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Opening a communicative space

between Korea and the world

Korea’s Dynamos:
Innovative Success Stories 12
DECEMBER
ISSN: 2005-2162

2009
The Diplomacy of the Dinner Table
www.korea.net
The world is moving toward Ulsan, Korea!
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Ulsan, the economic hub of Northeast Asia! Where global companies come to do business.

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Tel : 82-52-229-3070~3073 ulsan.investkorea.org
CONTENTS

16 23 38
Publisher
Kim He-beom,
Korean Culture and
Information Service
06 Cover Story
• Big Dreams Small Firms - Hidden Champions

Chief Editor
Ko Hye-ryun

Editing & Printing


16 News in Focus
• International Understanding Through Kimchi

22
JoongAng Daily
Cover Photo
Diplomacy
The Oasis of the Seas, E-mail • Korea to Play Bridging Role
the world’s biggest cruise webmaster@korea.net
ship, was built by a • Allies Tackle Myriad Issues
Korean group.  Design • Obama in the New Asia
 Provided by STX JoongAng Daily
• Korea Pledges Aid, Training at 2nd Africa Forum
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced in any form without permission from Korea
in Seoul
and the Korean Culture and Information Service. • OECD Forum Experts Seek New Metric to Replace
The articles published in Korea do not necessarily rep- GDP
resent the views of the publisher. The publisher is not
liable for errors or omissions.

Letters to the editor should include the writer’s full name


and address. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or
space restrictions.
30 Global Korea
• Thanking Those Who Answered Peace’s Call
If you want to receive a free copy of Korea or wish to • Translation on a Biblical Scale
cancel a subscription, please e-mail us.
A downloadable PDF file of Korea and a map and glos-
• Looking After God’s Children
sary with common Korean words appearing in our text

36
are available by clicking on the thumbnail of Korea on
the homepage of www.korea.net. Green Growth
발간등록번호: 11-1110073-000016-06 • Outrunning Climate Change
4 korea December 2009
 DECEMBER 2009
 VOL. 16 / NO. 12

48 55 56
38 Culture
• It’s Better Late Than Never As Koreans 56 Travel
• To the Slopes!
Head to the Mall • A Visit to the Incheon Shore for Fresh,
• Hardships and Love in Verse Authentic Seafood
• Four For One, One For All

44 Korean Literature
• A broken heart in a divided nation :
62 People
• In the Sandy Footsteps of an Ancient

Kim Won-il Pilgrim : Nam Young-ho


• Boy’s Journey from Zambia to Korea’s Top
University : Kent Kamasumba
48 Korean Artist
• Architect Preserves, Resurrects Korea’s
66

Foreign viewpoints
Traditional Lifestyles : Jo Jeong-gu
• Don’t Take Korea’s Tale For Granted :

52
Simon Bureau
Sports
• Majestic Park Will Be Home to a Beloved
Korean Sport
• Lim Bests Zhang in Denmark
• Kim Yun-a’s Road to the Gold

December 2009 korea 5


The Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest and newest cruise ship,
navigates through a channel headed for its home port nearby
in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Nov. 13. The Royal
Caribbean ship was constructed in Finland by STX Europe, which
is owned by Korea’s STX Group.  [AP]

6 korea December 2009


Cover
CoverStory
Story| |Hidden
Korea Champions
at the G-20

BIG
DREAMS
SMALL
The world looks to Korea as it becomes the first non-G8

FIRMS
country to chair the Group of 20 and steer economic policy

December 2009 korea 7


[JoongAng Ilbo]

8 korea
korea December
December 2009
2009
Cover Story | Hidden Champions

Korea’s Hidden Champions


How risk-taking entrepreneurs fought to the top of their global niches

F
or Korea, the financial crisis had an sively spent to solidify its market dominance.
upside — though it was a shock to the Samsung Electronics’ memory chip market
system, sending many companies into share rose from 29 percent in the second quarter
restructuring, it gave local exporters a to 31.1 percent from July to September.
chance to build market share against their Add in Hynix Semiconductor’s 22.8 percent
rivals. of the global market and Korea’s presence in
And that success wasn’t limited to the enor- memory chips is overwhelming.
mous conglomerates that most overseas associ- Samsung’s expansion happened while lead-
ate with Asia’s fourth-largest economy. ing Taiwanese chipmaker Nanya Technology
The eyes of the world were transfixed last saw an operating deficit and Japan’s Elpida
month when the world’s largest cruise ship, three Memory narrowly avoided facing a loss during
times the size of the Titanic, docked in Florida. the same period.
It was the handoff of the 72-meter-high, The Korean company has never dropped
360-meter-long Oasis of the Seas to its new own- from the top spot in the world memory chip
er, the U.S.-based cruise company Royal Carib- market since 1993, and since 1983, the compa-
bean, from its builder, none other than STX ny’s semiconductor division has been growing at
Europe, a company purchased by the Korean an average of 27 percent every year.
STX Group in 2007. The vessel was evidence of In NAND flash memory chips, Samsung had
just how far the Korean company had come in 38.5 percent of the global market in the third
technological advancement and skill. quarter, up from 37.6 percent from April to June,
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics, the flag- according to a report by the research agency
ship unit of the nation’s largest conglomerate, DRAMeXchange. That growth solidifies Sam-
surprised investors at home and abroad with its sung’s leading position and widens the gap with
third-quarter performance. The leading con- runner-up Toshiba, which has a 34.7 percent
glomerate not only posted a record operating share. Micron and Hynix Semiconductor fol-
profit for the July-September season but out- lowed, with 9.4 percent and 8.7 percent of the
paced the operating profit of nine Japanese elec- market, respectively.
tronics companies including Sony, Panasonic Mobile phone sales in the United States were
and Hitachi — combined. another reason for Samsung to rejoice. Accord-
The Japanese business newspaper Nihon ing to U.S.-based Strategy Analytics, Samsung
Keizai wrote that Samsung Electronics’ operat- had 25.6 percent of the North American cellular
ing profit was roughly 4.2 trillion won ($3.6 bil- market from July to September.
lion) or 326 billion yen, more than twice the size The company has sold more than 10 million
the 151.9 billion yen posted by the nine Japanese mobile phones over five consecutive quarters, an
firms. accomplishment made even more remarkable
Nobuyuki Oneda, vice president of Sony, when one considers that Samsung Electronics
acknowledged Samsung Electronics’ numbers. made its debut in North America in 1997.
Kortek specializes in LCD He said it was hard not to admit that Sony had LG Electronics, another Korean company,
displays for casino slot lost competitiveness against Samsung. Fumio closely trails Samsung at 20.7 percent of the
machines as well as infor- Ohtsubo, president of Panasonic, made a similar North American cellular market. Motorola’s
mation and advertising statement. share is 16.7 percent, RIM accounts for 12.2 per-
displays. The company Nihon Keizai reported that while Japanese cent and Apple, 7.4 percent.
has the largest market companies were busy cutting back on invest- Samsung Electronics’ television unit is also
share in the world for ment with the global economic downturn, Sam- thriving. In the third quarter the Korean elec-
casino displays. sung Electronics did the opposite and aggres- tronics company sold 6.9 million LCD televi-
December 2009 korea 9
[JoongAng Ilbo]
sions, raising its global market share for that as the the only auto manufacturer to develop
product from 20.5 percent three months earlier them along with its affiliate Kia Motors.
to 21.1percent. Korean products have finally made the jump
Combine that with LG Electronics’ 12.3 per- from a reputation for second-rate quality to a
cent, a new record for the runner-up, and a full force to be reckoned with even for high-end
third of the world’s LCD TV sales come from goods. It’s the same path walked by Japan, which
Korean companies. During the same period, after World War II had a very poor image. But by
Sony saw its LCD market share drop 0.6 percent- the 1980s and 1990s Americans were turning off
age point from the previous quarter to 10.1 per- their Panasonic televisions, grabbing their Sony HJC Helmets, which
cent. Sharp’s global market share increased from Walkman cassette players and driving their Toy- started off as a small
6.7 percent in the second quarter to 7.3 percent. otas to work. motorcycle helmet parts
But electronics are not the only Korean prod- Today Korean products have penetrated the supplier in 1971, has
ucts thriving on the global market. Western lifestyle just as deeply, rising from the grown into the motorcy-
Hyundai Motor has been aggressively ruins of civil war in the 1950s to become one of cle helmet manufacturer
expanding overseas, while major automakers Asia’s leading economies. with the world’s larest
such as General Motors and Toyota suffer mas- Now Westerners call each other on Samsung market share.
sive losses. The Korean carmaker in the third phones, go shopping in their Hyundai autos and
quarter saw its earnings and operating profit put the groceries in LG Electronics refrigera-
increase 33.8 percent to 8.9 trillion won and tors.
461.5 percent to 586.8 billion won from a year Although Korea’s economic growth hit a
earlier, respectively. speed bump during the Asian financial crisis in
Net profit hit a record high of 979.1 billion 1997 and 1998, the country has made an excep-
won, a 269.8 percent surge from the same period tional comeback since 2000, led by businesses
last year. Thanks to higher sales, the company’s that worked hard to put down roots in new coun-
global market share has been expanding, break- tries. In fact, exports by Korean conglomerates
ing the 5 percent barrier for the first time in the have surged 125 percent in the last five years.
second quarter and rising in the third quarter But with this swift growth comes structural
from 5.2 to 5.5 percent. weaknesses. A Fair Trade Commission report
Hyundai also has a dominating presence in last year showed that the top 100 companies
liquefied petroleum gas-electric hybrid vehicles, accounted for 50 percent of the nation’s mining

10 korea December 2009


Cover Story | Hidden Champions
Provided by the company

and manufacturing in 2006. This was an increase thanks to smaller companies, without whom
from 46.8 percent in 2005 and 46.4 percent in there would be no Samsung Electronics or Hyun-
2004. dai Motor. Therefore, the success of the nation’s
The agency said the report showed that economy is entwined with the success of these
Korea’s economy is growing more dependent on firms.
the few conglomerates, particularly since the cri- Professor An believes that such small opera-
sis of the late 1990s wiped out many smaller busi- tions are able to thrive because of their endless
nesses. efforts to innovate. Better technology and
improvements in quality are the only way small
A full 127 Korean products held the top and mid-size companies are able to survive, An
says.
spot in their respective markets last year. The name “hidden champions” comes from
the title of a book by Hermann Simon on the
The 31 conglomerates with assets of over 5 power of the small to mid-sized business.
trillion won held 37.5 percent of the market for Germany has been the largest exporter in the
mining and manufacturing here in Korea, with world since it took that title from the U.S. in
over a quarter taken up by the top five business 2007. In 2000, U.S. exports accounted for 12.1
groups. Those 31 conglomerates also accounted percent of the world’s overseas shipments. But
for 76.2 percent of exports. That renders the seven years later, Germany’s global market share
Korean economy especially vulnerable to prob- had grown to 9.5 percent, while U.S. fell to 8.3
lems in these large family-owned jaebeol. percent.
But growing small businesses may be able to The secret to Germany’s strength, Simon
remedy the situation, and some experts have put argues in his book, was competitive smaller
their hope in these “hidden champions.” In this companies. Simon claims that two-thirds of the
category are companies with strong technologi- world’s “hidden champions,” roughly 1,300
cal foundations or products that have the poten- firms, are German. He says these companies play
Young An was founded tial to be — or already are — international hits. a vital role in Germany’s economy, and that it is
in 1959. Today it supplies An Chong-bum, an economics professor at the same for the Netherlands and Belgium.
hats and baseball caps to Sungkyunkwan University, says the Korea econ- Visiting Korea in June, Simon noted that
over 70 countries. omy was only able to reach where it is today Korea’s economy was too reliant on conglomer-

December 2009 korea 11


[JoongAng Ilbo]
ate, but that there are numerous Korean com- displays supplied to casinos around the world,
panies that could become hidden champions. including the Bellagio, the MGM Grand and the
According to the Ministry of Knowledge Mirage in Las Vegas, are developed by Kortex.
Economy, last year 127 Korean products held And the company has not stopped there,
the top spot in their respective global markets. adding digital information displays and large
The number of products on that list is up sig- LCD monitors that provide information and
nificantly, from just 49 products in 2002 and 86 advertisements to its portfolio. The company Samkwang Electron-
in 2005. recently inked contracts to supply the former to ics specializes in audio
Of course, some of the winners on the list Japan’s NEC and Loewe of Germany. speaker grilles. It has the
are typical Korean exports — semiconductors, Lee Han-gu, chairman and founder of leading global market
LNG vessels and so forth — but others came Kortek, says his success came from finding busi- share and a client list
from surprising smaller operations, including nesses that were untapped, and from never being that includes Japanese
motorcycle helmets, bicycle shoes and speaker satisfied with just a single area of dominance. companies such as Sony,
grilles. Kortek has also been developing monitors Sharp, Toshiba and
Those examples show that even the smallest for medical purposes and is currently competing Pioneer.
Korean company can grow into a global affair if with major global players in that market includ-
it is skilled enough in its market niche. ing GE, Siemens and NEC.
And several organizations are already mov- Another local “hidden champion,” EO Tech-
ing quickly to contribute support to help Korea’s nics, specializes in laser engravers that carve let-
hidden champions realize that potential. ters and brand names onto semiconductors. The
In early November, Korea Exchange held an company has a global market share of 50 percent,
unusual event at the COEX convention center in and it has maintained that position even through
southern Seoul. In its first IR Expo, Korea one of the worst economic crises in history.
Exchange set up a booth under the title “Hidden Also among the 22 firms at the COEX booth
Champions.” Twenty-two smaller companies was LMS, currently the leading provider of
participated at the investor relations show, aim- mobile phone prism sheet, a key component in
ing not only to attract capital but also to promote the LCD display once monopolized by 3M.
their goods and technologies. The company not only accounts for 60 per-
One of them was Kortek, the current leader cent of world sales, it actually saw its best perfor-
in displays for casinos. Over 50 percent of the mance ever in the third quarter, with operating

12 korea December 2009


Cover Story | Hidden Champions
Provided by the company

profit surging 126 percent on-year to 6 billion to beat its Japanese rivals relatively recently, HJC
won thanks in particular to growth in China. had already reached first place in its sector by
Lah Woo-joo, president of LMS, puts his 1990. Today one out of every two motorcycle
emphasis as much on precision manufacturing helmets in the world has an HJC logo.
as on trust with his clients. Like other entrepre- Another unsung hidden champion is Esen-
neurs, Lah hopes to expand into components for cia, which makes an unusual product: tooth-
other products including portable game devices brush sterilizers.
and laptops. In the wider prism sheet market Its small business’s founder and president,
LMS made 10 percent of global sales last year, Shin Choong-sik, turned a disgusting episode
which Lah hopes to raise to 20 percent. into a lucrative idea. His inspiration for devel-
oping the toothbrush sterilizer came when one
Kortek’s displays are now in use at the day he saw a roach sitting on his toothbrush.
Business didn’t start off with a boom. On the
Bellagio, the MGM Grand and the Mirage. contrary, he almost went bankrupt. But Shin
never gave up hope, and soon sales started to
Korea Exchange, which runs the local stock pick up. Today Esencia has inspired imitators
bourse, decided to promote the 22 companies to among major electronics makers, but it still holds
raise their profiles outside their individual fields, a large portion of the market.
where they may be less well known. Of course, The state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea
that doesn’t mean there aren’t other thriving is taking its own measures to support these
local hidden champions absent from the expo. enterprising Korean firms. Exim Bank President
Aurora world is a One is HJC, a motorcycle helmet manufac- Kim Dong-soo focused on the subject in a lec-
company that manufac- turer. Though not well known outside the biker ture in October at Hankuk University of Foreign
tures dolls and charac- community, HJC counts as a fan anyone who Studies about the global financial crisis and
ter goods. It hopes to owns a motorcycle or has an interest in the sport. opportunities for Korea.
become the next Disney The company started off as small parts supplier The bank decided last month to invest 20
with many of its charac- but started to create and market its own products trillion won over the next 10 years to foster small
ters winning the hearts in 1980, expanding to the overseas market in and mid-sized exporters, in the hopes of creating
of young consumers 1984. 300 Korean hidden champions by 2019.
around the world. Where Samsung Electronics only managed The lender will also offer looser limits on

December 2009 korea 13


loans as well as discounts on fees to small busi- market, the hidden champions looked to broad-
nesses. It has already selected 12 companies er horizons, establishing direct connections with
including LMS, Amotech and Simpac to benefit consumers across the world.
from the policies. Six of the companies are work- The fourth element was flexibility, which the
ing in new growth engine industries including group said made the work environment condu-
green technologies. cive to innovation and solidified relationships of
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and trust between the company and its employees Suprema is the world’s
Industry in May released its own research on the — something difficult to find at larger organiza- No. 1 fingerprint recogni-
success of the local hidden champions. Citing tions. tion system developer, an
companies like IDIS, a security equipment firm, The final factor the report cited was the pio- area it considers one of
the group elucidated five factors that it said con- neer spirit that led the companies to move into the few remaining “blue
tributed to the companies’ success. sectors that had been left overlooked by larger ocean” markets.
The first and most significant factor, the operations. The report said hidden champions
chamber found, was innovative technological studied new markets according to the needs of
development. The report said more than 40 per- consumers, and developed strategies accord-
cent of employees at the companies were ingly.
researchers, and the hidden champions invested Just like the larger conglomerates, whose
more than 10 percent of their annual revenue in quick spending helped them finally pull ahead of
research and development. their Japanese competitors, Korea’s hidden
The second contributing factor to success champions have shown a daring spirit, spending
was a focus on building expertise and gaining into the crisis in efforts to improve their quality
market share in a single niche. and competitiveness. The difference: They don’t The opening of the Ko-
Global marketing was the third. Instead of have billions of won in breathing room.  rea’s first IR Expo, held at
competing in the crowded and limited local  By Lee Ho-jeong COEX on the first week
of November (far left).
 [Yonhap]

At the ‘Hidden Champi-


on’ booth of the IR Expo,
22 companies listed on
the Kosdaq participated
in the event to promote
themselves (left). 
 Provided by KRX

14 korea December 2009


Cover Story | Hidden Champions

A Cute and Cuddly Path to Success


I
f you or one of your kids has a room other companies’ designs and brands.
full of stuffed animals, chances are Then, in 1991, just a decade after it
you’ve bought an Aurora World started taking orders, a major U.S.
product, though the Korean firm is buyer slashed the fees it was willing to
nowhere near as familiar to consum- pay for Aurora’s products. It was a
ers as Disney. massive blow to the doll maker.
That could change, however. Over So founder Noh Hui-yeol decided
90 percent of the company’s sales are to weather the storm by having his
made abroad, with the U.S. market company create its own characters.

