Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Cheonggyecheon

Apologies to readers for the absence - but with classes done for the summer (other than a month of language study in Seoul) I'll try to post here more often.

A couple weeks ago the Guardian published a story about Cheonggyecheon 10+ years later by Colin Marshal which he interviewed me for - thanks to Colin for including me. Also worth reading by Colin is his article about 'English Cancer' (rather than English fever) in Korea.

On the topic of redevelopment the Joongang Daily published an article awhile back about Seoul's plans to "protect old districts" - but the map in the article makes clear just how much is still slated to be redeveloped...

(I've written about Cheonggyecheon here before, including about Time Magazine's glowing 2006 feature on then Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, following mayor Oh Se-hoon's redevelopment plans (2MB 2.0), then initially controversial 'Spring' sculpture at Cheongyecheon's source, the dislocation of former Cheonggyecheon merchants, and the appearance of Cheonggyecheon in old films.)

Monday, May 02, 2016

Thoughts on the low age of consent and light sentences

While trying to find out more about this incredibly messed-up case - about a couple who beat their teenage daughter to death and then kept her body in the house for the better part of a year - I came across the following Joongang Ilbo news story by reporter Kim Min-gwan, from September 16 last year:
A man in his twenties who even received the motel fee from a 13-year-old schoolgirl found guilty of prostitution

A man in his twenties who met a 13-year-old runaway schoolgirl for sex but argued he wasn't guilty and said that "The schoolgirl paid more of the motel fee so it wasn't prostitution" was found guilty.

Seoul Eastern District Court announced on the 16th that is that it [sentenced] Mr. Lee (22), who had been charged with contravening the Law for Sexual Protection of Children and Youth, to a one-year sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to attend 40 hours of sexual assault treatment classes.

Mr. Lee came to know A (13) on June 10, 2015 via a smartphone chatting application. Learning that A had run away and needed a place to sleep he promised, "If you come to my house, I can put you up," and the next morning he called her out to the Uijeongbu Station area.

When he met A, Lee said, "It's hot right now, so let’s go and rest," and took A to a nearby motel. The motel fee was 20,000 won but Lee had only 8000 won in his pocket. Lee asked A, "Can you pay a little bit?" and got 10,000 won from her and, after getting a 2000 won discount, paid the motel fee.

After they had sex, Lee said, "My parents came home early so I can't put you put you up," and left A and returned home.

In court Lee claimed that "Since I had never promised to put her up at my house and I paid 8000 won of the motel fee but A paid 10,000 won, it wasn't buying sex."

Subsequently he protested that "Since A looked 20ish in her chatting program profile photo, in which she was wearing makeup, I didn't think she was a minor."

However, the court said, "It doesn't make any sense that you saw her face and didn't know she was 13." "Seeming to offer to put up a runaway victim at your house and meeting [her], you acted to buy sex to satisfy your sexual desire, and the fact that even after that you left her and ignored the fact that she was penniless because of you makes the nature of the crime very bad."

It added, "Because she expected that the defendant would give him a place to stay afterwards, she readily gave 10,000 won." "The defendant fully acknowledged the fact that he promised to provide payment for things like a place to stay and that, expecting this, A acceded to sex."

A court official said, "The amount of money when providing payment for prostitution does not matter; if it's true that payment is provided, then [the fact of] prostitution is established."
After moving on from my amazement at how someone could be that much of a scumbag, what I found interesting is that the defendant was content to suggest that he'd had consensual sex with a minor (though he did try to say "she looked 20ish"). Back in mid-2013 laws were changed regarding sex crimes (see here and here), particularly against minors, but these clearly did not affect age of consent, which is still 13, though there are certain limitations, as pointed out in this case, as well as its follow-up, higher-court appeal ruling, as described over at As is noted there, having sex with someone between the ages of 13 and 18 is not a crime unless you did so "by authority/deception" (though not by "position of authority"), while having sex with someone 12 years old or younger is "a crime (unless you had no way of knowing)." Even the latter part seems to have wiggle room (as it did in a case in Gangneung a few years ago where an instructor in an elementary school was initially let off by police for having sex with a 12 year old student because they were "in love" - until they found out he was also "in love" with a 15 year old former student).

