, and then retrieves them. He works with these canvasses to accentuate the marks nature and time has left on them, but the locus of these works is in what nature does. Can these works be called photography? Can his new series be called a certain person’s work at all? Isn’t it rather, as the name states, the work of nature? “I might be a photographer, but I’m not just a ‘sajinga’ [Korean word for “photographer”]. Sajin is a term we got from the Japanese. Sa means ‘copy’ and jin means ‘reality.’ I am not—never was—a photographer if photography is an imitation of reality. I think the term is wrong altogether. Photographs are hardly exact representations of reality, but the definition of photography in English is ‘pictures drawn by light.’ Were that the definition, yes, I am a photographer, and Drawings of Nature wouldn’t be an aberration. In fact, in Drawings of the Nature part of the work is literally done by light. But the truth is, I don’t put much weight on medium. Whether you oil-paint or do performance art is not half as important as what you’re trying to convey. As for the second question, not only were these works as physically rigorous as any, but let’s go back to the idea of medium. If other artists draw with their hands, is that not a work of nature?” Doing What’s at Heart: A Personal History Kim exudes confidence with his every word, but he doesn’t want to discuss how he got into art. He has a curious background. He studied engineering in school but was reluctant to talk about it. He called it a “prejudice”—that people want to know who the artist is more than his art “Yes, there were difficulties. It wasn’t easy being someone with no formal training or any other background in art in this country. I actually think now I’m lucky not to have received any training, but to get into all that would just be a soap opera. Besides, I don’t think it’s meaningful. I’m in the present. My work is in the present. I get over things past, even if they in are my work. Back in New York, ICP’s curator wanted to exhibit The Museum Project, but at that point I was deep in the On-Air project and I persuaded him in the end to center the exhibit around On- Air. In art, I only do what grabs my attention, what I feel passionate about.” Focused on the Present Kim’s works have transformed, but they share a philosophical interest in existence. If The Museum Project was about the uniqueness of existence, On-Air experimented with its finitude. Again in Drawings of Nature, he attempts to capture existence in its nakedness. But for a man who’s spent so many years working on a theme that sounds like a Buddhist mantra, “everything eventually disappears,” Kim appears like a man of the world. His stereo playing classical music is not what a normal salary could buy. The leather jacket and scarf he sports are something out of a GQ spread. Once, in another interview, he said that he drives a Range Rover, but his dream is to drive a Bentley. He fell in love with the sound its engine makes. At the question of whether or not he now owns a Bentley, Kim laughs out loud but also grows a little flustered. “First of all, no, I don’t own a Bentley, I don’t own a house anymore, nor do I own this studio, because I put all the funds I can procure into my current project. The liberation and pleasure art brings surpasses everything else. I’m not sure if you would understand, but I don’t think desiring beautiful things and believing in nothingness need to be reconciled. That would be too literal.” People Photographer Kim Atta returns to Korea after shaking up New York Written by Hansol Kim Drawing with Light ON-AIR Project 110-9, the New York series, Park Avenue, eight-hour exposure, 2005, 249 x 188.5, chromogenic print © 2014 Atta Kim Studio, courtesy 313 ART PROJECT Kim explains his Indala Series, the finale of his On-Air Project, at his studio in Paju, Gyeonggi-do.
  10. 10. 18 19 Gwangyang Port city seamlessly blends the ecological and the industrial Written by Robert Koehler Travel Endless plum orchards of Maehwa Village © Gwangyang City Hall
  11. 11. 20 21 G wangyang is an almost unreal blend of the industrial and the natural. On one hand, it’s a land of busy ports, futuristic industrial landscapes and majestic bridges. At the same time, it’s a land of meandering rivers, deep valleys and rustic hillside villages covered in flowers. Perhaps no other place better captures the tension between the old and new of modern Korea. The Scent of Plum In a corner of southwest Korea nearby Gwangyang, overlooking one of the most pristine rivers in the country, is a small village that blossoms into one of the most beautiful spots in the land every spring. Millions of blossoms erupt on the hillsides, blanking the bucolic landscape in pink and effusing the air with the intoxicating scent of plum. Visitors from all over Korea come to inhale the sweet aroma as they gaze upon the pink blossoms, the golden sands of the river and the blue sky. Maehwa (“Plum”) Village, as this little piece of heaven is called, is the stuff of TV adverts and film sets—so entranced with the landscape was renowned film director Im Kwon-taek that he shot his 2001 film Chihwaseon and 2007 film Beyond the Years here. The village is situated on the lower slopes of Mt. Baegunsan with splendid views of the Seomjingang River and the hillsides beyond. The real draw, though, are the more than 100,000 plum trees that blanket the surrounding fields. When the plum blossoms bloom, the village hosts its Travel Gwangyang is considered the culinary heartland of roasted meat like bulgogi. Downtown Gwangyang has a whole road dedicated to bulgogi near the Gwangyangseocheon Stream. Some good places to try are Samdae Gwangyang Bulgogi (T. 061-763- 9250) and Geumjeong Gwangyang Bulgogi (061- 792-3000). The Seomjingang River is noted for its fresh water clams, or jecheop. They are usually served in a clear soup called jecheopguk. You’ll find plenty of eateries serving this dish in Maehwa Village. Unsurprisingly, the village also produces a good many foods and drinks made from plum, including delicious plum tea (maesilcha). Being a popular destination for business travelers, Gwangyang has a good deal of accommodation available. For something with a bit of character, try the Harbor Bridge Hotel (061-797-0900), a smartly designed boutique hotel. Maehwa Village has some homestay facilities (minbak), but these tend to book out quickly during the festival period. Many visitors choose to stay just across the river in the district of Hwagae-myeon in Hadong, where you’ll find many motels. Take the KTX from Seoul’s Yongsan Station to Suncheon (travel time: 3 hours, 10 minutes), and from Suncheon transfer to a train for Gwangyang (travel time: 9 minutes). Maehwa Village, however, is most easily reached via the neighboring town of Hadong. Buses to Hadong depart from Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal (travel time: 3 hours, 50 minutes). From Hadong, just take a taxi to the village. Jejudo Seoul Gwangyang miracle in action. At the heart of industrial Gwangyang is the gargantuan POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks, one of the largest integrated steelworks on the planet, producing massive quantities of steel used to build cars, ships, bridges and other structures. Since June 2013, the steelwork has boasted one of the world’s largest blast furnaces. Tours of the facility are available—call T. 061-790-2447 for more info. Next to the steelworks is the Port of Gwangyang, Korea’s second- busiest container port. Also nearby is the Gwangyang National Industrial Complex, founded by POSCO to help develop the steelworks by attracting related industries, and the massive Yeosu National Industrial Complex, which glows just across the bay. To encourage further development, the Gwangyangman Bay area was designated a free economic zone in 2003. Connecting the Gwangyang and Yeosu sides of the bay is the Yi Sun-sin Bridge, the world’s fourth-longest suspension bridge. Completed in 2012 and built using entirely Korean technology, the bridge cut what used to be an hour-and-a-half drive to just 10 minutes. Its 270m-high towers guard the bay like the Colossus of Rhodes. The Gwangyangman Bay area is best appreciated at night, when the bridge and the industrial facilities are lit up, producing an otherworldly landscape of light, steam and steel. Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival (Mar. 22–30). Many fun cultural events are organized, but most visitors come just to stroll along the rustic hillside paths that crisscross the plum orchards. An observation pavilion provides inspiring views over the landscape. Another must-see is the Cheongmaesil Farm, with a courtyard of 2,500 clay pots neatly arranged in rows. The Seomjingang River, meanwhile, is a lovely place to stroll about and explore. Forming the boundary between the provinces of Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangnam-do, the river is bounded by high mountains and is considered the purest of all of Korea’s major rivers. It produces a great deal of seafood, too, including the freshwater clams for which the region is famous. Blast Furnace of the World The Seomjingang River flows south until it empties out into the Gwangyangman Bay. There, at the mouth of the bay, is the giant industrial complex that is the other half of today’s Gwangyang. A world away from the bucolic hillsides upstream, this is a Blade Runner-esque landscape of bright lights and hardened steel—the Korean economic Mt. Baegunsan Recreational Forest POSCO Gwangyang Steelworks, one of biggest integrated steel works in the world © Gwangyang City Hall Yi Sun-sin Bridge, the world’s fourth largest suspension bridge © Gwangyang City Hall
  12. 12. As one skating legend ends an illustrious career, another’s just begins Written by Kim Tong-hyung Korean Women Shine in Sochi 2322 M aking a list of the top Korean Olympians of all time is difficult. But at least the top two slots require no thought. For Korea, the Sochi Winter Olympics doubled as a celebration of two of its extraordinary female athletes, both fully entrenched in the pantheon of the nation’s sporting heroes but at different points in their athletic careers. A Legend Goes Out in Top Style Kim Yu-na, the figure-skating superstar and defending champion, completed her quest to retire in style at the age of 23, taking the silver after an impressive performance at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Kim put up a historic performance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where she crushed the competition with a world-record of 228.56 points, defeating silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan by a staggering margin of over 23 points. The competition was much closer in Sochi. Kim, who had a narrow lead of less than 0.3 points after the short program, received 219.11 points after the free skate, about sports five points behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia who scored 224.59. Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the 2012 world champion, took the bronze with 216.73 points. “I was relieved more than anything,” Kim said at the news conference after the event. “I just want to rest now. With the Olympics over, I have a lot of things lined up at home, but I don’t have anything specific planned for the moment.” Although she failed to become just the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, Kim’s fans in Korea, where she is as cherished as air itself, couldn’t ask for more. “I am pleased that I finished my program without mistakes,” Kim said in a television interview. “There were practices where I did better, but I gave it all I could. As I have been telling you all along, I wasn’t going to get caught up in which medal I won.” Kim’s performance—both at Sochi and over the course of her entire career—was praised not just in Korea, but overseas as well. Sports writer Bryan Armen Graham wrote in The Atlantic, “She retires having never finished off the podium in her entire career, a testament to her skill, professionalism, and otherworldly consistency. But more importantly, she goes out in style. The outcome will do nothing to diminish the bulletproof legacy of Kim Yuna, quite possibly the greatest to ever do it.” Even before the event, CNN said, “Kim’s grace on the ice has led some commentators to call her the greatest skater of all time.” A New Queen of the Ice While Kim is leaving at the top of her game, Lee Sang-hwa seems to be entering her prime as an athlete. The 24-year-old speed skater defended her title in the women’s 500-meter sprint and shattered the Olympic record while doing so. Lee’s Olympic gold extended a streak of dominance rarely seen in the hypercompetitive sport that is speed skating. Before arriving in Sochi, she had won all seven World Cup events she entered, during which she broke the world record four different times, trimming the mark from 36.80 to 36.36 seconds. It sounds crazy now, but Lee was considered barely a fringe contender heading into the Vancouver Games. Lee fully expects to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics held in the Korean ski resort of PyeongChang, and may even compete in 2022. She seems fully capable of accomplishing her mission to become Korea’s greatest Olympian ever, and with Kim out of the picture, she gets to exclusively own the “Queen of Ice” nickname. “There were times when I questioned whether I could win back- to-back Olympic golds. It feels great that I did it,” Lee told reporters after the race. “Winning in the Olympics is a different feeling than breaking the world record. There are a lot of things that can happen in the Olympics, so 2 1 1. Korea’s Olympic team waves the flag as they enter Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Feb 8. 2. Korean figure skating legend Kim Yu-na
  13. 13. 24 25 sports while I always said I was confident about a repeat, I also tried hard not to let the pressure get to me. There were people who said my gold medal in Vancouver was a fluke, and I was motivated to prove them wrong.” A New Face Emerges The triumphs of Kim and Lee, both defending Olympic champions and world-record holders in their competitions, were impressive but predictable. It remains to be seen whether Shim Suk-hee, the 17-year-old high-school girl who used Sochi as a stage to emerge as the new face of the country’s proud short-track speed skating team, will be able to join the short-list of the country’s great Olympians. Shim’s standout performance in Sochi—where she won a silver medal in the women’s 1,500 meters and anchored the Korean team that took the gold in the women’s 3,000-meter relay—salvaged an unexpected Olympic prize for the short-track team. The country had won a staggering 19 gold medals in short-track from the 1992 Albertville Games through the 2010 Vancouver Games. It seemed the number would remain at 19 after the Sochi Games until Shim closed out the 3,000-meter relay with a dramatic display of her talent. Triumph of the Spirit An inspiring story was Lee Kyou-hyuk, the 35-year old speed skater who ended his illustrious career in Sochi without an Olympic medal. Appearing in his sixth Olympics, Lee announced his retirement after competing in the men’s 1,000-meter event, where he finished 21st. Lee had been one of the best speed skaters of his generation, a winner of multiple world championships and a former world record holder in the 1,000 and 1,500 meter race. However, he never managed to leverage this dominance into Olympic success. Although his athletic abilities were in decline, Lee’s competitive spirit remained uncompromised. “I have always worked hard to realize my dreams. And my dream has stayed