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Opening a communicative space between Korea and the world

Life and Death of a Patriot: Ahn Jung-geun
Volunteers Pour Into Developing Countries

ISSN: 2005-2162




VOL. 14 / NO. 10

Publisher Kim He-beom, Korean Culture and Information Service Chief Editor Ko Hye-ryun Editing & Printing JoongAng Daily Cover Photo The sky is a clear blue over the north bank of the Hangang River in Seoul. Photo by NEWSIS E-mail Design JoongAng Daily

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Cover Story – Ahn Jung-geun
• • • • • A Fighter Remembered The Peace-Loving Rebel-Philosopher A National Hero’s Story Retold in Song Putting Their Hands Together in Respect A Man, Carrying Out Heaven’s Will

• Korea’s Quest for Resources • Pursuit of Science Brings Korea and Africa Closer

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• Classics of the Global Stage, Rediscovered • A Competition to Create • Museum Fashion Show 2009 – Ancient Heritage Meets Fashion • Film Industry’s CG Takes Off • Feasts, games and gratitude

• Young Golfer Sets American Amateur Record • Golden Autumn for Korea’s Victorious Archery Teams

• A People of the Mountains • Korea’s Taste Masters – Perfect Pork in a Feng Shui Setting

News in Focus
• The World’s Fascination with Korea’s ‘Correct Sounds’ • The Monarch Who Created a Culture • Much More Than Just Letters

• Bae Yong-joon: Sharing the Beauty of Home • Chang Han-na: Cello Prodigy Pours Her Soul Into Helping Child Musicians • Burglind Jungmann: Alone With Her Passion

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Korean Literature
• Kim Ju-yeong’s tumultuous history • Poetry – The Depth of a Landscape

• Water management, climate and North: Lee’s focus at UN

Korean Artist
• Bae Bien-u: A Photographic Tribute to the Mystical Forest

Global Korea
• Learning How Best to Help the World’s Least Fortunate

Foreign viewpoints
• The ‘Second Beautiful Choice’: Klaus Fassbender

4 korea October 2009

October 2009 korea 5

Cover Story | Korea’s beloved independence activist Ahn Jung-geun

A Fighter Remembered
Ahn Jung-geun shot Hirobumi Ito, former resident-general of Japan-occupied Korea, 100 years ago this year


[JoongAng Ilbo]

A choir of children waves the Taegeukgi, the national flag of Korea, while singing a tribute to Ahn Jung-geun.

travelers. It was Oct. 26, 1909, at Harbin Station in the city of the same name in northeastern China. What made this morning special was that the revered Japanese statesman Hirobumi Ito was about to arrive, to meet with a Russian representative and discuss Japanese jurisdiction over Manchuria. Ito and his entourage got off the train at around 9:25 a.m. and stepped onto the platform, surrounded by welcoming crowd, when a young man in a black suit strode toward them. Three shots rang out. From just 7 meters (23 feet) away, the young man shot Ito. The 68-year-old Japanese noble, a founder of modern Japan and its first colonial ruler over occupied Korea, died instantly. The young man threw his gun to the ground and shouted “Long live Korea! Long live Korea! Long live Korea!” He was arrested by Russian police. It was the passing of a hero for the Japanese people. But for Koreans it was the birth of one. The man was Ahn Jung-geun (1879-1910), then 30 years old, and now one of Korea’s most idolized independence fighters. Heroic tales about this little-known

ike any other day, the sun rose. And like any other day, the train station was busy with

man from a small colony called Korea spread like wildfire. Besides toppling Ito, Ahn was hailed for his confident, dignified attitude at his trial. “You took the life of Hirobumi Ito. What do you expect will happen to your life?” the judge reportedly asked. “I don’t really think about my life. I just plan to testify to Ito’s crimes and leave myself to the law,” Ahn replied. While in prison, Ahn wrote “On Peace in East Asia,” a pan-Asianist manifesto in which he called for China, Korea and Japan to join together in a multilateral organization similar to the much later European Economic Community, with a common currency and even a military for common defense against Western colonialism. “[Ahn’s] pan-Asian peace theory provides realistic solutions to the challenges and problems the world faces even today,” said Dr. Shin Un-yong, a senior researcher at the Ahn Jung-geun Memorial Foundation. Reflecting this philosophical side, Ahn had spent much of his life advancing education in Korea, establishing two schools and even organizing a national movement to repay the Empire of Korea’s debt to Japan, thus freeing it of its obligations prior to annexation. When that failed, Ahn also went abroad to Vladivostok to organize an armed resistance to Japanese aggres-

This photograph of Ahn Jung-geun was taken just before his execution at Lushun Prison in Dalian, northeastern China.

sion, but with little success. It was then that he decided to carry out the assassination of the former JapaOctober 2009 korea 7

6 korea October 2009


Cover Story | Korea’s beloved independence activist Ahn Jung-geun

Above left, Hirobumi Ito arrived at Harbin Station on the morning of Oct. 26, 1909 to meet with Russian representatives. Above right, Ahn was hailed for his dignified, unwavering attitude at his trial.

nese prime minister Hirobumi Ito. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of this historic event, Koreans are working hard to pay their respects — in more ways than one. A new musical and a TV drama about Ahn’s life are in production, along with campaigns to recreate Ahn’s face and palmprint on giant banners, to be hung in Seoul. To coincide with the anniversary, there are also many books being released to teach people of all ages about Ahn’s life. “Ahn Jung-geun-related books are always welcomed by readers, especially parents who want to buy good books they can use to provide their children with a good example of a model life,” said an employee at Kyobo Bookstore, the largest bookseller in Korea. Meanwhile, a bronze statue of Ahn, which

Ahn’s remains are still lost to time, with hope running out — a large apartment complex is planned on the likely location of the grave.
had previously resided in Harbin, was moved to Korea last month. It now stands on the lawn of the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul. And there’s yet another tragic chapter in the story of Ahn’s life and death: His remains have yet to be found. After being jailed and executed at Lushun Prison in the port city of Dalian, northeast Chi8 korea October 2009

na, on March 26, 1910, records show that Ahn’s body was buried in a cemetery nearby. With his last words, Ahn is known to have asked that his remains be moved to Korean soil once the country won its independence from Japan — but his dying wish remains unfulfilled. After executing Ahn at Lushun Prison, Japan kept his burial site secret, destroying all relevant documents. Based on testimony, speculation and long-time rumors that Ahn’s remains were buried behind the jail complex, the Korean government finally held its first official excavation this spring. The work took place mainly at a site near the prison picked out by the daughter of a former guard as the burial site. But the workers weren’t able to find anything. To make matters worse, a massive apartment complex is now under construction on the site. The Korean government says it does not plan to conduct any more excavations, unless some new clues about the grave arises. “Five-story and 12-story apartment buildings to accommodate hundreds of households are scheduled for completion by the end of this year, at the earliest,” said a worker at the site. If the work is done, the body of the martyred Korean may never be located. Although most Korean historians wish the Korean government would assume a more active role in finding the remains, they also acknowledge the political sensitivity involved, saying that obtaining North Korea’s support would be key in earning greater cooperation

from China. More recently, a descendent of the Korean independence fighter Lee Hoe-yeong (18671932) gave a new possible site where Ahn’s remains might have been buried. Han Si-jun, a professor at Dankook Unversity who specializes in the history of Korea’s independence movement, has said that the information is credible and called on the Korean government to act on it. Meanwhile, Lushun Prison recently underwent a renovation and opened to the public as a museum. Previously, the government-maintained prison was off-limits to foreigners, with officials saying it housed classified military documents pertaining to the Chinese naval presence nearby. The white, Western-style structure was built by Russia in 1902. After Japan won the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, it took over and expanded the site so that it could hold up to 2,000 prisoners. Sprawling over nearly 26,000 square meters, the prison was in use until 1945, when Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied powers, bringing World War II to an end. The entrance fee to the new museum is 25 yuan (about $3.70). In Ahn’s cell hangs a copper plate featuring pictures of the nationalist along with his biography and achievements — in Korean, Chinese, English, Japanese and Russian. The two-story court building, 1 kilometer

(0.6 mile) from the prison, was transformed into a hospital after the war. But a private Korean foundation that commemorates patriotic acts against Japan bought the building and turned it into an exhibition hall for items left behind by Ahn. The room where Ahn was executed had later been used as a laundry room. However, today it has been reconstructed into an exhibition about the victims of Japanese aggression. Ahn was survived by his wife Kim Ah-rye. They had two sons — Bun-do, who died at age 12, and Joon-seng — and a daughter, Hyun-seng. The family lived in Shanghai until Korea regained its independence in 1945. After 1945, they returned to Korea. Joon-seng and his wife Jeong Ok-nyeo have

Above left, the prison where Ahn was executed has now been transformed into a museum. Above right, Ahn’s wife, Kim Ah-rye, with her daughter Hyun-seng and son Joon-seng can be seen in this recently released photograph.

Lushun Prison, where Ahn was held, was recently turned into a museum, with his cell home to a memorial in five languages.
one son and two daughters. The son, Ung-ho, is a doctor working in the United States. Ung-ho also has a son, reportedly working in IT, also in the U.S. Hyun-seng’s daughter, Hwang Eun-joo, meanwhile, is living in Korea, in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do Province.
By Kim Hyung-eun, Chang Se-jeong October 2009 korea 9



Cover Story | Korea’s beloved independence activist Ahn Jung-geun

The Peace-Loving Rebel-Philosopher


A National Hero’s Story Retold in Song

This calligraphy by Ahn Jung-geun reads, “To protect East Asian countries, politics must change before anything else. It’s too late for regrets as the right time passes by.”
10 korea October 2009

hn Jung-geun is best known as the independence fighter who shot and killed Hirobumi Ito on the morning of Oct. 26, 1909 in Harbin, China. Numerous books, television programs and movies have been made about him, mostly focused on this event, portraying him as a devoted and brave Korean nationalist. But in fact, Ahn was not just a freedom fighter, but also a believer in Asia who hoped to achieve peace with neighboring states — even, astonishingly enough, Japan. While imprisoned at Lushun from the end of October 1909 until March 1910, Ahn wrote and painted calligraphy. His theories on international politics can be found in an essay written during this period titled “On Peace in East Asia.” Though this essay was never finished, as he was executed shortly after he started writing it, its key points are nevertheless outlined in the manuscript. “Korea, Japan and China should cooperate to stand up against the Western powers,” Ahn wrote. But he also knew that the Japanese government was imperialistic and colonial, which was a constant threat to peace in East Asia. Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese resident general of Korea and four-time prime minister of Japan, was one of those whom Ahn perceived as a hindrance to Korean independence and East Asian peace. By killing Ito, Ahn hoped he would be able to provoke a reaction across the region and possibly even effect a change in Japanese national policy. He suggested an East Asian Peace Conference with Korea, Japan and China as the three major players. He believed that these three countries, if each given national sovereignty, could act cooperatively and peacefully. Ahn noted that since the Japanese were ahead scientifically at that time, they could lead the other two nations in technological progress. He believed that if this confer-

ence was successful, other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and India would join. Ahn proposed Lushun, an internationally disputed area at the time, as the location of the headquarters of the East Asian Peace Conference. He thought that if Japan gave up its claims to Lushun and it became a neutral city, it would be a symbol of peace with China. The essay proposes a regional bank and a common currency among the three countries. Ahn even thought the three could assemble a joint army to defend East Asia. “In his essay 100 years ago, Ahn had already formulated the idea of a community quite like the European Economic Community,” said Yoon Kyungro, a professor at Hansung University. In Ahn’s autobiography, which he also completed during his five-month stay in prison, Ahn wrote that after being sentenced to death, he met Judge Hirashi, who had presided over Ahn’s trial, and explained to him his theories on peace in East Asia. After listening to Ahn’s thoughts, Hirashi replied, “I deeply sympathize with you, but what can I do since the government’s organization cannot be changed? Still I will convey your opinions to the government.” Ahn asked if his execution could be postponed for a month so that he could write a book on his theories. The judge granted a stay of several months, telling him not to worry. Ahn writes that he returned to his cell, grateful, and decided not to appeal his case. But the judge was overruled, and Ahn was executed on March 26, 1910, just a month after his death sentence was announced. “On Peace in East Asia” was never finished. “Ahn’s essay is incomplete,” said Kim Young-ho, the former head of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. “But it is our generation’s job to finish his task.”
By Lee Hae-joo


eople need heroes, and Korea has seen the rise and fall of many. This month, one of its most beloved will be brought back to life as theater troupe Acom International stages a musical inspired by the life of Ahn Jung-geun. Titled Hero, the piece hopes to inspire and educate Koreans about the independence fighter. “It was three years ago that we began work on this musical,” said Yun Ho-jin, the show’s director. Yun, the chairman of the Korean Musical Association, also created The Last Empress, another work with a connection to Korean nationalism. That musical is about Korea’s Empress Myeongseong (1851-1895), who was assassinated by the Japanese. It was the first original Korean musical production ever, and the first Asian musical to be presented on Broadway and in London’s West End. Han A-reum, who wrote Hero, said it was no easy task. “Because Ahn is such a famous figure, I found myself trying to meet him with my mind. But I was only really able to meet him when I approached him with my heart,” Han said. “Now he has become the coolest guy in my life. I hope the audience feels that way too.” Peter Casey, the Australian musical director who was in charge of arranging the piece, said he hopes the saga and spirit of Ahn is passed on to more people around the world.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this creative team, and to be able to tell this important story. This story must be told to the world,” Casey said. The creative team took field trips to Vladivostok, Russia, and Dalian, China, earlier this year to trace the footsteps of Ahn. Based on that experience and historical records, the musical will recreate key scenes of Ahn’s life using both digital and analog technology. Since they’re targeting the overseas market,

The musical’s creators sought to avoid overt nationalism, even depicting the inner conflicts Hirobumi Ito himself experienced.
the makers of Hero sought to keep the musical from coming off as too nationalistic. Organizers say it will depict Ahn as an international figure who not only fought for Korea’s independence but also for peace in Asia, and also highlight the human side and inner struggles of Hirobumi Ito, the man Ahn shot. Hero will open Oct. 26, the 100th anniversary to the day of Ahn’s assassination of the former Japanese prime minister. It will run until Dec. 31 at the LG Arts Center in southern Seoul.
By Kim Hyung-eun

Provided by Seok Juseon Memorial Museum, Dankook University

The new musical Hero will feature Ahn’s life story. Organizers say it will depict Ahn as an international figure who fought not only for Korea’s independence but also for peace in Asia.
October 2009 korea 11


Cover Story | Korea’s beloved independence activist Ahn Jung-geun
Since June, Koreans have been pressing their palms in ink to recreate Ahn’s famous handprint on a huge banner.


