Month: June 2016

Korean student speaks out against government hiring practice requiring interpreters to “look pretty”

“Why is it my duty to be pretty just because the President [of Korea] is coming to town? Image: JTBC News A Korean student currently studying in Paris has spoken out against absurd hiring conditions imposed at the 2016 KCON France held at AccorHotels Arena on June 2nd (the original message can be found on her Facebook account. A transcript is available via Kyunghyang Daily) Elodie Kim was hired as an interpreter at the KCON. But she was later demanded by KakaoTalk (equivalent of WhatsApp), to provide her measurements and a full-body photo. She asks whether they are indeed talking about the same job offer – that of an interpreter. The hiring agent replies “Yes, but looks are important”. Another student hired at the event is told that “You are hired as an assistant at an information booth for Korean SMEs. Looks matter as much as your [French] language skills”. Bibigo (Korea, US, UK), a Korean restaurant chain, has gone as far to highlight in red that their hiring requirements are “looks, French language skills, and …

Answer 2. Can you tell South and North Koreans apart?

South and North Korean soldiers depicted by Hankyung Daily.   Yes. First by their height (and physical build), then by their accent. Usually. Many younger defectors become fluent in the South Korean accent (I’ve witnessed them quickly change back into North Korean with their friends, but I do this too when I meet my friends from Busan). But the height difference – harder to change. One thing I noticed when meeting North Korea defectors was that the women were always wearing high heels. I didn’t initially give this much thought. “Well, they’re young women who grew up in or are currently living in South Korea, so of course they have to care about their looks”, was my logic. Heels are everyday wear in Seoul. The women were also very fashionable and wore impeccable makeup, so that ended there. Then came a day when I was gathered to talk with four different defectors on the same day. And it hit me – they are wearing heels because they don’t want to be a head (or more) shorter than everyone else! …

Question 1. Why do the Dutch charge for flooring when you take over their house?

To be specific, what would they do if you told them you didn’t want to pay for the flooring? Would they tear it up and take it with them? Considering the Dutch reputation (and truth) for being stingy (they say practical), I consider this to be a real possibility. I mean, I can definitely see one of my Dutch cousins with a stack of parquet or laminate flooring in their store-room somewhere, waiting for the day they can either sell it off for a good price or wandering around Ikea looking for the same material so they can redo their living room. Do you know what I’m talking about? Maybe not. On Dutch housing adverts, they often list the flat rent (what the space itself costs), the utility charges (can vary – usually a combination of electricity, water, gas, heating, Internet), and a list of furniture to take over. Sounds pretty standard, right? Then come a couple of items I’ve only seen on Dutch adverts: “[Insert type of material] flooring to be taken over at 50€” “5€ extra to share Wifi …

Art – Hao x Ozon

My friend Hao and Ozon are stating  a new photography project in Seoul. nights by hao, days by ozon https://www.instagram.com/haoxozon/ Hao is an interpreter by day and photographer by night. Well. I think he does daytime pictures too, but this sounds cooler.         Sleeping Beauty 白雪公主 is translated as White Snow Princess in East Asia. In this Beijing photoshoot, Hao simply changed first letter to 黑 (black). He was awarded the Grand Prize at Benetton Korea’s yearly photography contest.

Soranet officially shut down by owners

“We’re officially shutting down Soranet. The @soranet Twitter handle will also be closed. There are no plans to recover or to relocate our services, so do not let copycat websites trick you. We thank our users, who’ve shown so much love over the years” Soranet has officially announced that it will shut down its services, according to its official Twitter account (now closed). Read my coverage of  Korean women’s battle to shut down Soranet, which was not only Korea’s biggest porn hub, but also a breeding ground to underage prostitution, money laundering, extortion and most notoriously, revenge porn and gang rape.

“I Am a North Korean Millennial”

  Young North Korean defector Yeonmi Park gives an informal talk at LiNK. She talks about the Jangmadang Generation – the NK millenials who grew up with the illegal but widespread market system. The elder generations experienced the “good times” – The North was much better off than the South after the Korean War (1950-53) since it experienced fewer bombings. Within years, the North collapsed and its communist distribution system failed, leaving the people hungry – while the South rebuilt all its infrastructure, becoming the world’s 12th biggest economic power today. Here is a short summary of Yeonmi’s talk: North Korean millennials have little, if any, loyalty to the Kim regime. They have access to foreign media, including South Korean and Hollywood movies. They see the regime as an obstacle to private wealth and are starting private businesses. Yeonmi’s family was part of the social elite and of the Communist Party in North Korea, and she was only 13 when she escaped. She currently studies Economics at Columbia University.   Edited on June 15th for …