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Information technology revolutionizes
cultural exchange in the digital age
K–Style Goes Global
Be a
Global Taekwondo smart phone application
New global application launched for 100 million
Taekwondo fans around the world.
Available in Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish,
Japanese and French.
Scan QR code for free download.
The Jack
Korean Folk Singer Lee Chun-hee
Seoul Jungang Market
The Jeju Deulbul Festival
Special Olympics World Winter Games
Get Your Weekend Going in Gangnam Style
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
Korea’s Growing Pet Culture
Korea & Canada Celebrate 50 Years of Ties
Boosting Korea’s Diplomatic Horizons in Asia
Korea Joins Security Council as Non-Permanent Member
Bringing Peace to a Languished Land
New Year’s Days of Years Past
Prof. Robert Fouser
Kongjwi and Patjwi
Danwon Kim Hong-do
Gotgamssam & Sujeonggwa
Cover Rak-Ko-Jae (T. 02-742-3410, www.rkj.co.kr) is a boutique hotel in a
historic Korean Hanok home that offers guests a piece of old Korean charm.
Publisher Woo Jin-Yung, Korean Culture and Information Service
Editing Seoul Selection
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Goes Global
Information technology revolutionizes cultural
exchange in the digital age
Written by Wi Tack-whan and Robert Koehler
second half of the 20th century. The very paradigm
of cultural exchange has shifted with the birth of the
digital road, which transcends time and place.
The IT revolution is changing the paradigm of
communication, bringing global neighbors closer
together. Korean pop music, or K-pop, and Korean
dramas are distributed worldwide in real time.
Alongside this we are witnessing the spread of
K-Style (“Korean Style”), which includes things such
as the Korean language, Korean food, and Korean
system operations.
In Southeast Asia, Tous Les Jours shops—a
Korean brand bakery—are popping up everywhere,
while the Korean retailer Lotte Mart is enjoying
great popularity. A growing number of countries are
expressing interest in Korea’s e-Government system.
There are even countries benchmarking Korea’s
health insurance system.
These phenomena are not only unprecedented in
Korea, but also virtually unprecedented worldwide,
too. One can make the comparison to the Silk Road,
which has connected East and West for nearly the
past 2,000 years. The Silk Road was maintained
by analog means of communication such as foot
traffic, railroads, and ships, all of which are limited
by time and place. The digital revolution, on the
other hand, has opened a new path of exchange and
communication between the nations of the world
that transcends the visible path. We now live in
the Age of the Digital Road, which expresses itself
through digital media.
he music video of Korean pop singer Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style” surpassed one billion
views on Dec 22, 2012. Not only was it the first single video to record one billion views
since the launch of YouTube in 2005, but it also managed to achieve this record in just
161 days.
TIME—usually the preserve of politicians and other well-known figures—gave Psy the same
amount of coverage as Pope Benedict XVI, despite the fact that he hadn’t held even a single
overseas concert. Cadets at the US Naval Academy and Army Academy did their own versions
of “Gangnam Style” to introduce their schools, and pop star Britney Spears posted to her Twitter
feed, “I am LOVING this video, so fun! Thinking that I should possibly learn the choreography.
Anybody wanna teach me?” Even Tom Cruise followed Psy’s Twitter feed, generating a great
deal of discussion.
Meanwhile, a teenage boy in the small town of Cheongwon in Chungcheongbuk-do by the
name of Jung Sung-ha has garnered about 600 million views on YouTube for his classical guitar,
while 23-year-old Lim Jeong-hyun has gotten tens of millions of views and a mention in the
New York Times for his electric guitar version of “Canon Rock.” Both have become overnight
stars despite having no previous mass media exposure. We have witnessed a revolution in
communications we couldn’t even imagine in the analog age.
The rapid proliferation of this culture is based on the IT revolution that took place in the
1. A Lotte Mart in Vietnam
2. Tous Les Jours in Indonesia
Global Expansion of K-Style
There existed barriers of time and place in the age of
the Silk Road. Significant restrictions to the spread
of culture from one region to another were placed
by limits in transportation and communications.
For instance, it took no fewer than 1,800 years for
Euclid’s Elements to come to Korea by way of a 1607
Chinese translation by the Italian-born Jesuit Matteo
Ricci and Ming Dynasty official Xu Guangqi.
In the Age of the Digital Road, however, time and
space are no longer a factor. The rapid development
of information and communication technologies
has, for all intents and purposes, broken down the
distinction between “you” and “I.” Through the
Internet and social media, people in South and
Central America watch Korean dramas in real time.
Now Korean culture is expanding its international
scope, moving from pop culture to the pure arts,
food, and social management systems.
“Korean performers
move their bows
across their violins
as if they grew up
listening to this music.
How can they so
precisely understand
the songs they’ve
been given? Why
have so many Koreans entered the musical field and
distinguished themselves so suddenly?”
On May 19, 25, and 27 of 2012, Belgian state
broadcaster RTBF ran a three-part documentary
entitled Le mystère musical Coréen (The mystery
of Korean music). The documentary noted that
a total of 16 Koreans had entered the first round
of the finals of that year’s Queen Elisabeth Music
Competition. As recently as 1995, Korea had failed
to produce any musicians who could make it to the
finals of any prestigious musical competitions.
Some 51 Koreans made it to the finals of various
international music competitions in 2012, with
vocal music a particular strong suit. The Belgian
documentary noted that one of the reasons for
Koreans’ rise to prominence was their endless training,
a habit displayed in fields outside of music, too.
Korean Food
Brazil is considered a fruit paradise. Thanks to its
tropical climate, it has an abundance of just about
every kind of fruit. These days, everyone in Brazil
Major Exports of Korean E-Systems
Construction of subway automated fare collection (AFC) systems
Costa Rica
Construction of an e-procurement system
Modernization of intellectual property system
Construction of business license information system (BLIS)
Construction of an address registration information system
Construction of an intelligent transportation system (ITS)
Construction of platform screen doors (PSD)
Constructed the electronic information system for the 2011 Asian Winter Games
Construction of e-government system for city of Da Nang
Advancement of national tax service system
Construction of Filipino stock market monitoring system
Project to strengthen administration of anti-drug controls
is reaching for Melona Ice Cream, a melon-flavored
creamsicle that uses not one drop of melon juice.
The freezers of neighborhood grocery stores in
São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, are full of ice cream
products by Korean brand Binggrae.
Korean coffee franchise Caffe Bene opened up
its first Times Square branch in New York City—
the heart of the global economy—on Feb 1, 2012.
At 660 square meters, it’s four times the size of the
nearby Starbucks branch. Caffe Benne has taken
coffee—as good a symbol of Western tastes as
any—and reexported it to its cultural homeland. At
Jungfraujoch Railway Station (elevation: 3,454 m) in
Switzerland, you can enjoy a bowl of Shin Ramyeon,
a Korean instant noodle brand. Nongshim—the
Korean manufacturer of the noodles—has sold a
total of 21 billion packets of the brand through 2011,
enough to stretch around the world 96 times. As of
2011, Nongshim was earning 200 billion won from
Shin Ramyeon, which was being sold in about 80
countries worldwide.
E-Procurement System (KONEPS) has been
exported to Tunisia, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and
Mongolia. Some major export successes of 2011
include a USD 100 million project to build Vietnam’s
Government Information Data Center, a USD
25 million project to build a digitized disaster
management system for Mozambique, a USD
25 million project to develop an immigration
management system for the Dominican Republic,
a USD 15.82 million project to develop Ecuador's
Single Window system, a USD 40 million project
to build a wireless communication network for
Indonesia, and a USD 2 million bid to provide
consulting for the Mexican government on
the same, Belgium 118 years, and Japan 36 years.
The National Health Insurance Service’s Training
Course on Social Health Insurance is drawing more
and more participants for an ever growing number of
countries each year. Nine courses have been held since
2004 when the Ministry of Health signed memoranda
of understanding regarding the training program with
the National Health Insurance Service, WHO Western
Pacific Region, and the UN Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Some 52 health care experts from 27 nations
in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, the Middle East,
and Europe participated in the June 2012 course.
It was the largest participation ever, with first-time
information security.
participants including Russia, Uzbekistan, Gambia,
Swaziland, and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Health Insurance
Communicating Directly with
the World
It took just 12 years for Korea to adopt universal
health coverage—it adopted its first health care
system in 1977 for laborers at workplaces of 500
employees or more, and extended this to universal
coverage in 1987. It took Germany 127 years to do
The ubiquitous Choco Pie, too, has become a
global Korean food. Some two billion of these little
pieces of culinary heaven—just 7 cm wide, 2.3 cm
high, and weighing 35 g—were on sale in 60 countries
as of 2011. If you were to line up all these Chocopies
one after another, they would stretch around the
world three times.
Psy has become a legend in YouTube’s illustrious
history. On November 22, 2012, the “Gangnam
Participants in the Training Course on Social Health Insurance
Electronic Government
Since 2002, the United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has been
conducting biannual evaluations of the digital
governments of about 190 member states in order to
promote global cooperation in governance and boost
national competitiveness. Korea has placed first
in the last two evaluations, an objective reflection
of the continuous investment and efforts made by
Korea in the fields of digital infrastructure and smart
Korea has also been exporting e-governance
systems and solutions. The Korea On-line
Source: Health Insurance Policy Research Institute (June 2012)
Jung Sung-ha
Style” music video reached 803,760,000 views,
surpassing what was then the most-viewed music
video, Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” It achieved this just 133
days after being uploaded onto YouTube on July 15. It
took Bieber’s video 33 months to reach No. 1; Psy did
it in just under four.
“Gangnam Style” took off globally despite the fact
that Psy was never promoted overseas. It proved that
through YouTube and social media, you can make it
even without artificial marketing and promotion.
