Friday, July 29, 2011

Korea and India vow to expand cooperation

President Lee Myung-bak and Indian President Pratibha Patil held a summit on July 25 at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul to discuss ways to expand bilateral cooperation.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of Korea-India ties, which have substantially improved in a variety of sectors since the 2010 agreement to upgrade to a strategic partnership, including diplomacy, security, culture, economy and trade.

Lee and Patil agreed to work to increase the effects of the Korea-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which took effect on January 1, 2010 by reflecting on the trade environment of the two countries.

The two leaders signed a nuclear energy cooperation pact, which will allow Korean atomic power firms to enter India’s nuclear energy market.

They also signed a memorandum of understanding on media exchanges and cooperation between Korea and India.

The two leaders also agreed to closely cooperate on key international issues like climate change, and expressed hopes a successful Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March 2012.

Book probes transnational identity of 'hallyu'

K-pop fever has been reignited, as illustrated by the success of recent concerts in Paris. Fans that have yet to see Korean performers on stage are forming flash mobs and group dances as they clamor for more K-pop concerts. The popularity of K-pop culture has truly become international.

Korean television dramas, songs and movies originally grew popular in the early 1990s. The influence of “hallyu” or Korean wave, spread through Asian countries and reduced Western cultural dominance in the Asian market.

A newly released book further investigates the worldwide phenomenon of Korean popular culture. Titled “Hallyu: Influence of Korean Popular Culture in Asia and Beyond,” the book, edited by Kim Do-kyun and Kim Min-sun and published by Seoul National University Press, delves into the origin of the phenomenon from the past to the present and analyzes the transnational identity of hallyu.

Consisting of 16 chapters, scholars from various fields such as communications, sociology, history and international relations in the United States and Europe. Korea wrote research articles after observing hallyu over the few last years.

The book has two purposes: the first is to analyze hallyu in various perspectives and the second, to present Korean perspectives on the hallyu phenomenon by providing international readers with analyses by Korean scholars.

In the past, Western popular culture, led by American cultural hegemony, mostly ruled the international landscape. However, recently its transnational mobility across Asia and beyond has produced many socio-cultural and political spinoffs.

Kim Youna, associate professor of global communications at the American University of Paris, explores the reason of the popularity of Korean cultural products, particularly television dramas in the article “Globalization of Korean Media: Meanings and Significance.”

Kim sheds light on various perspectives of the popularity of Korean dramas — emotion, reflexive modernity and family. The first common response in various transnational locations is that Korean television dramas are “emotionally powerful.” “The audiences enjoy savoring the subtlety of emotions, and K-dramas are perceived to have captured the delicacy of emotions through adept direction techniques,” Kim writes in the article.

Korean television dramas are infused with urban middle-class scenes that effectively portray youthful sentimentality and provide images for an increasingly regionalized “Asian modernity.” Asian values, which put more emphasis on familial relationships, filial piety and sibling love, are widely dealt with as the central themes which are loved by cross-generational viewers in Asian countries.

As hallyu spreads throughout parts of Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, North America is becoming the test market for new exports. In “Medium Hot, Korean Cool: Hallyu Envy and Reverse Mimicry in Contemporary U.S. Pop Culture” by Chung Hye-seung at Oakland University, the author deals with indirect effects of hallyu in the U. S. While Korean movie star, Lee Byung-hun and pan-Asian pop idol, Rain, have appeared in the recent Hollywood blockbusters “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009) and “Ninja Assassin” (2009) respectively, most hallyu stars are virtually unknown to mainstream American audiences who have limited access to subtitled Korean films and television programs. However, rather than be pessimistic about hallyu not making an entry into mainstream U.S. culture, the chapter examines a “micro invasion” of Korean culture on American primetime television and in mainstream Hollywood films.

“Lost in Cinematic Translation?: The Lake House, Siworae and the Hollywoodization of Korean Culture” written by Bae Keun-min, a Ph.D. candidate at the College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University investigates how Hollywood has been producing its adaptations of “made-in-Korea content.” The article analyzes the cultural values reflected in the original Korean film, “Siworae” and the extent to which these values were removed or replaced with American values when it was reborn as “The Lake House,”the first-ever Hollywood version of a Korean film.

Sueen Noh, adjunct instructor in the department of broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media of Temple University, discusses the phenomenon of Korean popular culture in the Middle East provoked by Korean dramas such as “Daejanggeum (Jewel in the Palace)” and “Jumong.” The article titled “Unveiling the Korean Wave in the Middle East” says that the recent popularity of Korean cultural products in the Middle East such as Iran and Egypt is “reconnecting the Silk Road in the 21st century.”
The newest hallyu phenomenon is found in the Middle East, which is geographically much farther from Korea than its predecessors. Korean television dramas reinforce traditional values of Confucianism that Iranians find more closely aligned to Islamic culture, implying that cultural proximity contributes to the Islamic Korean wave.

“Reflecting traditional family values, Korean culture is deemed ‘a filter for Western values’ in Iran,” the article says. The chapter also examines the burgeoning Arabic fandom of Korean popular culture, more specifically, the women’s negotiation of their gender and cultural identity in their online community through Facebook.

The articles in the book are academic in general but it is a useful informative tool for those who want to understand the basics and nature of hallyu through various perspectives.

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Facts about Korea : Did you know that ... (11)

In the summer of 1894, political unrest and reforms in Korea severely strained relations between the Chinese and Japanese. Many saw Korea as a powder keg that would ignite the Far East into a devastating war.

The fuse was lit when, on July 25, two small Chinese warships encountered three Japanese warships in a narrow strait about 65 kilometers south of Jemulpo. According to the initial Japanese reports, the Japanese warships fired their guns as a military salute but the Chinese misunderstood it and panicked. They then fired upon the Japanese ships leaving the Japanese commander no choice but to return fire. Within a short time both Chinese ships were badly damaged and retreated back to China with the Japanese ships in close pursuit.

The Japanese warships then encountered the unarmed British-flagged steamship Kowshing which was bound for the Asan area of Korea. The Kowshing had been chartered by the Chinese government to bring supplies and troops to Korea in order to support the Korean government’s efforts to quell the rampant unrest in the southern provinces.

Capt. Togo Heihachiro, the commander of the Japanese warship Naniwa, demanded that the Kowshing follow his ship back to Japan where the 1,100 Chinese troops aboard the ship would be made prisoners of war. But, because war had not been declared, the Kowshing refused.

After a couple of hours of fruitless negotiations, Togo ordered his ship to sink the Kowshing. More than 800 Chinese soldiers and most of the Kowshing’s crew perished. Some died in the initial attack or, unable to swim, drowned. Many were shot as they tried to swim to safety either by Japanese sailors in boats or by their own comrades on the Kowshing who, unable to swim, had the “savage idea that if they had to die, their brothers should not live either.”

Naturally enough, newspapers in China and England denounced the attack as a massacre and an act of piracy. The British consul at Jemulpo declared that he felt “admiration for the courage shown by the Chinese troops, who preferred death to the dishonor of being made prisoners by their cowardly assailants.”

But this wasn’t the only combat that took place before war was actually declared. On July 29, a large battle between Japanese and Chinese troops took place at Asan. The Chinese were soundly defeated and withdrew in the middle of the night leaving the city along with a large amount of weapons and ammunition in the hands of the Japanese.

It seems almost ironic but, on Aug. 1, 1894, Japan officially declared war upon China. The Japanese government claimed that China had provoked the hostilities by continuing to interfere in Korea’s reforms and for its attack upon Japanese naval vessels. China, in turn, declared war upon Japan claiming that it was Japan that had precipitated the two countries to become rivals.