In the case I translated above, the man was only given a suspended sentence, and in this case, from 2009, a man was sentenced only to 6 months in prison for paying for sex with an 11 year-old girl (and that 6 month sentence was seen as 'severe' punishment, despite the maximum sentence being 3 years). Most famously, in the "Na-yeong case," where a man raped an 8 year-old girl who "lost 80 percent of her colon and genital organs," the defendant had three years knocked off the maximum sentence of 15 years because "I was drunk" was considered a defense. What we see in these cases is that there doesn't seem to be any desire to give out maximum punishment to men who sexually assault or exploit children. One possible reason for this is described in a Joongang Ilbo editorial written when sex crime laws were changed in mid-2013:
The revisions are only a step forward, although a significant one. A bigger problem is our society’s misperceptions about sex crimes. According to a survey of policemen in small and mid-sized cities in South Gyeongsang, a whopping 53.8 percent said that sexual violence occurs due to women’s sexy dressing. Thirty-seven percent said it’s a woman’s fault when she is sexually attacked while drunk. That clearly illustrates our society’s generosity toward men’s sexual impulses.
You know there's a problem when the police answer this way (though perhaps we won't be too surprised by such attitudes coming from "small and mid-sized cities in South Gyeongsang," considering what happened in Miryang in 2004 - but it's sad to see these attitudes hadn't changed ten years later.

Daniel Tudor pointed out something that has been overlooked:
There have been attempts to raise the age of consent, such as that of then-Grand National Party lawmaker Kwon Seong-dong, who tried to lift it to 16 in 2012. I am mystified as to why it is still 13. With the ever-increasing concern over child protection, I doubt any political party would have anything to lose by throwing its weight behind a legal change here.
And yet this attempt to raise the age of consent went nowhere. As one ponders this fact in the light of lenient sentence after lenient sentence for those who sexually assault or exploit minors, one might be tempted to reach some rather unpleasant conclusions.

Friday, April 29, 2016

First joint Korean-U.S. film "Northeast of Seoul" aka "Seoul Affair" aka "Katherine's Escape" to screen Saturday

On  October 3, 1970, James Wade's Korea Times column "Scouting the City" (written under the pen name Alf Racketts) revealed that an international film production - Korea's first - was about to start filming under the name "Seoul Affair" (or "Northeast of Seoul"):

Alan Heyman (more about whom is here) wrote a score for the film, but it was never used.

On October 6, 1970, the Donga Ilbo reported that actress (or, as they put it, "glamour fox") Anita Ekberg, best known for her role in the Federico Fellini film "La Dolce Vita" (not yet released in Korea), was in Seoul for a joint American-Korean production titled "The Seoul Affair," set to start filming with director David Rich and actors John Ireland, Jon Buono, and Sin Yeong-gyun and Choe Ji-hui on October 15.

The Kyunghyang Sinmun, on the same day, in an article titled "Seoul’s autumn is very cold," also reported on Anita Ekberg (a 39 year-old "sexy fox" with the measurements 42-28-40 wearing a skirt that ended 30cm above the knees), saying that she was best known to Korean fans for the omnibus film "Boccaccio '70."

On October 10 the Joongang Ilbo published an article about the production. On October 24, in an article titled "Film like water...", the Maeil Gyeongje reported that local directors seeing the progress of David Rich's film "Seoul Affair" were astonished at his unconventional way of directing the film. While local directors would use 9000자 of film (I'm not sure what that measures) to make a movie, David Rich wanted to use 70,000자, which made his staff turn pale in shock. From their point of view, the director was using too much film, doing seven takes and only using one shot, and wasting precious film like water.

On November 7, the Donga Ilbo reported on possible other joint projects with an Italian director but nothing seems to have come of these (perhaps not a bad thing - did we really need a "Nazi gold hidden in Korea" story? Well, maybe...).

On December 21 the Kyunghyang Sinmun showed this photo of Anita Ekberg with co-star Sin Yeong-gyun:

But then that was that. At least in Korea. IMDB has '1972' written next to it, and posters such as the one below can be found, but it's not clear if it was released in the U.S. or not (only a 1990 German release is recorded).

In Korea, however, years went by with no mention of this film, as James Wade notes in this March 16, 1974 column:

Two weeks later, however, on April 2, 1974, the Maeil Gyeongje announced that a joint Korean-American production titled "캐서린의 탈출" ("Katherine’s Escape"), was to open soon. This was, indeed, a renamed "Seoul Affair," as this poster from the April 4, 1974 Donga Ilbo reveals:

On April 9, 1974, the Maeil Gyeongje stated the nation’s first American-Korean joint production had been playing at the Scala Theater since April 5.