It succeeded by directly communicating with
consumers, without going through major media or
giant management companies, demonstrating the
complex strength of social media such as YouTube,
Facebook, and Twitter. Nowadays, the consumer is
an active one that doubles as a producer. In the case
of “Gangnam Style,” fan writing and parody videos
helped take the song and its
countless transformations to all
corners to the globe.
It also demonstrated
that Korean lyrics can
communicate with the world.
This stands in contrast with
how previous K-pop hits
have spread by way of Asia.
In September 2008, Yoko Ono, the widow of John
Lennon, said about 12-year-old guitarist Jung Sungha, “I just witnessed your performance of ALL
YOU NEED IS LOVE! Thank you for a beautiful
performance. John Lennon would have been happy
that you performed his song so well.”
Jung didn’t notice the comment at the time—he
was so young, he didn’t even know who Yoko Ono
was, and only came to realize its significance when
his fans told him. As of January 21, 2013, nearly 619
million people had viewed his YouTube channel
(www.youtube.com/jwcfree). He’s now a global star.
His legendary rise began in September 2006, when
he was just a 10-year-old third grader. His rendition
of Kotaro Oshio’s “Splash” left netizens dumbstruck.
Since 2008, he has performed with some of the
world’s top guitarists, including Michel Haumont,
Trace Bundy, Tommy Emmanuel, Kotaro Oshio,
and the American band Mr. Big. He’s also toured in
Germany, Thailand, the United States, and Finland.
So what does YouTube mean to Jung?
“I’m meeting the people of the world in a
small village (Ochang, Cheongwon County,
Chungcheongbuk-do). I think that’s pretty surprising.
And I’m grateful. If it weren’t for YouTube, would I be
able to meet millions of people like this?” (Kyunghyang
Shinmun, Sept 1, 2012).
Korea expert Emanuel Pastreich discusses
the development of the Korean wave
Written by Robert Koehler
What do you think is driving
the growing popularity of
Korean culture?
The trend is clear, but I think it’s not
just one factor. I think it’s a complex
set of factors. One is that Korea has an
East–West combination. The culture is
more Westernized, in a way, than most
stuff in Asia and therefore has a sort of
novelty for other Asian viewers. But
for non-Asians, it’s got an Asian twist
to it. It's appealing on both sides. And
then it's the combination of developed
and developing worlds. Part of it is
developing-world “Let’s all go dance in
the streets” and praising living well and
having big houses, but it’s mixed with
developed-world formal complexity
and irony and aesthetic playfulness.
“Gangnam Style” is the perfect example
of this.
1. Psy at the 2012 MTV
Music Awards
2. Teenage guitar phenom
Jung Sung-ha
Do you think there are
elements of Korean culture
getting noticed overseas
that are getting less
There are signs. Shin Kyung-sook’s
Emanuel Pastreich is a critic of literature, technology policy,
and international relations and currently a professor
at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea
Please Look After Mom was the most
ballyhooed, but I have seen in the New
York Times that there are more and
more feature articles on Korean cuisine
and architecture and movies and books.
Even just three or four years ago, there
was almost nothing on Korea, but now
it’s getting up there in terms of feature
articles. MOMA has an exhibition of
Korean artists; there have been several
major exhibitions in the United States
related to Korea. There are more books
being translated. Korean Buddhism was
completely unknown even ten years
ago, and now people are writing about
Korean perspectives on Buddhism.
Art in America has a large number of
Korean artists who are featured in it.
What I think is still missing is that there
are some important Korean intellectuals
who write interesting books in Korean
and they don’t get translated into
English at all.
What future do you see for
Korea’s place on the global
cultural stage?
Korea is frenetic—they’re always
making stuff and creating things, and
they’re getting better and better at it. So
they’re certainly in a position to play a
major role in creating culture. I went
to Japan in 1987 and Tokyo ruled the
world and Tokyo was the coolest place
you could possibly be. And it's clear
now that culture is produced in Seoul.
Global culture is produced somewhere
between Apgujeong-dong and Sinsadong. What I would like is for it to have
more content. To be about making a
better world for ourselves. There are
a lot of great, healthy things about
Korea. There a tradition of scholarship,
loyalty to great ideals, frugality, a
sense of family and community. And
aesthetics—understated but very
sophisticated sensibility in architecture
and city planning and traditional
furniture and artwork. It doesn’t strike
you immediately how sophisticated
it is. That’s a wonderful tradition, and
I'd love to have more of that in the
mainstream of what we consider the
Korean wave.
I’ll start out with what it should be.
Interview with Korean pop artist The Jack
Written by Monica Suk
Photographed by RAUM Studio
t was in 2005, when interest in pop art was picking
up in Korea, that Korean artist The Jack let a smiley,
lovable big-eyed rabbit out into the world.
Named after the artist, The Jack is a rabbit-headed
character with a human body, which happens to
overlap with the creator himself. The Jack is often
seen striking his signature pose by pointing one arm
to the top of his head to make an n shape.
“I like being mischievous. I like playing mischievous
pranks on people with my work,” said the artist, who
declined to reveal his real name and age, during an
interview held at a Hongdae gallery café on January 17.
Some of his photo works feature him wearing “The Jack Head”
and scratching his head among beautiful ladies or cleaning up cafés
and restaurants like regular people.
He proclaims his style of art throbs with color, mocking humor,
and gloomy innuendo.
“I mean, it’s like black comedy, you know. You can always go with
a black-and-white theme if you want to exaggerate your sadness
or despair. But by using pastel colors or more bold ones, you’re
expressing anxiety and sadness in art with a bigger impact,” he said,
pointing at his black leather jacket printed with colorful patterns.
Comedy and sadness make a wonderful pair, of course. But to
make the audience understand his works and associate with them
were no easy tasks.
“I try to be nice in my artwork. When people look at my paintings
or photos, I try my best to let people instantly find hidden meanings,
whether it is a historical lesson or social issues. Artists should be well
equipped with the latest trends of how people in that society feel. And
that should be expressed in simple yet fancy ways, through art.”
1. Globalism The Jack
2. The Jack Head
Birth Secrets of The Jack
The artist doesn’t represent The Jack as a kind of accidental pop
art character. It was carefully planned and plotted to build a global
“The Jack was made to target fandoms across a wide array of
cultures and races. To build a firm basis for international fandom, I’ve
created whole secrets and mysteries behind The Jack’s birth,” he noted.
“I was sure having this absurd and funny background story would
appeal to people abroad.”
On the artist’s blog there are comic strips, photos, and illustrations
of The Jack that date back to 2005. While sorting through this massive
amount of data, you can find two short stories about
how the big-eyed rabbit came to life.
The Jack was born to a trilobite and Eve at a barn.
He later carries the cross, like Jesus Christ, and gets
reincarnated as a beggar, but due to a power struggle,
a master who had saved The Jack from hunger
murdered him.
Then The Jack went through his second
reincarnation. While the half-rabbit-half-human was
coming down to earth to live his third life, a group
of spaghetti aliens abducted him and performed
medical experiment on his body. After getting
released he met his drunken cousin, BEER. Together
they found where the aliens were hiding, and the
pair fought the spaghetti aliens’ boss.
“I hope The Jack’s popularity expands into
other regions,” the artist said. “In order to do so,
collaboration is important. I’ve been working with
graffiti artists, video artists, and comic book writers
to capitalize upon this brand.”
The artist has done countless collaborative projects
with cosmetics, social media, and apparel brands,
but he looked especially excited about his new
collaboration with Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo
coming in a few months.
“Uniqlo’s new collaboration with me, featuring
The Jack, is hitting stores in March. I’m really looking
forward to that one.”
Hit the Road, The Jack
Though the anonymous artist has overwhelming
affection for the whimsical rabbit character, he had
even given up The Jack to familiarize the audience
with his art style.
“I want people to enjoy and have fun with my
art works and performances without any pressure.
I didn’t want my paintings to be felt too light, too
heavy, or too far, so I brought Disney and other
familiar cartoon characters into the mix.”
His insight into being an artist and studying
1. Give Me Chocolate
2. We are Best Friends
3. Salute to the Colors
4. Bus Trip of The Jack Family
people’s reactions to his works didn’t come for free.
“Before 2005, I had so many other careers,
including playing in a band, which I will soon begin
again as a side job, ” he said. “Till then I had a firm
belief, for some reason, that I should have big career
transitions in life periodically. But when I found The
Jack in 2005, it was never boring to play with this
one character and see its variations. So I thought this
was going to be my last, lifelong career.”
Over the course of eight years, like many other
artists and musicians, he also had some chaotic and
dark moments.
But the artist knew that with pop art, everyday
life could become a subject of art. In 2011, he got
back on his feet from traumatic experiences and
opened the March exhibition to help heal others who
also suffered from pain.
“I’d like to try a collaboration with Louis Vuitton
someday. That should be one of my ultimate goals,”
the artist said in stern voice, dreaming one day he
will hit the road for world exhibitions.
No one knows whether his strategy to stretch
abroad with The Jack—from birth secrets to a series
of collaborations with global firms—will succeed.
But half the success of an artist is to have tried
endlessly to make people open their eyes to pop art.
“Connect with the disconnected. My job is to put
invisible computer chips in pop art to stay connected
with people.”
Singer Lee Chun-hee on how iconic Korean folk song ‘Arirang’ won the hearts of UNESCO
Written by Ben Jackson
Photograph courtesy of Lee Chun-hee
ate on a December night last year in Paris,
Lee Chun-hee stood in front of a gathering
of international officials at the headquarters
of UNESCO, filling the unprepared conference room
with the sounds of a folk song whose variations
have echoed through the valleys of the Korean
Peninsula for centuries. Shortly before, “Arirang”
had been inscribed as a new element on UNESCO’s
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Humanity, bringing international
recognition for yet another part of Korea’s extensive
cultural heritage. Arirang was approved at the 2012
meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for
the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
“There’s a Korean saying: ‘If you dig a well in
one place for long enough, you’ll strike water,’” says
Lee, now back in Seoul at the headquarters of the
Korean Traditional Folk Song Association, of which
she is director. A native of the South Korean capital,
Lee has spent decades on what has, at times, been a
lonely musical journey.
