Monday, 23 May 2011


...bit about music, culture and what I miss.
I think I have never ever mentioned anything about Korean popular music and how important element of reality it is.

While wondering the streets of any Korean city you hear it everywhere. It gets to you from Nature Republic when you go for a nail polish, but from Paris Baguette too.

It comes from bigger and smaller shops of all sorts, with cd's, with cloths, shoes, with cosmetics, from hairdresser or Haha Coffee, it is always present outside on forever live and colorful Korean streets.

It also influenced culture a lot. Not just dramas, but also music picture very sweet and caring dimention of modern Korean relationships, when people really share a lot. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

Under the mask of forever smile, rushing somewhere for school or to the office are hidden souls. Soul which feel a lot. And even if these feelings have popcultural semi american scent, it has it's own Korean spirit in it. Korean guy or Korean girl smiling to eachother as they walk hand in hand in any street or a park.

For you now:
Park Bom: Don't cry.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Nation Branding

I have just discovered that Arirang TV had published it's report on my blog. This is the post which I had written back in November and which had been written after shooting Today's Blog.

Today's Blog, Arirang

I have already mentioned about Korean Nation Branding efforts and how they impress me. In more developed countries than Korea comprehensive nation advertising and public diplomacy took much longer time or is not that well organized.

Part of it is Korean Wave which currently hits Japan, China and other Asian countries. Korean boysbands and girlsbands, so called K-pop music to which you may find links in the video corner is just an example. Korean dramas with Winter Sonata leading among them, singer BoA and many others.

This entry on the blog will also be featured on Arirang TV soon thanks to which hospitality I can share even more stories about country's and city's promotion enterpreneurship.

This year Seoul was choosen as one of the must-visit cities by UNESCO as a result of long term action of the Metropolitan Government. Maybe it was this little creature, Haechi, which was designed as a Seoul brand based on a fictional good spirit, symbol of the city, which caused it? Who knows...

Whether Haechi himself had blessed the city with good spirits or not, he definately works as a brand developed back in 2008. Metropolitan government uses it as a symbol which helps promoting good businesses for tourists.

I was taken for a dessert to one of the restaurants in a Korean traditional house situated in a White Collar area, next to the COEX Intercontinental, the very site were G20 was held. The restaurant which name is Pulhyanggi serves all sorts of Korean food for very sophisticated set of clients who usually go there for business negotiations and incentives.

 Inside the Pulhyanggi...

Btw. did I mention that my favorite Korean food is a pancake with seafood which is called haemul pajeon and I can even make it myself?

And this is how restaurants are promoted with the city brand sign:

The Haechi drawing is based on the ancient creature I have already mentioned, which looks like this:

And Seoul area is full of them standing in all sorts of places, both very modern and traditional ones.

As a city Seoul tries to catch up with modernity but also save what is the best from it's ancient spirits. For this all sorts of different things are done, one of them is Cheonggye Stream near Gwanhamun Plaza, or Design Street near Toksugung Palace. There we may find interesting things like design chairs or sculptures as below:

All fitted in traditional historic environment.

Haechi is successful in promoting business as well. An idea which had not been followed by other cities so far as I know. As a brand Hi Seoul is shared by all sorts of small companies which are given support by Seoul Metropolitan Government. The partnership is perfect for both sides: the city promotes itself even better and business gets money and stable environment to grow.

Above is one of the example of the shared brand products. We visited the exhibition with the TV crew from Arirang and were given a gift set with very useful and very nice items including a pen with a flashlight which I use a lot right now.

Haechi itself is a legendary animal representing justice and integrity. The  mythical creature distinguishes good from evil and was believed to bring  fortune and luck and provide safety from disaster. The creature has  been believed to serve as a guardian of Seoul for a long time.

At Gwanhamun Plaza the souvenir shop opened and the top sells are Haechi dolls in all sizes. I got myself the small one... maybe it will bring me the luck?

Just as I shared with viewers of Arirang I will repeat here. Despite constant threat from the North Seoul flourishes. Korea flourishes. South Koreans take steps foreward, round the clock, like a circle in a spiral... strive and persist.

Special thanks to Yoon-mi Jung and her crew who assisted me for more than 6 hrs on a freezing Friday in Seoul driving me around the city wherever I wanted. Thank you for your hospitality and patience. I love Korea!

Links to explore:

It's all about sex...

I have not written anything for about two months now, for witch I am sorry.

This one however asks itself for a comment.

Just today about 400 prostitutes and their "employers" protested against police attempt on crackdown of Korea's sex business.

Some of them loved their "job" to the extent that tried to self-burn in a protest.

In Korea, sex business is indeed a huge source of national GDP. Up to 5% of national income comes from such activities. And these are not just legal red light districts, but more often brothels nicely hidden in norebangs or "only men" pub in a coded system known to men only that such "services" are offered for their libido satisfaction.

Strangely Korea is very much divided society, into two very contrasting groups. One group is a group of girls who practice prostitution for living and they finance their college fee by doing such things. They know all very well how to use their charms and sweet innocent looks. They may approach foreign professor and admit frankly: "I will sleep with you if you give me a good grade."

Another half, on the contrary, has no idea about their spouses activities after hours. In Korea, where it is mandatory to drink with a boss it is so much easy to cheat on your wife, who either has no idea or does not dare to ask questions. And yet...even in Korea dear ladies, the working day may end by 6 on average and you'll get your loverboy home by 7 if he does not have mere excuses. "I am busy", "we have a project deadline" etc can work 4 times a year, but not constantly.

Wether they are self-cheating themselves or not, truth is that some of them  are blind to ever present sex-business around them.

On historical account such diversity on "the professionals" and "honourable wives" had been ongoing for centuries. Back in early 1920's Mrs Ethel Underwood established a trust which tried to fight this phenomenon. Back then, just like today 30% of young Korean women had at least once prostitution experience and 20% remained quite active "on duty". The rest either has no idea or tries not to know.

But economic development is, after all, important. And besides, I may ironically admit that it is much more independent and profitable way of living to be a hooker than to be "sex for free" honourable spouse who until 2008 had troubles with getting any legal custody on property or kids.

"Welcome to Seoul Red Light District, your online resource for Seoul South Korea brothels. Not only will you quickly discover the hottest and most reputable brothels in Seoul here, you’ll also uncover secret traps thoughout the city which many newcomers fall prey to." the advert says.

Capitalism to it's most. "Invisible hand" of the market.
On one hand romantic dramas which contribute to the better balance of character between sexes, on the other hand dark side of Mars prevails.

I'll be more regular in my posts, after some deadlines.