Table of Contents
Korea Focus - June 2012 - TOC - Politics 1. Aftermath of North Korea’s Failed Rocket Launch 2. Launch of Kim Jong-un Regime and Challenges Facing Seoul 3. Election Results Should Alarm Political Circles 4. The First Time I Voted as a Korean Citizen 5. East Sea or Japan Sea? - Economy 1.Sharing Fruits of the KORUS FTA 2. FTAs with Latin American Countries 3. How to Reduce Public Sector Debt 4. Dangers of Debt Deflation 5. Durability of Fast Follower Strategy - Society 1. ‘May I Hug You?’ 2. Nakkomsu ― Clowns that Coveted the World 3. Curtain Must Fall on Crony Capitalism to End Regional Divide 4. Nation Needs to Promote its Medical Prowess Overseas 5. KAL Marks 40th Anniversary of First Trans-Pacific Flight - Culture 1. The Era of Hallyu 2.0 in China 2. Girls’ Generation vs. Joanne K. Rowling 3. Cremated Remains of Arborist Dedicated to his Beloved Trees 4. Korea’s Nation Brand as Global Leader in e-Government 5. Law Enforcement with Creative Imagination - Essay
1. South Korean Conservative and Progressive Views on North Korea 2. The Changing Korean Ego in the Northeast Asia Era 3. Equity Capital Gains Tax: Boon or Bane? - Feature 1. An Ancient Clay Figurine Leads to Restoration of Indigenous Dog Breed - BookReview 1. Live Report on Instructions for Young Monarch 2. Silla Song Tells How Islamic Medicine Cured Small Pox - Interview 1. Park Sang-jin: “We can even infer the rise and fall of a nation by using knowledge about trees.” 2. Toby Dawson: “My priority is to make the Korean mogul ski team one of the best in the world.” - COPYRIGHT
- Aftermath of North Koreaâ€™s Failed Rocket Launch - Launch of Kim Jong-un Regime and Challenges Facing Seoul - Election Results Should Alarm Political Circles - The First Time I Voted as a Korean Citizen - East Sea or Japan Sea?
Aftermath of North Koreaâ€™s Failed Rocket Launch
Shin Beom-chul Chief, North Korea Military Studies Division Korea Institute for Defense Analyses
North Koreaâ€™s development of long-range rockets has three technological objectives: 1) propelling three-stage intercontinental ballistic missiles; 2) separating warheads from missiles; and 3) having the missiles re-enter the earthâ€™s atmosphere. North Korea has failed to acquire these technologies despite its three rocket launches. The most recent launch, a rocket named Unha-3 and supposedly carrying a satellite, exploded only a few minutes after liftoff. The failure must have been deeply embarrassing to the Pyongyang leadership as the launch was timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung. In the wake of the setback, Pyongyang is likely to intensify internal control by
ratcheting up external tension again. There is a strong possibility that the North will mount provocations in view of the uneasiness inflicting the new supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, who recently shuffled the heads of key power-wielding government agencies, including the Ministries of People’s Armed Forces, State Security, and People’s Security, as well as the General Political Department of the People’s Army. Against this backdrop, I propose the following steps for South Korea. First, Seoul needs to clearly inform Pyongyang that any further provocations will no longer lead to assistance designed to quell tensions. The North has continuously mounted provocations, including four long-range rocket or missile launches and two nuclear tests, anticipating more gains than losses. Indeed, since 1994, when North Korea and the United States signed a framework on the North’s nuclear program, both Seoul and Washington have provided aid worth more than $1.3 billion to Pyongyang. Going forward, South Korea and the United States should take firm and consistent actions to straighten out misconduct by the North. Second, a third nuclear test by North Korea must be prevented. Each of the North’s two previous nuclear tests followed a long-range rocket launch. Satellite images recently detected a new tunnel at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, suggesting preparations for a third nuclear test are under way. To pre-empt the test, the fledgling Kim Jong-un regime must be sternly warned that another nuclear test will lead to “complete isolation.” In this respect, the North’s closest ally China should be utilized in directly delivering an unequivocal message to the Pyongyang leadership, compelling it to make a choice between “a nuclear option and the regime survival.” Seoul also needs to elucidate its justification for retrieving debris from the failed North Korean rocket, which landed off the western coast of South
Korea. Pyongyang has warned that any attempts to retrieve the debris would be deemed a provocation and result in “ruthless” retaliation. However, the area where the debris fell is part of the South Korean exclusive economic zone and there is concern that toxic elements from the rocket could pollute marine resources. In view of the precedent in which Canada in 1977 retrieved debris of the Soviet Cosmos 954 satellite that fell into its territory and later returned it to Moscow, South Korea’s retrieval operation is more than justifiable. At the same time, South Korea must prepare for another isolated provocative challenge by North Korea. Pyongyang is more likely to stir up tensions against the South than to confront the United States or the international community at large. Isolated military action may include another attack on South Korean islands or naval vessels patrolling the Northern Limit Line, an inter-Korean maritime boundary in the West Sea, or attempts to commit massive terrorism on a target in the South. If the North finds itself unable to conduct another nuclear test or localized provocation, another long-range rocket launch could be back on the table as “peaceful space exploration” or some other pretense. Thinking that the recent rocket fiasco will restrain the North’s appetite for another launch anytime soon is nothing but a naïve presumption arising from a lack of understanding North Korea’s true intentions. Yet another critical and urgent issue is strengthening South Korea’s missile capabilities and streamlining its missile defense system. Less concern has been paid to North Korea’s short and intermediate missiles. But, once North Korea succeeds in miniaturizing its nuclear warheads, the smaller missiles will prove to be a more lethal threat to the South. Therefore, the South needs to strengthen its ballistic missile capability to fend off possible nuclear attacks by the North.
Upon witnessing the Northâ€™s latest rocket failure, some observers claimed that North Koreaâ€™s missile capabilities and military threats have been overestimated. The hard fact is that the Pyongyang regime is engrossed in stepping up missile development and military buildup, disregarding the suffering of its people. North Korean leaders must be convinced that such ruthless governance is the only choice left for regime survival; we all need to come to grips with the grim reality. [Chosun Ilbo, April 16, 2012]
Launch of Kim Jong-un Regime and Challenges Facing Seoul
Cheong Seong-chang Senior Fellow Sejong Institute
North Korea’s hereditary transfer of power from the late Kim Jong-il to his third son, Kim Jong-un, officially ended last week. After four months since his father’s death, Kim Jong-un now holds the top military and political posts. First assuming the position of the chief commander of the armed forces, he was elevated from vice chairman to chairman of the Central Military Committee of the Workers’ Party in December, shortly after Kim Jong-il died, and then became the party’s first secretary at the fourth conference of its representatives on April 11. In addition, the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly, held two days later, selected Kim to be “first chairman” of the National Defense Commission, the communist state’s highest post. The smooth and swift power succession, carried out according to the
“deathbed instructions” of Kim Jong-il, defied predictions by South Korean experts. Immediately after Kim Jong-il’s death, they expected North Korea would shift to a “collective leadership under the regency of Chang Song-taek (Jang Song-thaek).” But Pyongyang clearly signaled that Kim Jong-un would be the new supreme leader of the North’s system of one man rule and the the power transition to a third generation of the Kim dynasty, which is unprecedented in a socialist nation, progressed smoothly. Particularly, around the time of the fourth party conference, North Korea firmly established a triangular support system to assist Kim Jong-un. The three pillars are: the Workers’ Party represented by Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, her husband Chang Song-taek, and Choi Rong-hae, the newly appointed head of the General Political Department of the People’s Army; the military led by Chief of the General Staff Ri Yong-ho, Kim Jong-gak, head of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, and Hyon Chol-hae, the first deputy chief of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces; and economic bureaucrats led by Prime Minister Choi Yong-rim. First Secretary Kim delivered a 20-minute speech during a military parade held in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square on April 15 to celebrate the centenary of his grandfather’s birth, manifesting that he is the undisputed leader of the country while hinting his governing style would be markedly different from the authoritarian rule of Kim Jong-il, who avoided making public speeches. But Kim Jong-un made it clear that he would maintain the military-first policy of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. The parade revealed what appeared to be a new super-class intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It amounted to reaffirmation of Pyongyang’s position that it would never give up the development of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. The next day, the U.N. Security Council adopted a chairman’s statement that
strongly denounced North Korea’s failed launch of a long-distance rocket. However, North Korea is more likely to push ahead with a third nuclear test in defiance of warnings from the international community. If the North Korean system is far from weak, contrary to the assumption of South Korea and the United States, and the regime is even seeking to be a world-class military power, the allies should reconsider their “wait-it-out” North Korea policy, which seeks “early reunification” provided an “emergency situation” occurs in the North. Although the reunification of the Korean peninsula is a national aspiration, a balance in military power on the peninsula should be first secured. Peaceful unification will not be possible without easing tension and building a peace regime in the long run. Now that the Kim Jong-un regime has been officially launched, South Korea and the United States should make an across-the-board study of their policy toward North Korea under Kim Jong-il, and start serious thinking and agonizing on how to deal with North Korea’s new first secretary who is both “belligerent and pragmatic.” First, the two allies should revise the Korea-U.S. missile guidelines to extend South Korea’s missile range to 800-1,000 kilometers so they can strike anywhere in North Korea. Also, they should consider reintroducing the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to secure nuclear deterrents in case the North pushes ahead with its third nuclear test. While coping with North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats through extended missile range and strengthened nuclear deterrents, the allies ought to push for negotiations to discuss a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, with the participation of the two Koreas, the United States and China. [Maeil Business Paper, April 18, 2012]
Election Results Should Alarm Political Circles
Editorial The JoongAng Ilbo
The 19th general elections came to an end, with the Saenuri (New Frontier) Party grabbing the most votes. The ruling party managed to remain the largest party despite widespread demands to make it accountable for several dubious and illegal practices over the past years. But it is still hard to call the party a clear winner if we analyze election results meticulously. In fact, it was a warning to all political circles. There’s no doubt the Saenuri Party’s victory is noteworthy in view of the critical public opinion about the ruling party that prevailed over the past several months. The Saenuri Party came under fire for a dubious purchase of land for President Lee Myung-bak’s private residence and its lawmaker’s vote buying at the party’s national convention. In a bid to recover from the fiasco, the party adopted a liberal platform, including “economic democratization,”
replaced its leadership with an emergency council and changed its name from “Hannara” to “Saenuri.” But the party staggered once again last month when the government’s illegal surveillance of civilians was revealed. As a result, polls predicted that the Saenuri Party would finish second to the main opposition Democratic United Party in the general elections. In polls conducted last week, the Saenuri Party lagged behind the DUP. Nevertheless, the Saenuri scored a solid win only a week later. It was a clear political victory for the Saenuri Party and Park Geun-hye, the chairwoman of its emergency council, was credited with successfully leading her party in the uphill battle. But it is still too early for the party to celebrate. Above anything else, the Saenuri lost many National Assembly seats, especially in Seoul. The nation’s capital is the most politically sensitive region with many young voters and social media playing a significant role in shaping public opinion. This seems to show that many voters in Seoul disapproved of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s policies. The Saenuri Party also received a blow in Busan, a traditional power base of the conservative ruling party. Opposition parties won only a small number of seats from this region. But Moon Jae-in, a liberal presidential hopeful who ran in Busan on the DUP’s ticket, contributed to the opposition’s better-thanexpected performance in the region. In the proportional representation elections as well, the Saenuri garnered 4 percent fewer votes than the DUP and the United Progressive Party combined. Despite falling behind the Saenuri Party, the number of parliamentary seats that the opposition parties won is more than they had in the 18th National Assembly. This is why it is difficult for anyone to call the Saenuri Party the
perfect winner. The opposition parties performed well, presumably because they succeeded in forming a unified slate. This notwithstanding, it was a tattered victory for the opposition parties, given the public opinion that had turned its back on the ruling party. Especially, they received a severe blow in the Chungcheong and Gangwon provinces, where they had traditionally performed remarkably well in previous elections. Their strategy of solidarity may have been successful, but various problems arising in the process dampened people's expectations. First, a serious controversy flared up within the DUP over its nomination process. It was found that the opposition camp manipulated the results of telephone polls conducted for a joint nomination race with the UPP. Especially, the foul-mouthed criticism of the government by DUP candidate Kim Yongmin, an ex-podcaster of the political blog “Nakkomsu,” dealt a decisive blow to his party in the final stage of the election campaign. Accordingly, the opposition parties saw their approval ratings plummet during the final week. What was more serious was that the opposition parties gave a lukewarm response to such issues. The DUP was too lenient towards its own mistakes, while it was excessively preoccupied with finding fault with the Lee administration. The party failed to respond proactively to Kim Yong-min’s weird behavior and UPP co-chair Lee Jung-hee’s involvement in the rigging of telephone surveys. While floundering in moral quicksand, they only “saw the speck that was in their brother’s eye, but failed to notice the log that was in their own eye.” As it turned out, voters did not tolerate such an attitude, no matter how harshly they criticized the incumbent government. The DUP needs to overhaul its leadership. Voters gave solid support to neither side. This means they will wait and see. Political circles need to read their mind: “We will decide which presidential
candidate we should vote for eight months later.â€? Not only the DUP and the UPP, a progressive party that played the key role in realizing solidarity in the opposition camp, but also the Saenuri Party should not disregard votersâ€™ wishes. They should behave differently than they did in the 18th National Assembly. But there already are concerns about the possibility of overheated competition between the ruling and opposition parties in the run-up to the presidential election. In a situation where there is no party with an absolute majority, an excessive competition among parties will paralyze the parliament. The president has now reached a lame-duck stage. The state will be managed smoothly only when the parliament fulfills its duties. Just as the voters doled out seats to them proportionately in the last general elections, the ruling and opposition parties should seek ways to make concessions and reach compromises to manage state affairs wisely. Each party will receive its own scorecard in the upcoming presidential election in December. They should never forget the vigilant eye of the voters. [April 12, 2012]
The First Time I Voted as a Korean Citizen
In Yo-han (John Linton) Director of the International Health Care Center Severance Hospital, Yonsei University
Unprecedentedly raucous elections came to a close. Many people were worried about some controversies, but raucousness is a symbol of healthy democracy. I recently became a naturalized Korean citizen and went to the polls for the first time to elect members of the 19th National Assembly. I had earlier received election bulletins sent by the National Election Commission. But on Election Day, I could not find them, so it took me some time before I went to the polls. After receiving two ballot sheets, I went into a polling booth. But I marked only the ballot sheet with the names of candidates, so I had to go into the booth again to mark the other sheet with the names of parties for proportional representation elections. This kind of mistake only made me happy. I was near tears with excitement
because I now had precious voting rights as a Korean for the first time. I even thought I'd never feel lonely even if I were to go to jail in Korea due to some mistakes I might make here in the future. Koreans tend to quarrel with each other, sometimes raise their voices to each other, and share drinks with each other. This is the way they confirm they are alive and share their affection or friendship with each other. I did something comic during the election campaign just because of this Korean way of showing affection and friendship to others. I went on the stump to support several candidates, regardless of their region or party affiliation. First, I supported a friend of mine in Gwangju, who ran as an independent candidate after failing to get a nomination from any party. I said to voters on a street in Jeolla dialect, “As you know well, everybody here in the Jeolla region must be good at saying ‘bureo’ (an ending of imperative form in Jeolla dialect) and acting accordingly. You say ‘hae bureo’ (do it) or ‘heojimara bureo’ (don’t do it). Now you should ‘bakka bureo’ (change it) this time!” In my hometown Suncheon, in South Jeolla Province, I went on the stump to support a close friend of mine who ran on the Democratic United Party’s ticket. Riding in a campaign van, I appealed to voters, saying, “Suncheon is the center of the universe, isn’t it? Let’s make a creative choice in this center of the universe.” In Seoul, I supported the campaign of a DUP candidate who used to be my senior in my hometown. The day before the elections, I went to Yeosu, also in South Jeolla Province, to support a candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party who is another friend of mine. I said in Jeolla accent, “No. 1 choice on your ballot sheet! No. 1 choice! Choose No. 1!” I felt awkward to find myself supporting candidates from different parties. But I had no other choice but to support all of these four candidates because I am very close to each of them. Many people are saying that there was fierce
competition during the election campaign between right and left, between conservatives and liberals, and between the haves and the have-nots. But what I found while going on the stump was generational conflict. When I asked merchants in a market in Suncheon to vote for the DUP candidate, old merchants encouraged me, saying, “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.” But I met a cold response from students at a university. They seemed to treat me just like an alien. Many young voters appeared to actively participate in the election, taking pictures of themselves emerging from a polling station to prove that they had voted. But they merely gave an exclusive support to their favorite candidates, while remaining indifferent and cynical to “those older people on the other side.” I felt as if the university, although it is located in Suncheon, were in another country. It is natural that there are ideological differences. Efforts to narrow such differences are the quintessence of democracy. But generational conflict could shake the Korean society from its roots. This kind of conflict means a rupture of conversation between parents and children and between grandparents and grandchildren, beyond simple differences in views. Korean families are rapidly going nuclear, as the central heating system has replaced the traditional ondol heated floors where the warm spot was yielded to senior members of the family. A culture, where nobody clashes or argues with anybody else, is strange to the Koreans. But, sadly, this new culture is changing Koreans these days. Many people are laying emphasis on mature democracy and values of respect and compromise. It will be easier to realize these values through everyday practice within the family boundary rather than in the legal system. Adults are supposed to share their wisdom with children, who in turn should respect adults. This is the first step toward the realization of democracy, in which everybody lives in harmony with one another. [Dong-a Ilbo, April 13, 2012]
East Sea or Japan Sea?