When she first made the decision to embrace the
art of folk singing, it was hard to even find a place
to learn. “I had heard folk songs on the radio, and
they sounded so good,” she says. Finding a place to
learn was not easy, but in 1967, Lee became a pupil of
master singer Lee Chang-bae.
“At first I thought too lightly of learning folk
singing, but then I realized that it gets harder the
longer you do it. The technique is very difficult,”
Lee says, referring in part to the unique vibrato that
characterizes much traditional Korean singing.
In the years since she found her first teacher, Lee
has made numerous media appearances in Korea.
In 1989, she was designated the main possessor of
Gyeonggi-do folk songs and named one of Korea’s
Important Intangible Cultural Properties. She has
won numerous awards, performed around the
world, taken part in North–South Korean artistic
collaborations, and served as artistic director of the
National Gugak Center. The going has not always
been easy, Lee admits, especially earlier in her career
when appreciation for traditional musical genres was
low. “I often asked myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
she says. “But the moment I started actually singing,
it felt great.”
Korea’s Unoffical national
When forced into conformity with the semitones
and time signatures of a Western manuscript,
Arirang is a simple melody of six notes, ranging
over a single octave and sung in 3/4 time. It
provides a platform, however, for wide-ranging
reinterpretations. But nothing, arguably, conveys
the essence of Arirang as powerfully as a human
voice. This is a highly personal song, sung not for
the sake of the audience but the singer. Each note
can be dwelt upon as long as necessary. There is, in
fact, no fixed melody. “What all regional variations
of Arirang have in common is their lyrics,” says Lee.
“The melodies are different.”
Obscure roots
Reach back far enough into history and the roots of
any art are wont to fade into obscurity. Arirang is
no exception: though Korea now has several broad,
usually region-based categories of the song, no one
is certain whence it originated. “Some people think
Arirang started off as a boatman’s song,” says Lee.
This would fit with the widely held belief that the
earliest echoes of the song could be heard in the
valleys of Gangwon-do, Korea’s mountainous eastern
province, from which many goods were brought
down to Seoul on long raft journeys.
Perhaps the secret of Arirang's endurance lies
in its seemingly boundless adaptability. Lee names
Jeongseon, Jindo, and Miryang as regions of Korea
with identifiable versions of the song, but this is
just the stump of a huge tree of variations that has
as many as 3,600 branches. The official UNESCO
description calls the song “the outcome of collective
contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout
generations”; there is every sign that this remarkable
evolution will continue for generations to come.
A spectacular tapestry of sacred peaks and glistening snow
Written and photographed by Robert Koehler
ne of the most inspiring sunrises in Korea can be enjoyed from the peak of Mt.
Taebaeksan, the “Great White Mountain” Koreans have regarded as sacred for centuries.
As the sun comes up over the East Sea, the horizon turns a spectacular crimson,
illuminating the purple ridges that seemingly extend forever in all directions. Against this backdrop
of reds and blues stand the silhouettes of the fantastically gnarled yew trees that have guarded the
peak for a thousand years. On the peak itself, some hikers offer prayers at the ancient Cheonjedan
Shrine; others simply stand in awe of the brilliant vista before them.
Surrounded by the high mountains that dominate the rugged province of Gangwon-do, the town
of Taebaek is blessed with a landscape so beautiful it's as if it was shaped by the gods themselves.
In decades past, the rich veins of coal buried in the mountains turned Taebaek into a boomtown
as young men flocked there to mine the black gold that fueled the Korean economic miracle. The
mines have long since closed, but thousands still flock to the town every winter—only this time to
appreciate the snow-covered scenery.
Ancient yew trees and endless mountain ridges, Mt. Taebaeksan
mountain that is home to, among
other things, the Taebaek Coal
Museum. The highlight of the festival
is the giant snow and ice sculptures,
but there’s plenty else to see and
do, too, including nighttime light
displays, snow sledding, trekking,
and cultural performances.
Strolling into the past
Sacred vistas
The town of Taebaek takes its name from the
Taebaeksan Mountain Range, the high, rugged
peaks that form the spine of the Korean Peninsula.
A short ride outside of town, Mt. Taebaeksan (1,567
m) is the principle peak of the range. Endowed with
great scenic beauty, the mountain now forms the
centerpiece of Taebaeksan Provincial Park.
Mt. Taebaeksan is a place of tremendous spiritual
power. The mountain is home to several Buddhist
temples and shamanist shrines, the best known
being the Cheonjedan, a set of three ancient altars
that have crowned Mt. Taebaeksan’s peak since the
Three Kingdoms Period. Every year on October
3—Korea’s National Foundation Day—sacred
rites are conducted to pay tribute to Dangun, the
mythical founder of the Korean nation. According
to legend, Mt. Taebaeksan is where Dangun's father,
Hwanung—the son of heaven—came to earth to
teach humankind the art of civilization.
Of particular note are the extensive groves
of ancient yew trees on the higher reaches of the
mountain. Like the Celts of Europe, Korean shamans
regard the yews as sacred. As if to reinforce this
point, many of the yews are twisted into surreal
shapes and cut a mysterious, almost unsettling
profile against the horizon.
1. Hikers pay their
respects at peak of Mt.
2. Sacred altar at peak
of Mt. Taebaeksan
3. Wall mural, Sangjangdong Nambu Village
For many Koreans, Taebaek instantly
brings to mind images of coal miners.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Taebaek’s
rich supply of coal fired the plants
and factories that drove Korea’s
phenomenal post-war economic
growth. The boom in the local mining
industry brought unprecedented
prosperity to the region—rail and
road links were expanded, and
thousands of young men and their
families arrived to work the mines
and seize their piece of the economic
pie. The spike in population—and
money—proved a boon to many
other local industries, too.
In 1987, however, the mines
began to close. This hit the town hard,
and the population nearly halved.
To ease the blow, the government
has promoted the region’s tourist
potential, opening ski resorts, golf
courses, and, most notably, Korea’s
only casino in which Koreans are
allowed to gamble. Still, evidence of
the town’s coal-mining days is not
hard to find.
The neighborhood of Nambu
Village in the Sangjang-dong district
is one of Taebaek’s most typical old
mining communities. At one time
a prosperous town of 4,000, the
ramshackle village of humble houses
and narrow alleyways is now home to
just 400 hardy souls. To pay tribute to
the town’s past, local artist Heo Gangil has adorned many of the homes
with murals depicting images from
the town’s past. Black-faced miners
are ubiquitous, of course, but so are
other characters: young mothers
and children, old men selling coal
briquettes, and even dogs with KRW
10,000 bills in their mouths—the last
motif taken from a local saying that
during the boom years, even village
dogs ran around with money in their
Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival
The highlight of Taebaek’s year is the annual
Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival (January 25–
February 3), a celebration of one of this region’s
most abundant resources—snow. Taebaek is in the
heart of Korea’s snow country, and Mt. Taebaeksan
in particular is famous for its beautiful “snow
flowers”—when ice and snow encrust the branches of
alpine trees, creating fantastically shaped sculptures
of white.
The festival is held in Taebaeksan Provincial Park
at Danggol Square, a tourist village at the foot of the
What to eat
Not far from Sangjang-dong’s mural village, the
restaurant Neowajip is so named because it is a
120-year-old neowajip, a shingle-roofed home of
the type lived in by the slash-and-burn farmers
who once predominated in this mountainous
region of Korea. Neowajip specializes in
jeongsik, or Korean banquet cuisine
(KRW 19,000–28,000). This
includes a local specialty,
memil jeonbyeong—
buckwheat crepes stuffed
with kimchi and other
T. 033-553-4669
Where to stay
If you’re looking to experience a bit of Korean
culture, the Taebaeksan Hanok Pension
offers traditional Korean
accommodations not far
from Mt. Taebaeksan.
Rooms go for KRW
100,000–200,000 a night.
T. 033-554-4732
Getting there
BUS: There are frequent buses to Taebaek
from Seoul’s Dong Seoul Terminal (3 hours, 10
TRAIN: Trains to Taebaek depart from Seoul's
Cheongnyangni Station (3 hours, 30 minutes)
t’s an average Saturday afternoon at Seoul
Jungang Market, which means it’s a veritable
madhouse. Merchants hawking their wares,
shoppers running to and fro, deliverymen on
their mopeds weaving their way in and out of
the crowds—it’s a heady mix of humanity, made
all the more overpowering by the cacophony of
sounds. Near the entrance of the market, Mun
Ok-sun fries up her famous hotteok, a Chinesestyle pancake of glutinous rice filled with brown
sugar and honey. “It used to be even busier in the
old days,” she says, and she’d know—Mun’s been
selling her hotteok here for 40 years.
While it doesn’t get the same tourist attention
received by its two bigger cousins, the sprawling
Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets, Jungang
Market is an incredibly vibrant place in its own
right. In a sense, it’s something of a throwback,
an authentically Korean experience. Not all is as
it’s always been, though—underneath the market,
in stalls left empty by vacating merchants, local
craftsmen ply their trade in one of Seoul’s most
innovative efforts to promote the arts.
