Tuesday, 28 June 2011


I have just passed my exam on communication theory. Passed. Was very happy to do so. And because of that decided to write something non related to Korean affairs directly.

It is one of those exams in life a person into humanities - like me - has to take and it also touches a lot of very controversial issues.

It says, for example, that there are male and female ways of communication. You are female in communication (even if you are a guy - discovered that in due process of studying) if you are chaotic, your thoughts unclear, and emotions most important. There are guys like that.

Ironically I really grew worried when I had one by one checked male ways of communication. Logical, clear, sorted out, chronological, prefers shorter sentences, etc. And very  rarely communicates with emotions attached, but once I do, well some people remembered it all too well... update after 7 years - I indeed am precise in what I communicate, but I am occasionally pissed off and irritated and deaf to others arguments. More female I guess ;)

The more I read on the book the more I think Mrozowski is right.

There are indeed male and female communication competencies, but successful in communication are those with mixed abilities.

Successful communication is a key to success in our business and in our private life. What makes it successful? First comes the intention - what and why do I really communicate? Then comes the partner in the interaction- the receiver- have I secured proper conditions and circumstances to be understood well? Then the content- it has to be truthful, just, and important. Message should be kept short. Noone likes too long speeches and not because we are stupid but because we may lose the merit.

Communication is at the basis of every human interaction. It enables interpretation of codes and values, ways of conduct, and also helps to express ourselves properly. From words to a relationship of any kind there is only a short way.

Communication theory summarized by Mrozowski teaches that there are ways to recognize what are the chances of successful relation of any kind, be it business partnership, friendship, relationship or a bond.

At first involvement into interaction has to be equal, goals the same, values simmilar and simmilar way of interpreting the reality around (the most important in romantic interest).

But this works into any kind of relation. The basic condition is that it has to be equal and honest. And there are also means of communication accurate in every type of interaction. We use different ways in business friendship, different in private one, different to a superior in the university, different to your collegues, and different to your girlfriend. If you receive the same and in the simmilar way, extent and amount, you have big chances to grow into a bond with time, or keep a successful interaction of any type.

Unsuccessful interactions are when involvement, engagement of two parties is unequal. That quickly leads to miscommunication and in a result- confrontation. One which may be a catharsis both in positive and negative way.

So if you have doubts if you communicate well with your surroundings, get a sheet of A4 size and draw yourself in the middle. Then in each corner write: Casual Interactions (lady in the shop), Relations ( business associates, and other collegues of all sorts), Relationships (all joyful and more close interactions with people you have), Bonds (usually here are your real friends, not those who are only "friends" on facebook, your closest mentally people of kin, and if you are lucky your parents, siblings and your husband, wife). Later try to group all of people you know into these categories and try to go into their shoes and see if you consider it equal. If you don't, try to judge what causes it. And talk about it! Maybe you neglect someone, maybe someone neglects you.

Also last but not least, a very important issue is that we are always received by our partners in interaction not entirely. Only part of our "self" is received properly. The rest is the set of schemes, stereotypes, codes of interpretation and prejudices of our partner. A slender dynamic brunette might be classified as potentially agressive by some and potentially energetic and friendly by others.

What about non verbal communication? Here is where I fall short, I do not interpret it at all. I do not analyse the way a person looks at me. Words and actions matter and it matters if they fall into logical line of consequenses where I can easily categorize them into proper boxes - welcome into Aspergers world.

But if you are completely normal, you are lucky - you will probably look into somebody's eyes and properly decode the meaning of sight. One universal tip - if somebody's eyes are narrowed in the dark room, and he or she can't hold a straight look into your eyes- science tells you are being screwed.

At the core, what connects us all in the World, wether we are Polish, German, Korean or Indian or whoever else, we all want to be happy.

This simple fact makes life easier. We have the same goal. If we communicate the intentions clearly, we will be understood no matter what our cultural roots are.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Meari hits the penninsula

At least 9 people were dead and 3 went missing after tropical storm Meari hit the Korean penninsula. Most of the facilities had been restored, however no immediate reports on material losses are available.

Korea is at the edge of the temperate zone with monsoon season which had just now started usually lasts for 6 weeks up to 2 months. Most of tropical storms which sometimes hit the penninsula occur from June to September, however nowadays they do not cause as much damage as they used to when the country had not been developed.

It is yet unknown how this will affect relations with North Korea, yet knowing the North regime, not much will change.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Short comments: Ban Ki Moon for 2nd term as UN chief

Ban Ki Moon, a former South Korean minister of foreign affairs was just reassigned to run a 2nd 5 year long tern as the Secretary General of the United Nations.

A good choice. During his term we did not hear about money laundering scandals like during Koffi Annan, and UN seems to be much more active on conflict resolution and giving it's mandate for actual preventive and preemptive actions, but also peace enforcement and peace-keeping operations (like the one in Libya).

Monday, 20 June 2011

Hanok for export

I have read somewhere that Korean traditional houses are to hit Korean Wave as new element. How very interesting concept.

Traditional Korean farmer's house is constructed in a way that it cools in summer by easy draft and cool floor and heats in winter by ondol- traditional floor heating system, concept of which did not change to modern times.

Hanok villages are to be constructed as special "green" projects in Germany and USA. This is very annoying of two reasons.

 "Traditional" house, difficult to guess if it is real or not.

Firstly, being green does not mean destroy environment and then turn to the stone age, it means preserve what you have and use it optimally, and you can live in modern houses. "Green" hanoks take much more space and electricity in modern times, than any living architecture in so called West.

