The age of the state is not over. Though some have written about the power of web 2.0 to topple regimes and destroy state sovereignty, the picture is a little more complicated. The Republic of Korea in the last two decades has taken on a major cultural export campaign. Led by television dramas and pop music, the “Korean Wave,” as it’s called, has strengthened the ROK’s position as a regional power. More recently, the Republic of Korea started a comprehensive online public diplomacy campaign targeted specifically outside Korea’s ordinary sphere of influence with the goal of developing soft power abroad. Through an examination of tourism statistics, public opinion polls, and Google search trends, this paper ask the question: what if any soft power was generated by these online efforts? The results, though not immediately obvious, provide an early model for a state successfully taking on the new challenges posed by information and communication technologies to generate soft power online. Download this article as a PDF. This paper was prepared as part of a course taught by Shanthi Kalathil at Georgetown University. Continue reading →
The green tea leaves of the Camelliea sinensis plant peak through bamboo fences, the bush that gives the world oolong tea, black tea, and of course, green tea.
Traveling from place to place, I often marvel at the luckiness of creatures who call some of the best places the world has to offer their humble homes. A mere human couldn’t scrounge up enough of anything to land themselves the right to set up shop in Spain’s Alhambra. Yet a number of pigeons air their morning coos over the Sierra Nevada Mountains everyday, nestled among the bright mosaics of that ancient palace. And just imagine the view those plump marmots enjoy each morning, hunkered down like carpet across the alpine terrain of the Rocky Mountain’s higher elevations. Continue reading →
A makgeolli producer, whose family has been producing makgeolli for five generations.
We took our first sip of makgeolli back in late September on the first night of our farming adventure with Wooriwa, pouring from enormous drums like the kind my Grandpa once used to fill up the pontoon with gas at the cabin. Since then, we have become enamored with the beverage, and perplexed by its composition. About a month ago we had the pleasure of learning how the beverage is brewed by the people who knew it best: fifth generation professionals. Continue reading →
Do you ever wake up in the morning, pour some milk into a bowl of cereal, and think, “Hmm, I wonder what on Earth children in South Korea eat for breakfast?” Find the responses to this query and plenty of other questions about the daily life of a student in South Korea in this video created by fellow teacher Seth Mattern.
Seth is a certified educator in the United States, and after the logistics of international pen-pal projects and video exchanges proved too messy, he created this website with another teacher in Colorado as a convenient forum for cultural exchange between students the world over.
In addition to this, which I imagine is only the first of many videos to be posted in the future, poke around the website to read some essays by both Korean and American students, and responding comments. If you’re an educator anywhere in the world, and are interested in participating in the site, just send an e-mail and I would be thrilled to put you in touch with the appropriate people. Even if you’re not an educator, I know the kids would love to read any comments and answer any questions you may have.
These students are in fourth and fifth grade and recorded this around 8:00 at night, since they stay at our school until 9. You’ll find that later nights and longer hours spent in schools of all varieties are not the only differences between Korean and North American students. And as for breakfast in Korea, I’ll let the kids speak for themselves, but I suspect many will be surprised by their answers. Enjoy!
Saturday Morning Sights and Oh-My-Goodness Smells of Busan
There is something surreal about emerging from the underground isolation of a subway station into the open air of a new place. Our first Saturday morning steps out of the station and onto one of Busan’s humming city streets were no exception. But this wasn’t just any subway stop in Busan. This stop, I knew, led to one of East Asia’s largest fish markets among the city’s top attractions. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the sights, sounds, and oh-my-goodness, smells of the Jagalchi Fish Market. Continue reading →
Cafe Pascucci is one of the few places open today. A big corporate chain, Pascucci is a cozy cafe in LaFesta catering to the Western tastes many Koreans have for coffee and cafe sandwiches. It stays open for the same reason many big corporate chains stay open during major holidays back home. Continue reading →
We left Goyang immediately after work bound to Jinwi station where we were promised a farming experience. So began our farming experience: three hours on public transportation, two backpacks, a couple of sweatshirts and some basic supplies, a guy named William and the promise of a “once in a lifetime experience” somewhere on the outskirts of Seoul; the ones exactly opposite from the outskirts in which we presently reside, to be exact. Continue reading →