David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Tue 25 Jun 02 22:46
> #198 of 199: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 25 Jun '02 > ... the *spirit* of Tae Kwon Do ... > It seems to me that the Korean football players exhibit that spirit > also. That led me to wonder, are these values limited to martial > arts, or are they promoted in other sports and in society at large? Well, sure, those are all key characteristics that Koreans highly value and (used to) try to raise their kids to embrace... > 1. Modesty > 3. Self-Control These are classical Confucian values. They used to be strongly practiced / enforced, and are still widely seen in Korean society. Koreans love to watch America's brash culture (even the hip-hop crap that's as anti-modesty as you can get!), but most don't think it's right for them. However, as society is ever more sharply wide-open competitive, in an Anglo-American sink-or-swim-on-your-own way, some parents are reported to be raising their kids to be outspoken brats & braggarts, elbows-out, as that type is seen to be "Winners", as in politics. Better that my kid is a bully than becomes a victim of the bullies, they say. This makes me sad, "eyeing the future so full of dread". > 2. Perseverance > 4. Indomitable Spirit How do you differentiate between these two....? They are certainly on display with our soccer team and fans. Really tho, it kinda developed as a Korean trait due to their continuous refusal to defend themselves with an effective standing army. Others kept invading and swiftly conquering, but the Koreans would then not submit, but take to the hills and wage gureilla war, never giving up despite painful losses but harrassing the invaders for years until they finally left... like Hezbollah or something. This spirit has its bad side tho, manifesting as dug-in stubbornness. And harrassment, as boys trying to date a girl turn into stalkers, never taking NO for an answer, because their parents told them "Quitters never win, and winners never quit" and so on...
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Wed 26 Jun 02 20:01
> #199 of 201: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 25 Jun '02 > On the one hand, I get the impression that Koreans are one of > the most homogenous peoples on earth, perhaps even more so > than the Japanese. This notion is way oversold by the Koreans themselves, for reasons of national-identity-building. Genetically, they are a mix of the aboriginal polynesians (stone-age) with the Manchuraians, variations of Chinese, Mongolians and Japanese that marauded through in waves for the past 3 or 4000 years; and you can see those didtinct strains in the variety of faces on the street. This has little to do with how Koreans themselves consciously divide themselves up into groups, tho. But it seems to have a lot to do with long-term social class, however, my informal but extensive observations show -- the more brown-skined and narrow-faced tend to be the poor, while whiter skin (sometimes REALLY "white") and rounder faces are found among the wealthy and highly-placed. And i don't mean just that farmers are tanned from being in the sun more... But Koreans believe they are "one race", there's no question about it, they're quite attached to the notion. Ethnically, they are one distinct group, with little way for untrained foreigners to pick out the provincial differences in accent & custom that are so important to them (but are less evident in and important to the younger gen- erations, as TV-led homogenity proceeds). > On the other hand, I have a vague notion of there being certain > groups within Korea, but I know little about them. > My Korean friend is from Masan (southeast Korean), and proudly > identifies himself as "Kyung-Sang-Do," which he tells me is to > Koreans like what Texas cowboys are to Americans. I also gathered > from him that there's a bit of a grudge or rivalry of some sort > between the Kyung-Sang-Do people and the "Jah-Lah-Do" people of > the southwest region of Korea. (I have no idea how these words > should be romanized, so I've just guessed at the spelling.) Kyeong-sang-do or Gyeongsang-do / Cholla-do or Jeolla-do "-do" means Province, and sometimes a large island. > And I understand that the people of central Korea, including Seoul, > are of some other ethnic background, but I forgot the name. Chung-cheong-do & Kyeong-gi-do or Gyeonggi-do, the "Central Region". > Are there just three, or are there more in the North? Are these > in fact ethnicities? If so, what is the basis for them? Well, y'see, there were 8 Provinces of old Korea -- Gyeongsang-do, Jeolla-do including Cheju Island, Chung-cheong-do, Gyeonggi-do & Gangwon-do (which together pretty much make up South Korea); and Hwanghae-do, Hamgyeong-do and Pyeong-an-do (which together pretty much make up North Korea, together with some extra northern land which used to be the fringe of Manchuria). The genesis of "Korean Culture" is the Three Kingdoms era about 100- 665 CE --- Gyeongsang-do was the Shilla Kingdom, Jeolla-do, Chung- cheong-do & Gyeonggi-do was the Baek-jae Kingdom, and all northern areas along with most of Manchuria was the mighty Kogu-reo Kingdom. Gangwon-do ["Origin of the Rivers"] was a large no-man's mountainous wilderness, and Cheju Island was a "primitive" place that retained shamanic culture and escaped much direct rule by Koreans until the late 19th cen. Each of these Provinces had its own accent and vocabulary-quirks, and differences of customs, mannerisms & character. Outsiders have to look hard to figure the differences out, but the Koreans play them up in order to promote their own group and despise the others. Weird, petty and destructive. Still today, those from the Jeolla (aka Honam) region are discriminated against, esp by the Gyeongsang (aka Yeong-dong) folks, who have mostly run things for a long time. Thus it was a big deal when Kim Dae-jung was elected as the first National Leader from the Jeolla region, 5 years ago, almost as big as American getting a black President... (Kim is also Catholic, another social minority, so that added a bit). Television and modern/standarized education is fuzzing out these provincial differences, as a deliberate policy, even on Cheju Island. South Koreans are geting more similar to each other, esp as 30% of the entire population lives in & around Seoul. Young folks care much less than their parents about Provincial origins, and politics seems to be *slowly* changing away from being based on that. Honam and Yeong-dong youths can even marry each other now, with little "scandal" being made of it, the parents just keep quiet. I hear that the same ethnic-unification is going on in the North. Of course, South and North Korea are ethnically SEPERATING with every year that goes by, turning into fairly different groups, maybe like Americans and Australians. The South gets all its cultural influence and new vocabulary from USA & Japan & Europe, the North from China (and a bit from Russia). The longer this goes on, the tougher the eventual re-unification will be...
(fom) Wed 26 Jun 02 22:48
This reminds me of a thing I have wondered. I've noticed that Koreans in the Bay Area seem to speak Korean in two very distinct ways -- one sounds somewhat like Chinese, and is also the accent you hear on the Korean TV shows, and the other sounds more like an Eastern European or Middle Eastern language, with lots of strong gutteral sounds and the words running together (sounding like longer words with many syllables rather than in more-distinct single syllables like the more Chinese-sounding accent). What am I hearing? Regional accents, like the differences in American English between New England and Georgia and Illinois, or different languages?
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 00:15
Hmmmmm, maybe that's the regional accents... former is "Seoul accent" which is used on TV and taught in schools as the national standard (like my Michigan English :-) The latter sounds like the Gyeong- sang-do way of talking, much rougher, sounds rude and farmer-ish to the more culturally-refined types of the former Baekje areas. There is only one Korean language, now with no real dialects... tho North Korean is becoming a dialect i guess.
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 00:24
By the way, those original 8 provinces i named in #202 have been divided up into 18, 9 in the south and 9 up north. And each side has created some "Metropolitan Cities", like Seoul & Busan, that have a political status equal to the provinces which surround them. North Korea artificially keeps its number of provinces and metro- cities exactly equal to those in the South, so when re-unification ever comes up they can claim equal 50-50 political status, instead of submitting to direct democracy (the South has twice the North's population)...
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 00:32
> #199 of 203: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 25 Jun '02 > Korean reunification. The only obvious precedent that comes to > mind is Germany. Yeah, the South Koreans have put a lot of research, observation and discusion into the German case. But the Germans have had it MUCH easier than the Koreans ever will... 450 defectors have made it to S K soil so far this year --- equal to the total for all of 2001. The "refugee crisis" in NE China has now become a major political issue. > Anyway, I have this theory about homogeneity and the success of > democracy. I look at places where crime rates have been relatively > low, and it seems to me that democracy works well where there's a > high degree of homogeneity, say, Japan and Sweeden. Where the > people and cultures are very diverse - say, Singapore or the > former Yugoslavia - it seems only the rule of an iron fist > maintains social order. I haven't found many people who agree > with me, but there it is, FWIW. Well, what about the case of the USA...? I'd hesitate to comment deeply on this idea, as its far beyond my field. There must be tons of Political Science papers dealing with this question, that could be considered...