Incidentally, the Sino-Japanese War wasn’t the only conflict in which the timing of Japan’s declaration of war was a little dodgy. On Feb. 8, 1904, Japan declared war upon Russia — three hours after its fleet, under the command of Admiral Togo Heihachiro, had attacked the Russian Far East Fleet in China.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Indian lawmaker decodes secret of K-pop boom overseas

A senior Indian lawmaker, who describes himself as a huge fan of rock music, observed Friday that the powerful beat is probably the reason why young people of different cultures get excited about songs with a foreign origin, such as K-pop.

“I am a rock music addict. I love Indian pop, Korean pop and American pop. I love soft rock,” said Karan Singh, a lawmaker of the ruling Indian National Congress. “Whenever I am in the car, the first thing I do is turn on some rock music.”

Singh, 80, also president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, said that the beat of pop music has attracted young people around the world to dance and sing together to the same music.

“It is the beat that young people around the world are responding to. Do you know why? That is the first sound that a child hears before he or she is born. It is the beat of the heart of their mother,” said the former Indian ambassador to the United States.

“That explains why young people around the world, across cultures, across languages, are dancing to the same beat.”

Singh’s remarks came amid a flurry of media reports here that Korean pop artists’ concerts held in Paris last month had drawn thousands of fans.

Hundreds of young French people flocked to the airport to see their K-pop idols when they arrived for their performance there. At the concert, the French fans sang and danced to K-pop songs.

There has been plenty of media attention focusing on the “sweeping popularity of K-pop in France.”

But some Europeans warned that although there are some K-pop fans there, they are not many in terms of numbers.

K-pop fans can be found in some far off places too such as Latin American countries, like Peru, as well.

Commentators say social media, such as YouTube, play a key role in fanning the Korean wave or “hallyu” boom in these nations that are too distant for fans to fly to see their idols perform in Korea.

The attractive physical appearances and dancing skills of the K-pop superstars appeal to the hearts and minds of young people living in countries that are quite exotic from their own cultural norms and codes.

Singh pinpointed human beings’ natural response to the beat of music, an inborn nature that originates before birth as the key element behind the K-pop boom.

Regarding the popularity of Indian films, he said, “These films are the combination of dance, romance and music and that’s why people across cultures love them.”

Meanwhile, the Korean wave has sparked debate here about the benefits of the government encouraging the movement overseas.

Critics warn of the consequences of a heavy-handed government. They say the role its playing could backfire, tarnishing the integrity of K-pop or other made-in-Korea cultural products.

But Singh disagreed. “All countries can play their roles in cultural development and that’s what they are trying to do,” he said.

Asked to clarify the implications of the government in the Korean wave, he said, “The Korea Foundation, for example, can spread understanding, share the common values and common music to bring languages together, to bring overseas writers together, and to bring thinkers together.”

“There are lots of things that the government can do."

Source : The Korea Times

10 Korean designers eye global stage

en rising Korean designers will participate in the Asia Fashion Exchange in Singapore on May 20 as part of a promotional event for the Seoul-led fashion project “Seoul’s 10 Soul.”

The local government launched the project last year to raise global awareness about Korean fashion brands. Every year, 10 fashion designers from 10 brands are selected and given the opportunity to make their debut on global stages such as Paris, London and New York.

A total of 37 designers, who partook in the Seoul Fashion Week from March 28 to April 2, applied for this year’s project and were reviewed by 15 judges — five Koreans and 10 foreigners — through three phases.

The 10 designers are Ko Tae-yong (Beyond Closet), Kim Sun-ho (Ground Wave), Kim Jae-hwan (ALANI), Sheen Je-hee (Jehee Sheen), Choi Bum-suk (General Idea), Kim Jae-hyun (Jardin de chouette), Lee Suk-tae (Kaal E.Suktae), Lee Seung-hee (Leyii), Lee Jae-hwan (jaehwan* lee paris) and Steve Jung and Yoni Pai (Steve J & Yoni P).

“Big progress in men’s wear is conspicuous in this year’s project. Compared to 2010, the participating ratio of designers for men’s wear rose from 30 percent to 50 percent. This reflects the recent international trend that the men’s fashion market is getting bigger as fashions and lifestyles are changing. Also, Korean men’s wear is coming into the spotlight in recent years,” the government said in a statement.

The Asia Fashion Exchange, which kicked off on May 11 and will continue through May 22, consists of events such as Blueprint, the Asia Fashion Summit and the Audi Fashion Festival. Korean exhibitors will showcase 30 pieces specially designed for the event and meet foreign buyers to promote the Korean fashion industry and strengthen their global network.

His design concept for the upcoming event features neo classic, high-end and avant-garde looks which put more emphasis on the shoulder line to create an embracing feeling rather than a strong, macho style with washed wool, dyed and washed cotton, washed silk mixed with linen. He has taken part in the Seoul Fashion Week from 2009 to 2011 and Pitti Uomo in Italy.

Cat Ong, director of Blueprint, said that he is expecting “Seoul’s 10 Soul” fashion show to blossom as Asian designers are getting attention internationally and the Asia Fashion Exchange can help designers gain the international spotlight.

Starting from participation in the Singapore fashion event, the 10 designers will be given an opportunity to appear in the world-renowned trade show “Tranoi,” which is held four times a year in Paris.

The Tranoi Homme is held in January and June while the Tranoi Femme takes place in March and October. Some 900 fashion brands and 20,000 buyers participate in the shows. Few Korean designers have taken part as its entry barrier is high. However, since the city government’s project was launched last year, more and more Korean designers have had more opportunities to participate.

Seoul will support them with all-out aid such as showroom booths, overseas business consulting and promotional events to localize Korean brands in Paris.

After the yearlong promotional events around the world, the final winner out of the 10 will be selected by the end of this year. Named “Star Designer,” he or she will be given more benefits to extend their overseas activities for one year with more support and aid. The winner will take part in the Paris Collection from January to December in 2012 and open a showroom there.

Last year, Choi Ji-hyung, selected as “Star Designer” made her successful debut at the Paris’ famous showroom “MC2.” Her collection received rave reviews from the foreign press and buyers and she is now in business training.

Source: The Korea Times

Korea's utmost craftmanship at Sydney

One of the largest museums in Sydney will showcase ancient and contemporary Korean artworks, to mark 50 years of relations between Korea and Australia.

The Powerhouse Museum will introduce Korea’s cultural heritage through a designated four-month exhibition.

The exhibition, which starts on Oct. 27 and runs through Feb. 26 2012, will highlight tangible masterpieces of Korea’s ancient metal craft.

But more importantly, it will aim to convey to Australians and numerous visitors to the country a Korean spirit of “jang-in,” or utmost craftsmanship.

“Korea has much to show the world on how to pursue development while maintaining a very strong cultural heritage,” said Dawn Casey, director of Powerhouse Museum, at a news conference, Monday, in central Seoul. “The exhibition represents the traditional cultural heritage of Korea’s excellent and beautiful metal craft and contemporary metal craft.”

“The Korean consul-general invited the museum to host an exhibition to celebrate the 50 years of friendship between Australia and Korea,” Casey added.

The museum is expecting the four-month exhibition to attract more than 400,000 visitors. Organizers are hoping that design students and those involved in Korean studies will find the exhibition useful in advancing their knowledge on Korean culture and tradition.
The opening day of the exhibition coincides with Australia’s national day of celebration for the landmark year of bilateral relations, she said.

The exhibition reflects growing interest among Australians in learning more about their fourth largest trading partner. Korean culture is less well known to the Australian public than cultures of Asian neighboring economies like China or Japan. “This exhibition truly reflects how Korea became an economic powerhouse and began again after colonization,” Casey said, as she underlined that the exhibition will cover various periods of Korean history.

The exhibition will use a wide range of display techniques, including mood graphics and sound, and will be organized into different sections, covering the metal crafts from the Bronze Age; Buddhism influences in Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392)’s culture; and everyday life of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).

Also, the exhibition will show how Korea overcame the devastation of the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953) thorough contemporary artworks.

The Powerhouse Museum, which attracted 6.8 million visitors in 2009 and 2010, previously hosted two exhibitions on Korean culture; Korean textile and costume in 1998 and Korean pottery as part of the Sydney Olympic art festival in 2000.