Chang Dong-hee Ambassador for Geographic Naming Northeast Asian History Foundation
Amid keen interest from all Korean people concerning the geographic naming for global use of the body of water between Korea and Japan, the general assembly of the International Hydrographic Organization was held in Monaco on April 23-27. I found the tranquility of the emerald-green color of the Mediterranean Sea not so peaceful, because I felt heavily burdened by another sea back home ― the East Sea. Our delegation was greatly encouraged by leaders of civic groups at home and abroad and representatives of organizations of overseas Korean nationals, who had flown in to give their enthusiastic support. They gave us an even deeper sense of responsibility. We are, therefore, dogged by dark clouds of regret and guilt over our failure to have both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” used under
the revised guidelines for international mapmakers. Nevertheless, the IHO general assembly was significant in many ways. First, the recent IHO general assembly made it impossible to use only the name “Sea of Japan” for the IHO Special Publication 23. Japan proposed that the IHO hasten the publication of a revised edition of the IHO S-23 which has been delayed due to the question of using the name “East Sea.” Japan then suggested that the third edition of the IHO S-23, published in 1953, be used as a guideline for international mapmakers. This suggestion was obviously aimed at securing approval for the exclusive use of “Sea of Japan.” But no other member countries supported Japan’s proposal and it was discarded without discussion. Second, the United States opposed the simultaneous use of both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” on the grounds that its policy calls for a single name for a body of water. At first, the United States considered supporting the idea of revising the S-23 based on its third edition. But after talking with our delegation, they decided to urge the Korean and Japanese delegations to reach an agreement. The U.S. delegation probably changed its stance in view of our persistent effort to persuade them to accept the simultaneous use of both the “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” and the position of Korean Americans regarding this issue. Third, there was a proposal that the S-23 be replaced by electronic sea charts in light of the current circumstances surrounding rapid technological development. We need to make thoroughgoing preparations for a new era of electronic sea charts, considering that unlike paper sea charts, electronic nautical charts are very closely related to information technology. At the IHO chart exhibition held on the sidelines of the general assembly, we demonstrated a state-of-the-art electronic nautical chart that uses the name
“East Sea” and won first prize, which enabled us to publicize the superiority of our technology in electronic nautical charts in the international community. Fourth, the two Koreas cooperated closely with each other at the latest IHO general assembly concerning the use of the name “East Sea” despite tensions in the inter-Korean relations after the North’s launch of a long-range missile. Cooperation of the two Korean delegations contributed greatly to putting pressure on Japan throughout the general assembly and promoting the legitimacy of the use of “East Sea.” Japan failed in its bid to get the IHO to use “Sea of Japan” only for the East Sea. But we still regret that we failed on our part to have “East Sea” used alongside “Sea of Japan.” Most of the foreign delegates I met personally said they couldn’t understand Japan’s obstinacy and expressed their unsparing support for our position. The IHO put off its decision for five years. We should continue our efforts, in cooperation with civic groups at home and abroad, to persuade the international community to use both names, while making thoroughgoing preparations for an era of electronic nautical charts. [Dong-a Ilbo, April 30, 2012]
- Sharing Fruits of the KORUS FTA - FTAs with Latin American Countries - How to Reduce Public Sector Debt - Dangers of Debt Deflation - Durability of Fast Follower Strategy
Sharing Fruits of the KORUS FTA
Cheong In-kyo Professor of Economics Inha University
As the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) went into effect on March 15, the news media gave it more attention than Korea’s FTAs with the European Union and ASEAN. Products from the world’s largest market have a major influence on the Korean market, and news reports predicted that importers and retailers would lower their prices on U.S. goods. But the price changes, if any, apparently fell short of consumers’ expectations. They complained and the Fair Trade Commission, Korea’s antitrust watchdog, and other government offices threatened to probe for structural barriers in the distribution industry. The KORUS FTA was signed in 2007 and modified in 2010. It immediately removed tariffs on 82.1 percent of the U.S. imports into Korea and 80.5
percent of Korean products exported to the United States. The trade pact especially affected products that had high tariffs. Their import prices fell by as much as 20 percent. But if the cost saving is not passed on to consumers, it will be politically difficult for the government to push ahead with additional free trade deals. On the day after the KORUS FTA went into effect, the minister of strategy and finance and heads of other related government agencies discussed measures to ensure consumers get full benefits from the trade agreement. They vowed to rationalize distribution industry practices and establish fair trade order to prevent importers and retailers from becoming the sole beneficiaries of the KORUS FTA. The government’s emphasis on consumer interests derives from its view that public support for the KORUS FTA is paramount. The government has to widen public support for free trade deals by taking strategic advantage of Korea’s eight FTAs already enforced. The government has to fully utilize each of the free trade deals and strive to promote economic growth and job creation by inducing foreign direct investments on the basis of its FTA hub strategy. It is necessary to inform multinational companies of the fact that goods produced by their affiliates in Korea can be exported overseas through the nation’s FTA networks. The KORUS FTA was first proposed in 2005 to help upgrade the Korean economy. At that time, a high-standard, comprehensive free trade agreement with the United States was hailed as the most effective way to remove unreasonable regulations, advance the service industry and improve the local investment climate. The advantages as an FTA hub state would be further highlighted, if Korea makes sustained efforts to get rid of unreasonable and unnecessary regulations and improve its investment environment. Through
such efforts, economic benefits from the KORUS FTA could further increase. But a dispute still remains unresolved, as Korea and the United States agreed to address the clause regarding investor-state dispute (ISD) settlement through the KORUS FTA Committee on Services and Investment within 90 days of the effective date of the free trade deal. The ISD clause is taken for granted as a global standard, as it is included in the world’s 1,800-odd treaties to protect investors. The clause should be maintained as a means to protect Korean enterprises. I hope the ISD dispute would be settled after the two sides partially revise the scope of ISD application and arbitration procedures in accordance with the request from Korean opposition parties. The KORUS FTA is expected to give momentum to Seoul’s free trade talks with Beijing. There is a growing need for an FTA between Korea and China. But the negotiations won’t be easy, as Korea’s agricultural sector would be at risk due to the two nation’s geographical proximity, climate and soil similarity, and China’s competitive food production capacity. Seoul and Beijing must first resolve sensitive issues before anything else. A two-stage approach will help minimize harm to Korea’s agricultural sector. At the same time, Korean negotiators will have to seek ways to help domestic companies fully capitalize on China’s domestic market. [Maekyung Economy, April 3, 2012]
FTAs with Latin American Countries
Kim Chong-sup Professor Graduate School of International Studies Seoul National University
I recently visited Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador to attend seminars on free trade agreements or to participate in private research programs on FTAs. In most cases, I travelled alone. In fact, the Korean government has not paid significant attention to these comparatively smaller Latin American economies when conducting FTA-related feasibility studies. Likewise, Korean people have paid scant attention to the Central and South American markets. However, the Latin American countries have shown enormous interest in signing an FTA with Korea. As the sole Korean participant in most FTArelated international seminars and conferences held in the region, I often felt
embarrassed because each of the Latin American countries was represented by more than 10 government officials and scholars. In some cases, bureaucrats from countries that did not participate in joint FTA studies personally expressed their disappointment to me. Why are these Latin American countries so interested in an FTA with Korea? They may view Korea as an ideal market for their agricultural products, minerals and other primary products. That may be partially true. Peru, for instance, exported US$1 billion worth of goods to Korea in 2010, with the shipments consisting mainly of copper, coffee and squid. In the same year, Colombia’s exports to Korea reached $400 million, its major exports comprising coffee, iron and coal. These trading volumes may not mean much to Korea, but could represent a large sum in the Latin American countries, whose respective annual exports amount to some $30 billion. But even if Korea signs free trade deals with the Latin American countries, their overseas shipments will unlikely increase significantly. Korea currently imposes very low tariffs on mineral imports, so removing levies would not be a big stimulus. In contrast, the Latin American countries has comparatively high import tariffs on Korea’s major export goods, such as cars and home appliances, meaning that free trade deals with those countries could be highly beneficial to Korea. So, how else could the Latin American countries’ interest be explained? The possible answer is the growth potential of East Asian countries. Recently, Korea and China reported the steepest growth in demand in the world for primary products, the key export items of Latin America. Keenly aware that export expansion is critical to boosting their economic growth, many Latin American nations are striving to increase their overseas shipments. To this end, they are fiercely competing with each other to secure stable export markets
through FTAs. With East Asia becoming a primary export target, Latin American exporters feel an FTA with Korea would give them a distinct advantage over competitors in their region. Accordingly, an FTA with one country would spur its neighbors into pressing even harder for a trade deal with Korea. Such a domino effect in a single market would erode benefits from an FTA with Korea, while Korea would be positioned to reap far greater rewards. We can conclude free trade deals under far better conditions. Even after the signing of FTAs, we can also import products at much lower prices. A late starter in the FTA arena, Korea is obviously in a very advantageous position to push ahead of others for FTAs with many countries nowadays. Currently, it is initiating more FTAs than any other country. We expect that such efforts will continue in the future. [Kookmin Ilbo, April 23, 2012]
How to Reduce Public Sector Debt
Kim Jung-sik Professor of Economics Yonsei University
Koreaâ€™s public sector debt, including liabilities owed by the government and state-owned companies, has been rising rapidly in recent years. Public sector net borrowing surged to 802 trillion won (about US$704 billion) in 2011 from 465 trillion won in late 2007. Last year alone, public debt increased by some 85 trillion won. What is worse, the debt level is expected to further rise this year as rival political parties spew populist welfare pledges ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections. Appropriate government measures are urgently needed to help reduce public sector debt burdens and maintain fiscal soundness. First, debt owed by state-run enterprises should be tackled. Government debt increased by 1.4 times from 299 trillion won in 2007 to 422 trillion won in
2011. In the same period, liabilities owed by state-run companies grew by 2.2 times from 166 trillion won to 380 trillion won. The steep increase in stateowned companiesâ€™ debt can be attributed to the governmentâ€™s push for largescale public works projects. In fact, public corporations have been forced to shoulder the costs of Sejong administrative city construction, Bogeumjari (nest) housing construction and the four river refurbishment project. Sloppy management at state-owned companies is also problematic. Due to their commitment to serve public interests, state-run enterprises have accumulated snowballing debts while trying to keep costs in check and maintaining public services. Such debts are inevitable. But the public enterprises should reflect on the liabilities they incurred while pursuing profitability and expansion. Their appetite for excessive investment and borrowing to enhance profits conflicts with their public obligations. The escalating debt at state-owned companies is worrisome as it could lead to another economic crisis. Therefore, the government has to help reduce debts owed by state-run companies by strengthening oversight of their management and reviewing their large-scale investment projects. Next, policymakers should devise measures to prevent frequent external economic shocks from excessively increasing government debt. Much of the government debt incurred during the past four years was due to higher fiscal spending to weather the global financial crisis. Going forward, the global economy will very likely be mired in short-term cycles of growth and decline, which will prompt repeating pressure for more fiscal spending to prop up the nationâ€™s export-dependent economy. The government has to devise policy measures to help upgrade the competitiveness of domestic enterprises in order to solve the unemployment
problem without excessively increasing fiscal expenditures. It has to promote job creation by enhancing local companies’ technological prowess, improving competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises and increasing overall corporate investments. Lastly, we should guard against excessive populism pursued by rival political camps. As population aging proceeds, welfare expenditures for the elderly and the invalid will inevitably rise. In addition, the government will be required to increase welfare expenditures to meet the demand of the underprivileged for housing, education and medical services. But these expenditures should be gradually expanded within the limits of government coffers. If welfare expenditures mushroom in accordance with the demands from political parties, the government’s additional fiscal burden will reach up to 67 trillion won annually. Job creation is the best welfare policy. In this sense, the government has to draft measures to motivate corporate investments. At the same time, the government should actively cope with increases in fiscal deficits and national debts due to populist welfare pledges by politicians. At present, the ratio of government debt to the gross domestic product (GDP) stands at about 35 percent, which is not at a worrisome level yet. If state-run companies’ debts are included, however, the ratio of public sector debt to GDP exceeds 65 percent. Furthermore, if election pledges for higher welfare spending are executed, the nation’s public sector debt will approach a dangerous level in the near future. Korea could slide into a South European-style fiscal crisis, should its fiscal soundness be severely compromised. The government should launch a publicity campaign to prevent people from being blinded by political populism. Furthermore, it should swiftly map out measures to improve the management of state-run companies and reduce public sector debt. [Munhwa Ilbo, April 3, 2012]
Dangers of Debt Deflation
Oh Jung-gun Professor of Economics at Korea University President of the Korea International Finance Association The Bank of Korea recently issued a report on the economics of debt and Korean consumer and government debt, warning about dangers stemming from disproportionately heavy household debt. The central bank warned that a steady increase in household debt will slow the economy and accelerate any downturn. These days, one of the attention-getting phenomena in Korea is so-called “debt deflation,” the combination of rising debt and falling asset prices. Debt deflation usually occurs when asset prices drop amid attempts to reduce debt. Economists regard it as a prelude to chronic low growth or worse. The nation’s household debt swelled to 913 trillion won (about US$797
billion) at the end of 2011 from 725 trillion won at the end of 2008. In contrast, an index which tracks apartment prices in the Seoul metropolitan area has been on a long-term downward curve, falling from 102.09 in September 2008 to 98.61 in March 2012. A reading above or below 100 means rising or falling prices, respectively. The Seoul apartment sale price index was 100 in June 2011. Thus, the index suggests that debt deflation has arrived in Korea. Families and individuals borrow money to buy a home in anticipation of asset price hikes. If demand is high, asset prices rise, and if the real estate market overheats, price bubbles can occur. But the price bubbles burst when there is consensus that property prices have peaked. In this scenario, real debt burdens would increase; mortgages could be more than the fallen value of property. If indebted households need to raise cash to service their debts, a vicious cycle could emerge in which property has to be sold to pay off debts but mounting property supply further depresses prices. The problem doesn’t end there. Property buyers will stay away from the market if there is widespread sentiment that asset prices will slide further. Cash-strapped households that cannot sell their homes would be forced to obtain additional loans to pay down the principal and interest for the outstanding debt, or cover basic living expenses. Accordingly, an outburst of household bankruptcies would be expected, as asset deflation intensifies. According to the Bank of Korea’s analysis, local households’ interest payment rate, or the ratio of interest expenses to gross disposal income, reached 2.83 percent at the end of last year. The bank noted that the figure was in excess of the households’ threshold point of 2.52 percent. Consumption contraction will eventually lead to economic slump. Likewise, domestic enterprises, if hit by a similar debt service problem, would suffer drops in their net asset value and choose to reduce investments.
A slump in the construction sector, for instance, will directly undermine economic growth. Between 2008 and 2009, the construction industry posted negative growth of 2.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. As a result, the number of employees in the industry fell to 1.75 million in 2011, a decline of 100,000 from 1.85 million at the end of 2007. On top of that, falling asset prices will also undermine the management soundness of financial companies by pulling down the value of their collateral assets and increasing nonperforming loans (NPL). The NPL ratio is one of the criteria to measure the soundness of bank loans. Local banksâ€™ NPL ratio rose from 1.14 percent at the end of 2008 to 2.32 percent in September 2010. The ratio fell to 1.36 percent at the end of 2011 but still remained at worrisome levels. The NPL ratio for mutual savings banks had surged from 9.11 percent in late 2008 to 19.42 percent in June 2011 before sliding to 16.39 percent at the end of 2011. Deteriorating management soundness of local financial companies has restrained their lending capacity, leading to contraction in corporate investments. As mentioned above, debt deflation tends to trigger an economic downturn as consumption, construction activity and investment decline and bad loans rise. Economic theory and history have also proven that debt deflation, if sustained, leads to a long recession or depression. Above all, the more serious problem is that a surge in household bankruptcies could threaten livelihoods. Over the past decade or so, the government has pursued a single goal of stabilizing real estate prices. Under the policy objective, the sales prices of new apartments have been regulated. As a result, our nation is now facing debt deflation characterized by falling asset prices and rising household debts. In addition, the supply of new houses has further decreased, leading to soaring
jeonse, demanding outsized deposits paid in lieu of monthly rent. If debt deflation persists for long periods, Korea will likely fall into a Japanese style long-term slump. The government and the ruling party have to devise various countermeasures from a non-political perspective before it becomes too late. [Korea Economic Daily, April 25, 2012]
Durability of Fast Follower Strategy
Paik Man-gi Chairman Korean Association for Intellectual Property Services
A new business model that can reshape the ecology of software and content industries has begun to gain popularity across business circles. Interestingly, a growing number of companies embracing the so-called “fast follower” strategy are getting widely different results. A fast follower is a company that can quickly absorb bright ideas from other companies. Some followers move very fast. Others are more deliberate. Amid an ever-intensifying global competition, these two types of companies are producing entirely different management results. The key to the fast follower’s success is the management’s ability to recruit and mobilize outstanding research and development engineers in a short period of time. If you want to catch up with a car traveling at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour,
you have no choice but to raise the speed of your car to 200 kilometers per hour. Doubling the speed of new product development won't be easy for Nokia and other European companies committed to observing traditional working conditions. Enthusiasm and devotion of Korea’s R&D engineers are unrivaled worldwide and can be seen as the backbone of the Korean economy. Managers of General Motors, which took over Daewoo Motor, laud the outstanding productivity of the Korean automaker’s new vehicle development team. Of course, the productivity of other automakers may be questioned. Hyundai Motor’s main plant in Ulsan in southeast Korea takes 31 hours to build a complete car, compared with 17 hours for Kia Motors’ American plant. But it cannot be denied that the competitive edge of the nation’s corporate R&D centers is the origin of the entire manufacturing sector’s competitiveness. Nevertheless, it is difficult to expect that the Korean economy will continue to cruise smoothly on the back of a fast follower strategy alone. The most important reason is that it will be increasingly difficult to secure excellent R&D engineers. The government’s decision in the early 1990s to drastically increase the admission quota of local engineering and natural sciences colleges was timely. Indeed, the deregulatory policy has greatly contributed to upgrading the competitiveness of the nation’s manufacturing sector. The number of graduates produced by Korean science and engineering colleges is now similar to that of the United States, whose population is more than six times larger than Korea’s. In the past, local science and engineering colleges used to attract the most talented high school graduates, forming a solid foundation for the nation’s industrial development. But the situation has now changed. I recently met a professor, who teaches electronic engineering at a state-run university in a
provincial city. He complained about the deteriorating realities of science and engineering colleges. The professor has maintained the difficulty level of his class exams over the past decade but the students’ average score has been declining steadily. The unabated deterioration in science and engineering college students’ academic achievements is a very serious problem, as they are the future members of local companies’ R&D teams. Judging from the changing circumstances, the fast follower strategy can be a realistic alternative for now. But it is questionable whether the strategy can be sustainable. What is truly surprising is the transformation of Chinese companies. One multinational company cited China’s “three shift system” as the reason for relocating its R&D operations from Korea to China. Three daily shifts are not easy to enforce even in manufacturing plants. If China can mobilize its R&D engineers in three daily shifts, it will certainly become a more excellent fast follower than Korea in the information technology field, in which product development speed matters much. Accordingly, our nation’s education system should be redesigned to ensure that motivated and talented students would stream into science and engineering colleges. The reform is critical to sustained economic growth, whether our industrial community’s strategy is fast follower or first mover. Leaders in our society should not hesitate to send their children gifted in physics and math to the science and engineering colleges. More creative youths in Korea should readily take up the challenges of the future. Then, the Korean economy will be further upgraded in terms of quality and enter the next stage of advancement. [Maeil Business Newspaper, April 24, 2012]
- ‘May I Hug You?’ - Nakkomsu ― Clowns that Coveted the World - Curtain Must Fall on Crony Capitalism to End Regional Divide - Nation Needs to Promote its Medical Prowess Overseas - KAL Marks 40th Anniversary of First Trans-Pacific Flight
‘May I Hug You?’