the same for 20 years—winning an Olympic gold medal,” he tweeted before arriving in Sochi. After finishing the last race of his career, however, Lee sounded more grateful than bitter. “The Olympics were just an excuse. I just wanted to skate for one last time. I have loved skating with all my heart throughout my career,” he told Korean reporters. Athletes in lesser known sports—at least in Korea— performed well as well. The Korean bobsled team placed 20th after its first heat, allowing the team to advance to the third and final heat. While the team was unable to better its result in the third heat, finishing the games at 20th place, it did mark the second year in a row that the team made the finals. The Korean women’s curling team, too, beat host nation Russia and routed the United States on the way to an eighth place finish. See You in PyeongChang As the Sochi games drew to an end, the international sporting world bid goodbye to Russia and hello to PyeongChang, Korea. At the closing ceremony, PyeongChang mayor Lee Seok-rae accepted the Olympic flag to the sound of the Korean national anthem. The PyeongChang games will not only be a celebration of sports, but also an opportunity to show just how far Korea has come. Kim Jin-sun, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2018 games, told reporters in Sochi, “Thirty years ago [during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games] the world saw a developing country. Just one generation later, the world will see a truly developed country through these Games.” The Korean skaters were trailing the Chinese before Shim took over the final two laps. With just half a lap left in the race, Shim boldly skated around China’s Liu Qiuhong and beat her to the finish line. With the win, Korea avenged its controversial defeat by China in the same event four years ago in Vancouver, when it was stripped of the gold after being penalized for an illegal overtaking maneuver. After winning the gold in the relay, Shim cried and embraced her teammates Park Seung-hi, Kim A-lang and Cho Hae-ri. “At the last lap, all I was thinking was ‘I need to get in front,’” Shim told reporters after the race. “I was confident. I stayed positive. Trailing the leader with half a lap left in the race, I still believed I had a shot at coming in first.” Many observers believe that Shim, barring injury and career-altering slumps, is destined for a serious medal haul. “She is the type of special talent where you expect her to win every race she enters,” said former Korean Olympian Kim Dong-sung, now a television analyst. In Sochi, the Korean men put up a quieter performance compared to their female compatriots. Speed skaters Mo Tae-bum and Lee Seung-hoon, both gold medalists in Vancouver, were steamrolled by Dutch skaters who dominated the speed skating events. Short-track skaters Sin Da-woon and Lee Han-bin bumbled at critical moments. 1. Lee Sang-hwa won Korea’s first gold medal in Sochi on Feb 12. 2. Korean fans cheer as Lee Sang-hwa wins the ladies speed skating 500 meter event at Adler Arena Skating Center, Sochi on Feb 11. 1 2 Women’s short track speed skating team—(from left) Shim Suk-hee, Kim A-lang, Park Seung-hi, Cho Hae-ri and Kong Sang-jeong—pose with their gold medals after winning the women’s Olympic short track 3,000-meter relay at Medal Plaza, Sochi on Feb 18.
  14. 14. 26 27 Entertainment T he Dongdaemun fashion district has always been known for its shopping malls, but with Klive, the world’s first hologram concert hall, fans of the ever dynamic Hallyu (“Korean Wave”) phenomenon are now drawn to this side of the city. Spanning approximately 1,600 square meters, its creators YG Entertainment, District (a digital content production company) and KT certainly had K-pop fans in mind when they created this space. “There are a lot of fans who come to Korea to experience Hallyu, but some of them don’t get to see their favorite artists. We thought it would be nice to create a place for tourists to experience and enjoy K-pop and Hallyu,” shares Kim Jonghyeok of KT, who aims to make Klive truly an exciting playground for K-pop enthusiasts. “Heaven” for K-pop Fans Upon entering Klive, visitors are welcomed by artists displayed on a huge LED screen that also shows an augmented reality show of other visitors “dancing” with the artists or “riding” with them in their van. Walk to the right to see the “Giant Tower,” an interactive LED display that stretches from floor to ceiling. It can be enjoyed in three ways: by changing the moving display of artists in various poses, viewing digital photos and listening to music through the digital jukebox, all of which can be changed as the user pleases. This is complemented by the “STAR Gift Shop” that lets you take home a piece, or two, of the artists by purchasing original merchandise. Klive official souvenirs are available here as well. Entertainment The left wing lets visitors take pictures with the artists at the “Star Photo Booth,” pretend to be paparazzi by looking through a lens to see the “Secret Window,” and meet the hologram versions of artists in their dressing rooms at the “Star Lounge.” Visitors can also have some refreshments at “Café Klive” while checking out the beautiful Seoul skyline that can be seen at the “Starry Garden.” The “Klive Gallery,” an art space showcasing the works of local talent, is also found here. Aside from the many interactive displays, Klive also showcases items used by the artists themselves, such as costumes and concert props. Currently, G-Dragon’s glass car and butterflies from his “One of a Kind” concert tour, as well as Daesung’s “wings” from the Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour, are found in different areas at Klive. The Live Attraction While all these attractions definitely bring a smile to the visiting K-pop fan, it is undeniable that Klive’s main attraction—the hologram theater—takes the cake in making the fans happy. The hologram theater, which features 30-minute shows to an audience of 350, gives a truly realistic and enjoyable concert experience with its high quality 270-degree display and 14.2 Channel Surround Sound System—so much so that even those who have seen live K-pop concerts might start thinking everything’s actually real. The interaction between artist and viewers also adds to the show as the artists talk and play with the audience. During the author’s visit, Psy sprayed water into the unsuspecting audience, eliciting surprised screams and laughs. While the current lineup features purely YG Entertainment artists, Kim assures that there is more to come. “We’ll continually add to the contents that are shown here. Around the second quarter of this year, we’ll have CN Blue and FT Island, as well as Kara and Rainbow. We are also looking to include actors like Jang Keun-suk and Kim Hyun-joong.” Korea is indeed the place to be for K-pop fans, and with new entertainment venues such as Klive, tourists are given more reasons to come over and enjoy one of the many things Korea has to offer. Klive is located on the 9th floor of the Lotte FITIN mall. To get there, get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station and take exit 11 or 12. It is open every day except Mondays. New hologram theater and entertainment complex in Dongdaemun is where K-pop fans come to play Written by Paola Belle Ebora The Great K-pop Escape 1. Fans watch a holographic performance by singer Psy at the opening ceremony of Klive, a K-pop holographic performance hall in Seoul’s Dongdaemun district. 2. Star Photo Box © Klive 3. Giant Tower © Klive 1 2 3