On April 13, James Wade weighed in with a review of the film:

Though he wasn't impressed, a week later, on April 16, the Maeil Gyeongje reported that it had brought in 34,000 viewers in the ten days between April 5 and April 14. Just to compare, it reports that a movie titled "Yu Kwan-sun" (about the national heroine of the Samil Protests in 1919 had brought in only 7,676 people in the same time period, while over 46 days the "Poseidon Adventure" had attracted 120,000 viewers. One wonders if this is correct, considering the Korean Film archive records there having been 31,291 viewers. Unfortunately, the Maeil Gyeongje's film listings section doesn't seem to be a regular feature, so nothing more is said about it.

Should you be curious to see the film, this Saturday, April 30, at 3pm, the Royal Asiatic Society Cinema Club and Seoul Film Society will have a free screening of the film at Seoul Global Center's Haechi Hall, on the 5th Floor of M Plaza in Myeong-dong.

Directions to Seoul Global Center's Haechi Hall can be found here and here, and more information about the film and screening is here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Modern day slavery in the 1970s, 1980s, and today

This story, about the decade or more of abuse of children and disabled people that went on at the Brothers Home in Busan, is pretty horrific. Almost as much as the government's attitude towards it:
The current government, however, refuses to revisit the case, and is blocking a push by an opposition lawmaker to do so on the grounds that the evidence is too old.

Ahn Jeong-tae, an official from Seoul's Ministry of the Interior, said focusing on just one human rights incident would financially burden the government and set a bad precedent. The Brothers' victims, he said, should have submitted their case to a temporary truth-finding commission established in the mid-2000s to investigate past atrocities. "We can't make separate laws for every incident and there have been so many incidents since the Korean War," Ahn said.
Well, we wouldn't want any more dirt on the president's father to be dug up, would we?
In 1975, dictator President Park Chung-hee, father of current President Park Geun-hye, issued a directive to police and local officials to "purify" city streets of vagrants. Police officers, assisted by shop owners, rounded up panhandlers, small-time street merchants selling gum and trinkets, the disabled, lost or unattended children, and dissidents, including a college student who'd been holding anti-government leaflets.

They ended up as prisoners at 36 nationwide facilities. By 1986, the number of inmates had jumped over five years from 8,600 to more than 16,000, according to government documents obtained by AP. Nearly 4,000 were at Brothers. But about 90 percent of them didn't even meet the government's definition of "vagrant" and therefore shouldn't have been confined there, former prosecutor Kim Yong Won told the AP, based on Brothers' records and interviews compiled before government officials ended his investigation.
The article makes a provocative claim:
Choi was one of thousands — the homeless, the drunk, but mostly children and the disabled — rounded up off the streets ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which the ruling dictators saw as international validation of South Korea's arrival as a modern country.
Except that Choi was arrested in 1982. Still, considering who was president at the time and the general 'clean ups' that take place in Olympic cities, it wouldn't be surprising. You'd think that the mass abuse of children would prompt more outrage, but keeping in mind the short sentences handed out for rape of children or the low age of consent, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Maybe a movie needs to be made to draw attention, like 'The Crucible' or the one about the Burger King murder in Itaewon which resulted in the case being reopened.

Also related - since the children and inmates at Brothers House were made to work for free on goods made for export - is this story of modern day slavery on an island in southwestern Jeollanam-do; a video is here (hat tip to Gord Sellar).

This isn't anything new, however, as this November 28, 1971 Korea Times article makes clear:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

EPIK fail


Over at 10원 Tips, Sam Nordberg has found the source of this photo and reveals the extent to which it was photoshopped.

While I think of it, it might be worth revisiting the photo contest winner posted here, and this post as well.

Original Post:

A few weeks ago I posted about how female E-2 visa-holders now outnumbered males, and also posted images showing how female foreign teachers have been depicted in promotional material for SMOE, EPIK, and hagwons. And then I stumbled across this EPIK page:

If you click to enlarge it to full size, as it appears on the webpage, it's clear enough that... well, that the photographer and whoever designed the web page were male. Needless to say, I can't imagine EPIK depicting a female Korean teacher this way.