Chung Sung-hee Editorial Writer The Dong-a Ilbo
“Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society has completely failed,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel confessed in an address at a meeting of young members of the Christian Democratic Union in Potsdam in 2010. “Germany can’t manage without the help of immigrants, but immigrants should also learn German first before coming to Germany if they really want to be part of our society,” she said. Out of Germany’s population of 82 million, 16 million are of foreign descent, of which 2.5 million are Turkish Muslims. They fully benefit from the German social security net while living in communities far removed from mainstream German society. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with a broadcasting network last year, “If you have come to France, you have to accept being
melted into a single community.” He enacted a law banning the burka and implemented a policy to expel gypsies. Chancellor Merkel came from East Germany and President Sarkozy is a second-generation immigrant from Hungary. Both became top leaders as members of non-mainstream society, manifesting social and political tolerance toward ethnic minorities in their new home countries. Last year, Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing Norwegian, killed scores of people in the worst shooting rampage in the country’s history. The massacre was motivated by anti-immigrant fascism that had deepened amid an economic crisis. In Korea, some netizens are spewing animosity against Jasmine Lee, who was elected to the National Assembly in the recent general elections. They are not simply defying the election victory of the ruling party but expressing a growing sense of uneasiness toward foreign immigrants. Many people have watched the Philippine immigrant wife trying to help other multicultural families with warm hearts. That was the limit of their tolerance, however. They think differently now that the naturalized Korean citizen is a lawmaker. Jasmine Lee’s breakthrough success is a shining example of multiethnic family joining mainstream Korean society. The so-called “Jasmine Lee’s election pledges,” which circulated on the Internet, such as free medical care for illegal migrants and subsidies for home visits of immigrants, have turned out to be fictitious. Nevertheless, there is now a higher chance that they will be realized in the near future. Sooner or later, Korean universities will likely ― and should ― introduce regulations on special admissions for students from multiethnic families, comparable to the Affirmative Action of the United States. Attacks on Jasmine Lee imply the concern and fear brewing among Koreans that foreigners may begin in earnest to take away their “shares.” According to the recent Korean Multiculturalism Inventory, our multicultural
acceptance lingers in the medium range of 51.17 points out of 100. As to the “cultural coexistence” of ethnic groups, religions and cultures getting along within a community, Korea has 36 points, compared to 74 points of 18 European countries. The Korean concept of a multiethnic society is closer to the French policy of assimilation than to German-style multiculturalism. As in Paris, there may also be violent clashes between immigrant groups and mainstream society in Korea. Biologists explain that vigilance toward unfamiliar environments is due to the genetically imprinted survival instinct in each person. Mankind created civilizations by resisting such an instinct and exploring and embracing things unfamiliar. Reason and diversity have always triumphed over instinct and purity throughout human history. In this era of globalization, not a single country has achieved development with its doors shut to foreigners for its own people to “live well among ourselves.” Resistance to multiculturalism, discriminative treatment of North Korean defectors as second-class citizens, collective bullying of classmates ··· what lies behind all these detestable phenomena prevalent in our society is the “mechanism of exclusion.” We don’t accept those who are different than us and those who have different values than ours. The spirit of tolerance is essentially based on the acknowledgement of the lives and thoughts of other individuals who are different from us. In this sense, the cyber assaults on Jasmine Lee do not merely represent the xenophobic tendency of our society but a crucial incident testing Korean tolerance. It is the time for us to give an answer to the question cautiously asked by Wandeuki’s mother, performed by Jasmine Lee, in the movie “Wandeuki” ― “May I hug you?” [April 21, 2012]
Nakkomsu ― Clowns that Coveted the World
Kang Byeong-tae Senior Editorial Writer The Hankook Ilbo
Rough words by Kim Yong-min, a co-host of podcast “Naneun KKomsuda” (I Am a Petty Trickster), also known as Nakkomsu, decided the outcome of the April 11 general election, they say. Kim achieved a personal goal but it betrayed the vain desire of the Democratic United Party to take advantage of the “great birth” of the guerilla media, and fell flat on his face. The performance of clowns who dreamed of a political subversion has ended in a tragedy. The podcast and its enthusiastic followers may plot another rebellion. However, even if they change the “Broadcast Dedicated to Gaka (Mr. President)” to the “Broadcast Dedicated to Geune” (a nickname for Saenuri Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye), will it make any difference? For a few
days, Kim Yong-min seemed to assign himself to a period of introspection, but then he set out to become the nationâ€™s top foul-tongued man. To borrow his way of speaking, Kim seems yet to realize the truth of the parodied Bible verse, â€œThey that live by cursing shall perish by cursing.â€? In fact, rough and dirty words are like narcotics. The bluff and self-pleasing narcissism should intoxicate social fringe groups more easily. Actually, criticism of Kim returning to his roots is misdirected. The real problem was that the political mainstream and the press incited the outrageous attempt by a fringe performance group to take the center stage of society and politics. The president and his top aides are primarily responsible because of their unethical behavior. However, no less accountable was the opposition party, which was carried away amid public fervor and nominated a foul-mouthed clown. The press, hardly better than Twitter, also put their lives on the line and played up the guerrilla media. Advocating light-hearted, enjoyable and energetic politics, Nakkomsu pretended to be outspoken media waging a resistance movement. They succeeded in striking a chord with the dissatisfied and underprivileged by satirizing corrupt practices of those in power with provocative jokes. At first glance, it seems natural that a political group devoid of much intellect or commendable features joined in performing a frivolous dance along with the clowns. Even the decent-behaved Moon Jae-in lacked the wherewithal to discern the poison of the sweet temptation. Like religion or magic, clowns satisfy the deep-seated desires of human society. From shamans of ancient times to clowns in feudal societies and cultural guerrillas of the modern age, they have comforted and emancipated suppressed emotions with witty satires making fun of the established order and thoughts. This is why the feudal elites were lenient toward the deviant acts of
masked dancers jeering the vicious hypocrisy of noblemen with sophomoric humor. The ample tips thrown to the actors were to praise their role as a safety valve for the system. It was undoubtedly for a different reason that the Nakkomsu phenomenon stirred up Korean society and politics in the 21st century. According to Chung Bong-ju, an ex-lawmaker and one of the podcasting stars, it was because the Lee Myung-bak administration is totally synchronized with Hitlerâ€™s regime. No matter what the podcasters babble with a mixture of some truth and far more lies and foul words, Lee Myung-bak can never compare with Hitlerâ€™s dictatorship and propaganda. Actually, Nakkomsu is not particularly original. The western world has a decades-long history of culture jamming, pirate media and guerrilla communication agitating for rebellions and revolutionary reforms against old authority and inequality. Much research has been conducted on their social and political backgrounds as well. However, no other country in the world embraces such a protest movement using disrespectful humor, like Spassguerilla (fun guerilla) of Germany, as mainstream movement. They only treat them as a peripheral phenomenon. Underneath such attitudes lies the solid tradition of the press, society and politics jointly leading social change through serious debates. By
authoritarianism and moral hypocrisy. The antagonism against this reality probably started a fire of rebellion when it met with the crude sense of justice of former President Roh Moo-hyun and developed into wild flames with the instigation by Nakkomsu under the MB (Lee Myung-bak) regime. Just as President Roh was frustrated with a sense of shame for exposing moral hypocrisy, which was no lighter than the corruption of the hostile conservative
force, Nakkomsu and its followers and exploiters alike were all knocked down under the weight of their own hypocrisy, which was far more detestable. From the start, I think, the fringe clown group could set its sights on mainstream politics because of greed and hypocrisy. For this improbable development,
entertainment and the press indulging in playing up false reports should take the most blame. Needless to say, those scholars who elevated the podcast to the realm of â€œphilosophyâ€? also bear a large share of responsibility. Nakkomsu might have ridiculed not only the MB administration but also our politics and society at large. Unless the society and political mainstream shed hypocrisy and petty trickery to compete with each other through honest debates, vicious clowns will covet the world again at anytime. [April 17, 2012]
Curtain Must Fall on Crony Capitalism to End Regional Divide
Lee Jay-min Professor of Economics Yonsei University
Regional divide has once again marred our elections and compromised their legitimacy. The April 11 general elections showed hopeful signs, the unbiased nomination of certain candidates and votes doled out to respective political parties. In the end, however, political division became more glaring. Concerns are now rising of its impact on the presidential election scheduled for the end of this year. To what do we owe this division of the state? Some trace it to the ancient Three Kingdoms, but that does not seem to be the case. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few countries in the world manifesting a longer history of such divide.
Take England, for instance. It was as recent as 1921 that England achieved its current union. Its official name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, continues to remind us that the country is comprised of four separate entities: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Italy, where unification was achieved in the 1870s, people in the southern and northern parts are of different races. The U.S. southern and northern states waged a bitter civil war and they still are often at odds. Korea, on the other hand, was relatively unfettered by the notions of regional divide and entailing emotional baggage, chiefly because it had maintained a unified front from the seventh century. The divide we witness in South Korean society today was the brainchild of the so-called development era in the 19601970s. That was a time when the government brandished both the carrot and stick, including power over the financial markets, treasury and the regulatory environment. It soon became obvious that those with access to political power would more quickly climb the ladder to financial and social success. Worse still, because the military coups installed illegitimate leaders, their administrations resorted to regional divide to obtain a political upper-hand. Favors were thus showered on people from specific regions as a quid pro quo for their loyalty while those from the wrong side of the country were shunned unequivocally. The country remained divided even after the military dictatorships waned, mainly because democracy in Korea was achieved on the foundation of crony capitalism. Elections have consequently become an opportunity for candidates and political parties to jockey for favors from their cronies. Regional divide is now being abused to maneuver voters and many a businessman and politician may rise or fall depending on whether they come from the â€œrightâ€? region.
People of the same region as the incumbent government or president are assigned to key posts in government, public companies, financial institutions, private enterprises and even the media and academia. This group will rule as long as the administration is in place, winning both powerful friends and advocates, while those on the wrong side remain miserable. How are we to resolve this quagmire? Above all, personnel appointments must become politically unbiased while the legislation must rise above and beyond the perimeters of government authority. A task of equitable importance is to relieve the country of crony capitalism. Reforms are thus necessary to ease the governmentâ€™s ironfisted control over the economy. These proposed solutions are hardly neo-liberalist, contrary to what some of the critics claim. Neo-liberalism stems from advanced nations and is aimed at toppling regulatory frameworks and 20th century welfare states. This is not the case of Korea as it has never been a welfare state. In terms of regulatory environment, Korea may actually require more regulations as it lacks stringent rules needed to become an advanced nation. Classical liberalism is the more likely foundation of the ideas for fighting crony capitalism and government control over the economy. It dates back to the 18th and 19th century of western society, where state influence ran wild following the adoption of mercantilism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Korea grapples a similar task in that it has to kill the die-hard habits of the 1960s and 1970s bred by neo-mercantilist ideas adopted to spur development. The April general elections may have been only a prelude, and regional divide, left to its own devices, is likely to poison the upcoming presidential election. It
is up to our political leaders to prevent such a situation and prove their ultimate goal is not a political victory but the power and authority to ensure politically unbiased appointments and law enforcement. More importantly, they must be able to offer a vision for eradicating crony capitalism and state control over the economy. Korean politics must be freed from the malicious clutches of regional divide. [Korea Economic Daily, April 18, 2012]
Nation Needs to Promote its Medical Prowess Overseas
Lee Woo-yong Professor, Medical School, Sungkyunkwan University Chief, Medical Planning Team, Samsung Seoul Hospital
The number of foreign patients visiting Korea for medical treatment has recently increased by more than 30 percent annually and is forecast to reach 150,000 this year. Back in the early 2000s when I was receiving training at Duke University Hospital in the United States, I watched with envy patients wearing the garb of various nations visit the hospital. Now the scene is common at many Korean hospitals. As medical treatment has become increasingly borderless, the number of foreign patients a country is attracting has become a yardstick for evaluating the standard of its medical service system. The economic value of international medical treatment is also considerable. Zeroing in on this, countries like Singapore and Thailand are promoting international medical treatment as one
of their key sectors and such medically advanced countries as Germany and Japan have also jumped into the market to attract international patients. Korea faces intense competition with these countries. According to an analysis by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, a majority of foreign patients arrive in Korea for light cases such as plastic surgery and medical checkup. In the Russian Far East, Mongolia, Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, and the Middle East, many people need treatment for serious conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders and joints that need an artificial replacement. The future success of Korea's international medical practice seems to depend on how to attract them. Several years ago, I visited Vladivostok to give a special lecture at a Russian Far East surgical conference. Medical service in the region remained at the level of the 1970s, with a considerable number of rich patients heading to Singapore for better treatment. As many famous local doctors had been trained in Singapore, they were sending patients to that country. The conference was also sponsored by a Singaporean hospital group and the Singaporean minister of health was visiting there once a year for government-level support activities. In 2010, I had an opportunity to treat patients and perform an operation at a hospital in Dubai. The surgery for colorectal cancer that I performed has been widely done in Korea, but a first in Dubai and observed by many physicians. In Dubai, many patients with serious illness were going abroad for treatment as the local medical service standards remained unsatisfactory. Since most physicians there were educated in Europe, patients were being sent to Germany or Switzerland. For Korea to focus more on attracting foreign patients with serious disease, it
first needs to expand its international network. Unlike those visiting for cosmetic and plastic surgery, most patients with serious disease travel under the recommendation of their local doctors. Korea should promote its superior medical standards abroad through various international academic events while providing
underdeveloped countries. Long- and short-term training programs in Korea would be effective in offering on-site experience of advanced medical service. As the old saying goes, you can see as much as you know; doctors should know about the possibility of treatment to send their patients to Korea. The government should work harder on international promotion in areas beyond the capacity of individual hospitals. It is important to hold academic conferences to publicize the â€œMedical Koreaâ€? brand frequently in target countries, because many countries remain unfamiliar with Koreaâ€™s competitiveness. Korea should also be equipped with a better system to solve international medical disputes, which will inevitably arise while treating foreign patients with serious illness, as well as fast transportation of patients. At the same time, Korea should also provide free medical care for people in underdeveloped countries who have incurable diseases. Free medical care for charitable purposes will help raise the credibility of Korean medical services. Patients suffering from illness experience similar psychological stress in any country. Above all else, doctors need the mindset to warmly greet and carefully look after their patients regardless of where they come from. [Chosun Ilbo, April 7, 2012]
KAL Marks 40th Anniversary of First Trans-Pacific Flight
Chung Byeong-jin Chief Editorial Writer The Hankook Ilbo
On April 19, 1972, a Korean passenger jetliner crossed the Pacific for the first time. After taking off at the Gimpo International Airport at 5:19 p.m., the KE002 jet (B707) arrived at the Los Angeles airport via Honolulu, Hawaii, at 6:10 p.m. on the same day. All major Korean newspapers published stories about local Korean-American residents welcoming the plane at the airport, waving Korean national flag and shouting “Hurrah for the Republic of Korea,” under big headlines saying, “Korean Air’s passenger plane succeeds in first trans-Pacific flight.” This epochal event of 40 years ago brings home a vivid phase of Korea’s rapid economic growth. Korean National Airlines (KNA), the nation’s first national flag carrier, was established with private capital in October 1948, shortly after
the founding of the Republic of Korea. KNA then possessed three D-3 propeller planes, each named Changlang, Mansong and Unam, the courtesy names of then Prime Minister Chang Taek-sang, National Assembly Speaker Yi Ki-bung and President Yi Seung-man (Syngman Rhee). KNA, facing bankruptcy in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War, was merged into the Korea Aviation Corporation, which was founded in 1962. The company was privatized in 1969 to overcome its disadvantages as a public enterprise, and was renamed the Korean Air Lines. The â€œliberalization of overseas travelsâ€? for private citizens brought about a historic turning point for passenger traffic in the nationâ€™s aviation industry. The first liberalization measures, introduced in 1983, allowed people aged over 50 to take an overseas trip once a year if they first deposited more than 2 million won for a year. The ban on overseas travel was lifted for those aged 45 or older in 1987, the year after Seoul hosted the 1986 Asian Games. Around the time Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, the age limit was lowered to 35 and then to 30. Then, in 1995, high school and university students were also allowed to travel abroad, and the age limit was completely abolished in 1999, opening overseas travel to all citizens. Hence, it has been slightly over 10 years that air travel and in-flight meals have become a widespread topic among Koreans. In the short period of time since the first cross-Pacific flight, international travel has become highly popular among Koreans and the domestic airline companies have developed spectacularly. Commercial air travel is no longer monopolized by a small number of privileged people; they have become cherished wings of the entire Korean public. Korean Air, along with Asiana Airlines which began commercial passenger service shortly after the 1988
Seoul Olympics, can compare to any leading airline in the world. KAL duly boasts of its globally known reputation as a safe airliner, among other virtues. I look forward to the day celebrating its â€œ40 years of safe flying.â€? [April 17, 2012]
- The Era of Hallyu 2.0 in China - Girlsâ€™ Generation vs. Joanne K. Rowling - Cremated Remains of Arborist Dedicated to his Beloved Trees - Koreaâ€™s Nation Brand as Global Leader in e-Government - Law Enforcement with Creative Imagination
The Era of Hallyu 2.0 in China
Choi Yu-shik Beijing Correspondent The Chosun Ilbo
The 798 Art Zone is a famous hub of galleries and ateliers in Beijing. Now, another art district named â€œ751â€? is under construction. As with the 798 district, the new art zone is being built on a closed factory. Its function is to provide a venue for performances and exhibitions. Gigantic containers of oil and gas that had been used to supply nearby military barracks are transforming into event halls and performance stages. The biggest gas container, measuring 68 meters in height and 67 meters in diameter, was recently used as a new launch site for Mercedes-Benz and BMW vehicles. Accompanying the districtâ€™s emergence is a shift in the Korean Wave, or hallyu, in China. It is expanding from movies, dramas and music videos to new domains such as performing arts and exhibitions. A musical stage is being
built in the 751 district for Korean productions. It has already been confirmed that “Ballerina Who Loves B-boy” will hold a regular show here. The producers of “Nanta,” a famous South Korean non-verbal show, are also negotiating a contract. Both shows are expected to start within this year. Also notable is a “live art gallery,” which allows visitors to enjoy famous Western paintings in an interactive mode with the help of South Korea’s up-to-date information technology. The dramatic momentum that has ushered in a new phase of the Korean Wave came with none other than CJ E&M’s Chinese version of “Mama Mia!” Premiered in July in Shanghai, the Chinese edition of the globally popular musical has toured major cities including Beijing and Guangzhou, enthralling some 300,000 spectators in 200 shows. Amid invitations rushing from other Chinese cities, the producers are planning performances in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Singapore. Encouraged by the huge success of “Mama Mia!,” CJ is preparing to unveil a Chinese version of the musical “Cats” in the second half of this year. Gross regional domestic product, or GRDP, in China’s affluent cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou has exceeded $10,000. The fast-growing middle class heralds a bigger demand for high culture. Chinese authorities are fully aware of the latest trend; since last year, top-ranking officials have been stressing the importance of nurturing cultural industries. However, China remains passive about opening up its markets for foreign cultural imports out of concern that the country’s socialist system could be overshadowed even more. Accordingly, foreign companies find it hard to invest in cultural sectors in China due to tight restrictions. Nonetheless, the Korean Wave seems unstoppable. What makes it so special? For starters, Chinese audiences regard Korean renditions of Western culture as
less foreign. The indirect import of Western pop culture through a Korean filter is considered less threatening to China’s socialist system. Although CJ took care of all the aspects of production for the Chinese version of “Mama Mia!” from stage directing to music, casting and training of actors, its brand was completely hidden from the Chinese audiences. Instead, its local partner firms took the center stage, which is truly regrettable. Despite the limitations, China’s strategy of importing Western culture indirectly through the Korean Wave is certainly offering fresh opportunities for Korean companies interested in the world’s most populous country. It is hoped that more Korean companies will make inroads into the Chinese market and help open wide the doors to the era of hallyu 2.0. [April 18, 2012]
Girls’ Generation vs. Joanne K. Rowling
Ko Du-hyeon Culture Editor The Korea Economic Daily
Girls’ Generation earned more than 30 billion won in 2011. The amount only reflects the popular girl group’s sales of albums and digital music, overseas performances, and commercial advertisements. Combine the group’s earnings in Japan, and the total revenue would surge even higher, with sales of singles, regular albums, DVD and Blue ray exceeding 60 billion won. The ninemember group has mounted 14 arena tours in Japan, racking up a whopping 17.5 billion won from ticket sales. If the group’s income from Japanese commercials and photograph shootings is added, the total would be nearly 100 billion won. Even considering payments for the Japanese agency, the group has indeed achieved eye-popping results. Through electronic public disclosure, SM Entertainment has revealed that
Girls’ Generation earned 21.7 billion won in January through September last year, averaging 1.8 billion won per month. Add this to the group’s promotional activities such as “SM Town” overseas tour and other projects, the revenue during the cited period would easily top 30 billion won. Over the same period, SM’s other idol groups also posted substantial earnings: Super Junior raked in 13.8 billion won, followed by TVQX earning 11.7 billion won, SHINee 5.49 billion won and f(x) 3.57 billion won. The earnings by these top-notch groups account for nearly 80 percent of SM’s entire sales. What is the secret behind the impressive commercial success of these pop music groups? In his book titled “Cultural Content and Storytelling Discourse,” Park Tae-sang, culture critic and professor at Korea National Open University, says: “Idol groups such as Girls’ Generation are gaining popularity in the world thanks to our nation’s time-old tradition of exciting group dance.” The visually-oriented generation in the 21st century prefers epics with colorful storylines as well as rhythmic dance music. Therefore, Park says, Korea should produce more “globally appealing stories” to support dance music. A case in point is the Harry Potter series by Joanne K. Rowling. Marketing expert Susan Gunelius claims in her book “Storynomics” that the story-based industries are the best future industries. If popular K-pop stars like Girls’ Generation take to the global stage with stories with universal appeal, they would be able to earn far more money than now. What should be done to incorporate storytelling to their lively dance music? Gunelius suggests “five success factors of super storytelling,” that is, excellent content, emotional engagement, word-of-mouth marketing and online buzz, teaser marketing, and brand consistency and restraint. High-quality content ― original music and dance ― is a prerequisite. Besides, marketers should add emotional codes that can pry open the consumers’ hearts,
thereby creating a social trend, and then “word-of-mouth” marketing and online buzz should follow. For instance, Rowling’s first manuscript was rejected by many publishers before one publishing planner noticed its potential and decided to release it in the British market. When news spread that the story’s publishing rights were also sold at a high price to an American company, a “single mom” instantly became a Cinderella overnight. Teaser marketing for firing up curiosity is also important. Remember how information about each sequel was tightly guarded throughout the publication of all seven volumes. Publication dates were meticulously arranged in order to heighten the expectations of the fans and maximize marketing effects. Controlling the pace of marketing campaigns is also a necessary strategy. When Rowling was approached about the film adaptation of the Harry Potter franchise, she declined all the offers until she got what she wanted from Warner Brothers: the rights to make all decisions concerning merchandise licensing as well as artistic aspects. At a time when whatever products bearing the Harry Potter brand could sell like hot cakes, she intentionally limited the number of goods available on the market in order to maintain the brand’s consistency. As such, the potential of storynomics is nearly limitless. If Girls’ Generation tells a good story that can move their audiences around the world, they will be able to create far greater value added. [April 17, 2012]
Cremated Remains of Arborist Dedicated to his Beloved Trees
Bae Myeong-bok Editorial Writer The JoongAng Ilbo
Spring is here according to the calendar, but it does not feel so because of the persistent chill in the air. The spring flowers are yet to bloom due to the lowerthan-average temperature. Most of the cherry trees should have opened their flowers by early April in the southern regions, but they say this year there will be a delay of three to six days. The local autonomous governments are at a loss because their annual spring flower festivals will lack flowers. I love all the spring flowers that bloom around the country, from forsythia to azalea, plum and cherry blossoms, but my favorite is magnolia. I donâ€™t know why but I feel hazy when I gaze at the white magnolia blossoms in full bloom in warm sunlight. By this time those lovely flowers should have awakened from a long winter sleep, but there is no such sign yet at the apartment
complex where I live. Anyone who loves magnolia should make a visit to Chollipo Arboretum in Taean, South Chungcheong Province. Home to more than 400 species of magnolia, it is the world’s best arboretum recognized by the Magnolia Society. There you can see different kinds of magnolia opening flowers all year round, from Magnolia biondii that bursts its flower buds open in March to Magnolia grandiflora that blooms in early winter. As is well known, Chollipo Arboretum was founded by the late Min Byunggal (American name Carl Ferris Miller), who first landed in Korea as a naval officer shortly after the nation’s liberation from Japanese rule in 1945 and became a naturalized Korean citizen in 1979. For most of his life after his arrival in Korea at the age of 24, he devoted himself to tending the arboretum until his death. Deeply in love with Korea’s culture and nature, Miller is known to have said he was a Korean in his previous life. Miller began planting trees in the bare mountains in the western coastal area on Taean Peninsula in 1970. Over the next 30 years, he worked arduously to create the world-class arboretum. Chollipo Arboretum has 11,000 species of trees, 5,000 species more than the National Arboretum. He spent approximately 100 billion Korean won of his own money to build the arboretum over an area of 595,044 square meters. Before he died on April 8, 2002 at the age of 81, he donated his property to the Chollipo Arboretum Foundation. Tomorrow, marking the 10th anniversary of his death, Chollipo Arboretum is holding a memorial service for Miller, where his remains will be cremated and buried under his favorite pink crossbreed magnolia, dubbed “raspberry fun,” in accordance with his wishes. Also, commemorating his death anniversary, his
first critical biography titled â€œI Am Sorry, Trees,â€? written by former journalist Im Jun-su, has been published. It would be a significant gift for him, together with the beautiful story of an octogenarian Son Chang-geun, who recently donated 6.6 million square meters of land worth 100 billion won to the nation to prevent deforestation due to reckless development. I must visit Chollipo to see the magnolias before April is gone. [April 7, 2012]
Korea’s Nation Brand as Global Leader in e-Government
Son Yeon-gi Visiting Professor of Urban Sociology University of Seoul
A nation’s power is measured by various indicators. In their narrow and broad senses, an array of elements, including land mass, population, the quantity and quality of resources, defense and economy, as well as culture, history and education all project a nation’s power. As the concept of “global village” expanded throughout the 20th century, new factors were introduced such as the quality of inter-country exchange, the ability to maintain good relations with other countries, and the capacity for sustainable development. Upon entering the 21st century, nation brand has emerged as a major indicator of national strength. This is natural in the sense that all of the current components work together in a complex manner to produce the overall brand image of a nation.
