Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Korean Studies Require Substantial Support amid Hallyu Boom

The Munhwa Ilbo

When the craze for Korean popular entertainment is spreading across the world, Korean studies scholars from many countries are meeting in Seoul, from July 7-9, for an international symposium organized by the Korea Foundation.

The booming interest in learning and researching Korea`s language, culture, economic development and democratization process around the world may be attributed to the growing recognition of Korea in the international community. Korea`s success is assuring developing and poverty-stricken countries suffering from vicious cycles of ethnic and religious conflict, hatred and deprivation that they can improve their conditions by promoting education, economic development, free trade and democracy.

The U.S. public network, PBS, is airing a series of “The Kimchi Chronicles.” On July 6, hallyu fans in New York and Los Angeles staged flash mobs asking for K-pop concerts to be held in their cities. A recent K-pop concert in Europe made headlines, but hallyu is spreading more broadly to such Middle Eastern countries as Iran and Egypt, Africa and South America, stirring up dreams among numerous young people. The favorable reception of Korean culture and values in the name of hallyu in the global community and the rise of Korean studies as an academic discipline attest to the growth of Korea`s soft power.

Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University, who analyzed a nation`s power in terms of soft power instead of military might, said, “A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries admire its values, emulate its example, aspire to its level of prosperity and openness.” However, the Korean government`s budget leaves too much to be desired when it comes to assisting overseas programs in Korean studies. Oxford University almost closed its Korean studies program in 2005. In 2009, the Korean government invited criticism by reneging on its promise to support research funding in seven universities in the United States, Japan and Germany.

Proposals for support to Korean studies abroad have been pushed back in the assessment of priorities on grounds that they are not urgent. But it is time to drastically increase support for overseas Korean studies programs in order to nurture Korea`s soft power and disseminate Korea-spawned hopes and dreams across the global community.
[ July 8, 2011 ]
Source: KOREA FOCUS (Magazine)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Korea charms Imphal youths news from Manipuri Website (

The visit of 11-member team from Seoul has come down to dispense free medical treatment through acupuncture, medicines, haircuts and gifts have been a boon to many Korean followers in Imphal.

The Telegraph's Korea charms Imphal youths carried a report on the visit which reminds us of the various other impacts Korean has on our youths and society. Anjulika Thingnam wrote in her article 'Soaps, songs, stars: Manipur's Korea wave' that when Jeong Seok, 35, came to Imphal from the South Korean capital of Seoul recently to take part in a food festival, he felt completely at home. It happens this time too.

The article says that Pai Hyee Jou, a Korean painter, was stunned when Mapui, a young Manipuri girl, addressed her in fluent Korean. From dress to hairstyles youths of Imphal are a diehard fan of Korean styles.

Another article at Taipei Times writes, "Hairdressing salons are covered with headshots of Korean celebrities and offer a wide range of spiky, "Korean-style" cuts, which are hugely popular with young Manipuris of both sexes. Korean culture has entered deep into the life of Manipuris now.

Even films nowadays are influenced by Korean films and dramas. Oliver in his article 'The influence of Korean TV dramas' writes in length about it.

The article from The Telegraph writes, "Korean culture has always fascinated youths in Imphal. It has become fashionable for Manipuri boys and girls to sport Korean haircuts and dresses.

Most video parlours in the city have more Koreans films than Hollywood or Manipuri films and the youths are more familiar with Korean actor Rain than Shah Rukh Khan". Many youths are happy and overwhelmed by this visit and hope this would provide a good relation between the two people.

The article reports Cho Tae Soo saying that this is their first visit. They are happy with the response. Their trip and the people's response would improve the relationship between Manipur and Korea.

One can see the related topic from " The Telegraph, Sinlung news or "

Donation can enrich museum and nation

From designer hats, stylish shoes and interesting books to fancy umbrellas and traditional costumes, various personal items dating back from the 1910s to 1980s have been donated by Sohn Kyung-ja, costume designer and scholar, to the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Her donation, comprising 550 pieces from her collection, is not made up of just objects but of memories connecting her with her parents and her past prime as a young trendsetter. Despite much attachment to the items, she contributed gladly to the museum to share them and her life with others.

“This museum is one of the best in the nation. It has a good collection of exhibits and a lot of visitors, especially foreigners. So I was very happy to donate the old items to the museum,” Sohn said in an interview with The Korea Times.
The 81-year-old is a retired professor who taught students in the home economics department and specialized in costumes studies at Sejong University from 1959 to 1995.

“The objects in my donation were used by me and my parents. I didn’t throw anything away because I consider all of them precious. So I have kept all the antique items until now,” she said.

Among her donations, a “hwalot” or bridal robe is her favorite item. The robe dates back to 1910. In a traditional wedding, a bride wore an elaborate topcoat with drooping sleeves over her other clothes. Similar to the costumes worn by queens and noblewomen of the time, the hwalot is flamboyantly embroidered with flowers symbolizing wealth, longevity and nobility.

Also, her works originally presented to the Korea Fashion Show in 1963, including a revamped “hanbok,” were donated to the museum. Her modernized hanbok, which was unusual at that time, features a short skirt and fancy colors patterned with stripes while maintaining the original form of the traditional beauty.

“The museum lacks a collection of antiques from the 1950s to 1980s, although it has many older items. So I hope my donation will show the trends and changes of fashion during that period,” she said.

Sohn lamented, however, that she could have donated more items if she hadn’t lost the rare and valuable costumes her mother made for her wedding during the Korean War (1950-53).

As a costume designer, she inherited her talent from her mother, who had excellent traditional dress-making skills.

“Some of my collections were made by my mother. Her clothes were created in a traditional way so that it shows an important moment of traditional Korean costumes,” she said.

“I think my possessions are very precious but I don’t think they should be owned and enjoyed only by my family. They should be shared by others. When the museum is enriched, the nation becomes rich, too.”

Sohn encouraged others to donate their valuable items to the museum but she said so far many are reluctant to do so.

“I think donation of items in Korea is still unpopular because people tend to keep things for themselves,” she said.

Her collection includes not only Korean antiques but also other Asian costumes and relics she collected as she traveled with the Korea Society of Costumes. She helped launch the organization in 1975 and participated in the international assembly every year from 1982.

“During that period when overseas travel was not as free as now, I had the privilege to travel to various countries for academic reasons. So I would collect various items in the countries I visited,” she said.

Among her overseas collection, folk costumes from the Miao ethnic group of China are some of the rarest items. Their costumes are richly adorned with silver, wrinkles and embroidery representing the wearer’s social status and wealth. The Miao have unique characteristics in accordance with the tribe and region. The making of the costumes requires a lot of time due to excessive embellishments.

“It’s some of the most beautiful clothing in Asia. The decorations and details are very distinguished and extraordinary,” she said.

Sohn said that since the museum aims to become a multicultural space for an increasing number of multicultural families in Korea, she decided to donate her Asian traditional costumes and accessories. Her Asian collection includes items from China, Mongolia, Japan and other countries.

The items are on display through Oct. 17.

Source: The Korea Times

ASEAN-Korea Centre builds business partnerships

Southeast Asian furniture and interior design companies are finding Korean partners to enter the domestic market with the help of an international organization set up here to enhance trade and investment between Korea and Southeast Asia.

Working with the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, governments select ideal companies to invite to Korea. ASEAN-Korea Centre organized an “ASEAN Pavilion” at the Korea International Furniture & Interior Fair 2011, or KOFURN 2011, to display the companies’ furniture and interior decorations.

Southeast Asian companies interested in expanding their businesses to overseas markets accepted the invitation ― many of them coming to Korea for the first time, so they could find Korean importers, wholesale buyers and distributors.

ASEAN-Korea Centre is focused on promoting trade and investment by organizing Southeast Asian participation in three trade exhibitions this year in selected industries: jewelry, textiles and furniture. It helped showcase jewelry companies in April, furniture companies at KOFURN 2011 from Aug. 24 through 28, and textiles at “Preview in Seoul,” organized by the Korean federation of textiles Industries (KOFTI) at COEX from Aug. 31 through Sep. 2. Preview in Seoul is a business trade show which has special highlights on high functional and eco textiles and presents outstanding and distinguished textiles

There were some 140 companies from all over the world represented at KOFURN 2011, organized annually by the Korea Federation of Furniture industry Cooperatives since 1984.

