PHOTO: PARK JUNG-WOO Jeong Ok-sun (Yakult saleswoman in Sangam-dong) How long have you been in this line of work?It's been almost two years. I'm a manager of a Yakult branch in Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu. Lots of people get excited to see you, don't they?Very excited to see us, indeed. Some run at me saying, “Ajumma, I've finally found you!” What lots of people want to get from me these days are Cold Brew coffee and Kiri cream cheese. I run out of stock so quickly. Which one's more popular?Currently, Cold Brew coffee. You know how lots of Koreans drink more than one cupof coffee these days. I remember singing this, sort of children's folk verse, that goes: “Yakult lady, give me some Yakult please.” Do you know if kids these days do the same?Kids still do sing that song! I respond to them: “Yakult isn’t ours, Yakult is yours.” [laughs] The carts used to be all manual, pull-and-push. Are these new electric ones provided by the company?Technically, we rent it from the company. There's a security deposit we pay in order to rent one. What does it feel like to ride the electric carts?It’s a lot of fun. Some customers ask me if they could have a ride on it. Unfortunately, that’s not allowed. I’ve been riding it around for about two years now, and it's kind of like driving a car. At first I thought it was pretty fast, but now I feel it’s slow. [laughs] The maximum speed is 8km/h. It’s powerful enough to handle both uphill and downhill slopes. Have you encountered interes
Seoul Community Radio is an online underground music channel that makes it possible for both Korean and international audiences to check out talented underground musicians. A live stream from its Itaewon studio is available via seoulcommunityradio.com. Tune int to hear clandestine DJs working the turntables during the week at 6pm.
Barista at Naeilcoffee in Daehangno How’d you end up in Korea?I was born in Africa, and I didn't come to Korea because I particularly liked the country, but because I didn't have many options back then. Come to think of it, I am thankful. With the help of Refuge pNan, which helps refugees like me settle into Korea, I received training to become a barista. At the church that I go to, I met the owner of Naeilcoffee and became the third African barista to work at the coffee shop. Were you already familiar with coffee culture?When I first came to Korea in 2013, I was pregnant with my daughter and I thought that I should do whatever I could as soon as the baby was born. I can't tell you exactly where I am from due to personal reasons, but it's one of the countries that exports the best coffee beans in Africa. But people living in Africa don't drink coffee like Seoulites do. Because they mostly export good coffee beans, people often drink low quality coffee. And because it used to be under British rule, tea culture is more developed than that of coffee. How is Seoul different from where you grew up?There is no subway system where I grew up. Public transportation here is very convenient and highly developed. And in [where I’m from in] Africa, families are at the center of communities, but people living in Seoul are somewhat more individualistic. Sometimes it seems like they don't even want to make eye contact. [laughs] Oh! And food is different as well! Where I grew up, beef
It’s summer and surf’s up. There are a number of surfing spots in Korea, like Songjeong Beach, but the hottest spot for surfing is Yang Yang county in Gangwon-do. Since it only takes three hours to get there from Seoul, many surfers head out to this beach during the week. Famous surfing spots in Yang Yang include Gisamun, Jukdo and Namae. Gisamun is a great spot for short boards because it often has waves that are strong but not too big. The largest number of surf shops are in Jukdo, and it's a great spot for beginners who are still learning to surf. Last but not least, Namae has strong and large waves and is packed with surfers. This summer, why not give surfing a try and glide through the wind and the waves?
What do the calming waves of Hyeopjae have in common with the delicate cherry blossoms of Gyerongsan? Trash and litter. Take a look at Haeundae Beach during the summer and you may find more soju bottles in the blue waters than in the convenience stores nearby. Didn’t we all attend kindergarten where our teachers told us that trash goes inside the trash cans? Most of us don’t even treat our rooms the way some people treat major tourist attractions. Isn’t it common knowledge that putting plastic into the ocean can choke and kill marine animals? That leaving trash on the street can be dangerous for people walking or those driving with their cars? Sure, people can argue that we need more trash cans, but c’mon, will it really hurt you to keep your trash in a plastic bag until you’re at a rest stop?
