Saturday, August 31, 2013

A story of Comfort Women : `This is where I'll die'(1)

A self-portrait of Lee Yong-nyeo is placed at her memorial alter arranged in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 12. / Yonhap

This is the first part of the life story of the late Lee Yong-nyeo, a former war-time sex slave, as told to Koh Hye-jung in an interview for the book Testimonials of Korean Comfort Women. The words were translated from Korean to English by Maija Rhee Devine, author of "The Voices of Heaven," a novel published this year by Seoul Selection. Lee passed away on Aug. 11. This is an edited version of Devine's translation. The second and final part of Lee's story will be published next week. — ED.
Biographical information : Born in 1926 in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province to a poor family, Lee Yong-nyeo was hired out as a domestic worker when she was eight. At eleven, she moved to Seoul, where she worked in factories or as a domestic until she turned fourteen. Then she was “sold” to a woman running a wine house, where she ran errands and waited on customers. In 1942, when she turned 16, the owner persuaded her to move to a new work place without revealing where the new job would take her. As it turned out, via Busan, Taiwan, and Singapore, she landed in a mountainous region of Burma. In that rugged terrain, her life as a comfort woman began.

The late Lee Yong-nyeo (1926-2013)
Lee’s words were translated by Maija Rhee Devine
By Lee Yong-nyeo

Born the second of five children on Feb. 19, 1926, at Buknaemyeon, Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, I had a brother who was five years older than me, but among girls, I was the oldest. Originally, our family lived in Yangpyeong where we owned some land, but my father gambled it away and left us too destitute to send me to school.

The house where I was hired out as an eight-year-old belonged to a well-to-do family in Yeoju. I remember washing floor-mopping rags at that house. As we had no land to farm in Yeoju, we subsisted on the rice we bought on credit. Soon, unable to pay the debt, we packed up and went to Seoul, where my father’s sister lived. At first, we crammed into one of the rooms at her house, but after a while, both my older brother and I were hired out.

I worked at the home of Mr. Im, who ran a textile business. Every day, I carried the family’s baby on my back all day, and often the baby wet the clothes on my back, leaving me with heat rash in the summer. In the winter, I washed diapers in freezing water, which caused my skin to dry out, crack, and bleed.

After migrating from one rental to another, our family built a tent shanty behind what is now the Ahyeon Elementary School in Seoul. While we were on the verge of starving, my mother gave birth to a child who was tiny because of her hunger during pregnancy. Grandmother said to me, “Even if you have to beg, you’ve got to find food for your mommy. She can lose her mind if she doesn’t have food in her stomach.” So, I took a sack and a basket and begged door to door and kept my mother and the baby alive for the next six months.

In rich neighborhoods like Sajik-dong, the ladies of the houses asked me to work for them. But I had to answer, “My mother and her baby are starving, and I must find food and cook for them. So, I can’t work for you.” Sometimes, they gave me food, sometimes, money. At that time, a bag of sugar cost 5 “jeon.” I fed the baby with a little sugar added to porridge.

Sometimes we bought the dregs left from making rice wine and boiled that to make meals. I also stopped at a potato noodle factory, where I collected the noodles that fell out of the cooking pots and lay soggy in the dirt. I brought that home, where I washed, cooked and seasoned the noodles for our meals.

For a while, my father sold vegetables in the market. Naturally, we ate a lot of that, but we got sick with parasites. When my face turned brown, and I was near death, my father told me that if I worked for a Japanese family and ate good food, I would be cured. So, I went and worked for a Japanese family.

After I got better, I returned home and continued to feed the family by begging. I also carried water up the hill to our shanty every day. My father made me do all the work. He said, “Carry some water. Go get some sugar. Make some porridge for the baby.”

At 14, I went to work at a cookie factory located near the crematory in Hongje-dong. About a year later, my father sent my younger brother to fetch me home. When I arrived, I found a plump woman wearing gold jewelry and a Korean style overcoat. She said if I’d go with her, I could do well not only for myself but also provide for my parents. My mother kept her back turned toward her, saying nothing, but my father urged me to go. So, I followed her. Later, I heard my father received a sum of money from that woman, which he said he planned to pay back in installments over the next year.

The story behind this deal had to do with the housing dilemma we faced. Those of us living in tent shanties in Ahyeon-dong had been forced to pack up our tents and move further up the Hongeun-dong hill. At that time, Hongeun-dong hill was barren except for graves. We were told to dig up dead bodies, burn them, and build our homes. So, we tore up our tent home in Ahyeon-dong and moved it up the hill. However, we needed more lumber, which we obtained on credit. But when we couldn’t pay the debt, we were forced to either turn our house over or pay what we owed on the lumber. This was the reason my father made a deal with the woman to give him a sum of money in exchange for my employment with her.

Deceived by the owner

The woman took me to a large wine house called Youngchunok, which stood by the jail near Seodaemun. I set tables for customers and ran small errands. After a year of working there, the woman asked me if I’d like to get a good job in Japan that paid a lot of money. Since there would be many other girls also going there to work, she said I didn’t need to be afraid. I had no idea how to get there, but the hunger for a job that would provide me with good food, clothing, and money was too powerful for me to resist such a heaven-sent opportunity. She gave me a packet of Chinese medicine to take home, brew and drink and told me to wait for word from her. The medicine, she said, would cut the seasickness in the boat to Japan. She gave me some pocket money, too. How much, I can’t remember. I do remember buying an outfit each for my little sister and younger brother.

Back at home in Hongeun-dong, I rested for about two weeks. During that time, I told my friends, “I’ve been promised a good job.” Hearing this, two of my former co-workers at a cookie factory, Kim Duk-sool, two years older than me, and Kim Hok-geun, a year older than me, decided to join me.

Soon, I received a word to come to a meeting place. It was 1942. I had just turned sixteen. I wore the white short-sleeved dress I got at the Youngchunok and wore a pair of white high heels. When I arrived at a Chinese restaurant in Myeong-dong below the Mt. Nam, there were several dozen young women already waiting. After accompanying Duk-sool, Hok-geun and me there, my father left. For lunch there, we ate sweet-and-sour pork, fried rice, and so forth. For the first time, I had a dish with sea cucumbers. After lunch, we boarded a train to Busan.

Arriving there at night, I couldn’t tell what was what. We stayed at an inn located at the Hot Springs of Dongrae for seven or 10 days. The day after we arrived there, when I asked if I could walk to the ocean, I was told the road in front of the inn would take me straight there. But I was also told to stay in. We were being led by a Korean man and several women. In the evening, we took baths in the hot spring and feasted on good food, but we were never allowed to venture outside.

When we boarded a huge ship — possibly a transport or military — in Busan, several of the Korean escorts disappeared. About sundown, pointing at a land across the waters, someone said it was Japan. There were hundreds of women in the ship, and from the Japanese soldiers, I learned we’d work as comfort women. I didn’t know what that meant, although I knew some Japanese because I once worked for a Japanese family.