To reciprocate Australia’s efforts to introduce Korean culture, the National Museum of Korea will hold an exhibition on Australia’s aboriginal culture in 2013, said Lee Hyoung-ho, director-general at the culture ministry.

The Rocking Korean girl's band called Girls' Generation ― it's the girls' time!

K-pop group Girls’ Generation rocked some 20,000, from children to their parents, from Koreans to overseas fans, at their “2011 Girls’ Generation Tour”at Gymnastics Stadium, Olympic Park in Seoul, Sunday.

The nine girls gave a powerful performance, offering 32 songs in three hours. The seats were filled with “samchon,” or “uncle fans” and followers from across the globe. As there were more males than at any other concerts, the sounds of the crowd’s shouts were relatively low but their spirits were higher than ever.

The crowd waved pink glo-sticks and chanted “so-nyeo-si-dae,” Girls’ Generation in Korean, as the nine members emerged from a lamp-shaped structure. They sat in a perfect line, gazing into the audience. They opened the concert with “Genie” — wearing white lacy jackets, shorts and knee high boots, instantly taking the stage by storm with their powerful choreography.

They continued with “You-aholic,” “Mr. Taxi” and “I’m in Love with the Hero” from their Japanese album. The girls even sang “Mr. Taxi” in Korean, for which the lyrics were written exclusively for this concert. The members ran around the hexagon-shaped stage, crossing all over the floor to see as many fans up close as possible. The audience might have wished they had a couple of extra pairs of eyes to see all the members simultaneously.

Girls’ Generation followed with numbers such as “Let It Rain,” “Kissing You” and “Oh!” They waved to the audience with broad smiles when the fans sang along with the songs loudly.

After a series of hits, the girls decided to show off their individual charms. Hyoyeon returned to the stage in a white leotard and danced to Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” while Jessica showed off her sweet voice in Tamia’s “Almost,” playing the piano herself as well. Sunny broke with her cute image by choosing to sing Britney Spears’ “Three.” Wearing a hot pink jacket, she danced perfectly with pink ribbons. Taeyeon and Tiffany gave off a sense of maturity as they performed “Lady Marmalade.”

The mood was reversed when Taeyeon sang “Devil’s Cry” in a black costume decorated with feathers with rock vocals as an introduction to the group’s hit song “Run Devil Run.” All the members returned for the powerful track mixed with Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” hinting at their transformation, just like the black swan. “Hoot” was rearranged as a rock version, continuing the intensive color of the group with their signature choreography of shooting an arrow.

Yuri sang Janet Jackson’s “If” before Sooyoung danced the cha-cha with professional dancer Kim Dae-dong, and her slender body in a blue dress moved in perfect harmony with her partner. Seohyun became a cute 1960s diva in a black dress like Audrey Hepburn to wow the audience by tap dancing to Betty Hutton’s “Stuff Like That There.” Last but not least, Yoona gave a powerful dance display to Madonna’s “4 Minutes.”

The girls literally toured around the stage on a boat, wearing small crowns as if they were fairy-tale princesses when they sang “My Child” and brightened up the atmosphere by singing “Naengmyeon,” a summer song originally performed by Jessica and comedian Park Myung-soo. When the members appeared amid the seats on a moving stage, fans went wild and even S.M. Entertainment producer Lee Soo-man himself stood up to cheer the girls.

When the group performed “Forever” with fans as the last number, they bowed deeply and Sunny even shed tears.

After endless demands for an encore, the girls came back on stage with their debut track “Into the New World.” Taeyeon said the group celebrates its fourth anniversary this year and hopes to continue longer with their fans. Tiffany and Sooyoung thanked their international support in English and Japanese, respectively.

“I wish we could reminisce about this moment later, listening to the same music with our fans,” Yuri said.

The concert proved that Girls’ Generation stands at the heart of hallyu, or Korean wave. People from all over the world came to see the concert, from Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan and even the United States. Some 100 members of fan site came to Korea with help from the Korea Tourism Organization. They sang aloud to most of the Korean numbers together with the girl group and danced to their routines.

Girls’ Generation also seemed excited about those who came from a long way away to see their concert.

Sooyoung said of the overseas followers that came to the concert, “They buy plane tickets to come to Korea and see us and we are really grateful. I feel that music connects us and our fans together despite language.”

The girl group will continue touring Asia and with the full schedule still to be announced.

Source: The Korea Times

‘Loving hanbok will enhance Koreans’ global image’

“Hanbok,” traditional Korean dress, is a major cultural export but it is often underutilized in modern Korea, where it is normally associated with the elderly and formal occasions.

The trend can be altered with consistent policies to promote affection for traditional clothing, according to hanbok designer Kim Nam-hee.

The CEO of Dolsilnai, a manufacturer of everyday hanbok wear, was adamant about the need to revive a domestic hanbok movement that occurred in 1996.

“At the time, there was a national campaign to promote hanbok as everyday clothing,” recounted Kim during a recent interview with The Korea Times at the firm’s headquarters in central Seoul.

The campaign was initiated by the culture ministry in December 1996, officially launching a nationwide movement to urge people to wear hanbok on the first Saturday of every month.

“This campaign played an important role in increasing hanbok’s brand as daily wear,” Kim explained. “I talked to culture officials about the need to conduct such campaigns but my suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.”

Kim lamented the lack of interest in hanbok among Koreans, highlighting Tokyo’s efforts to promote everyday use of its own traditional dress, the “kimono,” through effective policies.

“In Japan, a citizen wearing a kimono is given discounts in taxis. Kimono exhibitions are readily present at most visible tourist sites,” Kim said.

“In the West, they used to call hanbok ‘Korean kimono,’” Kim added. “Except for the learned few, I think many in the West would still have a hard time recognizing what is Korean, Japanese or Chinese.

“Loving our own clothes will enhance foreigners’ perception of us. They will see us as people that respect their own culture.”
Founded in 1995, Dolsilnai runs more than 30 boutiques across the country and recently opened a flagship store in the popular tourist district of Insa-dong, Seoul.

It produces everyday hanbok designs for all seasons, covering all basic clothing items for women and men as well as accessories like hats, scarves and bags.

At the interview, Kim was wearing a vest, shorts and T-shirt, all designed and produced by her company. At first, they looked more like regular clothes, but a trained eye would be able to detect that the fabric and the flower pattern on her T-shirt had a traditional motif.

Daily hanbok uses subdued colors in comparison to the colorful hanbok that is worn on formal occasions. Its design stresses practicality and comfort.
It was more known as the uniform for college students who engaged in the student movement in the 1970s and 1980s.

The younger Korean generation is still unfamiliar with hanbok as everyday wear.

This is because it usually takes time for people to reach a certain age before they realize the true worth of their own culture, Kim said.
“This is why people who enjoy everyday hanbok are middle aged or older. We will probably have to establish a separate brand to cater to the taste of younger customers.” Meanwhile, daily hanbok is gaining popularity among foreigners.

“In Insa-dong or tourists centers like Gyeongju in South Gyeongsang Province, around 30 to 40 percent of our customers are from outside the country,” she said.

As a company specializing in a traditional cultural export, Dolsilnai has made arduous efforts to promote Korea globally through partnerships with various cultural genres.

It has been the producer of costumes for JUMP, a traditional martial arts theatrical performance that won the “Comedy Award” at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The firm is also the creator of a new taekwondo uniform at the request of the World Taekwando Federation (WTF).
For more information on daily hanbok, visit

Goldman Sachs-style IB to be created

The government is setting up the legal grounds for the creation of Goldman Sachs-style global investment banks in Korea and alternative stock exchanges.

A revision bill to the Capital Market Law will encompass the creation of alternative trading systems (ATS) that would break the monopoly of the Korea Exchange (KRX); the prohibition of “shadow voting” or the proxy exercise of voting rights; and tougher regulations to protect investors.

