Korean Cultural News Extravaganza!

Some interesting articles about Korea’s rapid development (and coping with changes wrought by it) made their way into my inbox this week.

• First, a continuation of the article series I posted about a week or so ago, about “international wives” in Korea. This particular article in the series leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable. The wives in this article are unable to visit their families and unable to speak fluently in their husbands’ language. Some of them feel they have to “run away,” which gives me the impression that they are not in Korea by choice. I can’t help but feel that the Korea Herald is trying to put a positive spin on a negative situation, though I give them credit for producing this series of articles.

• Here’s the final article in that series, which is more about policy, but mentions that foreign wives of Korean men will now be entitled to health care and “basic living expenses,” which begs the question, what were they entitled to before?

This story, about the difficulties of adjusting to the five-day work week, was brought to my attention last week by Steve, who spends his worklife trawling the Internet for just such interesting news. As it originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t post it — the WSJ Online is for subscribers only, boo. But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has kindly republished it in a more public manner.

• In related news, the ‘Happy Korea Project‘ starts next year.

• Finally, this article is unrelated to the others above, but I find it fascinating. It’s a book review of sorts —a tell-all by the Japanese personal chef to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. I wish I could read this book, but alas, it is only available in Korean and Japanese. (And it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to read Japanese well enough to consider trying to conquer a book, and even then… not so much.) Toward the end of this piece, the reviewer puts forth an odd perspective, which is basically that criticizing a dictator who “indulges himself in luxury while people starve to death” is “excessively moralistic.” Then he cites Stalin as a counter example. Um, yeah. In any case, this is interesting stuff.

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