Secondly, how can you export something and be so proud of something, you destroy and don't give a shit about in your own country? If someone had seen Korea, one knows that it is a country with close to none respect to it's own real heritage and history. Instead this country prefers to believe in myths and reconstructs reality- here including traditional villages.

If you haven't been to Korea yet, imagine that someone is destroying and then rebuilding Piazza San Marco in Venezia, or the Tower of London for some stupid conceptual reasons. City authorities in Seoul do invest in cultural preservation, but a closer look at Bukchon or other areas can reveal that most of the houses which could be researched scientifically and repaired, are being thorn down and rebuild from the ground - this way they only pretend the originals and have small historical value. So to speak, they look kitschy.

I really ask myself when will Koreans understand that "traditional" does not mean Joson style only? That what has been built in 1920's also has a style? What is older also has a style? Korean War and destruction of that time is a mere excuse of stupid unification which kills any valuable cultural or architectonic impact.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Short comment: North Korea weird move

... Lousy brother drank some alcohol and messed up again.

This is the only logical explanation of North Korea's recent move in which they revealed that South Korean leaders tried to arrange a meeting on some neutral ground, preferably Malaysia.

This way whoever rules now North Korea gave a clear signal: we won't talk to you. Because we can sink your vessel and noone reacts. Because we can shoot at your island and the world did not give a damn. Because Beijing does not seem to condemn us. Just because we can.

Will there ever be end to it?

Not until China and USA solve this between eachother.

This below is not the best movie I had ever done in my life. But it gives some insight into what people actually think (if you are a professional film maker, have some mercy here. That was my class project.) Thanks to Svajune for help, and Ewout for his camcorder.

Part 2:

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Short comments: Sung Kim to be new US Envoy to Seoul

There is a new envoy nominated to hold diplomatic post to South Korea. And it is a very well qualified person, starting from his...origins.

Sung Kim is a US born Korean, there is simply no better candidate for diplomatic duties than bicultural person, and it should apply for every country not just the US.

There are already some Polish-Koreans and they, I am sure, could be good envoys. The problem is, Polish diplomacy still did not quite cut the old school.

Sung Kim used to be an envoy for 6 Party Talks about North Korea ( and with North Korea).
However I do not see any solution to North Korea via any 6 Party or even 100 Party Talks as long as both China and Russia cosider their "security" as keeping idiots in power in North Korea, which is quite popular opinion held among South Korean citizens.

Good luck Mr Kim!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Seoul less Asian?

Korea Times had drawn my attention recently to the street stalls ever present in Seoul's landscape. 
They sell everything starting from shoes for women through souvenirs, candies, street food snacks and so on. 

People who earn money this way are usually those who had no other choice but to go on this way of living after they had received just one financial installment on leaving their jobs in the age of 55- 60 which in many cases was not enough to make retirement on installments. Having no other choice these people went on forever Asian tradition- street vending of all sorts. 

It is of course present in all parts of the world, but Europe seems to surpress it due to aesthetical reasons. 

In Seoul street vendor must have municipal permition to have a stand on a certain location. Recently people who had been making their living on these activities had been moved to the dark corners from the main streets. Hidden away they start to suffer losses in their income, some say up to 50%. 

Previously they also did not have to pay any taxes, now the situation changed.

“It’s not just about the drop in sales. I have to pay 100,000 won in tax every month and with material costs rising, I have no way to make ends meet,” said the veteran street vendor who didn’t want his full name used.

Relocation of street stalls had infuriated street vendors. One of the ideas of the local ward office is to move street stalls from the main street in Insa Dong to the back alleys which are obviously less visible. They had organized ongoing 40 day protest in aim to change municipal decisions.

Since it is obvious that the ward office isn’t willing to reconsider its plan, the Insa-dong vendors appear to have no other choice but to continue their fight against demolition workers.

In 2009, Seoul City announced the relocation of around 600 street vendors in Jongno, central Seoul, to seven different specialized alleys connected to the main streets to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly.

From my observation it would be more pedestrian friendly if cars or motorbikes had been banned from getting into apparently more pedestrian streets like Insa-Dong alleys. 

There is an aurgument that young people prefer department stores or convenience stores to street vendors, but it is not quite true from my observation. Of course if a department store makes huge action on sales, it attracts customers, but otherwise I had seen several floors near Ewha University simply empty and street vendors and other small shops flourishing. 

Young women also prefer to save some cash and go to underground shopping centers, just like the one which was at Gangnam, but is now closed due to renovation of the station (which wasn't that old by the way). If compared luxury shops at Samsung Street where simply empty with their prices reaching 500 000 KRW for a coat or 200 000 KRW for a pair of shoes. 

When I go down the streets of Warsaw I very often see how the municipal police bans people from selling on the street what they had grown in their small garden somewhere away from the city, or some other people who had no other choice but to try to make ends meet this way. 

Warsaw is a city for rich people only without any offer for middle budget pocket which makes it one of the more expensive cities in Europe. With even 200 000 top richest people out of 3 mln inhabitants who can afford really high prices all the shops in the city can operate, and the invisible hand of the market seems not to work at all. 

Seoul used to be a city with an idea behind it that there has to be space of living for everyone in it. Also the prices of goods had been always adjusted to the average local pocket which I had personally experienced wondering through different corners of the city. 

Also...street vendoring and price negotiations are very old traditions. They should not vanish just because the government wants to make the city look more European. It is not Europe, it is Asia, however modernized, digitalized and developed, it is Asia and it's very core charm is in street vendoring.