A Man, Carrying Out Heaven’s Will
and peace in Asia was heaven’s will. Still the struggle against Japan was stagnant. To trigger a breakthrough, Ahn made up his mind to assassinate Hirobumi Ito, the former resident-general of Korea, and carried out the attack in the now-Chinese city of Harbin. At his trial after the assassination, Ahn displayed composure and courage, continuing to stand against Japan. It was the first case in the history of Korean nationalism that a trial had been used to fight annexation by imperial Japan. Ahn’s heroic act derived from his philosophy. As a Catholic, he said he often contemplated what God had planned for him and concluded that the liberation of Korea and maintenance of peace in Asia was God’s will. He believed that punishing Hirobumi Ito was the perfect way to realize this will. The attack was a consequence of his realization that he would not be be able to achieve religious satisfaction without working toward Korean independence. Ahn proposed the ways to realize God’s will in his unfinished essay “On Peace in East Asia.” This work laid out Ahn’s pan-Asian peace theory, an embodiment of his passion for peaceful coexistance between Korea, China and Japan and for an ethical world. His vision 100 years ago is remarkably similar to the trail blazed by the European Union in modern times. He proposed that Korea, Japan and China

Putting Their Hands Together in Respect


n Oct. 26, Korea’s beloved independence activist Ahn Jung-geun will come to life once again. Korean people literally joined hands to honor the national hero, placing their hands on a huge banner in the shape of Ahn’s famous handprint and submitting their portraits to a Web site, where they will be combined to make a huge mosaic depicting Ahn. Both banners will be displayed in Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul, on the 100th anniversary of his assassination of the first colonial ruler of Korea, Hirobumi Ito. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism last month launched the monthlong campaign to gather the photos at And it’s not just the face of Ahn that will be recreated. Since June, JS Theater, the troupe that produced a biographical play about the freedom fighter titled Ahn Jung12 korea October 2009

geun, a Korean, has been transporting a 30-by-50-meter (98-by-164-foot) blank banner across the nation, collecting people’s palmprints. Ahn’s handprint is a well-known image in Korea, with its ring finger conspicuously short. Ahn cut off the tip of that finger when he and his fellow independence activists vowed to fight for Korea’s independence until their deaths. Although the palm print project was spearheaded by JS Theater and Seo Kyoung-duk, a self-proclaimed public relations expert and guest professor at Sungshin Women’s University, the Culture Ministry has joined in to assist with the project. Over the past few months, the banner has traveled across Korea and even overseas to countries including China, Japan and the United States, acquiring tens of thousands of palm prints. People from all walks of life left their prints on the banner — young and old,

civilians and soldiers, Seoulites and Koreans living halfway across the world. Last month, Seo left for Miyagi Prefecture in Japan to get palm prints from the descendents of Toshichi Chiba, the Japanese guard who befriended Ahn while he was being held at Lushun Prison in the port city of Dalian, northeast China. Chiba returned to Japan in 1920 and placed a memorial tablet for Ahn at Dairin Temple in Miyagi. Monks at Dairin hold memorial services for Ahn every year during the first week of September, to celebrate Ahn’s birthday, which is Sept. 2. “I wanted to make sure that we get palmprints from all of the people who care for Ahn,” Seo said. The palm prints will be used to make a huge palm print in the shape of Ahn’s. Once completed, it will also be showcased in Gwanghwamun on a banner.
By Kim Hyung-eun

hn Jung-geun was a Catholic, but he did not share the lukewarm attitude of the leaders of his religion, who supported foreign influence over Korea. When Bishop August Mutel opposed the establishment of a Korean university, Ahn said, “I believe in Catholicism, but I do not trust foreigners.” When a Catholic priest tried to dissuade Ahn from his struggle for Korean independence, he said that the existence of the nation comes before religion. This was his warning to the Catholic Church that it had failed to address the problems Korea was facing at the time. It is well-known that Ahn established Samheung School and Donui School. But relatively less attention was paid to his plans for violent resistance before entering education. In 1904, at the height of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan’s designs on Korea began to reveal themselves when the empire demanded the right to exploit Korea’s barren land. Sensing Japan’s ambitions, Ahn suggested an attack on Deputy Ambassador Gonsuke Hayashi to the Korea Peace Preservation Council, or Boanhoe. But the council turned down the proposal, and Ahn’s plot was never carried out. Instead, Ahn planned to create a base for an independence movement abroad, but when this proved difficult, he started working on education. That was when he actively participated in the Seowu Academic Society, a group focused on educating talented youth, and the National Debt Repayment Movement, a nationwide fundraiser to repay the Korean Empire’s debt to Japan. Ahn encouraged the teachers and students at his Samheung Academy to raise funds and send them to the Daehan Maeil Shinbo newspaper. Ahn’s participation in the National Debt Repayment Movement was not an isolated effort. In early August 1907, Ahn left Korea and traveled through Jiandao to seek refugee in Vladivostok. There, he began in earnest the resistance work he had been planning in Korea. But his attempt to preemptively drive Imperial Japan from Korea ended without significant results, and this failure ended up restricting the independence movement’s activities. In order to overcome this situation, Ahn organized the Jeongcheon Alliance, which took as its platform that the independence of Korea

Dr. Shin Un-yong senior researcher at the Ahn Jung-Geun Memorial Foundation

Ahn believed that an independent Korea and peace in East Asia were God’s will, and this was behind his passion for his cause.
take gather together and establish an economic community with a common development bank, currency and military to keep peace in East Asia. This pan-Asian peace theory provides realistic solutions to the challenges and problems the world faces even today. Ahn Jung-geun was a man with an exceptional sense of international affairs and a profound understanding of history. He deserves respect not just from Koreans but also the whole world, and we Koreans take pride in this visionary patriot.
October 2009 korea 13

News in Focus

The World’s Fascination with Korea’s ‘Correct Sounds’
Language education explodes overseas as interest in Hangeul soars
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Chinese professors take Korean-language classes offered by The Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies.

o one would dispute that the Korean writing system, also called Hangeul, is a marvel — the world’s only alphabet in common usage created out of whole cloth. But can other cultures be convinced to use it to write down their languages, too? That’s the hope of the Korean scholars at the Hunminjeongeum Society, and they’re off to a good start. The Cia-Cia tribe in Indonesia, which has no official alphabet of its own, decided to adopt Hangeul at the end of July. The small minority of about 60,000 people has its own spoken language, but the absence of a written one has made it difficult for them to record their culture and history. So they have become the first non-Korean population to embrace Hangeul as an official writing system. Cia-Cia students are now learning the Korean alphabet from special textbooks written and donated by the Hunmin-jeongeum Society. And a wider interest in the Korean language is spreading, too. Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia’s largest university, established a Korean department in 2003 for students hoping to work at Korean companies. Burapha University and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and the University of Hong Kong all provide Korean studies courses as well. In Tokyo, a group of Korean and Japanese professors will officially launch the first Korean language and research institute in Japan on Sept. 26 at Mejiro University. Kang Bong-sik, a Korean professor at Iwate Prefectural University and the first president of the new institute, says he plans to offer training for teachers of Korean in Japan and develop Korean textbooks for Japanese learners. Kim Jung-sup, head of Kyung Hee University’s Institute of International Education and president of the InterOctober 2009 korea 15


[JoongAng Ilbo]

News in Focus national Association for Korean Language Education, said over 700 universities in 60 countries around the world have Korean language departments. Founded in 1985, the IAKLE is the largest association of Korean language educators, with over 1,500 members. “This clearly shows the Korean language is gaining popularity around the world,” Kim said. “Of course, students’ level of learning Korean has also improved compared to past years as well.” In some cities, Korean language education isn’t just a mind-expanding curiosity — it’s vital. That’s why in Shanghai, 350 Chinese workers at some 40 Korean mid-sized companies will enjoy Korean language classes funded by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to help them interact with their corporate parents in their native tongue. The ministry’s plan will cost 200 million won ($166,000). Lee Chang-bok, CEO of Fischbach China and Fischbach Korea, which makes sealant and adhesive cartridges, said the company employs 120 Chinese workers. Only two of the workers at its Shanghai offices are Korean citizens.

The Cia-Cia tribe became the first group outside Korea to adopt Hangeul as its alphabet.

Lee uses a Korean-Chinese interpreter to communicate with his Chinese employees, but he hopes the language education program will allow them to communicate directly. “Fischbach China has its headquarters in Korea, and the workers in China make regular visits to headquarters to receive training on new technology and procedures,” Lee said. “But because many of our nonKorean workers cannot speak Korean, we cannot send those Chinese workers to Korea for training sessions.” If their local employees are able to become fluent in Korean, Lee says, they will be able to communicate more freely, which will in turn boost productivity. The company plans to offer incentives to Chinese workers who acquire fluent Korean, such as promotions and business trips to Korea. Currently, 18 out of Fischbach’s 120 Chinese workers take Korean language classes every Saturday for four hours, with the assistance of the Knowledge Economy Ministry and the BJ Korean Centre, a language institute in Shanghai. “The majority of workers asked us to expand class hours so that they could be exposed to a Korean environment even more,” Lee said. “Now the Korean classes are offered for two hours on Wednesdays and three hours on Saturdays.” The 18 workers will take Korean classes for a total of 100 hours, and they will sit for the Korean Language Proficiency Test at the end of this year, Lee said.

Left, primary school students of the Cia-Cia tribe in Indonesia open their textbooks, written in Hangeul. The Cia-Cia have no native alphabet, so they adopted Hangeul as their writing system at the end of July. Above, a placard announces the beginning of Cia-Cia language class using the Korean alphabet at the primary school. The tribe is the first non-Korean population to use Hangeul as their official writing system.
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Oh Eun-suk, head of the BJ Korean Centre, said the institute, with the Knowledge Economy Ministry, currently provides Korean lessons to 274 Chinese workers at 24 Korean midsized companies based in Shanghai. The center was established in 2003 with just 14 students in two classes — both of which Oh taught alone — but today it has grown into a linchpin of the Korean government’s educational plan in the Chinese city, of which Oh is justly proud. The center now has over 1,000 students, 60 classes and 30 teachers. Three branches are now operating in Shanghai alone, with plans to establish another in the capital of Beijing in the future. “I’d say Korean has become the third language that Chinese people want to learn after English and Japanese,” Oh said. “Many say Korean learning among Chinese people mushroomed along with the Hallyu [Korean Wave], but I don’t agree with that. A growing number of Chinese are turning to Korean because they are aware that more and more Korean companies are tapping into the Chinese market by establishing local branches. Chinese are starting to think that, in near future, they may have the chance to use Korean in line with the surge in the number of Korean companies on the mainland.” Indeed, the number of people taking the Korean Language Proficiency Test in China is skyrocketing year by year. According to data provided by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, only 261 peopled took the proficiency test in China in 2000. But nine years later, the number had jumped drastically to 143,470, a whopping increase of 549 times. Yang Yingying, a 23-year-old college student, signed up for a six-month course at the BJ Korean Centre because, she says, she wants to build her academic career in this country. “It’s really hard to imitate Korean pronunciation,” Yang said. “Some Korean letters confuse me because they sound differently than they’re written.” Yu Xiang, who worked at a Korean company five years ago, started taking language courses at the institute last

Learning Korean in Seoul
Korean language study has been gaining popularity over the past few years. As the popularity of the Korean language grew by foreigners residing in Korea and in other countries, the demand for Korean language education continues to increase as well. There are several ways you can embrace the Korean language through language courses run by universities, private language institutes and volunteer and state-supported organizations. • Language programs run by universities in Korea Seoul National University, Language Education Institute Tel : 02-880-5488 Fax : 02-871-6808 Yonsei University, Korean Language Institute Tel : 02-2123-8550 x2 Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Center for Korean Language and Culture Tel: 02-2173-2260 Fax: 02-2173-2257 Sogang University, Korean Language Education Center Tel : 02-705-8088~9 • Free Language Programs Seoul Global Center and Seoul Global Village Centers (Hotline: Tel : 02-1688-0120) Seoul Global Center: 02-2075-4140 Korea Foundation Culture Center Tel : 02-32151-6500 Fax : 02-2151-6590 Migrant Workers Center Tel : 02-6900-8002 Seongdong Migrant Workers’ Center Tel : 2282-7974~5 • Where you can watch latest Korean movies with English subtitles CINUS Myeong-dong is located on the 10th and 11th floors of the Tabby 2 shopping mall in Chungmuro-2(i)ga. By subway: Take line 4 to Myeongdong station (stop 424) and go out Exit 6. Once you leave the stairs, turn left. There is an outside ticket booth for the theatre on the corner. You can enter the store to access the elevators to the 10th and 11th floors. • Korean language learning out of Korea Where you can learn Korean online for free Radio Korea International Site : htm Arirang TV : PROG_CODE=TVCR0110 • To find books for learning Korean Search “Korean language” To find Korean movie or TV soap opera DVD with foreign language subtitles, search “Korean DVD” at


October 2009 korea 17

News in Focus

Though Korean education is growing rapidly, there are still hurdles: a shortage of high-quality teaching materials, lack of a solid network between Korea scholars and a serious headstart by other countries.

The Monarch Who Created a Culture

[JoongAng Ilbo]

A Korean student, left, participates in a language exchange with a Chinese student in a cafeteria at a university in China.

year. “I started learning Korean because I want to work at a Korean company [again],” the 28-year old woman said. “It’s still not easy to express things in Korean.” And it’s not just Chinese workers who are eager to master Korean. Kim of the IAKLE said that of the 1,000 universities in China, there are about 100 designated by the Chinese government to nurture global talent — and they all have Korean departments. “Only 40 universities in China taught Korean in 2002, 10 years after diplomatic ties between Korea and China were established in 1992,” Kim says. “Now the number jumped to 100. The increase obviously indicates how the Chinese perspective toward learning Korean has changed in a positive way.” Minzu University of China (formerly called the Central University for Nationalities) and Beijing International Studies University hold a Korean speech contest, while Beijing Language and Culture University holds a Korean writing competition every year. Kim at the IAKLE suggests that to promote Korean language education at a global level it is crucial for Korean language groups to work together to expand the scope of classes offered. Also important is the creation of a network to allow Korea scholars in foreign countries to share information about language education with scholars in Korea, Kim says. To spread Korean language education even further, Kim says research institutions need to suggest “prototype” measures for overseas Korean language instruction. “Many overseas teachers have complained to me about a lack of sufficient teaching materials and textbooks, not to mention teachers’ manuals,” Kim says. “If prototype ideas for teaching are developed, it will definitely propel Korean language education By Kim Mi-ju to a global level.”


angeul was developed by King Sejong the Great, who reigned over Korea from 1418 to 1450, during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). King Sejong is revered by Koreans as one of their greatest historical figures, because, among other accomplishments, he was the first to develop a Korean script, which he elucidated in a tome titled Hunminjeongeum, which was the name of the script as well, until it was renamed Hangeul later. This early textbook was written with a group of scholars, members of the Jiphyeonjeon, or Hall of Worthies, in 1446. Hunminjeongeum literally means “Correct Sounds for the In-

struction of the People.” During his reign, King Sejong deplored the fact that common people were not able to read and write because the Chinese characters used by the educated classes were so difficult. To help commoners become literate, King Sejong envisioned an alphabet that was uniquely Korean, easily learned and accessible to anyone. King Sejong believed that because Chinese characters, known as hanja here, originated in a foreign country, they could never convey the full meaning behind Korean words and thoughts. Also, because commoners could not read and write, they were unable to file grievances against government authorities except in face-to-face meetings, and also could not keep records on harvests or agricultural techniques. When Hunminjeongeum was propogated in 1446, it initially faced obstacles due to resistance from the intelligentsia, but others quickly picked it up and soon it became the script for a variety of flourishing new literary forms. The alphabet in Hunminjeongeum originally had 28 letters, but only 24 are in use today — 10 vowels and 14 consonants. Early critics of Hangeul derisively called it achimgeul, or “morning letters,” because they could supposedly be learned in a single morning, or amgeul, “women’s letters,” because women with no academic training could pick them up without difficulty. Many of these aristocrats believed reading, writing and the pursuit of knowledge to be the exclusive right of a privileged few. In modern linguistics the Korean language is classified as a Ural-Altaic language, a group that also includes Mongolian, Hungarian and Finnish, and its alphabet, Hangeul, is unique among all world scripts — the only one to be developed at one time as part of a conscious project to create a scientific and efficient method of expression. By Kim Mi-ju

<Korean Expressions>
안녕하세요. 만나서 반갑습니다. 저는 제이미 피터슨라고 해요. [Annyeonghaseyo. Mannaseo bangapsseumnida. Jeoneun Jamie Peterson-rago haeyo.] Hello. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Jamie Peterson.| 한국에 온 지 일년 됐어요. [ Hanguk e on ji ilnyeon dwaesseoyo.] It’ s been about a year since I arrived in Korea. 안녕하세요. 주말 잘 보내셨어요? [Annyeonghaseyo. Jumal jal bonaesyeosseoyo?] Hello. Did you have a nice weekend? 제 취미는 영화 감상이에요. [Je chwiminun yeonghwa gamsang ieyo.] My hobby is watching movies.

