29% of Korean workers study foreign languages

June 29th, 2007 · Economy and Worklife, Education and ESL, Surveys and Studies · 0 comments

This survey could have been carried out better (such as allowing a space to answer 2+ million in yearly expenditures on languages, an amount easily reached when making trips abroad to study) but as a simple survey it’s worth a quick translation.

Poor French. 0.2% works out to a total of three respondents.

Original article

According to the results of a survey on June 28 carried out on 1,557 members of the job portal and resume management site scout.co.kr, 29.2% study foreign languages on their own.

Regarding the amount of money spent yearly, 38.1% answered ‘under 500,000 won’, 21.8% spent in between 500,000 and 1 million won, 16.3% spent in between 1 and 1.5 million won, and 8.6% spent between 1.5 and 2 million won annually.

Regarding the type of study, 65.2% answered English conversation, 11.0% answered Japanese, 10.4% were working on TOEIC, 8.1% on TOEFL and TEPS, 4.8% on Chinese, and 0.2% on French.

Regarding the reasons for study, 51.1% said that they were studying in order to improve their economic competitiveness, 21.4% said they needed it for work, and 18.3% for their own self-satisfaction.

Korean Bodybuilders

June 28th, 2007 · Sports · 1 comment

South Korea may not be a place where bodybuilding is very popular, and the guys hanging around the gyms here are definitely not as big as those you’ll see in western countries, but there is a bodybuilding circuit for sure. Take a look at these photos and captions translated from the Korean version of MSN.

On the afternoon of the 21st at Olympic Park, competitors in the regular female division of the 2007 Mr. and Ms. Korea Competition show off their magnificent motions before the preliminary rounds.

This guy competed in the middle-aged division. The boys below are high school students.

Verbeek’s Megaton Stress

June 25th, 2007 · Foreigners, Sports · 1 comment

Pity the poor manager of the Korean national soccer team. Though a run of good fortune can make you a national hero, as one did for 2004 World Cup manager Guus Hiddink, at other times you’ll be blamed for everything. Naturally in sports when a team does poorly the manager or coaches catch the first blame, but in Korea a foreign coach catches much more than his share.

It must be particularly vexing that while the Korean pro teams have never gotten along with the managers of the national team, often squabbling with them and refusing to let players go to international competition, they don’t get the same blame. The Sports Chosun gives us a good example.

Manager Verbeek is fretting as he watches the calendar and reckons with the weather.

At the Asian Cup, which opens on the 7th of next month, Korea will participate in Group D against Saudi Arabia on the 11th, Bahrain on the 15th, and Indonesia on the 18th. With just 20 days left until the first game, manager Verbeek is feeling intense headaches.

One is the situation of pro players turning away from the team, and the other is the increasing stress of preparing step by step for the rapidly approaching tournament with the countries competing in group D.

Verbeek will select 23 names in Saturday’s ceremony for entry into the Asian Cup. There has been stuff opposition from professional players due to there being 7 games scheduled on the same day. Even though the players can quickly leave for the games, the teams say that the national team selection can be sent to the tournament in a day. Even so Verbeek insists that selection must be made 14 days before the tournament.

Relations with the tournament are awkward. Though he took over the position as manager while understanding Korea’s strongest point, its strong nationalism, he has actually given rise to the most serious discord between the manager and local soccer players out of all the foreign managers before him.

The news of injured players falling like dominoes has also inflamed Verbeek’s thoughts. Park Ji-sung, Lee Yeong-pyo and Seol Gi-hyeon have had surgery and recently even midfielder Kim Nam-il will be having it as well. Lee Dong-guk announced “If my knee doesn’t recovers will have to give up participating in the Asian Cup”, dashing Verbeek’s hopes.

On the other hand the other competing nations are busily preparing and organizing.

From the beginning of this month Saudi Arabia has had tryouts for selection and this week the UAE, Singapore, Oman, and North Korea are planning to scout in Singapore. It’s already been two weeks since Bahrain selected and began organizing its national team. And even Indonesia, classified as the weakest team, has been preparing for the past 8 weeks.

Korea From the Sky

June 22nd, 2007 · Miscellaneous · 1 comment

This article is a good example of why Korea Beat was created. Despite its pretty interesting topic, the Chosun Ilbo chose to publish only a considerably shortened version of it in English. Fortunately we’re here with the full translation.