[JoongAng Ilbo]
Aurora’s largest at 48.8 percent, fol- But there were hiccups here as
lowed by Russia with 13.1 percent and well, with U.S. dollmaker Russ Berrie
Britain with 10.4 percent. Korea only filing a lawsuit against the Korean President Hong Gi-woo with stuffed ani-
accounts for 7 percent of Aurora company for copying its designs. But mals. Aurora World was chosen as one of
World’s total market share as of last Aurora didn’t back down, and contin- the 22 “hidden champions” listed on the
year. ued to introduce its Korean stuffed Kosdaq.
Aurora was first established in dolls to consumers in the U.S. through
1981. Although it only rakes in 1.5 nationwide marketing tours. As the Today more than 85 percent of the
percent of all the character goods sold world’s largest doll market, the U.S. products Aurora makes are derived
in the world, it was still chosen as one accounts for over 40 percent of annu- from the company’s own designs.
of the 22 “hidden champions” listed al sales. Meanwhile, its steady promotional
on the Kosdaq. In the end a deal was reached with activities since the mid-1990s have
It wasn’t easy for Aurora to get Russ Berrie, and Aurora was free to helped raise brand recognition. 
started. It began as a manufacturer of promote and sell its products.  By Lee Ho-jeong

One Innovator’s Vision of Digital Security


Y
ou may not know IDIS by name, Back then many bright young
but those in the security busi- minds rushed to cash in on Korea’s
ness do. The monitoring sys- dot-com boom. His classmates includ-
tems developed by the small Korean ed Lee Hae-jin, who developed the
company have been installed in Web portal Naver. Kim’s idea for a
important buildings around the security company seemed outdated.
world. Clients include the National But he went ahead, and digitized an
Aeronautics and Space Administra- analog industry.
tion (NASA) in Houston, the Sydney IDIS developed a DVR system that
Opera House and Pudong Interna- could record 30 days of footage on a
tional Airport in Shanghai. 40-gigabyte hard disc, revolutionary
That makes IDIS a “hidden cham- compared to conventional VCRs that
pion.” could only record on 12-hour tapes.
As of last year the firm had the top IDIS was also the first company in the Kim Young-dal, above, decided to found
market share in the world for digital world to develop DVR systems that IDIS while studying at the Korea Advanced
video recorder security systems at would automatically set off an alarm Institute of Science and Technology.
31.5 percent, higher than General when the camera detects unusual
Electric, Sony and even Mitsubishi. movement. department. As a result IDIS DVR
The company has seen aggressive The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks systems are known to be stabler and
growth of over 30 percent per year. boosted demand for the DVRs, and cheaper than the competition.
Behind the success of this small IDIS was named among the top 200 Despite the economic downturn,
security firm is Kim Young-dal, who small or mid-size companies by exports make up more than 70 per-
founded the company in 1997 after Forbes Magazine in 2002 and 2004. cent of IDIS’s sales, while domestic
preparations made while studying for Success came thanks to aggressive market share has risen from 14.5 per-
his doctorate at the Korea Advanced R&D. According to the company, 46 cent in 2006 to 20.7 percent in 2008.
Institute of Science and Technology. percent of its employees work in that  By Lee Ho-jeong

December 2009 korea 15


[JoongAng Ilbo]

16 korea December 2009


News in Focus

International Understanding
Through Kimchi

A royal dish, gujeolpan combines a wheat


wrap with many ingredients including beef,
shitake mushrooms, green bean sprouts, egg,
abalone, shrimp and many other delights.

December 2009 korea 17


Provided by Cheong Wa Dae
CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout inter-
views Korea’s first lady Kim Yoon-
ok in front of Sang-chunjae, a
traditional Korean building used
to host VIPs at Cheong Wa Dae,
Korea’s presidential residence.

The interview was broadcast at the


Why globalizing Korean food is such beginning of the program on the net-
work, which reaches 1.2 billion viewers
serious business around the world.
The effort to promote Korean food

K
also has a diplomatic dimension. On Oct.
orea’s first lady Kim Yoon- The first lady has played a key role 9, Kim took Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife
ok met Korean actor Bae in the government-led effort to global- of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio
Yong-joon at Sang-chunjae, ize Korean food. In mid-October, a tele- Hatoyama, to the Institute of Traditional
a traditional Korean build- vision program titled “Eye on South Korean Food in central Seoul. There,
ing used to host V.I.P.s at Cheong Wa Korea” was aired on CNN, detailing not Kim and Hatoyama made kimchi togeth-
Dae, the official residence of Kim and only the relatively quick economic er, and after it was finished, Kim took a
Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak. The recovery Korea has made since the U.S. piece and put it into the Japanese first
meeting took place on Nov. 10, as Kim, sub-prime mortgage crisis last year, but lady’s mouth. Talking up one’s national
who is also the honorary chairwoman of also the country’s effort to raise the pro- food might seem almost trivial, but food
the Promotional Group for Globaliza- file of its cuisine. can go a long way toward piquing people’s
tion of Korean Cuisine, invited Bae, one First lady Kim was prominently fea- interest in a culture at large.
of the group’s officials, to discuss their tured in the program, interviewed by In April, the Presidential Commis-
effort to increase the prestige of Korean CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout at Sang- sion for Future and Vision and the Min-
food. chunjae on Oct. 16. With Stout standing istry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and
Kim said, “V.I.P.s from abroad tend to the side, Kim made japchae (mixed Fisheries(MIFAFF) co-hosted the Kore-
to like sinseollo [Korean-style hotpot]. vegetables and sliced beef) and a mung an Cuisine to the World 2009 sympo-
The Bulgarian president enjoyed eating bean pancake. sium, which highlighted a globalization
rice and kimchi with sinseollo.” “Korean food is made with natural plan for the country’s cuisine. The tar-
The Korean Wave star responded, ingredients and cooked in a way that get: establishing Korean food as a major
“Now, there is a health food culture preserves the original taste of the mate- global cuisine. The following month,
booming across the world, and in that rials,” Kim said during the interview. the Promotional Group for Globaliza-
sense, Korean food is very competitive.” “What is most attractive about Korean tion of Korean Cuisine was launched
Bae, beloved across Asia for his TV dishes is that they are healthy and made — yet another step in the same direc-
drama roles, runs the Korean restaurant based on a philosophy that what people tion.
Koshirae in Tokyo. eat determines their state of health.” The group consists of 36 govern-
18 korea December 2009
News in Focus

ment officials, chief executive officers


and restaurateurs. Some notable names:
A survey the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel,
Woosong University and the Korean
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Food Institute at Sookmyung Women’s
Yu In-chon; Minister for Food, Agricul-
showed that University. The four-month course is
ture, Forestry and Fisheries Chang Tae- open to both Koreans and non-Koreans
pyong, and, of course, actor Bae Yong- the world’s and will teach not only cooking tech-
joon. As part of the effort, MIFAFF niques but also Korean food culture,
intends to promote the restaurant indus- favorite dishes foreign languages and business skills.
try, while the Culture Ministry plans to A survey of 100 professionals includ-
develop travel packages centered on from Korea ing restaurant industry officials, chefs at
Korean cuisine. major hotels, Korean food researchers
Among the strategies being pursued included and food journalists in Korea indicated
by the group are upgrading related laws, that kimchi, bulgogi marinated beef,
establishing Korean food brands, train- bibimbap, bibimbap, japchae and tteokbokki were
ing and licensing chefs on Korean food most well-known Korean dishes in the
at foreign culinary schools, supporting kimchi and world. The survey was taken by the
research and development, encouraging Korean Culture and Information Ser-
private sector investment in franchises bulgogi beef. vice in September. What differentiated
overseas, increasing the number of Korean foods from other cuisines was
Korean restaurants at five-star hotels in its health value, containing lots of veg-
Korea and promoting Korean food etables, respondents said. They added
through the domestic and international that Korean food represents the nation’s
media and various events. The ministry culture and its people’s affectionate
said it intends to concentrate on pro- nature. However, they also said a lack of
moting bibimbap, kimchi, traditional standardized techniques and the diffi-
wines and the spicy rice cakes known as culty in cooking Korean food prevent it
tteokbokki, among others. from taking hold overseas.
As part of its plan, MIFAFF said it The Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade
would educate chefs at Korean restau- Corporation set out in October and
rants, especially outside the country, November to discover foreigners’ favor-
since it found foreigners have a relative- ite Korean dishes. The study assembled
ly negative perception of Korean food. focus groups in four countries: the Unit-
Even the same dishes taste radically dif- ed States, Vietnam, China and Japan.
ferent at different restaurants, the min- “The study was meant to figure out
istry said, and waiters and waitresses not only what kind of Korean food is
often do not explain how to eat Korean popular among foreigners but also how
food or what ingredients are used, which to get, or how to replace, original ingre-
makes it difficult for foreign diners to dients, how to keep the price level rea-
take the plunge.
“Korean restaurants abroad are the
frontier where foreigners come into
contact with Korean food,” said Kang
Hye-young, a deputy director at
MIFAFF. “Improving service at these
restaurants would be the first step to
upgrade the image of Korean food.”
The ministry said it is not easy to
find chefs specializing in Korean food
outside Korea, and there are even cases
in which non-Koreans who have no for-
mal training in making Korean food are
[JoongAng Ilbo]

working at Korean restaurants around


the world.
To solve the problem, the ministry is Wives of the generals of the Republic of Korea and U.S. Combined Forces
offering training in making Korean food Command (CFC) learning how to make Korean food at Sookmyung Women’s
in partnership with Yonsei University, University’s Korean Food Institute.

December 2009 korea 19


sonable and how to prepare food to fit
the tastes of non-Koreans,” said Kim Ji-
Types
TypesofofKorean
Koreanfoods
foodsfavored
favored in four different
different countries
countries
United States
hyup, a manager at the trade corpora-
galbi (short ribs), bibimbap, chicken galbi, sliced roast beef, and pajeon (green onion pancake)
tion. The study will be used to help mixed with kimchi, seafood and cheese.
instruct owners or chefs at Korean res- China
taurants inside and outside Korea. Samgyetang (young chicken soup with ginseng), tteokbokki, galbi jjim, sliced roast beef, pajeon
The preferred Korean dish differed Japan
bibimbap, galbi, bulgogi, tteokbokki, seafood pajeon
from country to country. In the United
Vietnam
States, people tended to like roasted gimbap (dried seaweed rolls), gujeolpan (vegetable wrap), kimchijeon (kimchi pancake), bibimbap, bulgogi
meats such as galbi short ribs. They also Source: Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation
liked bibimbap, chicken galbi, sliced
roast beef and pajeon (green onion pan- effort. A total of 22 kinds of kimchi — Since Gagnaire himself doesn’t live
cakes). The Chinese liked samgyetang even some using seaweed and apples in Seoul, Jerome Roy, the restaurant’s
(young chicken soup with ginseng), — were served at a buffet along with 32-year-old head chef, directed the pro-
tteokbokki, galbi jjim, sliced roast beef meals such as rolls, steamed and stir- cess. Some of his signature creations for
and pajeon, while in Japan, bibimbap, fried dishes, beef skewers, cannelloni the anniversary menu included French-
galbi, bulgogi, tteokbokki and seafood and kimchi-inspired desserts. Portable style kimchi and foie gras toast.
pajeon were among the most popular. one-bite “mini-roll pork kimchi” and “I tried to keep the sourness and
In Vietnam, where Korean pop culture Bordeaux kimchi with a gorgeous wine crunchiness of kimchi, while also trying
has only recently become popular, gim- color were also served. to make it go well with French cuisine,”
bap, gujeolpan vegetable wraps, kimchi- “Kimchi is a great ingredient for Roy said in an interview in September.
jeon pancakes, bibimbap and bulgogi Korean food, but it can also be used Such experiments with fusion could
stew were popular. effectively in Western cuisines and even gain traction in the coming years, with
“We are trying to make Korean food in desserts,” said Bae Han-chul, the the Seoul government and the Food
more accessible to foreigners, so we are director of kitchens at the hotel. Ministry enlisting foreign chefs to help.
experimenting with different flavors by Meanwhile, Pierre Gagnaire Seoul, a They were behind the 2009 Amazing
adjusting sweetness, saltiness and spici- restaurant in the Lotte Hotel, developed Korean Table, a festival held from Oct.
ness to fit the different tastes of non- fusion Korean-French dishes to cele- 28 to Nov. 1 to introduce the world to
Koreans,” Kim said. brate the hotel’s 30th anniversary in Korean cuisine and fusion dishes pre-
The effort to globalize Korean food October. The restaurant, named after pared by talented chefs young and old.
is not only driven by the government the Michelin three-star French chef The four chefs invited to participate
but also by the private sector, which is Pierre Gagnaire, used bean paste mixed were Massimo Bottura, the owner of the
putting a unique spin on local cuisine to with olive oil to create a dressing for an Michelin two-star restaurant Osteria
generate more interest. herb salad and whipped up various new Francescana in Italy; Luke Dale-Rob-
The Grand Café at the Grand Inter- flavors using kimchi and black garlic. erts, who was named South Africa’s chef
Continental Seoul held its Kimchi Fes- These creations were part of a course of the year and is the top chef La
tival from Nov. 16 to 21 as part of this menu called “Homage à Seoul.” Colombe; Pierre Gagnaire himself, and

Makgeolli Bibimbap Galbi jjim

20 korea December 2009


News in Focus

Corey Lee, head chef at the Michelin


three-star restaurant French Laundry in
Promotions chef Giuseppe Barone.
Barone said the first Korean food or
Napa Valley, California. drink he tasted when he came to Korea
Lee said one of the most popular
range from was makgeolli. He described it as having
dishes at his restaurant is an acorn pud- a natural, elegant but slightly bitter fla-
ding. “Whenever my grandmother vis- high-brow vor and a sweet aftertaste. According to
ited us, she made acorn jelly,” Lee said in Barone, Italian food goes well with mak-
an interview. Lee emigrated to the Unit- fusion dinners geolli because it is not very spicy.
ed States from Korea when he was 7 Asked whether Europeans would
years old. “The taste of Korean food still to makgeolli like makgeolli, he said, “Of course,” but
influences me as a cook.” He said he cre- added, “We cannot recommend makge-
ates his own cuisine by combining mul- wine tastings olli just because it is good. We must
tinational materials and techniques. explain why and take things a step at a
For the 2009 Amazing Korean Table, at bars near time.”
he served a Korean-style porridge made Makgeolli is experiencing a come-
with pumpkin, rice and mushroom. “It Hongik back here, outselling beer and sake in
is important to reinterpret and recreate branches of Lotte Department Store,
Korean food materials and tastes,” Lee University. while in Japan, makgeolli is enjoying
said. “Rather than introducing a hand- huge popularity, absorbing 86.8 percent
ful of Korean foods to the world, we of all Korean exports of the drink.
should integrate the elements of Korean “Even on the trendy streets of Shin-
food with international cuisines.” juku in Tokyo, makgeolli bars have
Bottura, 47, said he had never tasted opened recently,” said Yasushi Hatta, a
Korean food before taking part in the 33-year-old Japanese food columnist, in
event. “Korean food is similar to Italian an e-mail. “There are not only makge-
food because garlic is used a lot for both olli cocktails but also fruit makgeolli.”
types,” he said. “It’s interesting that there Kooksoondang Brewery’s makgeolli
are many fermented foods in Korean has even been offered to passengers on
cuisine.” Bottura made a bean soup with Asiana Airlines flights between Korea
doenjang (soybean paste) and beef mar- and Japan since October.
inated in black garlic sauce. But traditional wines still account
On Nov. 6, the globalization cam- for only 3.6 percent of the alcoholic bev-
paign spread to a bar near Hongik Uni- erage market here. The Korean govern-
versity in central Seoul. This time the ment intends to contribute 133 billion
target was makgeolli, traditional Korean won in subsidies to makers of tradition-
rice wine, which was served with Italian al wines in the next five years to change
dishes, under the direction of Italian that.  By Limb Jae-un

[JoongAng Ilbo]

French-style kimchi and foie gras toast made


by Jerome Roy, the chef at Pierre Gagnaire
Gimbap Sinseollo Seoul in the Lotte Hotel

December 2009 korea 21


Korean President Lee Myung-bak, second

[YONHAP]
from left, attends the APEC summit at the
Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore Nov. 15.

