Looking at others’ blogs and how they live their lives

It is always interesting to see how other people write their daily lives on their blogs. I have encountered a blog that posts an English teacher’s life story in South Korea and found that recording one’s life story on the blog is worth doing as it will bring back lots of precious memories in the future.

Hence, I’m writing this post to proclaim that I’ll write my life story in Australia and South Korea. Although I’m working almost full-time and studying at the same time, I’ll try to spare a moment when I can reflect on what I did and store the continuing up-to-date life story of mine.

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Non-Summit (비정상회담) is not a reflection of multi-culturalism in Korea

Non-Summit (aka Abnormal Summit, 비정상회담) is a television program on JTBC in SouthKorea. The show features a panel of eleven non-Korean men, living in Korea, who debates on various topics and “Korean culture through the eyes of a foreigner,” in a talk show format, in the Korean language. It aired on JTBC, starting July 7, 2014, on Mondays at 23:00. The show’s format, presented with humor, is meant to emulate a meeting of world leader, like the United Nations, or G11. Non-summit is a variety show, that strives for peace and security, for the world’s youth, by speaking on agendas, and debating with abnormals, who insist they’re representatives.” When heated discussions break out, the entire group has to stand, hold hands, and sing Koreana’s song Hand in Hand.

The producer Lim Jung Ah said the show’s the show would include problem solving, coming up with “what’s better, together.” Lim said, “The cast of foreign people was because, although Korea is reinforcing its position on the global stage right now, it still is just one country among many others. And I though perceivinf the problems of Koreans who are in their 20s and 30s, in a universial perspective, was neessary.”

… According to Wikipedia.

I cited the above information about the program and I am honestly a big fan of the program. It is good to have feedbacks from people who have different societal, political and cultural backgrounds and while we, as viewers of the program, enjoy watching it without being serious about a topic, it would be absolutely good for Korea to incorporate those foreginers’ perspectives and feedbacks on topics like education into the society. Particularly, this kind of program will reinforce the process of breaking the Korean ‘homogenous’ society. Globalisation in action in Korea – people might think that probably this is one of the most typical examples of multicul-turalism in Korea. However, this doesn’t reflect multi-culturalism or what you might call ‘globalisation’ in Korea at all.

Despite the fact that most foreigners living in Korea are from East and Southeast Asian coutntries such as China, the Philliphines, Vietnamese, Mongolia, Russia, Thailand and Myanma, ONLY China and Japan are included in the panel. Those migrant worker population constitutes over 70 per cent of the total population of foreigners in Korea. Those migrant workers are the people who have filled our labour market and worked diligently to help grow our economy and yet, they are the most marginalised people. They have formed their own communities far earlier than those from the West and yet, they barely apperaed on television programs. This is very disappoting to me and please do not say that Non-Summit is a reflection of multi-culturalism in Korea.

Please Korea, at least come to a realisation that those marginalised people are the majority of migrants living in Korea

China’s soft power

What’s the first thing that springs to your mind when you hear ‘Chinese exports’? Perhaps you might think of an aseembly line in a factory in China where a huge amount of cheap products such as shoes, hats, clothes, tools, and manchinery parts are produced every day. You might also think about China putting restriction on its exports of rare earth metals, which has caused conflicts between major trading nations. However, there’s one thing that China has consistently and vigorously been trying to sell to the world since 2004 – China’s cherished thousands-year-old culture and lauguage. And this has generated some controversies.

 

So-called soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye to describe the ability to attract someone rather than coerce through military means. As opposed to hard power, which uses military or economic forces to coerce a state to do something that coincides with your national interest, soft power uses means such as culture and language. China’s soft power projection is being done by Confucius Institutes (Cis), which was established in 2004 by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with the aim of promoting Chinese langugage and culture, facilitating cultural exchanges, encouraging and supporting local Chinese teaching internationally. The CIs are governed by a non-profit organisation Hanban (汉办),: the office of Chinese Languagge Council International, nominated by the Ministery of Education of the PRC. The Institute works cooperateively with local organisations and it has a number of local affilitate colleges and universities around the world. The CIs are funded by both Hanban and the host local institutions who share some of its revenue with Hanban.