Despite having been told we were heading to Japan, we bypassed it and headed south. I suffered seasickness so badly that I couldn’t eat and stayed stretched out. Soon, we anchored in Taiwan, but we were not allowed to leave the ship. I remember lowering my hat to the sellers on the dock and buying fruit that way.

When we sailed again, the ship stopped briefly in the middle of the ocean, where the sun rose right out of the water and later dropped into it. We were all seasick and lay down, and whenever we hit big waves, we groaned in unison. Finally, we stopped and anchored. This time, it was Singapore, but again we were confined to the ship.

Source: The Korea Times

Friday, August 30, 2013

Models in hanbok or traditional Korean dress promote gifts for Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving at the Seoul Central Post Office . /Newsis

Models in hanbok or traditional Korean dress promote gifts for Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving at the Seoul Central Post Office on Tuesday. /Newsis

Madonna Tops Highest Paid Entertainers List


Madonna tops Forbes magazine's 2013 list of the highest-paid celebrities in the world. In total, the 14 celebrities making the top 10 earned more than $1 billion.

Madonna certainly has reason to smile. With an extra $125 million to her name between June 2012 and June 2013, the Material Girl takes the top spot on Forbes' list of the highest-paid celebrities of 2013.

The veteran performer's latest world tour, MDNA, pulled in most of the money. John Simson, director of American University's Business and Entertainment program, said the cost of concert tickets makes that no surprise.

"There's far more money being made in touring because of those high-priced tickets," he explained, "people are willing to spend $200 to go to an event, whereas 20 years ago, they were spending $20."

A distant second on the Forbes list is Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, with $100 million in earnings -- mostly from blockbuster films like E.T. and Jurassic Park.

Simson said it's no coincidence that many of the top earners are from or based in the United States. "The United States just has always had this incredible ability to create stuff that the rest of the world consumes. You go around the world, in most countries, conservatively, 30 to 50 percent of the music you'll hear is made here in the United States. And the same thing is true with a lot of motion pictures," Simson noted.

Coming in third on the list with $95 million... a three-way tie among media moguls Simon Cowell and Howard Stern, and British author E.L. James, whose bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey earned her a movie deal.

Further down at No. 9 is last year's top earner, Oprah Winfrey, falling $88 million to $77 million.

Madonna's fellow pop star, Lady Gaga, surged to seventh place, sharing the slot with Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Both earned $80 million in the past year.

John Simson says consumers are likely to keep the money flowing. "We love stories. We love telling each other stories, and so, when we find great storytellers, whether they're songwriters, whether they're authors, whether they're movie makers, we're captivated," he said.

Such captivation, of course, also applies to sports stars. Golf champion Tiger Woods ranked as the only athlete in the top 10 highest earnings levels, in a tie at No. eight with U.S. movie producer Tyler Perry.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Illuminated Park in Cheongdo a Perfect Place for Romantic Night Out

For those who can't afford the time or expense of a trip to Provence in southern France, a recently renovated theme park in Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province, is capitalizing on the region's natural scenery and offering a similarly charming, rural ambience.

The park is especially alluring after the sun goes down due to its heavy use of LED lighting. Since its grand opening in 1996, it has gained traction as a favorite location among photographers.

And with last summer's makeover, it now offers beautiful night scenes with numerous lighting fixtures as well as festival-like atmosphere due to various themed photo zones.

During the day, the park exudes a certain European ambiance through artistic flourishes like a train covered in paintings by Matisse, a railroad that runs through a lush forest, and over 100 themed areas in which visitors can snap picturesque photos.

At night, it reveals its true colors as over 10 million LEDs light up the 65,000 sq. m park. There is even an illuminated tunnel with romantic lighting arrangements that is popular among couples on dates.

Besides its nightly festival of light, the park is equipped with various facilities for shopping and dining.

For more information visit the park's website at or call 054-372-5050.


Our lovable Lee Bo-young to Wed in September


Lee Bo-yong (left) and Ji Sung Lee Bo-yong (left) and Ji Sung

Celebrity couple Lee Bo-yong and Ji Sung finished their six-day trip to Spain for a wedding-photo shoot and arrived back to Korea.
Looking every inch the loving couple, they constantly exchanged fond looks and refused to let go of each other's hands as they faced the press.

The two first met when on the set of the SBS TV drama "Save the Last Dance for Me" in 2004.

They have been dating since 2007 and will tie the knot at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul next month.
Actor couple Lee Bo-young and Ji Sung are finally tying the knot after dating for six years. They posted handwritten letters on their official online fan sites to announce the news on Friday.

The two met on the set of the 2004 SBS series "Save the Last Dance for Me," but their romantic relationship did not become public knowledge until paparazzi caught them together in 2007.

Lee Bo-young (left) and Ji Sung Lee Bo-young (left) and Ji Sung


Monday, August 26, 2013

Can they re-boost K-drama popularity?


Top 'hallyu' actresses to return to small screen

Choi Ji-woo, who is also known as “Ji-woo Hime”
Ha Ji-won
Kim Jung-eun
By Park Jin-hai

K-dramas seem to be having a momentary lull.

After a decade of bumper years, initiated by the success of “Winter Sonata (2002),” K-dramas have given the front seat to K-pop, which is taking the globe by storm on the back of "hallyu," or the Korean wave.

However, things could unfold differently in the latter half of this year - especially when three of the country’s most seasoned actresses have been drafted to the small screen to help.

The trio of actress in their 30s - Choi Ji-woo, Ha Ji-won, and Kim Jung-eun – are all making long-awaited comebacks. The three have long and proven track records of turning dramas they starred in into smash hits. Fellow 30-something actresses such as Ko Hyun-jung ("The Queen's Classroom") and Lee Bo-young ("I Hear Your Voice") have recorded sucess in the first half with respective dramas.

But the three - Choi, Ha and Kim - have long and proven track records of turning dramas they starred in into smash hits.

Actress Choi Ji-woo, 38, will be the first among the three to end a near-two year hiatus following her 2011 “Can’t Lose,” returning in the “Suspicious Housekeeper.”

In the remake of a 2011 Japanese hit “Kaseifu no Mita,” Choi will star as a housekeeper who comes to work for a widowed father and his four children. The original black comedy was a huge hit, garnering over a 40 percent viewership rating in Japan.

Atypical from her previous roles in romantic dramas, Choi will play heroine Park Bok-nyeo, who barely shows any emotion but acts as a catalyst for the family to heal itself following the suicide of their mother. The mother killed herself after learning that her husband had an affair.

Even before the first episode was shot, people were eager to see if Choi could join the group of other actresses who have successfully ventured into unique characters such as Kim Hye-soo in “Queen of the Office.”