In 1945, from the end of August to the beginning of September, the US Navy photographed Seoul, Busan, Gunsan, Jinju, and Masan for military purposes and those 1,056 photos were entrusted on the 20th to the Chosun Ilbo and opened to the public. These photos were donated to Jeju University in the late 1980s by University of Toledo professor David Nemeth and until now had been in the possession of the Department of Geology at Jeju University.

Among all of the photos, some are small while others are large. The photos were taken from September 9-10 in the same year of the restoration of independence on August 28-29, 1945. Seoul and all ports were included. It appears that they were photographed with the main aim of gathering information about Korea after the defeat of Japan. On one side of the photos is written the date and place, but Seoul and Incheon are marked with the Japanese pronunciations “Keijo” and “Jinsen”. Most of the photos were taken from an altitude of 3,000 meters and at a 90-degree, vertical angle, but some were shot at an oblique angle.

Jeju University professor of geology Oh Sang-hak said, “These photos weren’t taken by our own hands but they carry great significance as the first aerial photos of the major locations in the Republic of Korea.” During the Japanese colonial period, the Japanese authorities also made aerial photos but only an incomplete record of the Seoul area with many gaps.

The National Geographic Information Institute had one aerial photo which was made for mapping purposes, but after partnering in 1966 with The Netherlands they had more. It was announced that, besides those, the Department of Geology at Jeju University has received from David Nemeth 13 photos taken by the US military of Japan’s Kyushu, Honshu, Okinawa, and Daeman and the Philippines.

This photograph is of the Seoul metropolitan area on September 9, 1945. Palaces such as Deoksugung, Seoul City Hall, the Seoul City Council, and several other buildings can be picked out.

The Dongdaemun area and the Cheonggyecheon were included. The photos include both upper and lower directions. While looking at the old appearance of the Dongdaemun Sports Complex, to be demolished this November, it seems you can hear the radio broadcast announcing “This is Seongdongwondu….” (城東原頭, meaning east field, the old name of the place.)

The scenery of Seoul’s Yeouido. An island of bare vegetation, you can see only grounds for an airfield. The airfield, source of the song that went “If you look up you can see Ahn Chang-nam’s plane, and if you look down you can see Uhm Bok-dong’s bicycle…”, was established here in 1916. The first Korean pilot Ahn Chang-nam flew here in December 1922.

The view of Chungnam, Seocheon-gun’s Janghang. The smokestack of the ‘symbol’ of Janghang, the Janghang Refinery on Jeonmangsan (also called Guldduksan or Smokestack Mountain), is visible. Opening its doors in 1936, the Janghang refinery began the history of nonferrous metal refinery in Korea. At present a company called ‘LS Niko Copper Refinery’ operates here. The smokestack seen in the picture was removed in 1979, and the one present now was set up in the same year.

Heard around the league

June 21st, 2007 · Sports · 0 comments

Today the Sports Chosun brings us a few quotes from interviews around the Korean baseball world.

— “Does he have to go to the Majors?” <Foreign hitter Cruise on manager Kim In-shik after hearing that Kim has “Major League style.”>

— “I’ve quit alcohol and cigarettes.” <Samsung manager Seong Dong-yeol, who had a lot of stress during games but now soothes his mind by giving up drinking and smoking.>

— “Thanks for coming to us. I’m sure you’ll work hard.” <LG’s Lee Seung-ho, after seeking out manager Kim Jae-bak and politely greeting him before rushing out to the first inning.>

Vital Racing Girl News

June 20th, 2007 · Entertainment · 0 comments

One stock in trade of the Korean tabloids is the meaningless racing girl report, which are basically advertisements masquerading as legitimate articles and, so I assume, paid for under the table. This one gives you the basic flavor.

Racing model Choi Yu-jeong (25), whose name is a byword for sexy S-line, has opened up a spellbinding private photo collection of bikinis and lingerie.

Recently, for three days and nights from the 19th at the beaches and hotels of Thailand Choi put together the photo album with Korea Gravia.

At the Seoul Motor Show and Busan International Motor Show Choi pulled in popularity with her cute appearance and refreshing body.