Korea to Play Bridging Role


Lee pledges policies to narrow global economic gap at APEC summit

A
t the Asia-Pacific Economic overcome the economic crisis.” in the future.
Cooperation forum sum- According to Kim, nine G-20 mem- Lee also pressed for an early conclu-
mit in Singapore, Korean bers are also APEC members. “While sion of the Doha Development Agenda
President Lee Myung-bak the G-20 deals with macroeconomic trade negotiations at the World Trade
and other Pacific Rim leaders endorsed policy for the global economy, APEC is Organization and said the “most effec-
the goals of “strong, sustainable and bal- more focused on the trade environ- tive” way to fight trade protectionism is
anced growth.” President Lee also ment,” she said. “At the first session of to promote free trade, according to
pledged that Korea, as the chair country APEC, President Lee focused on trade Cheong Wa Dae.
of the Group of 20 summit in 2011, will and investment liberalization.” Kim said President Lee also wrapped
act as a bridge between the APEC econ- Lee called for a regional economic up the second session at the request of
omies and the G-20 next year. community that would enhance coop- the APEC host nation, Singapore. Pres-
Lee began his three-day trip for the eration in economic recovery efforts. ident Lee urged the Pacific Rim leaders
meeting by attending the APEC CEO According to Cheong Wa Dae, the to implement the agreements of the
summit on Nov. 13. He delivered a key- Korean presidential office, Lee pro- previous London and Pittsburgh G-20
note address on Asia’s growth strategy posed that the APEC leaders launch summits.
in the post-crisis period, particularly discussions for a Free Trade Area of the At next year’s G-20 summit, Lee
focusing on measures taken to make the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP. said, “We would come up with the most
most of the G-20 process. Suggested in a joint analytical study efficient ways to narrow the gap between
The leaders’ summit took place over by Korea, Australia and New Zealand, a the rising economies and the developed
the weekend of Nov. 14 and 15. FTAAP would create a free trade zone nations.”
The president’s spokeswoman, Kim that could expand commerce and eco- During his stay in Singapore, Lee
Eun-hye, said, “It is meaningful that nomic growth in the region. The APEC also met with Korean residents and
Lee, as the chairman of the G-20 next leaders, in their joint statement, admit- businessmen on Nov. 14. At a Singapore
year, has brought about cooperative ties ted that the preliminary study shows hotel, Lee said the Korean economy
between APEC and the G-20 and estab- there are “significant economic bene- would grow by up to 5 percent next
lished a framework for substantial dis- fits” from a FTAAP and that they would year. 
cussions about how economies can continue to seek building blocks for one  By Ser Myo-ja

22 korea December 2009


Diplomacy

Allies Tackle Myriad Issues


At Seoul summit, Lee and Obama discuss talks with North Korea, FTA

A
t a summit held in Seoul on Nov. Pyongyang’s nuclear arms programs will be
19, President Lee Myung-bak and exchanged for massive economic aid and nor-
U.S. President Barack Obama mal ties with the international community.
vowed to share a commitment to In addition to the nuclear impasse with
break the past pattern of rewarding Pyongyang North Korea, Lee and Obama also addressed
for provocative behavior. the sensitive issue of trade liberalization
The two leaders also promised efforts to between the two countries.
seek ratification of a bilateral free trade agree- “President Obama and I reconfirmed the
ment that was signed in 2007. Marking the 60th economic and strategic importance of the
anniversary of the Korean War next year, Lee Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and agreed to
and Obama also announced plans to hold for- work together to move the trade deal forward,”
eign and defense ministers’ talks next year to Lee said.
upgrade the two countries’ alliance. The FTA was signed by the previous admin-
“The summit truly showed the close friend- istrations in 2007. The last step to liberalize
ship and trust between Lee and Obama,” said trade between Korea and the United States is
Lee Dong-kwan, Lee’s public affairs senior sec- ratification by their respective legislatures.
retary. “They had candid and in-depth discus- Obama said a team had been created under
sions on a wide range of issues, and the atmo- his administration to remove obstacles. “Amer-
sphere was extremely amicable.” ican companies and workers are very confident
The Nov. 19 summit was Lee and Obama’s in our ability to compete,” Obama said. “And we
third bilateral meeting. recognize that there is not only an economic,
Following a summit that lasted more than but a strategic interest in expanding our ties to
an hour, Lee and Obama addressed the press at South Korea.”
the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae. “We President Lee also said he is aware of the
will be sending Ambassador [Stephen] Bos- U.S. business community and Congress’s con-
worth to North Korea on Dec. 8 to engage in cerns about automobile industry linked with
direct talks with the North Koreans,” Obama the free trade agreement. “In Korea, those in
told the media. It was the first time that the the service and agricultural industries oppose
United States had made public the date of the the FTA, but we are pushing it forward because
mission, aimed at persuading North Korea to it will benefit bilateral trade,” Lee said. “If the
return to the six-party talks. automobiles are a problem, we are willing to
“I am satisfied that South Korea and the talk about it. The European Union is a major
United States are cooperating more closely automaker, but we signed an FTA with them.”
than ever in resolving the North Korea nuclear The U.S. president also said he discussed
issue,” President Lee said, adding that he and global issues, including Seoul’s hosting of the
Obama have agreed to resolve the situation G-20 summit and Korea’s participation in the
through a comprehensive “grand bargain.” global efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, with Lee.
“The thing I want to emphasize is that Pres- Climate change and clean energy were also dis-
ident Lee and I both agree that we want to break cussed, Obama said, praising Korea’s recent
the pattern that has existed in the past, in which voluntary announcement of greenhouse gas
North Korea behaves in a provocative fashion, emission cuts by 2020.
and then is willing to return to talks for a while Lee and Obama talked for more than an
and then leaves the talks and then that leads to hour at the summit with only a few key aides
seeking further concessions,” Obama said. accompanying them, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Lee said North Korea will face a new future Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, Trade Min-
if it takes the grand bargain offer, in which ister Kim and Senior Secretary for Economic
December 2009 korea 23
[Joint Press Corps]

Next to President Lee Myung-


bak, left, U.S. President Ba-
rack Obama shakes hands
with a child during a wel-
come ceremony at Chong
Wa Dae on Nov. 19.

Affairs Yoon Jin-sik were among the Korean The two leaders continued talks at a work-
aides who attended. ing luncheon with more officials present.
Obama was accompanied by Susan Rice, Obama said he was a fan of Korean culture and
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Larry barbecue. Cheong Wa Dae served the U.S.
Summers, director of the National Economic guests a Korean bulgogi dish and California
Council; Deputy National Security Adviser wine.
Tom Donilon; Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Obama was also given a taekwondo uni-
Campbell, and Jeff Bader, the senior director for form and books featuring Korean art and cul-
Asian affairs at the National Security Council. ture, Cheong Wa Dae said.  By Ser Myo-ja
24 korea December 2009
Diplomacy

Obama in the New Asia


Amid challenges, the U.S. president finds his best reception in Korea

P
resident Barack Obama of the regulation of the financial system. Given presidents of the two allies agreed to a
United States has made his that Asian countries reap much of joint effort to denuclearize the Korean
first trip to Asia, including America’s trade deficit, particularly Peninsula through a “grand bargain”
visits to the two U.S. allies China and Japan, President Obama with North Korea’s leadership. Although
Japan and South Korea, a stop at the would define his trip to Asia, including the idea of a comprehensive approach
multilateral Asia-Pacific Economic the primarily economic forum of APEC, may not seem noble, the agreement
Cooperation forum summit held in Sin- as a market opening mission. It is too looms large because of the changed con-
gapore, and a rather lengthy stay in early to judge the cost-benefit balance of text.
China, the fast emerging great power. his trip. But in short run, he must have With its second nuclear test in May,
In Japan, he made a speech with his been disappointed. What he found was North Korea put itself under siege, with
characteristic eloquence. While empha- indeed a new Asia. Japan, a new govern- stiff sanctions from the international
sizing his Asian heritage, President ment for the first time in half a country, community in UN Resolution 1874. To
Obama called the U.S. an Asia-Pacific was no longer as receptive to American President Obama, a Nobel laureate for
nation and defined the Pacific Ocean as words as before. Prime Minister Hatoya- his vision of a nuclear free world, North
binding, not separating the two. In the ma was determined to shatter the image Korea’s nuclear challenge is no longer an
general spirit of engagement and prag- of Japan as a junior partner. isolated regional security issue, but an
matic diplomacy, he declared the emerg- In China, his balance sheet seems integral part of his grand vision.
ing China not a country to contain but filled with red ink. Despite the tribute he In such a context, the allies of Korea
one whose success will strengthen the paid to Beijing, including on sensitive and the U.S. may frame a policy that
world. territorial issues, Chinese leaders polite- would make Pyongyang’s weapons pro-
The rhetoric aside, it was apparent ly declined an invitation to a “G-2” club gram more of a burden than an asset.
that he came to Asia with two goals in of equal status with the global leader the South Korean people are anxious to see
mind — opening Asian markets to U.S., which ironically signified the how it works out, starting with Ambas-
American products and harnessing the enhanced status of a China that can say sador Bosworth’s visit to Pyongyang in
emergent power of China to buttress no to Washington. December.
America’s global leadership. However, President Obama finished Meanwhile, they were disappointed
Many, Americans and others alike, his trip in an upbeat mood, as he found as President Obama failed to make a
have lamented the waning of American the most receptive ears in South Korea. concrete commitment to ratification of
leadership, the cornerstone of peace and Even before his arrival, President Lee the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
prosperity in the world for a century, Myung-bak extended a warm welcome Even those who understand that ratify-
due to the diminishing popularity of the by deciding to send troops to Afghani- ing the agreement is the job of Congress,
U.S. worldwide and the global econom- stan, a huge piece of symbolic support not the president, may think their good-
ic recession originating on Wall Street. for America’s war effort, and by setting will was not duly reciprocated.
President Obama has worked hard an ambitious target for reducing green- Still, this is a new Asia in a new
to renew American leadership with two house gas emissions, another major tenet world. Reciprocity may work in a more
approaches. The first is his remarkable of President Obama’s global agenda. diffuse way, across issues over time. Be
vision of a new world, free from nuclear During the amicable meeting, the patient, Koreans! 
weapons and the threat of climate
change, which earned him the Nobel
Peace Prize. The second is the policy of Dr. Taehyun Kim
global engagement of friends and foes
alike. At the core of global engagement Dr. Taehyun Kim is a professor of international relations at the
stands China. Graduate School of International Studies, and director of the
In Obama’s eyes, the financial crisis Center for the Study of Grand Strategy, both at Chung-Ang
was due to the huge imbalance in global University in Seoul, Korea.
trade as much as it was due to flawed
December 2009 korea 25
Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, front row center, and
foreign ministers from African nations participating in the Korea-
Africa Forum hold hands for a photo on Nov. 24 at the Lotte Hotel
in Seoul.

Korea Pledges Aid, Training

K
orea vowed to increase its strengthen its role as a forum for inter- ing this year’s forum as an opportunity
aid to African nations and national economic cooperation. for Korea to strengthen its partnership
cooperate on environment- The forum also produced two policy with Africa to expand its role as a global
friendly growth at a high- papers. In the first, called “Framework player. Korean Foreign Minister Yu
level forum held in Seoul in November. for Korea-Africa Development Coop- Myung-hwan said the forum was also
The African Union and Korea eration 2009-2012,” Korea pledged to “an avenue for strengthening Korea’s
cosponsored the second Korea-Africa accept 5,000 trainees from Africa and to bilateral relations with individual Afri-
Forum in Seoul on Nov. 24. Representa- send more than 1,000 Korean volun- can countries.”
tives from 15 African nations, led by teers to the continent between now and Before a dinner on Nov. 24, Yu said,
Gabon’s Jean Ping, current chair of the 2012. The African trainees would learn “Korea-Africa relations are entering a
African Union, took part in the event, more about Korea’s development expe- new phase. Korea has established full
which featured meetings on such topics rience, while the volunteers would help diplomatic relations with all African
as development and partnerships for with infrastructure and vocational countries.”
green growth. training, among others. He added, “The Seoul Declaration
Representatives adopted the 2009 In the second paper, titled “Korea- and the policy papers we have adopted
Seoul Declaration, in which Korea Africa Green Growth Initiative 2009- are sure to provide a valuable frame-
pledged to double its aid to Africa by 2012,” the two sides agreed to expand work for strengthening cooperation
2012. Last year, Korea provided $107.1 bilateral and multilateral dialogue on between Korea and Africa in the years
million in aid to Africa. As part of the low-carbon, eco-friendly growth. They ahead.” The Korea-Africa Forum
declaration, Korea and Africa reaf- also pledged to cooperate in exploring became a regular event as a followup to
firmed their support for an expanded clean development mechanism projects Korea’s Initiative for Africa’s Develop-
UN role in a more globalized world and and share policies and technologies to ment, announced March 2006. The first
for international efforts to fight terror- adapt to climate change. forum was staged in November that
ism, and called for the Group of 20 to Organizers in Seoul had been push- year, with five heads of state in atten-
26 korea December 2009
Diplomacy

Korea’s trade volume


with Africa (Unit: billion dollar)
13.4
12.1 12.6

9.1
8.5

5.1

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008


Source: Korea International Trade Association

About the continent of Africa


Number of countries 53
Population 1 billion
Total GDP $1.3 trillion
[YONHAP]
Source: UN Population Fund

at 2nd Africa Forum in Seoul


dance. Under the initiative, Korea the Tokyo International Conference on catch up and even surpass others in its
declared it would triple its development African Development in 1993 and has relations with Africa.
assistance to Africa by 2008 and would staged the event every five years. Prime “Our approach is different in that
continue to aid African nations in Minister Yukio Hatoyama recently told we’re trying to share our development
improving health care, labor skills and the United Nations General Assembly experience with Africa [rather than
agricultural productivity. that Japan intends to strengthen the simply providing aid],” he said. “That
Korea fell just short of its monetary TICAD process. At last year’s confer- way, hopefully we can get closer to Afri-
target — the figure jumped 2.5 times ence, Japan pledged $4 billion in ODA ca than others.” A senior Foreign Min-
from 2005 to 2008 — but it has sent loans by the end of 2012 to help improve istry official privy to African-related
about 900 volunteers to the continent to road networks and traffic infrastructure affairs said the forum gave Korea an
share their know-how and also wel- on the continent. opportunity to review the status of its
comed 2,000 African trainees to Korea China has forgiven about $100 mil- partnership with Africa.
to study its economic rise. lion in debt from African nations since “At first, the African Union was hes-
There are also strategic goals for 2000. President Hu Jintao and Premier itant to build relations with Korea,” the
Korea in its attempt to get closer to Afri- Wen Jiabao make regular trips to the official said. “Our aid to Africa isn’t
ca, because of its massive oil reserves continent to pursue the right to develop enormous by any means, but, gradually,
and natural resources. According to the natural resources there in exchange for they grew to recognize our accomplish-
Foreign Ministry in Seoul, Africa is massive aid. The Forum on China-Afri- ments in economic development.”
home to 125 billion barrels of crude oil, ca Cooperation, with heads of state in The official said the Korean govern-
or about 10 percent of world reserves. attendance, has been held every three ment would also consider holding mul-
About 23 percent of all uranium reserves years since 2000. Asked if Korea was tilateral summit meetings with African
in the world can be found in Africa. lagging behind, Lee Wook-heon, head leaders “if we feel they can lead us to a
Korea’s neighbors have long tried to of the team organizing the forum at the more effective partnership.” 
forge ties with Africa. Japan launched Foreign Ministry, said Korea will soon  By Yoo Jee-ho