Korea’s image in the global society is very important because it is directly linked to its nation brand. There have been significant changes in the nation’s image throughout history. During the turbulent modern era alone, Korea has been known, among others, for the “Miracle on the Han River,” which was achieved on the ashes of war to lay the foundation for an industrial society in a short period of time; “a high level of educational enthusiasm,” which has been the driving force in overcoming limitations caused by a lack of natural resources; “a sports powerhouse” which hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup; and “national division,” which has continued for over a half century with the two Koreas confronting each other across a truce line. Korea may well take pride in itself as an “information powerhouse,” its latest image in the international community, which has been earned through unwavering efforts over the last three decades under the adamant goal of becoming “a leader in information society, albeit a follower in industrial society.” This is even more so because of the environment-friendly, knowledge-based and sustainable development-oriented nature of the image. Beyond a mere image, Korea has firmly consolidated its nation brand as a mighty powerhouse in ICT as well as ICT-based industries. Recently, there was good news that helped further promote Korea’s brand value as an “information powerhouse.” In the United Nations E-Government Survey, conducted on 190 member nations since 2003 to encourage global egovernment readiness and cooperation, Korea ranked No.1 again in 2012, after placing first in 2010. It was voted as the best in both the E-Government Development Index and the E-Participation Index, coming out on top in the combined list.
Looking back, one may be amazed at how things have changed. An importer of national development models until several years ago, Korea is now leading the development of ICT, presenting advanced ICT-based development models in various parts of society. As a result of concerted efforts of the government and the public, Korea has emerged as a “foremost information powerhouse” in a short period of time. On the strength of this proud brand image that is the envy of the world, we are moving ahead to create yet another nation brand. Developing nations and frontrunners in ICT alike are benchmarking Korea’s growth and dreams based on its ICT capability. Korea is taking the initiative in helping others and sharing our achievements. By sharing and enjoying its advanced ICT-based experience and vision in the global village, Korea hopefully will be able to upgrade its nation brand to “ICT Leading Korea.” [Seoul Shinmun, April 9, 2012]
Law Enforcement with Creative Imagination
Ahn Kyong-whan Professor of Law School of Law, Seoul National University
There are more unhappy people than happy ones in our world. All happy people resemble one another; they have wealth, social status, an attractive appearance, health, etc. But each unhappy person is unhappy in his own way. And even an individual who looks happier than anyone will have hidden unhappiness. Russian writer Leo Tolstoy epitomizes life with these words in the opening sentences of his famous novel “Anna Karenina.” Since ancient times, literature has served as a tablet of happiness for unhappy people. “When a state is unhappy, the poet is happy,” said the Qing Dynasty writer Zhao Yi. On the other hand, law often made unhappy people more despondent. For whatever reason, those entangled in legal problems are unhappy. Even those who gain benefits through the legal system should feel
uncomfortable. We can say anyone involved in a legal problem is “objectively” unhappy. It is the sacred mission of law to relieve the pains of unhappy people to the maximum extent possible. But reality is different. We only hear the merciless words that “this is all you can expect under the law.” If we are to lend some credibility to the dictum that “law has tears,” the law should have eyes and ears so it can respond to unhappy people’s tears and sighs. There is a saying that a great writer is so much a blessing to his country as an alternative government. A great writer who is respected beyond time and space is a teacher for the mankind. The works of Shakespeare, Goethe, Victor Hugo and Dostoyevsky are regarded as spiritual heritage of humanity as worthy as the words of Jesus Christ, Sakyamuni Buddha, Confucius and Mahomet. These writers are admired more widely because they were not involved with any specific religious faith. We could assemble the 30 articles of the International Human Rights Declaration by combining their works. Great writers can weave law and literature together. Therefore, great literary works cannot be fully appreciated with literary aspects alone. Law and literature grew out of one root. Both deal with the same subject ― conflicts arising from human community; literature raises problems while law tries to resolve them. Literature expounds on life’s unfairness from the minority position while law tries to establish order from the majority viewpoint. Literature depends on individual creativity while law relies on the universal ethics of society. Therefore, heroes in literature are often social outcasts who, in the eyes of jurists, defy common sense and universal ethics. The minority cries for human rights, which literature echoes. Literature typically confronts the legal order on the side of human rights. There is no
acute need to discuss the human rights of the majority because the institutions and practices are already on their side. Likewise, affluent people feel less desperate for consolation from literature. Law wields institutional power which protects the interests of the majority. The minority, therefore, harbors antipathy toward law. King Hammurabi of Babylon produces the legal code to rule his new empire and declares: “This code makes sure that the strong do not exploit the weak.” Law is a safety valve designed to prevent the arms of the powerful and the wallets of the rich from strangulating the poor and weak. Law lagging behind the changing times cannot realize social justice. When literature points its finger at the future, law should also look in that direction. When literary imagination helps law overcome its rigidity, social justice becomes easier to achieve. Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” is loved in the Christian cultural sphere generation after generation. It is about a “bond for human flesh” made by two parties with free will in a money transaction. As Shylock demands the execution of the contract to the letter, merchant Antonio’s life is in danger, only to be saved by Portia’s creative interpretation. Portia points out that the bond only allows Shylock to remove the flesh, not the blood, of Antonio. It is a great judgment but the judge does not stop at rescuing the debtor but attempts to destroy Shylock, the lender, who had suffered humiliation and persecution as a Jew. Posing as a benevolent judge, Portia seeks to deprive Shylock of his property and even faith. Excessive creativity is tantamount to injustice and arbitrariness. Great verdicts of judges and memorable arguments of lawyers are not rare in Korea’s history of legal justice. The late lawyer Cho Young-rae is one of those famous counsels who helped change the system with their creative management of suits and defense in court. He is remembered for the class-
action lawsuit by the victims of flood in Mangwon-dong, Seoul, and his role in abolishing the early retirement of women in the 1980s. He was a pioneer lawyer who added literary imagination to the rigid law. In Korea, legal professionals are produced from bedsits in the so-called “state exam preparation towns” (gosichon) in Seoul. Writers are similarly massproduced from workshops named the “departments of literary creation” in universities. Creative ideas are most wanted both in law and literature in this country of inflexible systems. A mature society has poets and judges in the same bodies. Integration, not separation, of law and literature will make our world a happier place to live in. [Dong-a Ilbo, April 14, 2012]
- South Korean Conservative and Progressive Views on North Korea - The Changing Korean Ego in the Northeast Asia Era - Equity Capital Gains Tax: Boon or Bane?
South Korean Conservative and Progressive Views on North Korea Han Kwan-soo Professor, Department of Military Arts and Science Chosun University
Jang Yoon-soo Professor, Department of Political Science Chonnam National University
I. Introduction To South Koreans, North Korea has two identities, a foe and a sibling. This duality manifests itself in conflicts among South Koreans concerning how to maintain peace and eventually reunify the divided nation. The minority progressive political camp espouses a friendly approach to Pyongyang. This ignites claims of election interference by “Northern winds” and energizes a hard-line policy stance toward the North by conservatives. South Korean society experienced extreme ideological conflicts during the chaotic period from liberation from Japanese rule in 1945 to the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. In the mid-1980s, a new political force seeking an end to the state of division and peaceful reunification emerged in the South, causing continuous friction over what to do about the North. The progressive Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations between 1998 and 2007 promoted a softer approach to engage the North but the conservatives regarded the period as a “lost decade.” After taking office in 2008, conservative President Lee Myung-bak adopted policies that departed
dramatically from the previous administrations. Dialogue between the two Koreas has been suspended and inter-Korean relations have plunged to their lowest level in decades. Thus, the conflict between conservatives and progressives in South Korea has replaced confrontation between prodemocratic and anti-democratic political forces. But the ideological conflict today in the South is not limited to differences in views on North Korea. It also involves a diversity of problems such as social polarization between the haves and have-nots, welfare, taxation, employment and education policies. The volatile South-North relations frustrate efforts to achieve sustainable development under adverse global circumstances and further to build permanent peace toward eventual reunification of the two Koreas. Under these circumstances, it is important to identify the differences between the conservative and progressive forces in South Korea with regard to their attitudes toward the North if we are to bring an end to the ideological conflicts that occasionally lead to violence and pursue social integration and harmony. This study explores the desirable frames of perception for the opposing sides in order to offer reasonable and appropriate ways to overcome the conflicts.
II. Frames of Reference on Conservatives and Progressives Political branding in South Korean society has nuances that may confuse outsiders. A “leftist” is colored “red,” so those on the left prefer to be called “progressives,” though some of their policy positions such as proprotectionism would not be considered forward thinking. Meanwhile, rightists are labeled “conservatives,” though their call for more free trade agreements suggests a liberal bent. When the East European socialist system crumbled in
1991, market-oriented reformists branded those who favored the discredited Stalinist system as conservatives. So the leftists in South Korea were further convinced they should call themselves progressives. The first inter-Korean summit talks between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in June 2000, legitimized progressives in South Korean politics. While the summit talks somewhat diluted the conflict, the emergence of the “New Right” in the conservative ranks again perturbed the ideological spectrum. But the Saenuri (New Frontier) Party that spearheads the New Right and is endorsed by conservative newspapers is actually a cosmetic reshuffling of the ruling Grand National Party, which appeared to be headed for sizeable general election defeats in April and needed a new direction and identity.
III. Conservative and Progressive Views on North Korea 1. Intra-South Conflict The intra-South conflict over the North Korean question, which the South Korean media calls “South-South antagonism,” began with the liberation from the Japanese colonial rule. The entire political history of Korea since 1945 can be referred to as the history of “South-South conflict.” (Sohn Ho-chul 2004) The origin of this conflict was the occupation of the Korean peninsula by the Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of World War II. The division of the country was hardened by the establishment of the Republic of Korea government in the South and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the North in 1948 and the Korean War which ended with the signing of an armistice agreement in 1953. It may be claimed that the Korean War was an attempt to achieve reunification of Korea, but the three-year internecine armed conflict had no
legitimate cause. It merely resulted in destroying the country and intervention by foreign forces. A hostile yet interdependent relationship was created between South and North Korea and a distorted democracy transpired in the South. Occasional armed provocations from the North helped strengthen anti-communist ideology in the South. (Ryu Kil-jae 2004) Major acts of provocation by North Korea included the hijacking of a South Korean airliner in February 1958; a commando raid in Seoul on January 1968; guerrilla intrusions into Uljin and Samcheok in October 1968; the abduction of an airliner in November 1969, axe murders of U.S. soldiers at the Panmunjom truce village in August 1976, a bomb attack on a presidential delegation in Rangoon in October 1983, the downing of KAL flight 858 in November 1987, and the intrusion of armed agents into Gangneung in September 1996. These provocations occurred despite occasional government-level dialogues that produced joint statements and declarations pledging cooperation and reconciliation. Outside the Korean peninsula, the collapse of the East European socialist system in the early 1990s ended the East-West ideological confrontation and led to the integration of the world economy into a single capitalist market. But while the world’s nations compete for national interests instead of ideologies or systems, the Korean peninsula remains a “Cold War island.” The interKorean summit in 2000 appeared to launch an era of reconciliation but the hard-line policy of the Lee Myung-bak administration halted channels of dialogue and brought about occasional military clashes of limited scales. The Lee administration experienced a naval clash near Daecheong Island in November 2009, the sinking of the patrol vessel Cheonan in March 2010 and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November the same year. But even during the Kim Dae-jung administration, there were naval clashes in the
West Sea in June 1999 and in June 2002 With confrontation and conflicts continuing between the two Koreas, diverse political elements in South Korea have collided over the situation and even descended into violence. The faceoff boils down to the fundamental question of “What is North Korea to us?” No South Korean can deny the North’s dual identity as a brother and an enemy, the former based on a realistic viewpoint and the latter on a nationalistic viewpoint. But not all South Koreans have a firm ideological opinion of North Koreans; their perception mostly swings between the two images. It is not appropriate to simply classify conservatives as anti-North Korean and progressives as pro-North Korean. Still, surveys have found that conservatives tend to think the North is an enemy while progressives tilt toward the image of North Koreans as brothers. Here it should be noted that South Koreans mostly define their ideological identity based on their views of North Korea rather than the two camps’ domestic policy agenda. The Korean War has left a very narrow ideological prism for Koreans with Cold War anti-communism holding the middle ground. The global Cold War and the post-Korean War situation on the peninsula combined to root out any possibility of ideological debate. Only those ultra-rightists who were in power had the freedom to speak about North Korea, which they used for their political purposes. So the authoritarian governments collaborated with the North to produce the July 4 Joint Communique in 1972, the July 7 Declaration on cross-border partnership in 1988, the Unification Formula in 1989, and the Basic Agreement in 1991. The 1987 democratization movement put cracks in the South’s postwar, extreme anti-communist governance in the face of a strong challenge from
political and civic societies. Hard-liners were confronted by engagement supporters, who called for a complete departure from the Cold War regime. (Kim Kap-sik 2007) From the late 1990s, the Kim Dae-jung administration’s so-called “Sunshine Policy” of engaging North Korea through economic cooperation and reconciliation became the primary issue in the intra-South conflict. Anti-communist and anti-North civic organizations responded to this challenge, giving rise to what would later be dubbed the “South-South conflict.” Some generally classified progressives and reformist conservatives as supporters of the Sunshine Policy and extremist conservatives as opponents to it. However, there was criticism that this observation was oversimplified. (Sohn Ho-chul 2004, Kim Dae-gun 2007) Within the ranks of the progressives, opinions are split over the Sunshine Policy. In the progressive camp, some who led anti-American and unification movements supported engagement with the North, while others argued that the Sunshine Policy was a disguised absorption strategy using capitalist power. Five factors shaped the development of the “South-South conflict” during the Kim Dae-jung administration: 1) political maneuverings by the ruling and opposition parties, 2) slanderous analyses of engagement policy by the conservative media, 3) anti-Kim Dae-jung sentiment in specific regions, 4) attempts by some intellectuals and politicians to expand their influence, and 5) radical fundamentalism within the progressive group regarding the unification issues. (Kang Jung-koo 2000, Sohn Ho-chul 2004) It can be summed up that the intra-South conflict resulted from the two structural defects in Korean society, i.e. the regional rivalry and the deeprooted anti-communism. More specifically, the South-South conflict was a combined consequence of the over ambitiousness of the Kim Dae-jung
government, sentiment of some radical activists, and malicious criticism by the Grand National Party and the conservative media. Externally, North Koreaâ€™s non-cooperation toward South Koreaâ€™s engagement approaches and the tough position of the George W. Bush administration of the United States also helped deepen the conflict within the Republic of Korea. As such, behind the social conflict in the South lies an ideological split perpetuated through numerous critical events since the 1945 liberation from Japanese rule. Beyond it is the Cold War legacy remaining on the divided Korean peninsula even after the end of the East-West confrontation. Furthermore, there is the divisive class structure in Korean society fomenting the internal conflict. 2. Different Views on North Korea Issues Political forces in South Korea have constantly clashed over their different policies on North Korea. They have differed in their views of whether and how to engage North Korea, the method and scale of economic aid to the North, implementation of the existing agreements with Pyongyang, and ways to establish national consensus concerning the North Korean question. Foremost has been the debate over the engagement of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moohyun administrations. It may be more appropriate to regard the policy as a process to create the conditions necessary for peaceful reunification by easing confrontation and promoting reconciliation and cooperation, rather than a policy to pursue immediate unification. But some even denounced the approach as a policy to maintain the status quo to avoid war. Next was the question of economic cooperation with the North. Critics defined the Sunshine Policy as unconditional giveaway to the North. Its supporters, however, argued that if economic cooperation between South and North Korea
declined, the North would inevitably turn to China for survival. Then some sort of economic partnership would be established between the two neighboring countries, which would eventually intensify North Korea’s dependence on China. Third, controversies arose over how to carry out agreements the two Koreas made in the past. South Korea needs to clearly define its position regarding the two “Joint Declarations” signed by its former presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, at their respective summit talks with the North’s Kim Jong-il on June 15, 2000 and October 4, 2007. Faithful implementation of these two latest inter-Korean agreements will contribute significantly to cooperation and reconciliation and help sustain peace on the peninsula toward realizing peaceful reunification. The two joint declarations produced through summit meetings do not contradict any earlier agreement between the two sides. Peaceful reunification is the basic principle under the Republic of Korea Constitution. Pyongyang should be convinced that the South does not seek its collapse or absorption, but peaceful coexistence. Finally, there is the question of forming a national consensus in the process of establishing North Korea policies. The engagement policy became a major factor in the “South-South conflict” because it was not supported by a national consensus achieved through democratic process. The difference between the progressives and conservatives regarding North Korea policies stemmed from the fact that the Sunshine Policy has failed to help Seoul secure strong leverage on Pyongyang despite the huge volume of material aid to the North. The conservatives believe that South Korea cannot change North Korea’s attitude and policy toward the South because of its systemic rigidity. This difference of perception resulted in the deepening conflict between the
conservative and progressive media and civic groups. The present shape of conflict may be summarized as below:
The Unification and Peace Research Institute of Seoul National University has conducted an annual public opinion survey on unification issues since 2007. To the question “What is North Korea to Us?” in the 2011 survey, 47.0 percent said it was a partner for cooperation, 17.2 percent defined it as an object for surveillance, 16.8 percent as a hostile entity, 16.7 as an aid recipient, and 2.3 percent said it was an opponent in competition. Since 2007, “cooperation partner” has been the most chosen item but “hostile entity” has increasingly been selected, too. (Kim Byeong-ro 2011, Lee Sang-sun 2011) Surveyors interpreted that the respondents showed extremely contrasting views on such incidents as the sinking of the naval ship Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Negative public sentiment toward the North deepened after the armed provocations in 2010, but many people also felt it necessary to increase cooperation with the North to ease security concerns.