  15. 15. 28 29 Special Issue A pan-national effort is underway to register documentary evidence pertaining to “comfort women” with the world’s highest cultural body. The move is part of a larger effort by the Korean government, academia and civil society to raise international awareness about the suffering of the women who were forced by the Japanese military to serve as sex slaves for its soldiers during the Pacific War. It’s an effort that is yielding tangible results, too, with international pressure rising on Tokyo to be more proactive in acknowledging its past crimes and providing restitution. Not National, but Universal During a visit to Paris in January, Minister of Gender Equality and Family Cho Yoon-sun met with UNESCO director general Irina Bokova to discuss registering documents related to comfort women with the organization’s Memory of the World Register. Established in 1992, UNESCO’s Memory of the Seoul moves to register comfort women evidence with UNESCO Written by Robert Koehler Remembering the Past So It Is Not Repeated World Register aims to preserve and protect the world’s documentary heritage, promote accessibility and increase international awareness. In the meeting, Cho stressed that the issue of the comfort women was not merely a bilateral one between Korea and Japan, but a much larger issue of universal human rights in the face of sexual violence against women during wartime. She pointed to support from overseas, most notably a provision in a recent US Congress spending bill that calls on Tokyo to resolve the comfort women issue. Bokova responded by saying she would pay close attention to the issue. Korea’s move to register the comfort women began on Jan. 15, when the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family first announced its plan to file an application with UNESCO. In February, the ministry submitted to President Park Geun-hye a report that includes a blueprint for submitting an application to UNESCO in early 2015 and obtaining a final registration by 2017. The ministry will spend this year conducting research and seeking documentary evidence in Korea, China, Taiwan and elsewhere. It will also host international symposiums on the comfort women issue in conjunction with international organizations and human rights bodies. To fund these efforts, the government has upped its budget for comfort women-related programs to USD 4.23 million in 2014. To further increase awareness, the ministry also plans to designate a “Comfort Women Memorial Day.” Cooperation Across Borders During World War II, Imperial Japan forced thousands of Asian women to serve as sex slaves at battlefield “comfort stations” in China, Southeast Asia and across the Pacific. Many of the victims came from Korea. Evidence of this atrocity is ample, and includes testimonies from the comfort women themselves as well as Japanese war veterans. National and international organizations such as the US Congress, EU Assembly and UN High Commission for Human Rights have urged Japan to actively work to resolve this issue. The Korean government has made it clear it hopes to work with China, Taiwan and other victim nations. At a conference held in Shanghai in early February, scholars from Korea and China announced they would jointly submit documentation to UNESCO. The conference, organized by the Institute of East Asian Regional Studies at Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University and China’s Comfort Women Issue Research Center at Shanghai Normal University, also called for closer cooperation with scholars from Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and North Korea. A Chinese newspaper quotes Comfort Women Issue Research Center director Su Zhiliang as saying, “We have been collecting evidence for the past 20 years or so, but right-wing forces in Japan are still trying to deny their war crimes, of which China and South Korea were among the biggest victims, so we need to do this.” 1. Former comfort woman Kim Bok-dong sits next to a comfort woman statue in Glendale, California 2. Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities director of research Park Han-yong displays the diary of a Korean worker at Japanese military comfort stations at Korea University on Aug 8, 2013. 3. “Dragged Off,” a painting by former comfort woman Kim Sun-deok. 1 2 3
  16. 16. S outh Korea’s love affair with smartphones is well documented. Local media outlet Money Today reports that based on industry figures, the number of domestic smartphone users will hit 40 million by the first half of 2014. Smartphones have become so ubiquitous that this is not really news. Neither is the fact that smartphone use has gone beyond text messaging, as apps designed to transform the way we navigate around a city or share photos leave no aspect of our lives untouched. An Exploding Trend Shopping is no exception. In a mere three years, mobile shopping has grown from niche status into a highly profitable industry. In early 2013, the Korea Online Shopping Association predicted that the domestic mobile shopping industry would hit KRW 3.97 trillion in sales, but growth was so rapid that it adjusted the estimate to KRW 4.75 trillion. Such growth is not expected to slow down this year. There are multiple factors that likely contributed to this explosion in popularity. Widespread high-speed LTE service and the ease of finding Wi-Fi, even on public transportation, is one possible reason. The increasing usage of smartphones among middle-aged and older age groups with cash to spend is another possible reason. Also, there are a multitude of apps to cater to this growing popularity. Some shopping apps are simply mobile versions of online shopping malls. Others more closely resemble open marketplaces, where the app in question— G Market, Interpark, and 11st, to name a few of the most widely used—connects the shopper with a variety of sellers. A New Kind of Shopping Among these open markets, however, it’s the three giants of social commerce that have emerged as the wunderkinds of the smart phone shopping industry: Ticket Monster (or “TMon”), Coupang and We Make Price (“WeMaP”). “Whenever I have to shop online, I always check social commerce sites to see if they have better deals—and they often do,” says Seoul-based marketer Song Yaeri, a huge fan of social commerce shopping. Social commerce apps combine social networking services with their online shopping services and appeal with their ease of use, tempting bargains and sheer variety. 30 31 CURRENT KOREA Consumers can shop for everything from clothes and makeup to discounts on beauty treatments or ski lift passes. “Our most popular products are baby products and makeup,” says Yoon Seo-han, who works in TMon’s public relations department. In 2013, the combined sales of the above services surpassed KRW 3 trillion, and social commerce sales comprised more than 60 percent of all mobile shopping sales. Mobile shopping sales make up most of the social commerce sales. “70% of TMon’s sales are made through our mobile app,” says Yoon. According to Song, the social commerce landscape is changing—and bringing big businesses into the game. New Rules for a New Game “I used to see more deals from smaller, lesser-known businesses selling their surplus items, but now big companies are also jumping on the wagon and essentially using the platform as a form of advertising to get more exposure for their brand/products,” says Song. At the moment, it doesn’t seem that other shopping models stand a chance. You can dig around for sales at a department store, or spot a great kitchen appliance on a home shopping channel, but none of these offer restaurant coupons and eyelash extensions in one dangerously simple app. “Most of the bigger social commerce sites now have premium or VIP categories that sells things like high-end fashion, luxury dining experiences or vacation packages— products and services you didn’t see or expect from social commerce sites,” says Song. Korea takes mobile shopping to new heights Written by Violet Kim Mobile Shopping: A New Way to Shop TMon, a popular Korean shopping app for the smartphone.