The sample contracts on that page declare that the "Employee shall not behave in any manner that may damage or tarnish the reputation of the teaching profession in general or of the S.M.O.E. program and the undersigned Employer in particular during the Term of Employment" and
the "Employee shall not be involved in any activities that may cause harm to the students or be of detriment to the reputation of the school, District Office of Education, and Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education." Perhaps it should add in a clause stating that the "Employer shall not depict Employees in promotional material in a way that tarnishes their image"?

Perhaps that could be said of the contract itself:
"The Employer will immediately report the Employee to the appropriate agencies once the Employer becomes aware of any illegal action (Narcotics, etc.) by the Employee and the Employee shall be subject to prosecution and punishment according to Korean Law." 

Perhaps I'm overstating things, but still, there's legally covering all the bases and then there's acting like you're expecting certain illegal behavior from your employees.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Interview with The Korea File on WW2 POWs in Colonial Seoul

Last year I posted links to an interview Andre Goulet did with me for his podcast, The Korea File (Part 1: "A History of Korean Social Movements," Part 2: "Korean Identity and Anti-Americanism," Part 3: "Weed, Counterculture and Dictatorship") and a few weeks ago he posted a the final part, "Prisoners and Propaganda: WW2 POWs in Colonial Seoul."

Thanks again to Andre inviting me to do this interview; have a look under "Episodes" here to look through the other interviews about Korean music, culture, and society he's done.

More about the WWII allied POWs in Korea can be found here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ugly foreigners' retaliatory driving and building climbing

The Korea Times published a column yesterday titled "Ugly Foreigners":
A video went viral over the weekend, showing an Italian person stopping his car in the middle of the road, getting out and while shaking his fist, spewed what sounded as obscenities. The scene was captured in the "black box" camera of the car behind him. The woman in that car was quoted by a cable channel as saying, "He cursed at me but I didn't get out for the fear that he would physically harm me."

The man, a resident in Korea, was outraged when he was honked at when cut in on the Olympic Expressway near the Seongsu Bridge at around 3 p.m. Sunday. He was booked without physical detention for endangerment by a sudden change of lanes. The police sent the case to prosecutors with a recommendation for indictment.[...]

They may hope that they will be given the benefit of extenuating circumstances for not promptly keeping abreast with a law change, introduced last month, which has strengthened penalties significantly after a number of road rage cases involving Koreans.
Good to hear such laws have been passed. This SBS report documented two more foreigners misbehaving on the road, asking "Just because you live in Korea, does it mean you have to emulate even our rough driving culture?" [Hat tip to Robert Koehler.]

Did they learn it in Seoul? Foreigner retaliatory driving.

Best not to copy such behavior, though, since the result might be this:

It was pointed out that the Korea Times columnist who wrote "Ugly Foreigners" (Foolsdie!) also wrote a column called "Ugly Koreans," which perhaps leads one to cancel out the other. However, the column opens with this: "The situation facing Koreans in the Philippines may be aptly compared to 'ugly Koreans in the land of outlaws.'" The article portrays the Philippines as violent, dangerous and corrupt; the mistake these Korean citizens who get murdered there (more than in any other country outside Korea) have made was to move to such a dangerous place; only brief mention is made that "the tendency among some Koreans to look down on people from Southeast Asia may have also been in play."

For an actual look at 'ugly Koreans,' perhaps try here:
The Korea Communications Standards Commission warned the nation's No.1 portal website Naver to use"voluntary restraint" after it posted video links to the drama entitled "Lily Fever," according to Hankook Ilbo, Monday. The mandate came after netizens reported the drama's bold portrayal of homosexuality.

The watchdog was cited as saying homosexual love scenes in the drama "incited sexual curiosity and tempted viewers to imitate the acts in practice" thus "violating social orders in terms of ethical values."
Isn't the suicide rate high enough already?

As for misbehaving foreigners, this photo appeared the other day of 'daredevils' Vitaliy Raskalov and Vadim Makhorov at the top of Lotte Tower, on its way to reaching a height of 555 meters and 123 floors (it would already be considered South Korea’s tallest building if not for the powers that be not counting buildings unless they're finished - thanks a lot, Pyongyang's Ryugyong Hotel!).

