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      ›› Oh my gosh, Chuseok is coming!

    1. (Picture credit:  Wikipedia’s Chuseok page)

      I’m not even Korean and I’m super excited about Chuseok!  It’s like Korean Thanksgiving except I don’t get to eat because I’m white and American and don’t celebrate, but it doesn’t stop the excitement.  It’s kind of like Seollal (Korean New Year) in that the excitement just doesn’t stop.  There are celebrities in hanbok and Chuseok specials to be had!  One thing I want to do in my life is to celebrate Chuseok.  Every year in Korea, thousands and thousands of people travel in order to get to their hometowns so that they may pay their respects to their ancestors and thank them for the harvest.  The graves of these ancestors are also tidied up.  Food is can also be shared with neighbors and friends.  There are also Korean folk games played.  It’s a happy time.  There’s a lot to be excited about.  

      Read More on Chuseok:  http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=811650

      I’ll try to make something Korean-y for Chuseok.  I’ll take pictures!  But….no promises!  It probably won’t be anything traditional…the thought counts for something, you know!

      PS.  Awesome website I found while Googling Chuseok:  http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal/events-holidays/chuseok-spread/

    2. ›› Happy July 17th, Constitution Day!

    3. Full Article:  http://korea.china-rouge.net/?p=232

       

      Happy 63rd birthday Korean Constitution!

    4. ›› May 18th, 1980

    5. It may or may not surprise you to find out that Korea’s democracy as it is today is fairly new.  Even as recently as the 1980’s the people of South Korea were protesting against dictator like presidents.

       

      (photo credits:  joongangdaily.joins.com)

      One such event of protesting against a dictatorship was during the period of May 18th to the 27th in Gwangju.  

      The president at the time, Chun Doohwan, was a man who took control after a military coup and as such had a militaristic dictatorship.  This coup happened December 1979.

       At the time of the protest the group was labeled “rebels” and “communist sympathizers” by the Korean government.  As of 2002 it has been acknowledged that this protest was in fact a democratic protest (joongangdaily.joins.com).  

      The Beginning:

      After the assignation of Park Chunghee martial law was declared and Prime Minister Choi Kyuha became president.  Choi was overthrown in a military coup headed by Chun Doohwan. Since Chun gained his presidential power through a coup, the legitimacy of his presidency was questioned.  College students began to have protests opposing Chun.  On May 16th, it was decided by students of various universities that on May 22nd there would be a nation wide protest.

      On May 17th universities were closed down due Chun imposing a heightened state of martial law.  Political activity was also forbidden.  Chun had done what he can to effectively squash protests.  Troops were stationed outside all of Korea’s major cities, this included Gwangju.  

      The next day, students gathered around Chonnam National University and at 10 AM May 18th what is now sometimes referred to as the Gwangju Massacre officially began. 

      (heritage.org)

       (photo credit:  news.bbc.co.uk)

      The protests were ultimately put down, harshly, by the Korean government.  Special units troops were sent into the city and within 90 minutes the towns people had been defeated.  This took place after over a week of protests and even after the protesters had gotten a hold of weapons.  

       

      More Reading:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/752055.stm

      http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/1985/09/South-Koreas-Kwangju-Incident-Revisited

      http://518.org/eng/html/main.html?TM18MF=02020000

      http://seoul.usembassy.gov/p_kwangju.html


    6. ›› Culture Note: Suicide in Korea

    7. Suicide in Korea is a big deal.  As of this typing, Korea has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world.  Korea has second highest in the entire world when including under-developed countries.  

      This quote should scare you:

      Suicide is the leading cause of death among South Koreans in their 20s and 30s, and it is the fourth leading cause of death overall, after cancer, stroke and heart disease.

      In 2009 alone there were over 5 celebrity suicides in South Korea.  The death of Choi Jinsil alone caused a 70% increase in suicide for that month.  

      Why does this happen?  Korea is a society where “saving face” is very important.  Reputation is key, and that make sense considering they have such a strong politeness code built right into their culture and language.  Korea developed very quickly and became advanced very quickly and this stress builds up on them.  The stress of advancing so quickly, presenting yourself in the best way possible at ALL times (remember saving face is huge), and the overwhelming belief that seeking out help for depression means you’re crazy will all help foster a suicide.  

      Until these problems are addressed I will unfortunately have to deal with headlines screaming “so-and-so found hanging/over-dosed/at the bottom of a cliff/etc and is now dead”.  It gets harder every time, I cried when I saw Kim Yuri.  I hope their families get help and that the dead have peace.

      read more:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/17/AR2010041702781.html

      http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/09/123_72820.html

    8. ›› Brief Geography Notes: Disputed Korea/Japan Names

    9. The Sea of Japan or 동해 as it’s known in Korea (East Sea) are the same thing.  The two names will be used interchangeably in my posts that involve the East Sea.  I will probably refer to it as East Sea more often (it’s shorter) but I have no real strong opinion one way or the other.

      독도 (dokdo) or Takeshima are both the same group of islets.  They are sometimes known as Liancourt Rocks.  Dokdo is something I have an opinion on (one I am making sure is completely informed) and I will always refer to them by their Korean name until I have reasonable doubt they should be referred to as something else or their status changes officially.  However, as it stands Korea is the administrator of the islets so I will use their Korean name.

    10. ›› A Brief History on Hangul (한글) “Great Script”

    11. Today, I want to do a history lesson and I figured what better place to start than Hangul: Korea’s alphabet.  Hangul also known as “Great Script”, as coined by Ju Sigyeon in 1912, has had an interesting life.

      It’s really hard to imangine Korea without Hangul but when it was first introduced by King Sejong there was actually a lot of resistance.  The educated among Korea wanted to keep the Chinese writing system.  Hangul was so easy that they claimed “even women can learn it”.  It was given the name 암클 because it was largely used by women. (암클 means something like women’s script) 

      Read More


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