  17. 17. 32 33 SUMMIT DIPLOMACY The Next 60 Years of Korea–US TiesPresident Park meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry Written by Yoon Sojung of Korea.net P resident Park Geun-hye met with US Secretary of State John Kerry on February 13 at Cheong Wa Dae. President Park welcomed the news of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Korea in April this year, which Secretary Kerry brought with his visit. President Park praised Kerry’s diplomatic activities in resolving international issues involving Syria and Iran by saying that he has displayed “excellent capabilities around the globe by traveling overseas, covering a distance equal to 13 times around the earth.” In response, Secretary Kerry expressed his thanks for President Park’s hospitality and said that President Obama is “very excited” about his upcoming Korea visit this April. “There is a huge need for us to be able to continue to keep our alliance as strong and as effective as it is today. The president and all of us in America believe that this is an essential alliance and a central partnership,” said the US Secretary of State. He added that both countries have shared a strong history of 60 years and need to plan for another 60. Secretary Kerry said that the North Korean nuclear program remains an essential security issue. He also thanked President Park for her leadership and cooperation on Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, and said that he looks forward to continued productive talks. Foreign Minister Summit On the same day, the US Secretary had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se. “In both diplomatic and security terms, close, trilateral cooperation between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo remains essential,” said Kerry at the meeting. He also said that both he and the United States will continue to encourage both allies, Korea and Japan, to find a mutually acceptable approach to legacy 1. US Secretary of State John Kerry inspects the honor guard after arriving at Seoul Airbase on Feb 13. 2. Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet with reporters after a meeting at the Foreign Ministry headquarters on Feb 13. President Park Geun-hye meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry at Cheong Wa Dae on Feb 13. issues from the past and to find ways of enhancing the bilateral and trilateral cooperation that will define the future. In regard to the family reunions involving separated families of the two Koreas, the US Secretary said that the family reunions are “a matter of human rights” and that they should not be an excuse to somehow place conditions on the other, while stressing that the joint military drills between Korea and the US will be held according to schedule. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told his US counterpart that Korea-US relations are in great condition and that President Obama’s visit will be very timely, considering recent happenings on the Korean Peninsula. They shared the common view that a meaningful advancement would be possible only when the international community is united in regard to the North Korean nuclear issue. Based on the Korea-US alliance, the two agreed to make continuous efforts to lead Pyongyang toward denuclearization along with the involvement of neighboring countries, including China. Both Yun and Kerry reaffirmed the fact that Washington supports the unification of the Korean Peninsula and agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation in regard to sustainable peace and the issue of Korean unification. To resolve tensions in Northeast Asia, labeled as the “Asian Paradox,” the two agreed that improvements need to be made in the relations between all countries in the region. In this respect, they emphasized that acts of brutality that degrade history should never be allowed to damage the trust between neighboring countries.1 2
  18. 18. 34 35 An Investor’s Paradise Government announces measures to promote foreign investment to boost jobs and foster innovation Written by Robert Koehler A t a meeting with overseas business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on Jan. 9, President Park Geun- hye said, “I would like to thank foreign businesses for investing in Korea with their continued faith in the economy, despite the global uncertainties found around the world. It is with great confidence that I can recommend Korea as the most promising destination.” There is good reason for her confidence. As the president promotes Korea to global investors, her government has undertaken wide-ranging administrative reforms that will make the country an even more attractive place to invest. Regarding investment as central to its efforts to boost economic innovation and activate internal demand, the government has presented a blueprint to attract job- creating foreign investment and lure global headquarters as well as international research and development centers from leading multinational corporations. Investing in a Creative Economy Speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum on Jan. 22, President Park presented her vision of the creative economy, the creation of which is one of the central initiatives of her administration. “A creative economy harnesses the creative ideas of individuals and marries them with science and technology—and with IT,” she said. “It promotes the convergence of different industries and the confluence of industry and culture. Along the way, it creates new markets and new jobs.” Key to promoting the creative economy, said Park, is creating an ecosystem that rewards entrepreneurship and endlessly produces new ideas. This includes a shift towards investment over loans. “To ease this process, we must help transform the way in which startups and venture companies finance capital: away from loans and toward investment capital, including more use of angel investors,” she said. At the “Korea Night” event organized by the Federation of Korean Industries, Park promoted Korea as an international business destination. She told global business leaders, “Korea is trying to foster an optimal business environment and is leaving its doors wide open so that global companies can make as many investments as they want.” Bringing Headquarters to Korea To further optimize such a business environment and open the doors even wider, the government undertook a wide-ranging reform of foreign investment-related laws. In announcing the measures, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick said Korea aims to become one of the world’s top 10 investment destinations. At her meeting with foreign business leaders on Feb. 9, President Park presented an even more ambitious goal, saying her government would make Korea “the best country in the world in which to run a business.” In particular, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy presented a detailed plan to reduce regulations and offer incentives to global companies to set up global or regional headquarters and research facilities in Korea. To do this, the government will peg the income tax rate for all Policy Review 1. President Park Geun-hye gives an opening address on “The Creative Economy and Entrepreneurship” at the the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Jan 22. 2. Microsoft Korea opens up its workplace to mark the 25th anniversary of Microsoft’s entry into Korea on Feb 12. 1 2
  19. 19. 36 37 Policy Review foreign employees at headquarter facilities to 17 percent, a continuation of a measure that was set to end at the end of this year. The maximum visa period for foreign employees of headquarter facilities will also be increased from three years to five. According to the provision, foreign business headquarters must employ 20 or more professional managers in Korea, have more than USD 1 million invested in Korea, have more than three subsidiaries and be one of the top 1,000 companies globally. Currently, eight global companies have headquarters facilities in Korea, including BASF Korea, EBay, Volvo Korea and Dow Korea. The government considers this insufficient, especially compared to countries like Singapore, where 4,000 global companies have set up global or regional headquarters. To bring global research and development expertise, the government will also continue the current 50 percent income tax break for foreign technicians at multinational RD facilities through 2018. Cutting Red Tape and Creating Jobs The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s measures also include provisions to boost foreign investment that leads to job creation. While foreign companies accounted for 20 percent of outbound exports, they accounted for just six percent of total employment. The ministry plans to offer foreign companies a KRW 20 million tax break for every local employee they hire, an increase from the current KRW 10 million. Additionally, deductions in lease fees for companies inside foreign investment zones will be scaled according to the number of local employees hired and the scale of the investment. The government will also cut red tape. Regulations pertaining to overseas handling of financial data by foreign financial institutions will be clarified, and regulations regarding the mandatory use of certificates for electronic financial transactions will be relaxed. In determining whether a foreign investment company qualifies as a small- or medium-sized enterprise, the government will use the average exchange rate over the last five years rather than just the previous year in order to reduce uncertainty due to fluctuations in the exchange rate. Lastly, measures will be taken to improve the quality of life for expatriate residents of Korea. These include the start of a foreign language subtitling service on Korean terrestrial TV channels, the adoption of a one-stop service for exchanging and acquiring drivers’ licenses, and streamlining immigration procedures for foreign investors. “Bright People with Global Mindsets” The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s measures come on the heels of revisions to the Foreign Investment Promotion Act passed by the National Assembly in January. The revised act eases regulations for Korean holding companies that wish to establish granddaughter companies with foreign partners. Regulations on the establishment of such companies—intended to prevent the unchecked expansion of Korea’s giant corporate conglomerates—had been holding up several large investment deals. The Ministry of Finance has been promoting investment in Korea, too. Meeting with foreign business leaders on Feb. 12, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Hyun Oh-seok noted President Park’s commitment to turn Korea into an investor’s paradise and pledged to boost transparency and implement policies in a more predictable manner. “We hope foreign-invested companies in Korea don’t feel any more inconvenience here than they do in their home country,” he said. Calling on foreign companies to boost investment in the country, he called Korea “a treasure, with the best and brightest people, who have a global mindset.” He praised Korea’s business infrastructure, pointing to the country’s highly developed IT environment and its extensive free trade network with major global economies. “Korea’s domestic market may be smaller than those of China or Japan, but it can serve as a gateway to a much- bigger global market.” Hopefuls look around booths at Job Fair for Foreign-Invested Companies 2013 at COEX in October 2013. President Park gets up to give welcoming remarks at a luncheon for foreign investors at Cheong Wa Dae on Jan 9.