Art in the market
1. The entrance of Seoul
Jungang Market
2. Shoppers make their
way through Jungang
3. Boribap at
4. Poster for public art
program, Seoul Art
Space Sindang
A market returns
Historic market pulsates with life and art
Written by Robert Koehler
Photographed by Ryu Seunghoo and Robert Koehler
Jungang Market took off right after the Korean
War. At one point, it was Seoul’s third largest
market—in the 1970s, over 80 percent of the
city’s grain was sold here. It was so influential,
in fact, that it was said the market set the prices
for all other markets around Korea. The rise
of supermarkets and department stores hurt
business for a time, but a 2004 modernization
brought it back to life.
The market now has roughly 600 shops and
constitutes the heart of a larger shopping complex
that includes specialized markets for furniture
and kitchen supplies, too.
Getting there
Sights, sounds,
and aromas of Korea
It’s easy to suffer sensory overload at Jungang
Sindang Station
(Line 2, 6),
Exit 1 or 2
Market. The covered market tends to specialize
in foodstuffs, namely rice, fruits, vegetables, and
seafood. At the many food stalls, you’ll find a
dizzying array of delectables in all shapes and colors,
all attended with their own unique aromas. Then
there are the sounds—belly up to a food stand and
eavesdrop on Korean grandfathers arguing politics,
or stroll about and listen as merchants trumpet
their goods to all who will listen. The vital energy is
Narrow alleyways branch off from the main
drag. Some of these alleys specialize in particular
products. One, for instance, is lined entirely by meat
and poultry shops. Another is lined with humble
restaurants serving boribap, a healthy and hearty
rural dish of rice and barley mixed with assorted
Below ground, disused stalls have converted into
artist workshops collectively known as Seoul Art
Space Sindang, part of a larger system of disused
public buildings being transformed into art studios
by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. About
40 artists call the underground market home as
part of the three-year-old project. In addition to the
shops themselves, the artists have worked to beautify
the public spaces, too—the underground arcade
sports a number of colorful works, and even the
entrance to Jungang Market itself is adorned with
colorful paper lanterns crafted in the subterranean
The Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture
provides artists-in-residence space virtually for free
on one-year contracts. You’ll find a variety of genres
down here, although crafts and design account for
many of the workshops. Glass artist E Yoon-cheol
has been in residence for three years. He likes the
community and opportunities for collaboration the
space brings. “There are people working in different
genres here, so it’s good for collaboration,” he says.
“If I don’t know about a particular genre, I can easily
find somebody who does.”
The atmosphere below ground is a sharp contrast
to the aboveground market—it’s almost dead silent,
with very little foot traffic. One might think this
would put the artisans off, but quite the opposite,
according to Cho Ye-in, who handles planning at
Seoul Art Space Sindang. “The artists like the quiet
because it allows them to work,” she says. The space
sometimes holds special hands-on craft programs
for the general public.4
The Jeju
Deulbul Festival (March 8–10)
Scenic island’s signature celebration recalls region’s pastoral past
Written by Kang Juwon
Photographs courtesy of Jeju City
he Jeju Deulbul Festival will be held at
Saebyeol Oreum on Jeju Island for three
days from March 8 to March 10, 2013.
First held in 1997, this annual festival marks its 16th
anniversary in 2013 with a new look. The festival—
previously known as the Jeongwol Daeboreum
Fire Festival—has not only been renamed the Jeju
Deulbul (“Field Fire”) Festival; the event will also
be taking place in the month of March for the first
time. Attracting tens of thousands of domestic and
international tourists, the festival has quickly grown
into one of the most anticipated public events of Jeju
Island, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The festival has its roots in the cattle-breeding
culture of Jeju. For generations, local farmer families
in Jeju bred cattle as a source of food and labor.
Because livestock played an important role in
providing traction to cultivate fields, it was vital for
farmers to maintain high-quality pastures for cattle
grazing. This was by no means was an easy task, and
most villages opted to set fire to the fields sometime
between late winter and early spring. They saw it
as the most efficient way of removing old grass and
killing any harmful insects in the fields. This was
called deulbul-noki (setting fire to a field) and is the
highlight and central motif of the festival.
Since 2000, the festival has taken
place in the world-famous Saebyeol
Oreum, a volcanic cone located almost
520 meters above sea level. A popular
tourist destination, the oreum—the local
name for the countless parasitic volcanic
cones that dot the Jeju landscape—is
renowned for its majestic curves and
connecting ridges, not to mention the
breathtaking scenery of fields decorated
with waves of eulalia. The overlook
provides a panoramic view of the
beautiful surrounding landscape.
Throughout the festival, a wide array
stunning extravaganza of lasers and
fireworks lights up the night sky.
The next day features Jeju-themed
events and includes a Jeju dialect
competition, followed by nyeokdungbegi
(a traditional game from Jeju that is
similar to the Korean yut), and even a
dressage competition where tourists get
to see the famous Jeju horse firsthand.
The final day starts out with
deumdol-deulgi (stone lifting), an event
based on Jeju’s unique coming-of-age
ceremony. The events only become more
climactic as the day draws to a close.
of colorful attractions will present the
customs of Jeju Island in a modern and
entertaining way.
Beginning with a prayer ritual
for a good harvest year, the opening
day features a variety of events that
include a group tug-of-war, a folk music
instrument parade, and a daljip (moon
house)-making competition. At sunset,
tourists take part in the Torchlight
March, where they light one another’s
torch and made a wish to the daljip, a
pile of hay and twigs burned to ward
off misfortune. When the moon houses
are later set on fire, a spectacular and
During the Volcanic Eruption Show,
a series of fireworks go off from the
top of the oreum to simulate a volcanic
eruption. Then comes the highlight
of the three-day festival: setting fire to
Saebyeol Oreum. As the participants
simultaneously set fire to an area of
30 hectares, they are in fact ridding
themselves of any bad luck from the
previous year. With the magnificent
sight of Saebyeol Oreum fully ablaze,
everyone joins hands in singing and bids
one another farewell until next year.
1. Fireworks on last day of
2. Lighting fire to the fields
3. Saebyeol Oreum alight
4. Jeju horse demonstration
What to eat
Jeju Island is most famous for its
seafood dishes. Dining options include
Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Western
restaurants. Most restaurants are located
in the proximity of shopping streets,
malls, and places of interest. Last year, the
festival featured an abundance of places
to eat such as theme-oriented sampling
areas and a folk market.
Where to stay
Visitors have a variety of accommodations
to choose from when staying on Jeju.
Luxury hotels start at KRW 200,000 a
night and a reservation is recommended.
The more affordable motels charge
around KRW 30,000 a night and a
reservation is not usually required. In
case of private lodging and guesthouses,
the facilities and amenities may differ
from one establishment to another and a
reservation is required.
Getting there
Dozens of flights depart from Seoul’s
Gimpo International Airport for Jeju City
daily. The one hour flight costs between
KRW 167,000 and KRW 244,000 on
major Korean carriers and around KRW
108,000 on budget carriers like Jeju Air.
Once on Jeju Island, Saebyeol Oreum is
a 25-minute drive from the airport. Last
year, Jeju City offered free shuttle bus
services to/from major connecting areas.
Displaying the True
Olympic Spirit
Pyeongchang’s Special Olympics World Winter Games are
an exhibition of human courage
Written by Kim Tong-hyung
Photographs courtesy of
Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013
here were no world records broken and no athletes securing lavish
endorsement deals after completing mind-altering feats like they’re
Usain Bolt or Kim Yu-na.
But if greatness is to be defined by the determination and passion to
overcome obstacles and push the limits of personal excellence, it could be
said the recent Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013
displayed sports at its finest.
Pyeongchang, the sleepy Gangwon-do ski resort area, will of course be the
location of the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which remain
at the center stage of public and media attention. As the third member of
the Olympic movement, the Special Olympics, which are for people with
intellectual disabilities, had been almost unknown to the average Korean.
So the most difficult challenge for organizers was to generate a
respectable level of awareness and interest. They were also adamant about
the gathering of Special Olympians being more than just a warm-up for
the main event still five years away,
as it was also a stage for progress in
the discussions between countries on
improving the lives of citizens with
The participating nations in
Pyeongchang found time to back a joint
declaration on combating the high levels
of social marginalization and poverty
frequently found among people with
intellectual disabilities.
The announcement was produced
at a forum that featured high-profile
leaders such as Myanmar pro-democracy
leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia
Simpson-Miller, Malawian President
Joyce Banda, and Bangladeshi Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Also on the sidelines were Coca-Cola
CEO Muhtar Kent and retired NBA
greats Dikembe Mutombo of the Congo
and Yao Ming of China, who have been
dedicating a significant part of their
post-basketball lives expanding the reach
of sports and helping underprivileged
More than 3,000 athletes from 111
countries participated in the eight-day
competition, which was held at venues
in Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung
from January 29 to February 5. The next
Special Olympics Winter Games will be
held in Schladming, Austria, in 2017,
bridged by a Summer Games in Los
Angeles, California, in 2015.
Na Kyung-won, a veteran politician
and chairwoman of the organizing
committee for the 2013 Special
Olympics, said the event has a critical
role in battling against damaging
prejudices and misunderstandings.
“The Special Olympics slogan
‘Together We Can’ represents our hope
that hosting the Special Olympics will
not only help empower those with
intellectual disabilities and advance
their social status, but also make Korea a
better country overall,’’ said the 50-yearold former lawmaker in the weeks before
the opening ceremony.
“Korea has been a highly competitive
society where people were trained to
identify with first-place finishers and
accept one right way of doing things. We
need to be exposed to a more diverse
set of values and beliefs, and allowing
people with intellectual disabilities
more opportunities to fulfill their
potential will go a long way. For Special
Olympians, of course, just taking part is
a major achievement, and their stories
in Pyeongchang will be inspiring for
The event will also provide a glimpse
into the state-of-the-art sporting facilities
and transportation systems that have
been built for the 2018 Games, Na said.
