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Writing Against the Establishment’s Grain–A Conversation with Bae Su-ah

Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:09

Art, Featured

Bae writes because she cares. But the tension between her individuality/aloofness from social and political structures, and her deep concern for individuality and self-respect amidst these structures has, perhaps not unsurprisingly, gotten her into hot water (not to say that, as a staunch individualist, it bothers her). In the year 2000, her essay “Two Packs of Marlboros and Three Bottles of Heineken” appearing in the Hangyeoreh 21, drew the ire of some readers. Appearing after the election, the essay served up a wry portrait of a disaffected 30-something voter. Read without a sense of irony, the essay sparked a small wave of public fury, especially among the conservative "old boy" establishment. Continue reading...

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Korean Life, Review
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Can Ye Not Serve God and Mammon? ‘Quo Vadis, Korean Megachurches?’

The rise of the megachurch in Korea is ironic indeed considering that early Christians, Catholic and then Protestant missionaries, had to suffer and die in their struggle to spread the word of God in the late Chosun dynasty. These days, however, Korea’s Christian churches are wealthy and influential. In fact, they face an age-old problem, as the apostle Matthew wrote: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Continue reading...

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EXPAT LIFE, From the Scene
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The ‘Former’ French Concession in Shanghai

The journey to the metro takes me past a dodgy massage parlor that proudly displays its number in plain view in case you want a “house call.” Brave joggers with and without masks can be seen hitting the streets early and skillfully dodging neglected piles of dog dung. The name of this street is Hengshan Lu and it is a landmark street that cuts through the Concession and is the savior for many a foreigner with meager language skills looking for holy ground. Continue reading...

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From the Scene
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The Wonhyo Trail Project–Rebuilding One Monk’s Path across Korea

Some members of the Wonhyo Trail Committee spent the last week of September 2014 travelling through the mountains, meeting with abbots of temples and mapping the trail. The trail is expected to run from Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, to Wonhyo’s cave near Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. It is planned to link into the worldwide, growing trend for pilgrimages and spiritual journeys, and to offer Korea an opportunity for local development in rural areas. Continue reading...

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Korean Life, Student Writing
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Looking at the Korean Uni Experience after 12 Years in the U.S.

Many of my American friends ask me about daily life in Korea, a place that has gone from one of the poorest countries in the world to the most dynamic over the past 50 years. Likewise, many people in Korea wonder what the difference is between Korean university life and the one in the States. Hence, I have decided to provide a deeper insight of Korea, as someone who left Korea at the age of 7, spent 12 years attending school in the States and returned to attend university in Seoul. Continue reading...

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On the Road with the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP)—to the Chrysalis Election

EXPAT LIFE, Featured, From the Scene, Politics   Tuesday, July 29, 2014 22:50 1 comment.

By Scott Liam Soper

The corner of St. 282 and the north-south running, St. 51 (also known as Pasteur Street) is provocative and has much in common with many other corners and addresses in Phnom Penh’s cityscape. Particularly south of Sihanouk Boulevard, cafes and boutique hotels are being developed at a tizzying pace. You can see and smell the construction everywhere, especially when the warm tropical rain doubles down like today, once before noon and then around 3. For both Khmais and foreigners the drenching rain slows the discuter de accomplishment, what got done, what can be done, what’s to notice? When the rain showers are done, the sun usually breaks through; still, wide mouth puddles of varying depth can halt the day or at least keep it slowed down.

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Ties that Bind — Weighing the Sewol Tragedy

Korean Life   Monday, May 19, 2014 8:45 3 comments!

By Donald Kirk

How much more will we really know about the construction companies that build apartment blocks that look like giant matchboxes from one end of the country to the other? And who knows what goes on in the highway, subway and rail projects that bind Korean cities together in a system that on the surface seems incredibly fast-moving and efficient?

What about the safety of the factories that churn out products competing for markets worldwide? All these activities, to the superficial eye, seem to work well, but do they really?

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Seeing Yellow: The Aftermath of the Sewol and its Political Implications

Korean Life, Politics   Monday, May 19, 2014 8:13 4 comments!

By Jenny Choi
Korea’s doors, fences, car windows, and social media profile pictures are a sea of yellow ribbons right now. In the aftermath of the sinking of the Sewol ferry, yellow ribbons have come to serve as symbols of hope and solidarity for the Korean populace. The unanimous presence of yellow is reminiscent of the yellow hats, fans, and handkerchiefs that took Seoul by storm during the funeral processions of the late former president Roh Moo-hyun, who took his own life during investigations into corruption charges by the administration that succeeded his. It is an understatement to say that Roh’s popularity skyrocketed posthumously; in the public’s growing frustration with the Lee administration that followed, Roh’s liberal politics came to serve as a symbol of what could and should have been.