The Korea Herald published an article titled "Daredevils unwelcome in Korea":
After the 20-year-old Raskalov updated his Instagram account with a photo of his feet precariously atop Seoul’s Lotte World Tower, Sunday, the Korean public responded with fierce criticism of his “reckless” and “irresponsible” behavior. [...] Users left lengthy tirades under Raskalov’s photo in Korean, admonishing the adventurer for what they saw as unwarranted entry into private property, which could have resulted in disastrous accidents.

One Korean user with Instagram handle “heuum_” called Raskalov “an unarmed IS soldier” in the sense that he poses a threat to the safety of innocent people around him. “He’s being a nuisance in a foreign country. Safety is the utmost principle at a construction site. He is thoughtless to be doing this without safety measures,” heuum_ said. [...]

Lotte World Tower authorities had been wary of Raskalov and Makhorov entering its premises ever since it was reported the two were traveling in Korea. Roughly 400 security agents had been stationed around the construction site.
Well, that's embarrassing, then. As the Korea Times notes, the site even had posters up telling them they were banned from the building. How that didn't work, I've no idea. On the bright side, at least they weren't leaving graffiti.

Monday, March 28, 2016

When it comes to E-2 visa-holders, women now outnumber men

In my previous post I looked at immigration statistics for E-2s from 1993 to present, as depicted in this graph:

Year end immigration statistics can be found here. Actually, the 2004 figure above, of 11,344, is incorrect. The correct figure is 10,862, meaning that E-2 numbers plateaued (and even decreased slightly) from 2002 to 2004.

Here are the figures from 1993 to 2015 broken down by gender:

Year - Total  (Male / Female)

1993 - 1,136  (775 / 351)
1994 - 2,241  (1,471 / 770)
1995 - 4,230  (2,593 / 1,637)
1996 - 7,473  (4,413 / 3,060)
1997 - 7,607  (4,567 / 3,040)
1998 - 4,927  (3,231 / 1,696)
1999 - 5,009  (3,334 / 1,675)
2000 - 6,414  (4,091 / 2,323)
2001 - 8,388  (5,289 / 3,099)
2002 - 10,864  (6,672 / 4,192)
2003 - 10,822  (6,714 / 4,108)
2004 - 10,862  (6,636 / 4,226)
2005 - 12,439  (7,502 / 4,937)
2006 - 15,001  (8,992 / 6,009)
2007 - 17,721  (10,399 / 7,322)
2008 - 19,771  (11,223 / 8,548)
2009 - 22,642  (12,739 / 9,903)
2010 - 23,317  (12,905 / 10,430)
2011 - 22,541  (12,375 / 10,166)
2012 - 21,603  (11,382 / 10,221)
2013 - 20,030  (10,509 / 9,521)
2014 - 17,949  (9,074 / 8,875)
2015 - 16,144  (7,883 / 8,261)

Here are these figures depicted in a graph:

What you notice is that not only have the number of female teachers decreased far more slowly that male teachers (in fact, in 2012, male teachers decreased by almost 1,000, while female teachers increased by 55), but in 2015, for the first time, female teachers outnumbered male teachers on E-2 visas.

Considering ads by the ministry of education in different locals (such as Seoul or Daegu, the source of images below), and the fact that female teachers are highlighted, it's perhaps not that surprising.

Private education companies have leaned in this direction as well:

"English that you learn while enjoying yourself."

"More fun than an American drama! More exciting than a (Western) pop song!"

Recruiters Job and Consulting (whose ads I've looked at before: 123) also primarily used stock images of blue-eyed women in its advertisements:

The media has in the past portrayed male teachers (and soldiers) as potential predators, while portraying female teachers as sex objects (and so more desirable), as I looked at in depth here. Whether that is influencing this demographic shift I have no idea, but it may have influenced the choice of women in the PR/advertising images above. In terms of numbers, as public school hiring has dropped over the past 5 years (along with hagwon hiring as well), the number of male teachers has dropped by 5,000, while the number of female teachers have dropped by only 2,100. Whatever the reason for this, it's interesting to see the a gender balance that has been in place since the 1980s (especially so, back then, when most teachers either came from a military background or discovered Korea while they were travelling around Asia) change the way it has.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Immigration statistics showing E-2 numbers from 1993

I recently was looking through the immigration website and found E-2 statistics from the 1990s I hadn't come across before. This gives us a much better idea of how the numbers changed over the years.