King Sejong the Great

18 korea October 2009

[JoongAng Ilbo]

October 2009 korea 19

News in Focus

Much More Than Just Letters
For two designers, the Korean alphabet is key to a great national brand


[JoongAng Ilbo]

A female model in a fashion show wears a dress and carries a bag inscribed with Korean calligraphy.

s governments worry over promoting their image overseas, one word keeps coming up: Brand. And what could be better for Korea’s national brand than the use of Hangeul in high fashion? Two Korean designers — Lie Sang-bong and Lee Geon-maan — have taken to using the local alphabet on their clothes, introducing the script and its traditional calligraphy overseas through a fresh channel. Throughout his life, Lee, 46, has been interested in culture, art, design and fashion. And this isn’t the first time Lee has used Hangeul in his work, either. “It was in 1996, when I started teaching art students at Hongik University as a part-time lecturer, that I began to think about how to make Hangeul recognized as a world-renowned brand,” Lee said. “I kept emphasizing to students that only creative ideas and designs become admired on the world stage.” In 2001, Lee, eager to introduce the beauty of Hangeul, established his own company, LEE GEON MAAN AnF, in Buam-dong, northern Seoul. “In the past, people did not even imagine Hangeul could be used as a tool for design. In other words, no one dared ‘play’ with our language because we Koreans considered it holy and precious, not something to be applied recklessly,” Lee explained. “Moreover, Koreans of the old generation lacked the self-confidence to introduce Hangeul to others because they focused on learning foreign languages like English and Chinese.” Lie, 37, who runs Lie Sang-bong Paris in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, calls Hangeul a language with potential, and says now is the time for Koreans to use their linguistic heritage to attract global attention. “When I first presented dresses with Hangeul calligraphy on them during a fashion show in Paris, France, in 2005, foreign designers, curators, journalists and officials involved in the culture industry got interested in Hangeul since they had

Lie Sang-bong (top left) and Lee Geon-mann (above left) are leading a movement to use the script in fashion and other designs, above right, fashion designer Lie Sang-bong created a Hangeul calligraphy design for Esse, a KT&G tobacco product.

never seen it before,” Lie said. “I explained to them everything — the meaning, the history, the culture — hidden inside the language. When those foreigners learned about the background, they were so fascinated and surprised at Hangeul and its design.” Lie pointed out that until a few years ago, Korean people seemed not to take pride in their own language. Since 1985, the designer has worked to promote the script by balancing Oriental and Western characteristics for the right dash of exoticism against a background familiar to foreigners. In separate interviews, both Lee and Lie agreed that the world is changing, and branding is becoming more important than ever. The “AnF” in Lee’s company name stands for “Art and Future” because, he said, unlike in the past, art will play an important role in determining a country’s influence, image, characteristics and, eventually, destiny in coming years. The designers spoke of branding as the power to shape a nation’s image and even its characteristics. However, both regretted how little the Korean government and the public has done to develop Hangeul. “The Korean government and the people should combine their efforts to create an atmosphere in which Hangeul can be exposed to as many people as possible and can be widely applied to a lot of areas freely,” Lie said. “We ought to teach the younger generation that Hangeul is A small bag by Lee Geon-mann something that they should be proud

‘Hangeul can have a big impact in other countries if we put our heads together.’


And Lee has another idea to increase Hangeul’s popularity around the world. “If we regard culture as like a human body, fashion can be considered the spirit. We should introduce and sell our spirit to foreigners by reprocessing the material called Hangeul,” Lee stressed. “Hangeul can have a big impact in other countries if we put our heads together and come up with a way to combine world fashion trends with Korean culture, tradition and Hangeul.” Lie and Lee believe that a creative mind is the essence behind any form of design — including Hangeul — and that there is no time to waste. The two artists’ passion and love for the Korean alphabet will continue, as they plan to present more Hanguelbased designs and expand their businesses overseas. Lee is slated to open his first store in Japan early next month and is planning to enter the United States and Europe in the long term. Lie, who already has influence in European cities including Paris and Moscow, is now looking into China, Japan and Dubai.
By Lee Min-yong

20 korea October 2009

October 2009 korea 21


Korean President Lee Myungbak gives a keynote speech at the United Nations General Assembly during his trip to New York last month.

uring his six-day trip to the United States this month, Korean President Lee Myung-bak stepped up diplomatic efforts to tackle a wide range of global issues, ranging from the economic recovery to climate change and the North Korean crisis. “The trip is expected to help significantly strengthen our cooperation with the international community, as President Lee will reaffirm the country’s commitment to green growth and explain its firm stance and policy on the North Korean nuclear issue,” presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said prior to Lee’s departure. In his keynote speech at the United Nation General Assembly, Lee called for the international community to establish a new governance system to deal with the global water crisis. In the speech given at the gathering of world leaders on Sept. 23, Lee said, “It is time for the international community to form an effective water governance system,” noting that more than half of the world population is suffering from scarcity of water and water-related disasters caused by climate change. Lee said South Korea had reviewed water problems in Asia and that the most urgent tasks were the supply of clean water and policy and infrastructure to prevent floods. Lee also highlighted the success of his Cheonggyecheon Stream project and Korea’s plan to restore its four major rivers, urging the leaders to join his efforts to manage water resources with care. “I understand that about 20 UN bodies have paid attention to the water crisis and worked on the issue. It is a complex matter that will have widespread effects. Therefore, I call for a more specialized, consolidated plan to manage water in order to establish more effective international cooperation system,” he said. In his UN speech, Lee also said Korea is trying to become a global nation by providing more international aid. Lee reconfirmed Korea’s promise to triple its official development assistance by 2015 and highlighted the volunteer work by Korean youth in 40 nations. Lee also pledged to increase Korea’s participation in peacekeeping operations to fight terrorism, prevent global conflict



President Lee Myung-bak, center, and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, left, preside over a UN summit on climate change in New York.

and provide help in disaster-stricken areas. Ahead of the General Assembly meeting, Lee attended a UN summit on climate change, where he said Korea would announce its mid-term greenhouse gas reduction target before the end of this year, making it the first developing country to do so voluntarily. On the sidelines of the UN gatherings, Lee also had a series of one-on-one meetings with leaders of China, Japan and others to discuss bilateral and global issues including the North’s nuclear arms program and Lee’s “grand bargain.” In his speech at the Council for Foreign Relations on Monday, Lee suggested a far-reaching deal be proposed at the sixparty talks in which North Korea would swap dismantlement of the core parts of its nuclear arms program with security assurances and international economic aid. Following the UN meetings, Lee and other leaders of the world’s major economies were scheduled to gather in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 and 25 for the G-20 financial summit. Before the gathering, Lee asked leaders to consider institutionalizing the G-20 process as a means to strengthen global governance. Korea is seeking to host the next G-20 meeting, which would be the fourth to be held here. By Kim Soo-ae

G-20 Must Champion Transparency, Caution
The September joint statement from Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, published in the Financial Times, reaffirmed the leaders’ belief that the world needs to be cautious as it returns to growth. But Lee also pledged that Korea is committed to drawing up an exit strategy with the global community. In the statement, Lee and Rudd emphasized the importance of the G-20 group to usher in a new era of more transparent and well-regulated financial markets after the current global economic downturn. Lee and Rudd also reiterated the importance of thorough cooperation among the world’s major economies to achieve a smooth transition from the current expansionary measures to tightening policies. The two stressed that managing the transition from crisis to recovery would be as important and daunting as weathering the downturn, and that a failure to do so may bring disastrous setbacks like the ones seen in the Great Depression. “In the late 1930s, exit strategies were poorly managed, with fiscal and monetary policies undermining recovery and leading to a double-dip recession in many countries,” the statementread. “This time it is important that we get it right.” Drawing up a plan for exactly when and how to kick-start an exit strategy is a tricky endeavor full of potential hazards and challenges, but the task is too important to be handled in a rush, the leaders said. By Jung Ha-won
October 2009 korea 23

Water management, climate and North: Lee’s focus at UN
The Korean president met with and spoke before world leaders about resource management, economic recovery and the institutionalization of the G-20
22 korea October 2009


Global Korea
The state-run KOICA has sent about 1,500 volunteers to 27 developing countries to offer a helping hand.

Learning How Best to Help the World’s Least Fortunate
Provided by KOICA

An army of volunteers accompanies monetary and other aid as a once war-torn country begins to make its mark as a donor

he scene was the Royal University of Phnom Penh in the Cambodian capital city. Braving the tropical Southeast Asian heat, volunteer Park Na-ri was giving a special Korean language lesson to students in summer school. The 41-year-old Park is working with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, or KOICA. Founded in 1991, KOICA is a government agency under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry charged with implementing the country’s grant aid and other overseas development assistance programs. Park is one of dozens of volunteers in Cambodia, teaching everything from Korean language to music, arts and other crafts. Before going to Cambodia last year, Park worked for the Korean-American Educational Commission, which operates the Fulbright grant programs. She says she enjoyed her work, but “I wanted to do what I actually wanted to do, which was to share whatever I had with others.” Lee Eun-sook, formerly an employee at a Korean financial firm, now manages volunteers at KOICA’s Cambodian office. This is her fourth year in Cambodia; she began with two years as a volunteer. Lee says she quit her previous job to come to Cambodia to bring herself out of her shell, “out of my comfort zone,” and that it was the best decision she ever made. Lee added that once she comes home next year, she plans to join a human rights organization or an agency supporting migrant workers. KOICA has sent nearly 1,500 volunteers to 27 developing countries around the world. It has also contributed in other areas, building a large embankment in the Vattay region, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Phnom Penh, to prevent floods in the
October 2009 korea 25


24 korea October 2009

Global Korea

Korea’s Official Development Assistance
(Unit : million U.S. dollars)

Source: Korea International Cooperation Agency, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

rainy season. The agency spent $2 million on the project over two years, starting in 2007 with a 14-kilometer long embankment. KOICA has also helped preserve the cultural heritage at Angkor Wat, a major tourist destination in Cambodia. The agency paved a two-lane detour around the site so that vehicles wouldn’t have to drive directly through the treasured place. Thus, aid from Korea can come in the form of volunteer work — the number of overseas volunteers has soared from 44 in 1990 to nearly 1,000 last year — monetary assistance, or in some other form. The cash help is formally called “official development assistance,” or ODA. According to the Foreign Ministry, ODA by definition means “grants or loans to developing countries undertaken by the public sector with the promotion of economic development and welfare as their main objective.” The assistance may come cheaper than market rates, too. In its years as a war-torn country in the mid-20th century, Korea was a recipient of such aid. The Foreign Ministry estimates that Korea had received more than $10 billion in accumulated aid by the 1980s. But since the 1990s, Korea has been a net donor, with government ODA steadily increasing from $212.1 million in 2000 to $803.9 million last year, according to KOICA. Still, the Korean government has come under pressure to increase its assistance further, because it is still relatively small compared to its gross national income at just 0.09 percent. That puts Korea 25th among members of the Organization for Economic
26 korea October 2009

Cooperation and Development. Some nations donate as much as 0.8 percent of their GNI in ODA. Even United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last year called Korea’s ODA “pitifully and embarrassingly meager.” Coming from the former foreign minister who once oversaw ODA programs, that comment sounded particularly harsh. “Korea is a very new donor country,” said Lim Hoon-min, director of the development policy division at the ministry. “We think that at this stage it is too much for Korea to be compared with other nation donors.” The country can’t be blamed for lack of trying, though — the Korean government has set out a series of policies and strategies to push up its assistance in the future. According to the Foreign Ministry, Korea is aiming to reach a 0.25 percent ODA to GNI ratio by the year 2015. There is also a plan in place to push up grant aid gradually in absolute terms. Finally, two years ago the National Assembly passed a resolution to increase the ODA to GNI percentage to the levels of other, more experienced donors. The Foreign Ministry is the first to admit that Korea lacks basic policy guidelines despite more than two decades of providing development assistance. It acknowledges also that the ODA related-laws currently in place, such as the KOICA Act and the Economic Development Cooperation Fund Act, only present very general goals for the nation’s development projects. “Korea is an emerging donor and needs an ODA policy,” read a statement on the ODA Korea Web site, operated by the Foreign Ministry, “to provide guidelines in areas such as project development, enforcement and evaluation and to promote joint projects with international development agencies.” Among the ministry’s goals for a new policy would be simply to

announce to the world Korea’s intention to make a greater contribution. The ministry believes that set guidelines would “present Korea’s development assistance philosophy and vision and propose constructive principles and strategic methods accordingly,” raising awareness among the Korean public of the nation’s aids programs. Officials in the government note that the international environment surrounding development assistance has changed. Thanks to globalization, they say, mutual cooperation within the international community in dealing with global issues is now essential for world security and prosperity. Against this backdrop, officials say the role of Korea, now one of the world’s major economies with the destruction of war a distant memory, has grown and the scope of its development assistance has widened. “And to meet these changes,” one official said, “building an effective development assistance system on firm principles is a must.” Another official believed that since it would be difficult for Korea to raise its ODA figures dramatically over a short period, it should focus on areas where even a relatively small amount of assistance would be highly valued. “Korea could raise its visibility by concentrating on poverty reduction and sustainable development,” the official said. “They are the main challenges of international development cooperation today, and Korea’s experience in poverty alleviation can serve as a model.” The ministry has set out some mid-term strategies for the nation’s ODA program. First, the government plans to expand humanitarian assistance to African nations, while maintaining help for Korea’s Asian neighbors. Government data show that more than 40 percent of Korea’s bilateral ODA reaches Asia, compared to just 14 percent for Africa. But that is more equal than in 2002, when aid to Asia accounted for more than 75 percent of Korea’s bilateral assistance and less than 3 percent went to Africa. To maintain its level of multilateral assistance, Korea will continue to work with the International Development Association, an organization under the World Bank that provides interest-free loans and programs for poor nations, and with the African Development Bank. According to its Web site, the IDA is a major source of assistance for the world’s 79 poorest countries, including 39 in Africa. Korea also participates in the Multilateral Debt

Cooperative efforts are key if Korea is to bring its aid up to global standards.