Perception of North Korea serves as the most important criteria in determining the ideological tendency of individuals. Progressives are more likely to regard North Korea as a partner for cooperation and conservatives are less likely to have such a perception, but the difference of numbers is not as great as may be imagined. Not all conservatives believe it impossible to engage North Korea in cooperation and not all progressives foresee rosy future ties between the two Koreas. Quite unexpectedly, the aggravation of inter-Korean relations in recent years has reduced, not widened, the gap between the progressive, centrist and conservative groups. The surveyors thus report that they found no empirical grounds to define conservatives as outright anti-communists and progressives as pro-North sympathizers. They also pointed out that people in the 20-29 age group were conspicuously turning conservative in their views on the North, interpreting that the North Korean acts of provocation left the strongest impact on the younger generation. By regions, positive perception of the North declined in the southwestern Jeolla provinces while alertness against the North grew in the southeastern Gyeongsang provinces. More Gangwon people regard North Korea as a cooperation partner. As to the effect of the engagement policy during the Kim and Roh administrations, the survey revealed that 55 percent of respondents believed that the North had not changed while 45 percent saw positive outcome. By age, people in their 30s and 40s observed positive changes in North Korea but those in their 20s and 50s maintained negative opinions. Disagreement continues to persist over whether the engagement and appeasement policies have helped North Korea change for the better: Progressives are affirmative while conservatives are negative. Meanwhile, 65.7 percent said they do not think that dialogue and compromise
with the North are possible while the other 34.3 percent said they think so. Again, people in their 20s and 50s showed more negativity than those in their 30s and 40s, indicating a greater impact of the North Korean naval attacks on young people of military service age. Overall, progressives’ trust in the North has notably ebbed in the past few years. Over 80 percent said they feel security threat from North Korean nuclear arms ― 35.3 percent perceives it seriously and 45.4 percent moderately ― and the percentage grew steadily. The possibility of further provocations from the North was approved by 78.3 percent and denied by the remaining 21.7 percent. As to the overall security policy of the Lee Myung-bak administration, residents of the Seoul metropolitan area and the central Chungcheong region were largely negative. The North’s nuclear tests and attacks in the West Sea also lowered public confidence in the government’s ability to stabilize interKorean relations. Recurring military clashes and North Korean provocations have raised general pessimism about the possibility of reunification, but at the same time they increased the people’s quest for reunification in hopes that all-out fighting on the Korean peninsula can be avoided. This psychological polarization is perhaps the outcome of the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents. These incidents brought home a warning that continued security uneasiness not only increases antagonism toward the North but could stoke criticism on the government’s North Korea policies. In replies to questions about North Korean armed provocations, the conservatives and progressives show no significant difference in their opinions. But in most other aspects, they express clearly contrasting views. It is obvious that the differing assessments of the government’s North Korea policies and the “South-South conflict” are all based on the reference
frameworks of individuals that are linked to their ideological inclinations.
IV. Conclusion In order to relieve the ideological conflicts between the conservatives and progressives, it is necessary for each side to diversify their philosophies and practical ideas â€• conservatives into extremist and liberal conservatives and progressives into liberal and radical groups. Ideological divisions need to be rearranged and crossover politics should be attempted so that peaceful coexistence can be pursued. Combative ideological confrontation should give way to open and reasonable discourse that can promote cooperation and coexistence and produce constructive accords. In South Korea, progressives have claimed moral superiority over conservatives. But corrupt progressives have been uncovered and incapable progressives have lost support from practical-minded people. The medals from the past pro-democracy activities do not guarantee righteousness in todayâ€™s politics. When progressives lose moral high ground, the general public turns to conservatives and that leads to further weakening of relations with North Korea. When either side tries to use inter-Korean problems for political gains, the public does not tolerate it. The progressives can assert their ultimate moral integrity by promoting inter-Korean relations through practical steps toward a peaceful reunification based on broad national consensus without seeking short-term political advantage. Another important task is to relieve social polarization in South Korea. As long as society remains divided between the minority haves and the majority have-nots, even the question of providing aid to North Korea cannot win nationwide support because of conflicting interests. With the collapse of the
middle class, the frustrated 99 percent blame their difficulties on the rich 1 percent in every capitalist society, and here in Korea, the impact can stretch to the management of inter-Korean relations. When unjust distribution of wealth continues in Korea as in other countries, the distorted social structure will be a serious impediment to peaceful reunification. As of 2010, the relative poverty rate (proportion of those earning less than 50 percent of median income) increased from 8.7 percent in 1999 to 14.9 percent in 2010, and the Gini index also rose from 0.264 in 1997 to 0.315 in 2010. (Dong-a Ilbo 2011/10/13, Hankyoreh 2011/10/17). North Korea is a major factor of the South-South conflict. While South Korean politicians and mass media used the inter-Korean problems to their advantage, North Korea has also been inclined to aggravate internal conflicts in the South. Yet, this has lowered North Korea’s credibility and damaged South Koreans’ general perception of the North. “Between ourselves as the same Korean nation” has been the North’s main slogan in propaganda toward South Koreans but it failed to raise its credibility. Mutual efforts are needed with the South taking positive steps to provide economic aid to the North. North Koreans should realize that its nuclear issue and attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island have dramatically heightened the negative perception of the North among South Korean voters, severely undermining its credibility. Some voters here favor the resumption of dialogue with the North due to increased security concerns, but continued tension on the peninsula will only bring doom to North Korea’s future. The third generation dynastic transition of power from Kim Jong-il to his son Jong-un has led most South Koreans to abandon hope for coexistence or compromise with the North Korean system. An increased number of South Koreans now expect unification by absorption as an eventuality on the Korean peninsula.
The human rights situation in the North also has drawn growing concern among South Koreans. A 2010 survey showed 82.8 percent of South Koreans believe that improvement of the human rights of North Koreans is the most urgent task in the process toward reunification and 69.5 percent want the South Korean government to make persistent efforts to press the North to correct the situation. The respondents chose human rights over such issues as regular inter-Korean summits, reform and openness of the North, reduction of military tension, withdrawal of the U.S. forces and reunion of divided families. [Journal of the Korean Political Science Association, Spring 2012, Vol. 46, No. 1]
The Changing Korean Ego in the Northeast Asia Era Lee Seong-hwa Lecturer of Political Science Korea University
I. Introduction 1. Changing Korean Identity and Ego Forming a Northeast Asian community is seen by some as easy. Others call it an empty dream. Pessimists say the nations and peoples of Northeast Asia only seek to maximize their wealth by using their economic, military and cultural strength to attain regional leadership. In other words, there is no serious interest in promoting co-prosperity. This view, however, is based on the premise that oneâ€™s sense of country, people, and self is permanent and inflexible, perpetuating a supra-nationalist, multicultural, communicative, and community-minded ego that is primordial and hence not easily denied or extinguished. As such, the bottom line to achieving a Northeast Asian community is changing the ego of nations and peoples. This article analyzes the possibility of having a Northeast Asian community as an open, comprehensive system of interaction. In particular, the Northeast Asian community and the changing ego of its members is analyzed through ethnic Koreans in China (Joseonjok, or Korean-Chinese) as the most representative group, who are changing their ego on the margins of society, dealing with racial and cultural differences. Ultimately, this study is aimed at reshaping the Korean ego in light of the changing ego and identity of ethnic Koreans in China.
2. Changes in the Korean Ego in the Northeast Asian Era The feasibility of a Northeast Asian community involves the need to resolve nationalist conflicts accompanying the ascent of Northeast Asia, the creation of a supranational cooperative system and dynamic energy fused with changing, or “transversal,” egos. In other words, a Northeast Asian community means having populations of protean people, or “transversal-universals,” and a new order. Northeast Asian cooperation for democracy and co-prosperity in Confucian tradition can be found in written records. However, recent research on Northeast Asia is focused on the transformational nature of identity, which can explain changes in the region in various eras. The existence of definite identities of nation-states and peoples in the Northeast Asian era suggests that sovereignty centered on a certain people would obstruct the formation of a Northeast Asian community. But does it mean the identity of the ethnic Koreans in China, or the Korean-Chinese, who have experienced industrialization, urbanization, and individualization with the end of the age of ideology, cannot be unified with the sovereign self-consciousness of the Korean people, based on their roots and common memories? The ego of the Korean-Chinese, who have been marginalized by both Korea and China, is being rediscovered as a fused ego capable of encompassing multiculturalism and cooperating with other nations, while existing as “others” outside any sovereign consciousness of Korea. Any discussion of the Northeast Asian community must be preceded by change in the Korean people’s ego. The transformational ego of the ethnic Koreans in China can serve as a model.
II. Linguistic Transformation in the Theory of the Northeast Asian Community: Beyond Regionalism and Historicism One of the continuing challenges in the formation of the Northeast Asian community is dialogue aimed at securing mutual understanding and people’s efforts to listen to and take an interest in the voices of the many. It is through dialogue that we can share in the social world of the community. According to Calvin O. Schrag, “the analytics of everyday life” means the “communicative praxis” of language. Language or action in the social practices and prejudices of everyday life constitutes one facet of communicative language. Just as communication between people who have reached understanding through dialogue becomes the official language of the social world, realization of the Northeast Asian community requires human action as a communication resource. As a political theory, debate on a Northeast Asian community itself is limited to the opinions and perceptions of a particular region, history and era. But we need to talk about the possibility of a community that transcends emotions tied to historical time periods and space restrictions, serves to check danger, and holds hope for co-prosperity. Research on a Northeast Asian community is about supranational and multicultural unity that blends the territorial boundaries and cultural identities of nations into possibility and hope. It also involves changing egos, the possibility of reshaping liberalistic individuals who only seek gains — the blind pursuit of power by libertarian (post-liberalist) individuals — into people living together. In both cases, the research explores memories closely linked to history and geographic barriers, and a new identity that replaces that of modern individuals who exclusively pursue wealth. As such, this study
analyzes the transversal-universals of the community, going beyond research of the Northeast Asian region based on history and geography. National sovereignty can be introduced into the debate on a Northeast Asian community. It may involve conflicts of interest between nation-states regarding sovereignty and territory. But it also is an issue linked to regionalism, that is, the discourse on regional cooperation or regional identity based on historical relations. Debate on a Northeast Asian community’s potential for co-prosperity and multicultural and supranational fusion resulting from open cooperation and exchange, must focus on simplifying laws and systems of nation-states as well as a simplified regional identity. The Northeast Asian community speaks with a framework of diverse memories that cannot be forgotten. Discourse on the Northeast Asian identity is like a commemoration of the memories. Discourse is concrete and open but takes the shape as an accumulation of memories. It assumes the framework of something “already spoken” and as “acquired truth” (Foucault 1972). In other words, dialogue is remembrance. It is remembering words already spoken and at the same time the act of prompting words not yet spoken. Dialogue is the creative memory of history and the comprehensive order that interprets the past, present and future as creative dynamism.
III. Northeast Asian Community and Changes in the Korean Ego 1. Identity of the Korean Ego The debate on the Northeast Asian community, which envisions co-prosperity and multicultural and transnational convergence in open cooperation and exchange, is about democracy and the democratic ego that transcends
competition among liberalistic individuals and groups. The Korean selfconsciousness has been subjected to traditional and modern ideologies and institutions. Hence Korean people have had an enforced sense of identity based on a vertical order and territory. This has resulted in the Korean ego being confined to a single framework of homogeneity, oneness, and uniformity. Rational universality or identity as the uniform unit has been the standard for explaining the identity of the Korean ego. However, the Korean identity now interacts with the everyday life, altering the standardized ego. This is evidenced mainly by transnational exchange and the multicultural differences within the regional community as well as the global cooperation system. It can be understood that the Korean ego is being reshaped in the social world where the discourse on identity and civic action has widened. The universal rationality of self-consciousness and the linguistic uniformity of discourse on identity are dynamically conjoined in the process of interrelation or interaction, and are creatively reformed in conjunction with the changing ego of â€œthe other.â€? In Korean politics, the basis for the Korean self-consciousness is the strong memory of a history of territorial loss and geographic isolation. In other words, Koreaâ€™s history and geographical boundaries have confined the Korean self-consciousness and identity to homogeneity, oneness, and uniformity. Nationalism as resistance has been no less than the founding principle of modern nationalism and enforced homogeneity. Egocentric rationality served as the universal founding principle of a modern nation-state. In addition, rational universality, as the first principle governing liberalistic individualism, has been the basis for the national systems and self-consciousness of the Korean people, who seek benefits and security. If structural conditions and universal rationality have acted as the first
principle for building the Korean self-consciousness, as we simultaneously undergo economic globalization and movement toward a regional community, the egocentric Korean consciousness needs to be disposed and an active and analytic consciousness adopted to accommodate differences. In this case, the active Korean ego can be understood as “the other,” which forms an analytic space in conjunction with others within the community, with communitymindedness and cooperation replacing identity. Dynamic transversality and social responsibility as the other are transformed into the mechanisms and processes, structure and strategies within the community. They constitute the transversal rationality that accommodates the discourse on identity and the actions of those who transform that discourse. The first principle of organizations and actions comprising transversal rationality is not memories of history, territorial boundaries and universal rationality. If the social world is created through the crystallization and analysis of the experiences and territory of the everyday world, or the social world, the transversality of the everyday world can be explained as the consistency which brings changes in the memories of history, the modern logic of the pursuit of profit, and the territorial boundaries that have fixed the Korean self-consciousness. Through such consistency, memories of history are reshaped as retrospection, the individualistic self-consciousness as “the other,” and territorial boundaries as the communal everyday world. Hence, in the debate on a Northeast Asian community, homogeneity, oneness, and uniformity, which have been the principles underlying the Korean ego, or the self-consciousness solidified in the discourse on the regional identity, must also be reshaped as universality of the transformational ego constituting difference and others, and the language of community and cooperation. 2. Identity of Ethnic Koreans in Manchuria and the Issue of the Other
Manchuria forms a fringe area between Korea and China and is an important area, where the interests of Korea, China, Russia, and Mongolia are intertwined in the modern history of Northeast Asia. Manchuria is not only a place where the foundation of Korea’s modern history was laid, it also arouses memories of Korea’s history in ancient times and the middle ages in connection with the successive dynasties of Gojoseon, Goguryeo, Balhae and Goryeo. But in looking forward to a Northeast Asian community, the focus should be placed not on remembering past conflict but on realizing cooperation and co-prosperity. Manchuria is the home and workplace of ethnic Koreans in China. The Korean-Chinese living in this remote part of China have been marginalized by both China and Korea as “others.” A Northeast Asian community would not be a single system. Rather, it would be a transformational framework that can be reshaped according to our interpretations and actions and the language of potential. Originally, the concept of a Northeast Asian community envisioned a regional economic community like the European Union or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In it, the public and private sectors would establish everyday mechanisms and processes to promote transnational competition and ease the exclusive competition for profit among the nation-states of Northeast Asia. The Korean-Chinese reside between the Korean peninsula and Russia. They are citizens of China but they are historically and culturally connected to Korea. These people, who cannot be reverted to the sovereignty of any one nation-state, are “others” under an inevitably transformational identity framework. They are always on the fringes of a specific identity and respond sensitively to single nation-state or regional identity, taking the initiative in adjusting their own egos. The ego of the Korean-Chinese, who take action and achieve self-understanding, has the potential to be dynamic and creative. In
this sense, the Korean-Chinese can best lead the formation of a Northeast Asian community as a transnational social world as they interact with the nation-states and regional identity. Experiments in multiracial and multicultural cooperation in Northeast Asia were undertaken in Manchuria at the beginning of the last century under Japanese imperialist policies. However, the envisioned Northeast Asian community now under discussion cannot spread the self-consciousness of any particular nation-state or people. Manchuria is currently part of the territory of China, where Chinese nationalism is blowing strong, and the ethnic Koreans living there are not free from the rights and duties of Chinese citizens. Not only the Koreans but the peoples of all nations close to Manchuria, including China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia, try to exclusively increase profit for their own nations and people, with memories of past historical conflicts. The clear existence of nation-state identities suggests that the cognitive sovereignty of any one nation-state or people would hinder the formation of a Northeast Asian community. As such, in the global economic system, it cannot be said that Korean-Chinese, who have experienced Chinaâ€™s modernization, urbanization, and individualization in the post-ideological era, is in unity with the sovereign subject of the Republic of Korea or the Korean people based on their roots and memories. Sharing no sovereign consciousness with either the Chinese or Korean people, the ego of the Korean-Chinese is thus being rediscovered as a fused ego capable of multicultural acceptance and transnational cooperation. The Korean-Chinese ego, which will achieve communication and union by integrating cultural and racial differences and generational differentiation, is transformational in nature, moving toward another future ego. Therefore, before dreaming of the possibility of a Northeast Asian community, the Korean ego must change on the model of the Korean-Chinese ego.