Between my friends, the question of “How’s your boyfriend?” has become synonymous with “How’s work?” After all, I spend more time on my computer than I do on my boyfriend. Sometimes, stumbling home at 2am, I “drunkenly” ramble the words “I need a vacation,” as if I had been out partying instead of in the office staring at the abyss of words and numbers. In a country full of workers that The Financial Times coins “workaholics,” the average Korean works the second longest hours in the OECD (2,124 hours a year in 2014) and is, according to Expedia’s 2015 Vacation Deprivation Study, “the world’s most vacation deprived.” According to the study, Koreans are offered a total of 15 days but only take six (a stark contrast to the 11 days off that’s the average in the States), and 57% of all Koreans feel that they are “vacation deprived.” However, as many Koreans will empathize—“having a day off” on paper doesn’t necessarily equate to “being able to go on vacation.” Although bigger companies like Samsung, Shinhan and Doosan go out of their way to encourage their employees to take a vacation, the rest of us who illustraion: lee dami work for smaller companies have many other determinants to consider. Will my boss get the impression that I don’t care about my job? Will my coworkers have to work more while I’m away? Will I get emails and phone calls that’ll eat up my entire day? Will I have work piled up after I return? For those that work based onhourly rates, the question is more a ma
1. According to the OECD, we work the second longest hours among the OECD nations - coming in at 2,124 hours a year in 2014. (Sorry, Mexico.) Kate Ter Haar 2. Although the Korean Labor Law constitutes that if you work over 40 hours a week, you should be getting overtime... Let's get real. That never happens. 3. But we must get a lot done, right? Because of all the hours we work? Nope, we actually have the lowest productivity in all of the OECD (as of 2014). 4. Think working in Korea sucks? Working in Korea as a woman really sucks. Korea's gender gap is the widest among the OECD countries coming in at a whopping 36.7%. 5. Oh, we also have the thickest glass ceiling among the OECD nations. According to 2014 numbers, only 0.4 of our board members are female. (Japan comes in at second thickest at 0.7%). BB News 6. Is safety too much to ask for in an office place? Apparently. According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 8 out of 10 workers said that they've experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Less than 1% of the workers officially reported the crimes. (And, how many do you think actually saw a result from that?) Shawshank Redemption 7. According to the 2014 Vacation Deprivation Study conducted by Expedia, most people are given 15 vacation days but actually only take 7. Dying for a break? Un
As a woman, danger is a constant topic of discussion. How dangerous it is to take a taxi late at night. How dangerous it is to travel alone. How dangerous it is to talk to strangers. But rarely does one look at a scantily clad woman advertising a water park and think "danger." How distasteful can it be when Lee Hyori's breasts dangle next to a life-sized soju bottle? How harmful could it possibly be when a (very Photoshopped) pretty, young lady in booty shorts asks you to feel "the never ending climax"? (For those of you who don’t recall, this was a real Ocean World ad from 2011 to 2013.) As summer rolls in, advertisements peel off their winter coats to reveal S-line women in bikinis. We need to stop glancing at these images with indifference and start thinking seriously about the science that proves these images as serious threats. A 2009 study conducted at Princeton University showed “that the part of the brain associated with analyzing another person's thoughts, feelings and intentions [is] inactive while viewing scantily clad women." In 2013, the scientific journal Sex Roles linked sexist advertising to “hyper-masculine” qualities like “toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex.” Not to mention the kinds of role models we are setting up for the younger generation or the effect on women’s self esteem. The objectification of women in media and advertising is not a problem unique to Korea, but here there does seem a to be a gaping lack o
Recently, it was uncovered that the government was involved in a massive cover-up of mass gang rapes and killing of thousands (yes, thousands) in Busan ahead of the 1988 Olympics. While this incident alone is anger enough for this column; what further enrages us is the lack of justice in terms of rape laws in Korea. Back in 2008, the Nayoung Case sparked a nationwide discussion when 57-year old Cho Doo-soon raped and beat an 8-year old girl and was only sentenced to 12 years in prison. Slightly lesser known is the infamous Miryang gang rape case in which 5 victims were gang raped by 41 male students—none of whom where criminally convicted. Add to that the story of Aidre Mattner, the Australian woman who was drugged and raped in Seoul, currently seeking justice on her own (since the police have yet to be of any help). If you are like me and you are a rape survivor or know someone who is, the kind of anger you feel can be suffocating. Where are the government’s priorities if the sentence for marijuana possession can exceed the sentence for rape? When men can be forgiven if intoxicated? What happens when so many women and children are threatened into silence?