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 27 Jun 02 08:06
> But the Germans have had it MUCH > easier than the Koreans ever will... David, could you expand on that a little? My hunch was that it might be easier for Koreans than it was for Germans, but obviously I don't know enough about the situation have a valid opinion. Do you think the toughest part lies in the political/sociological, or in the actual task/money of bringing NK up to par with SK? Have there been any studies based on observing the process of how NK refugess try to assimilate into SK society? How easy/hard of a time do they have? How much adjustment has to be made? > Well, what about the case of the USA...? > I'd hesitate to comment deeply on this idea... I *should* hesitate, but what the hell. If I'm wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. And I sincerely hope that I am wrong. But I'm pessimistic in the case of the USA. The USA was an artificial amalgamation in the first place, bound together by military force (Civil War). I believe we've been gradually approaching a police state, like Singapore, - particularly since WWII - and we will continue to do so. And, though it may be too soon to say, I fear the pace of that change is now accelerating, what with our "War on Terrorism" and all. Thomas Jefferson observed that people will always be inclined to trade liberty for security. And he was right.
mother of my eyelid (frako) Thu 27 Jun 02 13:17
> This reminds me of a thing I have wondered. I've noticed that Koreans in the Bay Area seem to speak Korean in two very distinct ways -- one sounds somewhat like Chinese, and is also the accent you hear on the Korean TV shows, and the other sounds more like an Eastern European or Middle Eastern language, with lots of strong gutteral sounds and the words running together (sounding like longer words with many syllables rather than in more-distinct single syllables like the more Chinese-sounding accent). Fom, have you heard women speaking in this second way too?
(fom) Thu 27 Jun 02 14:12
Yes, in fact just the other day I did, at the flea market, and I looked over at the speakers expecting to see middle or eastern Europeans, and saw instead that they were a couple of Korean ladies. The difference is very distinctive. It sounds like a completely different language from the one spoken on TV and by other Koreans I overhear.
mother of my eyelid (frako) Thu 27 Jun 02 17:52
You have sharp ears. I can't distinguish, and I'm sure I watch more Korean movies than you do.
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 19:41
Yeah, you'll hear older women talking like that openly; younger ones won't if they think any third person can hear... :-) Those strong gutteral sounds may be linked to the idea that Korean is a member of the "Turkish/Ural/Altaic Family of Languages" and is somehow related to Hungarian and somesuch. But i'm not a linguist, have no details or real knowledge. But they do say that Korean is totally different / seperate from Chinese... which has always been a problem because of the heavy use of Chinese characters in written Korean. This led to the Ks developing their own phonetic alphabet / script, first in the 600's and then for real in the 1400's.
(fom) Thu 27 Jun 02 19:56
I've never seen a Korean movie! But I suspect this isn't the way people in movies talk. frako, I'll explore Koreatown (Oakland's tiny Koreatown) and see if I can find a shop where they talk this way, and let you know. I'm sure you'd notice the diff. I've been meaning to explore Koreatown anyway.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 27 Jun 02 20:25
It's funny, but I've spent a lot of time listening to spoken Korean, yet my ears are not so sharp. When my Korean friend speaks, it sounds very aggressive to me - like he's barking. Most other Koreans I listen to don't sound that way. But I don't speak Korean, so I'm not qualified to say. FWIW, when I listen to Chinese speakers, I can tell the difference between Cantonese, Mainland Mandarin, and Taiwanese Mandarin. But when someone shows up speaking Fu Kien or Hakka or something like that, I'm easily thrown off. I can listen to a bloke from England and usually guess within 100 miles from what part of England he hails. Likewise with Irish - I can usually discern from what region of Ireland someone is. Spanish? I can usually tell from what country a Spanish speaker is from, and if s/he is from Mexico, I can probably tell you the state, if not the city. But Korean? That's tough, from where I'm standing. I did take one semester of Korean way back when, but failed to reap much benefit. It was kind of discouraging, actually, because I was the only white guy in the class. Everyone else there was Korean-American, i.e., Korean having been born & raised in the US. So they were intimately familiar with the *sound* of Korean from their parents & grandparents, but were taking the class in order to learn something about Korean grammar and formal written Korean. I was at a great disadvantage and felt left behind. Hell, I *was* left behind.
(fom) Thu 27 Jun 02 20:51
That's funny -- we all have such different ears. I can't tell regions of Ireland, and I certainly can't tell regions of China, but this Korean thing is very pronounced to my ear. Although, there is one kind of Chinese that sounds distinctive to me; I have no idea where it's from, though. The people who speak it tend to have a certain look, too.