The Special Olympics received a
promotional boost from some of the
most transcendent personalities in sports
and culture. Figure skating megastar
Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013
Jan 29–Feb 5
Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do
Getting there
From Dongseoul Bus Terminal, take a bus to Hoenggye.
From there, take a taxi to Apensia Resort or Yongpyong
Kim Yu-na, football icons Hong Myung-bo and Guus Hiddink, and
pop group Wonder Girls were among those who dedicated their
time in the midst of packed schedules to help as ambassadors of the
event. The interest from the corporate sector was also significant, with
donations from local companies reaching KRW 15.4 billion (about
USD 14.5 million).
The Special Olympics was formed in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy
Shriver, sister of late former US President John F. Kennedy, and is the
largest sporting organization for children and adults with intellectual
disabilities. It is not to be confused with the Paralympics, where the
focus remains on elite sports.
The Pyeongchang event was the tenth Special Olympics Winter
Games and the third Asian event following previous events held in
China and Japan. Athletes participated in 55 competitions, including
traditional sports like alpine and cross-country skiing, speed, short
track, and figure skating, and snowboarding, as well as quirkier
disciplines like snowshoeing and floor ball, an indoor variant of hockey
played three-on-three.
It’s safe to bet that the Special Olympians who competed at
Pyeongchang will never be featured in Nike commercials. That doesn’t
make the story of their lives and the difficulties they had to overcome
to compete on a world stage any less dramatic.
There was 19-year-old floor hockey player Choi Gyeong-jae, who
had cerebral palsy and an inexorable habit of beating the odds. He was
a month away from turning two years old when an infection forced
doctors to surgically remove half of his brain, which permanently
damaged his eyesight and hearing.
Doctors then said he had only four to five years to live. Choi
has proved them wrong, and representing the host country in
Pyeongchang was not a bad way to brag about it.
“Floor hockey brought my son’s smile back. He was always under
the threat of death, but his love for hockey was relentless. His life is
beyond any explanation provided by modern medicine, nothing short
of a miracle,’’ said his mother, Kim Yeong-sook.
The story of 22-year-old Park Moses, who sang Korea’s national
anthem at the opening ceremonies, is just as inspiring. His mother,
Jo Yeong-ae, says that Park was born with “every disability possible to
a newborn.” He was unable to breathe without help and his senses of
sight, hearing, and touch weren't working.
Just three days after his birth, Park underwent an operation where
about 90 percent of his brain was removed. And this was before
four more surgeries to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid were
1. Aung San Suu Kyi, figure skater
Kim Yu-na and Special Olympics
International Global Messenger
Ariel Ary of Costa Rica at the
opening ceremony of the Special
Olympics World Winter Games
PyeongChang 2013
2. Organizing committee
chairwoman Na Kyung-won at
the opening ceremony
3. Mexican athlete carries the
torch for Special Olympics World
Winter Games.
4. Special Olympians at the
opening ceremony
Jo was forced to move her baby to different
hospitals frequently because the previous ones
kept giving up on him. Her dedication paid off—
Park began speaking and singing with the church
choir at the age of seven.
“Every athlete at the Special Olympics has
an inspiring story to tell,” said Lee Jung-hyun,
a public relations official for the PyeongChang
Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics provides a more
supportive environment for athletes to learn
the basics of their sport and share their
experiences with other competitors with
different disabilities.
Of course, the event is much more about
helping people travel around the world and make
friends, considering the heady challenges facing
intellectually disabled people around the world.
As the Paralympics experience could attest,
those with learning disabilities are often isolated,
even within the social and cultural domain of
disabled people. Disability organizations are
campaigning feverishly to make it a
priority for nations to improve the lives of disabled
people, who are more likely to be unemployed,
poor, and suffering from health problems.
The Special Olympics is one of the precisely
few platforms that allows them to push the
agenda internationally, and Pyeongchang indeed
represented progress in the efforts to improve
“It’s meaningful that world leaders will gather
to make a call for ending the discrimination of
people with intellectual disabilities and to urge
nations to be more serious about finding ways to
better integrate them to their societies,’’ said Kim
Yong-hwan, Korea’s Vice Minister of Culture,
Sports and Tourism, in a press event ahead of the
Pyeongchang competition.
“The declaration is meaningful as it is the first
of its kind to be announced at a Special Olympics
event. While the agreements in the joint statement
will not be binding to the countries that signed,
it will still be meaningful as an international
standard as countries begin to cope with the issue
of improving the lives of intellectually disabled
Get Your
Weekend Going in
Gangnam Style
Exploring the heart of the Korean Wave
Written by Monica Suk
Photographed by RAUM Studio and Ryu Seunghoo
o one saw it coming and it could not have been predicted. “Gangnam Style”
is boldly going where no Internet hit has gone before, and it takes a good
reason to want to discover what Gangnam is really all about.
For the last eight months, Psy has been taking center stage everywhere from
Dodger Stadium to Rockefeller Center and Times Square. If there were to be one last
stop to this dance craze before the release of his next new single, it should be nowhere
else but Gangnam.
Gangnam, which literally translates to “south of the river,” is an affluent part of
Seoul that used to be notorious for being the locus of the excessive education zeal
and real estate boom. Stirring up a mix of scorn, jealousy, and awe, the town has
always been at the center of Korea’s rapid modernization, often criticized for being too
westernized and too far from “Korean”.
With that all behind, Gangnam now owns a powerful brand it didn’t before. Psy’s
irresistibly catchy beat and easy-to-follow choreography gave the district a fame it
never used to have. If you’re willing to participate in keeping the spirit alive, get ready
to swing yourself into a saddle and ride your horse to Gangnam.
1. COEX Complex, a major Gangnam landmark
2. COEX Aquarium
Station, Exit 2. You can see street vendors
and small stores selling popular snacks
on almost every block, but visiting
one particular Korean snack bar near
Jamwon Station would be like taking the
Gangnam Style craze to its apex.
A snack bar named Gangnam Style
(60-6 Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu) began
its business two months ago, catching up
with the song’s international boom.
“I mean, we’re located right next to
Gangnam and it’s a huge thing all over
the world. We’re selling Korean food, so
why not choose a name that represents
Korea?” the shop owner said during a
brief phone interview with KOREA.
It’s all about having fun
and looking silly
It is not an exaggeration to say that it’s
the galloping move that brought Psy such
phenomenal success. Everyone from
Britney Spears, and Hugh Jackman to
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is
dancing on his or her own invisible horse.
Every weekend, the Gangnam
District Office offers a dance lesson
for the irresistible horse-riding dance.
As everyone knows, the choreography
is massively entertaining but doesn’t
require any complex interpretation.
Participants, mainly composed of
visitors from the United States and
Europe, get an hour-long lesson from
a professional dancer at the Samseongdong Culture Center at 1pm.
“I didn’t know that I’d get a chance
to learn this dance, but it’s cool to feel
like I’m part of this whole trend at the
right place,” said Tenzin Dhekyong, who
joined the program last month.
“People ask me whether I’ve been to
Gangnam and I say, ‘Yeah I was way too
Gangnam there,’” she added.
The dance class is part of a tour
program run by the district office but is
open to anyone who makes a reservation
at least a day in advance.
Kwak Bong-hoon, the assistant
director of Cosmojin, the travel agency
in charge of the program, said the
number of inquiries for the tour doubled
after Psy’s overnight success last summer.
“Because it’s sort of a trend, we used
to have a flash mob event in front of
COEX Mall after each lesson. When the
weather gets warmer in March, we’ll
be back on the street performing,” said
Dress classy, dance cheesy
If you’ve got the right moves, it’s time to get
into the music video and imagine yourself
living Gangnam Style.
“A guy who one-shots his coffee
before it even cools down/ A guy whose
heart bursts when night comes.”
There is only one place in town where
it’s not difficult to spot people like those
mentioned in the lyrics—Cheongdam.
Cheongdam-dong is mostly known
for its glitz factor, like high-end boutiques
and fine dining. At night, however,
coffee is replaced by vodka, ponytails are
let down, and the sound of typing gets
covered up by loud electronic music.
Take the Bundang Line and get off at
Apgujeong Rodeo Station. The stretch
of street from Exit 3 to Cheongdam
Intersection is where designer shops and
posh restaurants stand. Largely known
as Boutique Street, the place has been
officially designated as Fashion Street.
Consider visiting 10 Corso Como
(Trinity Building, 79 Cheongdam-dong,
Gangnam-gu) which is just one block
away from Apgujeong Rodeo Station.
The cultural complex combining music,
culture, and cuisine is internationally
recognized as a hub for style and
fashion. The building has an art gallery,
bookshop, fashion and design store, café,
and small three-room hotel.
When you feel like getting into the
party groove and maybe want to show
off the horse-riding dance you learned in
the afternoon, walk to Club Ellui, owned
by a luxury hotel on the banks of the
Han River.
Measuring in at over 2,787 square
meters, the venue is always filled with
trendsetters and fashonistas who love
electronic music. Club Ellui is open from
10pm to 6am, and here you can witness
what nightlife is like in Korea.
Make sure your threads are colorful yet
classy, because that’s the kind of style that
reigns in Gangnam. When everything’s
set, ride your horse into the night.
Capturing the eyes of
more than 1,205,079,000
Gangnam City Tour
T. 02-318-3405
1. Tourists participate
in Gangnam City Tour.
2. Horse dancing
stage in Yeoksamdong
Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has changed so
many things and gone beyond everyone’s
expectations: In the past, skinny girl
groups and pretty boy bands largely
represented K-pop, but now we have a
K-pop sensation who’s not pretty, not
polished, and not stylish.
It may take a while for the artist
to prove that this is more than just
a novelty act, but Psy certainly did
materialize the real value of viral music
and dance. Though only a handful of the
global audience understands the lyrics,
Psy captured the eyes of more than
1,205,079,000 people, and the district
instantly became a hip spot.