Trade shows like this one are now more important than ever before for a struggling Korean economy dependent on trade for its very survival. The ASEAN economic area represents about $100 billion, second only to Korea’s trade with China. ASEAN-Korea trade has exploded this year, growing 30 percent in the first half.

That’s why the government looks to international organizations like the ASEAN-Korea Centre to work with its partners in Southeast Asian countries, trade promotion centers and government ministries to nurture a crucial area of Korea’s livelihood.

“We focused on some companies that are taking advantage of their respective countries rich natural resources in lumber like teak,” Moon Ki-bong, trade and investment manager at ASEAN-Korea Centre, said. “Indoexim from Indonesia has been particularly successful at this fair, attracting a lot of interest from potential Korean partners.”

Trade ministries of partner countries developed a short list of about six companies for the ASEAN-Korea Centre, and then the center selected two companies from each country.

“We at Indoexim have a particular advantage in pricing because labor costs for us are even lower than in China,” Hartono Gunawan, representing the furniture manufacturer and exporter for his brother Basuki Kurniawan who was busy preparing for another trade show in Germany, said. “Manufacturing costs for labor are about a third of that in China. We got a great deal for Korean retailers.”

Hartono said the brothers have seemingly different names because they do not commonly use their surname with foreign business partners, as it is unwieldy long for them.

Other companies do not rely on low cost quality products as their business model for success. Lightworks Resources of the Philippines focused on design development by manufacturing hip, modern interior designs and furniture from recycled industrial waste like marble powder from one factory in the Philippines and discarded sea shell material from another. The result was extraordinary: Comfortable and elegant chairs, tables and wall decorations.

“We were accustomed to the markets in Europe, America and Japan,” said Rashimi Singh, an elegant older woman who owns and operates the business with her husband Ravi. “It’s altogether a new dance for us.”

“We have architectural and design backgrounds. So, we came here with an open mind and open heart. Korea is a wholly new experience, she added.

Lightworks Resources is a medium-sized company with $2 million I sales annually.

At ASEAN-Korea Centre’s ASEAN Pavilion there were eight of the Southeast Asian association’s 10 member-states participating in the fair: Tube Home and Hin Lim Furniture from Malaysia; PT Indoexim International and Nature Habit from Indonesia; Lightworks Resources and Maze Manufacturing from the Philippines; Picotee International and Deesawat Industries from Thailand; Lin Win ans Asia Wood from Myanmar; Tam Lang Craft from Vietnam; Batik Desamas and Ricoh Handicraft from Brunei; and, Kuda Ltd. and Honey Wood Industries from Singapore.

Laos and Cambodia chose to participate in two different trade fairs of the three that ASEAN-Korea Centre is helping to organize this year.

Picotee International Co., Ltd. of Thailand was venturing into the Korean market for the first time as well. “We are here to learn more about the Korean furniture market and to find a partner,” said Am-Orn Srisajjakul, Picotee marketing manager.

The Thai furniture manufacturer worked closely with the country’s trade promotion office and ASEAN-Korea Centre to embark on their goal of expanding their approximately $40 million in annual sales.

Source: The Korea Times

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Khan exploring spirituality with vertical moves

In 2009, fans of dance and cinema alike were ecstatic to see French actress Juliette Binoche dancing with esteemed British choreographer Akram Khan. Next month Khan will return to Seoul, but this time without the accompaniment of a superstar to showcase what he calls “pure movements” with vertical inclinations.

Khan is known for infusing India’s traditional Kathak with modern dance to create something that leaps over generational and geographical borders.

The upcoming performance will feature his latest 2010 piece “Vertical Road.” Praised by critics as “fertile dance that touches the soul and lingers in the imagination” (The Australian), it is expected to further push boundaries.

The work will feature the biggest ensemble of dancers his company has ever worked with, including a host of international artists from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The cast includes Korean dancer Kim Young-jin, who has previously worked with Hofesh Shechter, as well as artists from Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand, among others.

In “Vertical Road” the dancers, move as if electrocuted, performing religious rites or making wild, jerking moves.

The piece portrays the basic human desire for vertical ascension, as found in many Christian cultures through dynamic movements. The focus on verticality is a direct reflection of the choreographer’s criticism of today’s “horizontal current,” or modern man’s enslavement to speedy technological development. Verticality thus symbolizes counter movements to such trends.

“More and more, I am pulled reluctantly towards a strong horizontal current, which is a place where time is moving at such high velocity, that even our breath is forced to accelerate just in order for us humans to survive,” Khan said in a statement.

“And I have always believed, that it is in our slow exhalation, where the sense of this deep spiritual energy resides. In a world moving so fast, with the growth of technology and information, I am somehow inclined to move against this current, in search of what it might mean to be connected not just spiritually, but also vertically.”

Khan is of Bangladeshi origin and trained in traditional Indian dance and gained theater experience in Peter Brook’s legendary play “The Mahabharata.” He earned an international reputation through his contemporary spin on traditional Indian dance and formed his own company in 2000. In 2001 he became the choreographer in residence of the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“Vertical Road” will be staged at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Visit for more information.

Source: The Korea Times

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Samsung, LG ranked top in global TV market in 2nd quarter

Two leading Korean electronic makers -- Samsung and LG Electronics -- have taken the top two highest ranks in the global TV market.

According to a report by Display Search, a global market research firm, released on August 22, Samsung Electronics topped the global TV market with the highest market share of 22.4 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Samsung has ranked at the top of the list since 2006, followed by LG Electronics with a global market share of 14.9 percent. Sony took an 11.4-percent market share, followed by Panasonic at 9.3 percent and Sharp which recorded 6.8 percent.

(From left) 3DTV of LG Electronics, LED TV of Samsung Electronics

Samsung ranked the top in the flat-screen, LED, and 3D TV market with a 22.6-percent global market shares in flat-screen TVs, 19.9 percent in LED TVs, and 34.4 percent of the shares in the 3D TV market.

LG ranked second with a 14.4 percent global market share in flat-screen TVs and an 11.6 percent share in LED TVs, and third with a 12.4-percent share in the global 3D TV market.

The volume of the global flat-screen TV market showed a two-percent increase over that of the previous quarter this year.

Sales of 3D TVs, which showed more than a 130 percent increase over that of the previous quarter, mainly led the sales rise of the flat-screen TV market which took more than ten percent of the total volume of flat-screen TV sales.


Enjoy beach camping on Jeungdo in Sinan

A good option for a summer vacation is to stay a night under a tent on an island beach. If you can set up a tent in a pine tree forest, safety is not a concern.

Jeungdo in Sinan County in South Jeolla Province is a good place to enjoy beach camping.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the island is Asia’s first town to join the international network of towns involved in “Cittaslow,” meaning “slow city” or “slow town” in Italian.

There are two places that allow camping in Jeungdo ― Ujeon Beach and Jjangttungeo Beach.

The Ujeon Beach sands are fine and soft like flour. With a wide 100-meter width beach and shallow waters, the beach is recommended for families with young children.

Behind Ujeon Beach, a thick pine tree forest is seated where 50-60 year-old 100,000 pine trees line up along it. The forest was established 50 years ago to protect the town from heavy sand winds. The camping spot is equipped with shower rooms and toilets.

If you are a bike-person, cycling through the forest is recommended. Jeungdo, was designated “an island of bicycles” in 2007 to protect its natural environment.

Another place to check on the island is the Taepyeong Salt Farm, the modern cultural asset No. 360. Walking along the 220-meter long trail, you will find more than 70 colonies of plants forming a unique and colorful harmony and various creatures living in the salt farm. You can learn more about the origin and value of sea salts at the Salt Museum located at the entrance of the salt farm which is designated as modern cultural asset No. 361.

The Salt Plant Garden viewed from the Salt Farm Observatory on Jeungdo in Sinan County, South Jeolla Province. (Choi Gap-soo/KTO)

If you want to take a wide view of the salt farm, climb up the Salt Farm Observatory on a hill its entrance.

In the salt farm, there are also the Salt Farm Experience Center and the Salt Plant Garden.

The island is also known for the 1976-1984 excavation of 14th-century cultural relics of the Chinese Won Dynasty. Excavated relics include 445 pieces of a sunken ship, 20,661 potteries, 729 metal products, 43 stone products, 1,017 purple birch pieces and 574 other pieces, according to Sinan County. A total of 23,024 relics were found.

