Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Korean Facts

Interesting points from Nothing to Envy.

History of Korea:

Up to 600 AD - 3 kingdoms vying for power .
ca. 600AD - 1910 Chosun dynasty (one of the longest-lived monarchy in the world).
Strong caste system with different dress. Noblemen wore white shirts and top-knots inspired by Confucius and horse hair hat. Slaves wore wooden label around their necks.
1910- 1945 Japanese rule
Post 1945 arbitrary split along the 38th parallel. Korea a buffer state thought to prevent the USSR getting too strong a foothold near to Japan.
1950 Korean war. 3 years fighting and 3 million lives later old border re-established.

1953 Purges - of competitors and then ordinary people.
Each person had eight background checks to provide a song-bun in a survey to assess loyalty.
A new caste system established with Kim Il-sung as 'emperor' and 3 broad classes: core, wavering and hostile.
The hostile included kisaeng (similar to geisha) and mudung (shaman), Christians, Buddhists, and people politically suspect including landowners and people suspected of being pro US or pro-Japan.

Joining the Workers' Party meant best jobs and locations but closely watched by neighbours.

- 'people's group' co-operative of 20 or so families whose job is to keep tabs on each other and organise neighbourhood. Elected leader is a middle-aged woman who reports anything suspicious to higher authorities.

- 'tainted blood' permanent, immutable and heredity.

buk nyeo, nam nam
. northern women, southern men.

homeless children, swallows

North Korean women do not take their husband's surnames, but retain their own names.


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