“It’s a bit awkward to say this as a
musician, that my success comes from
being funny, but it makes a lot of sense,”
Psy said at a press conference last year.
“In any part of the world, people seek
Again, it’s all about having fun.
Learn the moves, go shopping, dance
hard, and cure late-night hunger, all in
Gangnam Style.
Eating Gangnam Style
To try some popular Korean street
foods, take Line 3 and get off at Jamwon
of the Ministry of Culture, built in 1961, leaving as
much of the historic landmark intact as possible
while incorporating energy-saving architectural
technologies into the outdated structure.
The National Museum of Korean Contemporary
History aims to show off Korea’s leading IT
technology, and the technical wonders begin as soon
as you step inside. You are immediately greeted by
a digital display of images attesting to the beauty
and dynamism of Korea. The museum’s flagship
exhibit, however, is in a special hall to the right.
The Rediscovering Korea exhibit allows users to
experience important moments in Korean history
by manipulating high-tech displays using hand
the Recent Past
The Korean success story in
three floors
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History examines
the birth of the Korean Miracle
Written and photographed by Robert Koehler
oused in the historic former headquarters
of the Ministry of Culture, the National
Museum of Korean Contemporary
History is a national shrine to Korea’s remarkable
modern history. The exhibit makes for a compelling
narrative that witnesses Korea’s rise from colonial
oppression and post-war ruin to an economic,
technological and cultural powerhouse of the 21st
century. As if to highlight just how far Korea has
come, the museum makes maximum use of cultural
technology (CT) utilizing information technology to
give visitors a taste of the digital future.
A piece of history
in downtown Seoul
Built over four years at a cost of KRW 45 billion,
the National Museum of Korean Contemporary
History is Korea’s first museum dedicated to Korea’s
modern history. Located in Gwanghwamun in the
heart of Seoul’s historic downtown, the museum’s
history begins with the building itself. To
house the exhibits, architecture
and engineering firm
Daelim remodeled the
former headquarters
1. Korean flag given
to American diplomat
Owen Denny in 1890,
believed to be the
oldest Korean flag in
2. State-of-the-art
museum technology at
Rediscovering Korea
The main exhibits begin on the third floor. The first
regular exhibit, Prelude to the Republic of Korea
(1874–1945), is dedicated to the dramatic period
between Korea’s early efforts to modernize after the
opening of Korea to the West in 1876 and Korea’s
liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. Some
of the exhibit items here are truly inspiring, including
a Korean flag given by King Gojong in 1890 to
American diplomat Owen Denny, who served as
an advisor to the Korean royal government; this is
believed to be the oldest Korean flag in existence.
Taking up the entirety of the fourth floor, the
second regular exhibit, Foundation of the Republic of
Korea, covers the crucial period between 1945 and
1961. This period witnessed the foundation of the
Republic of Korea. While ideological conflict and
fratricidal war cast a dark shadow over this time, the
roots of Korea’s phenomenal economic and political
development can be traced back to this period, too.
The fifth floor is home to two permanent exhibits.
The first, Development of the Republic of Korea, may
be the most impressive in the entire museum. This
is a treasure trove of material documenting the
nearly unprecedented development of Korea into
an economic powerhouse and mature democracy
in just half a century. Major historical events and
programs—such as the New Village Movement,
the development of Korea’s export economy, and
the democratic movements of 1980 and 1987—are
given pride of place, but also included are the stories
of other actors in Korea’s dynamic modern history,
like the Korean miners and nurses sent to Germany
in the 1960s to earn foreign currency. Restored
classic Korean cars like Korea’s first mass-produced
automobile, the Hyundai Pony, Cold War-era
public service posters, period news clips, and other
audiovisual exhibits tell the tale of the Miracle in the
Han River in a colorful and engrossing manner.
The final exhibit, Modernization and Korea’s
Vision of the Future, looks at where Korea is now
and where it wishes to go. Here visitors can relive the
glories of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and the
2002 FIFA World Cup, experience the international
cultural sensation that is the Korean wave, and
learn about Korea’s efforts to share its extraordinary
development experience with the rest of the world.
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
Hours: 9am to 6pm (entry ends one hour to closing).
Closed Mondays.
T. 02-3703-9200, www.much.go.kr
Getting there
Short walk from Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), Exit 2.
orea is often described as a Confucian
society, with many relationships heavily
influenced by Confucianism’s famous
Five Bonds: between ruler and ruled, father and
son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger
brother, and between friends. Recently, however,
animals have been muscling their way into the social
hierarchy in a big way. Pampered in salons, fed as
carefully as children, and protected by a growing
body of legally enshrined rights and advocacy
groups, Korea’s dogs, cats, hamsters, and other nonhuman individuals are an increasingly significant
presence in Korean society and economy.
Korea’s growing fondness for pets is bringing
new changes in status for animals
Written by Ben Jackson
Photographed by RAUM Studio
Pet Lovers
Angie (with her cat John)
Vocalist/guitarist of blues
band Wasted Johnny’s
Kim Jin Cheol
(with his dog Bbosongi)
Drummer of pop rock
band WHOwho
Chung Seung Chul
(with his turtles Papillon,
Ivy and Ggossuni)
Manager of WONYANG
Architects & Engineers
Newfound status
With the country’s increased prosperity, interest in
dogs, cats, and other animals as pets has begun to
increase. The common word for pet today is aewan
dongmul, literally “an animal to love and play with.”
The country’s largely urbanized population has
found the inclination and economic wherewithal to
add four-legged, furry, feathered, or even reptilian
members to their families. The growing number of
people living alone, as the strong family-based ties of
Confucian society are eroded by material affluence
and greater emphasis on individualism, has also
fueled demand for non-human companions.
Some ten million Koreans now keep pets,
with the pet-related market worth around KRW 4
trillion. Elements of this market include veterinary
clinics, pet product manufacturers, pet food makers,
dog training “boot camps,” pet salons, pet beauty
academies (to train the people working in salons),
pet shows, pet insurance, and more. Pet food was
among the 102 new items added to the Bank of
Korea’s producer price index this year.
In 2010, E-Mart, one of Korea’s four powerful
supermarket chains, opened Molly’s Pet Shop as one
of several new “specific retail standalone concepts.”
Offering services such as pet play/training areas,
cafés, in-house vets, pet hotels and adoption clinics,
the stores were a runaway success; fellow retail giants
Lotte Mart and Home plus followed suit last year
with Pet Garden and I Love Pet, respectively.
Animal rights and wrongs
As Koreans grow increasingly enthusiastic about
loving their animals, social attitudes are changing.
Bookshops abound with works explaining how to
best raise a variety of pets, while a handful of Korean
“animal communicators” have achieved recognition in
local media.
The notion of animal rights is starting to take
root in society, increasingly backed up by legislation.
Animal rights groups are fighting to improve legal
protection for animals and raise public awareness
of their rights and needs. “Unfortunately, the
Animal Protection Act does not provide sufficient
protection,” says Lee Gi-soon, of Korea Animal
Welfare Association (KAWA). “Almost all it contains
is recommendations, backed up by nonexistent or
weak punishment, making it largely ineffective.”
Lee believes, however, that the growing number of
people supporting KAWA and a series of campaign
successes points to a steadily rising public awareness
of animal rights. The introduction, this year, of a
mandatory dog registration system, too, comes after
years of demand from animal rights campaigners.
“It looks set to have a clear effect on stray and lost
animals,” says Lee.
As Korea continues to enjoy its love affair
with pets, it remains to be seen how animal rights
campaigners, authorities, and members of the public
will come together to perfect the systems, education,
and awareness needed for a society of healthy and
happy animals.
Over the course of the Lee Myung-bak administration, Korea has greatly strengthened its
cooperation and ties with its Asian neighbors.
In particular, cooperation with ASEAN—one of the world’s fastest rising economic
centers—has deepened immensely. President Lee held a special summit with ASEAN leaders
in June 2009 and completed the Korea–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement that same month. The
Korea–ASEAN Center was established in March 2009, and Korea established a permanent
ASEAN delegation in September 2012. Perhaps most important, Korea and ASEAN elevated
their relationship to that of a strategic partnership in October 2010.
Korea has also pursued specifically tailored diplomacy with other Asian regions, too.
Cooperation with China and Japan has been deepened with the regularization of tripartite
summits and the establishment of a tripartite cooperation office in Seoul in September 2011.
The Lee administration has also bolstered its cooperation with the vital Central Asia
region across a wide range of fields, including energy and resources, large-scale construction,
infrastructure development, IT, and health. Annual summits with the leaders of Kazakhstan
and Uzbekistan have also been held.
Cooperation with South Asia and the Pacific has also been a priority. In January 2010,
Korea and India elevated their relationship to that of a strategic partnership. This included
the signing of the landmark Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA,
which led to a 70% increase in trade between the two economic giants.
President Lee Myung-bak and Governor General of Canada David Lloyd Johnston exchanged
messages of congratulations to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties
between the Republic of Korea and Canada.
President Lee said the two nations, who share a very special relationship that began with the
dispatch of Canadian troops to Korea in the Korean War, have achieved noteworthy developments
in their relationship in a wide range of sectors since official ties were first established in 1963. He
said the two nations were cooperating closely for peace, stability, and global governance on both the
Korean Peninsula and in the international community and that he hoped the celebration of the 50th
anniversary of diplomatic ties would serve as an opportunity to begin a new chapter in bilateral ties.
Governor General Johnston said Canada and Korea have developed into close allies, beginning
even before the establishment of official ties with Canada’s dispatch of troops to Korea in the 1950–1953
Korean War. He said that since the establishment of ties, both countries have played an important role in
generating prosperity, and that he hoped mutually beneficial ties would continue to develop in the future.
Korea has joined the influential UN Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent
member for 2013–2014.