  20. 20. 38 39 CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY International signpost within Jang Bogo Station development (RD) buildings and that it strengthens the nation’s credentials as the world’s leading architect in the Antarctic region. The Jang Bogo base is expected to further bolster the country’s efforts to conduct scientific research in Antarctica. Currently, the nation’s only research base on the continent is the King Sejong Base on King George Island, located some 17,240 kilometers from Seoul. The new base will also help complement the role of the King Sejong Base. Named for Greatness The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) carried out a public naming contest for the station, receiving a total of 2,410 possible names, and finally chose Jang Bogo after two vettings. Jang Bogo, a.k.a. the “prince of the sea,” was an admiral during the Unified Silla Kingdom (676-935). For centuries, Jang represented the nation’s maritime expertise because he expanded tripartite trade between Korea, China and Japan, dominating the Yellow Sea in the early ninth century. Planning Ahead On top of constructing the King Sejong Station more than two decades ago, Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, started planning in 2006 to set up a new research station in the Antarctic region to enlarge the nation’s scientific capabilities and to enhance cooperation with other nations, as well as to help develop technology related to Antarctic science. Having visited six candidate regions between 2007 and early 2010, Korea chose two possible areas for the station that could meet the nation’s scientific interests: Cape Burks in Marie Byrd Land and Terra Nova Bay in Northern Victoria Land. After a careful study, the team chose Terra Nova Bay as the most suitable site. MLTM is known to have supplied some USD 93 million to set up the base at Terra Nova Bay, which is in the Ross Sea region. In June 2012, members of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) approved the comprehensive environmental evaluation for the Jang Bogo Antarctic Research Station. At the 35th meeting of the ATCM in Australia, member countries gave high marks to Korea’s efforts to establish an eco-friendly base. The approval of the environmental impact evaluation is crucial if and when a nation hopes to establish a research station on the Antarctic continent. Seoul had submitted its building plan for review in June 2011. T wenty-six years after the opening of the King Sejong Station in 1988, Korea has now launched its second permanent Antarctic research base at Terra Nova Bay. The new facility, whose official launch was celebrated on Feb. 12 this year, is officially called the Jang Bogo Antarctic Research Station, named after Admiral Jang Bogo (?-846), a ninth-century maritime ruler of Korea. Built on 4,458 square meters, the new station is composed of 16 buildings and is designed to produce electricity by using clean energy such as solar and wind power. It can provide accommodation for up to 15 scientists in winter and 60 in summer. Korea will use the base to work on various research projects, such as checking topography, monitoring climate change and studying the ecosystem of an extreme environment. The facility will make Korea, which has shown a keen interest in polar research, the world’s 10th country to have multiple stations in Antarctica. “Since setting foot on King George Island in Antarctica, Korea has become the 10th country in the world to have at least two permanent bases in the Antarctic region,” said Mun Hae-nam, director of the Maritime Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Korea’s Scientific Minds at Work Experts say the station fully demonstrates the extraordinary expertise Korea has in terms of designing research High-tech installation bolsters Korea’s polar research efforts Written by Sohn Tae-soo Korea Opens Second Antarctic Base Jang Bogo Station © Korea Polar Research Institute
  21. 21. 40 41 Global Korea K orean athletes have ruled the world of short-track speed skating for most of the past twenty years, displaying a level of dominance matched only by the country’s athletes in taekwondo. Now, there are an increasing number of Korean coaches determined to turn that dominance into parity. The Sochi Winter Olympics, underway at the time of this writing, doubled as an international reunion of Korean short-track coaches who are training top-class athletes in different parts of the world. Lee Seung-jae joined the British national team as a technical coach in 2010 and has been credited for the emergence of athletes such as Elise Christie, now a top skater who retained her 1,000-meter European title in January. Other Korean coaches at Sochi include Jang Kwon- ok, coach of the Kazakh national team who previously coached the teams of Korea, Australia, the United States and Russia, and Cho Hang-min, with the French national team. An interesting media event happened at the Iceberg Skating Palace on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony when Lee had the British skaters practice with the Korean women’s team led by his old coach Choi Kwang-bok. “I think practicing together helped both teams. While our skaters aren’t competing in the relay, training with the Korean team in their relay practice is a great way to loosen up. You experience the speed that you need to achieve without putting too much stress on your legs, as your teammate will be pushing you from behind,” Lee told reporters at the time, revealing a cohesiveness in coaching methods between him and Choi. “The Korean team has 10 skaters, and the addition of Sports Diplomacy Written by Kim Tong-hyung Korean coaches making a difference abroad British skaters allows them to practice in three teams, creating an atmosphere that is a closer imitation of the final.” Serving a Greater Cause With Korean athletes continuing to impress in Olympic competitions and spectator sports like football and baseball, Korean coaches across these sports are finding increasing demand for their services. It’s not always about competitive achievements, however. Some Korean coaches have embraced the opportunity to serve a greater cause. Im Heung-se, a 57-year-old football coach whose impressive list of pupils include Korean all-timers such as Hong Myung-bo and Kim Ju-sung, was named head coach of South Sudan’s senior national team in January. It seems the appointment had just as much to do with Im’s football prowess as his accomplishments in humanitarian activities. Before arriving in South Sudan in 2012, Im spent seven years in South Africa, where he managed around 20 football academies and coached the youth football team, Football Acts 29. He was lauded for his efforts to help children born with HIV, introducing them to the joy of football and encouraging them to overcome personal obstacles. In South Sudan, Im had expanded to several towns such as Tonji, before agreeing to coach the national team. “My passion is to help youngsters who weathered the war maintain their hopes through football. I agreed to take the job because I wanted to help, even just a little,” Im said after the announcement. Im said one of his first goals is to help make South Sudan a member of the International Olympic Committee, which would require the country to have at least five domestic sporting bodies. He plans to visit Korea sometime during this year to seek help from Korean sporting organizations. Teaching Korea’s National Sport There are a large number of Korean taekwondo coaches around the world, teaching both elite athletes and amateur enthusiasts. Among them, Moon Dai-won, the 71-year- old known by his admirers as the “father of Mexican taekwondo,” stands out as a success story. After immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1960s, Moon won the U.S. Martial Arts Championship for three consecutive years until 1966. He relocated to Mexico after falling in love with the country in 1968 and has taught over 300,000 practitioners since. He established a national taekwondo event, the Moon Dai-Won Cup, in 1983 and was involved in launching the professional combat sports league, K-5, in 2011. Moon has witnessed the popularity of taekwondo increase in Mexico. At the Beijing Olympics, the country won two gold medals, the most for any nation except for Korea. “What I really like about teaching taekwondo is that the sport can change people and their lives profoundly,” Moon said in an interview with a local newspaper. Korean archery coaches at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London pose for a photo at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Of the 40 nations that participated in archery events in the 2012 games, 11 (not including Korea) were led by Koreans. 2 1 1. Mexican team coach Bang Young-in poses with 2013 World Taekwondo Championships lightweight gold medal winner Uriel Adriano at the Exhibition Center of Puebla in Puebla, Mexico on Jul 18, 2013. Adriano’s gold was Mexico’s first in 34 years. 2. Iran’s volleyball team tosses coach Park Ki-won into the air after winning silver at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, Korea.
