JuliaMellor

Posts Tagged ‘Korea’

We Love Korea Because…

In Entertain Me on April 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm

So there has a been a lack of the usual topics rolling out at Inconseoulable of late, due to a few extra projects that are on the go.  One of which is happily completed!

My friend Doyoung Kim, of the band DMZ Picnic, and I have put together a video of what we know and love about Korea.  Nothing is for nothing these days and this is for a competition run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, so I will go ahead and shamelessly ask for your support to just check it out.  We had a quite a time putting it together, and it’s pretty much a 3 minute glimpse of what a Korean day can throw at you.

Thanks as always for your support 🙂

Advertisements

‘Korea Only’ on tbs eFM 1013 Main Street – Plastic Surgery

In 'Korea Only' 1013 Main Street Podcasts on April 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Image

This was a show I did a few weeks ago about the Korean obsession with plastic surgery.  Everywhere you go these days there are advertisements for everything from a nip/tuck to a full face restructure.  Double eyelid surgery is as common as getting your ears pierced, and is often given as a reward for good grades in school.

Image

1.  Why is Plastic Surgery so popular?

  • To be beautiful
  • To fit in socially
  • To get a better job

2.  What are some common procedures?

  •  Double eyelid
  •  Nose job
  •  Calf reductions
  •  Jaw line shaving
  •  Butt implants

3.  Medical Tourism

 

‘Korea Only’ tbs eFM – Plastic Surgery mp3

 

Funnest Airline in the Skies

In The Social Fabric on March 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I couldn’t let today pass without mention of my favourite airline, Jeju Air.  What does a traveler look for these days in a carrier?  Cheap fares, quality service, adequate leg room…..

Well not me.  I have a new standard of code.  Jeju Air is the party bus of international airspace, and I guarantee you will feel you are on vacation the moment you board the plane.  Ok, maybe I’m overselling it just a tad, but I’m not lying when I tell you I grinned ear to ear on more than one occasion on my flight.  Now I’ve been known to be a thick-skinned individual in even the most emotional circumstances, so it’s the strangest things that can strike a nerve.  And I’ll say, that as that plane taxied off towards the runway, and when all the ground crew stood in a line and waved goodbye until we were out of sight….I struggled not to wave frantically back.  I don’t know if it’s because I have a thing about airports and saying goodbye, or the fact that a line of crewmen I wouldn’t know from a piece of lint were wishing me well on my trip, but it won points in my little black book of airlines instantly.

As I settled back and pretended to have the Asian gift of falling asleep within seconds of wishing it so (I find it’s better to fake it than have my eyes open and be eternally jealous), I was aware of the announcements being unfamiliar to the usual relay of safety and duty free.  There was no English this time, just Korean and Japanese, but my Korean was good enough for me to pick up the words “Rock, paper, scissors”.  Having been a teacher in the ROK for 4 years, I’m well familiar with the cultural importance of this game and found it distinctly out of place with oxygen masks and what was for lunch.  Turns out, we were going to play a game.  With the whole plane.  That’s right, hands in the air, we’re gonna play rock paper scissors with 192 passengers.  Ear to Ear grin number two.  As we hurled our best, those who threw whatever the hostess at the front threw were through to the next round.  It was a strategic lesson in how to play Rock Paper Scissors, as an astonishingly large amount of people threw scissors or paper….myself included.  Rock always wins.

After not winning the prize of some cosmetic package due to my lack of Rock Paper Scissor prowess (which I lamented for some time with all my years of practice), I thought all the excitement was over.  Not so.  The crew then proceeded to stroll through the cabin with a selection of part hats and disguises for passengers to don and take a lasting image.  You’d be surprised how many went for the Mickey and Minnie bows.

So you see, on a Jeju Air flight, there’s an atmosphere of  what the hell.  We’re on a plane.  We’re going somewhere.  We don’t need in-flight movies or headphones, lets play party games and take ridiculous photos of each other.

I leave with the words of the welcoming announcement of Jeju Air flight Incheon to Osaka “Thank you.  We love you.”

The Incheon Standard

In The Social Fabric on March 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

As someone who has grown up spending an inordinate amount of time in airports, it’s no surprise to learn that I’ve become a tad critical in my later years.  I try to keep an open mind and put my patient face on every time I encounter a new port, but every now and again that patience is tried.  One airport where  I have never had that experience is, thankfully and mercifully, Incheon Airport.  It is an airport I actually enjoy being in, and have no qualms about spending large amounts of time in wait.  There is a reason it has been voted the best airport in the world consecutively since 2005 by the Airports Council International.  Because it is.

On my way to Osaka this morning to complete the much resented visa run, and I’m flying Jeju Air.   In my confirmation email, my agent highlighted in red that I must be at Incheon 2 hours before departure.  Now as I said, I’ve been on planes once or twice, and everyone knows that is just to scare the newbies.  However after conversations with my boyfriend (who happens to be Korean), he wholeheartedly supported my agent’s instructions.  After not trusting his judgment recently on matters Korean….and being wrong…..I decided I would go with the numbers and turn up the required 2 hours early.  And yes that meant a 5am wake up call.  He had better be right.