All eyes are on first-generation “hallyu” star, nicknamed “Ji-woo Hime” (Princess Ji-woo) by her Japanese fans, to see if she can live up to her fame in the new drama, which will be aired from Sept. 23 on SBS.

Ha Ji-won, 35, will star in the period drama “Empress Gi,” a story of love and politics in the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), which will be broadcast in October.

One of the most sought-after actresses, Ha made period dramas such as “Da Mo” (2003) and “Hwang Jini” (2006) into successes

The 50-episode “Empress Gi” will also see Ha in wire-attached action scenes. Renowned screen writer Jang Young-chul, who wrote the screenplay of the 2006 TV series “Dae Jo Yeong” wrote the script.

The TV series will Ha’s first after she started her own agency for Korean work. Also on Aug. 13 she signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) to represent her interests in the United States film. UTA is one of the largest agencies in the U.S. and is home to stars such as Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The heroine of “Lovers in Paris” Kim Jung-eun, 37, has partnered with star producer Lee Hyung-min in her return to the small screen. Lee is known for his 2004 hit drama “I’m sorry, I love you,” which enjoyed great popularity among Asian K-drama lovers.

Currently, the names of several male actors are being discussed, but not much else has been revealed except that the new drama has been tentatively titled “The Condition of Love.”

All three of the actresses have over 15 years experience each, and have firmly established their places as leading actresses in the film industry.

“At a time when trendy dramas, starring young actresses and idols, spring up like mushrooms after rain, it is welcoming that these heavy weight actresses are coming back to the screen,” said an industry watcher. “When good actresses in their 20s are scarce, their return will play a role of boosting the industry as well as showcasing the power of ladies in their 30s,” he added.

Source: The Korea Times

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Traditional shoes wear thin, but last hwahyejang carries on

Hwang Hae-bong, 60, makes traditional leather shoes with floral decorations. By Kwon Hyeok-jae
In "Wedding Shoes" by Kim Yong-ik (1920-95), a short story that ran in Harper's Bazaar in 1956, the protagonist is bewildered as he watches a hwahyejang, or shoemaker, craft traditional footwear.

He describes the hammering of silver nails into leather soles and the bright, colorful silks that are glued onto the sides. The story about the son of a butcher who falls in love with the daughter of a leather shoemaker was later translated into Korean with the title "Ggotsin" ("Floral Shoes") and became a widely read and talked about piece on the peninsula.

The shoes themselves are now even referred to as ggotsin in Korea.

Traditional shoes often surface in Korean art and literature, their floral patterns seen in the works of renowned painters and their journeys poetically described by trot musicians. But it is safe to say that no other figure is more passionate about the trade than Hwang Hae-bong, Korea's intangible cultural property No. 116.

The government designates someone as an intangible cultural property when he or she is deemed qualified to carry on a specific traditional practice. Hwang, 60, is the only hwahyejang in Korea today.

Just like the protagonist in "Floral Shoes", Hwang held his breath as he watched his grandfather lower his glasses to the tip of his nose and adroitly weave boar's hairs with every stitch. Hwang's grandfather, Hwang Han-gap (1889-1982), was also an intangible cultural property - No. 37.

In fact, Hwang Han-gap didn't want his grandson to get into the shoemaking business, saying that the trade didn't earn enough money. But the Hwang Hae-bong worried these shoes would disappear with the passage of time if he didn't carry on the practice.

A family affair

After Hwang Hae-bong's father passed away in 1978 and his grandfather in 1982, he had to polish his skills and practice what he had picked up by watching his grandfather craft the footwear.

While it was clear the skill ran in the family, it took the younger Hwang some time to catch up with the technique and precision of his elders.

In 1999, at the age of 47, Hwang received the President's Award in Traditional Craft and five years later became an intangible cultural property himself.

While some Koreans think that traditional Korean shoes are made of rubber, that is a common misconception. It is the leather footwear from the Three Kingdoms era (57 BC-668) that has been passed on through the generations.

He is intangible cultural property No. 116 and the only hwahyejang, or traditonal shoemaker, in Korea today. By Kwon Hyeok-jae
"Rubber shoes came to the Korean Peninsula in the 1920s and were popular because they were cheap and practical", Hwang said early last month as he prepared for an exhibition of his works in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.

"But the leather shoes better embody quintessential Korean aesthetics".

Hwang's ancestors had been prominent leather shoemakers in Hanyang, Seoul's old name. In particular, Hwang's grandfather - who was a third-generation leather shoemaker himself - was thought to be the best of the entire Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It was him who made the ceremonial shoes for King Gojong (1852-1919).

According to Gyeonggukdaejeon - Joseon's book of law first written in 1397 - there were 30 hwahyejang in the Joseon court. The Cultural Heritage Administration says that such figures show there was historically a high demand for the shoes.

"My grandfather would tell me about Gojong's enthronement with much pride. But he also told me stories of how he had to make white shoes for those mourners who came to the funeral of Queen Min (1851-95)", Hwang said. "He made them with tears. Being the best shoemaker, he couldn't avoid the duties".

Revival of traditions

After the Gabo Reform of 1894, during which Korea tried to embrace modern lifestyles as well as political, economic and social ideals, traditional leather shoes with floral patterns fell out of favor.

Even the best in the country, Hwang's grandfather, received just a few orders a month, mostly for toddlers for their first birthday parties during which parents dress them up in traditional attire.

Things have changed over the past couple decades, especially since the 1986 Asian Games and 1988 Summer Olympics, both of which were held in Seoul. The events put Korea on the map of world culture and art and global interest in Korea's traditions grew.

Hwang said orders for traditional shoes have surged in recent years, slowly but steadily. Most of the orders come from people who want traditional attire for special days of their lives like weddings.

Traditional leather shoes crafted by Hwang Hae-bong

Actress Jeon Ji-hyun, who got married to the grandson of renowned designer of hanbok, or traditional clothing, Lee Young-hee, also asked Hwang to make traditional shoes for her wedding.

Korea's ggotsin are crafted through a total of 72 complicated, painstaking procedures. It takes three to seven days to make one pair when the artisan works six hours a day. Prices also range from hundreds of thousands of won to millions of won.

But the grace and beauty of well-made traditional shoes are not inferior to luxury designer brand shoes of today, Hwang said.

"The biggest charms of traditional shoes are in the curvy side lines and sharp frontal tips of the shoes", Hwang said.

"They may seem uncomfortable, but as you wear them they change to the shape of your feet. The shoes change themselves to suit your feet with the passage of time".

By Lee Yeong-hee, Kim Hyung-eun [ ]
Source : ( English Korean )


South Korean Flicks Dominate Domestic Box Office This Summer


Korean films are having the upper hand at local theaters this summer and crowding out their Hollywood rivals.