Korea was selected for the position through a UN General Assembly vote in
October 2010. The election to the UNSC is a fruit of Korea’s diplomatic efforts,
including its successful hosting of the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit, the 2011 4th High
Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, and the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security
With its selection to the UNSC, Korea hopes to expand its contributions
to international peace and security, strengthen its leadership and elevate its
international prestige. It will also expand its diplomatic horizons and bolster
its multilateral diplomacy capacity through direct and active participation in
discussions on international peace and security.
moon... I will do my best with the pride
of a Korean special forces operator
wearing the mark of both the UN and
the Korean flag.”
Operating out of Tyre, Lebanon as
part of the United Nations Interim Force
in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Dongmyeong
Unit represents what is currently Korea’s
largest contribution to international
peacekeeping efforts. First deployed
to the region in July 2007, the unit has
enjoyed the longest tenure of any Korean
peacekeeping deployment ever. It has
earned praise from both military and
Keeping the Peace
Bringing Peace to
a Languished Land
Korea’s longest-serving peacekeeping force, the Dongmyeong Unit,
is working to rebuild southern Lebanon
Written by Robert Koehler
Photographs courtesy of People Who Love Soldiers Deployed Overseas
n January 17, the Dongmyeong Unit marked its 12th rotation in a ceremony at the
base of the 7th Airborne Special Forces Brigade in Iksan, Jeollabuk-do. Overseen by
Cho Jung-hwan, Chief of Staff of the ROK Army, the event was attended by about
800 people, including the 308 men scheduled for deployment to Lebanon beginning January
28. This rotation includes 33 soldiers who have studied abroad, including unit translator Pvt.
Kim Ha-neul who majored in Arabic at Saudi Arabia’s Islamic University of al-Madinah, and
Pvt. Jeon Hong-geun who attended Oxford University. Jeon told Yonhap News, “It has been
my dream to make Korea shine on the international stage like UN Secretary General Ban Ki40
civilian officials for its contributions
to maintaining peace and stability
in Lebanon and promoting cultural
exchange between Korea and this
important Middle Eastern nation.
1. UNIFIL Western District commander Gen.
Carlo La Mana (Italy) hands out UNIFIL
medal to Korean troops, 2011
2. Korean troops play with children during
civil affairs operation
The Dongmyeong Unit is just one piece
of UNIFIL, which first deployed to
southern Lebanon in March 1978 to
oversee the withdrawal of Israeli forces
that had invaded just five days earlier.
Over two decades and several invasions
later, UNIFIL is still performing its
mission, with over 11,000 troops
enforcing the southern Lebanese buffer
zone and providing humanitarian aid to
the local population.
The Dongmyeong Unit is based in
Tyre, an ancient and strategic port city
just 20 km from the Blue Line, the Israeli
withdrawal line which more or less
follows the border between Lebanon and
Israel. Along with the rest of UNIFIL,
the unit is tasked with preventing the
entry of illegal armed combatants into
southern Lebanon, as well as serving
as military observers, carrying out
reconnaissance, and performing civil
affairs operations.
The Dongmyeong Unit’s performance
has been excellent. Since its deployment
to Tyre, it has carried out over 14,000
patrols and 2,000 disposals of ordinance.
More importantly, there have been
no reported incidents of hostilities
throughout the unit’s five years of
The Korean wave blooms in
the Levant
Korea’s operations in Lebanon have
focused on more than just peacekeeping.
The Dongmyeong Unit has also engaged
in improving the quality of life of
local residents and promoting cultural
The unit’s medical team has treated
over 40,000 patients. Some of the most
popular programs operated by the
unit, however, are its Korean language,
taekwondo, and computer classes. The
taekwondo classes have proven especially
popular—some 294 local students have
studied with the unit so far, with 47
earning belts. Over 140 Lebanese have
also visited Korea as part of the unit’s
cultural promotion program.
The Dongmyeong Unit has also
teamed up with Korean NGOs to help
bring relief to southern Lebanon, which
is now dealing with an influx of refugees
from neighboring Syria. The Beautiful
Store, a thrift shop operated by the
charitable organization the Beautiful
Foundation, delivered about 3,000
articles of clothing, shoes, and toys to the
Dongmyeong Unit on January 16. The
Dongmyeong Unit will distribute the
articles to those in need through next
Longtime Korea resident Peter Bartholomew describes Lunar New Year’s
celebrations when he first came to Korea in 1968
Written by Peter Bartholomew
Illustrated by Kim Yoon-Myong
first arrived in Korea in January 1968. Many married
women and most older men still wore Hanbok
(traditional dress) as their standard daily attire. Only a
handful of high-rise buildings existed in Seoul; commercial
structures were one to three stories. There were no
apartments anywhere in the country, and central heating
and indoor plumbing were virtually unknown.
I did not realize it then, but I was seeing the last few
years of the old Korea, with so much of its original culture
still dominant.
Within a few days of arriving in Seoul I was sent off to
the east coast of Gangwon-do, where I lived for the next five
years. I had the great fortune of living on the Seongyojang
estate first built by a Joseon Dynasty aristocrat in the 18th
century. It was the equivalent of a British stately home and
still occupied by the original owner, a gracious lady born in
the 1880s whom I simply called Halmeoni (grandmother).
There was no electricity; we lived a quintessentially Joseonperiod life in all respects. All interior heating and cooking
was with wood fires under the ondol floors, and “running
water” consisted of running to the well, drawing water,
and running back to the kitchen.
One day in early February there was a sudden
invasion of numerous kind female relatives of
Halmeoni’s who had arrived by train and bus from
Seoul, a 12-hour trip over dirt roads.
The women arrived laden with huge bundles of
food, wine, and gifts. Upon arrival they immediately
started the complex process of preparing for the New
Year ceremonies and festivities. Everything was directed
by Halmeoni. Their preparation of tteok (traditional
rice cakes) consisted of grinding rice into flour, making
dough, pounding the dough with large wooden
mallets, rolling out the dough to make each cake, etc.
Preparation of the fillings was equally time consuming.
The Seongyojang estate had several kitchens;
the women used at least two of them for the gujeong
preparations. The atmosphere of the principal,
mammoth kitchen was dark and cold, filled with smoke,
steam, and the aroma of mouth wateringly delicious
foods. The internal roof beams, nearly five meters high,
were black with the smoke of 300 years of daily cooking.
The enormous cast iron rice cooker bubbled, gurgled,
and steamed, foam seeping out around the edges. Some
ladies were occupied cutting and cleaning meats, fish,
and vegetables for cooking, while others were in charge
of the fried foods or boiled delicacies.
When guests arrived they were given a simple
but delicious bowl of tteokguk with sprinkles of dried
seaweed and thin slivers of spring onion, and of
course, two or three varieties of kimchi.
Finally, the time had come for jaesa, the ancestor
memorial ceremony. Foods were stacked in perfect
traditional geometric patterns on special ceremonial
porcelain, brass, and bronze dishes and stands, put on
large wooden trays, and then carried by the men to
the ceremonial hall (sadang) to be placed on each of
the three altars for the last three generations of the Son
Kyo Jang family.
The final setting in the sadang was somber,
dignified, and impressive, with two candles, an incense
burner, and stacks of food. The ceremony took over
one hour, starting with yusaecha and recitation of the
history of each head of household from 1703 to the
present. Presiding over the scene were portraits of each
of these three ancestors.
Another elaborate ceremony subsequently took
place at the hillside grave sites of each of the ancestors
for 13 generations of Seongyojang family, again with
food, wine, and incense offered to the spirits of the
deceased, all carried by the young men to these many
hillside graves.
The feast following the jaesa was magnificent!
We could not even see the wooden surfaces of the
table; every square centimeter was so heavily laden
with side dishes of every culinary variety, all perfectly
and aesthetically presented. Men sat at one very long
table, while the women and children were seated
in a separate room for their feast. Wine, constant
discussion of every subject imaginable, and catching
up on family affairs went on for hours into the night.
SNU Professor Robert Fouser on Korean language
education and architectural preservation
Written by Ben Jackson
Photographed by RAUM Studio
hen you’re enjoying a day
off from work on October
9 this year, Robert Fouser
will partly be the one to thank for it.
The recent recipient of a commendation
from the Minister of Culture, Sports and
Tourism for his role in raising the profile
of Korean language education, Fouser
has developed a strong relationship with
Korean culture since first coming to the
country in the early 1980s—a relationship
that has seen him translating books
on understanding Korean literature,
writing regular newspaper columns,
fighting to save old buildings in his Seoul
neighborhood, renovating a Hanok of his
own, campaigning successfully to have
Hangeul Day restored to the status of an
official public holiday, and becoming one
of a small handful of foreigners who are
deeply involved in teaching Korean as a
foreign language.
PhD in Applied Linguistics at Trinity
College, Dublin. A few years later, he
began a 13-year period of living in
Japan, during which time he was able to
make frequent visits to Korea. For seven
years, he penned a weekly column titled
“Cultural Dimensions” in the Korea
Herald. “It was mostly culture-based, but
strayed into socio-politics sometimes,”
he says.
East Asian education
Fouser is a native of Ann Arbor,
Michigan, where he began his affinity
for East Asia by majoring in Japanese
language and literature at the University
of Michigan. In true Japanese style,
Fouser found his attention turning
to continental Asia. Persuaded by
Chinese and Korean friends at the
time of the relative benefits of Korea
as a destination, he headed to Seoul
National University to spend a year
of language study. “Korea was in the
middle of an economic boom at the
time, and preparing for the [1988]
Olympics,” he says.