3. The Northeast Asian Community and the Changing Korean Ego Focus on the transformational ego of the Korean-Chinese is both the starting point and answer to reshaping the Korean ego, from an identity that has been fixed under the framework of a modern nation-state and liberal individualism to an ego that is multicultural, transnational, and therefore fused. In other words, research on the ethnic Koreans in China is tantamount to exploration of the transformational ego of the Korean people as members of the Northeast Asian community. Manchuria is not an independent and isolated space where the geographical conditions and memories of the Korean-Chinese are reenacted. Historically, it has been a place where along with the Korean-Chinese, Mongolians, Chinese, Russians, Japanese and Koreans have lived on the margins. It is therefore a communicative space connecting border areas, which can be an open space, an everyday world of equality not dominated by liberalistic individuals or the sovereign subject of any specific nation-state. It is where democracy and a democratic ego can be formed. In this light, research on Manchuria as a fringe area should be a part of efforts to trace the genealogy or the origins of democracy. Research on Manchuria until now has focused on the ethnic Koreans living there and has been conducted from the perspective of nationalist movements. Amid discussions on forming a Northeast Asian community, Manchuria has transformed from a place with a long history of conflicts to an arena of international cooperation. In particular, international cooperation in the â€œnew Asia eraâ€? counts on the potential of realizing a Northeast Asian community through the development of Manchuria. Manchuriaâ€™s development through international cooperation means openness while forming a multicultural
community through the interaction of various ethnic groups who have historically been treated as “others” in this fringe region. This means dialogue between countries that can change through “recollection” and the potential for co-prosperity rather than memories of the past of not only China and Korea but also America, Japan, Russia, and even North Korea. Manchuria is a “fused space in Northeast Asia” (Han Seok-jeong & Noh Gisik 2008), and the ego of the Korean-Chinese living there is capable of accommodating many cultures. In the same context, recognizing the value of the ability to speak a number of languages and having a mixed cultural heritage, scholars have concisely defined discourse on the identity of the Korean-Chinese
interdependence and cooperation” (Lee Seung-ryul 2011), or as discourse on the “diaspora of the Korean race” (Kwak Seung-ji 2008). Just as discourse on the potential of the Northeast Asian community cannot be confined to discourse on the regional identity, the potential of the KoreanChinese cannot be confined to discourse on the Korean-Chinese identity. The potential of the Northeast Asian community and the Korean-Chinese can be generated from the interaction of discourse and action, and this can be understood as ethical transversality connected to the social world. In other words, discourse on the identity of Korean-Chinese can be creatively reshaped in the everyday behavior of the Korean-Chinese as they interact with other peoples. Therefore, changes in the ego of the Korean-Chinese need to be redefined as analytical action against the background of their everyday world, where they cannot help but live with others as they envision the potential of the future. Jean-Paul Sartre’s “transcendental subject” shows the limitations of cooperation and harmony that the secretive policies for “racial union” of
nation-states and peoples encountered in Manchuria in the early 20th century. Similarly, if discourse on the “diaspora of the Korean race” or the “transnational society of interdependence and cooperation” cannot go beyond discourse on one’s own people, debate on a Northeast Asian community will be limited. Specifically, the Northeast Asian community means more than a cooperative relationship with China, Japan, Russia, and Mongolia. It also involves cooperation with the marginalized Korean-Chinese. Therefore, the marginal yet dynamic ego of the Korean-Chinese in Manchuria, whose sovereign subject has been relatively erased, is a transformational ego that can serve as a model for change in the Korean ego. The focus may fall on the Korean ego, which is to be reshaped as a transformational ego, as the best ego suited to take the lead in realizing a Northeast Asian community.
IV. Conclusion: Potential of the Northeast Asian Community When looking at the Northeast Asian community not as a unified system but as a matter of potential democracy and democratic ego, the risk to the sovereign subject which accompanies the debate develops into an issue between nationstates regarding sovereignty and territoriality, and in the discourse the regional identity based on common geographical conditions and historical relations becomes an issue of regionalism. In constructivist theory, regional identity is a product formed in the process of self-differentiation in regional cooperation. In other words, it is formed as the result of open interaction between nationstates, peoples, and individuals, and solidified in discourse. Discourse on regional identity and the actions of those involved are the two sides of the shared community. Such discourse and action are implicitly united
and serve to bring change to the regional identity, and ultimately the identity of the regional community. Accordingly, the regional community can be understood as transformational public territory where the discourse on regional identity, comprising working mechanisms and processes, interacts with the actions of those involved, or the public “social world” where we live and work with others. Under the interpretive-analytical framework, the transformational identity of the regional community as the social world can be explained as the “transversal-universals.” The Northeast Asian community, in contrast to research based on the discourse on regional identity, is a regional community on a wider scale that encompasses the G2 new Asian cooperative organization working for coprosperity, a “potential” community where the world economy and the economic and social systems of the world are combined and interact with each other. Discourse on the Northeast Asian regional identity which is confined to Korea, China, and Japan, calls for an analytical shift to the potential of a wider social world. In short, democracy and the democratic ego of the Northeast Asian community do not mean the stabilization and institutionalization of discourse on the Northeast Asian regional identity. Instead, they refer to the potential world democracy, or the “world democracy yet to come” (Schrag 2010). The public territory of the social world as a potential community, created through interaction between discourse on the regional identity and the actions of those involved, is a world of cooperation and interdependence, where discourse not only on nations, peoples, and individuals but also the region fall in line with the actions of those seeking to create a vibrant and ethical society. Discourse on the regional identity comes down to discourse on the mechanisms, processes, customs, habits, and organizations that are formed in the process of cooperation. Democracy and the democratic ego of the
Northeast Asian community as a public world linked to a wider world where differences and dispersion are accommodated can be explained by the transversal-universals of the democracy and the democratic ego that are “yet to come.” Unlike historical policies such as the “Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere” proposed by imperialist Japan or China’s “Northeast Project,” both of which revive memories of a history of domination and the strong intervention of a sovereign subject, the Northeast Asian community in the new Asian era and the civic ego of the community must be reshaped as a potential public territory. In particular, the potential of the democratic ego that is yet to come refers to the transformational ego of others, and it is necessary for the identity of the Northeast Asians to change into a more dynamic and fused ego in a larger public social world. Haruki Wada has said that Korean democracy is “a factor that can become the center of the political energy of Northeast Asia” (Haruki Wada 2004). Transformation of the Korean ego is the first challenge to overcome in establishing a leadership that is undisputed by its neighbors, thereby opening the Northeast Asian era and leading the Northeast Asian community. [Journal of the Korean Political Science Association, Spring 2012, Vol. 46, No. 1]
Equity Capital Gains Tax: Boon or Bane? Kang Jong-man Senior Research Fellow Korea Institute of Finance
Thanks to the nation’s rapid economic growth, the trading volume of its main stock market has risen dramatically. According to the 2011 rankings of the World Federation of Exchanges, the value of the Korea Stock Exchange was about $1 trillion, 16th in the world, and its trading value totaled about $2 trillion, the eighth highest. Still, the market has not reached an advanced level because of structural backwardness. A boost for the market to climb higher, this article discusses the introduction of a capital gains tax on short-term trades, which would contribute to long-term investing and strengthen market stability.
Recent Increase in Stock Market Volatility The stock market is where the businesses raise capital by issuing shares and investors manage their money. It is a place where high liquidity and stability are needed. In Korea’s stock market, however, speculative short-term trading is more prevalent than long-term investing. The market’s stock listings have the world’s third highest turnover ratio. Short-term trading by individual Korean investors is especially pronounced, contributing to market instability. Another source of market instability is the coupling of Korea’s stock market to those of advanced countries. Amid the internationalization of stock markets, the direction of equity investments abroad has greater influence on the domestic market. This has been evident since the global financial crisis in 2008. Market volatility and swoons amid credit rating downgrades and
economic setbacks in the United States and other advanced countries quickly unnerved local investors. Although relative stability has returned to the Korean stock market so far this year, it remains prone to volatility because the eurozone crisis remains unresolved.
Impact of Capital Gains Tax on Listed Shares Short-term stock trading helps expand market liquidity, enhance its pricefinding function and increase securities firmsâ€™ commission income. However, extreme short-term trading, called scalping, and high-frequency trading can spark market volatility and undermine individual investors, who lack deep pockets and stock trading skills. Accordingly, most advanced countries, including the United States, impose high tax rates on short-term profits, or capital gains, and a friendlier, lower rate on long-term gains. The tax structure is designed to encourage investors to hold their stock positions longer to avoid paying higher taxes. Currently, a capital gains tax on stock investments in Korea is only applied to investors who have a 3 percent or more stake in a company listed on the Korea Stock Exchange, or if the stake is worth 10 billion won or more. In the KOSDAQ market the ceiling is a 5 percent or more stake, or if the position is worth 5 billion won or more. The absence of a capital gains tax on small investors encourages frequent, short-term trading in search of quick profits, which exacerbates instability. If the government expands the tax structure to short-term profits, it probably would dampen short-term trading and thus decrease stock marketâ€™s volatility. Although reduced buying and selling would lower the trading services fees for brokerage houses, squeezing their profit margin, over the medium to long term, stock investing will likely rise as confidence in market stability is
established. In addition, the enhanced market stability will likely lead to the development of new investment products, helping to enhance brokerage housesâ€™ profitability and diversify their revenue structure. Accordingly, a capital gains tax on short-term trading of listed shares needs to be implemented without fail in the mid to long term. This will remove a structural barrier that is keeping Korean stock markets from reaching an advanced level.
Toward an Advanced Stock Market A tax on short-term capital gains could, for example, be applied to profits made on a stock position held for six months or less. This would enhance the equitability of the tax structure and bring it in line with the application of capital gains taxes in advanced economies. Since taxation on short-term trades would likely retard market activity in the short term, the government should introduce it gradually to minimize the adverse effects. To support long-term investment, it will also need to expand the scope of taxation, currently limited by shareholding amount or percentage, on the basis of annual transaction volume. For example, the government could introduce a system that imposes taxes if individual investors who sell shares worth 1 billion won or more a year make profits from trading shares held for less than six months. Also, the government needs to encourage brokerage houses to develop new investment products and diversify businesses by enhancing tax breaks for long-term investment products, including installment equity fund, and expanding supports for long-term investment by individuals. As the population rapidly ages, the demand for pension-type investment and other long-term investment products has shown a sharp increase recently. [Weekly Financial Review, Vol. 21, No. 16, 2012, Korea Institute of Finance]
- An Ancient Clay Figurine Leads to Restoration of Indigenous Dog Breed
An Ancient Clay Figurine Leads to Restoration of Indigenous Dog Breed
Baek Seung-mok Staff Reporter The Kyunghyang Daily News
In 1926, at an ancient tomb group of the Silla Kingdom in Hwangnam-dong, Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, an archaeological excavation was under way. At last, the cross-section of a tomb was revealed, opening a path to the underground chambers where relics were buried. A team of archaeologists carefully brushed away the dirt as if they were digging out treasures. They soon discovered an unusual clay relic that aroused their curiosity. It was a clay container with a lid, on top of which a wild boar and a dog faced each other in confrontation. The excavation team found something strange about the dogs: Some of them had no tail and others had a very short one. At first, they assumed that the tail part had been fallen off while the figurines lay buried for
nearly a millennium. But they were wrong. Clay dogs with short tails were also discovered in large numbers from other royal tombs nearby. Unearthed from tombs of the fifth to sixth centuries, the clay dogs were modeled after an ancient dog breed native to Gyeongju, the old capital of Silla, which was later named “Donggyeong” for the city’s another ancient name.
Clay Dogs with Short Stubby Tails Two indigenous Korean dog breeds have been designated Natural Monuments: Jindo Dog (No. 53) from Jindo island, South Jeolla Province; and Sapsal Dog (No. 368), also known as Sapsaree, from Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang Province. On April 4, the Cultural Heritage Administration announced that it would add the Donggyeong Dog to the list of Natural Monuments of Korea. The Donggyeong, which has long been stigmatized as an ugly dog with no tail, will be finally recognized as an indigenous dog breed with a long history. This belated recognition is largely attributable to the persistent effort of Choe Seok-gyu, 54, visiting professor at the Eco Education Institute of Dongguk University (Gyeongju Campus). The environmental activist, who has a Ph.D. in environmental engineering, founded the Gyeongju branch of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement in 1999, in which he served as commissioner and representative until 2006. He fought to prevent the SeoulBusan high-speed railway from penetrating through the heart of Gyeongju and also led the protest against the construction of a radioactive waste disposal facility in the city. Professor Choe’s interest in the Donggyeong began in 2005, around when he started to feel that conventional environment campaigns had limitations. In May that year, he went to the exhibition “Clay Figurines from the Silla
Period,” held at the Gyeongju National Museum, along with some members of the Folk Culture Institute of the Gyeongju Cultural Center. When he was viewing the clay figurines in the shapes of humans, horses and cows, excavated from Silla tombs, a dog figure with a short stumpy tail caught his eye. At the time, he was teaching at the Department of Companion Animal Public Health of Sorabol College, where its “dog theme park” raised 20 or so breeds of dogs for research purposes. He thought one of the dogs was very similar in appearance with the clay dog that caught his eye at the exhibition. “The theme park keepers had pointed out that the dog was of an indigenous Korean breed, but I hadn’t paid much attention to their words. At the moment I saw the clay dog at the exhibition, however, I had a sudden conviction that the dog was indeed an indigenous breed native to Gyeongju, which led me to make up my mind to do what I can to preserve the breed,” said Professor Choe. With his new-found passion for the “dog with a stumpy tail,” he began to research it, focusing on historical records that mentioned the dog, with help from local folk historians. The dog appeared in historical literature at an unexpectedly high rate, which made him wonder how he had not known about the dog that had been so widely recognized in the past. Immediately, he organized a research team for the preservation of the Donggyeong, and soon other professors at Sorabol College joined, including Seong Gi-chang (veterinary science), Lee Eun-u (genetic science) and Park Sun-tae (animal training). The most urgent matter at hand was collecting a sufficient number of pureblooded individuals. In those days, however, the Donggyeong was in danger of extinction since it had long been cross-bred with other breeds. The following year, in 2006, with the support of Gyeongju Municipal Government, Professor
Choe managed to collect 121 individuals that had been raised by farmers. After screening out mixed breeds through X-ray analyses, DNA tests, morphological examinations of body shape, he selected 73 dogs for the preservation of the breed. In the process, he realized that he needed to have expertise in animal husbandry to conduct his research. He obtained a doctorate in agriculture in 2009. He says, â€œSince my original field of study was environmental engineering, people I met in the course of my research on the dog did not take me seriously. So, I decided to get a degree in the field.â€? After some time, his persistent studies on the Donggyeong started to yield outcomes. He founded the Donggyeong Dog Preservation Society in October 2009. He has published almost 30 treatises concerning this particular dog breed. The Donggyeong was officially acknowledged as a Korean dog by the Korean Kennel Club in October 2010, and was certified as an indigenous Asian dog by the Union of Asian Kennel Club in April 2011. Finally, the dog started to have wider recognition. And this year, it reached Natural Monument status, the highest recognition that a dog in Korea can receive. It was a thorny path for Professor Choe to study and work to preserve the breed. The members of his research team have worked without being paid for the past seven years. From 2008 until last year, the municipal government of Gyeongju provided grants totaling some 600-700 million won, or an annual average of 100-200 million won, for their research, but the funding was not enough to cover some operating costs, such as the wages of the team members. It was also a burden that the ultimate purpose of their research was to secure Natural Monument status for the dog. Saying that the genetic restoration of the Donggyeong Dog would not have been possible but for the research teamâ€™s
sacrifice and dedication, Professor Choe stressed the necessity of a support program to encourage the researchers to concentrate on their study.
Seven Hard Years of Endeavor Professor Choe thinks his mission is hardly finished yet. He says, “The preliminary project to create the pedigree of the Donggyeong Dog that we have carried out so far is not complete, and a few more follow-up projects are required.” Now, the number of individuals in the breed has increased to 306 through six generations since the start of the research. Most of them are being raised at Sorabol College’s Dog Theme Park. The rest have been adopted by 56 farming families in Gyeongju. Specifically, Yangdong Village, UNESCO’s World Heritage site, has 10 or so households that adopted the dogs, making the village the largest habitat of Donggyeong dogs. “For the breed to display their true traits, the dogs should be raised in a condition that they receive love and care from their owners,” says Professor Choe. Locked in a breeding farm, the dogs have few opportunities to use their skills and capabilities. In general, dogs can bear puppies by the time they are six months old. However, breeding of the Donggyeong is attempted at least one year after birth to increase the chances of healthy offspring and decrease the occurrence of mutations. Professor Choe inserted a microchip into each dog adopted by private owners to establish a pedigree management system. In an effort to prevent cross-breeding, he received written pledges from the owners that they would refrain from it. Donggyeong dogs have an excellent ability to learn new skills. Trainer Song
Yeo-eun notes, “They are very sociable with people, and can be trained to follow instructions to sit, drop or stay in a short period of time,” adding, “I’m sure they will perform with excellence in rescue missions, fire detection and guiding the blind, as well as hunting.” In the second weekend of every month, Donggyeong dogs in the Gyeongju area are gathered in an expansive lot on the riverside of the Bukcheon, where they show off their looks and demonstrate their skills. Lee Pung-gu, 65, a resident of Bulguk-dong, Gyeongju, who raises two female Donggyeong dogs, aged 10 and two years, asserts that the dogs are in many ways smarter than other breeds.
Reevaluation as Distinct Breed The name Donggyeong, which referred to the city of Gyeongju in the Goryeo Dynasty, means “a dog from Gyeongju.” The dog features in many ancient documents, and Professor Choe has found at least 10 of them, including the “History of the Three Kingdoms” (Samguk sagi), “Miscellaneous Records of the Eastern Capital” (Donggyeong japgi), “Revised and Enlarged Edition of the Reference Compilation of Documents on Korea” (Jeungbo munheon bigo), “Records of Korea” (Haedongji) and “Records of Gyeongju Township” (Gyeongju eupji). Among them, the “Records of Gyeongju Township,” written by the magistrate Min Ju-myeon in 1669, states that the short-tailed dogs seen in Gyeongju and its vicinity were called Donggyeong-gu (gu meaning a dog). In the past, the dog was called by various slightly different names, such as Ddaenggaeng-i, Daenggaeng-i, Daengdaeng-i, Daenggyeon, etc., showing influences of the regional dialect of Gyeongsang. Although they have been disdained as mongrels until recently, they are now treated as a “noble breed.”