December 2009 korea 27


Provided by Statistics Korea

OECD Forum Experts Seek


T
he global debate over an and secretary of the agency’s 3rd OECD Stiglitz Commission, named after the
alternative to gross domestic World Forum Planning and Prepara- scholar leading the team, Joseph Stiglitz,
product as a measure of tion Team. a Nobel laureate in economics and a
social advancement may The criticism of the GDP standard Columbia University professor.
sound like a distant issue to you and me, implicit in the event’s theme is not a new In September, the commission
busy making enough money to keep up phenomenon. announced a midterm report on its
with the Kims. Since as early as the 1970s, econo- research activities. Titled “The Mea-
But what if that debate could cure mists and politicians have spoken out surement of Economic Performance
your jealousy of your neighbors without about the many aspects of socity left out and Social Progress,” the report dis-
you having to work dozens of hours a by the index, which was developed after cussed what kind of data might be add-
week in a gray-walled office? What if the the Great Depression. Robert Kennedy, ed to the traditional GDP model and
government, instead of pushing the idea former U.S. attorney general and broth- how.
of raising the GDP on its citizens, put er of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Some expected the latest OECD
your happiness first? once said the gross national product, a World Forum in the southern Korean
That dream was part of the reason relative of the GDP, “measures every- port city to produce a substantial break-
for the third gathering of the World thing, in short, except that which makes through, such as the announcement of a
Forum of the Organization for Eco- life worthwhile.” new indicator to replace the GDP.
nomic Cooperation and Development, But effort to find alternatives did not It didn’t. But Kim at Statistics Korea
held in Busan Oct. 27 to 30. seriously gain traction until the early said the Busan event still marked a
The event, cosponsored by Statistics 2000s, when the OECD picked up the major step forward from previous dis-
Korea, the state-run agency known until issue and began a worldwide quest for a cussions of the issue.
recently as the National Statistical solution. That vision was part of the rea- “At the first OECD World Forum in
Office, was a chance for countries across son to establish the OECD World Italy, the world only agreed upon the
the globe to discuss the latest research Forum, which had its inaugural meeting necessity to discuss an alternative to the
into non-GDP metrics. A total of 2,024 in 2004 in Italy and second such event GDP, and at the second one in Turkey,
people from 78 countries, from govern- in 2007 in Turkey. they began to discuss what to do to
ment administrators and politicians to The commission of international make countries commit to the mission,”
academics and civic group members research set up by President Nicolas Kim said. “But at the third event in
attended, according to Statistics Korea. Sarkozy of France in February last year Busan, the countries proved that they
“Much discussion of the issue took added momentum to the search. A team are really working hard by bringing up
place at the Busan forum,” said Kim Sul- of renowned economists from several the results of the latest research each of
hee, director general of Statistics Korea countries joined together on Sarkozy’s them conducted and actively exchang-
28 korea December 2009
Diplomacy

People attending the third


OECD World Forum held in
Busan Oct. 27 to 30 listen to
speakers on how to develop
an alternative metric to gross
domestic product. A total of
2,024 people — government
administrators, politicians,
academics and civic group
members from 78 countries
— participated in the event,
according to Statistics Korea,
a cosponsor of the event.

New Metric to Replace GDP


end up with a society in which citizens
are worse off.”
OECD Secretary-General Angel
Gurria also assessed the Busan event as
“important step forward in an ambi-
tious agenda to provide guidance on
better measures and methodologies for
lasting progress,” according to the
OECD Web site.
Gurria also drew attention to a fur-
ther debate on how to measure “green
growth,” a sector in which Korea has
taken a leading role with its five-year,
107 trillion won ($93 billion) green
Joseph Stiglitz, center, the Nobel laureate in economics who heads the Stiglitz Commission, growth initiative.
addresses the third Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development World Forum The Korean government said it will
held in Busan Oct. 27-30.  try to live up to expectations by collabo-
rating with other countries in coming
ing data.” ting beyond GDP, saying the traditional up with green growth statistics. In a
The indicators hotly debated at the accounting has blinded the world to the speech during the event, President Lee
event, according to Statistics Korea, full brunt of the global financial crisis. Myung-bak promised the government
included disparity in the distribution of He argued that the U.S. consumption will develop statistics regarding global
wealth, depletion of natural resources, boom between 2003 and 2007 was based warming, greenhouse gas emissions
the underground economy and the on a GDP increase built in part on and quality of life.
overall quality of goods and services. debt. “Many local research institutes have
Participating researchers also offered “In an increasingly performance- already been doing research to develop
studies on how to include security, lei- oriented society, metrics matters — alternatives to GDP for many years,”
sure time and public services in social what we measure affects what we do,” said Kim at Statistics Korea. “We hope
metrics. More subjective evaluations said Stiglitz in a speech at the Busan the hosting of the Busan event will pro-
like balance of time, health and educa- event. “If we have the wrong metrics, we vide momentum for such research to be
tion were also called for. will strive for the wrong things. In a accelerated and supported.” 
Stiglitz stressed the urgency of get- quest for an increase in GDP, we may  By Moon Gwang-lip

December 2009 korea 29


Photo by Choi Jeong-dong
Five former Peace Corps volunteers in Korea pose for a photo during their recent visit to the country as part of a government-organized reunion
in October. From left: Jon Keeton, Jerome Raik, Bill Harwood, Richard Christenson and Kevin O’Donnell.

Thanking Those “A
sk not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country.”
The words from that historic inaugural

Who Answered
speech by the 35th U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, are
still considered among the most inspiring ever direct-
ed at America’s youth by their government.

Peace’s Call
And more than 1,800 Americans who heeded Ken-
nedy’s call came to Korea from 1966 to 1981 as part of
the Peace Corps, helping rebuild after the ravages of
the Korean War (1950-1953), providing health care,
education and other services. For many, the experi-
ence changed their lives, and for a few, this unfamiliar
land in need of help became a second home.
Recently, in the last week of October, a group of
more than 70 of these men and women returned to
Seoul with their families for the third local Peace Corps
reunion, following the first in October last year and the
second in July this year — all at the initiative of the
Korean government. President Lee Myung-bak
pledged to hold the reunions in a speech at a meet-
ing hosted by the New York-based Korea
Society during Lee’s visit to the U.S. in
April last year.
“Before I came to Korea, I had never left
America,” said Bill Harwood, who was one
of the group of Peace Corps Korea volunteers
who recently returned to the country. Harwood first
came to Korea in 1975 and taught English at Kaesung
Boys Middle School in Busan for two years. “I was just
a small boy from a small state, Connecticut. Coming
to Korea opened my eyes to the world. I think we as
volunteers gained as much or even more than we
30 korea December 2009
Global Korea

gave.” director of Peace Corps Korea from


Jerome and Barrie-Lynn Raik also 1966-1970 and the fourth director of
got more than they bargained for when Peace Corps headquarters in Washing-
they came to Yecheon-gun, Gyeong- ton, D.C. in 1971 and 1972, said he was
sangbuk-do Province, as Peace Corps amazed by how quickly Koreans picked
volunteers in 1967 shortly after getting up the concept of volunteering.
married when they were 20 years old. “When we came here in the 1970s,
The Raiks were originally volunteers not many Koreans understood what U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kath-
teaching Korean students English, but volunteerism meant,” O’Donnell said. leen Stephens poses with Yesan
they ended up doing much more than “They didn’t know why young Ameri- Middle School students in Chun-
that, saving a Korean girl’s life — which can people like us came here, and there gcheongnam-do Province during
her stint here as a Peace Corps
in turn changed their lives. was even suspicion that this was part of volunteer in the mid-1970s.
Suk-hee, the 8-year-old daughter of the CIA and that we were spies or some-
the couple’s host family, had a heart dis- thing. We even had to have a meeting
order and needed surgery. When the with a Korean government official, who
couple’s Peace Corps term ended in wanted to find out what we were doing
1969, the Raiks decided to take the girl and why.”
back with them to New York, where Now, however, thousands of Kore-
they believed she had a better chance at ans are performing volunteer work in
receiving quality medical care. other countries, providing many of the
“The hardest part of the process was same services that Americans offered Bill Harwood in 1975 when he
getting her a passport, because in those here decades ago. worked as an English teacher at
days it was very difficult for Korean “When Kennedy started the Peace Kaesung Boys Middle School in
people to get a passport issued by the Corps, we as a nation were already 250 Busan.
government,” Jerome Raik said. “The years old,” O’Donnell said. “It’s only
operation had been performed three or been about 50 years since the end of the
four times in Korea at the time, but no Korean War, and Korea has already
one had survived. The hospital in New picked up the concept of volunteerism
York that we took Suk-hee to was per- and is now carrying it out, which I think
forming the operation six or seven times is amazing.” Many former Peace Corps
a week and everyone survived ... so there members in Korea have dedicated their
was no question that we thought it best lives to foreign service. U.S. Ambassa-
to take her to New York for it.” dor to Korea Kathleen Stephens, for Peace Corps volunteers participate
in a health education program at
It turned out to be the right move, instance, was in the Peace Corps here in

Provided by Friends of Korea (the group of Peace Corps volunteers who served in Korea)
a village in Gyeongsangnam-do
and the operation was a success. “She is the mid-1970s. Province in 1981.
now living in Gimhae-si and we met her “There’s a fair percentage — about
during this visit,” he said. “We were 10 to 15 percent — of American diplo-
happy to see her having a wonderful life mats who served in the Peace Corps,”
now with her husband and two chil- said Richard Christenson, who came to
dren, running a music school.” Korea in 1967 as a Peace Corps volun-
The experience also had a lasting teer and taught English at Jeil Middle
impact on Barrie-Lynn Raik, who even- School in Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
tually became a doctor and is currently Province. Christenson spent more than
a professor of clinical medicine and a third of his 35-year diplomatic career
A girl receives a tuberculosis vac-
clinical public health at Weill Cornell in Korea, including a deputy post at the cination at a middle school in
Medical College in New York. U.S. Embassy in Seoul from 1996 to Seoul in 1972. At the time, there
“Barrie had no idea that she would 2000. were many tuberculosis patients
become a doctor before that,” Jerome Meanwhile, the group Friends of around the country.
Raik said. “Suk-hee had these two wom- Korea was formed in 2000 to connect
en cardiologists [in the New York hos- nearly 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers
pital], and they took such good care of who served in Korea and to promote Friends of Korea recently published
her. These smart, confident women who amity between the two countries. The the book Through Our Eyes: Peace Corps
did this wonderful thing were a big part group is now working with the Korean in Korea, 1966-1981, which chronicles
of the inspiration behind Barrie’s deci- government, which plans to continue the experiences of volunteers and the
sion to become a doctor.” the reunions once or twice a year until transformation of the country in pic-
Kevin O’Donnell, the first country at least 2013. tures.  By Park Sun-young

December 2009 korea 31


Translation on a Biblical Scale
M
uhammad Haya traveled from out of the receiver was music to his ears. Thanks
England to Korea late last year, to the remote interpreter, the driver and Haya’s
along with five of his friends. They group settled on the fare to the mosque and
boarded a cab at Incheon International Airport then back to the airport. The driver even agreed
and asked to go to the Islamic Mosque in to wait for Haya to finish his business free of
Itaewon, downtown Seoul. But Haya and com- charge.
pany had trouble communicating with the taxi The grateful Haya asked the if the person
driver. on the phone worked at the mosque. “No, I am
The driver soon handed over his mobile just a bbb volunteer,” the person answered.
phone to Haya, and the Arabic language coming That acronym stands for Before Babel Bri-
gade, named for the Biblical story about the fall
of the Tower of Babel, in which humanity
shared a common tongue. The volunteer group
based in Seoul provides around-the-clock
interpretive services in 17 different languages
from all corners of the world. Those having
difficulty communicating during their stay in
Korea — with a taxi driver, a vendor at a mar-
ket, anyone — can dial 1588-5644 and press a
number assigned to each of the following lan-
guages: English, Japanese, Chinese, French,
Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, Portuguese,
Arabic, Polish, Turkish, Swedish, Thai, Viet-
namese, Indonesian and Bahasa Malaysia. The
Provided by bbb

Foreigners having difficulty communicating during their


stay in Korea can ask Koreans on the street to get inter-
pretive services in 17 different languages of bbb.

32 korea December 2009


Global Korea

Staff and members of bbb engage in


promotional activities to let foreigners
know about bbb’s translation services.

caller will then be automatically connected to increased, bbb’s service has grown more diverse.
the mobile phone of an interpreter.
The bbb took A Korean groom called up for a crash course on
And the service isn’t just for foreigners. the Chinese language, as he was getting ready
Since 2006, it has even offered interpretation just 5,000 to wed a Chinese woman. Another Korean man
for Koreans calling from outside the country. married to a Chinese woman relayed his
The service dates back to the 2002 FIFA calls in 2004, apologies through a volunteer after a botched
World Cup, co-hosted by Korea and Japan. For date. The bride told her husband that everything
over two months before, during and after the but that figure was okay — through the volunteer, of course.
World Cup, volunteer translators handled It’s no coincidence that the volunteers
nearly 25,000 requests, according to bbb’s Web is expected to include retired diplomats, foreign college
site, www.bbbkorea.org. graduates and holders of certificates for
The organizers have agreements with a hit 50,000 simultaneous interpretation.
wide range of agencies, from the Seoul Lee Gye-yeon, who translates Arabic, often
Metropolitan Government to the National this year. handles delicate situations. The Korea
Police Agency and the Korean Olympic Immigration Service asks for her help often
Committee, and about 3,200 volunteer when officers see foreigners with suspicious
interpreters. The eclectic group includes former backgrounds whose English skills are limited.
high-ranking diplomats, retired and active “There really are people with vague
professors and undergraduate and graduate purposes for their visits,” Lee said. “My job is
students. In 2004, bbb took 5,000 calls for help, to prevent potential dangers, and I think it s
but the figure soared to 32,000 last year. It’s very important to do that.”
expected to reach 50,000 this year. Lee Joo-young, secretary-general at bbb,
Early on, bbb volunteers mostly helped said some foreign language high schools have
visitors find accommodations and talk to cab asked if their students can sign up as volunteers,
drivers. But there are more bizarre stories too: but only those over the age of 19 can become
There was a woman in the last month of her volunteers.
pregnancy who visited an art college because “You often have to deal with contingencies
she wanted to have a cast made of her belly, and and have to have some negotiation skills,” Lee
a vegetarian American who ordered the wrong said. “So it’s not appropriate for adolescents. But
pizza and ended up eating just the crust. what’s really important is to have the mind-set
And as the number of migrant workers and to serve the people and represent Korea [to
foreign women marrying Korean men has foreigners].”  By Yoo Jee-ho

December 2009 korea 33


Choi In-ho, a member of Korea Food for the
Hungry International talks with children of
poverty ridden village in Kenya.