  22. 22. 42 43 Great Korean Unconventional Joseon scholar and writer penned an impressive legacy Written by Felix Im Park Ji-won P ark Ji-won (1737–1805) was a Joseon era scholar and writer who advocated practical knowledge and foreign influence as avenues for political reform, as opposed to the conservative ruling class of his time that tended to rely on inflexible moralism and Confucian traditions. Park was born in Seoul and was mainly raised and educated by his grandfather, who described him as a scholastically gifted and intellectually curious child. After marrying at an early age, Park focused mainly on the teachings of Mencius. He also learned history from his brother-in-law and eventually discovered his own talent for writing. Meant for Greater Things After his grandfather passed away, Park devoted himself to passing the civil service examination, yet despite his scholastic talents, he failed even after five years of hard study. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Park fell into a period of depression after this setback—a likely notion, for soon after failing his exam, Park abandoned his ambitions to attain a government position, packed up and moved to an area of Seoul now known as Tapgol Park. At the time, it was an area where a lot of intellectuals gathered. This was when Park made many friends that not only fed him and gave him a place to stay but also engaged him in intellectual debate. It was a period of great personal development. Park advocated greater prosperity for the Joseon people as a whole. He also harbored ideas about increased trade with outside nations and expressed the need for Joseon to learn from its neighbors, mainly Qing Dynasty China, in terms of technology, mercantilism and social reform. Political Exile Turned Opportunity Unfortunately for Park, however, the political leaders of his time didn’t allow such views. He was eventually forced to seek asylum in what is now Hwanghae-do, North Korea. Park soon got his opportunity, though, when a close cousin was made part of a diplomatic envoy sent to honor the Qing emperor’s birthday. The cousin invited Park to join him as part of his entourage. Park was finally going to Beijing. Park’s travels throughout northern China only confirmed his belief that the Joseon elite’s view of the Qing as savages was outdated and skewed. Park witnessed a new world outside the Korean Peninsula, alive with the technological advances, trade and prosperity that he wished for his own people. He also realized that the Joseon Dynasty needed to radically alter its obsolete ways if it was to survive. These views were recorded in a travelogue he wrote after returning to Korea titled Yeolha Ilgi using unconventional prose and his own unique writing style. A Victim of Censorship Park’s views were met with opposition once again. The ruling elite, as part of a social and literary movement to ban all “improper” literature, made Park’s travelogue their main target. King Jeongjo (r. 1776–1800) even sent Park a letter demanding that he either relinquish everything he wrote in Yeolha Ilgi or give up his post in government that had been specially provided for Park by the king himself. Overpowered and outmatched, Park relented. Although widely read and admired amongst literary circles outside the royal court, Park’s most famous work didn’t see official publication until after the Joseon Dynasty’s end. Lasting Legacy It wasn’t long after his death in 1805 that the importance of Park’s literary contribution was assessed fairly. More than just a travelogue, Yeolha Ilgi provided a historical and sociological mirror for Joseon, spanning in topic from the natural sciences to trade. It was a genuine reflection on one’s own country through the experiences of a neighboring one. Today, it is highly acclaimed as a work of both analytical brilliance and prosaic creativity. Park’s Yeolha Ilgi, an 18th century travelogue to China Bust of Park Ji-won
  23. 23. 45 MY KOREA undeniably Korean, Gwangju’s sights and sounds vary from those typically experienced on any cursory tour. Gwangju and the surrounding province of Jeollanam- do provide visitors with an array of pleasant surprises and mouth-watering delights. I have hiked to mountain-side temples in the midst of fall foliage, watched as a purple sun sank into the South Sea, savored the incredible tastes of traditional sundae, Korean blood sausage, and chueotang, mudfish soup, and strolled through an award-winning tea plantation. I did all this while feeling at home and welcomed. This is definitely not something I would have been able to experience while studying back home. A Uniquely Korean Experience Some of the most unique experiences I have had were enjoying the various events that take place at CNU. School festivals in Korea are very different from their American counterparts. They’re actually fun. What’s more, students actually attend them. The annual school festival in the fall allowed me to socialize while sampling delicious staple fare such as tteokbokki and kimchi jeon at student-run tents. Drinks were also provided, another thing that doesn’t happen on an American campus, and impromptu student bands set up on campus lawns provided some unexpected entertainment. Spanning three fun-filled days, CNU’s festival is always open to the general public, but this did not diminish its youthful atmosphere. With seemingly the entire student body in attendance, it was impossible not to be swept up in the giddy excitement pulsing throughout the grounds. As with all great events, it ended on a high note—in this case, musically. The breakthrough indie pop band 10cm—very famous in Korea, I might add—capped off the magical night with an unforgettable performance. As I walked back to my dormitory, I marveled at the entire spectacle’s harmony: no fighting, some excited screaming, and mostly just pure fun. An American on a Korean Campus Korean universities offer a very different school experience Written by Michael Thompson Illustrated by kim yoon-myong 44 I n a dense city with over a million residents, one would hardly expect to find a campus like that of Chonnam National University. Despite its urban location within the southwestern metropolis of Gwangju, the sprawling campus is covered in green space. This includes sizable forests and a small farm, which make it popular with locals who traverse its walking paths throughout the day, as well as wildlife, such as ducks, who winter in the large pond adjacent to the back gate. A farm within a university? Not something I was used to. The university also boasts numerous educational facilities and inexpensive, modern living accommodations, so it is no major surprise that it was selected as one of 12 sites in the Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP) for international students looking to attend graduate school in Korea. While attending Korean language courses, KGSP students from over 100 countries hope to pass a sufficient level of the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) so they can move on to post-graduate study in schools across the nation. A monthly stipend is also provided and tuition is covered by the National Institute of International Education (NIIED). Unfounded Doubts When I chose to enter this rapidly expanding program, I was excited to have a chance to experience studying at a world class institution of higher learning. Some of my friends and family at first doubted my decision to leave, but I assured them that the quality of education was on par with any institution at home. Additionally, I knew Korea would provide a safe environment for my studies where I could experience Korean culture first hand, make new friends and meet international students from all around the world. Once the opportunity that the Korean government was providing me became apparent to those around me, they fully supported my decision. I eagerly packed my bags and boarded the plane. That being said, I admit that I was not immediately thrilled that I would first be studying away from the capital. What possible benefit was there to living in Gwangju instead of Seoul? But my biases against the city and region were unfounded. Gwangju is an amazing starting point for those wishing to understand the variety of Korean culture. While
