What do you want to know about Korea?
June 21, 2006 10:01 PM   Subscribe

If you're interested in Korea, what would you want to see in a Korea-centric website?

I'm getting relatively close to launching a new site (which I will put up on Projects when it's ready) that will be part weblog/journal storytelling, part information resource -- for expats in Korea, for other individuals interested in the country and its culture, and for individuals and companies interested in doing business here, and for anyone wanting to understand a bit better what makes the place tick. A mix of the first person singular and more objective articles and essays, and links to other information and resources around the web.

If you're interested at all in the country and its people (and I know there are at least a few Korea-watchers here at Metafilter), what kind of things would you want to see on such a site, and what, if anything, would keep you visiting?

If this is an inappropriate AskMe question (I'm finding it a little hard to tell, these days), I apologize, and please feel free to delete it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always love reading about plain old day to day life of regular people in the places I find interesting (Korea being one country I hope to experience someday). I look forward to the launch.
posted by zerokey at 10:09 PM on June 21, 2006

I'm interested in Korean food, myself.

One of my close friends is a Korean-American and a blogger (one of her blogs is the collaborative Kimchi Mamas), and I'm sure she'd be delighted to let you pick her brain a bit. She may not be your target audience, but she would probably understand your target audience (especially since she has a marketing background). She was extremely helpful when my sister was deployed and anticipating a stop in Korea on her way to the Gulf.
posted by padraigin at 10:18 PM on June 21, 2006

Authentic home kimchee recipes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:24 PM on June 21, 2006

Have you heard of Ohmynews.com (link to the english version)? It is a good indication of just how much the MSM in the US is lagging behind everyone else. Almost all of the news there is written by freelance citizen journalists, and the site has become one of the top news sites in Korea. This might be a good place to get some ideas.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 10:30 PM on June 21, 2006

(Sorry, I assumed too much about what people knew about me, and forgot how many new users there are here on AskMe who don't recognize me by username (and why should they). I've lived in Korea as an expat since 1996, and have written about it ferquently on my personal site since 2000. I'm asking Metafilter people what they personally might want out of such a site, if they were interested at all, not so much to 'get ideas' (I have approximately a million of them), but to get a feeling for what people outside Korea might be interested in. Also, with regards to OhMyNews, I wrote this just over 3 years ago.)

Authentic home kimchee recipes.

Are you serious? I hadn't considered it, but I could definitely do recipes and Secrets o' Korean Cookery in English, if there were a demand.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on June 21, 2006

Hot korean girls!
posted by delmoi at 11:04 PM on June 21, 2006

Second Korean food recipes
A section that teaches 한굴 and basic words for people interested.
A 'tourism' type section that talks about places worth seeing.
A cultural-anecdotes section, where weekly (or something) you would highlight something that you (or other contributors) have noticed that is interesting/funny to people not familiar with the culture. Not that I'm implying we should laugh at other cultures but, let's face it, things that other people do make for good stories (I have a feeling you could do a year just on stuff you picked up from teaching; I know I could). That might make people come back.
posted by shokod at 11:19 PM on June 21, 2006

I second the cultural anecdotes and the recipies. Please, please include a section where you warn generously endowed western women about bra-shopping!!!! I figured Seoul was such a shopping magnet for Japanese etc., and then forgot they are all petite. All that beautiful lingerie but no bra sizes beyond a c cup.
I also have no clue what life is like in the countryside. Maybe you could link in to the Korean characters on Lost and say" Well in most farming/fishing villages..." or "Koreans from wealthy backgrounds live in this manner..."
Best of luck with it
posted by Wilder at 11:59 PM on June 21, 2006

I want to see what really going on in Korea. I can find Korean recipes anywhere. I saw a really interesting photoblog by some russian guy here a few days ago of NK and it really blew me away how different it is. Whats going on with those nukes over there? On the ground experiences of something that happened to you, maybe illustrating a larger insight about the area.
posted by sophist at 12:39 AM on June 22, 2006

Vignettes of ordinary people's lives and especially what they think of current events or major events where their voice would be hard to find. For example, what does Joe/Jill Q. Korean think about abortion? Iraq? Global Warming? Tsunamis? Whaling?

Kimchee, I find repellant. Korean recipes, yes.

Translated Korean poem'o'the'day.

Ordinary Korean's reminiscences of the Korean war. SK perspectives on NK, as told through ordinary family experiences.