The Korean Film Council said on Wednesday that director Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer" and Kim Byung-woo's "The Terror Live" have attracted 8.34 million and 5.14 million spectators, respectively.

Kim Ji-woon's "Hide and Seek" and Kim Sung-soo's "The Flu," which were released two weeks later, have so far garnered box-office admissions of 2.61 million and 2.09 million.

Owing to a wave of domestic hits, the market share of Korean films reached 89.1 percent last weekend. The local film industry is now said to be enjoying a boom due to a variety of films helmed by both well-known and rookie directors.

As of Wednesday, Korean films have attracted a total of 81.72 million spectators this year, putting them well on track to pass the 100-million mark for the second year after the milestone was first reached in 2012. Some critics even optimistically predict the figure will extend as far as 200 million viewers, as a spate of films with heavyweight names are awaiting release in the second half of this year.

"The Spy," starring Daniel Henney, Moon So-ri and Sol Kyung-gu is due out on Sept. 5. "The Face Reader," which boasts a star-studded cast including Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jung-jae and Song Kang-ho, "The Huntresses," a Korean version of the American action comedy Charlie's Angels starring Ga-in, Ha Ji-won and Kang Ye-won, and "Friend II," a sequel to the 2001 record-breaking film by Kwak Kyung-taek, will all follow suit.

This time more Koreans Plan to Spend Chuseok Abroad


The travel industry is expected to see even better business thanks to a surge in the number of people who want to spend Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving abroad.

The rosy earnings climate contrasts starkly with conditions facing manufacturing and other industries, which are grim due to the prolonged recession.

The Chuseok holiday falls on Thursday, Sept. 19 this year and normally includes the day before and after, which translates into five days off including the weekend. But many will take the previous Monday and Tuesday off too, giving them nine days in which to travel.

No. 1 travel agency Hana Tour on Wednesday said reservations for outbound travel packages in September have increased 31 percent from a year ago, when Chuseok fell on the weekend.

The increase is even more marked than the 19.4 percent and 9.4 percent on-year during the peak summer months of July and August this year.

Mode Tour said outbound bookings for September are up 34 percent, and the situation is the same at other travel agencies. Industry sources say the long Chuseok holidays plus the economic slump are prompting more Koreans to seek an escape from their daily lives. Also, many people appear to have opted to take a late summer leave to go overseas as Chuseok comes earlier than usual.

People queue at the check-in at Incheon International Airport on Sept. 17, 2010 ahead of the Chuseok holidays. People queue at the check-in at Incheon International Airport on Sept. 17, 2010 ahead of the Chuseok holidays.

The airline industry will also see sales rise. Korean Air said flights to Europe for the long Chuseok holidays are 99 percent booked, and flights to Australia and New Zealand 98 percent. Asiana Airlines said its flights to Australia and New Zealand are 97 percent booked and flights to Europe, Southeast Asia and China 95 percent.

Korean Air tickets to China and Asiana tickets to Japan are still available. "Unlike previous years when flights to China and Japan were fully booked, the long Chuseok holidays have prompted many people to choose destinations that are further away," said Ku Eun-kyoung at Korean Air.

Low-cost carriers are also laughing all the way to the bank. Jeju Air said its average reservation rate for the Chuseok holidays stands at 95 percent, while Jin Air said flights to Guam are 99 percent filled and flights to 11 overseas destinations 90 percent.

But Choi Chang-woo at the Korea Association of Travel Agents said small travel agencies continued to face tough financial conditions despite growing demands for overseas travel.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

British Girl Group Release Korean-Version of Hit Song


A popular British girl group that has never visited the country released a Korean-language version of their hit song "Wings" on Monday. None of the girls speak the language.

Little Mix, winner of last year's "X Factor," a popular TV audition show in Britain, jumped to fame with the single when it topped the U.K. singles chart last year.
The four girls now hope for more success with the new Korean version, which they sang entirely in Korean except for the central refrain.

The project started when the band saw a video clip of a contestant singing "Wings" on "K-pop Star," an audition show on SBS TV, in June. They were greatly impressed and decided to experiment with a foreign-language release.

Jeju Island Suffers Worst Drought in 90 Years


The island of Jeju is suffering extreme drought after seeing no serious rain since June 27. A mere 0.5-19 mm of rain fell in some parts of Seogwipo briefly on Monday, but that was not enough to relieve the drought.

In the whole of July, Jeju saw only 14.7 mm of rain, compared to the average rainfall of 239.9 mm for the month on the island. Average rainfall for August is 292 mm but so far this month only 0.5-20 mm of rain has fallen there.

The drought is the worst in the 90 years since records began and even longer than the 1994 drought that lasted 47 days from June 23 to Aug. 8.

The floor of the Baekrokdam crater on Mt. Halla is exposed on Aug. 3, 2013 amid severe drought on Jeju Island. /Newsis The floor of the Baekrokdam crater on Mt. Halla is exposed on Aug. 3, 2013 amid severe drought on Jeju Island. /Newsis

On Aug. 6, Jeju began restricting tap water to some 2,800 households of about 8,600 people in the inland mountainous region to every other day. It is highly likely that the provincial government will reduce that to every three days unless the island gets enough rain toward the end of the month.

Paddy and dry fields are parched. Farmers finished planting carrot seeds in 1,552 hectares of farmland in eastern Jeju, which produces about 60 percent of all carrots in the country, in late July, but they have not come up. Field crops such as soybeans and sesame are withering. Despite the tourism peak season, hotels and restaurants are suffering from the restrictive water supply.

The provincial government treats the drought as a disaster, setting up drought emergency offices in eastern Jeju, which is especially badly affected. The Jeju office of the Korea Water Resources Corporation operates an emergency water supply center for the 11 villages in the region around the clock. Since early July, the Jeju fire prevention center has sent out fire trucks to supply residents with drinking water as many 1,462 times.

Meanwhile, the southern mainland also suffers a drought. Crops are about to dry out in Busan and South Gyeongsang Province, as well as some islands in South Jeolla Province.


Film Festival attracts movie lovers to Gwangju

Movie lovers will flock to Gwangju for the Gwangju International Film Festival which will be held from August 29 to September 2.

<i>Sweetheart Chocolate </i>(photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
Sweetheart Chocolate (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)

The five-day film festival which marks its 13th year will be held on the theme of “Peace for all” at Gwangju Visual Content Center and Megabox Gwangju.

Poster for <i>Stable Life</i> by Sara MacPherson (image courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
Poster for Stable Life by Sara MacPherson (image courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
A total of 92 films from 24 countries will be screened in ten sections, including drama awards and short films. Sweetheart Chocolate by Tetsuo Shinohara will open the festival. The closing film will be Stable Life by U.S. director Sara MacPherson.

Sweetheart Chocolate is a love story about a Chinese woman and Japanese man who fall in love in Japan in the 1980s. Lin Chiling and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi were cast in the lead roles.