Cultural dimensions
In 1993, Fouser began studying for a
From 2006 to 2008, Fouser took
an important step in his career as
a proponent of Korean language
education, developing a Korean language
program at Kagoshima University. “I
thought my students might be surprised
to see a gaijin introducing himself as
their Korean teacher, but they didn't
show much reaction at all,” he laughs. In
2008, Fouser moved to Korea and took
a position teaching Korean language
education at Seoul National University,
the place where he himself had grappled
with the language in the early 1980s.
“The commendation was a bit of
a surprise,” says Fouser. He wonders
if it may have been a reflection of the
government’s desire to encourage more
foreigners to get involved with teaching
the Korean language. “The government
knows that if a language is to be
international, it needs to have various
spokespersons, including foreigners,” he
Cultural (re)development
“I’m not an architect, but all this started
when I was living in Nuha-dong in
2009,” says Fouser of his involvement
with Korea’s ongoing controversy over
urban redevelopment. Nuha-dong is
one of the neighborhoods that comprise
Seochon, an area to the west of Seoul’s
Gyeongbokgung Palace that contains
many of the city’s few remaining
traditional Hanok homes. Fouser found
himself in the middle of a raging dispute
between those in favor of preserving the
area’s architectural heritage and a group
of disgruntled local residents impatient
to have the neighborhood redeveloped.
When asked what it is that keeps him
in the country, he is unromantic, citing
practical reasons such as employment.
But his fondness for the local culture
is obviously genuine, as further
demonstrated by his current project to
renovate a Hanok back in Seochon. Each
step of the renovation has been welldocumented, punctuated by holding a
traditional sangnyangsik, the ceremony
held when placing the all-important
roof ridge beam in place.
At a time when the Korean language
is gradually attracting more international
learners, Fouser’s expertise in teaching
it places him in a good position to meet
this growing demand. It remains to be
seen how his relationship with Korean
culture will keep on developing.
Kongjwi and Patjwi
korea’s Cinderalla tale offers insight into old Korea
Written by Kang Juwon
Illustrated by Shim Soo-keun
he story of Kongjwi and Patjwi is a beloved and popular Korean folktale made around the late
Joseon period. The folktale is known to exist in 17 variant forms, and the novel version was first
published in 1928. Often compared to the Western fairy tell of Cinderella for sharing common
motifs, Kongjwi and Patjwi also features a wicked stepmother, a misplaced shoe, and helper-characters
with magical powers. The universal theme of “good prevailing over evil” is also found in both. These
commonalities appear in almost all variations of the more than 1,000 Cinderella-type stories known to
exist worldwide.
These commonalities notwithstanding, Kongjwi and Patjwi differs markedly from its Western
counterpart in that the Korean story does not feature a wedding denouement. The protagonist, Kongjwi,
does marry her “Prince Charming” but the story is far from over. Nor do they live happily. In fact, the
so called “Prince Charming”—charming as he may be—does not guarantee Kongjwi any happiness.
Ironically, the marriage is only a harbinger of more
hardships to come. It instigates the jealous stepsister,
Patjwi, to murder Kongjwi and take her place. But
more importantly, perhaps, is the fact that only by
sheer will and determination is Kongjwi resurrected
and able to avenge her own death.
Among the many different foreign adaptations
of Kongjwi and Patjwi, American author Shirley
Climo’s The Korean Cinderella (HarperCollins, 1993)
is arguably the most popular and widely-read version
of its kind. A children’s book by design, The Korean
Cinderella is said to be “a retelling based on three
of the ‘half a dozen’ Korean Cinderella variants.”
The book is highly regarded for its detailed research
of Korean culture, not to mention its colorful and
vibrant illustrations. The only caveat is that the story
in itself is none other than the Western Cinderella
story, only with Korean characters set in Joseon
Dynasty. Like the Western Cinderella story, Climo’s
story ends when the protagonist, Pear Blossom,
marries her “Prince Charming,” the magistrate, and
the two live happily ever after.
The original version of Kongjwi and Patjwi gives
the audience a rare insight into the morals, values,
and customs of the day. For instance, Kongjwi’s
resurrection and transformation—first into a
lotus flower and later into a marble—reveals some
elements of shamanism that were present in Joseon.
Shamanism, an indigenous religion of Korea, was
centered on the belief that life force exists in all
natural objects. Lotus flowers or marbles themselves
are recurring motifs in Korean literature that
symbolize immortality and perfection. Similarly,
the difficult tasks handed out by the stepmother in
the beginning of the story reflect agrarian life in
Joseon. Tasks such as filling the water jar, weaving
hemp cloth, and crushing rice were all typical chores
expected to be done by women.
The universal and unique nature of Kongjwi
and Patjwi is its appeal. In the story, Kongjwi’s
stepmother is also seen handing out difficult
tasks. Unlike the Western story, however, these are
practical everyday chores which are handed out
to both stepsisters. With help, Kongjwi only does
a better job while Patjwi fails trying. If the story’s
familiarity renders it amiable, its uniqueness gives it
meaning. And, in a way, the story’s uniqueness has
not been fully uncovered. This Korean folktale still
has much to offer both as art and entertainment.
1. Ssireum
(Korean Wrestling)
2. Seodang
(Confucian School)
3. Chum Chuneun Ai
(Dancing Child)
im Hong-do (1745–1806?), also known by his pen name Danwon, was a grandmaster painter
during the Joseon Dynasty. A versatile painter who excelled at all areas of paintings, Kim
is most famous for his genre paintings—paintings that depict everyday life by portraying
ordinary people engaged in common activities. In his 20s, Kim was already a member of the esteemed
Dohwaseo, the official painters of the royal court. At the age of 37, Kim painted the portrait of King
Jeongjo—the crowning accomplishment of his illustrious career. Kim later went on to paint more than
300 paintings, almost all of which are still held in high regard today. He is arguably the most beloved
painter in Korean history.
Kim is especially loved for his genre paintings. Many Koreans find his candid, precise, and witty
depictions of common people a joy to behold. But what sets Kim’s paintings apart is his ability to present
contradicting notions of energy and lethargy in a single setting. This harmonious coexistence of relaxed
tranquility and dynamic forcefulness is a central theme in many of Kim’s genre paintings. For instance, in
his painting Ssirum, two wrestlers are grappling each other in an attempt to upend the opponent to the
ground. In the midst of all this action, a taffy peddler,who seems utterly oblivious to the match is going
about his business without a care in the world. Similarly in Tajak, which depicts farmers harvesting in the
fields, the farmers are hard at work while a lazy supervisor, lying on his side, watches on as if he couldn’t
be bothered. It is this hidden duality that makes each of Kim’s genre paintings a classic work of art.
Apart from his life as a painter, Kim was also known for his good looks and love of music. Although
it was forbidden for the middle class to have portraits of themselves, there are numerous references
attesting to his charm and good looks. Meanwhile, there are also many accounts of him playing different
musical instruments with great finesse. Indeed, it is believed that the character portrayed as playing the
geomungo (a six-stringed Korean zither) in his painting Danwondo is meant to be Kim himself.
Korean painter revealed everyday life of Joseon Korea
Written by Kang Juwon
Photographs courtesy of National Museum of Korea
How to Write Hangeul (Korean Alphabet)
& Sujeonggwa
Hangeul is the Korean alphabet.
Hangeul was created in 1443 by King Sejong and scholars at Jiphyeonjeon (Hall of the Assembled Sages). Prior to the creation of
Hangeul, spoken Korean was transcribed using Chinese characters. However, because Chinese characters were difficult for the
common people to use, access to the Chinese transcription system was limited only to the privileged classes. Hangeul was invented to
enable ordinary people to express their ideas easily in writing.
Written by Monica Suk
Photographed by RAUM Studio
henever traditional holidays are near, it
is not difficult to see dried persimmons
being sold at supermarkets. Soft dried
persimmons are a dessert beloved by Koreans of
all ages and are also used as an ingredient to make
gotgamssam and sujeonggwa. Just as chocolate goes
perfectly with macadamia nuts, dried persimmon
creates a heavenly flavor with walnuts. Gotgamssam
is a semi-dried persimmon that embraces roasted
walnuts inside instead of its seed. The simplicity of
the dessert matches well with the sweet and rich taste
of sujeonggwa, a traditional Korean beverage made
by simmering cinnamon sticks, sugar, and dried
persimmons. It is usually served chilled like punch, but
drinking it hot will arouse the warm earthy flavor of
Both gotgamssam and sujeonggwa are consumed
primarily during holidays like the Lunar New Year, but
they can be seen at special occasions like weddings as
Bowls provided by cermaic workshop YIDO.
Hours: 10am to 7pm, closed on the third Sunday of the month
T. 02-722-0756, www.yido.kr
Getting there
Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 2. Walk 15 minutes.
Romani- How to
Romani- How to
Syllable Structure
The shapes of syllables vary, depending on the consonantvowel combination. Korean syllables are written by
combining the beginning, middle, and ending sound, not
side by side.
EX) ㄱㅏㅇ (X) / 강 (ㅇ)
These vowels are written to
the right of the consonants.
These vowels are written
below the consonants.
ㅗ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅠ, ㅡ
These vowels are written
around the consonants.
ㅘ, ㅙ, ㅚ, ㅝ, ㅞ, ㅟ, ㅢ
Let’s Make a Korean Word
Fill in the boxes to spell the word “Hangeul.”
Korean letters are written from top
to bottom and from left to right.
Priority / Priorilaire
By airmail / Par avion
IBRS / CCRI N° : 10024-40730
15 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul (110-040)
Republic of Korea
Korean New Year’s clothing provided by
Lee Hun Chung, The Classic.
T. 02-793-4853, http://leehunchung.instudy.kr
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We invite you to
Suncheon Bay Garden Expo 2013
Apr. 20 ~ Oct. 20, 2013
Around Suncheon Bay, Suncheon
70 gardens (World Gardens, Participatory Gardens)
Arboretum, International Wetland Center