The revision will be reviewed by the Regulatory Reform Committee and the Ministry of Government Legislation before being submitted to the National Assembly in October.

The biggest change the bill could bring to Korea’s financial industry is the birth of big investment banks (IBs), which the Financial Services Commission (FSC) defines as “comprehensive financial investment companies.”

Securities firms would qualify if their equity capital reaches 3 trillion won or above, provided they have adequate risk management capacity.

“Considering the revision will allow them to provide prime brokerage services, the minimum requirement for equity capital will start at 3 trillion won, while the amount will go up if the businesses expand,” the FSC said in a statement.

The 3-trillion-won requirement could pose a challenge to domestic securities firms for now.

According to data compiled by Hi Investment & Securities Analyst Kim Ji-hyun, Daewoo Securities has the largest amount of equity capital at 2.86 trillion won, followed by Samsung Securities with 2.8 trillion won, Hyundai Securities with 2.67 trillion won, Woori Investment & Securities with 2.63 trillion won and Korea Investment & Securities with 2.42 trillion won.

Some of the large Korean brokerage houses have already shown strength in traditional investment banking roles, including managing initial public offerings (IPO) and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The government wants them to explore riskier areas including prime brokerage services.

These generate most of their income from lending securities to hedge funds for shorting, or short-selling, which involves borrowing stocks and selling them with the expectation their prices will fall in the future, and then buying and returning the same shares when prices fall.

The IBs will also be allowed to settle orders internally without going through the stock exchange.

The revision would also permit the creation of ATSs that could, in theory, compete against the Seoul bourse to bring down trading fees and strengthen the KRX through competition amid mergers of overseas bourses.

With licensing from the FSC, the ATSs would be able to settle and clear orders, but not list companies or regulate the market.

When the size of orders reaches a certain level, the ATSs will have either to pass on the orders to the KRX or ask the FSC to give them a permit that would turn them from a trading system to a stock exchange.

“Such a permit, however, would be rarely given,” an FSC official said.

Once an ATS becomes a stock exchange, it will be able to list companies and regulate the market.

The FSC said that 84 ATSs are operating in the U.S., 26 in Europe and some 20 in the rest of the world including Asia.

An ATS operator is expected to have equity capital of at least 50 billion won, and an investor would be allowed to own up to 15 percent of the assets to be traded by it.

Furthermore, regulations for investor protection are strengthened in the revision. Manipulating stock prices by abusing non-listed securities and over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives will be punished if underlying assets are listed securities.

With regard to insider trading, investors, who receive inside information second-hand, will be subject to fines for disturbing the market order. In the past, only those who obtain information directly from insiders were punished.

Additionally, scalpers ― retail investors specialized in high-frequency trading ― will be regulated.

source: The Korea Times

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Korea, India to sign nuclear energy pact

Korea and India are set to sign a nuclear energy pact that will allow local firms to enter the multi-billion nuclear energy market in the South Asian country Monday.

President Lee Myung-bak and his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devisingh Patil will attend the signing ceremony on the sidelines of summit talks to be held at Cheong Wa Dae earlier in the day.

During the summit, the two leaders will discuss ways to expand ties in the defense industry, cultural areas and human-to-human exchange programs.

After the summit talks, representatives of the two governments will sign a nuclear energy pact at a ceremony that Lee and Patil will attend.

The Indian president arrived in Seoul Sunday for a four-day visit at Lee’s invitation.

The two governments began talks to ink the agreement on nuclear energy in June last year when Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Seoul.

Governments are required to sign a bilateral agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy to enable their firms to access the nuclear energy market in their counterpart nation.

After such a deal is done, Korean businesses will be eligible to take part in bids to build nuclear power plants in India.

As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India reportedly plans to build 12 nuclear reactors by 2020 to meet soaring demand for electricity.

Last year, Korea signed a similar pact with South Africa which announced plans to construct several nuclear reactors.

Korea, which operates 21 nuclear reactors, won a deal to construct four nuclear reactors in Abu Dhabi in December 2009, marking its first export of nuclear technology. Nuclear plants provide about 40 percent of Korea’s electricity.

After the historic deal, the government has pushed for the export of nuclear energy technology to countries such as Jordan, Turkey, and Malaysia.

Source: The Korea Times

Korea, India to sign nuclear energy pact

Korea and India are set to sign a nuclear energy pact that will allow local firms to enter the multi-billion nuclear energy market in the South Asian country Monday.

President Lee Myung-bak and his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devisingh Patil will attend the signing ceremony on the sidelines of summit talks to be held at Cheong Wa Dae earlier in the day.

During the summit, the two leaders will discuss ways to expand ties in the defense industry, cultural areas and human-to-human exchange programs.

After the summit talks, representatives of the two governments will sign a nuclear energy pact at a ceremony that Lee and Patil will attend.

The Indian president arrived in Seoul Sunday for a four-day visit at Lee’s invitation.

The two governments began talks to ink the agreement on nuclear energy in June last year when Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Seoul.

Governments are required to sign a bilateral agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy to enable their firms to access the nuclear energy market in their counterpart nation.

After such a deal is done, Korean businesses will be eligible to take part in bids to build nuclear power plants in India.

As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India reportedly plans to build 12 nuclear reactors by 2020 to meet soaring demand for electricity.

Last year, Korea signed a similar pact with South Africa which announced plans to construct several nuclear reactors.

Korea, which operates 21 nuclear reactors, won a deal to construct four nuclear reactors in Abu Dhabi in December 2009, marking its first export of nuclear technology. Nuclear plants provide about 40 percent of Korea’s electricity.

After the historic deal, the government has pushed for the export of nuclear energy technology to countries such as Jordan, Turkey, and Malaysia.

Source: The Korea Times

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hamyang Wild Ginseng

The scenic county of Hamyang, South Gyeongsang is a major production base of wild ginseng at the foot of Mt. Jiri, spanning three provinces, North and South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang.

The "sanyang ginseng" from Hamyang is grown deep in the mountains for three to 20 years. It is not as large as the regular ginseng in size. But their health benefits are said to be extraordinary, according to ancient medical history books from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).

These ginseng plants are well known for their effectiveness in strengthening the immune system and detoxing the body.

Hamyang is ideal for ginseng plantations because of its enriched soil, fresh water and dedicated farmers.

The county holds an annual festival with various activities, including academic symposiums and exhibitions on ginseng.

Visitors can also tour a wild ginseng plantation and purchase regional specialties like herbs and facial mudpacks. This year, the festival will be held from July 29 to Aug. 2.

Hamyang will also host the 2015 World Ginseng Expo.

There are 400 families involved in ginseng plantations in the area, yielding 80 percent of the total production of sanyang ginseng in the country.

The local farmers are constantly coming up with new ideas to utilize sanyang ginseng in a variety of foods and drinks.

For more information, log on to or call (055)-960-5174.

Source: The Korea Times

Meet authors in summer vacation

Summer might be thought of as the perfect season for reading books as people escape to the beaches and mountains and sit back and relax with a good book. With vacation time available, there is no better time for reading.

To help readers choose the summer reading selections, branches of Kyobo Bookstore, the nation’s largest book shop, has launched a special program for the summer vacation.

Kyobo’s Gwanghwamun branch will hold autograph events in which celebrated authors will meet their fans. On July 23, comedians Park Jun-hyung, Oh Ji-heon and Yoon Seok-ju, who co-wrote “Gagmen’s Health,” will hold an autograph event at 2 p.m. The book reveals their exercise secrets and dietary habits and how they have transformed their lives as well as their figures.

At 3 p.m. on the same day, Chung Yu-jeong, author of “Nights of Seven Years,” which has sold more than 100,000 copies in the three months since its release, will meet her fans in the guseojae section. She has been selected as “The Author of July” at the Gwanghwamun branch. The novel is divided into two parts in a story-within-a-story format. The story revolves around a son whose father is a murderer. The son hears that his father was executed and his father’s death takes his son to the crime seven years ago. Also, in the story-within-a-story format, a man who kills a little girl goes crazy and a victim whose daughter was killed by the man takes revenge on the murderer’s son.