Korean contemporary/avant garde art.
posted by Rumple at 12:44 AM on June 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

All that beautiful lingerie but no bra sizes beyond a c cup.

Yeah, but in Asia they have cup inflation, so that's, like, a F-cup.

In response to your question, Stav, I love reading blatently honest manifestos complete with personal examples from the day-to-day, like your 'Teaching in Korea' entry.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:53 AM on June 22, 2006

I want to see what Korean people living in the countryside do, something like pictures and interviews with them regarding their perspective of the world. It seems that most of the English-language stuff on Korea is mostly about life in Seoul, with some travelogues on tourist-y places like Jejudo. Sure, there are some resources in East-Asian studies libraries on life in the shigol, but from what I've seen, they're all pretty old and very academically-focused.

Also, I would really like something that deals with underground urban culture in Seoul, Busan, and the like. Everybody in developed Asia at least had some exposure to the "Korean wave" of pop entertainment, and it's well-covered by many English-language fansites, but there's not that much English content on other Korean creative culture. What are the recent artistic trends in Korea? Who have been the movers and shakers in the Korean movie industry as of late? How has advertising in Korea changed since the Olympics? There groups like the phenomenal Expressions breakdancing crew and world-renown graffiti artists like Santa and Vandal, but is there a tangible Korean hip-hop scene? What about a Korean equivalent of indie rock?

Some comprehensive English-language content about 20th century Korean culture would also be interesting, stuff like an introduction to pre-Seo-Taiji Korean music, like the culture behind the ballads and an overview of the psychadelic stuff that Shin Joong-Hyun did back in the day. English-language biographies of prominent Korean artists like Lee Joong Sup would also be awesome.

I know a lot of this stuff may not fall in completely to the whole vibe that you might be going for, but these are just subjects that I have been interested in and have had a lot of difficulty researching, due to the lack of available resources in America and my passable but not quite proficient Korean language skills.

Anyway, if you do want some help putting up something about any of the above subjects, I'd be more than happy to contribute what I can.
posted by antiform at 2:17 AM on June 22, 2006

Korean cinema. Korean martial arts.
posted by the cuban at 2:25 AM on June 22, 2006

I know a lot of this stuff may not fall in completely to the whole vibe that you might be going for, but these are just subjects that I have been interested in

No worries, that's completely what I'm looking for, what people are interested in w/r/t the ol' Daehanminkuk. I'm not saying I'm actually going to end up writing about anything anybody suggests that they're interested in ;-) -- I'm just interested to know, so I can triangulate a bit, and try my best.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:13 AM on June 22, 2006

One of the hardest things to get here in the US is an accurate picture of foreign popular culture. We tend to see just the extremes ("OMG IN JAPAN THEY HAVE PANTY VENDING MACHINES"), with no real context.

I would be fascinated to read articles on the different Korean subcultures, what they tend to be into, how they view each other, and so on — especially if those articles were skewed towards the mainstream and not the wacky fringe groups that Americans will find dorky/creepy/exotic.

Also, facts of day-to-day life that we might not know about — like the cup inflation that Civil Disobedient mentions; that could make for a fascinating article. And yeah, recipes. But me, I'd be more interested in what people actually eat there these days than in what's "traditional" or "authentic."
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:45 AM on June 22, 2006

Maybe a synopsis/recaps of some popular Korean dramas? My (Korean) mother is hooked on them and they look interesting, but my Korean and her English speaking skills make it difficult for me to follow along.
posted by lemoncello at 6:17 AM on June 22, 2006

I'd like to know about the culinary traditions of different regions. From watching my mother, it seems that Koreans are particular about their food. For instance, she says Kwangju has the best food (she's from there). Of course, the language barrier prevents me from asking why she thinks this, but I'm sure there are differences.
posted by lemoncello at 6:21 AM on June 22, 2006

What are people who are my age (mid 20s) interested in? What are some popular pasttimes? If I were to visit, would I be able to relate (or communicate, due to language barrier) with many people in that group?

I've been trying to determine a good place to travel to on my next vacation and Seoul is sounding increasingly tempting. I have this goal with travel, though: I try my best to live like one of the locals when I'm abroad. Going to a few cultural or historial landmarks is fine, but I'd rather figure out where all the good restaurants, places to hang out, and interesting people are. Expat for a week, if you will, so the site idea definitely intrigues me.
posted by mikeh at 6:50 AM on June 22, 2006

I've heard that the art of spitting is well-refined there. Would like confirmation - with anecdotes.