A short or non-existent tail, clear round eyes, cocked front-facing ears, arched hind legs and closely packed toes are the typical traits of the Donggyeong. This is the standard of the breed formulated based on the fourth- and fifthgeneration offspring in Professor Choe’s pedigree project. An adult dog typically stands 44-49 centimeters tall (varying by sex), weighs 14-18 kilograms, and the body length amounts to 49-52 centimeters. They have a few different fur colors, and Professor Choe has restored four of them — white, brown, black and marbled brown. “I feel a great sense of achievement at the fact that our native dog breed has been saved from the peril of extinction and will be passed down to our posterity,” he says. [April 21, 2012]
- Live Report on Instructions for Young Monarch - Silla Song Tells How Islamic Medicine Cured Small Pox
Live Report on Instructions for Young Monarch
Lim Jong-eop Senior Reporter The Hankyoreh
â€œKing Jeongjo and Hong Dae-yong, a Battle of the Mindsâ€? By Kim Do-hwan, Chaeksesang (Book World), 332 pages, 15,000 won One must taste doenjang (fermented soybean paste) in order to properly savor its pungent flavor. The same goes for our historical records written in Chinese. Their depth and value is unveiled only after the words are patiently translated into Korean to unlock the age-old spell cast on them. And now, a polished rookie has broken into the ranks of story tellers who are translating classical texts of the Joseon Dynasty for contemporary readers. The man of the hour is Kim Do-hwan, who recently earned his doctorate with a dissertation on Hong Dae-yong (1731-1783, pen name Damheon), a noted
economist and philosopher of science who helped educate King Jeongjo. Kim recently penned a vastly interesting book entitled “King Jeongjo and Hong Dae-yong, a Battle of the Minds.” In content, the book is little more than a translation and interpretation of Hong Dae-yong’s “Gyebang ilgi” (Journal of Royal Instructor). However, the author writes in such a way that it reads quite like a vivid documentary. The original text is essentially a record of conversations between King Jeongjo, then still the crown prince, and Hong as his tutor. It starts in December 1774, when Hong was first appointed to join the Seja Ikwisa, an office in charge of protecting and educating the crown prince (seja) and ends in August 1775. “Gyebang,” synonymous with Seja Ikwisa shared its teaching duties with Seja Sigangwon, the palace academy. As sijik, Hong was a lowly courtier of the minor eighth rank. But his was an honorable post reserved largely for children of meritorious officials or senior ministers. Those appointed to this post had personal access to the crown prince as a companion and tutor, which is why they often rose to key posts after the crown prince ascended to the throne. Given such a political background, Gyebang ilgi is highly regarded as a record of the first encounter between the author and the 24-year-old crown prince, who later became a reformist monarch calling himself the “Old Master of Ten Thousand Streams and the Moon” (mancheon myeongwol juinong). Hong was a scholar of extremely high caliber. He was taught by none other than Kim Won-haeng (1702-1772, pen name Miho) of Seoksil Seowon (Stone Cave Academy), who had frequented Qing China and was known as one of the greatest minds of the Noron (Old Doctrine) faction. When he was offered the teaching position, Hong was 45 years old, musing over books and his zither at
a thatched-roof pavilion on Mount Nam, or Namsan. As for why he accepted the job, the only plausible explanation was that Hong hoped to turn the bright young crown prince into a distinguished monarch who might put his tutor’s thoughts into practice to bring about a better world. The meeting between these two sharp minds could have sparked fireworks. On the contrary, Hong describes his 17 meetings with the crown prince in a largely cut-and-dried narrative. Their discussion centered mainly on the works of two prominent Confucian scholars. One was the “Seonghak jibyoe” (Essentials of the Learning of Sages) by Yi I (1536-1584, pen name Yulgok) and the other was “Juseo Jeoryoe” (The Abridged Essence of Zhu Xi’s Letters” by Yi Hwang (1501-1570, pen name Toegye). As both the crown prince and Hong were well versed in the two volumes, they declined to directly refer to the actual text, making it difficult for laymen to understand their conversation. This is partly why local scholars preferred to focus on Hong’s other works such as “Euisan mundap” (Catechism on Mount Yishan) and “Geonjeongdong pildam” (Conversation by Writing at Qianjingtong), despite that Gyebang ilgi is not less significant. “King Jeongjo and Hong Dae-yong, a Battle of the Minds” tries to remedy the problem and put the conversations in context by drawing on the “The Annals of King Yeongjo” (Yeongjo sillok), “The Annals of King Jeongjo” (Jeongjo sillok), “The Diary of the Royal Secretariat” (Seungjeongwon ilgi), and “The Records of Daily Reflections” (Ilseongnok), along with Hong’s other writings and the work of those with ties to him. In the attempt, the encounters have been reenacted to read like a novel. The author also adeptly unravels the underlying meaning of the lofty conversations that took place at the crown prince’s study, not to mention
perfectly portraying the palpable tension among the elite scholars and even their facial expressions. Described in detail are the officialdomâ€™s harsh hazing toward latecomer Hong and the conflicting nature of the crown prince who manifests robust curiosity and expert knowledge on reforms but is still innocent enough to fumble for excuses when caught eating candy during lessons. The sycophantic antics of the officials swarming around the young heir are an added attraction. The most memorable scenes, however, are those depicting how the dialogue between Jeongjo and Hong appears to be in harmony, but in reality is in discordance. Below is an excerpt from a dialogue on March 29. Grand Heir: Is it true that in Beijing, people are employed solely in commerce? Hong: That is true only of those living inside the walls of the city, Sire. The people living outside the walls toil away far more diligently than our own people at farming. Grand Heir: Have you seen the Changchunwon and Wonmyeongwon (Yuanmingyuan: Palace of Qing China that housed royal gardens including Changchunyuan)? Hong: Yes, Sire. And I realized how distinguished a ruler Emperor Kangxi was after visiting Changchunwon. There was indeed a reason why his kingdom enjoyed 60 long years of peace under his rule. Grand Heir: And what reason may that be? Hong: The walls of Changchunwon are but 2 jang (3.2 meters) high and no luxurious edifice is visible. When viewed from the front gate, it was clear that the emperor was in favor of abandoning luxurious lifestyles to live a humble life in wilderness. This was why his castle lay so low and narrow. It was quite obvious to see why the people called him a good and honest ruler.
The author’s interpretation is that Hong was illustrating not only the scene of Beijing, but the requisite qualities of a monarch. Unfortunately, the young prince seemed to be fascinated and lingered on the taste of Beijing, he adds. Another interesting dialogue is one that took place on April 9. Grand Heir: The times are changing, it seems, and so are the trends, including the crockery used for food. Why is this? Hong: It is only natural for the times to reflect the worshipping of different items, Your Highness. The upside is that one may anticipate future events by analyzing the changes. Rice bowls used to have a wide rim, but they now take a narrower shape. Grand Heir: Which is better? Hong Guk-yeong (another noted scholar and politician): It is clear that a narrow bowl is of less use than the wider one. At our house, we use the oldstyle bowls, Sire. Grand Heir: What about you, Gyebang (Hong Dae-yong)? Hong: We use the new bowls, Your Highness. Hong’s specialty was ancient studies but his were synchronized with Silhak (Practical Learning). The “old” and “ancient” ideas he pursued were those of a shrewd and experienced mind; Hong was unlike his contemporaries who ostensibly upheld the old ways only to appear high and noble. Essentially, the author sees Hong using his records of the sessions with the crown prince as ambiguous metaphors to explain why he chose to man the lowly outer posts and keep a safe distance from the palace. It was his way of speaking his mind in an age where a single ill-timed word was enough to brand an official a traitor. [April 1, 2012]
Silla Song Tells How Islamic Medicine Cured Small Pox
Lee Tae-su Staff Reporter Yonhap News
“Islam and Korean Culture” Lee Hee-soo, Chunga Books, 365 pages, 20,000 won “The Iranians braved the high waves to sail to Silla. Upon their arrival, they asked an official to send a message from the king of Mâchin to the ruler of Silla, who was duly pleased and made preparations to welcome the foreigners.” (p. 104) Silla was the part of the Korean peninsula that served as a major backdrop for the Persian epic poem “Kush Mana.” Also known as “Kushnameh,” the ancient epic tale depicts the travels of Persians residing in China who decide to relocate to Silla due to a political chaos in that country.
These references to Silla are a testimony of the active relations between Silla and the Sasanian Dynasty of Persia at the time, according to Professor Lee Hee-soo, whose latest book “Islam and Korean Culture” travels back in time to retrace the history of trade and friendship between Korea and the Islamic world. Professor Lee has dedicated himself to studying the Middle East and Islamic culture for more than three decades. In this volume, he painstakingly traces the remnants of the Islamic culture through Korean historical records and artifacts to show that part of the world, which seems so distant and unfamiliar to present-day Koreans, was an avid partner in trade for our ancestors. “Under the bright moon of Seorabeol / I reveled late into the night. / When I came home and returned to my bed / I found not two but four legs. / Two are mine but whose is the other pair? / They used to be mine but what I can say / Now that they have been robbed?” (p. 99) The protagonist of this poetic song “Cheoyongga” (The Song of Cheoyong) is Cheoyong, a foreigner naturalized to Silla under the reign of King Heongang in the year 879. The author’s take is unique, proposing that Cheoyong’s wife was not claimed by an “evil spirit,” but small pox, which her husband cured with Islamic medicine, known as the best at the time. As evidence, Professor Lee refers to the parallel literary structures of “Cheoyongga” and “Kush Mana,” and how the lines depicting Cheoyong’s night-time excursions highlight the similarities in the Islam and Oriental cultures, both of which enjoyed nocturnal entertainment. By the mid-ninth century, Muslim merchants had established direct trade with
Silla, discarding China’s mediator role. The change hailed the advent of an era where the fashions of Constantinople were immediately available in Baghdad, Changan and Gyeongju so that they became simultaneously in vogue. Tombs of Unified Silla yielded artifacts such as inlaid glass beads (Treasure No.634) and a jeweled gold sword (Treasure No.635), from Hwangnam-dong, in Gyeongju, all bearing the influence of cultural exchange and trade with Central Asia and beyond. These ties lasted well past Goryeo to early Joseon Dynasty. “In 1407, a Muslim religious leader sought home in Joseon with his wife and children. The King (Taejong) granted him a house to live in.” (p. 181) Records from early Joseon are another testimony of how the Muslim culture took root in the Joseon society, while the Islamic community grew in size. But relations between Korea and the Muslim world began to taper off toward the end of the 15th century. The author cites internal and external reasons, including the persecution of Muslims in China and Joseon’s changing academic traditions, which were becoming increasingly conservative and passive. Particularly interesting among the episodes in the book is that of Abdul Rashid, a Turkish religious leader from Russia who visited Seoul, Busan and Incheon in 1909. Through him, readers can glimpse at Joseon seen through the eyes of a foreigner as the country’s fate hung in the balance with the imminent annexation by Japan. “The national spirit has been paralyzed and the people are being colonized, which may be why all appears lifeless. The areas inhabited by the Japanese are the only places where the spirit of life can be sensed. If a neighborhood appears clean and decent, it usually has Japanese houses.” (p. 285) The Turks may have felt some sympathy toward Joseon as they, too, had endured Russian
rule for four centuries. The author goes on to touch upon relations between modern-day Korea and the Islamic world, including how the Turkish Islam communities peaked when Korea was a Japanese colony and how the Muslim community has grown since the 1990s on the influx of Muslim workers. The 1,200-year history of exchange is proof of a steadfast friendship between the two sides. [April 3, 2012]
- Park Sang-jin: “We can even infer the rise and fall of a nation by using knowledge about trees.” - Toby Dawson: “My priority is to make the Korean mogul ski team one of the best in the world.”
Park Sang-jin: “We can even infer the rise and fall of a nation by using knowledge about trees.”
Mun Gap-sik Staff Reporter The Chosun Ilbo
* A Truth about the Tomb of King Muryeong In July 1971, world’s attention riveted on the tomb of King Muryeong and his queen. The site was one of the few ancient tombs that had not been looted by grave robbers, and it yielded a large cache of treasures. Twenty years later, a scholar who examined a 1-millimeter-wide chip of wood from the sixth century tomb discovered that the king’s coffin had been made of Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata), not chestnut wood, as had been widely believed. This simple discovery implied unexpected historical facts. * The Secret of the Tripitaka Koreana
The sutra depository pavilions at the Buddhist temple of Haeinsa in Hapcheon house the world’s greatest wooden artifact, 81,258 printing blocks weighing about 280 tons. Until recently, it was believed that some 800 years ago the people of Goryeo engraved Buddhist scriptures on the woodblocks in Ganghwa Island to repel Mongol invaders with spiritual words. However, a man questioned the origin of the woodblocks. He wondered how they had been moved from Ganghwa Island to Hapcheon via Seoul with such little damage. After scrutinizing the woodblocks, he exclaimed that the Tripitaka Koreana had been carved somewhere near Haein Temple. * Columns of the Hall of Amitabha at Bongjeong Temple It was the same man that could not hide his abhorrence upon seeing the columns of the Hall of the Amitabha Buddha at Bongjeong Temple. He discovered that two columns supporting the structure (National Treasure No. 15) at the back were made from pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and Alaskan spruce. The cheap imported wood species had substituted for the more expensive indigenous wood during the temple restoration, but Park Sang-jin, 72, professor emeritus at Kyungpook National University, was not fooled by this trickery. Besides, umbrella pine trees native to Japan are found on the grounds of Hyeonchung Shrine in Asan, honoring Admiral Yi Sun-sin, who led heroic victories during the Japanese Invasions of 1592-1598. They also are in the Cemetery of Seven Hundred Patriotic Martyrs (who fought against the Japanese during the same war) in Geumsan, and Dosan Academy in Andong, dedicated to the great Confucian scholar Yi Hwang (pen name Togye). The presence of the Japanese native trees in those places might “make Admiral Yi Sun-sin and Master Toegye sleepless in their afterlife,” the tree expert notes. * Inspirations
Just as human anatomy is the basis of medical science, wood anatomy takes up a similar role in dendrology. It is Park Sang-jin himself who elevated the seemingly boring subject of wood anatomy to the level of crime scene investigation. Two people inspired him to commit himself to this field. The first person was a teacher at Yeongnam High School in Daegu, who encouraged him to study dendrology in college. The teacher told him, “I wish a young man like you will make our barren mountains green again like Dalgas did to Denmark.” The second person was art historian Kang U-bang who he met while studying in Japan. * ‘Don’t Leave Gwangju for a Week from Now!’ Q. Your early career was quite different from that of Enrico Dalgas. A. It was, indeed. But, even though I could not become a Dalgas, I was never cut off from working with trees. I worked as a researcher at the Korea Forest Research Institute for 10 years. Q. Were our mountains so desolate at that time? A. They were as barren as the mountains in North Korea that you see on TV these days. A flood would quickly lead to a landslide. It is almost a miracle that our mountains have become so richly wooded in just 50 years. Q. You went to Japan to study at Kyoto University in 1975. A. While working at the Korea Forest Research Institute, I was selected as a recipient of the Japanese government scholarship, which was offered by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It was at Kyoto University that I met
Professor Kang U-bang, who would later teach art history at Ewha Womans University and serve as director at the Gyeongju National Museum. Q. In what way did he inspire you? A. It is no exaggeration to say that looking into the microscope is all about dendrology. However, Professor Kang pulled me out of the microscopic world and gave me a tour of various places along with informed explanations. While I was associating with him for six months, it occurred to me that applying wood anatomy to our cultural heritage would produce interesting outcomes. He did inspire me a great deal because he encouraged a student of engineering to see beyond his discipline. Q. Your project to apply wood anatomy to cultural properties happened to make you a nationally famous figure for the “Sinan Treasure Boat Incident.” A. In 1979, I started to teach at Chonnam National University. Four years earlier, the “Sinan Treasure Boat” was found in the coastal waters of Sinan County. I was curious to know where the boat had come from. So I obtained tiny fragments of wood from the boat and analyzed it. It turned out that most of them were Chinese cedar while a very small portion was Japanese cedar. I reported the findings to the Korea Forest Society, and a newspaper gave my research a lot of coverage, but with the wrong information, saying that I had concluded the boat was made from Japanese cedar, not Chinese. Q. If the boat was built with Japanese cedar, what difference does it make? A. It could have triggered an ownership dispute over the boat laden with
precious relics. Indeed, a Japanese party, on reading the newspaper article, contacted me to suggest joint follow-up research. The incorrect article brought about such tremendous repercussions that the situation grew out of control. It was when Korea was under the dictatorship of the former president Chun Doohwan. In no time, from the Gwangju branch of the Agency for National Security Planning, a senior official came to see me. He confiscated the research samples and warned me, “Don’t leave Gwangju for a week from now.” Q. The false report, after all, contributed to publicizing your project, didn’t it? A. Perhaps. But my first attempt to apply wood anatomy to cultural properties was on Gwandeokjeong, a pavilion in Jeju Island (Treasure No. 322). I found out that unlike pavilions in inland areas, which were built of pine wood, the pavilion in Jeju Island was made of Isu tree (Distylium racemosum) wood. The tree is native to Jeju Island, and its wood is very hard. Q. I’ve heard many behind-the-scene stories concerning the coffin wood excavated from the Tomb of King Muryeong. A. The excavation of King Muryeong’s tomb is widely known to have been a haphazard job. It was done in only a day because the minister of culture was too keen on reporting this news of national interest to the president as quickly as possible. As a person who was especially interested in the tomb’s coffin wood, I was suspicious about a line in the news report that claimed the coffin was made of chestnut wood. So, I visited Yi Kun-moo, former administrator of the Cultural Heritage Administration, who was then head of the collections management department at the National Museum of Korea, and asked him to provide me with a piece of the coffin wood.
Q. Isn’t it an act of vandalism to cut a piece of wood off such a valuable cultural relic? A. That’s true. But only a tiny piece of wood is needed to examine wood cells. A small chip about 1 square millimeter in dimension will do. Q. So you proved that the coffin was made of Japanese umbrella pine not chestnut wood as was assumed in the beginning. But why is it so important? A. Japanese umbrella pine may sound like a pine species, but it’s not. Nicknamed “mushroom tree,” it is a broadleaf tree that grows only in Japan. What does it imply? The fact that the wood for the king’s coffin was imported from Japan could support the hypothesis of some historians that King Muryeong had spent his childhood in Japan. ‘Every Tree Has its Own Story’ Q. Was your investigation of the Tripitaka Koreana also part of your research project? A. I was commissioned by the Busan branch of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). In pre-modern times, Korea had advanced woodcraft technologies, and a lot of excellent wooden relics were left. The Tripitaka Koreana must be a good example. Earlier, it was known that the woodblocks carved with Buddhist scriptures were made of birch wood, which made sense given that the wood was explained in related literature with the Chinese character 樺 (hwa), meaning the birch tree.
Q. Please, go ahead. A. Today, the character means exclusively the birch tree, but in the past it could also refer to the wild cherry tree (Prunus sargentii). The two tree species may look similar in both shape and color, but they do have differences. Birch grows in the northern provinces while wild cherry trees thrive along the southern coast of Korea. I collected dust and chips of wood under the woodblocks stored in the Tripitaka Koreana pavilions. As a result, I found out that nearly 60 percent of the woodblocks were made of wild cherry wood, which is more reasonable. Q. Why is it more reasonable? A. Even today, the woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana are in a surprisingly neat condition. If they are truly made of birch, it implies that the people of Goryeo had to make repeated trips to the north to get the wood in the midst of the war, which is highly improbable. Besides, some of the woodblocks are made of other kinds of wood, as well. Q. What other kinds of wood do you mean? A. The remaining 40 percent of the woodblocks were made of wild pear (Pyrus pyrifolia), silver magnolia (Magnolia obovata) and ribbed birch (Betula costata Trautv.) wood. Ribbed birches also look very similar to common birches. These trees inhabit high mountains at an altitude of 1,000 meters or higher. They are more common in the southern part of this country, which is also true for silver magnolia trees. Q. â€œHistory of Goryeoâ€? (Goryeosa) records that the woodblocks were
carved and stored in Ganghwa Island before they were moved in boats along the Han River to Yongsan in the seventh year of King Taejo’s reign (1398) and then again to Haein Temple the next year (the first year of King Jeongjong), where the woodblocks were printed into books. A. Let’s think of it this way. King Taejo was on the throne for seven years, and in the last year of his reign the “Upheaval of Princes” broke out. So, Taejo handed over the throne to Jeongjong in the May of 1398. For the claim that the printing was completed in 1399 to be true, all of the more than 80,000 woodblocks should have been moved in the short period of eight months in such a perfect condition. And each woodblock itself bears evidence that contradicts the claim. Q. What evidence? A. The carvers of the Tripitaka Koreana were people from all walks of life, including aristocrats, local gentry, monks and slaves. Interestingly, each woodblock has a kind of signature on its side engraved by the carver. A bibliographer who analyzed those names found out that most of the carvers had lived in the vicinity of Haein Temple. Q. Your explanations make me think that tiny wood chips carry a lot of secrets. A. Once, I participated in a project conducted by the Navy to excavate the Joseon-period battleship Panokseon (board-roofed ship) and study its structure. In general, battleships of other countries have a keel structure, while the Panokseon were built to have a flat bottom to cope with the large tidal changes of the West (Yellow) Sea. To make the thick bottom of a Panokseon, pine wood was usually used. Moreover, the ship’s structure also tells a lot
about the sea battles of the time. Q. What type of sea battles do you suppose the people of Joseon waged? A. Japanese ships, although quick and agile, were weak, while Joseon’s Panokseon were strong, though heavy and slow. One of the few strategies for the heavy ship with low maneuverability must have been to destroy enemy ships by slamming into them. And, this is a sea battle tactic recorded in historical literature. Q. How about the Turtle Ship? Has it been discovered? A. When Admiral Yi Sun-sin invented the Turtle Ship, only three units were constructed. It is not plausible that we would discover its remains unless they have been buried deep in mud underwater because wood is ingested by marine organisms. But I think it is possible to assume that the remains of the Panokseon can be found some day. Q. When the “painting of heavenly horse” was excavated from an ancient royal tomb, it was initially known to have been painted on a birch bark sheet, but later it turned out that the bark had been taken from either ribbed birch or Erman’s birch (Betula ermani). Why do birches appear so frequently in Korean cultural history? A. The white birch was quite useful in the past since its bark was used as an alternative to paper. The trees are also found in Seoul now, but in the past they grew only in the northern provinces. It is hard to distinguish among birch, ribbed birch and Erman’s birch unless you examine their cell structures through the microscope.