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 21:43
> #207 of 211: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 27 Jun '02 > David, could you expand on that a little? My hunch was that it > [re-unification] might be easier for Koreans than it was for > Germans, ... It's widely pointed out that: A. The poulation ratio of West to East Germany was 3:1, while that of South to North Korea is 2:1 --- fewer "rich" people supporting more impoverished dependants. B. E G was the richest out of all "2nd World" (communist) nations; N K is (now) the very poorest, on a level with black Africa. E G had a fair basic infrastructure going and no major social/health problem, tho they lacked competetive export industries; N K has pretty much NOTHING that's worth a fart in the modern world, and already has major starvation/malnutrition/health/social-breakdown /refugee crises going on. N K would have to be rebuilt from Zero. C. W G was one of the richest and most industrially powerful of all nations on the globe, with vast pools of capital available. S K is only a middle-class industrial nation, and the 1997/8 Financial Crisis left its banking system & international-credit-rating very fragile. Even basic & minimal re-unification would cost untold billions that S K just doesn't have. It was once thought that Japan might pony up the needed bucks -- but now they're bankrupt too. Doubtful that the USA will agree to pay... so...? 4. People in E G knew a lot about life in W G due to open radio and TV, freedom of mail, cross-border visits, etc; thus they knew what they wanted and could adjust quickly. People in N K know next-to-nothing about life in S K, or anywhere else on earth!, nothing direct or accurate anyway, just whispered rumours at best. They have only very negative propaganda pumped at them by their evil gov every single day. For example, N K people don't know that any human has ever visited the Moon, and they have not been told that S K is hosting the World Cup. Their level of enforced isolation is Incredible but True....
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 27 Jun 02 21:56
Wow! That's sobering. It could be a tall order, indeed.
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Thu 27 Jun 02 22:34
> Do you think the toughest part lies in the political/sociological, > or in the actual task/money of bringing NK up to par with SK? Both are going to be extremely tough, and they're intimately woven together. North Korea's in SUCH bad physical shape it'll take 100 years before it's homgeneous with the South. S K's younger genera- tions are SO westernized and sophisticated and even way ahead of the USA in high-tech usage... N K's "primitive" people who don't even use cassette tapes for the most part won't fit in at all, regardless of endless rhetoric about "one family". Consider this: Maybe 95% of the people in N K are not qualified to do ANY sort of job in a 21st-Cen economy, their education is useless and many of their current children are at least slightly brain-dam- aged (low IQ) from a straight decade of malnutrition. So if they re-unify, all the northern people will be given the lowest, dirtiest sorts of jobs, if they get any jobs at all. What else could happen? (the best-educated best-qualified best-ability Northerners are those high-up in the current Party & Regime, and are likely to be in jail or in Chinese exile after the collapse, if they're left alive by the vengeful mobs at all). The northern girls & young women will become a new class of prostitutes & bar-girls & mistresses & poor-mens-wives & such, just replacing the current SE Asians (NK refugee females are already heavily used in such slavery-roles in China). Pretty sad prospects. But that's how it'll be, for 30+ years until the new gov can raise a whole new generation of physically/ mentally fit & decently-educated northerners. And given that the current northerners have been fed Communist egal- itarian rhetoric for 50 yrs, I don't think they'll be very accepting of the 2nd-class status i've just described. I think there'll be a lot of protest and violence when they see the reality of Unity. Including the SKs taking ownership of all their best land, one way or another (by now, land is the ONLY thing they "have"). "Democracy" won't function very well for a good long time, i fear... > Have there been any studies based on observing the process of how > NK refugess try to assimilate into SK society? How easy/hard of > a time do they have? How much adjustment has to be made? Yes, studies; i've read plenty of reports in the papers. They have an extremely hard time adjusting. Southerners look down on them, exploit their naiveté. Their re-settlement funds are ripped off by con-artists and gangsters who promise to "help them invest, get rich" -- hell, they have no idea how capitalism works... (well, same thing just happened to street-smart Americans with Enron & WorldCom & etc). N Ks are raised to be so passive, just waiting to be told what to do, repeating propaganda all the time, individual thought is punished & individual efforts are useless -- most rewards & punishments are to group-units, social-status is determined by your birth, promotions by who you're connected to, not ability. So when they're thrown into the hyper-competetive fast-moving sink-or-swim everyone-for-herself meritocracy of post-Olympics S K.... well, just GUESS what happens. They sink... :-(