On July 24, celebrated baseball player Yang Jun-hyuk, author of “Run! As If Now Is the Last Moment,” will hold an autograph signing event. In this book, the retired player who has entered the entertainment industry candidly shares his personal failures and frustrations rather than his successes as a baseball player. He pens his philosophy — honesty and loyalty — earned through his athletic career.

On the same day, Ko Un, one of the most acclaimed poets in Korea, who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature several times, will appear at 3 p.m. He has recently released “Sanghwa Sipyeon.” “Sanghwa Sipyeon” is Ko’s first poet collection about love in his 53-year career. Consisting of 118 poems about love, the collection is dedicated to his wife, Lee Sang-hwa. The poems are about his wedding ceremony 28 years ago and the happiness he gets from his wife and his ongoing love for her.

Announcer Sohn Mina who wrote “Who Drew Mimoja?” will sign autographs for her fans at 2 p.m. on July 30. The novel is her first literature work except for previous travel guide books. The novel is about four women and men who are from different backgrounds and fall in love with each other.

In the Gangnam branch, Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura will meet her fans at 1 p.m. on July 23. Nakamura is gaining popularity in Korea for her books such as “Three.” The novel depicts a genius pickpocket who accepts a suspicious suggestion from a man who artfully commits heinous crimes. The author writes about solitude and agony through the main character who is left alone in society and used by others.

Renowned writer Choi In-ho who recently published a new novel “The City for Familiar Strangers” will meet his fans at 2 p.m. July 23. The novel was written while Choi was fighting cancer. The book is regarded as a landmark for his writing career with his literary styles.

Kyobo Bookstore has spearheaded providing electronic services for readers as information technology gadgets such as smartphones and tablet PCs are changing the landscape of the local publishing industry. The bookstore operates an online interview program titled “Real-Time Interview” connecting readers with authors through visual content.

On July 22, Chin Jung-kwon, social critic and professor, who wrote “Western Art History” was featured in the interview program. Readers can watch the videos through their mobile phones and communicate with authors by making real-time comments. Singers Ugene, Park Jae-beom and actress Jeon Hye-bin previously took part in the interview program and professor Jung Jae-seung and author Jo Kyung-ran appeared and received rave responses from online fans.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New wave of IT world rushing in

‘Cloud Meets Big Data’ was the hot issue in IT Forum which was recently held in COEX Convention Center. Cloud Computing has been the main stream of Korean Internet services since last year. It sounds little far from your daily life, but over 10 millions are using the Cloud service. Let’s take a look before it’s too late.

Hot issue in IT World, elusive Cloud computing

Cloud computing is defined as a computing environment providing services through internet servers such as a data storage, network, and contents at the same time according to Naver dictionary( In short, we put all data together into servers of data center so we could use them whenever we need. Just like the clouds intangible, the space doesn’t exist in computer, but we can handle them freely

(Source: EBN Industry News)

Let’s take an example with an email. Whenever you log in, you’ll receive emails or data. Your computer actually doesn’t have the storage for data but you can take them out from the internet server. This is a basic concept of it.
Cloud computing is a technology that you can use the Operating Systems(OS) such as Windows, and Mac, and Word processor, Office, Photoshop, Games and all kinds of application programs and the saved data with certain payment. Many of Korean corporations and government organizations already adopted the service or moving to adopt it. IT service companies are providing a large webhard-type of cloud service for individuals as well.

Faster, Easier and Cheaper

The advantage of the Cloud Computing is that you can save the space and costs. All you need are a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and the network function, and you just have to pay as much as you use. The other advantage is that you can use the data anytime with a variety of IT devices such as computers, tablet PCs, and smart phones.

For its cost effectiveness, the Cloud computing system is much more attractive to businesses than to individuals. With the Cloud Computing system, employees just need internet-accessible computer instead of expensive PC and software. In terms of security, the authentication process prevents the security breaches and information leaks.

(Source: NewsPim)

Firstly, the server stability and the security must be guaranteed for Cloud computing. In fact, a cloud computing service in the US was down for two hours with a huge loss. In this case, users’ loss must be tremendous. In terms of security, like DDoS, servers can be the target for hacking or attack. Strict security solution should be prepared to prevent such a horrible damage to data center

Seize the Growth Engine of Future Korea

The scale of the world Cloud Computing market is expected to grow from 31 billion dollars in 2011 to 60 billion dollars in 2014. It is the trend that world class IT businesses and venture companies consider the Cloud Computing a key industry in the future. Global competition for Cloud Computing among business and individual market is already underway

In response to global competition, Korean government announced the strategy last month that they will increase the Cloud Computing adoption rate up to 15%. The official said that they will improve the legal system in order to promote the growth of Cloud Computing market. In addition to encouraging government agencies build up Cloud Computing infrastructure in a certain percentage, Korean government support small businesses so that they can be a global competitor through combining data center with Cloud Computing.

Korean companies are set to Cloud Computing service. IT companies sell their services such as large scale Cloud Computing and virtualization solutions. They move ahead with international companies to be the leader in the world market of Cloud Computing market.

(Source: Digital Times)

Korean mobile service company K on June 30th made an agreement of joint venture together with Japanese company S. K has a plan to build up data center in Kimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do so that they could provide data service for not only Japanese companies but also for Asian companies within a radius of 2,000 km. Global e-bay company E announced last 13th they will build up data center in Busan to support Korea, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia branches. Prior to it, US IT company opened a data center in cooperation with Korean Insurance Company K in Songdo, Incheon city last November. It appears that more companies will open data centers in Korea

The key reasons for these trends are geological conditions, less natural disasters, stable and low cost electric service and reliable internet service. In particular, IT infrastructure is the most highly graded. With these strength and advantages, we are looking forward to being a leader in data center hub through Asia and global competitor in the world cloud computing service market.

Yeosu City hosting Expo

With one year left before the opening of the Yeosu Expo, the Organizing Committee is very busy in preparing the world event, drawing attentions from many countries. Focusing on one specific subject, “The Living Ocean and the Coast- Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities”, Yeosu will present something different.

It is very meaningful that the Expo focuses on specific topic and shows the future of the human activities.

Shall we take a look at Yeosu Expo?

Mosageum beach, a taste of Yeoso Ocean

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Lonesome and silent, the scenery of Yeosu Ocean is considered the best. Even people living near the ocean visit Yeosu to feel the cleanness and calmness. If you want to feel the Yeosu Ocean, Mosageum beach is the exact place.

Mosaguem beach is not as big as other beaches in Korea. However, the surrounding scenery is very beautiful and two naturally-created beaches make Mosaguem more special.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Both beaches are made up of small pebbles and soft sand. The sand is so soft that your feet will be deeply submerged in. In addition, it is good for parents to play with their kids around. Well, we also recommend you to take photos of the pebbles, which is nature itself, or to go fishing by the rocks on the seashore.

Mosageum, the treasure of Yeosu, has been well known for beautiful sand. Why not come down here for family vacation?

Enjoying Strange Rocks and Bizarre Stones of Baekdo Island

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Now, you would understand why Yeosu Expo focuses on ‘Marine World’ and how that attracts so many people.

On the other hand, there is another island which has been recognized by many well-known people around the world. Baekdo-island. It has 99 peaks, including small rocky islands.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

You can get around the island with a boat. It is interesting to see very unique styles of each island. For an example, you will find the large rock with a naturally carved hole that has become the shelter of the sea birds. Like this, Yeosu Ocean has an unlimited potential with a magnificent landscape of a variety of rocks and Geomundo Island floating on the ocean which is an hour distance by a boat. Clear blue sea will tell that Yeosu will be the perfect host city for the Great Marine Expo.