Q. I assume the fact that the “heavenly horse” was painted on birch bark means the bark was imported from Goguryeo [which occupied the northern part of the Korean peninsula]. A. I agree. And we can place another case on the same line. It is the case of the wooden statues of Pensive Bodhisattva Maitreya in Japan. Among all these statues in Japan, the one at Koryuji temple in Kyoto is most highly acclaimed by the Japanese, and it is made of pine wood. However, Japan was not inhabited by pine trees at the time the statue was sculpted, which supports the assumption that the statue was made in [the contemporary Korean kingdom of] Baekje. By the way, we can even infer the rise and fall of a nation by using knowledge about trees. Q. What do you mean? A. Some 50 years before Unified Silla fell in 935, people in the capital city of Gyeongju used charcoal for cooking. Thermal efficiency of charcoal as fuel is only about 10 percent of that of firewood. Producing charcoal in large amounts inevitably leads to deforestation. I assume that must have been one of the factors that resulted in the collapse of the dynasty. Q. Do you often feel sorry about the state of our cultural properties while you travel across the country to find wooden artifacts? A. The first thing that comes to my mind is the Hall of the Amitabha Buddha at Bongjeong Temple, where the columns were restored using cheap imported wood. But now, the columns have been replaced properly. Today, the maintenance of cultural properties has been greatly improved. However, the problems of Hyeonchung Shrine, the Cemetery of Seven Hundred Patriotic Martyrs and Dosan Academy haven’t been solved yet.
Q. I wonder why Japanese umbrella pines were planted in these historic places. A. There is a reason. The trees in those places were moved from the garden of the Blue House. During the Japanese colonial period, the presidential residence was used by the Japanese governor-general, who planted the native Japanese trees in the garden. Later, President Park Chung-hee, who cherished these trees, asked them to be transplanted to the historic places when they were restored. Q. Leftists would find another reason to call the former president “proJapanese from the roots.” A. I’ve heard people say so, but I have a different opinion. Remember how much President Park was criticized for having served in the Japanese Army as a young man. Had he known that they were indigenous Japanese trees, would he have asked them to be transplanted to the historic places that commemorate national independence and dignity? No way! He just wanted to make a contribution, but didn’t know about the trees. Q. Wouldn’t it be better to cut them down now? A. They are commemorative trees planted in accordance with the wishes of the former president, and many people find meaning in the fact. I object to the idea of cutting down the trees. Rather, I want them to be moved to less conspicuous places. Q. You published the book “Native Korean Trees in Palaces” based on your analysis of 250 tree species planted in five royal palaces in Seoul,
including Gyeongbokgung. What led you to focus on royal palaces? A. I’ve noticed that Koreans have a growing interest in nature. And I tried to think of a place where important trees were gathered in large numbers. It was royal palaces. Although they suffered damage during the colonial era, our palaces have been restored close to their original appearance. Currently, I am traveling around the country to explore notable old trees in Korea. By the way, do you happen to know how many old trees are under government protection? Q. I don’t know. How many are they? A. There are about 200 trees that have been designated Natural Monuments, and the Cultural Heritage Administration manages them. And municipal and provincial governments are taking care of some 14,000 Protected Trees located in their jurisdictions. Each of the old trees has its own story. For example, a tree in Hamyang, South Gyeongsang Province, is called “Kim Jong-jik’s Tree” [named after a Joseon Dynasty official who planted it to relieve his grief over the loss of his beloved son]. I will collect all such stories of old trees as best as I can, and will also find out the oldest tree of each species. Q. I assume the famous ginkgo tree in Mt. Yongmun will be one of them. A folk tale has it that a cane planted by Prince Maui has grown into the tree. Does it make sense? A. The tree you’ve mentioned is the oldest ginkgo tree in Korea. I think we should take the story for its symbolic value. The cane may symbolize something although we don’t know what it is. There are many other examples of symbolism, as in the case of aloeswood (Aquilaria malaccensis) and the practice of burying juniper wood.
Q. Can you elaborate on that? A. Aloeswood, which is native to Southeast Asia, is so fragrant that its smoke is believed to be a cure for every disease. In the past, only the aristocracy could own the tree. So, commoners would bury a common juniper in the ground, instead of the precious tree, and believed it would turn into an aloeswood after a thousand years. Does it ring a bell? Yes, it represents the Maitreya faith. Q. With your expertise in trees and wood, do you know why the new signboard at Gwanghwamun [the main gate to Gyeongbok Palace] has large cracks? A. The master carpenter who was responsible for restoring the signboard provided a wood panel that had been dried for 10 years. Since the wood was not completely dried, it cracked after the gate’s title was engraved on it. Q. Ten years of drying was not enough? A. A log contains moisture even after 10 years of drying. But at the time, a log was cut into a panel and was dried for additional few months before it was engraved with characters. Cracks were an inevitable result. The signboard at the palace gate is still a subject of dispute: Now, a new argument has been ignited over whether Hangeul or Chinese characters should be used on it. Q. You’ve been living with trees for over 50 years. What tree would you liken yourself to? A: Ginkgo is too noble a tree, and it would be self-flattery to liken myself to pine since it is a symbol of integrity in our culture··· Perhaps, oak may be good. [April 21, 2012]
Toby Dawson: “My priority is to make the Korean mogul ski team one of the best in the world.”
Shin Dong-heun Staff Reporter The Chosun Ilbo
“I am a Korean-born American. I would like to give children in Korea and beyond the kind of opportunity that I had growing up in the United States. Pyeongchang’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics will make that hope come true. You are listening to a story told by Toby Dawson, a U.S. Olympic medal-winning skier, and also by a small Korean boy called Kim Bong-seok, who had the potential to become an Olympic athlete but probably would have been unable to get the chance to realize his dream if he had stayed in his native country. For children in Korea and beyond, I hope to give the kind of opportunity and good luck that sports brought to me.” These were Toby Dawson’s remarks in support of Korea’s bid to host the 2018
Winter Olympics when the International Olympic Committee made its selection in Durban, South Africa in July 2011. Dawson, 33, won bronze medal in freestyle mogul skiing at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. After being separated from his mother at age 3, he was adopted by an American family in Colorado. Following the international acclaim as an Olympic medalist, his life story received media attention in Korea and around the world, which led to his reunion with his biological father in Korea. The former Olympic skiing champion provided crucial support to Korea’s third consecutive bid for the winter Olympiad. He made the nation’s last presentation before the IOC voted. Now, Dawson is keeping the promise he made in Durban. He came back to his native home country in November 2011 as the head coach for the national freestyle ski team to help support young Korean athletes to make their Olympic dreams come true. As he took charge of the national team, Dawson began a new chapter of his success story. Following his appointment to the coaching position, Korean skiers who had been privately training in the United States and Canada returned to join the national team. Dawson was also appointed as the head coach of the country’s first professional freestyle ski team, launched by government-funded Grand Korea Leisure, the operator of the Seven Luck Casino. His dream also extends to becoming a financial investor and advisor after he retires from sports. Korea’s ‘Hidden Card’ for the 2018 Winter Olympics Q. The Pyeongchang bid committee tapped you for the final presentation in Durban as its last “hidden card.” When were you informed of your role? A. I didn’t have a clue that I would be the last presenter until I arrived in
Durban. They wanted to keep my presence veiled, away from the media and competing governments, to make it a surprise. Unlike other presenters, I could not freely hang around, and I was only allowed to come back and forth between my hotel room, the dining hall and the presentation practice room. Q. Didn’t you get nervous when you stood on the stage? A. I had to face enormous pressure. The other Korean delegates said to me, though jokingly, that if Korea failed, I would be the one to be held responsible as the “last hidden card and final presenter.” I knew they were simply teasing me but I couldn’t take it as a joke. Q. Did your experience at ski competitions help you in your presentation? A. Absolutely. Preparing a presentation is very much like training for a competition. You must practice every day to improve little by little. It is important that you do not exhaust yourself before the final competition. You need to keep your energy inside to perform at your best in the real game. In the first presentation practice, some worried about my speech. They did not get the point of my strategy. I never allow myself to get exhausted in practices. The most important thing is to maintain a good balance within yourself so you are able to put maximum energy into the final, real competition. That’s why my presentation in the practice room was not the best of my ability. Q. Who wrote the script? A. Terrence Burns [president of Helios Partners] and I wrote it together. He is the one who orchestrated the whole presentation process of the Korean bid committee. He recommended me to the bid team as the final presenter. Korean actor Jeong Joon-ho also helped me greatly, visiting me to give personal
advice on many things. Q. Currently you are closely linked to the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. What are your other plans after 2018? A. I want to continue to work for Korea and the U.S. After Pyeongchang, I would definitely begin activities to assist adopteesâ€™ associations here. At the moment, however, my priority is to make Korean mogul ski team become one of the best in the world. Fortunately, Korea has a lot of young athletes with excellent potential. I am so lucky for that. Aspiring to Turn the Korean Team into the Worldâ€™s Best Q. Did you want to become a ski coach after retirement? A. In fact, I never imagined myself to become a coach. After the 2006 Torino Winter Games, I did not think that I would do a job related to ski any more. Prior to my appointment to the national team, however, I did have some coaching experience. I helped Michelle Roark, giving her technical assistance before the 2010 Winter Olympics. She was then already 35 years old but she had a chance to be named to the U.S. team for Vancouver. I helped her join the national team because she was a close family friend, and my family kind of pressured me to do so. I knew that I could teach in a way but I did not plan to become a coach. Q. What was your plan after retirement? A. I wanted to go back to college and finish my study to work on Wall Street, probably for hedge fund businesses. I have a keen interest in investment markets in the U.S. and Korea. Especially, I am very interested in Korean
pension funds investing in the U.S. market. As the number of Korean baby boomer retirees is rising, the pension system for them is getting increasingly important. Koreaâ€™s retirement pension funds will grow in size, and I thought I could work for Korean funds for their investment in advanced markets such as the U.S. Q. Why did you become a coach for the Korean national team? A. I have met people of the bid committee and they suggested the idea to me. The Korea Ski Association convinced me about the importance of offering a training opportunity to talented Korean skiers. Korea has proved its potential in figure and speed skating but not yet in skiing. So I changed my mind about my future career path to help Korea win medals in 2018. Q. Do you mean you have given up your dream to become successful in the financial sector? A. No. The chance is always open and I am preparing for it step by step. I guess a successful Olympic result in 2018 as a coach would be also a great asset for me when I move on to the financial investment business afterwards. I also think about acquiring an MBA in Korea. Q. Did you once think about becoming a professional golfer? A. Yes, I thought about it, but I was too old to start a golfing career. My golf scores also vary widely. Q. What is your lowest score? A. My lowest score ever is 68, a pretty good one, considering that I was in golf
for only two years then. The very next day, however, I shot 95. (laughter) Q. Is it true that freestyle skiing works better with Asian than Western athletes due to their smaller size of build? A. Freestyle skiing involves performing many complex maneuvers, so certain physical advantages may be an asset for the athlete. However, when assessing the potential of athletes, I regard their attitudes to be far more important than physical conditions. Work ethics of young Korean athletes is highly appreciable. Probably it is due to the competitive environment of Korean education, where students continue to work hard at private institutes until late at night after their regular school education during the day. I am fully convinced that their hard work will bear fruit in the days ahead Q. Your current coaching contract runs through the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. A. I am enjoying my work now, and I guess a good result at Sochi would lead to an extension in my contract through to Pyeongchang in 2018. Q. Do you expect to achieve big results at Sochi? A. I consider Sochi as a stepping stone to Pyeongchang. The team is focusing on investigating various course skills and developing training tools to apply in Sochi so that we can better prepare for Pyeongchang. Q. You won an Olympic bronze medal as a U.S. national. What do you think about changing your nationality and competing in the Olympic Games as a Korean athlete yourself?
A. Sometimes I actually wonder about how I would feel if I get a medal as a Korean athlete. But I am already too old to compete in another Olympic Games. I think my Olympic medal as American contributed in a way to Korea through my role in the bidding process for Pyeongchang. Q. Your performance at Torino in 2006 brought about a change in the scoring criteria of mogul skiing at international competitions. A. I invented my own turning technique. Indeed freestyle skiing allows great leeway for athletes to design and construct their own performance. However, their technical achievement is evaluated by judges according to certain agreed criteria, just like in figure skating. Technical skills performed while descending the trail have a big influence on the final score. Therefore, athletes should continue to strive to develop new techniques and attain perfection in their performance. My strategy in 2006 was to add the “carving” technique of “Sshaped” turns into my performance, instead of the conventional sliding method. Mine was the first of such attempts, which had not yet been recognized in the official scoring criteria. After my performance in Torino, judges revised the evaluation criteria to place the skill at the highest difficulty level. If I had been judged with the revised rule, the color of my Olympic medal could have been different. I developed and perfected the “carving” technique after tens of thousands of trial and error over four and a half years in the run-up to Torino. These days, other athletes also perform this technique. Q. It would be greatly helpful if you could pass down all those experiences as a world-class athlete to the Korean team. A. Frankly speaking, the head coach position entails an all-encompassing responsibility. I am supposed to manage everything from the athletes’ physical conditions to their schedules and technical training programs. I am in charge of
them all. In comparison, the coaches in the United States and Canada concentrate on the technical development of their teams. A Fairy Tale Written on Snow Slopes in Colorado Born in the southern port city of Busan, the toddler Dawson was separated from his mother amid a crowd in a local market. Police sent him to an orphanage as a missing child. Subsequently, Dawson was adopted by an American couple who were ski instructors in Vail, Colorado. He was raised in the snowy American resort town, where few looked like him. The Asian boy stood out among the white majority, which made him feel insecure. While skiing, however, he could look like everybody else, his identity hidden under his thick clothing. Skiing was a way to stay away from his insecurities, Dawson recalls. Q. Do you visit your family in Busan from time to time? A. I have been to Busan twice since November last year. The first time I was there for a family memorial service, jesa, and then I stayed with my father for the New Year. Soon he is coming to Seoul to attend the launching ceremony of the professional GKL ski team with me. Q. How do you call your biological father? A. I call him “abeoji” (father) in Korean. He always asks me “what do you need?” or “what can I bring to you?” It seems as if time has stopped to run between him and me. He still treats me like a small child. While putting food into my mouth, he asks me again, “Aren’t you hungry?” Q. Have you met your biological mother? I have heard she divorced your
father after losing you. A. I have found my mother, but I haven’t met her yet. I was told that she contacted my father after I appeared in the media. I don’t want to confuse her and her new family as she is remarried. Someday I want to meet her alone, just the two of us, without an interpreter or media interference. That is why I am practicing my Korean. Q. What is the level of your Korean language skills? A. I am not good at speaking Korean but I understand about 50 percent of spoken Korean. I know, for example, the Korean phrase nunchi-ga ppareuda, meaning “being quick-witted.” But I do not have a clue when my father speaks because of his strong regional accent. I imagine that my mother must have a similar Busan accent. That’s why I should work on my Korean very hard. Q. Did you ask many questions when you met your father in Korea? A. I had many questions ― why they lost me, why they did not look for me, etc. I had so many questions in my mind and sometimes I felt very angry at them. However, the very moment I saw him, all my resentment and questions disappeared all at once. Q. Does it mean that you now understand him? A. To me he is still a stranger, but we are getting closer little by little. He is a cheerful person and makes great jokes. I do not get his jokes in Korean, but we laugh together. Q. You found your biological father through your skiing career. Did you
know that you would meet him someday? A. My American mother used to say to me that an Olympic medal would bring a chance for me to meet my Korean parents. However, I often got frightened of the idea. My younger brother, also adopted from Korea, had met his biological parents and he went through a very difficult time, disappointed and confused. The fact that I was lost and not left in an orphanage helped me somewhat to avoid such resentment. Many adoptees experience confusion when they find out that they were abandoned but their siblings were kept in the family. Q. Your American parents must be great people. A. If I were in their shoes, I would never be able to do as they did for me as parents. I am greatly indebted to my American parents, much more so than I owe to my biological parents. I will return what I have received from them through my whole life. I feel strongly connected to them. Q. Have you been to the market in Busan where your fate took a twist? A. My father took me there and showed me the place. It was a very interesting experience. I also visited the orphanage where I stayed for a while. My name there was recorded as “Su-cheol,” not my birth name “Bong-seok.” The nursing record there only said that “Su-cheol always asks for cookies.” How could my parents find their missing toddler with that information? Q. What do you remember about your childhood in Korea? A. None. My childhood memory starts at the age of 5, and prior to that, nothing is left in my mind.
Q. What is your first childhood memory? A. It starts with me playing and running around the front yard of my house, covered in white snow. Itâ€™s a happy memory. Q. When the media reported that you were looking for your biological parents, hundreds claimed themselves to be related to you. How did you feel about that? A. I never met them. I did not want to get disappointed nor did I want to make them disappointed. Thankfully, Korean Tourism Organization helped me find my father. We looked so much alike that the search ended with only one DNA test. Q. What have been the changes since you came to Korea? A. First of all, I have grown one year younger. (laughter) My father told me that I was born in May 1979, not November 1978 as had been told by the adoption agency. Now I celebrate two birthdays a year. Born in Korea and sent to America, Toby, or Bong-seok, has returned to his native country to be a bridge connecting the two countries. Throughout the interview, he often laughed and cracked jokes, proving himself to be a great person to be around. Indeed, he appeared to possess an incredible ability to turn even a sad childhood story into a beautiful fairy tale. [April 14, 2012]
COPYRIGHT Korea Focus is a monthly webzine (www.koreafocus.or.kr), featuring commentaries and essays on Korean politics, economy, society and culture, as well as relevant international issues. The articles are selected from leading Korean newspapers, magazines, journals and academic papers from prestigious forums. The content is the property of the Korea Foundation and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. If it is needed to reprint an article(s) from Korea Focus, please forward your request for reprint permission by fax or via e-mail. Address: The Korea Foundation Seocho P.O. Box 227, Diplomatic Center Building, 2558 Nambusunhwanno, Seocho-gu, Seoul, 137-863, Korea Tel: (82-2) 2151-6526 Fax: (82-2) 2151-6592 E-mail: email@example.com ISBN 978-89-86090-86-4
Publisher Kim Woo-sang Editor Lee Kyong-hee Editorial Board Kang Byeong-tae Chief Editorial Writer, The Hankook Ilbo Kim Hak-soon Senior Writer & Columnist, The Kyunghyang Daily News Kim Yong-jin Professor, Ajou University Yun Chang-hyun Professor, University of Seoul Hahm In-hee Professor, Ewha Womans University Kim Ho-ki Professor, Yonsei University Choi Sung-ja Member, Cultural Heritage Committee Hong Chan-sik Chief Editorial Writer, The Dong-a Ilbo Robert Fouser Professor, Seoul National University Peter Beck Korea Represetative, Asia Foundation â“’ The Korea Foundation 2012 All rights reserved