For more information, call Sinan County’s tourism department at (061) 240-8356.

Source : Koreaherald

Japanese demonstrators rally against ‘Korean Wave’ in Tokyo

TOKYO (Yonhap) -- Japanese demonstrators held a rally in downtown Tokyo to demand less broadcast time for Korean dramas and music videos by a local television station.

(Yonhap News)

According to Japanese Internet news outlets such as J-CAST, roughly 6,000 people gathered outside Fuji Television Network to protest what they believed was too much time allotted to “Korean Wave” content on TV.

“We don not want to watch Korean TV dramas,” protesters chanted, adding that Fuji TV should not force people to watch programs they did not want to see.

They added that the Japanese people desired more homegrown programs on TV.

The protest marks the second time that people have held a rally in the Japanese capital against products of the “Korean Wave” that have become common fixtures in TV, news, magazines and popular music. The first protest was held on Aug. 7 with around 2,500 people taking part.

The “Korean Wave,” also known as “Hallyu,” refers to the phenomenon in which South Korean popular culture, ranging from television shows to pop singers, has spread to abroad in recent years. Japan has been one the countries that has been affected the most, with many dramas and songs becoming very popular with ordinary people.

Organizers said that they did not expect such a large turnout, and said they will send a open letter to the management of Fuji TV to stop favoring Korean entertainment content.

The privately owned TV station usually concentrates broadcasts of Korean dramas to the daytime hours.

Source: Koreaherald

Friday, August 26, 2011

Did you know that ... (Western, oriental medicine collide in Korea)

Following the opening of Korea to the West in 1882, many of the earliest Westerners to dwell here were missionary doctors.

Unsurprisingly, they clashed many times with their Korean counterparts in regards to culture, religion and how to practice medicine.
The idea that Korean doctors could take tapeworms, scorpions and various types of insects — including spiders and their webs — and mix them together to make medicines that were supposed to cure a host of complaints was just too fantastic and archaic for the Western doctors to accept.

William Hall declared that many of the treatments administered by Korean doctors were “too revolting to speak of even in a medical journal.” He went on to note that urine was commonly used as eyewash, wounds were treated with human feces and that one woman had even been instructed “to suck the syphilitic sores of her husband in order to cure him.” Many of the Western doctors were convinced that their Korean peers were nothing more than superstitious, uneducated witchdoctors and snake oil peddlers.

Of course, the Korean doctors also viewed the Western doctors with suspicion and tolerated their perceived ignorance in much the same manner as they would a slow and obstinate pupil. Hall once tried to stop a Korean doctor from administering to a mortally ill child because he thought the treatments were doing nothing but causing pain. According to Hall:

“He listened with a bland smile wondering, no doubt, at the impudence of a Western barbarian undertaking to instruct him” and continued on with his treatment. The child later died.

But not all doctors were as condescending as Hall.

“Most of the remedies were like those used by our own herb doctors and were such as our grandmothers prepared,” declared Dr. James Van Buskirk. “If we Westerners are tempted to feel superior, we might remember that it is only a short time since our own medical men made the discoveries that are basic to modern healing science.”

Not only did the Western and Korean methods of practicing medicine collide but so too did the culture of paying for medical services. According to Horace Allen, the first Western doctor to live and practice in Korea, the Koreans had “the principal of no cure no pay.” Because money was scarce, if the treatment was successful, the Koreans often paid the itinerant doctors with eggs, chickens, meat, and even live pigs.

When the first Western medical facilities opened they were swamped with Koreans — many of them merely curious onlookers. In order to weed out those who truly needed medical attention, a small nominal fee — in money — was charged. What the missionary doctors did not realize was that since money had been paid, the Koreans expected complete and favorable results. Unfortunately, that didn’t always happen.

While the majority of the Western doctors scoffed, a few were humble and all of them charged, at least one of the “enlightened” doctors was not above peddling his own snake oil.

Dr. Charles H. Irving, an American missionary doctor practicing in Fusan (modern Busan) in the early twentieth century, was always out for a dollar, hence his nickname, Dr. Gold Dollar. He created and promoted his own medicine that he grandiosely christened “Man Pyung-su,” the Cure for Ten Thousand Diseases. Apparently the concoction, which was marketed throughout Korea, “had no curative value but contained a good quality pain killer.” Irving’s questionable missionary and “medical ethics for selling this medicine for (a) large and personal profit” did not go unchallenged.

He was later investigated but found innocent of any wrongdoing. Irving, disenchanted with missionary life (and the fact that he divorced his wife to marry his Korean mistress) chose to resign from the missionary service and went into private practice in Fusan where he lived for a number of years — a very wealthy man.

Source :The Korea Times

Former North Korea street child dreams big in the lap of South

I have taken out this piece of article from the Korea times which made me so moved. And made me think and re-think of how much partition can make hell of the innocent people.

Standing on the snowy banks of the Tumen River that separates North Korea and China in 2003, Kim Eun-joo was told by a guide not to look back toward the Stalinist country she was leaving for good.

The teenager, also caring for her younger sister, had good reason not to.

After living for years among the hordes of vagrant street children known as “kkotjebi,” her harsh life had stripped away her ability to dream.

As a child she had pilfered, hawked goods and even slept in a hole in the dirt to survive. The narrow strip of frozen water before her was little in comparison.

“There’s a saying in North Korea, ‘If you are dying, you are stupid,’” Kim said in a recent interview in Seoul, where she now lives. “You have to find your own means to survive. You don’t dream under those circumstances.”

Living in the South after finally arriving five years ago, Kim, now 25, has used those survival instincts — and a bit of help from rights groups — to shepherd herself and her sister towards a successful life.

Kim has worked as a hairdresser to put her sister through nursing school and now wants to get a degree herself, with the help of a local human rights group.

Her story will be highlighted Saturday at a special concert organized by the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), a Seoul-based NGO that helps youth defectors.

The “2011 Beautiful Dream Concert,” which will be held at the Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center in Gyeonggi Province, will screen a short film about Kim and two other former street children to highlight the need to support youths who defect.

Her journey has been fraught with hardship.

Living not far from the northeastern city of Rason, a special economic zone cordoned off by electrical fences, Kim fell into street life after her parents separated and her mother became too ill to work.

She soon took up with other kkotjebi — literally, “fluttering swallows” — who typically sell goods, pick pockets and beg to survive. Some get caught up in prostitution.

Such children appeared in the mid-1990s after a famine that killed an estimated one million people. Shocking video footage periodically surfaces of them digging through the garbage or wandering fields for food.

Living near Rason, Kim had a better, but more dangerous option. Tunneling under the electric fence and evading authorities, she and her friends frequented hotels where she could sell eggs and potatoes to Chinese workers.

At night, the kkotjebi boys would dig a hole in the mountainside for them to sleep, heating up rocks for warmth.

She would faithfully return and give money to her mother, who was taking care of her sister. But the fact she was the only one to be living on the street began to gnaw at her, and the anger boiled over one harsh winter night.

“My mother was sick, so I was sent to my grandmother’s house at dinnertime. But even though they knew I was there, they didn’t tell me to get inside and eat. So I just went home in anger.”

Wooed by stories of a better life in China, she broached the idea to a group of friends. Eventually they set off, paying a local worker to help them. Kim’s sister persuaded her to take her along.

Telling the story of their defection, Kim, whose voice barely rises above a whisper, breaks into a smile.

On the opposite bank, Chinese children played with a sled, their voices ringing out. Without looking out for border police, the group made the exhilarating dash across the frozen water.

“For five girls to defect like that by ourselves was miraculous. We were so young and innocent. We didn’t really know what could happen if we got caught,” she said.

Beautiful dreams

For defectors, especially youths, crossing the border is only the start of the challenges in leaving the Kim Jong-il regime behind.

Activists say some 10 percent of new defector youths come alone, another 40 percent with a sibling or distant relative.

Kim found housing with a family taking care of young refugees. But going to school or even leaving the house was treacherous due to China’s policy of repatriating North Koreans, who receive harsh punishment, including torture, upon their return.

An NKHR board member on a trip to China met Kim, who told him she wanted to live in the South to get her education. The group, hearing her story, eventually went back to get her, using brokers to bring her through Laos, Thailand and, finally, Incheon International Airport.