Choi is being hailed as an icon of sexy glamour as she stole the gaze of all the men among the producers and staff of the photo album. Choi Yu-jeong’s Korea Gravia photo album is available beginning the 18th from SK Telecom’s service.

Relics of China

June 20th, 2007 · Miscellaneous · 0 comments

Those of you looking for a cool museum to visit should consider the Seoul History Museum, which is close to several of the downtown palaces — including Deoksugung — and currently hosting an exhibit of over 300 Chinese art pieces from the 13th century. Here the Kids Chosun gives the teens of Korea the scoop.

“The National Treasures of China” exhibit, in celebration of 15 years of Korean-Chinese friendship, is gathering considerable popularity. In the 10 days since the curtain was raised on the 1st, over 27,000 visitors have come.

It´s been in the exhibit room of Gwanghwamun´s Seoul History Museum since the 30th of last month. Even on weekdays there´s been a ceaseless pace of visitors beating a path to meet the ancient history of 13th-century China.

There are 325 Chinese antiques for kids to be interested in. Bundang 3rd-grader Kim Seong-yun said “In the newspaper I saw the story of a bad man who was stabbed with an antler” and “it looked just like it was real enough to get up and walk.”

How do kids feel about these Chinese relics? So Eun-gyeong, a 6th-grade student, said “The Chinese treasures were kind of big but also really delicate so it was fun.” Ma Seong-jae (5) and Seon-ho (3), a brother and sister from Paju, exclaimed “We saw the ways China is the same as us but also different!”

The exhibit will continue until August 26th. The entrance fee is 6,000 won for kids, 8,000 for teens, and 10,000 for adults. They close every Monday. (02-736-9698)

Hollywood — First in Korea?

June 19th, 2007 · Entertainment · 0 comments

Though a few days ago we considered the growing importance of Korea for Hollywood, it is possible to go too far with that line of thought. Case in point — one reporter celebrating Korea´s new place in the sun by bragging on its hosting of the international premieres of Hollywood films, noting only obliquely that these films are premiering at all points abroad on the same day. Oh well.

Some may also get a chuckle out of the phrase in the original article “우리나라 시간이 미국보다 빠르기 때문에”, literally translating as “because our country´s time is faster than America´s”, which certainly should ring true to anyone dodging delivery guys on motorbikes in Seoul.

This summer will see a blitz of Hollywood blockbusters and they will by turns have their international premieres in Korea.

With a staggering production fee invstment of $300 million and much greater action than the first installments the action and CG-fest ´Spiderman 3´ will have its international premiere next month in Korea. This is three days after the US debut of May 4. In particular this is an even more special case as unlike the normal situation of premiering on a Friday or Thursday it will be on a Tuesday. The Steven Spielberg-produced and Michael Bay-directed blockbuster “Transformers” will also meet international audiences for the first time, including in Korea, on June 28. Before this, 2003´s “Lord of the Rings 3”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and “Constantine” also were first screened in Korea.

Recently Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay have been on a long world-wide trip including Korea. “Pirates of the Caribbean: At the End of the World” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” will meet Korea on May 25 and July 12, respectively, making their world premieres at the same time.

Since May of last year “Mission Impossible: 3” and “The Da Vinci Code” also made their domestic debuts with no time difference. Since our country´s time is ahead of American time it can substantially be reckoned that our country had the earlier debut.

As for big blockbusters having their first domestic screenings, it´s the request of the head offices in America to test our country´s audiences to see if they like it but as the domestic market for illegal downloads is growing Hollywood´s pictures are also including warnings.

A representative from a company that imports Hollywood films said “The time difference in premieres between Hollywood and world markets is gradually tending to drift downwards,” and “the spreading market for illegal downloads is going to have significant repercussions.”

Korean professors chime in on English village issue

June 17th, 2007 · Education and ESL · 1 comment

A few posts back we featured a report from KBS on the English village in Paju and the lack of English a Korean reporter found during his visit there. The Hankook Ilbo has a page today on the opinions of a few professors on what role the villages should play in English education here.

Original article

“The strong points of the English villages must be put into good use,” as English lit. professor Jeon Byeong-man from Jeonbuk University stated regarding the English villages, once popular throughout the country, which are now being challenged on their usefulness. To exhibit the function they were built for he believes they require specialized programs and resolute funding to match them.