Do not miss it!

Children’s favorite, Marine Science Museum, Jeollanam-do

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Both Yeosu city and Yeosu Expo are not for the adults, but also for children. Children can also enjoy the both. The Marine Science Museum in Jeollanam-do will satisfy the curiosity of children.

Opened in 1998 and renovated in 2005, this museum introduces the beauty of National Marine Park of Dadohae and contributes to promoting tourism of Yeosu city.

You can see the native aquarium fish in the biggest cylinder-shaped water tank, the turtles living in the largest aquarium in Korea, and the mud flat aquarium which just look like a real one.

The ‘touch and feel’ aquarium is the most favorite for children. All visitors can touch the top shells, craps and other marine creatures. For more details, check the website http://www.해양수산과학관.kr

Wishing for Success of Yeosu Expo

The 2ndMeetingofParticipatingCountriesofYeosuExpo2012(Source:NewMediaTeam,YeosuExpo2012)

Since the Daejeon Expo, Yeosu Expo will gather the worldwide attention. They have a huge ambition of decorating the whole ocean as the fairground for the Expo for the first time ever in 150 year-old history of World Expo.

From small beaches to dark blue ocean with strange rocks and bizarre stones, and the space for the firsthand experience of the ocean, Yeosu is just perfect enough for ocean city. Shall we take fresh air in Yeosu this summer with the expectation for the coming Expo?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

De-Branding Revolution for Korea

A special report from the Korea Times Newspaper ,
Let's see how far his article justify to bring the branding Korea in a proper way....

Jon Huer
Korea Times Columnist

``Branding Korea'' is the new catchphrase for bureaucratic busybodies, PR-hustlers and advertisers. The idea is to sell Korea as a brand, like Coca Cola. Every Korean city or province is trying to come up with a catchphrase or logo that sets it above others so that it can be remembered. Some are ridiculous, many dubious, and most ineffective. Still, compelled by competition and compulsion, the push to ``brand Korea'' goes on. Hey, why can't the city of Jinju be another Paris or Gyeonggi Province another South of France? The dream goes on too.

Jon Huer
It is my very unpleasant duty as a sociologist to point out that countries are not commercial products and cannot be ``branded'' overnight like commercial products.

Countries are cultures whose histories stretch into decades, centuries or even millennia.

As Rome was not built overnight, no country's brand, or image, can be created with the magic wand of a public relations stunt or advertising campaign. Why can't a nation be branded or advertised or logo-ed like a commercial product?

The reason is in the very structural difference between a country and a product. The country's image is ``ideational,'' imagined in the mind, whereas that for a commercial product is ``sensory,'' mostly visually and aurally stimulating.

When a country's name is mentioned, we ``think'' about the country. That thinking has to do with many things, events, ideas, symbols, personalities and declarations.

If the country named is England, we think about the crown, the English language, the Queen, the Tower of London, history, social class, tradition, Henry the 8th, Elizabethan poetry, Shakespeare, Victorian morality, Charles Dickens, the Battle of Hastings, Magna Carta, and so on that define England as a whole.

As much as England is made up of things, like houses and land, we think of England as a ``thought,'' an idea, a combination of many such thoughts and ideas that come to us as the ``Brand of England.''

When a commercial product is mentioned, such as Coca Cola, we ``react'' to it. Our mind immediately turns to a specific-particularistic imagery, normally a combination of various sense effects, such as a jingle or tingling sense on our taste buds.

Generally the sense-product comes to us in a bottle, a glass or a paper cup, with carbonated liquid sparkling on the surface and ready to be swallowed. No abstract ideas or thoughts are connected to the product as there is no ``history'' and there is no abstract process connected to the product. It's just a ``thing'' that our senses recognize.

So here is the problem with the ``Branding Korea'' project. Korea needs ``DE-BRANDING'' as urgently as it needs branding.

Korea has too many images, thoughts and ideas connected to Korea already that are highly negative and critical.

In short, there are just too many negative, uncomplimentary previously-established items associated with the country called ``Korea.''

De-branding would, along with the branding campaign, eradicate or neutralize these negative symbolisms associated with Korea. Getting rid of an old negative is often more effective than trying to create a new positive.

As long as the old negative still exists, it is only magnified by the attempt at creating a new positive, which makes the whole affair laughable.

Like many other countries, Korea is cursed with certain fixed images. For a starter, Koreans are thought of as rude, pushy and dishonest. Long-standing impressions are that Japanese are polite, Filipinos are friendly, Thais smile, and Koreans frown. Let me give two extended examples.

Some years ago, National Geographic (NG) sent a reporter to Sri Lanka to write a feature article on the country. As the NG reporter was traveling through the countryside with a translator-guide, they noticed a car driving by them at dizzyingly great speed.

The NG reporter, quite surprised, asked his guide if all Sri Lankan motorists drove like that.

``Oh. No,'' the guide said, ``We don't drive like that. He must be a Korean!'' This exchange took place in Sri Lanka, thousands of miles away from Korea but Korea's reputation had preceded that far already. Is it likely that a little ``Branding Korea'' would erase this image of Korea in Sri Lanka or anywhere else where Koreans drive?

Another urgent issue for de-branding: The English-teaching enterprise in Korea centered on so-called ``hagwon'' that are by and large unregulated and in many cases corrupt.

Korea needs to completely revamp this sordid English-teaching business.

It is a national shame and sore that gives Korea about as big a black eye as anything. The ``hagwon'' mass-produce unhappy and bitter English teachers and they are some of the loudest sources of negative thoughts and ideas about Korea.

These English teachers spread stories of unethical business practices and personal injustices, all perpetrated by shady hagwon-owners, to other teachers and eventually all over the English-speaking world.

Hagwon are the hotbed of evil deeds and speculative swindlers, as English business tends to attract speculators and swindlers more than anything in Korea because of its very wild, unregulated nature.

There are countless tales of woes experienced and retold among English teachers all over the world and that alone is bad enough to kill off any goodwill generated by the so-called ``Branding Korea'' effort. One English teacher who has been victimized by a bad hagwon-owner can offset the effect of 100 feel-good logos and image-building commercials for Korea.

Unfortunately, Korea's image is not a positive one as there are too many time-created and world-wide negatives strongly embedded in the thoughts and ideas about it. Korea needs to ``de-brand'' all such negatives, large and small, easy and difficult, critical and light, before Korea can seriously think about branding itself as a viable international product.

Without this de-branding first, all such campaigns would not only be ineffective, but also create ridicule and more negatives among the community of nations.

Most immediately, Korea could mandate that all overseas-bound Korean travelers take an intensive class on international manners, rules and etiquette before they embark on their journey and embarrass Korea with their ``Korean'' behavior on the international stage.

What, then, are those negatives about Korea that Korea needs to de-brand urgently, to be taught in the pre-travel class (this should apply domestically too)? I will list them as follows:

1. Do not take Korean food on overseas vacations, especially kimchi and ramen, and do not cook in hotel rooms. Eat local food.
2. Do not take a conspicuous amount of cash; take travelers checks instead.
3. Don't be loud, especially when bunched up with other Koreans.
4. Don't break line, overseas or in Korea, and hold doors for others.
5. Do not litter in public places. Do not spit loudly in public.
6. Be punctual with foreigners and do not change plans at the last minute.
7. Maintain good workmanship in all things; have long-term views on all goods and services sold to foreigners.
8. Follow rules; drive carefully and slowly; park courteously.
9. Use English with foreigners as much as possible; do not speak to them in Korean. One word in English comprehended is worth 100 in Korean not comprehended.
10. Smile more, and slow down in all things; do not run at all if not necessary.

These are what individuals can do.

But for Korea as a nation, the individual efforts are not enough. It needs something resembling a Korean-version ``cultural revolution.'' What kind? The idea is so important for Korea's de-branding that I am going to capitalize it:


This action will create jobs for the college graduates, and will surely make Korea one of the most exemplary nations on Earth and Lee Myung-bak the most popular President in Korean history. This will also be the kind of spiritual awakening Korea needs, long to be remembered by posterity.