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Writing from Wreckage: Korean LGBT Literature, Activism and the First Literary Award

From the Scene, Korean Life   Monday, May 19, 2014 6:40 1 comment.

By Finn

When the door to his office wouldn’t budge, Yol sensed something was blocking it. After a call out to his office mates and several shoves, it finally opened a crack. Through it he saw a soju bottle on the floor and several wadded tissues. Then, at the base of the door, the fringe of a purple checked shirt he recognized from the evening before. This couldn’t be happening. “Let it be something in the office that fell to the floor,” he prayed.

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When I’m Forbidden: Ten Shijo by Yook Woo-dang

Fiction/Poetry   Monday, May 19, 2014 6:10

By Yook Woo-dang
Hesitation

Sorrow at loving you when I’m forbidden.
I watch from the offing, a smile on my lips.
It was a cruel heaven that made me a queer.

Queer get-together

A glass of light booze cures a pound of cares.
Cheery conversation sets our woes to flight.
The mirthful night flows with the lilting music.

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Laos’ Plain of Jars: A Forgotten and Neglected Wonder

From the Scene, Travel   Monday, May 19, 2014 6:05 4 comments!

By Rich Luhrs

While not nearly as famous or touristed as England’s Stonehenge, the Plain of Jars in northern Laos poses a comparable historical puzzle. No one can say for certain what the literally thousands of immense stone vessels – some weighing in excess of seven metric tons – sprinkled across more than 90 sites throughout Xieng Kouang Province were originally intended to be, who exactly built them or when, nor how some of them were transported as far as 50 kilometers from the sites where they were quarried to their current locations. Here truly is one of the marvels of the Neolithic world, in a place few people have ever heard of and far fewer have visited. (I myself had never heard of the Plain before my first trip to Vientiane, the Lao capital, in July 2013, and I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for more than seven years.)

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Like Father, Like Daughter–the Importance of Investigative Journalism

Featured, Student Writing   Sunday, February 2, 2014 23:53 3 comments!

By Kim Soo Rin

Over the past few years, the situation in Korean media has worsened. The government control of the media has only gotten stronger. Big corporations that own newspapers were allowed to own public broadcast stations and the media mainly covered sensational or happy news while avoiding controversial and important issues that really mattered. Numerous more conscious journalists went on strikes against their companies that were failing to keep their journalistic integrity and, as a result, were fired or moved like my father was several years ago. The public was getting angry with the media for failing to inform the society of what is going on in this world, and craved for something new, something else.

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Back in the USSA

EXPAT LIFE, From the Scene   Sunday, February 2, 2014 2:58 1 comment.

By Lee Scott

It had been six years since I returned to my friends and family back in Oklahoma. When I first left my home state in 2002, it was necessary to fly from Oklahoma City to Chicago or Minneapolis and then to Tokyo and on to Beijing, or Incheon or wherever. I made that trip many times, always single and always on another’s dime for the first few years. If I recall correctly, it took approximately 24 hours from door to door. Now, you can get a direct flight from Incheon to Dallas (which is close enough for me to get home) and then it is a relatively short, high-speed and traffic-free drive to where I grew up and where most of my family still resides. If you stay up the night before you leave on a morning flight, and sleep on the plane, you won’t even get jet lag. At least I didn’t.

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Spreading Savoir-Faire: the Rise of French Restaurants in Korea Since 2000

Korean Life   Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:56 2 comments!

By Hal Swindall

Before 2000, the number of French restaurants in Korea could be counted on one hand; Koreans had little interest in foreign fare other than American fast food, and something like duck confit would have been seen as impossibly alien. That is still largely the case, but FKCCI’s the 2014 French Restaurants in Korea guide lists no less than 58 establishments. Although the greatest concentration is naturally in Seoul, they can be found around the country. They are mostly small in both size and menu, but offer cooking utterly different from kimchi and rice.

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Revisiting the Blind Fortune Tellers of Mia-ri

EXPAT LIFE, Korean Life   Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:50 1 comment.

By Iwazaru

With the Chinese New Year commencing on January 31, and the Year of the diligent, disciplined and cooperative Wood Horse rising with the new moon, for many in the East it’s a felicitous time to ask what the future holds, be it favorable or frightening. In Korea, some people turn to the blind seers of the Mia-ri district in northern Seoul. This is where I met Diviner Baek Il-hong one frigid January afternoon not long before the spirits of the new year would be unleashed to shape the months ahead. Looking back, I wonder what else she knew.

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