(Presidential candidate debate #2: Park Geun-hye, Moon Jae-in, and Lee Jung-hee)
Lee: (summarized) “So, Ms. Park, to improve public welfare, the government requires funding.
How do you intend to get sufficient funding?”
Park: “If I were president, 지하경제 활성화. I would develop the underground economy.”
New #1 Naver search topic:
The month I was set to fly to Korea for the first time in 2010, a Korean exchange student happened to visit my family’s home in small-town Georgia. I showed him around, asked a lot of ridiculous questions about “Asians,” and got him to copy his entire Korean music library onto my laptop (which explains some of the ridiculous tracks in my library by 빅마마, 리쌍, and 브라운 아이드 소울).
One of the songs he gave me turned out to be my theme song for those blissed-out, holy-crap-I’m-in-Asia moments: New Hippie Generation, by the Peppertones. But this song was also my first awareness of the Korean government’s “restrictions” on media.
Two years later, as I toweled off my shirt in a restaurant after a clumsy waiter poured half a glass of cider down my arm, Red Shoes brought it up again.
Red Shoes: “Have you ever heard of the Department of Women?”
Me: “The department of WHAT?” I dabbed my sleeve with the towel.
Red Shoes: “The Department of Women. Korea is one of only a few countries to have a department specifically for women.”
Red Shoes: “Yes, well, actually, it’s now the Department for Women and Children. They’re responsible for rating songs if they talk about cigarettes and smoking and other things…”
Me: “You’re serious— there’s really a department just for women?”
What Red Shoes was referring to is the Ministry of Gender Equality and Families (in English) and the Ministry of Women and Families (in Korean).
So it turns out that THIS is the group responsible for cutting the sexy scenes out of Hollywood movies and giving Mature ratings to 10cm songs that mention smoking…
(They’re also responsible for migrant women rights, mitigating kids’ internet addiction, and improving the work environment for women in low-wage positions.)
From my perspective, I’d just like to tell them a resounding THANK YOU for making it so much less awkward to watch American movies in Korean theaters…!
On my first visit to Seoul, my Korean friend told me a little bit of the history behind the 청계천 Cheonggyecheon, the stream that runs just south of the palace. I was surprised to learn that it was actually covered by streets and concrete less than a decade ago and that in 2003, the current president (Lee Myung Bak) proposed a project to uncover the stream and clean it up as a pedestrian attraction.
But that wasn’t the whole story.
I wish I’d known about this when I worked at the hagwon last year, because the Cheonggyecheon is one of the best PRO/CON debates out there.
It’s been through dynasties and Japanese colonization, wars, urban modernization, sewage dumps, name changes, filled-in with concrete, highways— all before transforming into the beautiful
데이트 코스 nature walk we have today.
Poor Cheonggyecheon has been through a lot.
Just look at some photos of what it used to be like back during the mid-1900’s, and then in the 1970’s (a highway!), and how it looks today. Actually, while looking for these photos, I found out that the city left a few freeway supports from the highway in the 70’s— (which I actually found the other day out walking with my sister!)
So anyways, back in the early 2000’s, Lee Myung Bak proposes this idea to uncover 3 miles of the stream as a kind of pro-environmental project to greenify the city and restore the stream back to its natural state.
And here’s where the CON’s start flowing in… the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon alone cost a final total of 387 billion won (about $346 million), which doesn’t include continual maintenance costs. Some environmentalists think it does more harm than good. And the part that really gets me is that the water from the stream isn’t even from the stream: it’s pumped in from the Han.
There are lots of good things about the Cheonggyecheon, too. Traffic has decreased; pollution has decreased; in the summer, the stream cools the city; and around 90,000 pedestrians visit the stream daily, 80% of them on dates (…yeah totally made that up, don’t Google that).
But this stream has really been through a lot of history, so if you’re interested, check out the Cheonggyecheon Culture Center and the highway supports sometime.
It’s really cool to see a side of Seoul that reminds of older, less “pretty” times.
So it’s been a little over a week since Ahn (finally!) officially declared his run for presidency. Red Shoes and I have had big discussions about this (see the ridic/awesome timeline he drew me) and I’ve changed my opinion a lot now that I’ve heard more of the background on Korean politics.
Korean politics is… well, it’s… it defies description.*
I posted on Ms. Park Geun-hye (the Saenuri/conservative party candidate) a few weeks ago and I still just find it mind-boggling that this whole thing is happening. Again, let me remind you:
1) She’s a woman, which naturally goes against the conservative party grain
and 2) She might be different from her father but the fact remains: HER FATHER WAS A DICTATOR!
She did officially apologize for some of her dad’s actions (my mom even heard about that on the news back in the US) and says that her policies are different from her father’s, but raise your hand if that would convince you.
