Yesterday someone asked me for a piece of information which I might have stored in the memo app of my mobile phone. I checked and it wasn’t there, but I was able to find it otherwise. Scrolling through the memos, I spotted three which I thought would make a good blog post. (Among a lot of perfectly useless stuff which I can’t remember why I memo-rised.)
Roasting consists of a balance of right handed TIMING and intuition. NOW. LIKE. FREE. ADDICTION.
&up cafe size up, taste up & feel up
Dq vv our Is lay all i have sos hh hny i do mmm / ggg chiq winner as good as new super does yr mother thank you mm
The first two are obviously from coffee shops in Korea (the first was the university campus branch of a major chain; I can’t remember where the the second was, but the date means that it was either in my regional city, possibly the bus terminal, or at Incheon airport), but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the third was/is. I looked at it again in the train on my commute home, but it wasn’t until I typed it into my blog drafts document that I realised what it was. I’ll let you ponder that before you click ‘read more’. (The only clue is that it’s got nothing to do with the first two.)
From How your job is killing you by James Adonis in the Sydney Morning Herald (I try to avoid giving free publicity to companies, but I’ve got to credit my sources):
The Japanese have a word, karōshi, to describe people who work themselves to death. … In China the word used is guolaosi. … South Korea, too, has a term for this pervasive condition: gwarosa.
A little bit of linguistic knowledge shows that those are actually the same word, in the pronunciation systems of those three languages. Japanese and Korean have borrowed a large number of words directly from Chinese, and have also created new words themselves from Chinese characters.
Twice last year I saw the Korean movie 오빠 생각 (o-ppa saeng-gak, Thoughts of my older brother or Thinking of my older brother, titled in English A melody to remember) once in a cinema in Korea (without English subtitles) and once on the aeroplane returning to Australia (with English subtitles), and blogged about it here and here.
I occasionally browse through a language bookshop in the Sydney CBD. Some months ago, sometime after I returned to Australia I saw a book called something like Korean Songs and Stories. One of the songs is Thinking of Older Brother, which provides the title, but not the story, of the movie. (The song dates from the Japanese occupation; the movie is set during the Korean war.) The background to the song is:
During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), eleven-year-old Choi Sun Ae’s brother went to Seoul to buy shoes and never returned, inspiring her to write these lyrics. The cheerful music – written by Park Tae Jun – may seem like a strange contrast to the sad words, but during the occupation the Japanese prohibited songs that were negative or depressing in nature. Having a relatively “happy” melody was a way of masking mournful sentiments.
I didn’t want to buy the book for one song (though I might have been able to make use of the other ones), so I surreptitiously took a photo of this song. Unfortunately I can’t credit the editor and publisher. I am posting this now, some months after finding that book, because I’ve just been sorting through old photos.
In July 2016 I visited Lotte World Tower in the Seoul suburb of Jamsil. At that stage the building was complete (at 555 metres, currently the fifth highest building in the world) but still being fitted out, so the observation decks weren’t open, but a shopping mall at the base was open. It was officially opened last week, on the 3rd of April, preceded by a fireworks and laser display on the night of the 2nd.
Short documentary about the building and the fireworks (from Lotte World Tower-Mall’s Youtube Channel)
News report about the fireworks (from YTN News)
My own photo
I’m now back in Australia, so these will be the last photos of Korea for a while.
Last Sunday, I attended church in Korea for the last time. At the end of the service, the congregational leader announced that I was leaving, and the priest invited me to speak. I noticed that a Korean woman who’d lived in England for some time, and spoke English well, had also come to the front and was standing next to me holding a microphone, obviously to translate for me. But I surprised everyone, including her, by speaking in Korean, about 30 seconds of thank you and goodbye which I’d been composing in my head the day before and during the service. At the end, I turned to her and said ‘Please translate that’. She was so flustered that she gave a brief summary in English!
This is probably my last post from South Korea. I am just about to finish my one-year contract at my university here. I was offered an extension, but my wife (who remained in Australia (but visited twice)) and I decided that I would return to Australia. I will be able to return to working at my two previous colleges in Sydney.