Seriously though, am always interested in SK thoughts about NK. North Korea sems like an entirely different planet to those of us in the West, and I'm always looking for insight into how it came to be that way (like an older documentary informed me that Kim Il-sung really took strong advantage of the cultural disposition toward a paternalistic leader, helping to cement his role in NK)
posted by kokogiak at 6:57 AM on June 22, 2006

You have two target audiences- those coming from and those going to. I've visited, so I guess I would represent the "going to" crowd. Kimchee and other food info is good. Language basics, including an alphabet primer, how to discuss money in a store setting (that was the one thing I couldn't pick up), transportation options (esp. city to city), and, of course, how to say "please" & "thank you".

Also, what to expect culturally.
posted by Doohickie at 7:26 AM on June 22, 2006

As a transplant in a foreign country, you have a unique view of their culture. Use that. Your target audience, theorietically, shares both your interest in South Korea and your Western roots. Whatever you write about, maintain that focus of comparing/contrasting the ROK and West.

I'd suggest parsing up the site like a newspaper; food goes in one section, news in another, culture in a third, crazy stuff that happened to you in Itaewon in a fourth, etc. Then update each section as you have something new to add there.

And pictures! People love seeing what you're talking about. Just seeing the architecture, nightlife, people, etc. of another culture would be interesting.

I lived in Seoul in the late 80's, but was too young to really appreciate it. You're site would definitely make it into my bookmarks.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:19 AM on June 22, 2006

I strongly second the Korean cinema comment. and of course, food, almost everybody likes exotic food and you don't find good Korean food exactly everywhere. yet. but especially, Korean cinema (and new dvds)
posted by matteo at 8:32 AM on June 22, 2006

When I was stationed in Korea I made friends with one of the KATUSAs assigned to my company. He was a very helpful guide and a nice guy, but I didn't learn until later how many mistakes I made dealing with him. Nothing horrific, but I wish I'd been a little better guest.

The PXs sell "Korean culture guidebooks," but most of the ones I saw were poor, mechanical and tied up with the usual "inscrutable Asian" crap.

I would have loved a resource that discussed Korean etiquette from the perspective of someone other than either a retired missionary peddling war-era observations or a military person offering a short course on the best ways to push buttons and pull levers.
posted by mph at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2006

Korean cinema, definitely. Other than that, maybe some English-language insight into Korean web-culture - I have a feeling that there's lots of interesting stuff on those millions of cyworld/naver/etc sites that I have no clue about.
posted by milov at 9:16 AM on June 22, 2006

I second the Korean contemporary/avant garde art suggestion also, as a person with an anthopology degree, I'm most interested in, Korean philiosophy, folk tales*, Korean subcultures, activists type things such as environmental activities etc...

*I have a wonderful book entitled: The life and hard times of a Korean Shaman by Laurel Kendall that is fascinating.
posted by Unregistered User at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2006

Let's see...some help with what to order at my local Korean restaurants, most of which have 8-12 page menus filled with fascinating looking stuff. Bonus points for stuff I can cook, cooking techniques, interesting utensils, etc.

I recently saw an incredible Korean film about the Korean War. Bet there are other incredible Korean films. I'd love help finding them.

And I always enjoy cultural differences type articles, when they are well done. Not, "look at how these foreign weirdos do stuff" but more "this is how I painfully figured out this critical little difference."

Subcultures, folk tales, Korean Shamanism...yeah, those are all interesting, too.

I hate to say it, but topic is less important to me than quality of writing and information. If you are an engaging, clear, concise writer, I don't care if you are explaining Korean auto parts numbering to me - I'll be back for more.
posted by QIbHom at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2006

I hate to say it

Don't. One thing I'm not too worried about (to be immodest) is my wordsmithery.

Thanks everyone so far for your thoughts. I'm elbow-deep in the css at the moment, thinking about site structure, and revising and posting some old writing of mine to start things off with a little depth of existing content. Keep an eye on Projects for the launch, if you're interested.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:49 PM on June 22, 2006

I remember reading somewhere -- maybe here -- about an untranslatable korean word that referred to "group feeling" and the need to protect the harmonious functioning of said group, by behavior, attitude, etc.

An essay about such concepts, and how they shake out in real life, would be very valuable.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:37 PM on June 22, 2006

Yeah, that was me, jason's_planet. That sort of thing is definitely going to be on the shite.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:32 PM on June 22, 2006

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