“I stepped outside and thought, ‘I hope this is not a dream,’” she said.

Through a burst of intense study, Kim managed to pass equivalency examinations. She sent her sister off to school, but with government subsidies wearing thin, Kim was unable to go herself.

There were no places like the markets where she had once skillfully hawked products to get a job. During adjustment programs and everyday life, Kim found herself having to introduce herself over and over, a daunting task for a shy person in a society that often attaches negative stereotypes to defectors.

With perseverance, however, she has been able to adjust. Her coworkers at the salon accept her as do the clientele, who ask curiously about her past.

With her sister well on her way to graduating, it is now finally Kim’s chance to pursue a career. She is mulling whether to study hair design, accounting or nursing, with full funding from NKHR.

Only one thing has threatened to take some of her time: Kim is engaged to be married to a South Korean man this fall.

“Now I have him to ask questions whenever I need to,” she said, adding that she feels more comfortable in social settings.

She said when she sees clips of kkotjebi wandering in the streets or foraging for plants, she feels deep pangs in her heart — but never shame.

“I wish they would move and find something better. It hurts to see them because I was like that, too,” she said. “But I never felt pity for myself. Anyone in that position would do the same thing to survive.”

Exploring Daegu

DAEGU — Twenty-one-year-old Daegu native Lee Sang-hyeon is proud to serve as a guard at the Athletes’ Village for the 13th IAAF World Championships, which opens Saturday here in Korea’s third largest city.

The Kyungpook National University student, who is serving out his mandatory military service with the Daegu Central Police, was excited to assist athletes and visitors from all over the world, particularly with sightseeing.

When asked to list Daegu’s foremost attractions, his first choice was Gukchae Bosang Memorial Park, the starting and finishing point of the marathon course of the championships, and one of the city’s central establishments. It is one of several scenic parks in the vibrant city of 2.5 million.

“It is a trademark of our city and a good place to start a day of sightseeing here,” Lee said. “To get a taste of traditional Korea, visitors should consider Yakjeon-golmok, the oldest market for Korean medicinal herbs in the country with a history of 350 years.”
With its origins dating back to the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), the entire alley is lined with herbal medicine shops, acupuncturists and all manner of traditional Oriental medicine.

“We have hosted several important international events in the past, but this is the largest. I’m hoping that the Daegu World Championships in Athletics will benefit our city’s economy,” Lee added.

Parks and museums

Gukchae Bosang Memorial Park is dedicated to the 1907 National Debt Repayment Movement led by Daegu citizens, organized to repay the country’s debt through collecting individual donations.

It was started by Seo Sang-dong, a Daegu-based independence activist against Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), on Jan. 3, 1907. At that time the national debt was 13 million won. At the movement’s height in 1908, it had amassed 190,000 won.

The movement had attracted nationwide appeal and many, including King Gojong (1852-1919), gave up their tobacco in order to help repay the national debt. To this day, the movement remains one of the strongest expressions of Korean collective patriotism.

The park holds various exhibitions and musical performances. During the championships, the park will hold an opera, and musical and orchestral concerts starting at 5 p.m. until Aug. 31.

Every New Year’s Eve, the people of Daegu gather at the park to hear the bell and celebrate.

The park is adjacent to the Daegu Central Library, where a special exhibition of a copy of “Jikji,” world’s oldest extant metal print book, is being held through October.

Printed during the Goryeo Kingdom in 1377, Jikji is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, the title of which means “Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests’ Zen Teachings.”

UNESCO confirmed Jikji as the world oldest metalloid type in September 2001 and includes it in its Memory of the World program.
Jikji was published in Heungdeok Temple in 1377, 78 years prior to Johannes Gutenberg’s acclaimed 42-Line Bible, printed during the years 1452-1455.

“So far, we have had around 3,000 visitors since the beginning of the exhibition in May. On Aug. 27 and 28, we plan to have translators explain to foreigners the historical significance of Jikji,” said library guide Kwon Eun-young. “The document is a compelling demonstration of Korea’s excellence in printing technique.”

The greater part of the Jikji is now lost, and today only the last volume survives, and is kept at the Manuscrits Orientaux division of the National Library of France.

Another famous location is Gyeongsang-Gamyeong Park, beloved by citizens for its gorgeous walking courses. Dalseong Park contains the city’s only zoo, and Duryu Park, or Duryusan, is a large forest in the middle of the urban area.

Daegu also has many art museums and an opera house, to be utilized as venues for cultural festivities celebrating the championships.

In particular, the Daegu National Museum is holding an exhibition to tell the story of Korea’s most respected marathoner, Sohn Kee-chung, a sporting and social hero during Japanese colonial rule.

The first Korean Olympic champion is currently being honored in a two-month exhibition, featuring the late marathoner’s treasured possessions accumulated since he was crowned an Olympic champion Aug. 9, 1936.

Highlights include the gold medal he earned as a member of the Japanese delegation, since Korea was at the time a colony of Japan. The medal is being exhibited to the public for the first time. Visitors can also see rare photo collections and extra issues of Korean and Japanese newspapers — The Maeilshinbo and the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun — that carried the news of Sohn’s phenomenal victory.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a Bronze helmet from ancient Greece from the 6th century B.C., given to Sohn to mark his victory at the Olympics.

It had been stored at a museum in Germany and was delivered to Sohn in 1986. It is the only Western object to be designated a national treasure in 1994.

Visit Daegu Campaign

Tourism officials organized the “2011 Visit Daegu Year Campaign” to promote tourism in Daegu, traditionally known as a tourism underdog in comparison to adjacent tourism centers like Gyeongju, capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 B.C. ¡© A.D. 935) or Busan, Korea’s largest port city, resembling Hong Kong.

By taking the high-speed KTX train, Gyeongju is only 20 minutes away from Daegu and Busan is a 40-minute ride.
Officials and citizens have long been concerned about losing tourists to nearby cities.

“Frankly, Daegu has had a hard time because of towns like Gyeongju, but there are places and food that one can only experience in Daegu,” Chung Hee-sung, a taxi driver said. “I haven’t had any foreign customers yet, but I would advise them to make sure to see Palgongsan Mountain and its temples.”

Although largely outshined by Gyeongju, Daegu has a longstanding Buddhist culture and boasts many Buddhist treasures.
One of the most well-known sights of the city is the stone Buddha called Gatbawi on the top of Gwanbong, Palgongsan Mountain. People from all over the country visit the site, believing that the Buddha will grant their wishes.

On the outskirts of the city, mountains house many renowned temples such as Donghwasa, Pagyesa and Buinsa, home to the original version of the Tripitaka Koreana, one of the world’s oldest complete collections of Buddhist scriptures.

Donghwasa dates from the Silla period, and many of the period’s artifacts are found around the temple in northern Daegu.

Daegu has used important international events like the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the 2003 Universiade and the upcoming championships as opportunities to make significant improvements to its tourism infrastructure.

For example, Daegu recently opened a foreigners-only casino in an annex of the Inter-Burgo Hotel in time for the championships.
The city also has several large traditional markets, like the Seomun Market. The busiest street in the city is Dongseongno, lined with the Daegu Department Store, Donga Department Store and stores filled with the latest in fashion, sporting goods and shoes, in addition to numerous restaurants.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kwon In-su expresses life force in poppies

Pink, purple and blue petals spread softly on “hanji,” traditional Korean mulberry paper, and subtle pistil and stamens in yellow are set in the middle of the flower, for Kwon In-su’s paintings of poppies are full of liveliness.

The Korean painter is holding his eighth solo exhibition at Insa Art Center in Seoul through Tuesday. The gallery is filled with energy emitting from large poppies on the wall.

Kwon graduated from Seoul National University, majoring in art, and earned his master’s degree at Hongik University. He mainly draws nature, such as trees and flowers. Poppies attracted Kwon’s attention ever since he once saw one on a hillside. Since then, he has been capturing the vivid flowers in Oriental paintings.

This exhibition, subtitled “The Moment I Fall in Love,” features some 40 of his newest works, showing the glamorous yet dreamlike beauty of the flower.

“The longer I looked at the beauty, the profound harmony of the petals wrapped around its body and the stamens and pistil, which are the roots of life, were enough to be a seduction that I could not reject,” Kwon said in an artist’s note. “When I draw the inspiration I get from poppies, I realize that I am just a part of nature as well.”

