All posts filed under: Art & Culture

Legoland or Bronze Age? Why not both?

 Crown Prince Frederik at event organized by Lego Korea Image source: News1 Kyunghyang Daily reports that over 101 dolmens, 926 housing sites (incl. 9 with high-rise flooring), and a canal, among others, were found on Jungdo Island, the construction site for Legoland Korea (LLK). LLK has since announced that they were aware of the site’s archaeological value, and blueprints show a historical museum had been included in the plan as part of the attractions. Main construction was set to begin this August, with completion aimed at 2016 for the theme park and 2018 for facilities including a spa town, outlet, water park, historical park and hotel. A bridge to the mainland has already begun construction with a 30 million KRW grant from the government, along with archaeological digging for the LLK’s planned historical park. Jungdo Island Image source: Hangang Institute via Kyunghyang Daily Approximately 500 billion KRW (500 million USD) is set as the budget for Legoland Korea. As one of the first recipients of the 2014 Foreign Direct Investment Act, LLK investors such as Merlin …

There’s a hagwon for that, you know

Featured image: Gangnam Daesung, one of the most “prestigious” hagwons in South Korea. Yes, there are hagwons for passing the bar. Korea is the land of hagwons and private tutoring. If you want to learn something, or more specifically, if you want to pass some exam, you name it, we have it. The following few paragraphs are a reconstruction of the “upper-middle class” Korean mom and daughter as they progress through hagwons – much of this from experience I have teaching at hagwons, as well as supplementary stories from my friends as both students and teachers, and to a large extent, by observing my aunt, who is one of those mums. * * * * * * * * * * It all starts in primary school: Ballet & Piano, then English & Maths. You want your kid to get a sense of art, so you send her off to piano lessons. Then, you hear about all those moms sending kids to English lessons and Maths lessons. You get anxious, because they teach stuff public schools …

Patriarchy? Do You Mean, “Respect”?

Lee, Sunja’s house#1-Ancestral rites, Lee Sun-Mi, 2004 My grandmother is by all rights a very progressive lady. All her four children married through love . She’s been to Paris, LA, Norway, the Philippines, and even to Russia. One of her granddaughters is going to marry a Japanese man, and she’s okay with that. She told all her daughters and all her granddaughters “Women need to get jobs now. Otherwise nobody will respect you” instead of “Be a good wife”. But it’s when she says the following things that I realise the power of patriarchy drilled into all of us born and raised in Korea: – “He (my male cousin) wants to learn to make kimchi? Why? He has no need for that” – “She (some random neighbour’s daughter) is getting married for the second time, so you know, she’s not very clean, but she is a lovely person” – “You (me) are like a man! Fixing electricity and the plugs around the house…just like your mother!” My male cousin has been wanting to learn how to …

[Film] Uigwe, The 8-Day Festival (KBS, 2013)

Original title: 의궤, 8일간의 축제 Release date: April 17th, 2014 (Korea, 3D) Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon dynasty, is one of the most revered Korean rulers of all time. Politically, he successfully managed to balance factionalism between the many parties. Diplomatically, he opened up to Western powers for their technology while repressing Christianity  (the Joseon Sillok records that Jeongjo wore glasses in his forties due to his deteriorating eyesight). Socially, he paved the way for equality: Seo-eol, sons of concubines, were recruited in key government positions; efforts were made to abolish the slavery system. Culturally, advances were made in the printing press & The Suwon Fortress was built using modern technologies such as pulleys. In 1762, Jeongjo’s father, then crown prince Sado, was sentenced to death. His mental illnesses escalated in killing and raping sprees. Yeongjo, Sado’s father, eventually sentenced he be locked up in a wooden box without any food or drink. He died after 8 days. Although Jeongjo did not avenge political figures who supported his father’s death (and who subsequently argued that Jeongjo had no right to …

What We Call “Tin Attitude” In Korea

A tin pot boils up but also cools down in a second, making it ideal for cooking and eating at a fast pace. It’s also very cheap compared to other metal alloy products. Koreans employ the term “naembi geunseong” (냄비근성) to criticise the hot-headedness and emotionality of their own people. We get emotional and all egged up about something, but as soon as it loses its novelty we forget all about it. We lose our sense of logic and rationality, and resort to ad hominem attacks. When serious crimes are reported, people take the issue (too) personally, and yell “This is wrong! Who is responsible?!” which quickly amounts to “Down with the mayor! / President! / chairperson / head of ministry in charge!” “This country is so backward, my god, we should all be ashamed to call ourselves a developed nation!” and “Korea is a bad country!”. This attitude is displayed by the people, the media, the politicians. We all boil up, and then all cool down. Then we forget. On April 16th, a ferry carrying more …