Who is Jon Huer?

Jon Huer received his Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 1975 and is the author of a dozen books of social criticism, including The Dead End in 1977, which TIME Magazine's Lance Morrow called "an important and often brilliant book"; The Wages of Sin in 1991; Tenure for Socrates in 1990; The Great Art Hoax in 1992; The Fallacies of Social Science in 1989; Marching Orders in 1988; The Post-Human Society in 2005; and The Green Palmers.

Most of these titles are available at and Dr. Huer last taught at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where he was an associate professor of sociology before joining the University of Maryland University College in 1994 and is currently professor of sociology at UMUC-Asia. He specializes in American society and considers himself an avid observer of all-things Korean.

US geographers take story of Korea back home

Every rock has its own story. A lonely island in the East Sea is no exception.

Dokdo, a cluster of rocky islets off South Korea’s east coast, will finally have its unrequited story put into words correctly in foreign geography textbooks.

Dokdo and the East Sea have been wrongly identified as Takeshima and the Sea of Japan in many world maps and foreign school textbooks.

To shed light on its long-unrecognized story, involving the wrong notation of their names, a group of geographers and cartographers held the 2nd International Conference on Territorial and Geographic Education here from June 30 to July 1.

Participants who teach and write textbooks in the United States plan to reflect what they have learned about Korea when updating American textbooks.

“I’m going to go back and talk about how Korea educates her people and the importance of sensitivities about what we heard and try to get that improved,” said Celeste Fraser, president of the Geographic Society of Chicago, who has authored geography and social studies materials for textbook publishers such as Prentice Hall.

The conference, co-hosted by the Northeast Asian History Foundation (NAHF) and the Korean Geographical Society (KGS), aimed to improve American geographers’ knowledge of Korea and share knowledge about geographic education in the two countries. Ten American geography teachers and authors of geography textbooks from 10 different states and 20 of their South Korean counterparts attended the conference.

Learning about Korea

But the conference was just the beginning to learning not only about Dokdo and the East Sea, but about Korea as a whole.

They also went on field trips to historical and cultural sites.

“In a way the conference prepped us for the field study because we’ve heard a lot of things in the conference we’ve been able to observe in the field study,” said Joseph Stoltman, professor of Geography and Science Education at Western Michigan University and former president of the National Council for Geographic Education.

On the field trip which started in Icheon, located in Gyeonggi Province, participants saw how Korean traditional celadon was made. At Andong Hahoe Folk Village located in North Gyeongsang Province, participants experienced the traditional Korean way of life.

Hahoe village, a UNESCO World Heritage, well conserves traditional living culture and architectural styles. From the tree of “sam-sin,” three grandmother ghosts to whom people prayed for a child, to the mask museum where they could see how people enjoyed recreational activities, the participants could get a glimpse of how Koreans used to live in the past.

In Gyeongju, a city located in North Gyeongsang Province, participants visited Bulguk Temple, and Sukgulam, a cave temple with a large stone statue of Buddha, another UNESCO World Heritage.

“This trip has really helped me get a sense of diversity of landscapes of Korea from the urban to the rural. I have been able to see much more in terms of the agriculture, livelihood and food. It has really broadened my awareness.” said Alyson Greiner, associate professor of Geography at Oklahoma State University and author of a college-level textbook, “Visualizing Human Geography: At Home in a Diverse World.”

At the beach in front of the underwater tomb of King Munmu of Silla who finished his mission of unifying the three kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla), the geographers each collected a variety of stones to take back home in memory of the trip.

“I’m going to write ‘East Sea Rock’ on this. If I give kids something to hold, they’re going to remember it. If I write down something to identify them, they’ll remember better,” said Shagufta Ellam who teaches world geography at McNeil High School in Austin, Texas.

Although the 10 American geographers could breathe the air of the East Sea, the original plan was to actually set foot on Dokdo and see and feel the geographic vicinity of them to the mainland. The plan was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

“I was a little disappointed indeed not to be able to visit Dokdo. But considering the time limitations and weather conditions, I understand it would not have been practical to visit the islets,” said Dan Page, a social studies teacher at Woodstock High School and an adjunct professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. “But I have created a lesson activity for my upcoming classes dealing with the Dokdo issue. Before the end of this school year, I will be an authority on Dokdo and so will my students.”

Taking Korea to the world

Being educators, the geographers were keen to take what they have learned back home and teach their American students.

“We would love to be able to teach about Korea and Asia but we need help,” said Celeste Fraser. “The problem with our education system is that geography is not a required course. So although we do teach about Korea in World Geography class, if students don’t take the class, they wouldn’t learn about Korea. Even in the textbooks, however, Korea is only covered briefly. If there are four pages about China, there is only one about Korea.”

Many of them knew about Korea and have taught about it but have never been to the country. For many, the trip was their first time in Asia, let alone Korea.

“We knew about Korea but we only heard of its economic development, its position in the Four Asian Tigers,” said Alyson Greiner. “We’ve heard more about North Korea and its dictatorship than we have about South Korea.”

The conference and the trip were eye-openers for these American educators who saw, heard and felt Korean society, culture, its history and geography.

“Learning about the geographical naming dispute on the East Sea has actually given me a face and the whole emotion behind it, especially with the field study,” said Shagufta Ellam.

The legacies from the trip will live on, said Joseph Stoltman. “What we can make out of this experience is projecting out to the future to the greater benefit of Korea and the U.S. We’ll try to get some things in the publications that will reflect upon this experience.”

During the trip, he had picked up a rock from each place he visited. “Every rock has its own story,” Stoltman had said.

The East Sea rocks the 10 geographers took back will now tell the stories of Korea — each in their own state.

'Design is design is not design'

The 2011 Biennale questions essence of design

Design has become an everyday word, but the meaning of the word is still motley and vague.

The 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale will explore the basics of design and the evolution in its paradigm from Sept. 2 to Oct. 23 at Gwangju Biennale Hall and selected locations in the southern city of Gwangju.

The theme of the event is “Design is design is not design.” The riddle-like phrase comes from Chinese philosopher Laozi’s classic text “Tao Te Ching,” which opens with the phrase “The way that is the way is not always the way.”

“This year’s biennale throws out a basic question — what is the fundamental of design and can it improve the quality of life,” architect Seung H-sang, artistic director of the 2011 biennale, said.

Seung added that the 2011 biennale will present a new vision on design, integrating Asian values.

“The concept of design in the 21th century has expanded to relationships between people and place from just beautifying objects. In these changes that time has brought to us, we will cover named, unnamed, placed and unplaced design and the urban ecological system in the biennale,” the art director said.

One hundred and thirty two artworks by 129 artists and 74 companies from 44 countries will be exhibited.

Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist and political activist who co-directs the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale with Seung, will present his work “Field” at the thematic section.

“Field” is an installation composed of porcelain pipes with the pattern of blue and white porcelain from the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). First showcased at the 2010 Art Basel, the work was said to visualize the social conditions of China.

“The blue and white porcelain pattern symbolizes the long tradition of China, while the pipe modules stand for the country’s industrialization and modernization,” an official of the biennale foundation said.

However, Ai will not attend the biennale in person. The human rights activist was held in custody from April to June due to alleged economic criminal charges, but human rights groups all over the world protest his detention.

Co-director Seung said he visited Ai’s studio in Beijing earlier this month and discussed the progress of the event. “We have been officially notified that Ai cannot attend the biennale, but we want him to come to Gwangju and will try to bring him over until September,” Seung said.

Named and unnamed

The biennale is composed of six sections — Thematic, Named, Un-Named, Communities, Urban Follies and Biennale City.

The Thematic section unravels the event’s theme in various ways.

