All posts filed under: Unknown Histories

Goodbye, Pyongyang Time Zone

[Image description: Two clocks on the wall, side by side. One reads 11:46 (Seoul), and the other reads 11:16 (Pyongyang). Source: Yonhap Agency] Today, Pyongyang’s 30-minute difference with Seoul (and Tokyo) time zone will cease to be, as Kim Jong-Un orders North Koreans to set the time forward to match that of South Korea. “To reconcile our history” seems to be a prominent reason. However, if the Korean peninsula wants to reconcile with its history, it should actually be be Seoul changing its time 30 minutes back, considering the current Seoul time zone was implemented by the Japanese colonial government. As I’m writing this, a Dutch friend tells me: “Well, the South can’t very well do that; makes it look like Seoul is ceding to a Communist Revolution”. Basically, I’d be a jongbuk for saying this. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/05/time-for-change-north-korea-moves-clocks-forward-to-match-south Advertisements

1989. Universal freedom of travel

[Image description: A Korean female clerk at The Korean National Airlines (1946-1962; later dissolved and incorporated into Korean Air) is seen checking in passengers in 1957.] 1989: South Koreans are granted universal freedom of travel, without having to provide any reason to the government. Prior to this, every person leaving the country had to be assessed individually. Until 1980, no civilian passports were issued. When the first passports were issued in 1989, up until 1992, all applicants had to pay for an  “Anti-Communist Training” including learning about cases of South Koreans defecting to the North, as well “security information” for a full day, and be issued a certificate for completing the programme, before they could receive their passport. A video clip by the government states the following: 관계부처와 관광공사 그리고 여행사 자체에서의 교육은 물론 여행자 자신이 여행상식과 정보, 각국의 문화, 관습 등을 보다 철저히 배우는 노력이 있어야 하겠습니다. 관광은 서로 다른 문화 간의 대화이며 흥분과 환상의 세계를 제공하는 것입니다. 그러나 국제관광은 자칫 나라의 위신과 국민 전체의 명예를 손상 시킬 수도 있기 때문에 우리는 해외여행에 앞서 …

KBS Family Reunion Broadcast nominated to UNESCO Memory of the World Register

This post originally contained a YouTube video, which was later removed by the uploader. The Archives of the 1983 KBS Special Live Broadcast “Finding Dispersed Families” – the longest live broadcast in history is nominated to UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register. “Originally planned to run for 95 minutes, the programme was soon overwhelmed by the stories of South Korean families separated by the chaos of the Korean War, and ended up running for a record-breaking 138 days (450 minutes/4 months). People filled the walls and floors around the KBS building with their stories, and some managed to miraculously find their family” It is notable that this 1983 programme reunited family members within South Korea only – and have no relation to the South-North families reunions the Pyongyang regime uses as a political lever these days. After the Korean War ended in 1953, South Korea as a nation was a mess. Most of its infrastructure had been bombed, people had migrated here and there, mostly towards the South (Busan) from Seoul, and on their way …

Jeonju – Royal Portrait Museum

Last week I traveled through Jeollado with my mother and a friend of ours. Our first stop was Jeonju, a  city in Jeollabuk-do (Jeollado is divided into North and South). It’s famous for the Hanok Village, which has kept traditional Korean architecture and foods to an art form. My mother’s friend runs two Hanok guesthouses and a modern guesthouse there, so we visited all three. Courtyard of an art gallery Traditional roofing of a shop One of the main museums in Jeonju Hanok Village is  Oejinjeon, the Joseon Royal Portrait Museum. Since I love history, it was great for me to visit it. Although all the portraits except for that of King Taejo are reproductions or approximations, it is interesting to see how they may have looked like according to royal records (or photographs, in the case of Gojong and Sunjong). Portrait of Taejo Lee Seongkye Image source: Hankook Ilbo for Kids Originally, there were 26 portraits of Taejo, but all of them except for one were destroyed during the Japanese invasions of 1592-3. The piece on …

Why My Friends Are Forced To Study Christianity At University

t Ewha Woman’s University with banners announcing Hilary R. Clinton’s visit Image source: Ewha Media Blog Because Christian missionaries founded the first universities in Korea and somehow private institutions’ right to setting their own curricula is given priority over people’s freedom of religion. The prestigious Yonsei University (1915, founded by Horace Underwood), Ewha Woman’s University (1910, Mary Scranton), and Sogang University (1960, Society of Jesus), among many others, were founded by American missionaries. Chapel is mandatory at Yonsei and Ewha – 2 years at Yonsei and 4 years at Ewha. All Yonsei students must also elect one course on Christian thought in their first year. Which in my view is an infringement on personal freedom of religion, but somehow it isn’t given priority. Most Korean universities that are considered prestigious have a long history originating sometime around the beginning of the 1900s – a time when Korea was forced to start opening up to the outside world and to Christianity, starting with the 1882 US treaty (including the notorious most-favoured nation clause). It was around this time that Koreans started opening …

No You’re Not Allowed To Talk About Colonization

[Image description: Koreans rejoice by waving their flags on August 15th, 1945.] Unless you come from a country that was once colonized. It’s like this: I had Stage 4 cancer, and miraculously came back to life after extensive surgery and chemo that took all my hair, health, and life. My boyfriend of 5 years also left me because he couldn’t handle the pain I was in. And then you say “Hey, you used to be overweight, now you’re all thin! Looking great, mate, you should totally get a better guy now, forget about that loser!”. I now reserve the right to slap you with my hand, which is studded with metal rings. You can’t say “Yes, but Japan did bring modern law and railways, which really helped the Korean economy”. You can’t say “But now that Indians all speak English well and all, isn’t it better? You guys can all go to Silicon Valley and work, as soon as you get a job and a visa!”. You can’t say “You have French nationality even though you’ve …