October 15, 2014

Still Here - Mihansa News & Korean News

Wondering what I’ve been up to? Adventures in self-discovery. They’ve been interesting, but time-consuming. I miss Mihansa, and still plan to get back to it, as soon as I figure out how to spend my time on what I want to be doing instead of on what I have to be doing. I’ve been surprised and happy that so many people continue to visit in my absence.

Korean newsWhile I haven’t had time for Kdrama, I’ve kept an eye on Korean news. The Sewol ferry tragedy hit the country hard, much as 9/11 hit the U.S. But for Korea, the enemy was within.

Koreans are finally starting to question the Confucian bargain, which sacrificed economic democracy for stability. The Korean mainstream is suddenly a lot less willing to trust people in power, and accept without question that they have the greater good in mind. About time.

There has been another big scandal that contributed to this – bullying to a sometimes fatal extent in the military. Several instances that resulted in suicides or shooting sprees have come to light this year.

Young Korean men are required to serve for about 2 years, which seems to make sense at first glance. Loose cannon North Korea is on Seoul’s doorstep, and for years, now, Japan has been ramping up their denial that they did anything wrong when they occupied Korea for 30 years and sexually enslaved thousands of Korean women.

You can see why Koreans would be anxious. In fact, I’ve always suspected their geopolitical situation had a lot to do with the heavy drinking in Korea.

But are ground troops really much good in the era of drones and missiles? Especially when time spent in the military can be so traumatic that young soldiers kill themselves, or each other, or their supervising officers?

That’s what Koreans are asking. Time will tell whether the questioning of previously sacrosanct institutions blows over, or has a lasting impact on hierarchies in Korean culture.

April 23, 2014

세월이 가족은

Close up of altar for victims of Sewolo ferry disaster showing photos of 5 students surrounded by floral arrangements

당신은 세계하고 같이 울다습니다

A multilevel altar with hundreds of altar photographs of the dead surrounded by  flowers rises up to the ceiling of the gymnasium

Photos by Channel News Asia & Getty UK