The closing film Stable Life by Sara MacPherson is about a Spanish family who migrated to the United States and their striving for success in horse-racing.

The festival will screen films on the themes of peace and human dignity in its two main sections -- Humanity Vision and World Vision. Some of the interesting movies in these sections include the joint UK/Poland production Dolls Can't Cry, Dancing on Broken Glass by Marek Tapák from Slovakia, and Kung Fu Fighter by Chen Tianxing of China.

<i>Kung Fu Fighter</i> by Chen Tianxing (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
Kung Fu Fighter by Chen Tianxing (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)

<i>Dancing on Broken Glass</i> by Marek Tapák from Slovakia (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
Dancing on Broken Glass by Marek Tapák from Slovakia (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)

<i>Dolls Can't Cry</i> by Aleksandra Czenczek (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
Dolls Can't Cry by Aleksandra Czenczek (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)

Movies of promising young Korean directors will be featured in the festival’s New Perspective of Korean Films section. Some of the films to be screened in this category include Lebanon Emotion by Jung Young-heon and Dangerously Excited by Koo Ja-hong.

For family members and children, the festival will present films like I Love You Mom by Casey Chen from Hong Kong and Smiling Face of 15 by Wang Dan of China.

<i>I Love You Mom</i> by Casey Chen from Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)
I Love You Mom by Casey Chen from Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival)

In a special section spotlighting actress Choi Jin-sil, festival goers can watch films of the late Korean actress Choi Jin-sil (1968~2008) who once won nationwide popularity. The festival will show her films like I Wish for what is Forbidden to Me, Ghost Mamam and The Letter in memory of the popular Korean actress.

<i>Comrade Kim Goes Flying</i> (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival).
Comrade Kim Goes Flying (photo courtesy of Gwangju International Film Festival).

If interested in North Korean film, Comrade Kim Goes Flying is a must-see movie in the Special Selection section. This film, jointly made by North Korea, Belgium, and the UK, is about a female miner surnamed Kim who wants to become an acrobat. This is not the first time that the festival has shown a North Korea-made film; a film jointly made by North Korea and China was screened at the previous year’s festival.

For comedy lovers, the festival will show four famous films of well-known American comedy movie director Leo McCarey of the 1920s and ‘30s in its Leo McCarey Special section.

On August 29, director of Sweetheart Chocolate Tetsuo Shinohara will attend the opening ceremony with Lin Chiling and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, the main actors of the opening film. Other participants of the event will include award-winning filmmaker Xie Fei who directed Black Snow, and director of Kung Fu Fighter Chen Tian Xing. Most of the participants will attend the ceremony at their own expense, unlike other movie festivals.

More information about the festival is available at its homepage (Korean, English)

By Yoon Sojung Staff Writer

Original Source:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Do you know why Korean Men Marry Foreign Women ?


The main reason Korean men opt to marry foreign women is because they tend to be less picky than Korean women about the educational background and financial and social status of their husbands, a survey suggests. Matchmaking firm Bien-Aller polled 274 single men and 274 single women through its website.

According to the poll, 32.1 percent of the men said they felt the biggest benefit of marrying foreign women is their lack of interest in their groom's educational background and financial or social status. The next best reason was their belief that foreign brides would be submissive (23 percent), make their lives more comfortable (15.3 percent), and that the men would not have to get stressed about their in-laws (13.8 percent).

Among the women, 31.4 percent said they would marry a foreigner because it would make their lives more leisurely than marrying a Korean. The next most popular reasons were the belief that a foreign husband would be more dedicated to his family (21.9 percent), more mature (17.2 percent) and less picky about the educational level and their financial or social status (12.8 percent).

When choosing a foreign woman, the men said skin color is the most important factor (37.6 percent), while Korean women prefer men from advanced countries (28.5 percent).

"As the educational and income levels of women increase, both men and women are having a tough time finding spouses," said one Bien-Aller staffer. "Women are more selective when it comes to choosing their husbands, so more and more men end up turning to foreign women, while Korean women have increasing trouble finding Korean men who meet their expectations in terms of education, age and other criteria."

Korea Shortlisted for World's Best Ski Resorts


Having hosted the world's major sporting events, Korea's sporting legacy continues to pay economic and social dividends that are both tangible and intangible.

The 1988 Summer Olympics opened the door to a succession of events that have raised Korea's profile globally and placed it firmly on the sports tourism map.

The World Ski Awards recently announced the finalists among elite resorts and hospitality providers categories. The awards claim to be the first program to acknowledge and reward the finest brands in the global industry. They feature four "blue ribbon" categories: best ski resort, best hotel, best boutique hotel and best chalet in the top 20 ski nations.

That several Korean resorts and hotels have been nominated speaks volumes about the quality of the country's ski facilities and looks ahead to the Winter Olympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang.

Korea was also named Asia's Leading Sport Tourism Destination in 2012 at the World Travel Awards in Singapore and has emerged as a leading force in the sports tourism arena. This year it has already hosted the Pyeongchang Special Olympics and is preparing to welcome the World Rowing Championships to Chungju next week. It also looks forward to another Formula 1 race in Yeongam in October and the opening of a new Taekwondo Park in Muju in September.

The worldwide voting process for the ski awards will begin on Aug. 26, with the winners announced at the inaugural ceremony in Kitzbühel, Austria on Nov. 16.

By Ramy Salameh, a travel journalist from the U.K.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Samsung to Unveil 'Smartwatch' Next Month


An image circulating online purports to show Samsungs Galaxy Gear smartwatch. An image circulating online purports to show Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
Samsung Electronics will unveil its Galaxy Note 3 smartphone and a smartwatch dubbed Galaxy Gear at a junket in Berlin on Sept. 4.

Several purported pictures of the watch are already circulating on the Internet, but a spokesman said the firm has not made a final decision about the product launch.

The Galaxy Note 3 will go on sale soon after the event, but the watch will not. Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether Samsung plans to unveil the smartwatch, Shin Jong-kyun, the head of Samsung's mobile communications business, declined to answer.

But the company has submitted a patent application for the Galaxy Gear in the U.S. and Korea. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the Galaxy Gear looks like a wristwatch but can make phone calls and connect to the Internet. The body is made of metal, synthetic fiber and glass.

In 1999, Samsung was the first to unveil a watch-type mobile phone, but the novelty did not catch on.

The Galaxy Gear will compete with Apple's iWatch set for release on Sept. 10. Apple mobilized round 100 designers and product developers to make the iWatch and has already submitted patent applications in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the U.S.

National Flower Becomes Hard to Find in within Korea


It is growing increasingly difficult to find Korea's national flower mugunghwa or rose of Sharon here. The Chosun Ilbo asked 200 people when they had last seen the flower, and 62 percent said they do not remember.