Relief Initiative, a program for indebted, low-income nations. Under the MDRI, the International Monetary Fund, the IDA and the African Development Fund take care of debt for countries that become eligible for full relief under IMF-World Bank criteria. A ministry official said Korea would seek out and promote cooperative projects with other multilateral development agencies, such as the United Nations Development Program. Internally, officials handling assistance programs agreed that Korea

Top and above, volunteers sent by KOICA teach everything from Korean language, the martial art Taekwondo to music and crafts.
October 2009 korea 27

Provided by KOICA

Global Korea

needs more aid experts. Academic courses on aid at universities would be one way to accomplish this, they said. Strengthening Korea’s ties with multilateral aid organizations and larger donor countries is also part of Korea’s mid-term strategy. Korea plans to do this by promoting cooperation and engaging in policy discussions. Hosting international ODA conferences, the Foreign Ministry said, would help Korea learn from the experiences of outside organizations and donors. Korea is also considering setting up a research center specifically designed to conduct studies on ODA and to build a database of information on other donors’ assistance projects. Finally, Korea hopes to join the Development Assistance Committee by next year. Operating under the OECD with 23 members, the DAC is a forum for major industrialized countries to coordinate their aid efforts and policies. And these measures may or may not involve North Korea. In September, a Seoul-based institute that conducts research on economic develop-

Korean researchers and scientists have been recruited to expand diplomatic efforts to acquire resources in Southeast Asia.

Korea’s Quest for Resources
Two scientists driving in the mud in Vietnam are part of a vital state effort
n mid-July, two researchers from the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources — lead scientist Seo Jeong-ryul and Kim In-joon — struck out with colleagues from the Vietnam Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources north of Hanoi, Vietnam. After a few hours of driving, the road became impassable, full with river water amid a huge typhoon. Rainfall and flooding had left a pit 30 to 40 meters (98 to 131 feet) deep where the road ought to be. “We should schedule the date for our next exploratory visit to avoid the rainy season,” Kim mused. Seo and Kim are “resource diplomats,” deployed to assess reserves of coal or other minerals and local conditions before Korea begins joint research and exploitation of underground resources. They bring with them information and techniques that they teach to scientists and researchers at their destination. The scientists say this kind of mingling is necessary, as it helps the Korean government and local companies maintain close ties as they seek to invest in other countries’ resources. Considering that the two first visited Vietnam in 1993, they have developed quite a formidible human network, and today know many of the most important Vietnamese scien-

By Yoo Jee-ho


Left, a Korean doctor examines a female patient in a developing country. Above, KOICA helps provide water to a remote village in Laos that would not otherwise be able to secure clean water.
28 korea October 2009

tists in the sector. During their six-day trip in July, Seo and Kim often pulled over with their local research team to estimate the geological layers present in the region. Seo has predicted untapped mineral deposits in the area due to its unique rock formations. He says the minerals found there could be rare. “Several years back, scientists were stunned to find mineral deposits that gave out endless minerals the more you dig,” Seo said. “That kind of land is very economical, and there is a possibility that a similar deposit could be found in Vietnam.” With help from the two Korean resource diplomats, the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources is planning on expanding its research networks in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the region. In 2010, the institute has plans to open an international educational center and invite young scientists annually for training. “Though our minerals research industry isn’t as developed compared with nations such as Australia and Canada, we have advanced infrastructure, know-how and human networks,” Kim said.
By Lee Eun-joo
October 2009 korea 29

[JoongAng Ilbo]

Provided by the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources

KOICA has even proposed including North Korea in its ODA programs.

ment strategies suggested that South Korea consider providing ODA to the North. In a report commissioned by KOICA, the Korea Institute for Development Strategy argued that development assistance to North Korea “should be separated from the political issues” regarding the Pyongyang regime. The report also suggested the South should provide incentives for the North “to behave in accordance with the purpose of the assistance” and added, “Through constant dialogue with North Korean officials, we should persuade the North to accept ODA from Seoul and from the international community.” “There’s definitely demand for development assistance for North Korea,” the report read. “And given the North’s reservations about the South, aid through private organizations [rather than government bodies] should be encouraged.” The report also argued that help for the North could stabilize the North Korean regime and act as a cushion in case of its sudden collapse. South Korea’s ODA has been the target of criticism as well as praise. But leaving that aside, Korea’s transition from recipient to a donor has made it a unique player in the field. Officials say foreign aid was crucial to Korea’s sustained economic growth, and now is the time for it to help others do the same.

Global Korea

Opposite, Kenya, largely dependant on livestock farming, may see fundamental change brought by artificial insemination, which will allow Kenya to breed cows best suited to its climate conditions. Left, a female Kenyan merchant sells tropical fruit. Above, Korean researchers are breeding genetically improved livestock in the laboratory.

Pursuit of Science Brings Korea and Africa Closer
Agricultural sciences improve Kenyan life as teams work to unlock genetic secrets


cross the world at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, scientists watch a cow’s pregnancy progress. But this cow is special — artifically inseminated by Korean experts, she’s the first cow to become pregnant this way in the African country. Meanwhile, this tentative step for the Korean scientists will open the door to more international cooperation in the future. Largely dependant on livestock farming and dairy products, Kenya will be changed forever by this new calf. In fact, it could even help the country overcome chronic poverty. Around 70 percent of Kenyan farmers keep livestock. And as the country is still underdeveloped, with many houses in the capital still lacking electricity or a reliable water supply, milk is a major source of protein for citizens. Yet Kenya’s native cows produce relatively lit-

tle milk compared to the amount they eat. One way to change that is artificial insemination, which will allow Kenyan scientists to breed cows best suited for conditions in the West African nation. Because of its technical difficulty, the process can have a success rate of less than 10 percent. But now the ILRI says it has achieved a success rate of up to 40 percent, thanks to help from the Korean National Institute of Animal Science and Gyeongsang National University. This June, Kenyan experts including the head of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute visited Korea and asked to expand scientific exchanges. “Farmers in Kenya are mostly smallscale, with less than 4.1 acres of land,” said Oh Seong-jeong, a researcher at the NIAS. According to Oh, Korea’s agriculture technology is a great fit for Kenya’s environment, because both based on small-scale

farms that have to squeeze high production from a small space. In Nakuru, the center of Kenya’s livestock industry two hours’ drive north of Nairobi, Korean Kim Gi-hwan runs Kim’s Poultry Farm. He also supplies feed to around 400 farms in the area. Along with his feed, he passes on his knowledge of breeding and care. “If chickens got a disease, around 10 percent of the farms in this area would close down, with enormous damage,” Kim said. “However, by doing business with my company, they are learning about more advanced birthing techniques and testing their livestock for diseases.” Collaborations with teams from other African countries have grown as well. Recently, Korean scientists began research on diseases traditionally prevalent in tropical climates that are now spreading to other countries, such as African trypanosomiasis, or “sleeping sickness,” transmit-

ted by tsetse flies. Animals and humans who catch this illness suffer headaches, fatigue and even paralysis for weeks. Death can follow within a few months. But a specific breed of African cow seems to be immune to the illness. And Oh, with a team from Liverpool University working for ILRI, have pinpointed the genetic mutation that sets this breed apart. The team says that they are working on cloning the cow to determine how the gene counteracts the virus. Meanwhile, a National Institute of Animal Science team led by Ryu Jae-gyu, together with a team of Italian scientists, has been using African chickens to breed a new species that will be less susceptible to avian influenza. The breed of African chickens they are using as a foundation has a special gene, Mx, that makes them resistant to the bird flu virus.
By Cho Jae-eun
October 2009 korea 31

30 korea October 2009

Provided by National Institute of Animal Science


Classics of the Global Stage,
Event brings spectacular performances of Puccini, Shakespeare and more

he excitement was building again in Seoul last month, as the World Festival of National Theaters got underway Sept. 4, gathering top-notch actors and musicians from nine countries — Korea, Italy, France, Belgium, Taiwan, Russia, Norway, Brazil and the Philippines — for a total of 25 performances. The shows go on until Nov. 4. The annual event has become a staple of Korea’s festival scene, providing an indispensable opportunity for local audiences to experience more diverse performing arts cultures. Though there are numerous theatrical festivals held in the country every year, this one is perhaps one of the widest in scope, including everything from dramas and operas to ballets and classical music. The performances are held in four different buildings at the National Theater of Korea complex in central Seoul. The festival initially focused primarily on dramas, but now by its third year it has expanded into other genres as part of its mission to advance cultural exchange between national theaters of different countries and enhance the global recognition of Korean performers. This year’s event features more shows from more countries and has a heavier Asian presence. The theme, “Rediscovery of the Classics,” focuses on new interpretations of traditional mainstays. So it’s appropriate that the festival kicked off with a version of The Tempest by the Contemporary Legend Theater of Taiwan. The audience seemed overwhelmingly pleased with the opening show. Kim Soo-jin, a resident of Dogok-dong, southern Seoul, characterized it as a “jaw-dropping experience.” The next performance of note was La Cagnotte, a comical play presented by France’s National Theater of Strasbourg. That performance took place from Sept. 9 to 12. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Brazil, the Symphonic Orchestra of the Claudio Santoro National Theater of Brazil was invited to perform. Conductor Ira Levin will present CubanAmerican composer Michael Colina’s Los Caprichos and Brazilian composer Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 on Oct. 8, 9 and 10. The San Carlo National Theater in Naples, Italy, one of that country’s top three opera houses and a world leader in the form, performed Puccini’s Turandot on Sept. 25 and 26. Among other highlights are Holeulone by the Belgian troupe Dame de Pic; Esmeralda, based on Victor Hugo’s The
October 2009 korea 33


A scene from The Tempest as performed by the Contemporary Legend Theater of Taiwan

32 korea October 2009

Provided by the National Theater of Korea

Culture Hunchback of Notre Dame and presented by the Kremlin Ballet Theater of Russia, and Rainbow by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Grappa from Norway also put on a musical dance performance. The festival includes four performances by Korean troupes: Three Sisters by the National Drama Company. Red Cliff by the National Changgeuk Company, Kaya by the National Dance Company and a concert of four pieces by the National Orchestra, which will close out the event on Nov. 4. Tempest One of Shakespeare’s last masterpieces, The Tempest is a romance filled with magic, fantasy and symbolism. But the version performed by the Contemporary Legend Theater of Taiwan integrates traditional Chinese opera, folk dance and Taiwanese music with Shakespearean poetry, thanks to the talent of acclaimed movie director Tsui Hark and

Unlike past years, the 2009 festival includes a range of forms from opera to ballet and even musicals.

Oscar-winning art director Tim Yip. In 1979, Tsui caused a stir in the martial arts movie genre with the historical drama-mystery The Butterfly Murders. Just a few years later, he was invited to over a dozen international film festivals for his film Shanghai Blues. But his greatest acclaim would come for A Chinese Ghost Story, which started the Hong Kong New Wave movement on top of being a major box office hit. In 1988, Tsui received the Best Film Award at the Oporto Film Festival in Portugal and the Special Jury Prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in France. He worked as a producer on A Better Tomorrow, which skyrocketed to the top of Hong Kong box office charts, and Peking Opera Blues, which drew worldwide attention. A Better Tomorrow III and The Killer, both released in 1989, were also well received. The release one after another of Swordsman II, Once Upon A Time In China and New Dragon Inn signaled a peak in the martial arts film market, while King of Chess received The Grand Prize at the Scrittura e Immagine International Film Festival.

While Tsui was directing Seven Swords in 2004, The Contemporary Legend Theater invited him to direct his first stage performance, in The Tempest. Thus did Tsui, the father of Hong Kong noir, begin applying his unique vision of Eastern aesthetics to theater. Tsui’s longtime friend Wu Hsing-kuo joined the cast of the production, and the show premiered successfully at Taiwan’s National Theater in 2004. Turandot Any man who desires to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles. If he fails, he is beheaded. This is the premise of Turandot, the classic opera by Puccini that was first staged only after his death. In the opera, Calaf, the young prince of Tartary, successfully answers the riddles, but the cold-hearted princess refuses to be his wife. So Calaf comes up with a proposal for her: “You do not know my name. Bring me my name before sunrise, and at sunrise, I will die.” Timur, Calaf ’s father, and Liu, his slave girl, are dragged in and tortured to reveal the prince’s name. But Liu, secretly in love with the prince, stabs herself to protect him. Touched by Calaf ’s love, Turandot finally opens herself up to him. The opera’s rich music and delicate expression of emotion always touches the audience, while its beautiful and exotic melodies, starting with the wellknown aria “Nessun Dorma,” which never ceases to fascinate the audience, are entrancing. The production during the festival gathered an outstanding cast and team of producers including a number of top singers in Europe. Paola Romano, who was taught by Luciano Pavarotti, played Turandot, and tenor Maurizio Graziani appeared as Calaf. The opera was directed by Gianni Tangucci, the current head of the San Carlo National Theater; conducted by Marcello Mottadelli, a rising star among European opera conductors, and produced by Antonio Del Lucia, also known as the “wizard of opera direction.”
By Limb Jae-un More scenes from the Taiwanese reimagining of The Tempest, left, and the Italian production of Puccini’s Turandot, above.


Lim Youn-churl

“The festival is designed not only to introduce foreign performances in Korea but also to show off domestic talent.”

Provided by the National Theater of Korea

Left, France’s National Theater of Strasbourg performs its comical play La Cagnotte. Top, the Kremlin Ballet Theater brought Esmeralda to the festival, while above, the Brazil Symphony Orchestra also participated.