The E-2 visa first appeared in 1993. Prior to that teachers were grouped in with other categories in an employment (취업) visa, or the (9-11) visa which was described in the legislation requiring foreign teachers to have work visas in 1984. Here's how E-2 visa numbers have changed over 22 years:

1993 - 1,136
1994 - 2,241
1995 - 4,230
1996 - 7,473
1997 - 7,607
1998 - 4,927
1999 - 5,009
2000 - 6,414
2001 - 8,388
2002 - 10,864
2003 - 10,822
2004 - 11,344
2005 - 12,439
2006 - 15,001
2007 - 17,721
2008 - 19,771
2009 - 22,642
2010 - 23,317
2011 - 22,541
2012 - 21,603
2013 - 20,030
2014 - 17,949
2015 - 16,144

E-2 numbers are now below 2007 figures. Here's a graph to help visualize the numbers:

Note though that after the "IMF crisis" hit in late 1997 many teachers would have left before the 1997 stats would have been recorded December 31, so there would have been quite a few more people working as teachers before the crisis began. One way to try to guess is to gauge the differences between people on E-2 visas at the end of the year and the number of people recorded as entering the country on that visa during the year. Since English teachers tended to travel outside the country, the latter number has always been larger than the former. What I did was see how much bigger that latter number was:

1993 - 1,136 E-2 visa-holders at year’s end; 1,959 entered the country , or 1.72 times more.
1994 - 2,241 E-2 visa-holders at year’s end; 4,277 entered the country , or 1.91 times more.
1995 - 4,230 E-2 visa-holders at year’s end; 7,695 entered the country , or 1.82 times more.
1996 - 7473 E-2 visa-holders at year’s end; 13,787 entered the country , or 1.84 times more.

Over these four years the number of E-2 visa holders is outpaced by number of people entering the country on that visa by an average of 1.82 Now let’s look at 1997:

1997 - 7,607 E-2 visa-holders at year’s end; 16,192 entered the country , or 2.12 times more.

Now if we multiply 7,607 visa holders by the average over the past four years, 1.82, we get 13,845. Subtract this from 16,192 and we get 2,347. Divide this by 1.82 and we get 1,290.
Add that projected number to 7,607 and we get 8,897 (an increase of 1,533 teachers over the previous year).

Worth noting, though, is that the 1994 E-2 numbers were 1.97 times that of 1993; the 1995 E-2 numbers were 1.89 times that of 1994; and the 1996 E-2 numbers were 1.77 times that of 1995. The projected number of 8,897 for 1997 is only 1.19 times that of 1996. It’s possible, then, that the number was quite a bit higher, so assuming for 9,000 teachers before the currency crisis hit is likely not too outrageous a projection. It’s possible a saturation point was reached then and the numbers didn’t increase as much; a similar thing happened in 2003 and 2004, which I remember well as I was looking for a job at the time and finding one that gave decent compensation and hours wasn’t easy. But considering the growth of the previous four years, it might be more apt to compare it to the heady years of 2005 to 2009, years of growth helped to a great degree by public school hiring, which initially began in 1995.

So, let's increase the numbers in 1997 to 9000:

Also interesting is looking at these stats with public school native speaking teachers highlighted (based on stats from here, here, and here):

But perhaps even more interesting is removing the public school teachers:

(That should say 'Hagwon E-2 holders.')

While the total number of E-2s peaked in 2010 (actually, by month, February 2011), the number of hagwon-employed E-2s peaked in 2008. This may be because the school programs (like cheaper or free summer or winter camps) were cutting into hagwon bottom lines, as I saw in the neighbourhood I lived in, or because more teachers went into the schools leaving hagwon jobs unfilled. The latter is unlikely however, considering the number of Americans who moved into teaching jobs here after the financial crisis in the US in 2008.

(Keep in mind while most public school NSETs were on E-2 visas, not all were - some were on F-4 gyopo visas - but I've treated the graphs above as if they were all E-2 because its not possible to know otherwise.)

Lastly, here are the numbers for total number of foreigners in Korea over the last 6 years - it should surpass 2 million soon:

2010 - 1,261,415
2011 - 1,395,077
2012 - 1,445,103
2013 - 1,576,034
2014 - 1,797,618
2015 - 1,899,519

Monday, March 14, 2016

White Day!

Men check out the candy selection at L Dept. Store on White Day, 1993 (from here).