Only 18.5 percent said they saw it less than a week ago, while 19.5 percent said within the last month. "I only saw the mugunghwa in textbooks when I was a student but rarely in reality," said a university student.

The mugunghwa is also dropping in rank among people's favorite flower. The most popular flower is the rose (41 people), followed by the cherry blossom (16). Only 14 of the 200 people surveyed said they liked the mugunghwa best.

Some people wondered why such an "elusive" plant was chosen as the national flower. Among those surveyed, 27 percent said the rarity of the mugunghwa in their neighborhood is the main reason they see no good reason why it should be the national flower.

The Japanese, by contrast, remain committed to their cherry blossom or sakura. Japanese broadcaster NHK surveyed 3,600 Japanese in 2008 and 66 percent chose the cherry blossom as their favorite flower and 63 percent the cherry tree as their favorite tree.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to rule on Weibo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lee Young-ae Appointed DMZ Peace Ambassador


Actress Lee Young-ae has been appointed a "peace ambassador" charged with publicizing the environmental value and peacemaking potential of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.

Lee was appointed by Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo on Yonggang Bridge, an off-limits military area in Yeoncheon on Tuesday. She took a walk with immigrant wives and Korean War veterans.

Lee will engage in various activities to conserve the ecosystem of the DMZ, which has prospered since it has been virtually empty of people for 60 years, as well as peace, cross-border exchanges and development.

Actress Lee Young-ae (right) takes a tour of the frontline with provincial officials and soldiers in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. /Courtesy of Gyeonggi Provincial Government Actress Lee Young-ae (right) takes a tour of the frontline with provincial officials and soldiers in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. /Courtesy of Gyeonggi Provincial Government

A provincial government spokesman said that it appointed Lee given that she starred in the 2000 blockbuster film "Joint Security Area," which deals with the friendship between South and North Korean soldiers surrounding a fatal shooting incident within the DMZ. The province expects Lee's international fame to boost the image of the DMZ as a space of peace and eco-friendliness.

Meanwhile, senior provincial officials met in Paju and Yeoncheon the same day to discuss the concept of a "DMZ Peace Park," which President Park Geun-hye suggested in her speech before the U.S. Congress in May.

One idea is regrouping a vast frontline area covering the estuary of the Han River, Paju, Yeoncheon, Cheorwon and Goseong in a DMZ park belt.

3 Premium Smartphones to Face Off in September


The world's top three premium smartphone makers Apple, LG and Samsung will face off next month by releasing their latest models. LG already unveiled its G2 last week, and Apple and Samsung plan to release their latest models next month.

Intense competition is expected with Samsung seeking to protect its No. 1 position, while Apple and LG keep up the chase.

◆ New iPhone

AllThingsD, the Wall Street Journal's IT blog, on Saturday said Apple plans to unveil its new iPhone on Sept. 10. The current iPhone 5 was released in September 2012.

Apple has yet to reveal any details, but there are forecasts that the new phone will be equipped with the iOS7 operating system and feature fingerprint-recognition functions, which Apple revealed at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple acquired mobile security firm AuthenTec last year.

The big question is whether Apple will manage to overcome declining market share. As sales of Android phones increase, Apple’s slice of the pie has grown smaller. According to U.S.-based market researcher Strategy Analytics, 79.5 percent of all smartphones in the world were equipped with Google's Android OS as of the second quarter of this year, up 10 percentage points from the same period of 2012.

In contrast, the share of iOS phones fell from 16.6 percent to 13.6 percent. Industry watchers expect Apple to go all out to market the upcoming iPhone, since poor sales would only widen its gap with the Korean electronics giant.

◆ Galaxy Note 3

Samsung plans to unveil the Galaxy Note 3 in Berlin on Sept. 4, a week earlier than Apple and two days ahead of the Internationale Funkausstellung consumer electronics trade show there to attract worldwide coverage.

The Galaxy Note 3 is likely to be the world's first smartphone with a 3GB DRAM chip, since Samsung announced it would start mass-producing the chips last month. Until now, smartphones had been powered by 2GB DRAM chips at best.

The greater the DRAM capacity, the greater the multi-tasking ability of a smartphone.

◆LG's G2

LG unveiled its G2 weeks ahead of its rivals, aiming to draw the attention of consumers first. But the real battle begins next month, when its rivals catch up.

Kim Kyoung-hwan at LG said he expects intense competition in the key North American and European markets starting in mid-September. But he said LG is confident due to "drastic improvements" in design to functions.

Monday, August 12, 2013

K-Pop Schools Feed Kids' Dreams of Superstardom


With the growing international popularity of groups like Girls' Generation and singers such as Psy, K-Pop schools for teenagers with stars in their eyes are mushrooming, the New York Times reported on Saturday. Their numbers are estimated to reach thousands.

"Even though there is no official tally of the number of schools teaching children and teenagers to become pop entertainers, industry officials all agree that it is on the rise. Even traditional private music and dance schools -- more accustomed to teaching Bach and ballet -- have switched their curriculums to get with the pop plan," the NYT said.

In a survey of primary and secondary school students late last year, entertainers, along with doctors and teachers, ranked highly among desirable jobs, it added.

The paper attributed the boom to the exponential growth of K-Pop. The combined sales of the nation's top three entertainment agencies -- JYP, SM and YG -- increased 3.5-fold from W106.6 billion in 2009 to W362.9 billion last year (US$1=W1,112).

Another factor is the changing perception of such a career among parents. They used to be solely focused on seeing their kids gain admittance to a prestigious university. But the international success of golfers like Pak Se-ri, figure skater Kim Yu-na and singer Psy opened parents' eyes to new possibilities for their offspring.

In the past, "Entertainment was considered an inferior profession and its practitioners belittled with the derogatory nickname 'tantara.' Now, in college, pop music is one of the most coveted majors, where it's [called] 'practical music.'" the daily said.

But critics point out that the nation "is producing cookie cutter performances: perfectly synchronized dances, catchy songs and outfits and chiseled but forgettable features," the NYT added.
Source: The Chosun Ilbo

South Korean Heart throb super star Lee Byung-hun, Lee Min-jung to Honeymoon in Maldives


Star couple Lee Byung-hoon and Lee Min-jung tied the knot in Seoul on Saturday.

In a press event before the wedding ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the groom said he couldn't afford much time to prepare for the wedding due to promotional commitments linked to his latest Hollywood blockbuster, "Red 2," as well as obligations concerning his next movie. But he added that he is looking forward to being a devoted husband.

Coutesy : The Chosun Ilbo

/Courtesy of BH Entertainment /Courtesy of BH Entertainment

"I feel like I'm at a sort of press event or something like that. I guess it will only really sink in that we're married when my husband and I move into our new place in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province," the bride said.

Courtesy : The Chosun Ilbo

When asked how many children they plan to have, the groom replied, "We haven't talked about it. But it will be a blessing to have kids, regardless of how many."