The World Festival of National Theaters will give regular Koreans a window onto the trends of global performing arts, letting them learn from international performances, Lim Younchurl, president of the National Theater of Korea, told reporters. “It is a rare opportunity for national theaters around the world to gather in Korea, and it’ll be a good chance for local audiences to see world performances,” Lim said. This is the first time Lim has overseen the annual festival because he was inaugurated as head of the National Theater this January. Lim said the theme of this year’s festival, “Rediscovery of the Classics,” means the programs contains several older pieces that have been reconstructed so modern viewers can enjoy them, regardless of nationality or generation. Lim was proud of this year’s effort. “The festival has become renowned worldwide. Countries that participate once want to do so again, and there are new countries that want to join. So we’ve had a hard time selecting the program,” Lim said. “I believe that national theater repertoires are not necessarily world-class, but they are surely at the top of their class in their native countries. I believe that they represent the best value for money,” the director added. “Unlike last year’s festival, which was dominated by theater pieces, we have more diverse genres this year from operas and ballets to contemporary dance and musicals,” Lim said. “It will be the first time the Symphonic Orchestra of the Claudio Santoro National Theater of Brazil has visited Korea.” Lim also said the quality of domestic Korean performances has improved dramatically as the festival has grown in stature. “The festival is designed not only to introduce foreign performances in Korea but also to show off domestic talent,” Lim said. He noted that the National Drama Company of Korea recently performed in Japan and is scheduled to head to Brazil in October and the Philippines in November. The National Theater of Korea has formed a network with troupes in Islamic countries, Lim said, and intends to broaden the festival’s repertoire to include the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

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Culture more, because poetry has a power to represent social resistance,” the 68-year-old celebrated French poet and scholar Mouchard told the press during the games. Mouchard is known to be well versed in Korean literature. In fact, it was he who made it possible for the French literary quarterly Poésie to feature 12 Korean poets, including Ko Un, Kim Chun-soo and Ki Hyung-do, early in 1999 when he worked as an editor there. That was the first time the respected journal had focused exclusively on one country’s poets and poetry in depth. Mouchard encountered a Korean poem translated into French for the first time about 16 years ago, when some Korean students in his class at Paris VIII University showed it to him, and he has been fascinated by Korean poets ever since, participating in the translation and publication of their work in France, he said. “Poetry will develop itself further in the future through exchange with other arts,” Mouchard said, adding that the Jejudo Delphic Games, which featured a poem recital competition where not only a poem’s text, but also its musicality and expressions were assessed comprehensively, is significant from that perspective. In that contest, the Korean poet Kim Il-young, who recited a poem he wrote based on the life of his mother, who was a diver from Jeju-do, was awarded the gold medal, the first won by a Korean participant this year. The folk master Sim performed his work titled, Song of Tamra (Jeju), in which the 75-year-old danced to a piece of music combining “Odolttoki,” a chang (traditional Korean narrative song) representative of Jeju-do, and “Gamsugwang,” a popular song by Jeju-do-born Korean singer Hye Eun-i. “The event is held in Jeju-do, but I felt there were not many works related to Jejudo. So I came up with this performance, and I hope that it will serve as an opportunity for Jeju-do culture to come into its own,” Sim said. Meanwhile, plans are underway for 10 entries in the architectural competition at the Jeju-do Delphic Games to be

Ten designs entered in the architecture contest may be actually built on Jeju-do.

realized as actual buildings in Gasiri Village, located in the southeastern part of the island. “We are currently discussing the plan with local governments, and if we get the go-ahead on it, construction of the 10 buildings is expected to be completed around next year,” said Kim Young-june, curator of the architecture/environmental arts section at the Games, who added that it is “meaningful in that ideas gathered from around the world will actually build something in Jejudo.” The Spanish architect Alejandro Zaera Polo, who participated as judge in the architecture competition, agreed. “I think it corresponds well to the goal of the Delphic Games in that creation, which is the result of ideas from various cultures, will remain as part of the culture here in Jeju-do.” By Park Sun-young

A special reenactment of a Joseon Dynasty court dance was held Sept. 9 at the Halla Gymnasium on the Korean resort island of Jeju-do to celebrate the opening of the 3rd Delphic Games.

A Competition to Create


veryone knows athletes from around the world gather to compete at the Olympic Games every four years, but did you know there’s a similar event for artists and performers? It’s called the Delphic Games, also known as the “Culture Olympics.” The event, a huge competition among both amateur and professional artists from around the world, is actually a modern resurrection of an ancient Greek cultural festival of music and poetry that was held from 582 B.C. to A.D. 394. It was named after the sacred Greek city of Delphi, home to the Temple of Apollo and the famous oracle. The first Delphic Games of the modern era were held in Moscow in 2000, with the second held five years later in Kuching, Malaysia.

The third edition of the international event took place this year on the southern resort island of Jeju-do from Sept. 9 to 14 under the theme, “Tuning into Nature.” More than 1,500 artists and art lovers from 54 countries gathered on Jeju-do to see about 600 participants compete in six categories — music/acoustic arts, performing arts, crafts/design/visual arts, linguistic arts, communication/social arts and architecture/environmental arts. But the Games were not just about competition. Performances and shows were held throughout the island during the week, with the “Maestro Program” bringing in five world-renowned artists from different fields to display their skill and serve as judges. The list this time included Mongolian traditional stringed instrument player Tseyen Tserendorj, master of the one-man Korean folk play Sim Wu-seong, American typography designer Jill Bell, French poet Claude Mouchard and Spanish architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo. “Poetry is read only by a small number of people nowadays, but it is still important and should be read


Top, Korean folk play virtuoso Sim Wuseong performs his original drama Song of Tamra (Jeju), which he created specially for the Jeju-do Delphic Games. Above, South African performers parade at Sinsan Park in Jeju-do after the Delphic Games began. Left, French poet and scholar Claude Mouchard attended the Jeju-do Delphic Games in his capacity as judge for the poetry recital competition and as “maestro” in the linguistic arts. Mouchard has helped get French translations of Korean literature published.
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Museum Fashion Show 2009

Ancient Heritage Meets Fashion

The Museum Fashion Show gave the Korean fashion industry a chance to show off its creativity.


By Susan Yoon

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October 2009 korea 39

Provided by the organizer

he National Museum of Korea celebrated its 100th anniversary with flair: a fashion show sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Fashion Association, to be precise. “Culture Through Fashion” took place in the outdoor plaza in front of the main building on the last Saturday of August. In celebration of the anniversary, the fashion show was put together to showcase the collection at the museum, often called the “Treasure House.” Thus Korean fashion — a scene gaining in prominence around the world — got a chance to shine, while putting a modern spin on some of Korea’s most valuable heritage. The fashion show was divided into three parts: First came “Twilight,” representing the past; second was “Light,” for the present; and third, “Hope,” the future. Well-known Korean designers were on hand to reinterpret traditional Korean art every step of the way.

Clothes by Lee Young-hee, who works with the traditional Korean hanbok garment, opened the show, examining the Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C.-A.D. 668) and Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). Lee’s contribution focused on the natural beauty of the hanbok, with its round silhouette, luxurious textures and delicate embroidery. Starting with the royal wardrobe, Lee presented a diverse range of hanbok used in ancient Korea, including wedding garments, hunting outfits, dress for newlyweds and young ladies, for rituals and musical performances, for babies, even for different seasons of the year. Under soft glowing light, the models walked down the runway in their clothes influenced by Goguryeo artifacts such as tomb murals, porcelain, crafts, folktales and sculptures. Participating in the second part, “Light,” were three Western fashion designers and two hanbok designers, with collections of wearable modern outfits inspired by the museum.

Today’s hanbok are shorter and more comfortable, as reflected in the work of Lee Seo-yoon and Shin Sookyoung. In their hands the traditional garment transformed into contemporary chic with hoods, collars, ruffles, flat shoes, hats and loose silhouettes. Deep V-necks and short puffed sleeves brought simplicity, while layers of thick silk fabric and neutral colour schemes maintained a Korean atmosphere throughout the procession. Western-style designers Hong Hyejin, Choi Ji-hyoung and Ye Ran-ji spiced up their usual work, creating a unique collaboration between the past and the present. One model strode down the catwalk in a tailored jacket and tight pants with baekja white porcelain on her fingertips. The model who followed wore a mini-dress with a black corset and a highly structured bubble skirt modeled after baekja. Jade green material and rounded skirts alluded to Goryeo celadon, or cheongja. Jackets embroidered with

gold thread and metallic traditional patterns added a more modern feeling to the Light collection. The last part showcases a futuristic hanbok, again from Lee Young-hee. The “Hope” version features simple designs and strong colors on tube-top empire dresses and sleeveless mini-dresses. Celebrities including Korean actor Choi Soojong, an official public relations representative from the National Museum of Korea, were on hand to celebrate the anniversary. Opera singer Kim Namdoo also came to join in. Choi Soo-jong made a surprise appearance on the runway, sporting the traditional dress of the royal family. Later in the show, the actor also performed a revue wearing a white scholarly outfit, playfully chasing female models. Since Choi has appeared in many period dramas on television, his performance reminded the audience of his previous roles and seemed right in step with the collision of eras. In the end, the fashion show attracted more than 4,500 people, many of whom had to stand, according to the National Museum of Korea.


Film Industry’s CG Takes Off

Provided by KM CULTURE

one by one. This was an immense help due to the sheer scale of the jumping scenes, which required a lot of planning and quick movement of cameras. “It’s a very unique subject for a movie,” said Jung Seong-jin, supervisor of the computer graphics in the film. “The lineup for the scenes and special effects were quite innovative compared to other sports-themed movies. The audience will feel a visual shock as they watch.” The most important job of the CG team was to make the audience believe that the actors were actually doing the jumps. Because ski jumping is a dangerous sport which cannot simply be imitated, this was left to the computers. “We scanned 3D images of all the actors’ faces and bodies and pasted them onto full digital pictures on blank faces and bodies,” explained Jung. “The films were shot in front of chroma-key backdrops [green or blue sheets that can be replaced with CG] with only the actors. Viewers can expect many scenes like these where full digital pictures play the part of intricate backgrounds.”

Actors are not ski jumpers, so in action sequences the computers had to step in.

Although the main settings were the Oberstdorf World Cup and Nagano Olympics, all the scenes were filmed in Korea on a huge set in Pyeongchang-gun County, Gangwon-do Province — an area with longstanding Olympic ambitions of its own. “We filmed the scenes without any extras and later we combined them with footage from Europe to simulate a foreign setting,” Jung said. “All the places that we worked on don’t exist anywhere on Earth.” This was made possible with the help of KISTI, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information. “Picasso,” one of the world’s five supercomputers devoted to computer graphics, was designed and is now managed by KISTI. With EON, a company that specializes in CG for films, Take Off put Picasso to the test — one it passed with flying colors, as can be seen in the flawless action sequences. “The movie Take Off is a fine example of special effects made well enough to compare to very technologically advanced countries, thanks to the joint efforts of KISTI and mid-sized companies,” said Park Youngseo, the president of the institute. “We will not stop our efforts to further develop Korea’s cultural industries with the help of our supercomputers.” Indeed, the future of Korean film looks bright, colorful and action-packed.
By Kim Han-na

The success of the movie Take Off shows just how sophisticated Korea’s computer graphics have become.

blockbuster film based on the true story of a Korean ski jump team has become the No. 10 most seen film of all time in terms of local ticket sales, with 7 million viewers as of Sept. 12 and more coming every day. What’s the secret to the the success of Take Off? The answer: a solid and heartwarming storyline backed up by sophisticated computer graphics. Take Off is the whimsical story of five regular people who become unlikely national heroes when they form a Korean ski jump team to compete in the Nagano Winter Olympics — after some very questionable success at the Oberstdorf World Cup. The five are Heung-cheol (Kim Dong-wuk), Chil-gu (Kim Ji-seok), Bong-gu (Lee Jae-eung), Jae-bok (Choi Jaehwan) and Cha Heon-tae, also known as Bob (Ha Jung-woo). They have many obstacles to overcome due to their unfamiliarity with Western winter sports. Under a coach (Seong Dong-il) who doesn’t even know how to spell the words “ski jump,” they are put through unorthodox and even life-threatening training sessions such as being hung from a tree while
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performing flips and being pulled behind a speeding vehicle in ski jumping position. For want of a real skip jump to practice on, they’re forced to use a flume ride at a deserted amusement park. The pratfalls early in the film — and the spectacular triumphs later — both require advanced technology. This was left up to a Korean computer graphics team using locallydeveloped techniques. “Ski jump athletes go as fast as 120 kilometers per hour [75 miles per hour] at peak speed,” says Kim Yong-hwa, the director of Take Off. “It was difficult to capture these dynamic flights with a fixed camera.” To solve the problem, the director and crew chose to use a camera called the Camcat. This camera, attached to a wire, enabled them to film every last shot of the speedy jumpers perfectly. To help coordinate all the elements required for some of the special effects shots, the crew plotted out many of them beforehand in a computer simulation, adding in each piece

Actor Ha Jung-woo plays the main character Cha Heon-tae, left. Top and above, all the scenes in the movie were filmed in Korea on an enormous set in Pyeongchang-gun County, Gangwon-do.
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[JoongAng Ilbo]


Opposite left, a family gathers from across the country to show respect in an ancestral rite, a tradition that Koreans have repeated on Chuseok for around 2,000 years. Opposite right, Chuseok is an occasion to appreciate one’s ancestors and one’s roots. Left, Korea’s bountiful rice harvest provides another reason to celebrate and be thankful during the autumn festivities.

Feasts, games and gratitude
y the time you read this, Chuseok may already be a happy memory. The three-day Autumn Equinox holiday, around the 15th day of the eighth month according to the lunar calendar, falls on Oct. 2 to 4 by the solar calendar this year. Though perhaps not as exciting as in years past (since it falls on a weekend, workers only get one day off instead of three), Chuseok is still a festive occasion — and a great chance to get a peek at many formative aspects of Korean culture. The word Chuseok is made up of two Chinese characters, meaning “autumn” and “evening” — a reference to the equinox, and the belief that Chuseok night brings out the largest full moon of the whole year. The meanings behind its other nicknames — Jungchujeol, Hangawi and Gabaeil — all rotate around “center” or “big,” more references to the full moon. Americans often call Chuseok “Korean Thanksgiving,” since both celebrate the harvest. But in historical terms, it might be more accurate to call Thanksgiving an American version of Chuseok, since the Eastern holiday has been celebrated in some form for two millennia or more. Legend has it that King Yuri, the third ruler of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.A.D. 935), held a weaving contest at the
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More than 70 percent of Koreans leave the cities to return home on Chuseok.

Songpyeon, a Chuseok treat

palace around the year A.D. 32. This battle between two teams of court ladies lasted for a month, ending on the 15th day of the eighth month by the lunar calendar, when the work of the two teams was shown to the king. The king named the winners, and the losing team had to throw a feast for them. It’s said that tradition of feasting on this day began to spread outside the royal court and finally became a national holiday. The holiday did begin to involve an element of thanksgiving over time, but the thanks went not to a god, but to each family’s deceased ancestors and living parents. One might say Koreans gave thanks for their roots. That is why so many people in Seoul and other big cities return to their hometowns in rural areas at Chuseok despite hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic, leaving behind eerily quiet urban streets. According to a Korea Transport Institute survey, the number of Koreans on the go between cities during Chuseok last year was 34.4 million, more than 70 percent of the total population of 48.3 million. Including many foods served at ancestral rites, Chuseok is also a popular holiday among gourmands. Two quintessential Chuseok foods are songpyeon and toranguk. Songpyeon is a crescent-shape stuffed rice cake, whose recipe varies slightly from region to region. Some provinces replace rice with potato or sweet potato starch to wrap the cake. Ingredients used to stuff the songpyeon also vary, from red beans to chestnut or jujubes. Toranguk is the Korean word for taro soup, with ingredients including radishes, sea tangles, marinated meat and of course the sweet potato-like root. It is a favorite during Chuseok as a digestive aid for the rest

of the bounteous feast. Fruit is a daily part of the Korean diet today, but historically it was a delicacy, so Chuseok also calls for persimmons and pears along with jujubes and chestnuts. And each of these has a meaning. Jujubes symoblize prosperity; chestnut, the everlasting connection with one’s ancestors, and persimmons, the importance of education, a time-honored value among Koreans. The color of a pear, yellow, represents the center of the universe in traditional Chinese medicine, while white is reminiscent of the Korea’s traditional hanbok, which once earned Koreans the nickname “white-clad folk.” Since it calls for large family gatherings, Chuseok is also about folk games. Many have unfortunately been forgotten, but some of the traditional games are still played today, including ganggang sullae. This circle dance can be compared with a square dance in the United States. A large group listens to traditional nongak songs that repeat simple rhymes, and everyone dances until they decide to stop. One big difference, though, is that the ganggang sullae used to be performed only by women. The women of each family, old and young, hand in hand, would form a big circle in a large field against the backdrop of the bright, full moon and move either clockwise or counterclockwise.