excessively heterosexual (saiyuk) Fri 28 Jun 02 00:02
Mandarin and Cantonese are very easy to distinguish after you've seen a couple of movies. When people do "comic" Chinese accents in America, they're almost always doing Cantonese, which is more tonal and, to my ear, more...*emphatic*. Mandarin tends to have softer consonants and a whole lot of "zh" sounds and soft "er"s. Generally when I'm flipping channels on tv, if I see actors who look ethnically Chinese to me, but sound like they're speaking something closer in rhythm and diction to Japanese...they're Korean.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Fri 28 Jun 02 07:28
<saiyuk>, yes, from briefly sutdying Mandarin about a million years ago, I recall that it had four different tones. Thus (in theory) a single word could have up to four different meanings, depending on the tone. I think Cantonese has something like 11 or 13 tones. David, now that you've painted that bleak picture, I can appreciate why you said it will be much tougher for Koreans than it was for Germans. In fact, it seems so terrible that prudence would seem to dictate that if (or should it be "when"?) reunification is decided upon, it must not happen the way it did in Germany - suddenly. It should be a slow, gradual, and controlled process, perhaps spanning a decade or more. Or at least, something needs to change in the North before reunification. I can also appreciate, more now than before, the role that San-shin could play in helping to unite the two Koreas. Still, it's a tough nut to crack, isn't it?
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Fri 28 Jun 02 16:37
Yep, Gerry, that's the thinking behind the "Sunshine Policy" and etc. S K spent 40 years trying to bring the Pyeongyang regime down, then switched some ten years ago to trying to keep them propped UP, in fear that sudden collapse would be catastrophic, but also trying to get them to start reforming Chinese-style so that the eventual inevitable re-unification would be a bit easier. But it hasn't worked out well -- N K doesn't respond to the friendly gestures, won't reciprocate at all, remains highly militarist, won't "reform" even tho the Chinese themselves keep urging. Propping up the regime has only led to 10 more years of the N people suffering -- up to 10% of them have died of starvation so far. The "Sunshine Policy" isn't working... but nobody has a better policy, nobody knows quite WHAT to do about this... they won't even negotiate. Folks, Monday has been declared a special National Holiday to celebrate the success in and of the World Cup --- and so the wife and i are OFF now On The Road, gonna hunt mountain-spirits in North Jeolla Province. I'll be back atcha on Tuesday (in July). Keep talking as you will...
mother of my eyelid (frako) Sat 29 Jun 02 11:04
Have fun, David! > frako, I'll explore Koreatown (Oakland's tiny Koreatown) and see if I can find a shop where they talk this way, and let you know. I'm sure you'd notice the diff. I've been meaning to explore Koreatown anyway. OK, fom. By the way, a recent article in the SF Chronicle was the first time I'd seen print mention of Oakland's Koreatown (I assume you mean Telegraph Avenue). I knew there was a huge Korean presence there, but I hadn't seen it acknowledged in mainstream print until now.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 29 Jun 02 11:59
Where is Koreatown in Oakland?
(fom) Sat 29 Jun 02 13:46
It's a little stretch of Telegraph (and a couple of cross streets, I think) near, or maybe in or at the edge of, Temescal -- I forget the streets but it's maybe 45th-ish. I'm still not very clear on Oakland neighborhoods, though I've lived here a year now. Anyway you'll see it if you drive along Telegraph.
Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 29 Jun 02 14:48
Well, there's the Korean restaurant at 44th and Tele. I guess that's it.
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Fri 13 Dec 02 22:49
Just as a kind of post-script to the above 6-months-ago discussion, this book was selected by Korean National Academy of Sciences as one of the best research-books of recent years, and they laid out $10,000 to buy up 500 copies for distribution to all sorts of libraries. That was nice... And it forced my Publisher to do a Second Printing, with mistakes corrected, which is good, it looks better. Academic-sortta books rarely get a 2nd printing; i guess that mine has so many color pix has made the difference, it also functions as a coffee-table / gift tome of sorts... Now, they are starting to edit the Korean translation of it; maybe that will finally get published this Spring (after 2 years of delay!). See: http://www.san-shin.org
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