Ahn’s policies are still a little vague, especially since he’s running under Independent, so we’ll have to wait and see what he says in the next few months before the election in December.
In the meantime, poor Red Shoes has promised to study more political vocabulary.
*Ask your *close* Korean friends about the origin of the Saenuri Party if you want to hear an amazing story. But be warned: it’s an extremely touchy issue.
My coteacher, Mrs. B, gets a bad rap on my blog. Especially when it comes to Red Shoes.
She’s advised me to marry Red Shoes, but she’s still the one who introduced us in the first place and encouraged me to look deeper than my first impressions.
As it gets closer to December and the end of my contract, I’ve already started writing my farewell letter to Mrs. B and it includes the following:
that she is one of the most open-minded, kind, compassionate, considerate women I have ever met, that she has changed my life forever, and that I will miss her as dearly as any true friend I have ever had.
Yesterday, I wrote a blurb about Park Geun-hye, so today I want to write about one of the other top candidates for President: Ahn Cheol-soo.
Actually, you might be surprised to know that, if you work at a public school, as I do, you probably see Ahn’s name every time you turn on your computer in the morning—(AhnLab V3 InternetSecurity ring any bells?).
Ahn Cheol-soo isn’t yet an official candidate, but this morning I checked the news and it seems he’s planning to run as an Independent. Lots of people are worried that, without a well-established party to back him, he won’t be able to keep up with Park or other candidates.
And that’s a fair point.
But from what I’ve read of his bio, “Independent” seems pretty apt: Ahn is kind of a jack-of-all-trades. He’s been a doctor, a software programmer, an entrepreneur, and is currently a professor. And the reason you might see his name on your computer every morning is thanks to the anti-virus software developed at AhnLab, the company he founded back in ’95.
As you could guess, Ahn is pretty popular with the younger generation. But what do you think—Park v.s. Ahn?
On the one hand, some bloggers have told me that Park is “quite different” (good Lord, she’d HAVE to be!!) from her father, and as Korea’s first woman president, it would be a significant milestone for Korean society (even though she’s still from the same conservative party as Lee Myung-bak).
On the other hand, it could be really interesting to see what Ahn would do as president! I mean, after all, he’s not a politician; he has experience in so many different fields and his spirit of entrepreneurship and technology is pretty much what modern Korea is all about.
But I’m not saying he’d be effective.
I’m just saying it could be interesting.
Sheesh, I’ve never been this much into American politics…
Korea is having a national election day on the 19th of December— which you may already be aware of since we get the day off from school. Yay!
I’m not really into politics at home or in Korea, but THIS year’s election is just as riveting (and twisted) as a 한드 K-Drama plot.
Here’s the story:
Recently, a woman named Park Geun-hye was chosen to represent the Saenuri Party (the same party as the current president, Lee Myung-bak). It’s a conservative-leaning party and it’s the first time the party has elected a woman as their candidate for president.
Now, the part where it gets interesting is that Park Geun-hye is not new to politics at all. There’s another potential candidate, a doctor/techie Ahn Cheol-soo, who is also in the running but is not a career politician. But in Park Geun-hye’s case, it’s the complete opposite: her FATHER was also a Korean president.
And not just any president, some articles name Park Chung Hee as the “Father of Modern Korea.” He modernized and strengthened Korea’s infrastructure after the war and built up relations and economic ties between Japan and the US.
Sounds like a great guy, right?
Just a few teeny-tiny, pesky little details…
Park wasn’t exactly “elected” as president, he actually gained the title through a military coup… and, uh, was notorious for human rights abuses and media censorship… oh, and he also heavily amended the Korean constitution to run for president indefinitely… and was finally assassinated during dinner by the Korean CIA…
So, in addition to the “Father of Modern Korea,” he’s also got another title:
So now, in the Republic of Korea, the dictator’s daughter is running for President in 2012.
Isn’t that wild?
I stuck around for the book discussion after church. They’re reading one of those serious books proving the existence of God— or rather, revealing the logical fallacies underlying common objections to the existence of God.
1. Most of the best ideas I have are the result of just sitting down and thinking.
I wait for ideas and solutions to fall out of the sky when I could just sit down and THINK about things for a bit. Some of my best lessons plans are my own ideas. Some of my best moods and happiest memories are a result of just thinking about what I honestly want or would make me happy.
2. Most of my problems could be avoided by following the wisdom of the ages.
You know those cheesy idioms and catchphrases and Biblical proverbs that your grandma always repeated? Yeah, I think it’s because they were worth memorizing. Proverbs are easy to come by and easy to ignore, but there’s a reason they’ve stuck around and exist in hundreds of languages: because they are true.
Why am I so stubborn? It seems like my goal is to prove the truth of each of these bloody proverbs by making mistakes that go against their advice.
I know I’m being vague about this. Whatever.
Ok I’m going to go watch 개그 콘서트 now…