One of the women, with a strong voice, shouted a rhyme, which called for the refrain from the rest of the women — “ganggang sullae.” The lead singer tried different rhymes, one at a time, mostly extemporaneously. That pattern repeats as the pace of the dancing quickens, reaches a climax and then slows again before ending. Another popular Chuseok folk games is juldarigi, or tug-of-war. Bull fights (against other bulls, not people) are also a tradition in some areas including Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongsangnam-

do Province. For those not satisfied with only written knowledge, there are many programs that allow participants to enjoy Chuseok customs. Some of them are available at the Namsan Hanok Village (, Korea House (, the Gyeongju National Museum (, the National Folk Museum of Korea (, the Korean Folk Village ( and the National Museum of Korea ( By Moon Gwang-lip

During Chuseok, more than 70 percent of Korea’s population moves between cities to visit their families, so the competition to get a plane, train or bus ticket begins more than a month before the holiday itself. Here, crowds of people wait in line for train tickets at Seoul Station.
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[JoongAng Ilbo]

Korean Literature

The Wordsmith
Kim Ju-yeong’s tumultuous history

A reputation cemented through meticulously researched period novels and touching coming-of-age tales
Major works
The Peddler’s Inn (Gaekju,1981) Hwalbindo (Hwalbindo, 1983) The Sound of Thunder (Cheondung sori, 1986) A Fisherman Does Not Break the Reed (Gogijabineun galdaereul kkeokji anneunda, 1988) The Skate Ray (Hong-eo, 1998) Anchovy (Myeolchi 2000)

[JoongAng Ilbo]

Source: Korea Literature Translation Institute

im Ju-yeong was born in 1939, the height of the Japanese colonial period. He experienced the August 15th Liberation and the Korean War as a child. Against his father’s wishes, Kim entered the creative writing department at Sorabol University, hoping to become a poet; but upon his graduation, he worked at the Tobacco Production Cooperative, where he stayed for many years until winning the 1971 New Writer’s Prize given by the magazine Monthly Literature for his novel, A Period of Dormancy. Kim is considered one of the most entertaining storytellers in Korea and also has a reputation as one of its most exacting and hardworking wordsmiths. Whether relating recollections from his childhood or retelling the lives of famous historical figures, Kim invariably bases his writings on meticulous personal interviews and data, lending an unparalleled realism and vitality to his work. Brought to life by the author’s painstaking


research, each of his novels seems to present a photograph in words of the lives of Korean people. The Peddler’s Inn, the first of Kim’s multivolume historical novels first serialized in the Seoul News (later renamed the Daehan Daily) in the 1980s, centers on merchant life in the last phase of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), while Hwalbindo portrays a group of righteous bandits who fight against a corrupt aristocracy and encroaching Japanese influence around the turn of the 20th century. Also worthy of note are his Bildungsroman — The Skate Ray and A Fisherman Does Not Break the Reed. A heartwarming story of a 13-year-old boy and his mother, The Skate Ray has sold more than 350,000 copies. Among the many honors Kim received are the 1984 Yu Juhyeon Literature Prize, the 1993 Republic of Korea Literary Arts Prize, the 1996 Isan Literature Prize and the 2002 Kim Dongri Literature Prize.

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The Sound of Thunder
(Cheondung sori)
Korea, and instead focuses on the microscopic depiction of one woman’s tribulations. The life of the protagonist, Sin Gilnyeo, is as turbulent and tragic as the events of modern Korean history she witnesses. A young widow from a prominent family, Gil-nyeo is raped by a house guest named Cha Byeong-jo. The child she bears as a result of the rape is given away to a trusted servant, Hwang Jeom-gae, and his wife. When Korea is liberated from Japan, Hwang moves away with his family, and Gil-nyeo’s rapist, Cha, returns from Japan and claims her. He disappears again, but then Gil-nyeo is forced into indentured servitude. She escapes with the help of a truck driver, Ji Sang-mo, but is raped by him in the process and gives birth to her second child. In the meantime, her former servant Hwang has become a communist hunted by right-wing forces. When she hears he has been imprisoned, Gil-nyeo spends all she has to help him escape. At the outbreak of the war, Gil-nyeo returns to her parents’ house where she is met with disdain. She discovers that Cha Byeong-jo, now a member of the right wing, has been hiding out from the North at her parents’ house. The Sound of Thunder is a story of human survival. Gilnyeo is in many ways a passive victim of war and male aggression, but her passivity is far from a fatalistic resignation to the tragic circumstances of her life. Her tangled relationship with the three men in her life, Hwang, Cha and Ji, illuminates the dignity with which she endured the hardships thrown her way and affirms her indomitable will.

The Depth of a Landscape
풍경의 깊이
Kim Sa-in
was born in 1955 in Korea. He has published two volumes of poetry: Letter Written by Night in 1987 and Quietly Liking in 2006. He was awarded the Shin Dong-yeop Creative Work Award in 1987, the Contemporary Literature Award in 2005 and the Daesan Literary Award in 2006.

Though set in the period immediately before and after the liberation of Korea and the Korean War, The Sound of Thunder veers away from the analysis of the larger forces — ideological, political and historical — that shaped modern

바람 불고 키 낮은 풀들 파르르 떠는데 눈여겨보는 이 아무도 없다. 그 가녀린 것들의 생의 한순간, 의 외로운 떨림들로 해서 우주의 저녁 한 때가 비로소 저물어간다. 그 떨림의 이쪽에서 저쪽 사이, 그 순간의 처음과 끝 사이에는 무한히 늙은 옛날의 고요가, 아니면 아직 오지 않 은 어느 시간에 속할 어린 고요가 보일 듯 말 듯 옅게 묻어 있는 것이며, 그 나른한 고요의 봄볕 속에서 나는 백년이나 이백년쯤 아니라면 석달 열흘쯤이라도 곤히 잠들고 싶은 것이다. 그러면 석달이며 열흘이며 하는 이름만큼의 내 무한 곁으로 나비나 벌이나 별로 고울 것 없는 버러지들이 무심히 스쳐가기도 할 것인데, 그 적에 나는 꿈결엔 듯 그 작은 목숨들의 더듬이나 날개나 앳된 다리에 실려 온 낯익은 냄새가 어느 생에선가 한결 깊어진 그대의 눈빛인 걸 알아보게 되리라 생각한다.

In gusting wind short-stemmed plants shudder and tremble yet no one pays attention. Because of the solitary trembling of one moment in the life of those slender things, one evening of the universe finally fades into night. Between this side and the other side of that trembling, in the gap between the start and end of that moment, a stillness of infinitely ancient former times, or maybe an infant stillness destined to belong to a time that has not yet come, is shallowly buried, visible yet not visible, while within the spring sunlight of that listless stillness I wearily long to fall asleep for a century or two, or three months and ten days at least. Then beside my infinity, bearing the name of three months or ten days, butterflies or bees, insects with nothing much to brag of, may heedlessly go brushing past; at that, as if in a dream, I think I shall recognize a familiar smell borne on those tiny creatures’ feelers or wings or infant legs as your gaze that grew so deep in some other lifetime.
Provided by the Korea Literature Translation Institute & Chang bi

The Skate Ray
than 350,000 copies since it was first published in 1998. A 13-year-old boy lives alone with his mother in a rural village, waiting for his father who has disappeared without a trace. The father’s nickname is Skate; and the mother keeps the memory of him alive by hanging a skate over the kitchen door and making a stingray-shaped kite in winter for the boy to fly. One snowy day, a homeless girl named Samrye creeps into their house. Instead of chasing her away, the mother accepts her as part of the family. Sam-rye becomes a sister to the lonely boy and helps with the needlework and other odd jobs around the house, but then disappears one day just as quietly as she had come. Then a woman with a child knocks on the door one day, claiming she has missed the last bus and needs a place to stay. She ends up staying for a few more days, but she, too, disappears without a trace, leaving her child behind. The mother has already guessed that the child is actually the son of her missing husband, and that the woman will never return. Yet she raises the child as her own. The father eventually returns, but the very next day, the mother disappears, leaving only footprints. At the end of her wait, she has finally realized that the man she had loved and longed for in her heart was only a fantasy.

This beautifully written novel about love and endurance won the Daesan Literature Prize and has sold more

Translation index
Book Title 고기잡이는 갈대를 꺾지 않는다 / Ein Fischer bricht das Schilfrohr nicht 고기잡이는 갈대를 꺾지 않는다 / Le pêcheur ne cueille pas de roseaux 홍어 / 洪魚 천둥소리 / The Sound of Thunder Year of publication 2002 2000 2008 1989 Genre Novel Novel Novel Novel Language German French Chinese English

From Quietly Liking by poet Kim Sa-in
Brother Anthony of Taizé was born in 1942 in England. He is a member of the Community of Taizé (France). Since 1980, he has been living in Korea, teaching at Sogang University in Seoul, where he is now a professor emeritus. He has published more than 20 volumes of English translations of modern Korean literature.

List of Kim's books translated into English by the Korea Literature Translation Institute
46 korea October 2009 October 2009 korea 47

Korean Artist

A Photographic Tribute to the Mystical Forest
Bae Bien-u is revered in Europe for an abstract eye and in Korea for fresh yet traditional instincts


uch of the public enthusiasm over the works of Korean photographer Bae Bien-u derives from an impulse similar to the one that fascinated fans of the American hyperrealist painters in the 1970s and ’80s, such as Chuck Close and Audrey Flack. If the hyperrealists transcended their medium by mimicking the mechanical functions of a camera and presenting a more definitive rendering of the subject matter, Bae’s works do exactly the opposite: they make the subject more abstract and present a looser interpretation of reality. In short, hyperrealist paintings imitate photography, while Bae’s photography imitates paintings. His landscapes of pine groves exaggerate the contortion of the trees; the tone and the depth of his color richer than life, omitting minor details. His landscapes are personal, presenting a distorted view of nature. That partly explains why his works have

Bae Bien-u

The works of Bae Bien-u fit with the stereotype of classical Korean art as dramatic and emotional — but they provoke complex responses in different viewers.
48 korea October 2009

been embraced so eagerly by Western audiences. In many ways, Bae’s works fit with the notion of the classical Korean paintings — subtle and often emotional, epitomizing the spirit of “the Land of the Morning Calm.” Since Bae has long favored traditional Korean subjects like pine trees, shrines and royal sanctuaries, diplomats and government officials are also major patrons. During the last U.S.-Korea summit, President Lee Myung-bak gave a book of Bae’s photographs to President Obama as a gift. It included 65 views of local pine groves covered in snow, royal palaces, traditional Korean porcelain and others. His pine tree series is also in the collections of Elton John and the royal house of Belgium. “I paint with a camera instead of using a brush,” Bae once said. “When you photograph, the most important thing is to understand the light. I take keen interest in the shape of an object and its color. That’s why I’m more drawn to landscapes over portraits.” His choice of subjects has a lot to do with his upbringing. Born in the port city of Yeosu the year the Korean War broke out, Bae began his career as an artist during the 1970s, photographing the sea in his hometown. He gradually moved on to the surrounding scenery, playing around with composition in shots of royal shrines and the forest of Gyeongju, the old capital of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935). Like most photographers of his generation, Bae has no degree in photography; he taught himself. His fascination with pine trees began in 1985, shortly after a visit to Naksansa Temple. For the next two years, Bae visited every pine forest on the peninsula including the famous oreum hills of Jeju-do Island, which appear frequently in his works. Recently, he started exploring overseas. Bae was commissioned by the Spanish cultural heritage authority to produce a series at the garden of Alhambra Palace in Granada. The results were recently featured at a national museum there. In one of the photos, he points out the parallels between the pines at the Spanish palace and those of Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, both designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. During his exhibition in Zurich, Bae’s work was dubbed “the sacred trees” by the local critics. While the subject of pine trees is not original to Korea, the “sacredness” of nature has come to shape the notion of Korean art among many European viewers. But a similar sense of awe and beauty also arises in Bae’s work among Koreans, who in it rediscover a connection to traditional paintings that sought the secrets of the world in subjects like pine trees, bamboo or wild animals. “The lives of a tree and a person are similar in many ways,” Bae said. “A tree cannot move, but they also fight over territory.” A pine tree for Bae is also a metaphor for collective memory. He points that more than 600 place names in Korea contain the character “song,” meaning pine, and that Korea is one of the few cultures to anthropomorphize trees. But then Bae may really be talking about his attitude toward his subjects. For his expeditions, Bae ventures out in the early mornings and misty evenings, and the mystical lighting captured in these works leads many Korean viewers to think of shamanism. “You feel as though the trees are coming out of the landscape and approaching you directly,” said Shigeo Chiba, a Japanese art critic. “Such an impression shows you that they should be called artistic rather than photographic ... he looks at the trees as creatures who rejoin By Park Soo-mee the heavens and the earth.”
October 2009 korea 49

[JoongAng Ilbo]

Sports nity to play in the 2010 Masters at Augusta National. It’s a dream come true,” An said in an interview with local media after his win. “I received a congratulatory message from UC Berkeley after defeating a Stanford golfer in the quarterfinals. I hope to become a top-class golfer like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson in the future.” An got a taste of what’s to come when he played in his first professional event, the Kolon-Hana Bank Korea Open Golf Championships. Held from Sept. 10 to 13 at Woo Jeong Hills in Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do Province, the event saw some top young golfers — Danny Lee, Ishikawa Ryo and Rory McIlroy for example — participate. Although An failed to make the final round of play, it was a valuable experience for him. “I apologize to the Korean golf fans. I still have many shortcomings. I will work harder to improve my game once I return to the U.S.,” said a disappointed An. But An’s father said, “It was a great experience for my son. Having never competed in front of a large gallery, I think Byeong-hun felt the pressure.” Born on Sept. 17, 1991, An became the youngest winner of the amateur title, breaking a record set last season by Korean-New Zealander Danny Jin-myung Lee, who won at the age of 18. Before Lee, the record holder was Tiger Woods, who won the U.S. amateur title in 1994 at the age of 18 and seven months. Woods would go onto win the U.S. amateur title in the following two seasons as well. Some of the most recognized golfers in PGA history have started with a win at the U.S. Amateurs: Phil Mickelson in 1990, Mark O’Meara in 1979 and Jack Nicklaus in 1961. Although An now boasts power and size at 186 centimeters (6-foot-1) and 96 kilograms (211 pounds), he did not show much athleticism at a young age. It took a while for the elder An and Jiao to discover their son’s talent on the course. “Since both my wife and I were athletes, we looked to get our son involved in sports at a young age. However, he was a horrible runner and didn’t fare well in football,” said the elder An. “I took my son to a driving range by chance and that was where he showed potential. Since golf is a sport which offers a long career, I ended up encouraging him to take it up.” Although the younger An started playing golf at the age of 7, it wasn’t until he and his father moved to Bradenton, Florida, in December 2005 that he began to show a glimmer of greatness. Last season he was selected as one of the 12 best junior golfers of the year by the American Junior Golf Association. He averages 300 yards per drive, but has hit as far as 370 yards on several occasions. “Byeong-hun can drive the ball an average of 300 yards without any wind. I haven’t seen too many golfers in the amateur circuit drive the ball further than my son. However, his putting game needs work,” said An Jae-hyung. “This is the beginning. We will need to work on improving his game one step at a time. I don’t know if my son will use me as a caddy for the three PGA majors next season. Those are big tourneys so he might not keep me around,” joked An senior. To that, the young golfer replied: “My father’s advice based on the match play format of the tourney was of big help throughout the competition. He also gave me plenty of advice on how to overcome difficult situations based on personal experience.”
By Jason Kim
October 2009 korea 51

Young Golfer Sets American Amateur Record
An Byeong-hun, the child of two Olympic medalists, took home the championship at just 17


orean An Byeong-hun, 17, became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Aug. 31. With a victory over American Ben Martin at the Southern Hills Country Club, An has earned the right to compete in three PGA majors next season. The young golfer comes from an athletic family. His father, An Jae-hyung, who also serves as his caddy, was a bronze medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His mother, Jiao Zhimin, earned a silver and a bronze for China at the same Games. An, who is set to attend UC Berkeley on a full athletic scholarship, is most likely to maintain his amateur status next season, meaning he is eligible to compete in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. “I am very excited to have the opportu-

Top, An Byeong-hun, 17, of South Korea, hits out of a bunker onto the 23rd green during the final round of the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 31. He defeated Ben Martin, of Greenwood, South Carolina, for the title. Above, An Jae-hyung, An Byeong-hun and Jiao Zhimin strike a pose for the camera. The An family was in Korea for the Kolon - Hana Bank Korea Open Golf Championships in early September.