He uses traditional painting materials, “meok” (Korean ink) and Oriental colors. The Korean materials are in delicate harmony with Kwon’s modern sensitivity and the poppies on hanji are pure and elegant.

Park Young-taek, an art critic and professor of Kyonggi University, said Kwon borrows the figures and colors of the poppy.

“The flowers are painted based on the artist’s intention but also as results of the laws of nature and contingency. Invisible powers like the structure and characteristics of the paper, water-solubility, infiltration, coagulation, the laws of time and gravity enabled the works,” Park said. “In the paintings, the artist’s intention and contingency coexist.”

Park said the flowers in Kwon’s paintings are not simply a subject or a plant. “They are mirrors of the artists’ inner mind, media for them to express their aesthetic stages, and tools to realize their creative worlds,” the critic said.

The paintings tune the contrast of strong colors, the sense of space dealing with the blanks, the force of a single figure attracting people’s eyes and the tension between yin (figure) and yang (blank), Park said. “In the center of all of that, a poppy flower blossoms,” he went on to say. “A life is born and grows, trembling in overflowing emotions, just like Kwon’s poppies.”

The exhibition runs through Aug. 23. For more information on the exhibition, visit or call (02) 736-1020.

Monday, August 22, 2011

To the Global CG Market!

Korean movies are receiving attention these days. It is obvious to notice the difference from the viewpoints toward Korean movies by recent Korean actors’ entrances into Hollywood movies and higher international status of Korean movie directors than before. Recently, Korean movies are distinguishing themselves in another area, the area of Computer Graphic inside the movies.

The Centre of Asian Movies, Now Dreaming of the Best in Technology

<“Korean Movie Centre” booth run by the Korean Film Commission at Hong Kong Film Market> (Photo: mydaily)

Korean movies are not only acknowledged in Asia, but also at the World Film Festival. Korean movie industries are showing an advanced Korean CG technology off to the world by using CG not only in Korean movies, but also in Chinese films, successfully.
Ministry of culture and Korea Creative Content Agency supported the business meeting among Korean CG enterprises and Chinese movie-makers by participating in ‘Hong Kong Film Market 2011’, which took place for four days starting from March 21. ‘Hong Kong Film Market’ is the representative Asian contents market, which prospered with a participation of 548 enterprises, and about 4950 people in 2010. At this year’s Hong Kong Film Market, seven corporations took part in this event from a variety of areas in movie industries from animation production enterprises to the leading VFX (Visual Effects) company in the country.
Chinese movie industry is growing rapidly with a solid base of capital and manpower enough to make approximately 500 movies in 2010. By the number of film productions, the number China has is the third biggest scale after America and India. Due to a lot of recent contracts with Korean domestic enterprises and elements of CG production in historical dramas, action movies and etc, Chinese movie industry came into the spotlight as a new promising market.

(Photo: Maxnews)

Korea has taken charge of CG production of ‘Detective Dee’ and ‘The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate Originally’ by director Seo Geuk including ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’ and etc. Especially, the movie ‘Detective Dee’ attracted attention due to the combination of director Seo Geuk and Korean CG technology and it got an evaluation that it pictured the Tang dynasty, the era when it was most culturally diverse, in the movie so perfectly that it made the scene more beautiful.

The Power of CG technology

At this event, Korea Creative Content Agency preliaised movie professionals in Asia with Chinese movie-makers and directors participating in ‘Hong Kong Film Market’ as the central figure and arranged a business meeting with domestic CG enterprises. Through this meeting, domestic CG enterprises already obtained good results such as a consultation of CG production regarding director Seo Geuk’s next movie, and obtaining contracts in CG production of ‘Convert Magic’, the next movie of director Wilson Yip who directed IP Man, Flash Point and etc.
Also, it became an opportunity to let the world know the power of technology that domestic enterprises have due to a high interest of Western movie professionals such as movie-makers from all over the world including Australia requesting a meeting in advance.

(Photo: Heraldbiz)

Kim Jiin-gyu, the director of the headquarters of Korea Creative Content Agency, who held this event said that Korea Creative Content Agency obtained good results of about two hundred million dollars by winning a contract of ‘The Last Knight of Ako’, a Hollywood cinematic masterpiece by taking part in AFM 2010” and “the Agency will arrange a variety of set of measures to provide support to practically help domestic companies making inroads into not only Hollywood but also Chinese market.”
Frankie Cheung, the supervisor of VFX who participated in lots of works of Zhou Xingchi, a director and actor said that the working experience with a Korean company was very impressive and that Korea has the best technology in Asia and the talents people have are excellent.
Korea is standing out in global market with excellent technical skills and original ideas. It seems like it won’t take long for world-wide movie fans to enjoy better movies with a high level of CG production technology, which Korea has.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Korean victims of atomic bombings in Japan neglected

The whole nation today will celebrate Liberation Day falling every year on Aug. 15 but victims of the atomic bombs falling in Japan in 1945 have mixed feelings and at this time of year their bad memories become more vivid.

“Of course, it’s the day when we should celebrate our independence from dreadful Japanese colonial rule,” Kim Il-jo, Korean A-bomb victim, told The Korea Times one day before the 66th Liberation Day. “But I also feel very sad as it reminds me of the devastating days after the atomic bombs were dropped.”

Some 200,000 people were killed or died within three months after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs in Japan _ the first in Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and the second three days later in Nagasaki. Of the fatalities, about 40,000 were Koreans but they have soon become a long-forgotten part of history.

Kim, 18 at the time, was able to avoid the direct impact of the bomb as she lived on the outskirts of Hiroshima.

But she suffered from radiation exposure and financial difficulties after being expelled to her mother country along with her husband just like the other Korean survivors following Korea’s independence.

“I always feel sorry for other A-bomb victims who have already passed away without receiving proper social protection and care. Unlike now, no one really paid attention to us,” the 84-year-old said.

Her husband was also one of many A-bomb victims who passed away before receiving proper compensation. “He died suddenly at the age of 58 without any chance to receive medical treatment or anything.”

Kim now stays at a sanatorium for A-bomb victims in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, and receives a monthly allowance of 33,800 yen and support for medical expenses under the Japanese relief law. But it was only after first-generation victims won a long legal battle against the Japanese government in 2003.

The sanatorium was built in 1990, as part of an agreement between the Korean and Japanese governments, and is run by the Korean Red Cross. It is home to 109 first generation A-bomb victims.

According to the Korea Atomic Bomb Casualties Association, some 2,600 people are currently registered as A-bomb survivors and more than 60 percent of them are from Hapcheon.

“About 10 to 15 percent of the people at the sanatorium can move freely, and the seriously-ill ones have already passed away,” Jegal Loklim, an official from the sanatorium, said.

Despite the huge impact the atomic bombs had on their lives most of the second and third generation victims are not eligible for any compensation.

According to the nation’s first health study on 2,800 first- and second-generation A-bomb victims in 2004, the prevalence of anemia among males of the second generation was 88 times higher than the average men of the same age.

The study, which was conducted by the Association of Physicians for Humanism, supported by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, also revealed that other illnesses such as heart disease, depression and asthma were also much more common in second-generation victims.

Many civic groups argue that the government should offer more practical help to Korean A-bomb victims. To commemorate them and increase public awareness, an annual memorial ceremony is held on Aug. 6 each year in Hapcheon.

Source: The Korea Times

Musical 'Organ in My Heart' celebrates 200th performance

Local musical “Organ in My Heart” celebrated its 200th performance at Hoam Art Hall in central Seoul, last Thursday.

Based on the 1999 film “The Harmonium in My Memory,” the show recalls the dim memory of first love.

At the end of the play, Jeong Jae-ok, CEO of Credia, thanked the audiences who came to see it. “We hope to continue staging ‘Organ in My Heart’ until it reaches its 2,000th performance,” Jeong said.

Actors, including Oh Man-seok, who played the teacher at the premiere in 2008 and now directs the show, and Kang Pil-suk, who played Dong-su last year, came to celebrate the anniversary.

Other celebrities were also in attendance. Famed musical actress Choi Jung-won said, “I saw the musical in 2010 and this is my second time. The lovely lyrics and melody of ‘Organ in My Heart’ makes me indulge in memories.”