Looking After God’s Children


W
hy help the needy overseas could never have recovered from the the world, delivering food and the word
when there are still thou- rubble of the Korean War in the 1950s of God.” Chung expressed his hope that
sands in need of help here? and become the world’s 13th-largest the organization will be able to send
That’s a question that might be on any economy. Now it is Korea’s turn to give over 1,000 volunteers by 2010. He also
Korean’s mind, watching local volun- back, says Chung Jung-sup, one of the wishes to see local Food for the Hungry
teers leaving for countries in Africa and founding members and the fourth divisions in 160 countries across the
Asia. chairman of the Christian NGO. globe by 2030.
But Korea Food for the Hungry At a ceremony held in western Seoul, Chung says that by giving out food,
International, a Seoul-based nongov- the 68-year-old head said, “When we his organization is conveying a message
ernment relief organization, provides were starting out 20 years ago, we had of love, thus helping the needy survive
an answer. If leading economies in the no office of our own. We started out and have agency. It runs what it calls the
West had refrained from giving aid to with just one worker, one desk and one Child Development Program in coun-
less developed countries until they had telephone. Since then, we have sent 759 tries across Asia, Europe, Africa and
resolved all their own problems, Korea volunteers to some 70 countries around America, sending not only food but also
34 korea December 2009
Global Korea

When a strong earthquake rattled a village

Provided by KFHI
on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, in early
October, the organization dispatched medical
staff to treat the injured. Earlier this year, Food
for the Hungry finished digging a well in a
town in Kenya, resolving a water shortage.
What differentiates Korea Food for the
Hungry International from other relief organi-
zations is that it sends donations and other
funds directly to the people in charge of aid
programs overseas without going through any
international administrative body such as the
United Nations. By doing so, the organization
has minimized “indirect costs,” Chung says
proudly. He himself encourages the local divi-
sions he helped establishing to create their own
independent funding systems.
Korea Food for the Hungry International
was launched in 1989 as a Korean branch of
Food for the Hungry, which was established by
Dr. Larry Ward in 1971. It became the first
Korean aid group to help the needy abroad.
Chung set up the group after retiring as an
executive at the Federation of Korean Indus-
tries, a business lobby. Inspired by a Christian
minister and the organization’s present direc-
tor, Yoon Nam-joong, Chung gave up his plan
to leave for Japan as a Christian missionary
with his wife and instead established KFHI.
The group started with seed money of $50,000
donated by a private relief group in Japan, and
Chung’s fund-raising efforts led to 180 million
won in donations in the initial year. Now the
organization runs on an annual budget of 100
billion won ($86 million).
KFHI turned its attention to the needy
volunteers to build schools, teach and help local inside the country in 1993. A year later, it start-
citizens. ed helping North Koreans, sending medical
As part of the program, Korean supporters equipment to a hospital in Pyongyang. So far,
can form individual connections with specific 11 billion won worth of aid has gone to the
children to communicate with them and offer North. Currently the group allocates about 70
aid. The NGO has also been developing wells to percent of its annual budget to aid businesses
supply clean water, training farmers, developing abroad and 30 percent to help inside Korea.
agricultural areas and dispatching doctors.  By Seo Ji-eun

The head of KFHI, Chung Jung-


sup is giving tips about cultivat-
ing crops to an African farmer.
(left)
A Korean medical staff dis-
patched by the organization
is treating patient in Uganda.
(far left)

December 2009 korea 35


Outrunning Climate Change

I
n a move to participate in the world’s Its emissions are expected to continue to
efforts to curb global warming, Korea has increase, reaching 813 million tons in 2020 at
decided to cut its greenhouse gas emis- the current rate. To accomplish a 4-percent
sions 4 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by
That year, Korea emitted 591.1 million tons 2020 would mean cutting 30 percent of current
of carbon dioxide, taking the ninth position estimated emissions in 2020.
among member countries of the Organization Korea’s reduction target was set ahead of
for Economic Cooperation and Development. the United Nations summit on climate change
in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, where
CO2 emissions by country the world’s governments will begin negotiating
(Unit: million tons) a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. It is the
1,236.34 strongest reduction target among developing
786.37 countries, when the European Union is now
523.01 400.61 488.71 430.95
to 457.84 to 448.91 asking developing countries to cut emissions
by 15 to 30 percent.
President Lee Myung-bak emphasized the
2020 2020 2020 need for Korea to set an aggressive target in a
2007 2007 2007
Japan
(Target)
Japan Britain
(Target)
Britain Korea
(Target)
Korea meeting with members of the Presidential
Committee on Green Growth in November.
*Only emissions from fuel consumption Source: IEA
“The business community is concerned
about the strong emission reduction goal, and
I agree that it shouldn’t hinder Korea’s econom-
ic growth,” Lee said. “However, it is important
to establish an ideal goal and try to achieve it.
If the goal is lowered, it will be hard to change
the people’s attitudes.”
Meanwhile, said Kim In-whan, chairman
of the Korean Society of Climate Change, “As
Korea fulfills its duty in accordance with its
economic status in the global community, it
will bring benefits to the country in the long
run.”
Experts say Korea’s voluntary greenhouse
gas reduction target will contribute to the nego-
tiations at the Copenhagen summit. The out-
look for a settlement is in doubt amid conflict
between developed and developing counties.
Developed countries argue that developing
countries such as China and India need to be
more aggressive in reducing carbon emissions,
while developing countries argue that more
advanced economies should cut their emis-
sions more drastically and provide financial
support to offset developing countries’ losses
from reductions.
The plan is part of a wider Korean cam-
[JoongAng Ilbo]

paign to become a global leader in the green


economy.
Wind power is recommended for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while the total At the Korea-ASEAN Commemorative
energy consumption will be regulated sooner or later. Summit held on Jeju-do island in early June,
36 korea December 2009
Green Growth

Provided by Cheong Wa Dae


President Lee Myung –bak (center) emphasized “it is important to a establish higher goal and try to achieve it. If the goal is lowered, it will be
hard to change the people’s attitude”in the meeting of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth.

President Lee emphasized that the country and The Land Ministry said that the programs
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would help lower buildings’ greenhouse gas
should make joint efforts to fight climate change, emissions to 31 percent below the levels that
particularly in the areas of renewable energy would otherwise be reached in 2020.
and eco-friendly technology. But what about the transportation, the pri-
During the summit, the leaders of ASEAN mary source of growth in greenhouse gas emis-
praised Korea’s efforts to help East Asia grow in sions? The ministry said it would increase
an eco-friendly fashion, including the East Asia investment in railways while reducing invest-
Climate Partnership, which the Lee administra- ment in roads.
tion announced last year at the G8 Summit. Half of Accordingly, the nation’s railroad network
Under the partnership, Korea will invest $200 will account for 50 percent of spending on total
million over the next five years in projects to Korea’s social social overhead capital in 2020 from the cur-
help Southeast Asia’s emerging economies rent 29 percent, the ministry said, while invest-
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. infrastructure ment in roads will decline to 40 percent of the
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Land, Transport nation’s spending on total social infrastructure
and Maritime Affairs has presented programs spending will in 2020 from the current 57.2 percent.
focused on energy-efficient urban planning In addition, the ministry promises incen-
including new construction and transportation go to railroads tives to companies that switch from using roads
regulations. New buildings will gradually be to railways or maritime transportation for their
required to use less energy, and so-called “zero-
energy” construction will be required for all new
by 2020, from shipping, in a pilot program starting next
year.
buildings beginning in 2025, the ministry said. Research and development for advanced
This means new buildings will have to supply
29 percent eco-friendly transportation technologies,
their own energy. Such buildings already exist, including those for next-generation bullet
making use of renewable energy systems such as
this year. trains that can operate at 400 kilometers (248.5
photovoltaic solar power modules on roofs. miles) per hour and magnetic levitation trains,
Starting in 2010, each building’s total energy will be more active, the ministry said.
consumption will be regulated and, beginning The series of measures will help reduce
in 2012, certificates of energy consumption will greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation
be required as a part of real estate transactions. sector by up to 37 percent from estimated 2020
Residential buildings will be required by law to levels, the ministry said, and will save about 7.2
use 20 percent less energy for heating and cool- trillion won ($6.21 billion) in energy costs
ing by 2012. annually.  By Koh So-young

December 2009 korea 37


A view of the mega-mall Times Sqaure
in Yeongdeungpo area in southwestern
Seoul.
[Press-Q]

It’s Better Late Than Never


38 korea December 2009
Culture

As Koreans Head to the Mall


December 2009 korea 39
Provided by the company

The exterior of the I’Park


Mall in Yongsan-gu District,
central Seoul.

A
day spent hanging out at a which saves time for a person like me who works on
mall may be as natural as tur- weekdays,” she said. “There is efficiency in spending
key on Thanksgiving to leisure time on one-stop service.”
Americans, but in Korea it’s a Malls have become popular, local industry experts
brand new trend, brought on by the say, because modern consumers under the pressure of
increase in leisure time afforded by the time can’t go from place to place looking for what they
five-day work week. need. Chances are, they can find everything in the mall,
On a recent autumn weekend, Choi from department store goods and discount store items
Hyun-jin, 39, took a stroll in Times to books and gifts.
Square, a mega-mall that opened in Sep- Times Square, the newest mega-mall in Korea,
tember in Yeongdeungpo-gu District, includes a children’s theme park, a bookstore, a cinema,
southwestern Seoul. Compared to inde- a venue for meetings and weddings, a large discount
pendent shops or department stores, store, a hotel and a luxury fitness center. Dozens of
she said, malls are more convenient in brands have stores there, from luxury to “fast fashion.”
that they are equipped with a variety of There’s even an Internet-equipped lounge where
facilities for shopping and entertain- visitors can surf the Web while their families or friends
ment. shop.
“I can shop for everything all at once, “Though Korea is not an early adopter of the ‘mall-

Interview Kim Dam, president of Times Square

“It was about time a large-scale quality mall like this opened in Seoul,” said Kim Dam, the 44-year-old president
of Times Square. He spoke about his experience and the mall industry in Korea.

Q. Can you briefly define Times Square?


A. Times Square is an up-and-coming cultural community area in Seoul, which is unprecedented in the retail
industry. It is a high-tech, multi-complex attraction similar to Pacific Place in Hong Kong or Tokyo Midtown.
What’s unique about the complex is that each of the different stores is connected under the so-called
“malling” system, which naturally leads customers from one place to the other.

Q. You mentioned a “malling” system. What exactly is that?


A. The malling system doesn’t refer to a mall that has a hotel, department store, cinema, large
discount store and restaurants. It refers to the idea that visitors can visit one place and get access
to almost anything they want, conveniently. Such malls are common in the United States and
Japan, and they will also be common in Korea with the emerging of new consumer trends.

40 korea December 2009


Culture

ing’ trend that already exists in most


developed areas like the United States,
‘The five-day ness, because the longer visitors stay in one place,
the more money they spend.
Europe, Japan and Hong Kong, the num- work week According to an industry report, visitors spend
ber of mallgoers in Korea is increasing as an average of one to two hours at a department store
the Korean economy advances,” said and changing but three or four hours at a mall, which has more
Park Hee-jeong, an official at I’Park Mall
located in Yongsan-gu District, central
consumer stores and facilities to hold their attention.
“Most retail facilities [in Korea] will be devel-
Seoul. trends are oped into malls because more working couples
It is said that the shopping mall was under time pressure are willing to shop for various
born in 1877, when a large outdoor mar- attracting items all at once,” said Jang Jung-ho from Shinsegae.
ket was set up in front of a statue of Vic-
tor Emmanuel II in Milan, Italy. The
more visitors Kim Dam, president of Times Square, also said that
a new era in the development of Korea’s multi-com-
retail malls seen today date back to 1950s to malls.’ plex shopping mall industry has started, adding that
America, when newly affluent families more malls like the Pacific Place in Hong Kong or
moved to the suburbs and the concept of Tokyo Midtown will be built.  By Lee Eun-joo
the family car made the shopping center
concept viable.
When national income per person in
the United States and Japan reached over
$20,000 in 1988, mega-malls were a big
trend. This was the period when terms
like “malling,” “mallgoer,” and “mall
walking” entered the zeitgeist.
“Korea is following the same steps,”
Park said. “With Korea’s economy grow-
ing and its national income per capita on
the verge of reaching $20,000, there will
be more malls built.”
The Lotte World complex in Jamsil-
dong, southern Seoul, is thought to be
one of the first malls in Korea, opening

[JoongAng Ilbo]
in 1988. The Coex Mall in Samseong-
dong and the Central City complex built
around the Express Bus Terminal in
southern Seoul followed, along with
I’Park Mall in Yongsan and Shinsegae
Centum City in Busan.
There are currently around 10 mega-
malls in Korea and more are planned.
Department stores hope to open
branches within the new centers. Hyun-
dai Department Store will open a branch
at the Lakinsmall in Ilsan-dong, Gyeo-
nggi-do Province, next year, while Lotte
Shopping hopes to open its own mall,
the Gimpo Sky Park Mall, near Gimpo
Airport in 2011.
“Koreans were introduced to the
malling trend a bit later than other devel-
Provided by the company

oped nations because of the Asian finan-


cial crisis in the late 1990s, but the five-
day workweek and changing consumer
trends are attracting more visitors to
malls,” said Baek In-soo at Lotte’s retail Top, a view of Shinsegae Department Store’s Centum City branch in Busan, which was listed
center. in the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest department store.
Experts say malls are good for busi- Above, the interior of the I’Park Mall in Yongsan-gu District, central Seoul.

December 2009 korea 41


Hardships and Love in Verse
Foreign residents of Korea find inspiration in their lives at poetry recital

T
he number of expats residing and marveled at Sukatin’s poem, because they got
in Korea surpassed 1.1 million impression it was written by a professional Korean poet
recently, according to govern- considering the format, order and poetic expressions in
ment data, and there are now ‘My Happiness’,” Moon said.
various programs across the country “Before coming to Korea, I had very limited
for foreign residents, including classes knowledge of it,” said Choi, who recently became a
on kimchi making, Korean cooking naturalized Korean citizen, in a phone interview.
and the local language — but there Choi spoke Korean without a trace of an accent.
are not many opportunities for expats But when she arrived, she said, “I even didn’t
to show off their talent for writ- know how to say hello in Korean.”
ing literature in their adopted Choi met her husband at a company in
tongue. Indonesia. The couple now has four children.
So it was a rare treat for “Korean food didn’t fit my taste, and I studied
all when on Nov. 8, about 110 Korean on my own by repeating lines on TV shows,”
people, including married Choi said. “My 11 years in Korea led me to over-
immigrants from multicul- come difficulties, and all I can say now is I feel
tural families and Korean great. I’m much happier than before. I have no
poets, had the chance to recite other wishes. I just want this happiness to last
their poetry at a local welfare cen- forever.”
ter in Gyeonggi-do Province. Alexandra Park, an ethnic Korean born and
Twelve contestants from 11 coun- raised in Uzbekistan who came to Korea five years
tries, among them Cambodia, ago, also participated in the contest and won an
China, Vietnam, Indonesia, award. Park has two children with her Korean hus-
Uzbekistan and Myanmar, partici- band. “I read two short poems; one is about the post-
pated. natal depression I suffered in Korea,” Park said.
Sukatin Choi read her long “Because my Korean is not good enough to write
prose poem called “My Happi- poetry in Korean, I wrote the poems in my first
ness.” language, Russian, and then translated them into
“My simmering love for one Korean.”
Korean man brought me where I Park said she was passionate about studying
am,” she read. “When I close my Korean even before she arrived, because she wanted
eyes and open my eyes I can’t get to find out about her identity and her ancestral home.
away from thinking of my family at “I thought my Korean level would be okay to live
home.” there, because I studied hard,” Park said. “But things
Choi, who came to Korea from were different when I got here … there were a bunch of
Indonesia 11 years ago, wrote about Provided by other Korean expressions I never heard of.”
Changjak 21
how much she missed her family Park said she couldn’t get over the look Koreans
back home and how difficult it was Sukatin Choi, back, an In- gave her when they asked her for directions.
learning Korean because there weren’t donesian who came to Korea “I’m Korean and I look Korean, but I don’t speak
any classes in her neighborhood. Still, 11 years ago and Alexandra Korean well,” Park said. “So people misunderstood and
she said she managed to settle in Korea Park, front, an ethnic Korean took me for a fool. That actually motivated me to learn
thanks to her husband’s support and born and raised in Uzbeki- Korean harder after my two daughters were born,
love. stan came to Korea five years because I didn’t want my children to get bullied.”
Moon Chang-gil, poet and head of ago won prizes for their po- Park hopes one day to write in her adopted lan-
the literary society that organized the ems at a multicultural family guage. “Someday in the near future, I hope that I can
event, Changak 21, said the judges had poem recital contest on Nov. write a poem in Korean,” Park said. “Because writing a
to give Choi the grand prize. 8 at a local welfare center in poem in a foreign language is difficult, and this would
“The three judges were all surprised Gyeonggi-do Province. mean that my Korean is perfect.”  By Kim Mi-ju

42 korea December 2009


Culture

[JoongAng Ilbo]
n
ong-gu
n
eung-h
eon ung-hu in
Jang D Song S Lee By Won B

Four For One, One For All


Quartet of Korean Wave superstars gathers for big show at Tokyo Dome

J
apanese fans of the Korean Wave are about to get a Lee concurred, adding, “It will be a very special event. See
special gift. you all soon.”
Four stars who were at the vanguard of the wave Lee won widespread popularity in Asia with his roles in
— Lee Byung-hun, 39; Jang Dong-gun, 37; Song the 2001 TV drama Beautiful Days and the 2003 hit TV series
Seung-heon, 33, and Won Bin, 32 — have teamed up for a live All In, and he recently made his Hollywood debut in the
show dubbed “Four of a Kind,” set to run at the Tokyo Dome action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, released this year.
on Dec. 17. Jang earned recognition for his performances in the films
This Hallyu, or Korean wave event, unprecedented in its Friend (2001) and Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War (2004) and
scale, was reportedly conceived independently by the four recently made headlines by announcing a relationship of two
superstars, who are close friends and often meet privately. years with Ko So-young, one of the most popular Korean
The highlight of the event will come when all four actors actresses of the late 1990s.
perform together. The well-known Japanese producer and It was Song’s role in the 2000 hit drama Autumn in My
lyricist Yasushi Akimoto will produce the show, and Hur Jin- Heart, in which he played opposite the prominent Korean
ho, the Korean film director known for the 1998 movie Christ- actress Song Hye-kyo, that first won him notice.
mas in August who recently directed Season of Good Rain And last but not least, the youngest in the group, Won Bin,
starring Jung Woo-sung and Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, who appeared in Autumn in My Heart as a new face then rose
will make a short feature to be used at the performance. to fame with his role in Taegukgi, was recently featured at this
The Tokyo Dome event will also provide a venue for the year’s Cannes Film Festival in the acclaimed film Mother,
fans to hear from each of the stars about their lives at the directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host).
moment and their future plans. Though the details of the event are still under discussion
“It’s been a long time since I’d met fans at a live show like by the four actors’ management agencies due to their busy
this. I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be like,” Jang schedules, it promises to be an unforgettable evening for the
was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. stars’ rabid fans.  By Park Sun-young

December 2009 korea 43


Kim Won-il
A broken heart in a divided nation

K
im Won-il (born 1942) writes about the effects of the Kore-
an War and national division. His writing is, in part, an
attempt to come to terms with the circumstances that
shaped his youth: Kim’s father, a communist activist,
defected to the North during the war, leaving his family in extreme
poverty and under constant police surveillance. The dark years of
Kim’s childhood were the basis for a series of stories, including “A
Festival of Darkness,” “Spirit of Darkness” and “Evening Glow,” which
won critical acclaim for reaffirming the value of life in the nihilistic
aftermath of the Korean War. With the publication of A Festival of
Fire and Winter Valley, Kim Won-il became the foremost writer on
the issue of national division. His autobiographical novel A House
with a Deep Garden was made into a popular TV series in 1990. In
these works, Kim blends realism and lyricism to offer a comprehen-
sive portrayal of Korean society before, during and after the war, with
emphasis on the ideological conflict and its dehumanizing effect on
life. Since the mid-1990s, Kim Won-il has produced deeply human-
istic tales centering on handicapped or socially marginalized groups
of people.
The writer has been the recipient of numerous awards, including
the Contemporary Literature Prize (1974), the Republic of Korea
President’s Award in Literature (1979), the Korean Creative Writers’
Prize (1979), the Dong-in Literature Prize (1983), the Yi Sang Litera-
ture Prize (1990) and the Han Musuk Literature Prize (1998).