Professor Jeon stated that “A week-long program is only on the level of an experience using the language, not an answer to English education as a whole,” and that “short-term programs need to be specialized more towards the ability to give students the motivation to study English.”

He also added that “With the month-long summer school program there’s definitely a substitutive effect similar to that of going abroad for short-term language training,” and that “In this case, in order to have education carried out in small groups and with high quality like a language academy, the country needs to provide stronger support in order to see an effect.”

Professor Jeon also said however that “In the end the important thing is to increase the ability of English teachers within the country and provide proper English education,” and that “English villages run short-term programs, and thus should be developed more as experience programs than educational institutions.”

According to Prof. Kim Mi-gyeong at the Korean Educational Course Evaluation Institute (name directly translated from Korean), “We can see that the English villages have the effect of raising the interest and favourable impressions towards English of the students, but also advised that “Without development of programs that actually raise the ability of the students we’re going to see less and less room for them as time goes on.”

Prof. Kim also noted that “There is nothing to evaluate the performance of the English villages at the present besides on-site surveys,” and that “We’re going to have to see some concrete studies on the effect of these English villages in order to stymie the debate going on at the present and to prepare survival strategies for them.”

At present there are eleven English villages throughout the country run by local self-governing organizations, and including educational offices and private companies as well there are over twenty English villages either under construction or being planned.

Hollywood in Korea

June 17th, 2007 · Entertainment · 0 comments

With the recent debate over the wisdom of pursuing a free-trade agreement with the United States there was a renewed discussion of the so-called “screen quota“, a somewhat ham-fisted way of lending the government’s support to the domestic film industry. I’ve always regarded that debate as pretty much driven entirely by the media, as I’ve never heard a Korean express to me any support for the quota at all, and some were quite fierce in their arguments against it. And not without good reason — South Korea is one of just three countries in the world where domestic films sell more tickets than foreign imports. Check out the box office numbers and Korean films reign over Hollywood fare, collecting well more than half of all ticket sales. Korean films have grown in quality by leaps and bounds in the last decade with no end in sight.

Now we have two of the biggest directors in the States, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg, coming to Korea to promote their new film. This trip, reported in the Joongang Ilbo, is a testament not only to the importance of the Korean film market, as Bay says, but also that it’s now one where Hollywood cannot take success for granted anymore.

“When I was 20 I went on a trip with my mother to Korea. I’m really happy to have come back after 20 years, since Korea is a place that loves my movies and is a growing market.”

Michael Bay (42), genius director and producer of such entertaining films as “Bad Boys” and “Armageddon”, came on the 11th to Korea. The occasion was to do PR for the Korean premiere of “Transformers” on the 28th, the first place in the world for it to be shown after America. “Transformers” is about thinking, living robots from space who come to earth to battle. Originally they were children’s toys made into a 1980s animated TV show, then an animated movie and now a live-action film. For this film Spielberg secured the copyright as the producer, and presented the project to Bay. The director said “At first I figured it would be just a toy movie and wasn’t impressed” but “then I thought how much fun it would be to tell this kind of cartoon-like story in live action.” And just as he said, the robots, created with computer graphics, are perfectly presented with brilliant execution in a live-action film.

The special thing about these robots is that they can take on the forms of various automobiles, from pick-up trucks to sports cars. I was curious why all the vehicles have a special connection with General Motors. The director immediately laughed, answering “Transformers 2 will use Hyundai cars.” “At GM’s R&D production plant I saw their ‘Bumblebee’ and immediately wanted it. So the contract was on condition of not showing any non-GM cars,” he explained.

It was his first time to join hands with Spielberg, but Bay had long worked with Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. At a request to compare the two directors, he was furtively inclined towards Spielberg. “Bruckheimer is the person that scouted me out at movie school and trained me as a director, and a person with an ability that no one can differ on,” but brought up the subject of his longer relationship with Spielberg. “When I was 15 I worked part time making at Lucasfilm making the storyboards for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (directed by Spielberg). At the time I didn’t think it would turn out well, but the completed film turned out to be my favorite work.”

As to the rumors of a remake of Bong Joong-ho’s “The Host”, the director said “We still haven’t decided yet.”