Today is White Day (well, it's the 14th in the US), and I was made to think of it during a presentation in which a classmate spoke on this post about Valentine's Day and White Day's origins (note that it gives only the origin of the former; one assumes the author didn't want to draw attention to the Japanese origin of the latter). Also mentioned in the presentation was the list (similar to this one) of "__days" which occur on the 14th of each month in Korea, though I don't think anything beyond white and black day exists outside of such internet posts.

The first mention of White Day that turns up in the Naver News Library is this Hankyoreh editorial from February 14, 1989, titled "Behind chocolate hides a cunning business ploy," which concludes by saying that companies conjuring up White Day to make kids pay twice is improper.

It's mentioned twice in 1991 in a column the Maeil Gyeongje published written by people describing their married life. This one describes how the writer's husband forgot her birthday and said he'd celebrate it on the lunar calendar, and seemed to forget again but eventually surprised her with roses. She notes that he always gave her presents before that, even on "white day, a day he criticized as one made by merchants in order to sell candy."

The most interesting reference I found in 1991 was this one in the Kyunghyang Shinmun on March 11 titled "日(일),야광女子(여자)속옷판매 화이트데이 선물용: [In] Japan, glow-in-the-dark women's underwear sold as white day present." As the article puts it, "For the coming 14th (white day), a women's underwear company in Japan plans to sell 400,000 pairs of glow-in-the-dark panties to Japanese men wanting a present that their lover will never forget."

 New word for the day: 야광 - glow in the dark.

Jack London's photos all online

Quite some time ago I posted about photos taken by Jack London of Korea in 1904 during his time covering the Russo-Japanese War, which were published in the book 'Jack London, Photographer' (that link also has links to my unfinished series about Jack London, Robert Dunn, and Frederick McKenzie's adventures while trying to cover the war as the only foreign correspondents who initially managed to slip past Japanese attempts to control information).

I was contacted last year by someone cataloging his photos at the Huntington Library, who mentioned that, in addition to his own photography, London had bought a large number of photos while in Korea, and that these would all be online by the end of the year. This only came to mind recently, and they can now be found here. It's easy enough to browse and download photos, but they're not as well organized as they could be. The photos are scans of photos pasted into photo albums, but the search I linked to lists hits for random photos, not entire photo albums. At any rate, they do have annotations making clear whether the photo was taken by London or purchased, unlike the photos listed at this Korean blog (at the bottom of each post are links to other parts in the 8-part blog series). It seems most of the photos there London purchased; at any rate, they are at least very easy to browse. Here are a few from the Huntington Library site:

London in what is listed as Changgyeonggung Palace. 

Robert Dunn in the same location. 

I believe this was in Incheon. 

Women doing laundry outside city wall (the French legation is visible, top right). 

Namdaemun Market. 


Apparently the last photo London took as he left Busan to return home.

There are lots of gems in the collection, so it's well worth checking out. (It also includes photos of the urban poor in London, the San Francisco earthquake, south Pacific islands, etc.)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Colonial-era films discovered and will be screened next week (and a few other links)

The Joongang Daily reported the other day about the discovery and screening of colonial-era documentary films about Korea:
The [Korean Film Archive] announced Thursday during a press conference that the seven short films, found in Russia and Germany, expand upon cultural aspects of the time as well as Japan’s economic plan to breed sheep in the north of the country and plant cotton in the south - part of efforts by Tokyo at the time to produce industrial raw materials via cheap labor.[...]

The seven short films will be screened publicly in commemoration of the Independence Movement Day on March 1 in the Cinematheque KOFA, located in Sangam-dong, Mapo District, western Seoul.
Those films would appear to be the untitled films at the top of this schedule page.

Speaking of films, here are hundreds of Korean movie posters from the 1960s and 1970s (hat tip to Hamel).

And speaking of the colonial period, here are a couple dozen colorized photos from that time.

As well, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Cultural Heritage Administration and Jongno-gu Office signed a memorandum of understanding for the restoration of Dilkusha on February 26 (hat tip to Robert Koehler). It was built by Albert Taylor, a gold miner who first reported the Samil Independence Movement to the world as a reporter for AP; more on the house and its history can be found at Brother Anthony's site here. It's to be opened in 1919 on the 100th anniversary of the Samil Movement (though the house itself was built in 1923). Mary Taylor's memoir 'Chain of Amber' is a fascinating read about her time in Korea from around 1916 to WWII. I think there may be reprints of it available at the RAS Office.