The musical revolves around Hong-yeon, a 16-year-old belated elementary school student. She falls in love at first sight with her new teacher Dong-su, but he has a crush on Su-jeong, the art teacher who is also the school nurse.

Singer Tim and actor Kim Seung-dae alternate the role of Dong-su, while Jung Woon-sun, Choi Joo-ri and Lee Su-bin play Hong-yeon. Lee, a 16-year-old middle school student, portrays the delicate sentiments of a teenager. Sun-woo, the vocalist from “Qualifications of a Man” and Seo-young, play the role of Su-jeong.

The musical will run through Aug. 28. Tickets cost 40,000 to 60,000 won. Japanese subtitles are available. Visit or call (02) 744-2588 for more information.

Oriental medicine doctor endorses vegetarianism

Oriental medicine doctor and nutritionist Sun Hyun-joo says the benefits of vegetarianism are numerous, including positive physical and emotional changes as well as a reduction in the potential for disease.

As a vegan herself, who does not consume any animal products, Sun also condemns the unethical and environmentally harmful nature of the meat industry, emphasizing the heavy use of additives.

“Most people are unaware of the large amounts of antibiotics, hormones and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in animal products,” she said.

She also serves as an executive secretary of Vegedoctor, an organization of vegetarian doctors in Korea. Sun believes the perception of vegetarianism in Korea is changing.

“Ten years ago, many of my colleagues were viewed as ‘eccentric,’” she said. “Nowadays, I feel that increased awareness has led to vegetarianism being regarded as ‘smart.’”

In the wake of last year’s foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, media in Korea unintentionally created a remarkably effective advertising campaign for vegetarianism, causing a dramatic surge in traffic to vegetarian websites such as the Korean Vegetarianism Union website ( The website’s average of 3,000 to 4,000 visitors per day jumped to 15,000 last winter.

Still, going green in a land that is world renowned for its BBQ isn’t easy, and Sun believes few accommodations are made for those who opt to go flesh-free.

“We have limited restaurant options for vegetarians,” she said. “With the exception of housewives or toddlers, most people eat out one or two times a day, and most restaurants serve meat or fish. Seasonings often include animal ingredients, so a strict vegetarian diet is tough.”

Sun also noted that standard social, school and military meals include meat or fish.

“Korean drinking culture is a prominent obstacle to vegetarians. Common get-togethers are based on alcohol, and meat or fish dishes. The association between these meals and harmony creates a challenge,” she explained.

According to Sun, the belief that vegetarianism leads to malnutrition is unfounded.

“Key nutrients suspected to be deficient in vegetarian diets are protein, calcium, iron, vitamin 12,” she explained. “However, this is a myth.” She elaborated, using calcium as an example of a “misunderstood nutrient.”

“A serving of beef contains 19 mg of calcium,” she said. “Interestingly, the same portion of sesame, kelp, sea mustard and laver contains 1,245 mg, 763 mg, 720 mg and 420 mg of calcium respectively. Additionally, the absorption rate of plant calcium is higher than that of animal food, because the excessive phosphorus found in animal food obstructs the intake of calcium. Calcium from vegetables works with the body in perfect harmony.”

Sun added that most Koreans get a healthy dose of Vitamin B12 effortlessly through foods such as soy sauce, soybean paste and seaweed.

In regard to children, Sun is eager for the findings of a current study, led by colleague Dr. Hwang Seong-soo.

“Dr. Hwang is studying the relationship between vegetarianism and learning ability at a high school in Daegu, which is the first of its kind in Korea and, though the study is in progress, we are seeing great things,” she said. “With proper education, all essential nutrients are abundant in a plant-based diet.”

The writer is a guest columnist from Ontario, Canada, and is currently living in Seoul. She welcomes topic suggestions from readers and can be reached at

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

True story of Dokdo from a Korean Student (Student Corner)

I find this article quite interesting as this is written by a Korean young fresher man in college. I have taken out from the Korea's leading newspaper "The Korea Times".

In 1910, Korea fell into the hands of the Japanese forces. The colonization brought about huge cultural genocide. Many cultural artifacts were relocated to Japan and Koreans were banned from using their language. They were also educated under the Japanese system, and forced to change their Korean names into Japanese ones.

A century later in 2010, Japan apologized for this tragic event. Although they did not apologize for taking Korean women as sex slaves of the Japanese military or for the unlawfulness of the colonization, the apology seemed to mark the beginning of a warm relationship between the two countries.

Japan, however, once again turned its back on Korea a year after the apology.

In March, 2011, the Japanese government strengthened its ‘Takeshima policies’ amid the earthquake crisis by approving new textbooks for Japanese middle school students that claim Japan’s sovereignty over Takeshima (the Japanese name for Dokdo). The textbooks claim that Korea is illegally occupying Dokdo.

This act is unjustifiable and intolerable because history tells us otherwise.

Japan’s illegal intrusion of the island dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868). In 1693, in response to the protest of An Yong-bok, a famous Dokdo-related hero, against the intrusion, Edo Shogunate issued an official proclamation admitting Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo.

In 1696, the Japanese Tottori clan admitted that Dokdo belongs to Korea. The Shogunate subsequently announced a travel ban to Dokdo and Ulleung Island to the residents of Japan. When the Japanese government undertook a nationwide mapping project during the era of the Meiji Restoration, some Japanese people requested that Dokdo be included as part of Japan’s territory. The Daijokan, or the Department of State in Japan, however, made its position clear and told them to "keep in mind that Takeshima and the other island have nothing to do with Japan.”

In October 1900, Korea declared Imperial Ordinance No. 41 in its Gazette No. 1716 against the intrusion of Japan. This ordinance held much significance as it was declared after the Korean government’s carefully planned investigation of Dokdo since the mid-1890s.

On February 22, 1905, Japan exploited Dokdo to secure victory over Russia by merging it into the Shimane Prefecture through military actions. The merge revealed one of the reasons for Japan’s persistent effort to claim Dokdo as its territory.

Japan did not hesitate to ignore or distort historical facts in order to claim Dokdo. A manuscript of Daedong Yeojido, one of the most detailed maps of Chosun, discovered on May 13, 2011, features Dokdo as Korean territory. Prior to the discovery, Japan had long insisted that Daedong Yeojido does not include Dokdo.

Japan has also asserted that it was not possible for Koreans to know the existence of Dokdo in the early days since it is too far from Ulleung Island and thus cannot be seen from the island with the naked eye.

However, Hong Seong-keun says in his book “Dokdo” that he grew up watching Dokdo from his house on Ulleung Island. It is a fairly well-known fact that Dokdo can be seen from Ulleung Island at least three to four times a month. Furthermore, Dokdo is almost twice as close to Ulleung Island than to Oki Islands, the Japanese islands nearest to Dokdo.

Last but not least, the most credible documents supporting Korea originate from Japan itself. The historical records on Japan’s online historical archives, university websites, Takeshima (Dokdo) lobby forums and the Japanese government website clearly show that they deliberately omitted certain historical facts, which actually backs up Korea’s stance on the issue.

In response to Japan’s claim of Dokdo, which has never been theirs, Korea continues to notify the international community of the true story of Dokdo. I believe that each of us has a duty to support the efforts of the Korean government and other organizations to protect our territory, as this issue has been lingering for over a century and Japan is becoming more aggressive.

Therefore, we should spread the truth of Dokdo to the whole world. One powerful strategy is to change one’s permanent domicile to Dokdo. Recently, Rep. Park Sun-young, a former constitutional law professor, set a good example by doing this.

There are many other creative ways. For instance, the advertisement for ‘2011 Korea Cup Yacht Race’, which was sponsored by Korean singer Kim Jang-hoon, featured the pictures of Dokdo as the route for this international competition.

In another example, renowned Korean Hanbok designer, Lee Young-hee, is hosting a fashion show on Dokdo on National Liberation Day, August 15, 2011. Lee aims to inform the world that Dokdo is Korean territory through displaying Korea’s traditional costumes right on the islet.

Moreover, The Korea Times recently took part in this movement, and held a Dokdo Essay Contest. Much to our surprise, foreigners entered this contest, which demonstrated that our effort is yielding positive results globally. I am sure that the world will eventually acknowledge Dokdo as Korean territory, if we continue with our efforts.

