August 17, 2002
1:44 AM   Subscribe

The Struggle Continues!. Young Hae-Chang's flash classics include Samsung, the frenzied Royal Crown Super Salon, the languid Jongno, and two amusing masterpieces: Samsung Means To Come, and Hallf Breed Apache. More at her site.
posted by hama7 (22 comments total)
I know this site is not so new, and I am not that big a jazz fan, but some of these are so interesting like: All Fall Down, I thought it was worth repeating.
posted by hama7 at 1:47 AM on August 17, 2002

True, not new, but worth remembering. Been a while since I saw these. Thanks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:59 AM on August 17, 2002

Afterthought : It's perhaps worth noting that there is very little (and even less in English) of anything approaching a counterculture here in Korea, which is either a capitalist nightmare or a consumer wonderland, depending on which way you approach it. As recent as democracy is here, there is little tradition of resistance to the massmind that is not expressed through violence and/or mass demonstrations. I'd be very interested to know if anyone is aware of other Korean artists working this kind of vein...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:03 AM on August 17, 2002

I would too. Young-Hae Chang has made some interesting statements, and interviews here and here. There's also mention of an award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
posted by hama7 at 3:35 AM on August 17, 2002

Stavros, I am sure you are familiar with him, but Cho Se-Hyon does a pretty good job as a one-man counterculture organization. But I have to ask: What about Young Hae-Chang is "counterculture" though?
posted by hama7 at 3:41 AM on August 17, 2002

Great comment of the day: "As I said, the best artists are seen as those who went to the best schools. This prejudice creates a terrible intellectual burden not only for these artists, but for all artists who want to show that they too are smart. That's just about everyone. Art becomes something important, because Korean culture has an absolute esteem for education and intellect. (This is also absolutely hypocritical, for education and intellect are nothing here if not the foundation of money-making.)"
posted by hama7 at 3:57 AM on August 17, 2002

What about Young Hae-Chang is "counterculture" though?

From what I've come to understand of the Korean perspective, it takes very little to be seen as subversive in this country.

I may have used the wrong word for her work in calling it 'countercultural', but what work I've seen of hers has a tendency to work towards subverting the oppressively consumerist, throwaway Buy And Be Happy™ cash-and-carry culture here, and pushing back against the equally egregious instutionalized repression of women, so I see her fitting into what (to my knowledge) is a narrow spectrum of rebellious Korean thought.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:01 AM on August 17, 2002

I sense we're monopolizing the thread here, but I have to add in response to your quote, there, hama7 (and I've just checked your profile and am pleased to see there's another Seoul-based MeFite, finally) that the concept of 'the best schools' is a powerful one here in Korea, more so than anywhere else I've ever been. People's lives are seen (and it is often a self-fulfilling prophecy) as going in one direction or another based on which university they go to. If it's not one of the top half dozen or so, all of which are in Seoul, then they are unlikely to ever reach the upper echelons of society in this rigourously stratified culture....

Also, there's a backstory to the phrase 'Korean culture has an absolute esteem for education and intellect'. The intellectual underpinnings of much of what makes modern Korea unique (and goes a long way to maintaining the class stratification I mention above) is the fact that Korea is the most Confucian (or more accurately Neo-Confucian (combining Confucian precepts with animist practices like ancestor-worship)) nation on the planet. Confucian thought regards education as one of the highest virtues, and so an enormous amount of emphasis, mostly in the form of lip-service, is paid to the idea of education.

The reality of the situation (in my personal observations, at least) is that at every level, the quality of education that Korean students receive is often shockingly poor, a situation only somewhat compensated for by the monomania with which elementary, middle and high-school students approach their studies (in order to get into the top universities, which then virtually guarantees that doors will open for them no matter what field they choose).

Once university entrance is achieved, many students simply 'go on holiday' for a few years, the only time in their carefully-scheduled lives that they are able to do so (before mandatory military service for young men, and mandatory marriage and tranformation into dedicated mothers that is required of young women).

(more on this, for the interested, may be found in the Korea-related category at my blog, as always)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:16 AM on August 17, 2002

I agree that as a woman in Korean society, she is rather remarkable, and the deification of Samsung (in particular) is hilarious.

I have met a good many professional women who are not artists, but who would also not fit into the "typical" Korean society stereotype, usually working for foreign companies, and provided the opportunity might produce similar observations on Korean culture as Young hae Chang has..

Here's an interesting and (off topic) tragic female figure in Korean history. ( great picture about halfway down).
posted by hama7 at 4:18 AM on August 17, 2002

I think we're the only ones awake at 8:30P.M. Korea time.

in order to get into the top universities, which then virtually guarantees that doors will open for them no matter what field they choose).

The scores on the entrance exam rather cruelly dictate what they can study. A good test-taker might be eligible to study law, even though he/she may have no interest in it.

I have read for a while. In fact, you're kind of famous.
posted by hama7 at 4:31 AM on August 17, 2002

ok people with inside cultural knowledge - what's with all the mother-in-law references?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:18 AM on August 17, 2002

what's with all the mother-in-law references?