44 korea December 2009


Korean Literature

Major works
Spirit of Darkness
(Eodum ui chukje,1973)

Today’s Wind
(Oneul buneun baram, 1976)

Evening Glow
(Noeul, 1978)

Meditations on a Snipe
(1979)

Chains of Darkness
(Eodumui saseul, 1979)

A Festival of Fire
(Buleui jejeon, 1983)

Wind and River


(Baram gwa gang, 1985)

Winter Valley
(1987)

House with a Deep Garden


(1989)

The Long Road From Here to


There
(Geugose ireuneun meon gil, 1992)

The Evergreen
(Neul pureun sonamu, 1993)

[JoongAng Ilbo]

Source: Korea Literature


Translation Institute

December 2009 korea 45


A House with Deep Yard (Madang gipeun jib)

Korean War and presents a needlework for prostitutes. A ing.


poignant picture of the daughter of another family, Although the harsh con-
indomitable will to survive. Mi-seon, marries an Ameri- ditions of their lives often
Six families, all of them refu- can soldier she met while manifest in antagonism and
gees, occupy a single house working at a military base, hatred, the refugees do not
enclosing a yard, eking out a and Jeong-tae, whose family forget neighborly warmth
living by any means they can. is from Pyeongyang, attempts and cooperation. Most of all,
Emotional, physical and to cross over the border into it is their unrelenting desire
material devastation left by North Korea. A well-to-do to overcome the ravages of
the war is engraved into every landlord family holds a dance the war and move toward a
With remarkable accu- aspect of their lives. Jun-ho’s party while the tenants next better life that imparts a mea-
racy and attention to detail, father, a former officer, wears door go to sleep hungry, sure of hope to the bleak real-
this autobiographical novel a hook in place of his missing embodying the crippling ity of postwar Korea.
reconstructs the period arm and peddles sweet pota- effect of war in their utter The novel was made into
immediately following the toes; Gil-nam’s mother does disregard for human suffer- a TV series in 1990.

Meditations on a Snipe (Doyosae-e gwanhan myeongsang)


es upon many controversial wife, on the other hand, is a gang River. His little brother
issues in South Korean soci- simple-minded and ignorant Byeong-sik is in many ways
ety, including pollution due woman who manages all Byeong-guk’s opposite: a
to rapid industrialization and family affairs with hardiness second-rate student, Byeong-
the sense of alienation that and vigor. She coerces her sik is pragmatic, selfish and
scars those who cannot husband into misappropriat- calculating. With no regard
return to their homes in the ing funds from his office, for social issues, he makes
North. These issues surface causing him to lose his job. money by aiding poachers
through a family in discord. Byeong-guk, the first son, who catch and stuff the
The father is a 51-year-old throws away a promising col- migratory birds.
This volume contains 12 man who fought in the war lege career to participate in The birds of the title
stories including “The Chain on the North Korean side, the democracy movement. embody Byeong-guk’s yearn-
of Darkness,” “Needlework” but settled in the South after Expelled from school, he ing for freedom and the
and “An Evening Primrose,” renouncing communism. A returns home and redirects father’s longing for his home
all of which were first pub- passive, soft-hearted man, he his passion to the problem of in the North, and serve as the
lished in the 1970s. still cherishes the memory of pollution and the extinction symbol of the psychological
“Meditations on a Snipe” his first lover, whom he left of migratory birds in the area bond that exists between
is a complex story that touch- behind in the North. His surrounding the Dongjin- father and son.

Published translations
Book Title Year of publication Genre Language
노을 / Evening Glow 2003 Novel English
바람과 강 / The Wind and the River 1988 Novel English
맹춘중하 외(孟春仲夏 외) / Early Spring, Mid-Summer and Other Korean Short Stories 1983 Novel English
마당 깊은 집 / La maison dans la cour du bas 1995 Novel French
바람과 강 / Le Voyage de Monsieur Lee 1993 Novel French
한국의 현대문학 제2권 장편소설II / 韓国の現代文学 第2巻 長編小説II 1992 Novel Japanese
겨울 골짜기 / 冬の谷間 1996 Novel Japanese
마당 깊은 집 / La casona de los patios 1995 Novel Spanish
List of Kim's translated works

46 korea December 2009


Poetry

A Slug
민달팽이

냇가의 돌 위를 A slug is crawling


민달팽이가 기어간다 Over a streamside stone.
등에 짊어진 집도 없는 저것 With no house on its back
보호색을 띤, 갑각의 패각 한 채 없는 저것 wrapped in protective colors, without any shell,
its whole body shielded in a slippery secretion like saliva,
타액 같은, 미끌미끌한 분비물로 전신을 감싸고
naked, it is idly crawling along.
알몸으로 느릿느릿 기어간다
With its tender, soft skin open, defenseless
햇살의 새끼손가락만 닿아도 말라 바스라질 것 같은 — a little finger of sunlight would reduce it to powder —
부드럽고 연한 피부, 무방비로 열어놓고 the slug seems to be enjoying a stroll
산책이라도 즐기고 있는 것인지 or perhaps it hopes to enjoy a nap on a streamside stone bed,
냇가의 돌침대 위에서 午睡라도 즐기고 싶은 것인지 crawling along at so idle a pace, it seems to be walking in its sleep.
걸으면서도 잠든 것같은 보폭으로 느릿느릿 걸어간다 Just like Diogenes emerging from a wine barrel,
꼭 술통 속을 빠져나온 디오게네스처럼 following the movement of water and clouds like a wandering
물과 구름의 運行따라 걷은 운수납행처럼 monk,
abandoning to the world the house on its back,
등에 짊어진 집, 세상에 던져주고
roaming in robes that it seems barely to wear,
입어도 벗은 것 같은 衲衣하나로 떠도는
It goes walking slowly, so slowly, with footsteps following cosmic
그 우주율의 발걸음으로 느리게 느리게 걸어간다 laws.

그 모습이 안쓰러워, 아내가 냇물에 씻고 있는 배추 잎 Feeling sorry at the sight of it, my wife covers its naked body
사귀 하나를 알몸 위에 덮어주자 with a cabbage leaf she has just washed in the brook.
민달팽이는 잠시 멈칫거리다가, 귀찮은 듯 얼른 잎사귀 But the slug, after wavering for a moment, soon emerges from
덮개를 빠져나가버린다 beneath the leaf as if finding it bothersome.

Clear off, shade!


치워라, 그늘!
Provided by the Korea Literature Translation Institute

From “Poems from Dojang Valley” by poet Kim Sin-yong

Kim Sin-yong was born in Busan in 1945. He made his literary debut in the journal Contemporary Poetry & Thought in 1988. His poetry collections include Desert-
ed People (1988), Record of Wretched Days (1990), Walking Inside a Dream (1997), Phantom Pain (2005) and Poems from Dojang Valley (2007). His novels include
Where Is the Moon 1, 2 (1994) and Mechanical Parro (1997). He is the winner of the 7th Cheon Sang-byeong Poetry Prize (2005) and the 6th Nojak Literary Award
(2006).

December 2009 korea 47


Jo Jeong-gu, a noted Korean architect (be-
low), has been the master hand behind some
of the most high-profile hanok, or traditional
buildings, construction projects in Korea. One
example is a hanok in Gahoe-dong, Seoul
(right), called Seoneumjae and built in 1934.
Provided by Jo Jeong-gu, [JoongAng Ilbo]

Architect Preserves, Resurrects


Korea’s Traditional Lifestyles

48 korea December 2009


Korean Artist

“W
here are all the destroyed many of Korea’s traditional — about a quarter of the country’s pop-
caption
traditionalbuild- houses, known here as hanok. ulation — only about 14,000 hanok are
ings?” A reminder of old and impoverished known to have survived.
That’s the times past, many hanok were demol- Yet in recent years, the old houses
question that ends up on the lips of ished and replaced with modern, West- have found themselves enjoying new-
some foreigners who visit Korea for the ern-style apartment buildings, many found attention.
first time with high hopes of indulging bleak and featureless. The central government has taken
themselves in the trappings of old Asia. Data show that more than 50 per- note of their rich potential as tourist
Such a response is understandable cent of Korean people now live in these attractions, certifying one hanok village
considering the massive and hasty apartment buildings. In Seoul alone, after another. Architects, meanwhile,
industrialization of the 1960s and ’70s home to more than 10 million people have fallen in love with their architec-
December 2009 korea 49
tural beauty and the ancestral wisdom
evident in the way they are built. For
example, ondol floor heating systems
come from hanok.
Since 2001, the Seoul Metropolitan
Government has been working on pre-
serving the city’s remaining hanok, most
of which can be found in the districts of
Jongno-gu, Seongbuk-gu and Dong-
daemun-gu. The government has intro-
duced various measures, including a
ban on real estate development in hanok
neighborhoods and subsidies to remod-
el and maintain the old homes.
Today, hanok are in the middle of a
full-fledged renaissance, with the emer-
gence of hanok inns, hanok restaurants,
even a hanok dental clinic, while adopt-
ing elements of their traditional designs
is all the rage in Korean architecture.
A man who deserves a fair share of
credit for hanok’s newfound popularity
is Jo Jeong-gu, the director at Guga
Architects. He has renovated or built
more than 30 hanok across Korea that
have now become landmarks in more
ways than one.
They include, in Seoul, the Institute
of Korean Royal Cuisine in Wonseo-
dong, Restaurant Nuri in Insa-dong and
the Bukchon Hanok Village; in Gyeong-
sangbuk-do Province, the Gunja Village
Hall in Andong; in Gyeongsangbuk-do,
La Gung, a hanok-style hotel in Gyeo-
ngju.
“Today, so many things are disap-
pearing,” Jo laments. “Even before we

[JoongAng Ilbo]
get to look at or talk about what we have,
their meaning and value, our cities get
demolished and erased. We need to
come up with a way to bring develop-
ment to cities without erasing.” Jo lives in a hanok himself in the Seodaemun-gu area in Seoul. Before that the
One model, Jo says, is the hanok along with his wife, children couple and their only child had lived in a typical Kore-
renovation project in Bukchon, north- and a pet. The couple says an apartment building. Now, Jo and his wife have four
ern Seoul, which in 2001 gave birth to they enjoy the peace of mind kids, which they say must have something to do with
the Bukchon Hanok Village, now a tour- that comes with living in a the peace of mind that comes with living in a hanok.
ist destination. hanok. The typical hanok is built around a courtyard. Jo
According to Jo, the project was an has even been quoted as saying that “the focus of my
eye-opener for him, as well, helping him architecture is always the yard.” It’s a subject Jo can talk
discover the potential of hanok and about for hours — and he didn’t miss the chance to do
delve into their structure. Not long so in this interview.
afterward, Jo became the go-to architect “I don’t necessarily believe that a hanok must be a
for high-profile hanok projects. traditional wooden structure,” Jo says. “But I do believe
Since Bukchon, Jo says he has fallen the most important thing in a hanok is its relationship
in love with hanok. So much so that in with the courtyard. That is where the true ‘hanokness’
2003 Jo and his wife moved to a hanok comes from: the yard.”
50 korea December 2009
Korean Artist

Jo went on to say that a hanok’s yard


is not something that people just look at
and enjoy visually. It is something that
people use, where people feel the sea-
sons change.
“Getting a yard is like getting a piece
of nature in a huge room,” Jo says.
One of Jo’s most high-profile proj-
ects was the multiple award-winning La
Gung hotel. La Gung opened in 2007
and enjoyed intense media coverage, as
it was the first high-end, luxury hanok
hotel to open in Korea.
“Often La Gung is fully booked over
the weekend,” said Min Dae-sik at the

[JonngAng Ilbo]
Shilla Millennium Park, the film set-
cum-theme park that houses the hotel.
“Part of the reason is because it only has
16 villas, but we believe it’s also an indi- La Gung, Korea’s first high- hanok since 2003, but I didn’t renovate it too much.
cation that people are responding posi- end hanok hotel, was also That’s when I realized that when it comes to hanok
tively to hanok structures.” the work of Jo. La Gung em- renovation, less is more.”
Jo admits he wasn’t certain La Gung bodies the qualities that dif- Although Jo focused on keeping the original frame
would succeed when he was first given ferentiate Jo from from other and ambiance of Seoneumjae, he did add elements to
the job. After all, it was an unprecedent- hanok-savvy architects by please the owner and make life there more convenient,
ed project. retaining its traditional form like a listening room in the basement. Still, Jo made
“My biggest concern when design- with modern twist. sure the building’s 70-year heritage was kept as intact
ing La Gung was how many traditional as possible.
elements I would use and how much I That is perhaps why, along with a model of the
would adopt modern functions.” 130-year-old hanok residence of Korea’s former presi-
In its completed form, La Gung dent Yun Po-sun in Insa-dong, central Seoul, a minia-
embodies the qualities that set Jo apart ture of Seoneumjae was chosen to be displayed at an
from other hanok-savvy architects: It exhibition in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Korean
retains its traditional form and atmo- Embassy.
sphere with modern functions and facil- A graduate in architecture of the prestigious Seoul
ities. National University, Jo opened his first office, Guga
Each villa at the hotel has two to Architects, in 2000. That was also when he initiated
three rooms, a private yard, as well as a what he calls the “Wednesday survey.” Every Wednes-
private, open-air hot bath. day he heads out to examine and document buildings,
After La Gung, Jo worked on anoth- alleys and other urban structures and elements in and
er hanok hotel, a hanok library and a around the Seodaemun-gu area.
hanok art gallery. But the architect says So far he has done more than 460 such surveys and
he is most inspired by residential hanok, completed nine detailed scrapbooks. Looking over
and names a hanok in Gahoe-dong them today, one is struck by Jo’s persistence, even stub-
called Seoneumjae as one of his most A model of bornness. But along the way, Jo said, he has learned
memorable projects. more about life than about architecture.
Built in 1934, the hanok was on the
one hanok Jo The 43-year-old says that through the surveys he
verge of being demolished, with the saved from the has come to a better understanding of the way people
owner, like so many who came before, live, and of Seoul as a historic yet constantly changing
tempted by a large offer from a real
wrecking ball city.
estate developer. But Jo heard about was chosen “Different people live differently, according to their
Seoneumjae and its historical value and walks of life, financial circumstances and whatnot.
convinced the owner to opt for renova-
for an exhibit Some of the places may look dark, cramped and old,
tion instead. at the Korean but still they are a precious backdrop to someone’s life,
“I thought about what the best reno- just like any other place. A good city is one where dif-
vated hanok I’ve ever worked on was. It
Embassy to ferent people can live in harmony.”
was, in fact, my house. I have lived in a the U.S.  By Kim Hyung-eun