  24. 24. 46 47 MULTICULTURAL KOREA Seok Ha-jung Gets Her Chance Chinese-born Korean tennis table star rises to the top Written by Ida Kymmer I t’s impossible not to spot Seok Ha-jung right away. The sound of her paddle hitting the ball penetrates the constant sound of light plastic balls bouncing in the table tennis hall of the Korean National Training Center in Seoul. Currently ranked number two in South Korea and 22nd in the world, the Korean Air Team player Seok is described as right handed, classic and offensive, playing with inverted rubbers on both sides of her paddle. The same second the sound of a whistle runs through the hall, Seok’s eyes, that have been focused on the ball like the eyes of a hawk, let go of their target. She puts her paddle down, dries the sweat from her brow and comes over with a smile. Scouted from China Seok was born 1985 in Anshan, China, carrying the first name Shi Lei. Her whole family played table tennis, and already at the age of 2 she was constantly carrying around a paddle. After turning 4, she started practicing seriously under her aunt, who was a coach. “The tables were small,” Seok remembers. “They looked like they had been shrunken to miniature size to fit us.” After four years of practice, Seok left home to join teams in other cities. Then one day, when she was 13, the Korean Air Team scouting for new players found her. “I said right away that I’d go,” she says. For a table tennis player in China, the path is clear—if you keep playing in China it’ll be hard to reach the top. An offer from another country means more opportunities than competing against the vast amount of talented players in China. Long Waiting to Play When Seok was first scouted, she was told that she would receive Korean citizenship after only three months. Once in Seoul, things turned out differently. Three months turned into years, and then five. Seok finally got her citizenship in 2007 after seven and a half years. It was a frustrating time for Seok, being ineligible to play even national games. “Sometimes I was asking myself what I was doing here,” she says. Seok played her first game at the 2007 Swedish Open under her new Korean name Ha-jung. Since then, she has been playing all over the world and was a member of the South Korean team at the London Olympics in 2012. Suddenly, Seok’s story gets interrupted by her coach. “Get back out here,” the coach demands. It’s time for strength training. Seok resists at first, asking to skip today, but quickly gives in and disappears out into the hall. There are twelve tables placed in the hall, six of them for the women team and its nine players. All players live at the complex, and training starts at 8:50AM every morning. After a series of sit-ups and pushups, Seok returns, again drying sweat from her forehead. Even though the other players see Seok as Korean, she still stands out. As the only player with a non-Korean background on the Korean Air Team, Seok affects team dynamics in a unique way. Once when she was sick, the other players called her and asked her to come back as fast as possible, saying they missed her. However, when Seok didn’t show up, no one said a word. “I think the other players are changing the way they see me. They are becoming more open,” she says with a smile. Korea’s Dang Ye-Seo and Seok Ha-jung face off against the Singaporeans in the bronze medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
  25. 25. cover story O nce upon a time, there was a humble and kind- hearted man who lived in a mountainside village. Despite his kind nature, the large unusual growth protruding from his cheek inspired people to call him Mr. Lumpy. One day, Mr. Lumpy went up into the mountains to gather firewood. The intensity of the work, however, caused him to lose track of time and before he knew it, the sun was setting. “Oh dear, the sun is already setting. I should find a place to stay for the night,” Mr. Lumpy said. Mr. Lumpy eventually spotted an old abandoned hut and decided to spend the night there. An Unexpected Encounter However, as the night deepened Mr. Lumpy became scared, for being alone in a dark abandoned hut, tucked away on an isolated mountainside, proved harder on one’s nerves than ever imagined. Shivering with fright and unable to sleep, Mr. Lumpy started humming a tune and singing to calm himself. His singing did the exact opposite of calming him down, however, as it soon attracted the attention of a group of wandering goblins—gruesome horns protruding from their beastly heads—who soon appeared before poor Mr. Lumpy. “Hey, where’d you learn how to sing like that,” what appeared to be the goblin leader asked. “Um...what do you mean?” Mr. Lumpy stammered. “Your singing—it’s really good. How did you learn how to sing like that?” the goblin leader elaborated, sneers of impatience showing on his horrid face. “Um...well...I don’t know, I just sort of...” Mr. Lumpy struggled to find an answer, reverting to his nervous habit of touching the cystic lump on his cheek while he did so. One of the goblins, seeing this, concluded Mr. Lumpy’s talent was hidden in his cystic lump. “The lump! His talent lies within that growth on this 49 cheek!” the goblin cried. The other goblins quickly agreed. “Give us that lump hanging off your cheek!” they demanded. “What? No, I promise, this thing doesn’t hold any special powers, I promise you!” Mr. Lumpy pleaded. The goblins didn’t believe him, and knocked Mr. Lumpy out and removed the cystic lump from his cheek. Before running off, however, the goblins rewarded him with a nice pouch of silver and gold. When Mr. Lumpy awoke, he was shocked to discover that not only was the cystic lump gone but that he was now a rich man. Imitators Never Get it Right After he returned home, word of his miraculous transformation spread throughout the village, and soon another man with a cystic lump on his cheek got an idea: he was going to do the exact same thing—go to the exact same forest and sing in the same abandoned hut. He was going to become rich. So the greedy man went to the same abandoned hut where Mr. Lumpy had his serendipitous encounter with the goblins, and sat in the dark while singing a song. “I’m finally going to get rich!” he thought. When the goblins appeared, the greedy man excitedly told them that his cystic lump was filled with even more beautiful music than the other guy. However, the goblins had already learned their lesson: they knew he was lying. “Well, in that case, we’ll be generous and give you ten more of them!” the goblin leader said venomously. Horrified, the greedy man tried to run away but was captured by the goblins, who not only replicated the man’s cystic lump, covering his entire face with them, but also gave him a nice beating. As one might guess, the story of Mr. Lumpy has a moral: the kind are rewarded, the greedy are punished. Tales From Korea Tale teaches that greed doesn't pay Written by Felix Im Illustrated by Shim Soo-keun Mr. Lumpy and the Goblins 48
  26. 26. IBRS/CCRIN°:10024-40730 NEPASAFFRANCHIR NOSTAMPREQUIRED REPLYPAID/RÉPONSEPAYÉE KOREA(SEOUL) KOCIS 408,Galmae-ro,Sejong-si, GovernmentComplex-Sejong (339-012) RepublicofKorea Priority/Prioritaire Byairmail/Paravion ChanggyeonggungPalace,oneofSeoul’sJoseonDynastyroyalresidences