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[JoongAng Ilbo]



Golden Autumn for Korea’s
he Korean archery team continued their dominance in the recurve competition at the 2009 World Archery Championships in Ulsan, Gyeongsangnam-do Province. Korea swept the team and individual events in the final two days. The men’s team, consisting of Im Dong-hyun, Lee Chang-hwan and Oh Jin-hyuk, defeated France to take the gold, while the women’s team won its fourth consecutive gold in the team competition. The following day, the three archers would all make the semifinals of the men’s individual recurve. Lee Chang-hwan earned his first international title by defeating two of the world’s top-ranked archers in the men’s individual recurve competition. Meanwhile, Joo Hyun-jung spoiled her teenaged teammate’s run for a gold medal by capturing the women’s individual recurve event. Lee and Joo’s victories mark the first time Korea has taken the gold in both the men and women’s individual recurve
52 korea October 2009

Victorious Archery Teams
a 112-109 victory. Things did not get any easier for Lee in the finals, where he faced Im Donghyun, his teammate as well as the world’s number two and defending world champion. But the 27-year-old Ansan, Gyeonggi-do Province native calmly disposed of Im, beating him 113-108 and preventing him from becoming the first Korean male to win two consecutive world titles in the process. “There were times when I competed poorly, but in most cases, even when I produced my best score, my opponent would outscore me,” Lee said about his inability to win a title in the past. Meanwhile, in the bronze medal match-up Ruban defeated Oh Jin-hyuk 111-110, denying Korea its chance at all three men’s individual recurve medals. Experience beat youthfulness as Joo defeated Kwak in the women’s individual recurve competition. Joo, the oldest woman on the team at 27, defeated the 17-year-old Kwak by a hair with a final score of 113-112. Joo joined the national team last year and is ranked seventh in the world. “After losing in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics, I refocused on winning at the world championships,” said Joo. Kwak was aiming to become the first Korean teen to win gold in an individual event since the 1997 World Championships in Victoria, Canada, but came up short in the final round of play. Korea ended the competition with four gold and three silver medals.
By Jason Kim


events since the 2005 World Archery Championships in Madrid, Spain. The feat has been accomplished by the Koreans a total of five times in the past. Korea also won both the men’s and women’s recurve team competitions. It was an all-Korean final with Lee Chang-hwan and Im Dong-hyun competing for the men’s recurve title as Joo Hyun-jung faced Kwak Ye-ji in the women’s recurve finals. This all-Korean event was only the third in world championship competition history. Lee Chang-hwan, ranked 22nd in the world, earned the best finish of his career when he took down the world’s top and second-ranked archers Sept. 9. Although he had won gold medals in team recurve competitions at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2007 World Championships in Leipzig, Germany, he failed to win in the individual event. Lee’s career best in individual competition has been sixth overall, at the Archery World Cup 2009, Stage 4, in Shanghai, China, and at the Asian Archery Championships 2001 in Hong

Kong. “I shed a lot of tears. I heard many criticize my inability to win an individual title,” said an emotional Lee. “I was able to pinpoint my weaknesses and overcome them this time. I think I can compete with confidence from this point on.” Although he first took up archery in fifth grade after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Lee’s best individual finish was at the 2003 Universiade in which he placed second overall. And while he has become a mainstay on the national archery team since making the team back in 2001, wins did not come easy. Lee started the 2009 calendar on a sour note. Having slipped and extended his ligaments in both his wrists, he missed a month of training in January. He was also coming off a shoulder injury into the world championships. In the semifinals, Lee had the difficult task of going up against Ukraine’s Viktor Ruban, an Olympic champion and the world’s highest-ranked archer, but he was able to hold Ruban off and came out with

The national archery team trains at the National Training Center in Taeneung, northern Seoul, in preparation for the 2009 World Archery Championships.
October 2009 korea 53

[JoongAng Ilbo]


Lee Chang-hwan, left, and Joo Hyun-jung, above, prepare to hit their targets in the final round of the individual recurve competitions. Lee defeated his teammate Im Dong-hyun to earn his first world title. Joo also won her first world title by defeating Kwak Ye-ji.


A People of the Mountains
Steeped in history, the slopes that mark Seoul’s borders draw thousands of eager rock climbers, hikers and families

Seoul is one of the world’s few capital cities that is surrounded by mountains.

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[JoongAng Ilbo]


ast, present and future coexist in Seoul. The metropolitan area of the South Korean capital is a treasure trove of 500 years of history, with abundant relics from Joseon Dynasty times (1392-1910) coexisting alongside state-of-theart technology and an economy on the cusp of transition. Sudden development and the popularity of Korean pop culture add to the distinctive attractions of Seoul, which hosts over six million foreign tourists every year. Seoul is one of the few capital cities around the world to be surrounded by mountains, even if they are not very tall at just 600 to 800 meters (1,970-2,620 feet) — good news for urban residents who long for easy access to outdoor sports such as rock climbing. Running through the center of the city is the Hangang River. To the north sits Mount Bukhansan (836 meters), Mount Dobongsan (740 meters) and Mount Suraksan (638 meters). Overlooking the south side of the river are Mount Gwanaksan (629 meters) and Mount Cheonggyesan (618 meters), delineating the rough boundaries of the capital. Every weekend, tens of thousands of Seoulites visit these mountains. As autumn nears, the trees begin to change color. Unlike the maple leaves found in North America and Europe, Korea’s are smaller in size yet much greener during the summer — and a brighter red in autumn. This offers a striking contrast to the blue sky and the rocky cliffs. Most mountain destinations are just a subway or bus ride away from downtown, with the majority of courses fine for even beginners.


Rich in history, Gwanaksan has harbored grieving aristocrats and seen rituals by kings fearful of its mystical power.

Mount Gwanaksan can be reached by subway lines No. 1, 2 and 4. The most popular trails start at Seoul National University or Anyang Amusement Park. Other popular ones depart from Gwanak and Seoksu stations on line No. 1, Nakseongdae and Sadang stations on line No. 2 and Gwacheon Station on line No. 4. Regardless of where you start, however, Yeonjudae can be reached in 90 minutes to 2 hours at the most. The climb is not difficult, so families often come together. Recently, a new 14-kilometer trail with a gentler slope was built for families climbing with young children, starting near Sadang Station on subway lines No. 2 and 4 and passing Gwaneumsa Temple midway up before finally arriving at Yeonjudae. On a clear day, the peak offers views of not just Seoul, Anyang and Gwacheon but also the distant coast of Incheon. The trail then leads down to Mount Samseongsan, passes Hoapsa Temple and lands near the Gwanaksan ecological park. The trail ends near Sillim Station on subway line No. 2. Completing the trail takes seven to eight hours, but it’s an easy walk. If you find the trail difficult to complete, you can always change

Left, Mount Bukhansan consists of more than 40 peaks that offer beautiful views of downtown Seoul. Top, Baekundae Peak is Seoul’s most popular spot for rock climbing.

your route along the way for a shorter way down.

Mount Gwanaksan

Mount Bukhansan

One of the highest peaks on Mount Gwanaksan is Yeonjudae, a 629-meter stone embankment, at the edge of Mount Samseongsan to the west. Mount Gwanaksan was once thought to be infused with an energy of fire, so out of caution, when the first king of Joseon chose Seoul as his capital he ordered his men to set up a statue of a mythical unicorn-lion — the haetae — in front of his palace as a guardian. He would also have a ritual performed in which a jar of water would be buried halway up the mountain. The fourth king climbed the mountain to Yeonjudae, where he held rain rituals. At the northwestern edge, where his rituals took place, now stands Seoul National University. Thanks to the heavy traffic to the school, the roads here are crowded with hikers on weekends. But its history isn’t entirely happy. Before Joseon, at the close of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), loyalists fled to Gwanaksan. They climbed to the top to gaze in the direction of their capital Songdo, today Kaesong, and lament the loss of their king. This is why the peak is named Yeonjudae, meaning “love for the king.”

YeonJudae is one of the highest peaks of Mount Gwanaksan.

Considered the city’s spitirual guardian, Mount Bukhansan was once called Samgaksan, meaning “triangular mountain.” This is due to its three peaks — Baekundae, Insubong and Mangyeongdae — which together form a triangle. It was renamed Bukhansan during the Japanese colonial period. The top of Baekundae Peak offers a lovely view of downtown and the outskirts of Seoul. Dobongsan, Suraksan and Gwanaksan are also visible from here as well. On a clear day, even the islands off the western coast and the bridge connecting them to the peninsula can be seen. Mount Bukhansan has over 40 shorter peaks including Nojeokbong, Yeongbong, Bibong, Munsubong and Bohyeonbong. At Bibong stands a monument to the arrival of King Jinheung (540-576) of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-A.D. 935). Many temples also dot the mountainside including Jingwansa, Doseonsa, Seunggasa and Hwagyesa. With its neighbor Mount Dobongsan, Mount Bukhansan was designated a national park in 1983. Ringing Mount Bukhansan is a fortress built dur-

Along with the three that won it the name “triangular mountain,” Bukhansan has 40 shorter peaks.

ing the Joseon Dynasty. There are 8 kilometers of walls 7 meters high and 13 gates. Six of these gates — Daeseomun, Daenammun, Daeseongmun, Bogukmun, Daedongmun and Yongammun — are well preserved. Insubong Peak is one of the popular spots for rock climbing in Seoul. The peak offers climbs at diverse difficulty levels, another attraction for tourists here. Japanese rock climbers fly in on the weekends to enjoy the climb. The most popular hiking routes for Mount Bukhansan start from Bukhansan Amusement Park, Ui-dong, Gugi-dong or Bulgwang-dong, with the fastest routes from the former two locations. It takes about two hours to reach the top. The Ui-dong course even offers a shuttle bus to the Baekundae control tower. A one-way ride costs 1,000 won. From the Baekundae control tower, the trail leads to Harujae Pass, where the trail splits. One fork leads to Yeongbong, the other to Baekundae. The pass is
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[JoongAng Ilbo]

Travel Korea’s Taste Masters quite steep from here, but once you cross it, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view of Insubong and Baekundae peaks. From there to Uimun Gate it’s another series of steep climbs. Some hikers say you can “smell your mouth burning” when taking this route. But once at Uimun Gate, another view will unfold as northern Seoul’s endless blocks of apartment complexes sprawl out before you. Safety ropes and ladders with heavy pipes driven into the rock along the trail guide you toward Baekundae. The only downside to hiking Mount Bukhansan is the crowds. So many hikers try to challenge these peaks on weekends that the roads leading in are often jammed with traffic. The trails that start from Gugi-dong or Bulgwang-dong generally lead to the Madang Rocks or Daenammun Gate. Other courses include the most famous Mount Bukhansan course, which leads from Bulgwang-dong via Daenammun Gate to Baekundae, followed by a climb back down to Ui-dong. Many also choose to walk along the fortress walls, touring all 13 gates. This trek can be quite challenging as it takes seven hours of high-level physical activity and requires deep concentration. The fortress gate tour is outfitted with safety equipment, but a lot of the trails consist of rocky twists requiring climbers to be equipped with professional climbing shoes. But finish the climb and the reward is much sweeter than you might imagine. Mount Bukhansan’s trails are popular because most of their starting and ending points have great access to public transportation. Most recently, the Uiryeong route (4.46 kilometers), a trail that had been closed to the public for the last 40 years, finally reopened to the public. The environment there is so well preserved that the city is currently limiting the number of visitors to 780 every day. Climbers can make their reservations for the trip at
By Kim Se-joon

Local Restaurants
* Yakiniku Gonjo 02-3472-6073, A Japanese-style pub near Sadang Station, lines No. 2 and 4, Yakiniku Gonjo serves barbequed pork and beef dishes. The restaurant is on the fifth floor and has a nice view. On a sunny day, the restaurant sets up tables in the terrace garden. * Yetnal Gamasot Sondubu 02-877-5229 This tofu restaurant near Seoul National University Station on line No. 2 makes its own bean curd using stone mills to maximize sweetness. Once a traditional Korean home, it has been remodeled as a restaurant, so seating is all Korean-style. A tofu set comes with tofu pudding, stew and a dish of ground pork, beans and vegetables. * Yaetgoltosung Gugi branch 02-395-6177, A barbeque restaurant located near the entrance of the Gugi-dong course, Yaetgoltosung’s specialties are pork ribs, smoked duck and sausages lightly roasted in a furnace for a richer taste. The meat is barbequed over oakwood charcoal at your table. * Sorrento 02-384-6631, On the eatery street of Bulgwang-dong, this small spaghetti restaurant is popular among hikers. Their specialties are carbonara rich with bacon, egg and parmesan cheese and rice gratin with seafood, oyster sauce and plenty of cheese.

A dish of pork cheek meat at Maple Tree House.