Mother-in-laws are the same wherever you are.
posted by hama7 at 6:27 AM on August 17, 2002

ps i watched the first link without sound, (thinking "hey, jenny holzer for the web") - maybe it's worth pointing out that there's music too for those at work who might want to listen at home or dig out the headphones or whatever...
posted by andrew cooke at 6:28 AM on August 17, 2002

(Previously discussion from last week - probably while you guys were sleeping.)
posted by ceiriog at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2002

Ach. My Englishing is'nt more good as it were.
posted by ceiriog at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2002

Ugh. stavros, sometimes I think you take this wise-foreigner-in-Asian-land thing a little too far.

the quality of education that Korean students receive is often shockingly poor

The "shockingly poor" education seems to produce rather decent students (see charts) by some measure. It's not so much "poor", as strong or weak in certain aspects, like most other education systems. I went through a few years of it, and it taught me a lot about logic, discipline and a kind of speed-learning, but not much about creative thinking or play.

mandatory military service for young men, and mandatory marriage and tranformation into dedicated mothers that is required of young women

I'm sure there are many women are nudged not-so-gently towards marriage in a society that values (obsesses over?) family. But suggesting that marriage is as mandatory and forced-upon for adult women as military service is for men - that's like saying "Americans are lazy".

Korea has problems and strengths. You could be a resource for insider insights on both. Yet you're so focused on all that is wrong and laughable, that you almost never have time to recognize or highlight anything positive and progressive that happens in the country.

I'm sorry to be so off-topic re: YHC.
posted by shortfuse at 8:21 AM on August 17, 2002

I make no claims to wisdom, shortfuse. I focus on what's wrong and laughable in America and Canada and elsewhere, too, being the curmudgeonly old prick that I am. I call 'em as I see 'em, and I feel no need whatsoever to justify myself to you. I'd probably be describing what a mess Australia is if I still lived there, but I don't.

Korea's fucked, in different (and therefore possibly interesting and instructive) ways than America is fucked, for example, but the vast majority of people here already know about America. Does it have strengths as well? Sure, but they're not very interesting, are they?

I would offer apologies for coming off as if I'm pontificating, but I don't really give a damn. But I'll be sure to let you know next time I see something 'positive or progressive' that happens here, how 'bout that? And, as an aside, if you are just full-to-the-brim with positive, affirmative insights about the nation (noticing as I have that your surname appears to be Korean, thus assuming that qualifies you to speak about it from an informed perspective), how about you share them with us, rather than just pissing all over me?

And now, hamming it up for the sympathy vote : I get enough of the cold shoulder for being an arrogant foreigner (but nevertheless perpetually uninformed about the limpid beauty of all that is Hanguk) in my daily life, I can live without it here on MeFi as well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:51 AM on August 17, 2002

shortfuse: Hell with the topic, your comments are welcome.
In fact, Your comments about education are really interesting to me. Would you put your child through what you went through? I mean the logic and discipline part, and the Korean education thing.
posted by hama7 at 8:59 AM on August 17, 2002

Great stuff. Clever, jazzy, brilliant. Anyone have her phone number?
posted by Samsonov14 at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2002

stavros: yep I'm Korean. I left in the '80s and my last visit was 8 years ago. Which is why I'm not as aware of interesting, fun, MeFi-worthy things happening there today (surely there must be a few?) as someone who lives in Korea. Those are part of what I meant by "positive and progressive" things and "strengths" (my bad choice of words - it sounds like I'm talking about the rise in the gross national product).

Be a curmudgeon if you will; it's a lot better than mindless cheerleading, which I'm not going to start doing for Korea just to offset your views. But if I think you're way off base, as with the education thing, I'll offer alternative views and facts, as I did above. Which seems to be what we do around here. See, I'm getting the hang of it.

hama7, it's a good question. I'm not sure about my kids. Some skills I learned in the Korean system have helped a lot, and I think the very early years could be good for the kids. I just don't recall any attempt made to teach more creative problem solving, approaching the problem from a completely different angle, etc. I don't know if American systems do this well, but at least there seems to be more awareness of it inside and outside the educational system.
posted by shortfuse at 11:13 AM on August 17, 2002

If anyone else is curious, I've put the details from the credits (which scroll by quickly) here [self link].
posted by andrew cooke at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2002

"What about Young-hae's work is countercultural?"

Uh, what isn't?

Young-hae and Marc's work under the YHCHI rubric has always inspired me for its ability to walk a very, very narrow line. They are, of course, implicated in both the local and the international art "scene." They know this, their work reflects an exquisite awareness of this, and they'd never bother trying to deny it.

But how many artists that you're aware of manage to accept this, and simultaneously interrogate it? Expose it to critique without self-righteousness, with humor that's neither too "gentle" and toothless to be effective, nor so over the top as to guarantee marginalization?

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries reeks of integrity; and if for no other reason, integrity will always be counter-cultural.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:16 PM on August 18, 2002

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