American composer Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky’s “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica” and “The Nauru Elegies: A Portrait in Sound and Hypsographic Architecture” explore a new understanding of the environment, while Korean landscape designer Kim Ah-yeon and Park Seung-jin promote the interaction between humans and nature through their multimedia piece “Listening to Forest.”

The Named exhibition presents creations of contemporary designers in established fields such as fashion and graphic and industrial design. Ahn Ji-yong and Lee Sang-hwa’s Manifesto Architecture suggests a new way of using space creatively in dense, crowded city through “Bike Hanger.”

The Desertec Foundation of Germany will describe the production and supply route of recycled energy at the “Transcontinental Energy Grid,” while Ghanaian artist Eric Adjetey Anang will design coffins in a Ghanaian way with Korean cultural hues, seeking the connection between death and design.

The Communities exhibition features 38 works form 56 artists and companies, contemplating meaning in placed and unplaced design and production and consumption.

The food community will incorporate 12 food designers from nations including Korea, U.S., Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to investigate the evolution of the community through culinary culture. The on-site community space will hold various lectures and workshops, with the flexibility to change according to the type of event.

Urban Follies, or the Gwangju Folly Project, will build small, ornamental yet iconic landmarks in the old town center to revitalize the area as a cultural center. Renowned architects including Juan Herreros of Spain, Florian Beigel of Germany, Peter Eisenman of the U.S. and Dominique Perrault of France will each build follies.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Road Trip in Jeju............could be exciting journey for lifelong.......what do you say !

Jeju beach with emerald tints and peculiar living rocks are very beautiful like the fine paintings. You can have beautiful scenery by just pressing a button on your camera. In addition, driving the offshore will make you refresh your mind.

You will realize that time flies so fast when dropping by some attractive places while driving the offshore road. Now we will introduce you the must-go places in Jeju island.

Dive along the Green Forest!

The road which will be now introduced is 516 Forest Road Tunnel that was built for the first in this island. It is a shortcut from Jeju city on the South to Seogwipo city on the North of the island, crossing Mt. Halla. It definitely reduced the travelling time and is quite faster than the other ways. The road is rather zigzag, however, once you pass the Sungpan Rest Area, you will meet the trees that just look like a tunnel. While passing the tunnel we will feel as if the trees were greeting you.

(Source : AsiaToday)

On your diving, you will see the Sancheon-dan altar for Mt. Halla and Sungpanak, the tracking course. Suak vallley is made of clear water from Baeknok-dam, the lake located on the top of the Mt. Halla. It ia connected by thick forest and azure's virgin forest and it's changed by the season. The road is lined up with Jeju typical trees and there are grazing ponies, too. 516 Forest Road Tunnel is thickly wooded and keeps the cool temperature even in summer. When you pass the tunnel, turn off the air-conditioner and open the car window to feel the beauty of nature.

Sagye Coastal Road

Sagye (four seasons) Coastal Road is an absolutely wonderful road which will surround you by the sea breeze and wind. As the Mt. Sanbang and Mt. Songak are located at each of the end of the seashore, the driving course is even peaceful and comfortable. Drivers can get the full view of the sea as well. Everyday many visitors are passing this beautiful coastal road to see the harmonized seashore, mountain and roads and all the beautiful sceneries around with its breath-taking sunset

(Source: Korean Tourism Organization)

We can see not only the Sagye seashore not only the Brothers islands guarding the South Sea, and away from here, we can also see the Gapa island and southernmost island, Mara island. Recently, the Sagye Coastal Road was designated as "One of the most beautiful 100 roads in Korea" by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation. After 50 minutes of driving along the No.95 local road from Jeju city, you will reach at a town which is the entrance of the Sagye-ri harbor. Then, go toward the beach about 5 minutes, and you will be dazzled by the coolest sea in front of you.

This area is also famous for the Asian-first human’s footprints fossil of the Old Stone Age. There are other footprints of the elephants, dears and birds as well. Archeologists said this geographical strata was created in the fourth stages of the Cenozoic era 50,000 years ago. Since it was reported on the news, a number of tourists are continuously visiting here to see the fossils by themselves. However, since the Cultural Heritage Administration designated this area as one of the state-designated natural monuments, it has been impossible to enter the area.

Some people leave their car and take a walk around the area to see the Mt. Sanbang, Brothers islands, Gapa island , Mara island, and Mt. Songak. We hope you enjoy the road trip on Sagye Coastal Road.

Cedar Forest

Well, driving along the coast would be so good, but there is other driving course you would also be excited. It is the 27.3 km-long Rd. No.1112, which connects Gujwa-eup Pyongdae-ri and the Rd. No.516. The way ahead is full of cedar.

(Source: Munhwa Ilbo)

This road was awarded a grand prize by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation in 2002. It's very exotic as if you were in somewhere in north-American forests. Actually, this place appeared in many of CFs, movies and TV dramas. About 2,570 typical Jeju trees are growing wild here and make us feel refreshed when driving through or walking through the road.

Jeju driveways are full of blue water, beautiful estuary, cedars and secondary volcanoes. Why don't we leave for Jeju this Summer?

We are Civil Diplomats

Generally, diplomat is a representative of a country, and mainly works for his own country. But do we call those who only pursue the national profit 'Diplomats'? No. Diplomats could be those who care and help others to make them happy. Reputation of the person would be coming after.

In Korea, many volunteer organizations have been very active in overseas for a long time.

(Source: COPION)

Civil Volunteer Organizations

The word, "Relief Organization" first appeared after the Korean War. A relief organization, World Vision was born in the war-torn Korea 60 years ago. World Vision which grew up with the Korean economy, witnessed that Korea turned into giving nation from receiving nation. World Vision Korea is the first and only official cooperation organization which belongs to WEP(World Food Programme) among other domestic NGOs, being recognized its professionalism.

Its business varies on area, field, international business, etc. Domestic ministry is helping the community to live on their own, which is their ultimate goal.

At present, World Vision Korea became one of the members of World Vision International, which is one of the largest civil international organization in the world and has about 40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries. Accordingly, World Vision International obtained the consultative status from UN-ECOSOC(Economic and Social Council).

INCOPION, the overseas volunteer organization, mainly dispatches Korean volunteers abroad. Since its establishment in 1999, many youth from Korea have been dispatched to about 143 local NGOs and non-profit organizations in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America twice a year. Especially, COPION has removed age and education limit from 2003, which has broadened more opportunities for not only youth but also over 36 year-old senior volunteers.

(Source: Good People)

COPION is also recruiting the short and long term volunteers with a background knowledge, such as in computer, music, Korean martial arts to teach the poor family and children.

Good People is a volunteer medical organization which cares about neighbors around the world who are mostly vulnerable to poverty, disaster, and disease due to the social isolation, and also provide health care to them. They started to give a professional help and make their hope come true with every single help from all over the world. Good People engages in various activities to develop the isolated regions, such as poverty eradication, child protection, education, prevention and treatment of disease, and emergency relief, which are especially conducted in distant and less favored areas heavily populated by ethnic minorities with no government protection or civilization.

Lastly, Good News Corps is a very young organization. Like the slogan, "Boys are our future and hope.", they try to communicate with the children in the world and provide education and exchange each culture. The members learn leadership, humble mind, and a new culture. They are quite confident at learning the new language naturally within four months during their activities.

To Raise the National Value

Many would agree that lots of overseas volunteer organizations contribute to raising the national brand. Based on the understanding, the Korean government last 2009 integrated all overseas volunteer projects of each government ministry into WFK (World Friends Korea).

Three volunteer groups, KOICA(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), IT Volunteer Group(Ministry of Public Administration and Security), College Students for Volunteering(Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) were firstly integrated in 2010, and mid and long term advisors(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Retired Professionals(Ministry of Knowledge Economy) and the World Taekwondo Peace Corps(Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) started to work under the name of WFK.

Please give a big applause of encouragement to those who deliver the world peace and love even at this moments.

(Source: Good News Corps)