But as if to ease the anxiety of all the uncertain things in life, Incheon Airport just exists to make my life easier.  Within 10 minutes of arriving by Airport Limousine Bus (incidentally the most efficient and affordable city airport transport system I’ve used), I was checked in.  No queue.  Friendly faces.  I’m pretty sure other passengers on the bus were still collecting their luggage.  10 more minutes later I had exchanged my currency, and yes, passed through security.  My feet were always moving.  I didn’t pause once.  5 more minutes later and I had passed through immigration.  Again, no queue.  A grand total of 25 minutes at the airport and am at a Starbucks  enjoying coffee and a ham and cheese bagel and taking advantage of the airport wide free wifi.

This airport has all the feelings of calm and efficiency.  It’s as if they’ve been doing this for a hundred years and could do it with their eyes closed.  For someone who travels frequently, I can’t tell you how appreciated the sense of ease and convenience is.  Actually, I can.  It’s great.  Whether it be arrivals or departures, I have yet  had cause to be irritated.  Of course, I realize the repercussions of jinxing myself with such a statement.  However, my affections and loyalty for this hub are already sealed and to me they can do no wrong. 

Park Geun Hye for President….Watch this space

In Let's Get Political on February 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Korean politics, indeed like all politics, is a funny beast.  Parties merge, defect, and undergo enough name changes that require this researcher to keep a running cheat sheet.  The current president, Lee Myung Bak of the Grand National Party (한나라당), was elected in 2007 in a landslide victory and at the time was a vastly popular choice.  Now three years into his five year term, the former Seoul mayor has largely worn out his welcome.  Popular opinion holds that he is not a man of the people, and his support comes from those with vested interests.  Despite an election being 2 years away, there is already much speculation as to those who will contend the position.

In the lead-up to the 2007 election, the GNP had another strong candidate for the leadership.  No stranger to politics or the limelight, Park Geun Hye was Lee Myung Bak’s greatest threat.  She eventually lost the nomination and had to concede defeat, but she has not bowed out of the game completely.  In fact, she now readies herself for a campaign to take the big seat in 2012.

But who is this woman who could potentially be South Korea’s first female president?  Public opinion of her tends to split violently, and she can be either adored or detested.  So far it has not been an easy case to crack as to why.  Regardless, she has been interesting to investigate.  I have come to my first conclusion that when considering Park Geun Hye and her political favor, there are two people in the room.  She carries the legacy of being the daughter of one Korea’s most influential, respected, mistrusted and some say tyrannical leaders of the past century.

Park Chung Hee became president of South Korea in 1961 following a military coup.  His ascendancy was welcomed at the time, as Korean citizens had endured a sustained period of political instability.  Park Chung Hee’s successes cannot be downplayed as he is credited to be the father of industrializing the peninsula, and Korea’s economic growth was substantial.  However his iron fisted rule sparked numerous speculations of human rights abuses and corruption.  Public sentiment for Chung Hee simmered to boiling after he violated an agreement he had signed, limiting his presidency to only 2 terms.  A spuriously lucky individual, he survived 2 assassination attempts, the second of which saw a misdirected bullet claim the life of his wife Yuk Young Soo.  The third time unlucky, Park Chung Hee was shot to death by the head of the Korean CIA, the same organization he had used to prolong his presidency.

So it would seem that being the daughter of this, one of Korea’s most famous (or infamous depending on your side of the fence) political figures could not help but shadow Park Geun Hye’s career.  Following the death of her mother, Geun Hye became the country’s First Lady at the tender age of 22.  Her life’s calling could not have held many other paths.   She herself has suffered violent attempts on her life, including one assassination attempt, and one occasion where a 50 year old man slashed her face with a box cutter.   Take a minute to consider what it must be like to have both your parents killed for political reasons, and your own life almost following a similar fate.

The wounds that Park Chung Hee inflicted and the broken promises he left in his wake have left a lasting impact.  But the progress and stability he provided at a crucial stage of Korea’s development has also not been forgotten.  Korea has a long memory.  It does not forgive quickly nor forget slowly.   Perhaps Park Geun Hye is supported for her commitment and drive for her political success.  Perhaps she is resented for the sins of her father and likewise mistrusted.  She is outwardly critical of much of the current administration’s policies, making no bones about her continued challenge to Lee Myung Bak.

Taken from Hankyoreh Geurimpan, Feb. 11, 2010__________________

President Lee Myung-bak enjoys a cup of coffee and sits on former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, but becomes increasingly uneasy from the tremors beneath him and asks, “Is it another earthquake?” An earthquake measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale shook the capital region in South Korea on Feb. 9.

The source of the tremors coming from the ground, however, is not an earthquake. Park, who can barely contain her criticism says, “What should I do if someone in a house becomes a thief…?” Observers are interpreting the remark to be criticism directed at President Lee Myung-bak for his administration’s revisions to the Sejong City Development Plan.

President Lee criticized Park on Feb. 9 for her attitude regarding the revisions by saying, “If people come face to face with a thief, they should stop their fighting and work to catch them.”

___________________________________________________

Regardless of these conjectured motivations, she undoubtedly has support, and in a recent phone poll of 1,024 adults she came out on top with a 35.4% lead.  Of course, I feel less than inspired by the accuracy of phone polls, but they are still numbers.  17.5% of respondents supported her because it was ‘time for a female’ and 10.5% lent support because of her father.  Like I said, it’s still numbers.  But I will no doubt be watching this space.

The Park family bearing a striking resemblance to a Kennedy snapshot.