They are set to head to the Maldives on Monday for their honeymoon.

There is a report that around  900 guests attended in their grand wedding. We wish to enjoy their honeymoon well and entertain us in their world of cinema in the comming days.

Looking forward to see you both in the big screen soon and a very happy married life from me as well.


North Korea Enshrines Hereditary Power


The North Korea's Workers Party revised its 10 founding principles for the first time in 39 years this June to enshrine the hereditary transfer of power through the Kim family.

One of the 10 principles used to read, "We must honor the great leader comrade Kim Il-sung with all our loyalty," referring to the North Korean founder. But that has now been amended to, "We must honor the great leader comrade Kim Il-sung and general Kim Jong-il with all our loyalty."

That indirectly confers legitimacy on Kim Jong-il's third son Jong-un, the current ruler.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the construction site of the Mirim Riding Club in this undated photo released by the state-run KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on Saturday. /Reuters-News 1 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the construction site of the Mirim Riding Club in this undated photo released by the state-run KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on Saturday. /Reuters-News 1

A government source here said the last time the 10 principles were amended was in April 1974, when Kim Jong-il was appointed successor to Kim Il-sung. In the latest revision, the principles were shortened from 65 clauses to 60.

"The ruling ideology has shifted from centering around Kim Il-sung to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, while Kim Jong-un has been elevated to the same status as the elder Kims," the source said. "The focus is on legitimizing and legalizing the hereditary transfer of power."

Clause 1 of Article 10 states that the task of establishing a sole leadership system must be carried out "continuously." Clause 2 says the party and revolution must be carried "eternally" by the "Baekdu bloodline," referring to the Kim dynasty.

The regime also newly inserted the term "nuclear force" into the principles as "the backbone" of the country's "military power and economic solidarity."

In April of last year, the North amended the constitution to declare itself a "nuclear power" and a Politburo meeting in March this year posed the dual goal of nuclear armament and economic development.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Cheering Arirang a Korean flok song

Thursday, August 8, 2013

LG Pins Hopes on New Flagship Smartphone


LG unveiled its new flagship smartphone G2 in the U.S. on Wednesday. The company has embarked on an eight-week tour of 60 countries to market the G2 via 130 telecoms around the world.

Analysts say the fate of LG's smartphone business hangs on the success or failure of the G2. If the firm manages to sell almost 10 million, it would consolidate its status among the global premium smartphone leaders Samsung and Apple.

But if sales sputter, LG would end up lumped with low-cost smartphone makers ZTE and Huawei of China and face intense competition to survive.

LG Electronics president of mobile communications Park Jong-seok presents the new G2 smartphone at a press event in New York on Wednesday. /News 1 LG Electronics president of mobile communications Park Jong-seok presents the new G2 smartphone at a press event in New York on Wednesday. /News 1
◆ Top Specs

The G2 features some convenient functions. For instance, users need only tap on the screen twice to switch it on or raise the phone to ear level to take a call. And for a better grip, LG placed the on/off switch and volume buttons on the back instead of the sides.

The G2 also has a larger screen than some rivals with 5.2 inches because LG narrowed bezel around the screen to just 2.65 mm. The phone is equipped with a 13-million-pixel DSLR camera and is the world's first smartphone with hi-fi sound quality, the firm claims.

It offers LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network speeds enabling data transmission twice as fast as LTE phones.

It will compete with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhone 5. A month from now, Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy Note 3, and Apple is also projected to release a new iPhone.

◆ Make or Break

LG hopes to sell more than 10 million G2s. Since sales of LG's Optimus G and G Pro did not surpass five million, the target is rather lofty, but the G2 has gotten off to a good start. By launching it via 130 telecoms around the world, LG has embarked on a marketing blitz that rivals Samsung and Apple. The Optimus G was marketed through only 80 telecoms and the G Pro through 60.

LG ranks as the world's No. 3 smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple, but its global market share is less than half of theirs and just 0.3 to 0.5 percentage point ahead of fourth and fifth-ranked ZTE and Huawei of China.

Last year, LG fell to No. 4 in the global market when it was briefly overtaken by Huawei. "If we fail to become a presence among premium smartphones like the iPhone or Galaxy series, we could end up having to compete with low-end Chinese smartphone makers," an LG staffer said.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Fashion does not have boundary : S.Korean Fashions Spread To N.Korea


South Korean goods and pop culture are spreading across North Korea through black markets. Defectors say South Korean goods sold in North Korean markets range from DVDs and clothes to food to like vegetables, fruit, fish and meat.

"Many young North Koreans who come across South Korean goods on the black market prefer them to Chinese-made ones although they are pricier," one defector said. "It's especially difficult to find South Korean cosmetics and shampoo because the demand is so high."

The tags are destroyed before the goods go on sale because selling and buying South Korean goods is banned. Some merchants take the brand tag off and keep it in a pocket to show to customers later to prove the provenance.

A North Korean woman waits to cross a road in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. /Reuters-News 1 A North Korean woman waits to cross a road in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. /Reuters-News 1

Another defector said, "The demand for South Korean clothes is too great for the supply to be met, so some seamstresses hunt down South Korean fashion magazines at great risk to copy the styles."

Because South Korean goods sell at higher prices than Chinese-made goods, some traders cheat, removing the tag of a Chinese brand and advertising it as South Korean. They also sell fake South Korean goods like Choco Pie, coffee and instant cup noodles.

South Korean refrigerators, TVs, washing machines, computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, Kimchi refrigerators, tires, watches, rice cookers, electric blankets and boilers are all popular.

Recently, there has been an emergence of a makeup artist who can do bridal makeup and hairdos the South Korean way. One North Korean defector said, "In North Korea, light makeup for a natural look and extended eyelashes are popular these days."

An increasing number of North Koreans watch South Korean TV soaps, films, entertainment shows, K-pop shows, and sitcoms, and young people are mimicking Psy's "Gangnam Style" horse-riding dance or other pop groups' moves.

The regime is going to great pains to stem the wave, with authorities reportedly setting up a special taskforce to crack down on South Korean fashion, makeup, and even slang.

One defector said, "If the police see you wearing blue jeans, they will cut them with scissors on the spot, and skinny jeans, boot-cut jeans, and shorts can never be worn publicly."


Monday, August 5, 2013

Treasure of Manipur : A traditional house of Meitei called Yumjao

"Meitei Yumjao" - The Endangered Art
By Boby Kangjam
                                                                                                                                     The writer is a Senior Architect at Chapman Taylor

With the little experience I have gathered from my profession of being an Architect, I am making an effort to study on the conservation of an endangered Meitei Art "The Meitei Yumjao". Please feel free to comment and add more on this.

Every place and every society has its own art, style, culture and Architecture, so do "The Meitei Society". When we talk about the Meitei Architecture, the first thing that comes in the mind is the Meitei Yumjao, the space and place of birth of the entire Meitei Generation.