December 2009 korea 51


Majestic Park Will Be Home
to a Beloved Korean Sport

T
aekwondo Promotion Foun-
dation Chairman Lee Dai-soon
firmly believes that Taekwondo
Park, currently being con-
structed in Muju, Jeollabuk-do Province,
will help develop the sport on a global
scale.
“The project will provide up-to-date
training facilities for practitioners of the
sport, but more importantly it will
embody the spirit of the sport by educat-
ing youth and providing a tranquil envi-
ronment for visitors to meditate,”
explained the 76-year-old Lee, who is
also vice president of the World Tae-
kwondo Federation, at his office.
After serving as a lawmaker for eight
years in the 1980s from Goheung-gun
and Boseong-gun in Jeollanam-do Prov-
ince, Lee has had an illustrious career in
sports and government posts over the
years. Since he was appointed as the head
of TPF in 2005 when the organization
was founded, Lee has been hard at work
on the Taekwondo Park project.
The all-purpose training and educa-
tional facility will include a Taekwondo
Hall of Fame, a World Culture Village, a
5,000-seat arena, training centers and
lodging facilities on a sprawling site of
23,000 square kilometers (8,880 square
miles), or approximately the size of 4,157
football fields. A groundbreaking took
place on Taekwondo Day on Sept. 4, and
Taekwondo Park is to be completed in
two phases, the first phase by 2013 and
the rest by 2018. The entire project,
backed by public and private funds, is
expected to cost around 236 billion won
Provided by Taekwondo Promotion Foundation

($204 million). When complete it is


expected to provide the 50 million or so
practitioners of the sport a place to gath-
er and hone their bodies, spirits and
minds.
“What sets taekwondo apart from
Participants in the first World Youth Taekwondo Camp, held in August, some other modern sports is that it
compete in a match. Provided by the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation. preaches the importance of moral values
52 korea December 2009
Sports

and respect for elders. For practitioners of the sport, it


is not merely important to be a good athlete but also to
develop into well-rounded people with outstanding
moral values.”
This is part of the reason the WTF and TPF co-
organized the very first World Youth Taekwondo Camp
in August. The six-day event included 260 participants
between the ages of 14 and 17 from 33 countries. It’s the
overall goal of the two organizations not only to spread
the positives of the sport to youth all over the world but

[Press-Q]
also to make an impact on young athletes.
“We introduced success cases to the participants. Lee Dai-soon, chairman of the Taekwondo
Former taekwondo athletes who have gone on to have Promotion Foundation
success later in life shared their stories at the camp.
There was a Taiwanese lawmaker and an Iranian city decide upon a finalist from a list of six
official, among others. We hoped to give the kids hopes other cities including Chuncheon,
and dreams, in addition to keeping themselves healthy Gangwon-do Province and Gyeongju,
and in good shape,” said Lee. Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. However,
“Aside from the actual coaching of athletes, we had as Lee explained, there was a clear reason
a session in which we asked the kids to write down a for choosing Muju.
bad habit or mistakes that they had made in the past on “The picturesque area is ideal for the
wooden boards. Then we had them break the boards type of park we have in mind, but the
and gave them time for reflection.” area also has historical significance. The
As Lee explained, the emphasis the sport places on area was once the border of the ancient
respect for one’s self, parents and elders is partly why the Korean kingdoms of Baekje and Silla.
sport has been included as part of regular physical edu- You could say it’s the area where the
cation curriculums in some regions in the American sport was founded,” said Lee. “It’s also in
states of Massachusetts and New York. In Iran, Uzbeki- the central region of Korea, and a lot
stan and certain parts of Africa, taekwondo programs closer to Seoul than one might expect.
have been added to university curriculums as well. This The area is merely 30 minutes on the
makes Taekwondo Park all the more important. KTX [bullet train] from Daejeon.”
“We have sent professors to Uzbek universities and With several International Olympic
have plans to sent more professors, taekwondo masters Committee members in attendance at
and volunteers abroad. In order to reach out to places the groundbreaking in September, Lee
that request help, we need more instructors, professors said he received positive feedback about
and volunteers. When finished, Taekwondo Park is the park and what it means for the future
expected to provide proper training for practitioners of of the sport.
all ages and those looking to get involved in teaching
The park will While known as a sport that has been
the sport,” Lee said. “That is the reason we are devoting offer youth dominated by Korean athletes at inter-
a lot of attention to the research center to be built on the national events in the past, taekwondo
grounds of the park. Furthermore, a new facility for training, but has consistently grown over the years in
Kukkiwon [the world taekwondo headquarters] will be also host other places around the world. This has
set aside on the grounds as well.” resulted in a more level playing field, and
Some may question why Taekwondo Park isn’t research and with Taekwondo Park expected to be
closer to Seoul, the capital of Korea and the economic completed within a decade, the pros-
and cultural center of the country. At the early stages of
instruct new pects of the sport further blossoming
the planning process, the two governing groups had to masters. look bright.  By Jason Kim

December 2009 korea 53


Lim Su-jeong of Korea lands
a kick to the face of her op-
ponent, Zhang Hua of China,
in the women’s 62-kilogram
division final match on Oct.
19 at the Ballerup Super

[YONHAP]
Arena in Copenhagen, Den-
mark.

Lim Bests
to the body and facial area to take the
match by 7-5. He bested Canada’s Maxi-
me Potvin in the finals, 5-2.

Zhang in
The Korean men managed to earn
three gold medals and finished first over
Iran and Turkey, while the female team

Denmark
finished second overall behind China
with two gold medals.
The tournament’s most valuable

T
player honors went to American Steven
he most recognized female taekwondo ath- Lopez, who won his fifth consecutive
lete in the world lived up to high expecta- world title, and Brigitte Yague of Spain.
tions, winning a gold medal in dramatic “These World Championships are
fashion at the 2009 World Taekwondo Cham- the biggest in history. Over 1,000 par-
pionships held in Copenhagen, Denmark from Oct. ticipants, five courts, the new electronic
14 to 18. Lim Su-jeong defeated Zhang Hua of China body protectors, and the video replay.
in the final of the women’s 62-kilogram (136.7-pound) Lim Su-jeong This is a truly fantastic World Champi-
division by 10-8 at the Ballerup Super Arena. onships. We are making history,” Chakir
The 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist was Chelbat, vice president of the WTF ref-
favored to win her division, and she cruised through erees committee, was quoted as saying.
the early rounds. In the semifinals, Lim showed an Later, at the World Taekwondo Tour
impressive display of three kicks to the face as she 2009 Mexico on Nov. 14 at Palacio de los
defeated Estefania Hernandez of Spain by 9-5. Deportes in Mexico City, Mexico, Lim
The final match against Zhang proved to be much Su-jeong faced down Diana Lopez of
tougher, as Lim trailed until the end of the second the famed American Lopez taekwondo
round. Then, behind 8-7, Lim landed a right kick family.
square on her opponent’s face to earn three points to Korea’s The new professional tour event,
win the match 10-8. reigning organized by the World Taekwondo
The 23-year-old has now won at every major com- Federation, featured a total of 16 of the
petition, including the 2002 Asian Games and 2007 taekwondo sport’s top athletes in four divisions of
Universiade Games. competition. The top prize in each divi-
Kim Joon-tae, competing in the men’s 74-kilogram
champion sion was US$20,000 in cash. The new
division, also added a gold medal. Kim’s toughest foe continues to professional tour will also help to start a
came in the semifinals, when he faced Mark Lopez of global ranking system in the sport. 
the U.S. Kim fell behind early but came back with kicks impress  By Jason Kim

54 korea December 2009


Sports

Kim Yu-na’s Road


to the Gold
High expectations for the Korean
skating star ahead of the Olympics

K
im Yu-na got off to a domi- highest score,” Kim said on Saturday.
nating start in the 2009-10 “Looking at the free skate program
season and is a clear favorite ... I was surprised when I saw a score of
to win the gold at the 2010 210 flash across the scoreboard,” Kim
Winter Olympics in Vancouver in Feb- said. “Scoring the highest total at the
ruary. season opener, I felt numb for a
Having bagged her sixth Grand moment.”
Prix title and in the process setting As the first competition since her
a record with a new combined score record-setting World Championships
of 210.03 at the Trophée Eric Bompard performance in March, a lot of atten-
competition in Paris, Kim topped her tion was paid to Kim leading up to the
previous best of 207.71, which she set at French Grand Prix. Kim’s next compe-
the World Championships in March. In tition was at Skate America in Lake
the first of six 2009-10 ISU Grand Prix Placid, New York.
figure skating events, Kim also set a Not only do the Grand Prix series
new world record in the free skating events help to prepare Kim for the Win-
program with a score of 133.95. At ter Olympics, but the top six skaters
this point Kim is the clear favorite from the six events get the opportunity
to win win gold in Vancouver, to compete in the Grand Prix Final in
which would make her the first Tokyo in December.
Korean figure skater to do so. “I think I’m getting more attention
The 19-year-old is in peak because the Olympics are coming up. I
form. The win at Trophée Eric have been eagerly anticipating the Van-
Bompard was her sixth in a row since couver Winter Games, and therefore I
her first Grand Prix win at the same am a little nervous. Having gathered
event in 2006. Kim overwhelmed her good results in two consecutive sea-
competition with a strong performance sons, my confidence is building,” Kim
that included a triple lutz-toe loop said.
combination to start her free skate, per- Japanese skaters Mao Asada and
formed to George Gershwin’s Piano Yukari Nagano came in second and
Concerto in F major. Although Kim third with overall scores of 173.99 and
could not get off her triple flip jump, 165.70, respectively. America’s Caroline
she drew loud cheers from the audience Zhang managed 153.15.
for her flying sit spin and spiral Japan’s Nobunari Oda won the
sequence. men’s competition with a score of
“Leading into the triple flip jump, it 242.53. Maria Mukhortova and Maxim
[YONHAP]

felt as if there was something caught in Trankov of Russia won the pairs event
my blade, and I momentarily lost my with a score of 192.93. Canadians Tessa
Kim Yu-na performs her routine during the balance. However, I feel very satisfied Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice danc-
free skating portion of the Skate America about finishing the rest of my program ing event with a score of 197.71. 
event in Lake Placid, New York on Nov. 16. and feel very happy about earning the  By Jason Kim

December 2009 korea 55


e S l o p e s !
To th
T
he skiing season is back. It’s the classic winter thrill, and athletes and amateurs ascend
from the cities seeking the slopes covered in silvery snow. And with the first snowfall
of the year coming to Gangwon-do Province in early November this year, the resorts
in the region are already open for the season.
This winter is expected to be cold with lots of snow, so resorts that struggled last year due to
unusually high temperatures and a shortage of the white stuff are working overtime to make up
for it in 2009, with pop concerts, nighttime skiing, raffles and gift packages to attract tourists,
especially those from Southeast Asia, a group that’s been growing.
After two failed attempts to host the Winter Olympics, Korea is making its third bid to host
the 2018 Winter Olympics, and Koreans are as passionate about the winter sports as ever.
The history of skiing in Korea goes back some 70 years to Hamgyeong-do Province in what
is today North Korea. The sport became popular in the South with the opening of the Alps Resort
in Ganseong-eup, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do Province, in the early 1970s. Currently, there are
16 ski resorts in South Korea, with the number of fans of skiing and snowboarding always on the
rise.
Those craving a world-class experience should try Yongpyong Ski Resort in Pyeongchang-
gun, Gangwon-do Province, which is once again trying out for the Winter Olympic Games.
Nearby Phoenix Park ski resort is known for its spectacular scenery. You can reach High1 Resort
in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do Province by train, while a ski close to Seoul can be had at Kon-
jiam Resort in Gwangju-gun, Gyeonggi-do Province.

56 korea December 2009


Travel

[JoongAng Ilbo]

December 2009 korea 57


High1 Resort
(www.high1.co.kr)

High1 Resort offers 20 slopes of various levels, from beginner’s


slopes to two slopes certified to hold international competitions by
the International Ski Federation. The 4.2-kilometer Zeus Course
connecting Valley Top, Valley Hub and Valley Condo is designated
for novice skiers so that they can learn the sport safely. The three
eight-person gondolas can transport large groups quickly.
This year, High1 Resort is introducing a special promotion exclu-
sively for female skiers called “Women’s Paradise,” which includes
special entertainment, events and food just for ladies. This strategy
is part of High1’s attempt to become the hottest resort in town.
A D-10 season pass allows unlimited entry throughout the ski
season, and it’s 50 percent off for women — just 175,000 won
(US$152). The staff members dress up and entertain the skiers wait-
ing to board the gondolas with magic shows, pop quiz games and
raffles. High1 is also the only ski resort in Korea that can be reached
by train. Exclusive service for skiers operates to Gohan Station from
Seoul Station, Busan Station and Masan Station.

Where to Eat
The Korean restaurant Unamjeong (82-33-590-7631) is well known as the
setting for the hit television drama Sikgaek. Housed in a group of traditional
homes, Unamjeong’s menu includes Joseon Dynasty court cuisine such as
surabansang (a basic court cuisine set) and jinyeon manchan (a royal feast
set once offered to the ministers by the king) and, of course, dishes that were
featured in the drama. The only downside is the high price. Daryegwan, a tea
house in Unamjeong, offers tea ceremony and etiquette classes. Located at
[JoongAng Ilbo]

the peak of Mount Baekunsan, Top of the Mountain is a revolving restaurant


that makes a 360 degree turn every 45 minutes. The Mountain Combination
2 is one of the most popular menu options, and you can enjoy sirloin steak,
High1 Resort’s “Women’s Paradise” program shrimp and barbecued pork ribs with sides of potato, fried rice and steamed
targets female skiers, top. Many foreigners order vegetables. The price is 38,000 won for two and 50,000 won for three.
the resort’s bibimbap, above.

Konjiam Resort
(www.konjiamresort.co.kr)

Opened last year, Konjiam Resort is the 100 meters wide on average, and the resort compares favorably with
first in Korea to limit the number of skiers those of Gangwon-do Province. The longest slope is 1.8 kilometers.
on the slopes at one time. Four kilometers The resort removed the half pipe to accommodate novice and inter-
off the Konjiam Interchange on Jungbu mediate skiers, and there’s even a sledding slope for adults and chil-
Highway, the resort can be reached in 40 dren close to the ski school, to make it more accessible to visitors.
minutes from Gangnam-gu District, Seoul,
and skiers can come out at night on the Where to Eat
weekdays as well. The resort has 11 slopes At the foot of the slope, La Grotta is a popular option, featuring a restaurant
and a 476-room hotel with a spa and out- and a wine cellar in a cave with 10,000 bottles. Tasting sessions go along
door hot spring. with fine cuisine at La Grotta’s 72-seat Italian restaurant. The creamy pasta
Konjiam’s 365 acres of slopes have a dif- with clams and arugula and steak grilled on a hot stone plate are popular
ference in elevation of 330 meters and are choices. Wine starts at 30,000 won.

58 korea December 2009


Travel

Yongpyong Ski Resort


(www.yongpyong.co.kr)

Korea is now in the midst of its third attempt to win the Winter
Olympics, this time in 2018, and Yongpyong Resort is always the first
to be featured in the presentation to IOC member countries. Three
World Cup Ski Competitions have been held here, and the resort
hosted the Winter Asian Games in 1999 with great success. The
country’s largest ski resort offers 23 slopes and accommodations to
fit every budget, from a five-star hotel to a youth hostel.
The resort is planning several special events to celebrate its 35th
anniversary. Until February 2010, 350 visitors will be selected every
month to receive gifts that include skis, snowboards, season passes,
free nights at one of the resort’s hotels, iPods, Nintendo game con-
soles and equipment. Every day, the resort picks a set of four num-
bers, and if those digits match the last four in your telephone number,
you’ll receive a weekly lift pass, a 35,000 won value, for free.
The international standard-size half pipe located under the Silver
Slope is the first one in Korea equipped with a conveyor belt for the
convenience of snowboarders. The Red Slope features a mogul ter-
rain with bumps, letting skiers try freestyle turns and jumps.

Where to Eat
Pyeongchang-gun is notorious for its cold winters, and walleye pollock is a
famous delicacy of the region. Some restaurants in Hwenggye-ri clustered
near the entrance to the resort specialize in the fish, offering special dishes.
Hwagtae Hoegwan (82-33-335-5795) is famous for its savory grilled pollack.
The 10,000 won dish is accompanied by a bowl of pollack soup, which is a

[JoongAng Ilbo]
favorite cure for hangover in winter. Nabjak Diner (033-335-5477), located
next to the Saemaeul Bank in town, is famous for its osam bulgogi, a combi-
nation barbeque platter of cuttlefish and pork belly seasoned with hot pepper
paste. One portion is 7,000 won, which includes white kimchi to wash away Pyeongchang-gun is known for hwangtaegui, a
the spice. savory grilled pollock dish, top. Above, the view
from the top of one of Yongpyong’s slopes.