Lee Eun-jeong is a freshman at Daewon Foreign Language High School. She can be contacted at

Sadari Movement Laboratory to reinterpret 'The Maids'

Renowned for advancing a new language in physical theater through “Woyzeck,” “Between Two Gates” and “The Cherry Orchard,” the Sadari Movement Laboratory will next stage “The Maids” by French dramatist Jean Genet.

After making its premiere in Paris in 1947, the play revolves around two maids, Solange and Claire, who hate their mistress (Madame) and plot to kill her. Whenever Madame is out, the maids wear her dresses and act like her, unleashing their egos and falling into fantasy in which they become her. Their plot to kill her first results in failure, and they indulge in role-playing again. Finally, the mistress is killed after drinking poisoned tea prepared by the maids. But there is no change in reality for the two maids and they are trapped in their egos.

The drama will infuse visual art and sound technology with the unique movement of the Sadari troupe’s physical theater.

The play will bring together artists from the United States, Austria and Macao. Matthias Eiran, an Austrian sound designer, and Robin Bargar from the New York City College of Technology, will join the production along with the Korean creative team.

The company will reinterpret the play into object theater using a closet to symbolize the psychological space of the female protagonists in the play. It will transform the psychological space into a metaphor with new language along with the physical movements of actors.

“I chose the word ‘defragment’ for Genet’s ‘The Maids’ because I found the pieces of psychological movements and metaphorical images scattered and hidden in the play and want to rediscover and reassemble them for a new tone and dramatic language,” Im Do-wan, director of the laboratory, said in a press release.

Im said that he wants to portray the play from a different perspective from the previous productions and to uniquely reinterpret the work. The drama will be free from a text-oriented structure, fusing visual images and theatrical language, according to the company.

The director said that he doesn’t accept the exact words of the script and instead seeks to find hidden metaphors and reinvigorate them on stage. He doesn’t see the play portraying the jealousy and desires of the maids toward the mistress, which represents lower-class anger toward the upper tier. Rather, he understands the play as a work transforming the inner world of human desire. The space depicted in the script is just a medium for representing the inner psychological states.

The director said that in the theatrical space, both the maids and the mistress coexist and they fight to find their egos. The play reveals the identity of the ego deeply rooted inside human beings.

“When these elements are properly expressed on stage, other metaphors can be revealed,” Im said.

After being staged in Seoul, the play will move to the Oz-Asia Festival in Australia from Sept. 2 to 17.

The play will be onstage from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10 at Space 111, Doosan Art Center, Seoul. Tickets cost 15,000 won for students and 30,000 won for adults. For more information, call (02) 765-6582.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Korea’s first Beethoven Symphony cycle

It is nearly impossible to find anyone more knowledgeable about Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) than Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who will deliver Korea’s first-ever complete symphony cycle of the German composer from Aug. 10 through Aug.14 at the Seoul Arts Center.

A full cycle of monumental works like Beethoven’s nine symphonies is an extraordinary cultural occasion usually reserved for the more mature classical music markets in Europe and in Japan.

There is very little of Beethoven’s enormous compositional output that Barenboim hasn’t played or recorded, either as conductor, pianist or chamber musician.

“The Beethoven Symphony cycle is probably the most important (musical) statement of a great genius,” Barenboim said in a promotional message through Credia, the concert’s organizer.

“It is astounding that, although he died in 1827, his music is still of concern for us today,” he added. “It brings to us an important message of the strength of the human being.”

Barenboim brings with him the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO), a mixture of some 90 young talented musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, among other countries.

The 1999 establishment of the orchestra stemmed from Barenboim’s firm belief that music can serve as an efficient tool to promote understanding between clashing cultures.

Beethoven’s works have been central to the WEDO, which has evolved into a ensemble of global stature through Barenboim’s impeccable musical leadership.

The orchestra played Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A major during its debut concert. For the last three years, it has played the full cycle around the world, reflecting Barenboim’s devotion to the ground-breaking composer.

“Only a handful of composers in the history of classical music have had the capacity to summarize and even culminate the development of an entire era of composition, while at the same time pointing the way toward a radically different new paradigm or style, and Beethoven and Schonberg are undoubtedly among these few,” Barenboim wrote in a concert program.

His first visit to Korea in 24 years is particularly meaningful, as the U.N. messenger of peace will perform a peace concert on Aug. 15 in Imjingak, which is near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. The concert coincides with the national Liberation Day, marking Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).

“Our orchestra symbolizes the possibility of entering a real fruitful dialogue between people who have different ideas. I’m particularly happy to come in my capacity as the messenger of peace for the United Nations,” Barenboim said.

Pioneering symphonist

Beethoven created nine symphonies throughout his life.

The earlier works, Symphony No. 1 in C major (composed 1799-1800) and Symphony No. 2 in D major (composed 1801- 1802) reveal influences from Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the definitive Austrian symphonists of the Classical period (1750-1830).

It was with the Symphony No. 3 in the lovely key of E-flat major (composed 1803) often known as the Eroica, that Beethoven the symphonist had fully arrived.

“The piece changed entirely the idea of what a symphony could be and 200 years later, its message is still resounding throughout the whole world and it remains one of the supreme tests of a symphony orchestra,” said Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, in the “Keeping Score” video series on pioneering symphonies.

“In this symphony, Beethoven began to use broad strokes of sound, to tell us exactly how he felt to be alive,” Tilson Thomas said. “The Eroica is a contest between emotion and reason, in a search for what it means to be human. And that’s a search we all understand.”

After the Eroica, Beethoven had virtually lost the ability to hear, but his musical genius only prospered in the years that followed.
His symphonic legacy influenced masters that had come after him like revolutionary Austrian symphonist Gustav Mahler, or the German composer Johannes Brahms, one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period (1815-1910).

Beethoven was a bridge between the Classical and Romantic schools.

The Eroica, for example, is often cited as the piece that ushered the beginning of the Romantic period. The piece is much longer and covers more emotional ground than earlier works.

Beethoven’s even-numbered symphonies are not as famous as the odd-numbered ones, but the Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major (composed 1806) and the Symphony No. 8 in F major (composed 1812) are full of beauty and energy.

The Symphony No. 6 in F major “Pastoral” (composed 1804) and Symphony No. 7 in A major (composed 1811-1812) are extremely popular and staples for symphony orchestras. At its debut, Beethoven was noted as remarking that the 7th was one of his best works. Its emotional second movement “Allegretto” is one of the most famous movements in symphonic history.

The final Symphony No. 9 in D minor “Choral” (composed 1817-24) is one of the greatest musical compositions ever written.
This towering masterpiece was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony, thus making it a “choral” symphony.

Penchant for cycle playing

Barenboim has set records on stage and in recording studios as a Beethoven specialist. The 70-year-old musician was playing all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas by memory in his teens.

He has recorded all of Beethoven’s five piano concertos three times and all of the composer’s 32 piano sonatas twice. In 1999, he released the widely-acclaimed Teldec cycle of the symphonies with the Berliner Staatskapelle, where he serves as music director.

He will complete a new symphony cycle with the WEDO on Deustche Grammophon.
In 1998, the maestro played the Beethoven piano and orchestral cycle over a period of 12 days with the Berlin Staatskapelle.

“One’s view of each individual piece is broader and deeper if one has the breadth, the knowledge of the complete cycle,” Barenboim said, explaining his penchant for full cycles.

The last time Barenboim visited Korea was in 1984. This was around the time when he was redirecting his focus to conducting from an illustrious solo career as pianist.

Since then, the world’s most respected orchestras like the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Chicago symphony and many others have rushed to engage him.

Amid a rigorous conducting and recording schedule, Barenboim continues to prepare his own piano recitals and master classes.
This sets him apart from most soloists-turned-full-time-conductors like pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy (Russia), Mikhail Pletnev (Russia), Chung Myung-whun (Korea) and Christoph Eschenbach (Germany), among others.

Listening guide for beginners

Michael Tilson Thomas

Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), is one of the most active conductors in introducing classical music to the young.

Through the “Keeping Score” video series now available on DVD and on YouTube, he guides audiences through a journey of the marvels in the history of classical music. One of them is Beethoven’s Eroica symphony.

The film takes the audience to Vienna, where the masterpiece was composed. The young Beethoven was fighting rage and frustration at his increasing loss of hearing when he was working on this piece.

Maestro MTT, as he is affectionately known in San Francisco, provides the narration in locations in Vienna and by his Yamaha piano at home, sometimes improvising the main themes.