Perfect Pork in a Feng Shui Setting
One chef’s favorite spot after an autumn walk in Samcheong-dong


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[JoongAng Ilbo]

Mount Bukhansan is so popular among hikers partly because of its great access to public transportation.

t’s autumn, and one of the most relaxing activities available in this beautiful season is a walk through the relatively calm and traditional northern part of the bustling city. Of course, that this expedition must involve a good meal goes without saying. So should you find yourself strolling along the streets of Samcheong-dong in northern Seoul, of the many diners clustered in the area, there is one in particular you might consider trying: the Maple Tree House, or Danpung Namu-jip in Korean. At first glance, the restaurant looks like a posh wine bar or cafe, with a postmodern interior crafted of natural wood and stone. Thomas Baehner, the executive chef of the Grand Hyatt Seoul hotel, admits to loving the taste and atmosphere of this stylish restaurant, which he highly recommends. “Dining for me is an overall experience where the quality of food, the friendliness and efficiency of the service are equally important,” the chef says. Baehner says the design and architecture of Maple Tree House bring to mind the concept of feng shui, since natural materials and textures have been used for all of the exterior and interior. But what’s the chef ’s take on the taste of the food? “I’ve experienced Korean barbeque restaurants in many locations in Seoul,” he said, but Maple Tree

House is special. It serves different types of beef and pork including pork cheek meat and hangjeongsal, pork jowl. “The meat is fresh, not frozen, thick and wellmarbled,” he said. Maple Tree House also serves a side dish of soy sauce-marinated sesame leaves instead of lettuce as well as ssamjang, or soybean paste, which the chef says allows him to relish the original taste of the meat and sesame leaves to the fullest. “You get high quality food at affordable prices in a tastefully designed space with friendly service,” the chef said. Maple Tree House is located in the main area of Samcheong-dong, northern Seoul, near the Korea Banking Institute. Call (02) 730-7461 for details. Baehner has worked in his homeland of Germany, as well as China, Italy, Mexico and Thailand. He has been the executive chef at the Grand Hyatt Seoul since February Thomas Baehner Executive Chef Grand Hyatt Seoul 2008. By Lee Eun-joo
October 2009 korea October 2009 korea 59 59


Sharing the Beauty of Home
Korean Wave superstar takes a year to prepare book of photos, essays

Left, Bae Yong-joon sweeps the temple yard with a monk during his stay. Above, the actor watches the roasting of tea leaves. Below, Bae stands in a doorway. He’s spent the past year preparing for his photo essay.

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[JoongAng Ilbo]

Bae Yong-joon’s Travel in Search of Korea’s Beauty was simultaneously released in Korea and Japan.

espite the hectic schedule of a Hallyu (Korean Wave) star, Bae Yong-Joon finally managed to find the time to finish and publish his book, Travel in Search of Korea’s Beauty, in late September. But this time he’s not aiming to become a leading figure in a new field or even to make lots of money. The 36-year-old actor just wants to share the beauty of his homeland and its culture with his fans, here and abroad. The recently released book contains about 200 photographs Bae took during his travels, from the capital city of Seoul to the most obscure rural village. The actor also included in the book essays he wrote about traditional Korean culture, tea, food, clothing and architecture. More specific topics include kimchi, hanok houses and hanbok clothing. Several tourist attractions make appearances in the book: the National Museum of Korea and Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul and Buddhist temples such as Hwangryongsa in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province and Mireuksa in Jeollabuk-do Province. The international superstar spent the past year preparing for the photo essay, learning about traditional Korean culture in detail from 11 cultural artisans, including hanbok designer Lee Hyo-jae and master potter Cheon Han-bong.


According to Keyeast, Bae’s management company, a Japan-based publishing firm signed a contract worth 800 million won ($660,000) for the rights to publish the book in Japan before it even came out last month. It was released in late September in both Korea and Japan. To promote the new work, Bae made an extremely rare public appearance at an official release ceremony at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Sept. 22. He also flew to neighboring Japan and participated in a party to celebrate the publication of the book at the Tokyo Dome on Sept. 30. More than 50,000 fans were in attendance. “I hope that this book will be a gift to everybody who wants to explore Korea,” Bae said. Bae made his debut in Korea in the early 1990s and won starring roles in famous television dramas such as Winter Sonata, Hotelier and First Love. His superstardom in Japan earned him the nickname “Yon-sama,” and two years ago, the actor took home the highest honor at the 2007 MBC Drama Awards. He starred in his most recent soap opera, The Story of the First King’s Four Gods, in 2007. An animated version of his hit TV series Winter Sonata is scheduled to air on Japan’s largest satellite networks, DATV and SKY Perfect TV, starting By Park Sang-woo this month.


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Chang Han-na made her global debut in classical music at just 11 years of age. Now she hopes to inspire youth to recognize the beauty of the form she loves.

[JoongAng Ilbo]

World renowned cellist Chang Han-na made her debut as a conductor in 2007, leading a multi-national youth orchestra.

Cello Prodigy Pours Her Soul Into Helping Child Musicians
here is something disarming about Chang Han-na. Since first gaining global recognition at Paris’ Fifth Rostropovich International Cello Competition in 1994, where she took home both First Prize and the Contemporary Music Prize at just 11 years old, Chang’s talent has evolved remarkably. She has established an extraordinary career as a cellist and may now be one of the most important musicians of her generation, recently declaring her return as a conductor.
62 korea October 2009


Hoping to introduce the greatness of classical music to a wider audience, especially children and teens, Chang has embarked upon a new project, “Maestra Chang Han-na’s Absolute Classic,” to take place every other year. The first in the series took place Sept. 11 and 12 at the Seongnam Arts Center. The first day, Chang led the local Mostly Philharmonic Orchestra in a well-known work by Tchaikovsky — “Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy after Dante” — and on Sept. 12 she conducted his “Romeo

and Juliet (Fantasy Overture)”. Chang made her debut as a conductor in Korea in 2007, leading a multi-national youth orchestra with members from Korea, China and Germany at the 1st Seongnam International Youth Symphony Festival in Bundang-gu, Gyeonggi-do Province. Receiving tips and lessons from James DePreist, famed conductor and professor at the Julliard School, and Maestro Lorin Maazel, the infamous music director of the New York Philharmonic, Chang

started her conducting career young as well. But what started as just an exciting passion has transformed Chang into a more mature — and certainly ambitious — musician. “When I got into university, my father told me that as a musician I have to give something back to society,” Chang told journalists at a press conference in a Seoul hotel. “I would like to help children make friends with the classical music they think is boring.” Her new series’ slogan is, “Music changes society,” and it will emphasize education, with Chang taking the opportunity to help young Koreans learn how to perform together and enjoy the culture of classical music. Throughout Chang’s musical career, she has been privileged, collaborating closely with such conductors as Giuseppe Sinopoli,

Lorin Maazel, Antonio Pappano and Christoph Eschenbach. But her foremost master was Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the greatest cellists ever and a gifted conductor, and her new musical venture reflects that ancestry. She wishes to give back what she has learned to young musicians who have big dreams just as she did. “It was a chance for Chang, who has studied under renowned musicians like Mstislav Rostropovich and Mischa Maisky, to make her long-awaited dream of giving back to Korean teenagers come true,” a Seongnam Arts Center spokesperson told the Korean press. The two concerts emphasized performance as a way to popularize classical music among the general public. Chang’s focus on education in the series was exposed in her master classes, in which she chose members between the ages of 11 and 24 through auditions held around the Seongnam area to train and establish a prospective youth orchestra. She held an event, “A Meeting with Chang Han-na,” on Aug. 24 to allow the public to ask her questions, and her rehearsals were also open for the public to attend. Chang seems almost overwhelmed by her desire to pour her experiene into younger musicians. Throughout the “Absolute Classic” series, she will instruct all orchestra members during rehearsals and also conduct their regular concerts. Chang first took an interest in the cello at the tender age of six, and when she became aware of the great cellists Rostropovich and Mischa Maisky, she immediately wanted to play like them. That eventually led her to a Rostrop-

ovich competition in Paris, where she won her first international award. It was the start of a grand career, and so it’s understandable why Chang would say, “It is important for young children to understand music at an early age.” Though Chang was made famous by her impressive cello playing, she’s tried to take advantage of other aspects of her life outside of music, which is why she attended Havard University as a philophy major. She felt it was more important to understand the spectacles and hardships of life so that she could bring those things to her music. Now, expanding her already broad repertoire, Chang hopes to conduct numerous youth orchestras all over the world, touching the hearts of millions By Hyon Mi-kyung once again.

“I would like to help children make friends with the classical music they think is boring,” said cellist Chang Han-na at a press conference in a Seoul hotel.
October 2009 korea 63

People People

Burglind Jungmann has taught Korean art history at UCLA for 10 years, the first professor ever to do so in the United States.

Alone With Her Passion
Though born in Germany and living in Los Angeles, Burglind Jungmann has always been drawn to Korea — its culture, its history and its art

urglind Jungmann feels homesick from time to time. But whenever nostalgia comes over this Germanborn professor at UCLA, there’s a neighborhood she can visit with her husband and children — Koreatown. Perhaps more Korean in her tastes than a native, Jungmann likes her kimchi ripe and her peppers hot. She has taught Korean art history at UCLA for 10 years, the first professor to do so in the United States. Professor Jungmann recalled that when she came to UCLA in 1999, “There was not much consensus in the country for the necessity of studying Korean art history as apart from the art histories of China and Japan.” In the last decade Jungmann has guided some 600 students to their master’s degrees. For her, Korea is not just a field of study; it is a lifelong passion. Jungmann’s first visit to Korea came in 1973, when she was 19 years old. “At the time, I had a broad range of interests, and somehow it naturally led me to Korea.” From the small town of Hildesheim in central Germany, Professor Jungmann grew up with little exposure to the outside world, heightening her intellectual curiosity. Her knowledge of German and European cultures led to to Asia as “a sort of alternative.” As soon as she entered university,
64 korea October 2009


Jungmann came to Korea as an exchange student. She spent a year and a half learning not only the language but Oriental painting and calligraphy as well. Six years later, she returned to travel around the peninsula and to “absorb” taekwondo. She studied Korean art history at Seoul National University in 1983 and worked as a researcher at the National Museum of Korea. “The landscape, the people, their actions ... everything made me feel so at home,” the professor recalled. Korea had charmed her, and when Jungmann returned to Germany, she earned her doctorate in East Asian art history at the University of Heidelberg. She went on to stay for six years in Japan and study Chinese culture in Taiwan, but in the end, she chose Korean art as her true love. “There is a certain balance of practicality and refinement in Korean art. For example, Korean porcelain pieces are designed to be used in real life, unlike specimens of Chinese porcelain, which tend to lean only towards artistic perfection.” The many traces of crosscultural exchange were another factor that appealed to her. Fluent in Korean, Chinese and Japanese, Professor Jungmann emphasized that one had to interpret Korean art in the context of its relationships with other countries. She pointed out that current students of Korean art history

in particular don’t make the appropriate effort to understand context. That’s why Jungmann is studying the influence that the 15th-century Joseon Dynasty emissaries to Japan had on Korean painting, and Korea-Japan exchanges in the field of landscape painting. Professor Jungmann came back to Korea at the end of June for seven weeks. She lectured during the summer semester at Korea University and traveled between Seoul and Busan to collect data. The main focus of her stay, however, was to meet with pottery artisans whose work will be shown at an exhibition next August at the UCLA Art Museum that she is planning. Jungmann explained the significance of the exhibition: the fact that it was conceived and planned in the United States and not “exported” from Korea, as is the case with most projects like it. Professor Jungmann’s summers are always busy. That’s because she visits Korea every year. Her husband, who majored in German philosophy and taught at Dongguk University in the early 1990s, sometimes accompanies her on her visits. While the couple claims that they also try to visit Germany every year, somehow their hearts seem to lean towards Korea.
By Kim Ho-joung

October 2009 korea 65

[JoongAng Ilbo]

Foreign Viewpoints

The ‘Second Beautiful Choice’
Korean women are brimming with potential, but they’re stuck in a society that locks them out of the workplace after they give birth.

Klaus Fassbender graduated from the University of Hamburg with a master’s degree in business economics in 1989. He started his career at Kraft Foods, eventually becoming the general manager of Eckes Granini’s fruit juice business in France. In 1997, Fassbender joined L’Oréal Germany, where he served as general manager of its local unit. In 2001, he moved to France, and since 2004 he has served as the president of L’Oréal Korea.
66 korea October 2009

any people ask me what has impressed me most in Korea. Well, I have always had lots of interest in people. Perhaps for this reason, what I felt was the most impressive and surprising here is the dynamics of Korean people. They lead their lives with passion, which makes me think that this positive energy has been the driving engine of this nation. The most interesting and exciting thing to me is the Korean women whom I meet each and every day, brimming with potential. Each year, I usually hold several campus recruiting events to find new talent at universities, and I come to meet Korean female college students who are very self-motivated with strong initiative for their future. They are full of dreams and passion and have sparkles in their eyes. Out of all the employees of L’Oréal Korea, more than 80 percent are women. Women who are committed to self-development and do their best with professional passion: They are the main players at our company. Korean women, the main customers of our business, also are prosumers who provide useful insights into products with their excellent aesthetic sense, which means that once a product is well received by Korean female consumers, it will likely be a success not only in Asia but also across the world. As such, Korean women have such unsurpassable potential, and accordingly have made significant contributions to the growth and development of Korean society. However, to my disappointment, most of these talented Korean women face a very tough choice between work and family once they get married and become mothers. And I’ve seen too many of them give up their jobs to look after their children — both voluntarily and involuntarily. Career interruptions due to pregnancy and childcare among professional women in their 30s and 40s are characterized by the “M-shaped” curve in their career pattern. In this era of the war for talent, an era when how competitive a company or a nation is depends on how much excellent talent they secure, this is a total waste for society. Indeed, the challenges reentering the job market faced by women due to pregnancy and childcare is not only a Korean problem. However, it is more serious in Korea compared with other OECD nations. In northern Europe-


an nations like Sweden and the Netherlands, whose female populations actively participate in social activities, the government and society have provided a childcare system in a proactive manner, and companies have introduced female-friendly systems. As a result of such concerted efforts, they lead women to more actively participate in society, greatly contributing to enhancing national competitiveness. In my home country, Germany, the state-run childcare centers are very good and a variety of work schedules and types are allowed for women, thereby reducing their childcare burden and helping them to get back into their work lives. In France, a great childcare system leads to an active female working population. But, in Korea, most childcare responsibilities still lie on the shoulders of individual women, many of whom come to give up their jobs to take care of their children. In this regard, various efforts have been made by numerous organizations such as the Ministry of Gender Equality, the Ministry of Labor and the City of Seoul in recent years to solve this problem. To join this recent movement in Korea, L’Oréal Korea launched a campaign for career-interrupted women, titled “Working Mom, the Second Beautiful Choice,” this year, as part of its social contributions to Korean society. Currently, L’Oréal Korea is running a career academy and holding special lectures in collaboration with relevant government organizations under three key themes — “Mind Change” for boosting self-esteem and confidence, “Look Change” for transforming their housewife look into a professional one and “Action Change” for helping them with pragmatic job tips. Many of the female participants in this campaign tell us one thing: that they now want to work again. After having made their “first beautiful choice” to become moms who craft happy families by giving birth, now they yearn to make their “second beautiful choice” to become working moms who reenter the job markets and achieve self-realization in society. Seeing their strong longing, I sincerely hope that Korean society will actively support its talented female members in joining social activities, and that Korean women will lead happy and beautiful lives with the right balance between work and family. Bravo, working moms!

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