Unfortunately it is on the verge of extinction from today's Meitei Society. Whose fault is it? Is it mine, as an architect, yours as a Meitei or others? We never try to answer and go forward with time forgetting our origin, our birth place. It won't be a long wait when we will see Meitei Yumjao as a fairy tale and fantasy movie element.

Meitei Yumjao used to be a perfect dwelling unit of an ideal Meitei family, few generations back. Few people of our generation had the opportunity to live in it and enjoy the essence of it and cherish the life style. Maximum of us have only heard about its magnificent qualities or seen it in old Manipuri films.

So for the coming generation it will be an extinct art or entity, as people of Meitei society had stopped constructing Meitei Yumjao since 50 to 60 years back and replaced it with timber post - GI sheet or RCC –brick structures. It will be seen only in photographs or museums in days to come. The essence, importance and specialty of Meitei Yumjao can be seen only when we look deeply into our life style, culture and ethics. Each and every part has been properly designed and detailed to suit the lifestyles of Meitei people and the environment.

Type of House:

The "Meitei Yumjao" was of two types by its mode of wall construction. First one was of complete straw reinforced mud thick wall up to the roof height embedding the main load bearing post bamboos with Pungjei in different heights as reinforcement steel grass rod.

Second system of wall was of thick straw reinforced mud half wall up to a height of 4 to 5 feet and above that with split bamboo (Wachet) with uniformly distributed and binded Shinghoot by bamboo strips (chepsi Paya) and straw reinforced and cow dung mix mud plastering in different coats. This thick mud wall gives the required thermal insulation for a comfortable living space. Selection of mud was also one of the factors for creating a smooth, fine texture wall which is an earth-friendly and inventive way to bring a healthy and naturalistic life.

Maintenance of the House:

(Leikang kanthaba and Phaklang wai teiba) in general is done every year before the "CHEIRAOBA"- Meitei Chahi Houba( New Year) in the month of Sajibu Tha (April month) to start a fresh new life with clean and healthy environment and pray for good fortune in the coming year. Change of thatch roof is generally done once in eight to ten years according to the thickness and nature of the thatch used e.i. Tumnou, Emom, Charot, Singnang, Charu (Peddy straw)etc.

However Chakhum Wai Teiba,(Kitchen floor cleaning), Emung Wai Teiba (Room floor cleaning) and Mangol Wai Teiba( Verandah cleaning) is done daily as an unavoidable task in day to day life of the Meitei's in the mornings before start of any work by the Meitei women for the days good luck and success of the members of the family.

The Phunga Meifam :

The concept and necessity of Phunga in Meitei lifestyle is unavoidable. Our food habit of eating roasted / dry fish can't be entertained without a Phunga in or out of the house. Phunga Meifam inside the Meitei Yumjao also acts as a fire place which warms up the inside space in winter for a comfortable living and never allowed to extinct the fire all hours of the day.

Our "Phunga waries"(Folk stories) are never complete without a phunga and now our Phunga Waries have become bedtime stories. Present generation kids will never taste a true phunga wari sitting around the phunga eating aloo, Mangra alouba,(baked potatoes, sweet potatoes) etc).

Distribution of Rooms:

The distribution of entire house into different kasPhamel ka, lukhumka, ,leimarelka, piba Ka, ningolka, chakhumka, sanamahi laipham, Grain storage space and Mangolka as per the requirement shows the concept and necessity to give specific separate space for specific functions. This reflects the respect, privacy and identity given to each member of the family and their personal spaces. This is the origin of our sincerity, honesty, character and culture of which we are proud of.

Building Material and Technique:

A "Meitei Yumjao" is built with locally available material like bamboo of different strength and size according to the requirement, say Saneibi for main load bearing members vertical and horizontal load distribution members, Khokwa being stout and thick, small in diameter as purlins and rafters, Utang for Kanam and chepsi paya, cane, mud, straw and thatch, using locally developed technique and style for fixing and joining various parts of the structure which works perfectly with the used material with the help of local artisan and craftsman.

Thus, it is economical, environmental friendly and job generating for the society. Easy availability of construction materials and community construction system in the early Meitei society help in maintaining a peaceful and harmonious society. (Lending hand to neighbors, friends or community in construction).

The technique and technology of constructing Meitei Yumjao is more than 500 years old and therefore not free from limitations of its own. The limitations of this system of construction have impacts on its structure, form and technical quality which in turn affect the physical essence of the habitable space.

Negative aspects of "Meitei Yumjao":
  • Inability to provide physically separate rooms (kas) or space due to span limitation of bamboo truss roof system failed the concept of separate rooms (kas), privacy and space identity.
  • Inability to provide wider opening on walls due to cohesion quality of straw reinforced mud wall and absence of lintel system failed natural crossed ventilation and natural lighting leading to a dark, swampy and damp internal space.
  • Lower quality mud compacted plinth and floor with no proper foundation system could not prohibit the absorption of outside water during rainy season, making the inside space damp and stinky.
  • Meitei Yumjao has been planned and designed as a single nuclear family dwelling unit with no provision for extension or addition of space with the growth of family and space requirement. But only few families of previous generation were nuclear family.
  • The planning and design was not futuristic, due to less population and abundant land availability .
  • Use of mud floor and absence of provision for using water inside the house made it unsuitable for washing, cleaning and other water related functions inside the house.
  • As all the structure were supported with bamboo columns with no proper technical or chemical foundation system to protect the bamboo from rotting due to dampness or water seepage led to breakage of column at junction of floor and wall which inturn disturb the form and structure of the house reducing its life time.
Reasons for extinction:

Reduction in the availability of the specific species of thatch used for roofing, requirement of regular maintenance and changing of roofing material and scarcity of skilled artisan for the job led to the downfall of Meitei Yumjao.

With the development and improvement of lifestyles in various ways, everyone felt the need of the best space and facilities to live in which he can afford. These brought in the change in dwelling structure technically, culturally and aesthetically and led to the extinction of Meitei Yumjao. I won't say it is for a wrong cause, it was the need of the hour that led to its failure as it could not meet the requirements of today's generation.

We all know "Meitei Yumjao" has lots of limitations in fulfilling the present lifestyles, but I ask myself why? Did we ever try to develop it with time and need? I think no. We have never thought about it. But we know it is beautiful, intricately crafted, economical, sustainable structure with zero pollution, earthquake resistant due to flexibility of bamboo joints and one of its kinds in the world and it is a good solution to global warming.

Need of Preserving the Art:

If we try to work out and solve all the limitations of Meitei Yumjao – architecturally, structurally and culturally, it is possible to cater all the requirements and space quality of present day lifestyle and we can redevelop it and save it for our future generations otherwise our future generation will never know from where their lives have started, their origin and their roots.

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