Provided by the company

Left, Serve One Konjiam Resort


Above, after a day (or night) on the ski slopes,
many visitors to Konjiam enjoy dinner and wine
at La Grotta.

December 2009 korea 59


Phoenix Park
(www.phoenixpark.co.kr)

Phoenix Park has 21 ski slopes and a sled slope known as Snow
Village. The Mogul Course and Arial Course are internationally
certified to hold freestyle ski events, and young skiers can try out new
skills here. Phoenix Park is a snowboarding mecca in Korea, featur-
ing extreme sports facilities such as triple jump platforms as well as
basic snowboarding fixtures such as rails and boxes. The 2.4-kilome-
ter Sparrow Course, which begins at the top of Mount Taegisan and
reaches to the base of the mountain via the Panorama Course, is the
perfect choice for novice skiers to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Last year visitors had to buy separate lift and gondola tickets, but
this season combination passes are available, offering a savings of
1,000 won to 4,000 won. Six incumbent national team skiers are on
[JoongAng Ilbo]

hand to teach and demonstrate their skills, and a “one point” clinic
for adults and students is offered on weekends.
Buckwheat noodles, above, are often served with
buckwheat pancakes and sliced boiled pork. Where to Eat
Bongpyeong in Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do Province is the birthplace of
Lee Hyo-seok, a writer well known for his short stories about his hometown,
most notably When the Buckwheat Flowers Bloom. The Hyoseok Cultural Vil-
lage is 10 minutes away by car from Phoenix Park, and there are many restau-
rants specializing in buckwheat noodles. Jinmi Restaurant (82-33-335-0242)
and Bongpyeong Noodles (82-33-335-0242) are especially famous, and they
also serve buckwheat pancakes and sliced boiled pork in addition to the noo-
dles. You can also enjoy nutty homemade tofu and soft tofu at Sanchon Soft
Tofu (82-33-333-5661), located near the entrance to Phoenix Park.

Phoenix Park features outstanding facilities for ski-


ers and snowboarders and spectacular scenery.

60 korea December 2009


Travel
Korea’s Taste Masters

A Visit to the Incheon Shore


for Fresh, Authentic Seafood
Chef Mirko Agostini prefers
simple, harmonious tastes

A
true lover of food would fly to the moon
for a fresh, delicious meal. But according
to Mirko Agostini, executive chef at the
Hyatt Regency Incheon, you don’t have
to go that far — in fact, his recommendation is just

Provided by the Haytt Regency Incheon


an hour from Seoul in Eurwang-dong, Incheon.
Agostini is a frequent visitor, since the restaurant is
located only a few minutes from his hotel.
“On our small island, there is a
beach area with several seafood
restaurants that use the freshest
products directly from the har- Kalguksu noodles are a specialty at Hoibaragi in Incheon.
bor,” he says. “They serve great
seafood cooked right at your the restaurant ajumma tries to lure you in. You hardly
table.” ever experience this in Seoul or in other metropolises like
Of the many restaurants by Hong Kong or Sydney.”
the beach, Hoibaragi is this The food isn’t fancy, with specialities kalguksu noo-
chef ’s top choice. The relaxing dles (5,000 won, US$3.79), grilled clams (40,000 won to
and informal atmosphere is 60,000 won) and spicy seafood stew (30,000 won to
perfect to enjoy the sea breeze, 50,000 won).
making it a wonderful spot to “You can enjoy the freshness of the food without any
unwind together with friends sauce needed,” Agostini said.
and family, he says. And this chef knows what he’s talking about. Since
“When you’re stroll- starting his career in 1989, Agostini’s philosophy has
ing down the beach, stayed the same: authenticity, health and taste. He con-
siders good food to be simple, highlighting the original
flavors of the selected ingredients with harmonious herbs
and seasoning.
For more information on Hoibaragi, call (82-32)
746-3611.  By Lee Eun-joo

Mirko Agostini 
Executive chef,
Hyatt Regency Incheon

December
December 2009
2009 korea
korea 61 61
Nam Young-ho set out to replicate the trek of the Silla
Kingdom monk Hyecho across the Taklamakan Desert in
Central Asia. He became the first person to cross the des-
ert solo on foot.

In the Sandy Footsteps


of an Ancient Pilgrim
[YONHAP]

“I
wanted to follow in the home to the west, and I sigh at the end- Nam decided to reenact the part in
footsteps of Hyecho and less road to the east.” So wrote Hyecho Hyecho’s book in which the monk
let the world know of his in 723 when he set out to learn the lan- crossed this desert, which bears a name
travelogue, the great cul- guage and culture of the land of the that some claim means, “Go in and you
tural heritage he left behind.” Buddha. During his journey across Chi- will never come out.”
The 32-year-old explorer and pho- na, central Asia and finally India, The modern-day pilgrim departed
tographer Nam Young-ho was explain- Hyecho wrote a travelogue in Chinese from a point on the desert’s southern
ing who inspired his decision to com- titled Memoir of a Pilgrimage to the Five edge in China’s Hotan Prefecture on
plete a solo crossing of the Taklamakan Kingdoms of India. Oct. 3, then walked 450 kilometers (280
Desert in Central Asia on foot. The work contains information on miles) over 19 days to the city of Aral. It
But Hyecho isn’t related to Nam. In local cuisine, languages, climates, cul- is believed that his journey marks the
fact, he’s been dead for over a thousand tures and even politics. It was lost for first time a single individual has crossed
years. Nam’s inspiration was an 8th- many years until a fragment of it was the arid wasteland on foot, although
century Korean Buddhist monk from rediscovered in 1908. That fragment, expeditions and merchant caravans
the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935). now in France, has been translated into have traveled the route using camels or
“You complain that it’s a long way different languages over the years. vehicles in the past.
62 korea December 2009
People

“Even the Hyecho. In some ways, he was an explorer even great-


er than Christopher Columbus.”
sand, which Taklamakan is the 15th-largest sandy desert in the
world, covering an area of 270,000 square kilometers.
moved like a It is 1,000 kilometers long and 400 kilometers wide,
snake climb- and was once crossed at its northern and southern
edges by two branches of the Silk Road. The yellow
ing a hill, was dust storms that cover the Korean Peninsula in spring
partly originate here.
breathtaking.” In daytime, the average temperature in October
reaches a range of 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (77 to 86
degrees Fahrenheit). With the heat reflected from the
sand, however, the air feels closer to 40 degrees. Because
of the desert’s proximity to the frigid air of Siberia and
its extreme inland position, even in the summer nights
are cold, while in winter they can reach minus 20
degrees Celsius. There is no water in the desert, with
the exception of a few oasis towns that survive off rain-
fall from the mountains to the north and east.
Nam managed to cover his costs, which amounted
to some 50 million won (US$43,000), with the help of
sponsors. Two people followed him at a distance of 4
kilometers in vehicles to record his trip.
The Korean made the journey relying on his mem-
ory and an old-fashioned compass. He had hoped to
use a GPS system, but when the Chinese authorities
saw him testing it at the beginning of his journey, they
confiscated it and detained him for two days.
Nam’s backpack weighed almost 30 kilograms (66
pounds), but held only essential equipment such as his
desert goggles and his camera. He had to carry it an
average of 24 kilometers every day, over sand dunes
that could sometimes reach 15 meters high.
“At first, I felt a slight sense of terror seeing only
sand dune after sand dune as I kept on walking. But
after a while, I came across some desert animals like
camels, desert foxes and lizards. Seeing these creatures
that have adapted to the ways of their harsh surround-
ings, I began to appreciate life and its fullness.” Nam’s
words seem to echo the spirit of the Buddhist monk in
The Korean explorer first developed whose footsteps he walked. “Even the sand, which
the idea of crossing the Taklamakan moved like a snake climbing a hill, was breathtaking. I
during a bicycle trip across the Eurasian can’t describe the feeling I had when I lay down on the
continent. Nam had just climbed a warm sand at night and watched the stars in the sky
mountain to cross over into the Uighur that looked like diamonds on black velvet.”
Autonomous Region in China. Stand- One memorable moment came when Nam met a
ing at the top of the mountain, he saw Uighur man who was camping in the desert searching
the sands of the desert stretch endlessly for medicinal roots. “We were so surprised to see each
to the horizon. “I knew I had found my other we almost fainted!” Nam recalled.
next adventure,” he said. Nam took some 1,000 photographs on his journey,
Even with his goal in mind, Nam which will be posted online at http://blog.naver.com/
initially had difficulty planning a route. explorer05 with captions in Korean.
It was then that he came across Hyecho And Nam’s ties with Hyecho do not end here. Next
and his travelogue. “While studying the year, he hopes to follow the monk’s complete journey,
Silk Road and the ancient civilizations from Gyeongju, Korea through China, Vietnam, Sin-
that inhabited the region, I discovered gapore, India, Pakistan and Iran.  By Lim Ji-soo

December 2009 korea 63


A missionary invited Kent Kamasumba to Jirisan High
[JoongAng Ilbo]

School in Gyeongsangnam-do Province from his village in


a remote area of Zambia, southern Africa.

Boy’s Journey from Zambia


to Korea’s Top University
64 korea December 2009
People

I
n April, Kent Kamasumba was Kamasumba “Kamasumba has a firm goal that he will someday
accepted as third-year student at turn his poor motherland into a rich one,” said Park
Jirisan High School in Sancheong- was raised by Hae-sung, 54, the principal at Jirisan High School.
ri, Gyeongsangnam-do Province. Unfortunately Kamasumba’s family in Zambia
On Oct. 30, the 20-year-old student relatives in doesn’t yet know about his success.
from the southern African country of poverty, but he His hometown is located in an isolated area, some
Zambia was accepted into the Depart- 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital of Lusaka.
ment of Agricultural Economics and always There are no phones, and it takes about a month for
Rural Development at Seoul National letters to be delivered.
University, Korea’s most prestigious managed to Kamasumba grew up mostly with relatives because
institution of higher learning. be an honors his parents were too poor to raise him. He said he
A separate admissions screening for survived by eating fruit or vegetables once a day. To
foreign nationals allowed for Kama- student. earn his meals, Kamasumba had to carry drinking
sumba’s early admission for the 2010 water from a well two kilometers from his home. Only
academic year. It is very rare for a for- after doing many chores could he take time to study,
eigner attending a high school in Korea but he was always a top student.
to be selected for early admission to the While at school in Korea, Kamasumba would visit
school. a nearby welfare center for the elderly on weekends
After graduating from high school and help them bathe. He also volunteered to guide
in Zambia in February, Kamasumba foreign visitors at a management office for Mount Jiri-
came to Korea with help from Baek Ye- san National Park.
cheol, a Korean missionary who was “I used to be pessimistic about being poor,” said a
looking for a student to study at Jirisan third-year student named Lim, 18. “But I was moti-
at the request of the school. vated by Kamasumba that I should have stronger con-
Though Kamasumba graduated fidence and study harder.”
from a high school with honors, he did Park said, “I believe that talented students from
not have money for college. Africa like Kamasumba can play a bridge-building role
“I wanted to keep on studying at a between Korea and African countries when they
university, but my family could not return to their homeland after studying in Korea.”
afford to pay for the tuition due to finan- The principal also said the school is going to find
cial difficulties,” he said. “My father as many sponsors as possible to provide Kamasumba
passed away when I was young, and with tuition and daily expenses. Those willing to pro-
there was no one to earn money. I am so vide a helping hand can call Jirisan school at (82-)
happy that I can keep on learning in 55-973-9723.
Korea. I am planning to earn bachelor’s, Established in 2004 as an alternative school target-
master’s and doctorate degrees at SNU ing underprivileged students inside and outside Korea,
and become a famous scholar in agricul- Jirisan High School was authorized as a general high
tural economics so that I can develop school by the government.
my homeland. I want to learn how Korea With the help of many sponsors, 53 students attend
turned from poor to rich in a short peri- the school for free. Including Kamasumba, there are
od of time.” three foreign students among them.
At Jirisan, the Zambian student Eleven teachers and 14 other volunteer instructors
reportedly had no trouble catching up are on staff, including a retired Sogang University pro-
in classes taught in English, but he had fessor of Korean literature, Kim Yeol-kyu.
hard time speaking Korean. He took Students take classes from early in the morning
Korean language classes after school until the afternoon. After school, they help farmers in
and practiced with his schoolmates the fields and engage in volunteer activities.
while living in a dormitory. Zambia, which shares borders with the Democrat-
A month later, staff and students ic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique,
from SNU visited Jirisan. They told Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, was under British
Kamasumba about a Kenyan student at colonial rule from 1923 to 1964 and still faces extreme
the school, and the Zambian made up poverty and the blight of AIDS. Its GDP per capita is
his mind to study at Seoul National Uni- around US$1,500, and its unemployment rate 50 per-
versity. cent.  By Lee Min-yong

December 2009 korea 65


Foreign Viewpoints

A
s chairman of the Cana- years ago and built itself into a meg-
dian Chamber of Com- alopolis, in terms of infrastructure,
merce in Korea, I have had culture and affluence. No other East
the privilege to be invited Asian city has accomplished the same
to serve on various advisory councils, feat and leapfrogged so many stages
including the Presidential Council on of economic and social development.
Nation Branding, Invest KOREA Ad- Seoul’s traffic may be one of the favor-
visory Council (IKAC) and the Seoul ite topics of for foreigners’ rants, but
Foreign Investment Advisory Council have they compared it to other Asian
(FIAC). Through these committees, the cities? And what about air quality?
Korean government receives input, Today, Seoul offers unequaled infra-
critiques and recommendations from structure and cultural vibrancy. In what
foreign nationals living in Korea on a other large Asian city can you waterski
wide range of economic issues. in the downtown area, visit a world-

Don’t Take I’m also an avid reader of foreign and


local newspapers, where it is common
class art gallery, go mountain climb-
ing, run a global business, eat some of

Korea’s Tale
to find opinion columns and articles the best food in the world and attend
written by foreigners in which Korea a major concert, all in the same day?
and Koreans are criticized. Having Most of all, Seoul is arguably one of the

For Granted lived in Korea for a long time and hav-


ing a relatively good knowledge of the
safest large cities in Asia. I have never
heard of foreigners being attacked on
country, these articles often strike a the street, at any time of the day or
It’s easy to criticize Korea. But chord. I can’t help agreeing with the night. How many other Asian cities
one look around the world analysis offered by these Western ob- boast that level of personal safety and
shows how remarkable its servers about what Koreans should or comparable “joie de vivre”?
shouldn’t do about a host of issues. In And we shouldn’t forget where Korea
transformation has been. fact, I must confess that I’m about to “comes from.” Since 1948, Korea’s
add my voice to the chorus of critics by GDP has grown 746-fold at an average
writing a book (to be published in Ko- of 6.8 percent per year, mainly as the
rean) to offer suggestions to Korean result of hard work, careful planning
companies on how to enhance their and cohesive economic policies. By the
businesses overseas by changing old end of the war, Korea’s most notable
habits and adopting a global mindset. export was scrap metal from military
All of this shows that it has become tanks to Japan. One-third of the steel
too easy and even hip to criticize Kore- used to build the Tokyo Tower came
ans for what they haven’t achieved. from these exports. In 1960, Korea’s
However, a few days ago, I was bluntly share of global exports was 0.03 per-
reminded that foreigners tend to criti- cent. By 2007, it was 2.7 percent.
cize Korea too much. At a recent Seoul Few countries have ridden the wave
FIAC meeting, one of the European of globalization as successfully. Very
participants raised an excellent point, few Fortune 500 companies can boast
after several of his colleagues (and comparable export to domestic sales
myself) expressed downbeat opinions ratios. Today, Korea is no longer an
and made remarks about “how things “Asian tiger.” It is the world’s 13th-
should be done.” This participant largest economy. It has hosted the
Simon Bureau is chairman of the Canadian said that, when it comes to analyz- Olympics and the World Cup. It joined
Chamber of Commerce in Korea. He is also ing Seoul’s state of development, we the OECD in 1996 and will host a G-20
CEO of Vectis Corporation, a Seoul-based too often see the glass as being half summit in November 2010.
consulting firm that provides assistance to empty. In his opinion, when it comes So let’s recognize that Koreans have
Korean firms expanding overseas. Simon to Seoul, the glass should rather be shown tremendous resolve and capac-
has witnessed major changes in the Korean seen as “more than half full.” ity to change. Despite my own regular
market, having lived and worked in Korea He pointed that Seoul has lifted itself criticism, I remain confident and opti-
on different occasions since 1986. from total devastation less than 60 mistic. Pilseung Korea!

66 korea December 2009


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15 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul (110-040)
Republic of Korea
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