The narration is easy to follow and full of insights into one of the milestones in symphonic history. The DVD also includes a complete live performance of the piece at the Davies Symphony Hall, the residence hall of the SFS.

Konstantin Scherbakov

Hungarian-born pianist and composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a firm believer in the capacity of the piano to emulate an entire orchestra.

An admirer of Beethoven, he transcribed all of the composer’s nine symphonies.

In a rare recording by Russian pianist Konstantin Scherbakov on Naxos, Beethoven’s symphonies are transformed into brilliant piano pieces.

Liszt inherited spiritually from Beethoven the idea of a piano as an orchestra, according to U.S. Liszt expert and pianist Garrick Ohlsson.

This year marks the bicentennial of Liszt’s birth.

Herbert von Karajan

Herbert von Karajan (1908 -1989) from Salzburg, Austria, is perhaps the most popular conductor among fans of Beethoven symphonies in Korea, along with Wilhelm Furtwangler (1952-1954).

Karajan is certainly the most accessible, since he recorded the whole cycle four times. This 1963 recording is his very first with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which he led for 35 years until his death in 1989.

Many music critics and fans alike have agreed that Karajan's first cycle with the Berliner was his finest. This budget version contains one of the most compelling performances of the 7th and 8th symphonies in recording history.

Claudio Abaddo

Italian conductor Claudio Abaddo’s 13-year tenure with the Berliner Philharmoniker culminated in these extraordinary Beethoven cycles captured both on video and in a recording.

He first made a studio recording on Deutsche Grammophon in 2000, left, but after a full cycle recorded live in Rome the following year, DG released the DVD and CD versions of the performances due to their immense popularity.

Since the release of the Rome performances, the original 2000 studio version from Berlin has ceased to be published, but some Abbado fans have chosen to own both as they are both a special testament to the conductor’s profound musicianship at its best.
The live performances are partially available on Youtube.

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Machine to Machine to lead smart life

When people say telecommunication, it has meant communication between humans and other humans. The development of technology, however, has been broadening the scope of telecommunication. Machine to machine (M2M), or the technology allowing communication between devices or machines, is getting the spotlight as the next booster of smart life.

“People started using telecommunication to verify the condition of machines. Then they determined that machines communicating between themselves will be more effective,” said Jang Won-gyu, a manager at Korea Communications Agency, at a seminar on M2M organized by KT Research Institute.

Applications of M2M infinite

Monitoring a device or machine with a sensor is the simplest form of M2M. Automatic metering, for instance, measures electricity, water or gas consumption of each household, and sends the numbers to the central computer system. Surveillance cameras recognizing human movement and smart homes where home appliances automatically turn on and off are also among products in the early stage of M2M.

The machines not only receive or collect information but they also analyze information and make decisions and act on their own in M2M. A smart vacuum cleaner, for instance, automatically gets information on weather and turns on when there is yellow dust outside.

The technology is also widely applied in cars. The industry has realized “telematics,” integrating infrastructure of media, communication and the Internet, instead of depending wholly on humans to control machines. Car companies are working on the development of smart cars, where M2M technology is used so that the cars collect information on road conditions or the flow of traffic for selecting the optimized route.

Mobile offices, healthcare, electronic payments and security are some of the sectors where M2M technology is also used. In healthcare services, for instance, which require systematic collection of data, M2M technology could be used to monitor physical conditions, measuring pulse and blood pressure and enabling medical service providers to quickly detect and respond to irregularities.

The introduction of smart devices is accelerating M2M application in these sectors. Industry analysts expect smartphones to quickly become the hub of the M2M technology. For instance, smartphones can work as a remote control for home appliances or to start a car.

Market growing

Governments around the world expect M2M to solve environmental, energy and social problems. Europe has made the adoption of smart meters an obligation before 2020 to cut carbon emission. The United States is planning to invest $4.5 billion in smart grids, and Japan is approaching the technology from a social perspective, applying it in medical services and earthquake monitoring.

The Korea Communications Commission also noted its growth potential, and is moving toward the standardization of related technology and platforms.

M2M is thus regarded as the next blue ocean for the telecommunication businesses. “In the past, telcoms rarely engaged in direct business in the sector due the small size of the market and pricy devices. As M2M is applied more extensively, however, they are eyeing the technology as a means of income diversification, expanding network connectivity to devices other than cell phones,” KT Research Institute said in a report. It added that M2M could be a new income source for WiBro, which is seeing it as a new business model.

KT Research Institute expects the local M2M market to grow to 20 trillion won market in 2020.

SK Telecom, the biggest mobile carrier in the country, has been using M2M technology in building energy management systems. They automatically check electrical consumption of lighting, air conditioning and heating systems, and share the information with the central management center.

Source: The Korea Times

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chung sisters perform for flood victims

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province — There is nothing quite as invisible, yet gripping, as music, and a chamber concert Friday tugged at listeners’ hearts with even more intensity as artists dedicated their music to flood victims.

“We dedicate this song to victims of the flooding and their families. Our hearts go out to them,” said violinist Chung Kyung-wha, who normally only communicates through her instrument onstage.

The newly appointed co-director of the Great Mountains International Music Festival & School (GMMFS) appeared onstage with her cellist sister and fellow festival director Myung-wha, in matching “hanbok-inspired” dresses by Lee Young-hee. The fiendishly talented American pianist Kevin Kenner joined them for an intimate session of Brahms.

The two sisters, who became famous with their brother Myung-whun as the Chung Trio, appeared in a chamber performance for the first time in six years together. As the concert was a highlight program not only at the festival itself but one of the most anticipated events of the season in the Korean classical music scene, the 630-seat Alpensia Hall was packed and many fans were turned away disappointed (even star pianist Lim Dong-hyek was unable to secure tickets).

Some 200 VIPs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Trade; Hong Ra-hee, director of the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (who donated a Hamburg Steinway for the festival); Daewon Cultural Foundation Chairman Kim Ilgon; and actress Youn Yuh-jung (who last year appeared in a performance of Earl Kim’s “Dear Linda”) were spotted among the crowd.

The Piano Trio No. 1 in B-major, Op. 8 was marked by an exciting yet elegant interplay between the strings opposite the luminous, rollicking phrases of the piano. The scherzo in particular had the listener wanting to clap enthusiastically, but as is the case with the most absorbing performances, not a cough was heard between movements.

Brahms wrote the piece as a young man and revised it in his later years while suffering from cancer, making it a most apt work for the festival’s theme of “Illumination,” shedding light on how life experiences of joy and fury, sorrow and happiness, illness, frustration and resentment inspired musicians and how they harnessed these to artistic ends to produce profound masterpieces, said Myung-wha.

Kyung-wha, meanwhile, is no stranger to the trials of illness, having recently returned to the stage after years of nursing a hand injury.

“When my sister started playing, tears came to my eyes and I had to avert my gaze because I was afraid I might start sobbing before making my entrance,” the violinist told reporters at noon Saturday, after the trio performed for the GMMFS students that were unable to attend the sold-out concert.

“Soloists usually tend to appear in fancy concerti, and I always had to stubbornly insist on doing chamber projects for my manager to let me. But chamber music is essential for the growth of an artist,” she said, adding how grateful she was to her late mother, a “forward-looking” person who initiated the idea of launching a sibling chamber ensemble.

Myung-wha agreed, and added how it was possible for the Chung siblings to survive in the United States in the 1960s as young students because they had each other. Likewise, she said she was able to assume and carry out the festival’s directorship because of her younger sister.

When asked about restaging the magic of the Chung Trio, Kyug-wha said they are planning to hold a performance in the near future. “It’s just a question of where,” she said.

As for performing with Kenner, the sisters both said it was a great pleasure to work with an artist of such caliber. “He is a true musician... We were only able to rehearse for about six hours but the teamwork was great,” said Kyung-wha.

“Many guests and press came despite the heavy downpour. It’s our 8th edition of the festival, and following the opening performance (on Thursday) the Chung sisters showed, through the Friday performance, how the festival has evolved,” said Kim Dong-ho, President of Gangwon Art & Culture Foundation.

The GMMFS continues through Aug. 7, featuring performances not only at Alpensia, the main venue of the festival, but also outreach programs that travel to neighboring venues such as Woljeong Temple. Visit for more information.