Although the CIs states that its primary goals are promoting Chinese language and culture, their attempt to etxend their cultural reach has generated some controversies. Many scholars argue that the purpose of the CIs is to exercise China’s soft power. That is, expanding its sphere of influence in many areas such as economy, culture and foreign relations via the promotion of Chinese language and culture. PArticularly, the CIs have been playing a vital role in assuging other states who are increasingly concerned about China’s hard power such as its powerful economy and military, a “China threat”.

 

The Institutes are gaining increasing popularity from the world with a strong financial support from the PRC. They have expanded their operations in nearly all parts of the world. Indonesia who had banned the teaching of Chinese for the last three decades due to the PRC’s support for Communist rebels, lifted the prohibition recently. Vietnam has also accepted a Confucius Institute  amid a boom in Chinese language instruction. “In South Korea, Chinese has reportedly outstrippted English as the most popular foreign language among students”. This popularit arises from the fact that the two nations share cultutral and historical values that date back to the thousadns of years, and particularly the fact that mastering Chinese charcters and Mandarin is considered to be a mark of cultivation in the South Korean society.

 

As The New York Times article highlightes, “For decades, people in those countries have viewed China with deep suspicion. But now mastering Chinese as a door to lucrative business opportunities, or simply as a master of popular fashion, is suddenly all the vogue in the world”. Even in Tasmania where there is only one university with relatively small population, there is a fair amount of people who are studying Chinese and the its popularity is rising. And surprisingly, there is a Confucius sculpture in the university campus.

 

The power of China and the popularity of Chinense culture and laugnage go hand in hand. These all reflect the prevailing concept of the “rise of China” and the PRC’s political goals that it wants to achieve through its soft power projection. Through the projection of soft power on the world, China has been able to push back from the West who has been labelling China by using negative terms without reasonable logic or evidence. It would be interesting to see whether China could break the US’s hegemony in soft power and become the biggest soft-power exporting country. I guess, the fact that Chinese has outstripped English as the most popular foreign language amongst students in South Korea does signal a shift in South Korea’s foreign policy or its traditional strong US-ally status in international relations?

 

 

Reference : Another Chinese Export Is All the Rage: China’s Langugage, The New York Times,

 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/11/international/asia/11china.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

What is your perception of South Korea?

The first thing I’ve noticed since I came to Australia was that some people have no idea about Korea – whether it is North or South. When I say “I’m from Korea” people sort of shake their heads and ask “North or South?”. This is a quite typical situation I have experienced in Australia over the last 3 years.

And then I’ve noticed that how often North Korea is being reported in news, examplifeid in school and university, ridiculed and parodied by ordinary people as an evil, and, how South Korea is being overshadowed and influenced by the mainstram news about North Korean missiles launches. Perhaps, apart from not knowing geographical location, people in Australia might have had too much biased news and influence from media that when they hear ‘Korea’, what they come up with first is the North Korean evil. 

I wonder what’s people’s general perception of South Korea? perhaps you might be linking with North Korea first and then ask questions related to politics and situations between South and North. What is your perception of South Korea?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current affairs in Korea

Every now and then I see news from Korea, I feel upset, frustrated and hopeless.

To name a few, the standoff betwen ruling and opposition party in the parliament over launching a special investigation on the cause of Saewol disaster and the families of the victims of the disaster who have been protesting in front of the Blue House for that matter.   

This is almost unimagniable that the ruling Sae-nuri party and the president of South Korea Park Geun-hye are still rejecting to accept the speical investigation on the matter. Instaed, they are trying to accuse the families of the victims of their demand by saying that “how much money do you need to get compenstaed for your sons and daughters’ death?” and by mobilising pro-government campaigners such as fathers association (‘어버이연합’) and mothers association (엄마부대), who do not reflect the majority of people’s opinion at all.

Traditionally, domestic politics have always dominated news in Korea, and it still seems to be endless to end this ridiculous, senseless and undemocratic customs due to completely corrupted and political-interest-driven Sae nu-ri party.

 

 

 

 

Sewol disaster reveals that Korea is sinknig.

What’s been issues after the Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea? lots, the ferry disaster  revealed Korea’s incapacity to respond to the crisis quickly and effectively, but more importantly, it disclosed the hidden government and corporate mafias who have been eroding the total capacity of the Korean government by privatising the government departments and power for their own interests.

Hey guys,

I’m YEONGMIN, a student in university of Tasmania. I’ve set up this blog to write/quote/interpret/deliver issues regarding politics, economics, culture, entertainment etc in Korea.  If you’re interested, please let me know what you would like to see on this blog. Thanks