• (Episodic Incident, 34th Spt Gp.)
    Katusas and the washroom

    It was when I was covering the Director’s absence due to her TDY in the States. I had the oppotunity to attend the Cdr’s Monthly Meeting. I was representing the DRM Office for the Diector. Among attendees, the EUSA Hqs and Hqs Company Commander (Some Cpt) brought his meeting agendas, one of which he presented was that:
    Subordinate Units complained about their KATUSA soldiers misusing of Washroom in their Barrack, that was KATUSAs are washing their face with violent bird-bathing manner splashing the water all over the top of Washing stands and shaking their wet hands on the washroom floor making it watery causes much inconveniences and it may bring about safety hazards to other users. The Cpt. saught for Commander’s attention and possible issuance of Cdr’s Directive to prevent the improper usage. The Commander responded him immediately saying that Why don’t your level call an open meeting just as you would do for community matter in the civilian life and discuss the problem, convince and seeking for cooperation. The Cdr. was resolute and his direction was conclusive and simple as that..
    Relevant to the simple advise of the Commander, I personally felt that his measure was such an intelligent and considerate. The nature of the problem was, although minor but it involves again cultural differences. Among KATUSA Soldiers – some may have come from typical family background specially ones from the rural side may their elder member of family wash face with vigorously making big sounds at home could get misconception that may let to emotionally affect as a discrimination resulting in anti-Americanism that is decisively harmful to the Esprit De Corps among member of the Unit. In those days elitism was high among young Korean soldiers agitated highly by the social environment where radical influences were prevailing off post and too often they were biased to view things against. The Commander’s action appropriate to smooth out the situation was standing out.
    Nowadays, I don’t think they have any of these type complain around Barracks.

    PS: If any unnaturalness in the English expressions is found, excuses are sought.
    Yu, In Su January 26, 2018 (Mr. Yu worked over 35 years as a Korean civilian for the USFK in different garrisons including Yongsan the longest)


    DID YOU KNOW….In some parts of Asia, a red, white and blue barber pole is used as a symbol for a brothel.
    While prostitution is illegal in many parts of Asia, laws against it are often only enforced to the degree that all public solicitations for it are eliminated.
    The barber’s pole is used as a euphemistic way of advertising a brothel, reducing the likelihood of police intervention.
    In Korea, barber’s poles are used both for actual barbershops and for brothels.
    Brothels disguised as barbershops, referred to as ibalso or miyongsil, are more likely to use two poles next to each other, often spinning in opposite directions, though the use of a single pole for the same reason is also quite common.
    Actual barbershops, or miyongsil, are more likely to be hair salons; to avoid confusion, they will usually use a pole that shows a picture of a woman with flowing hair on it with the words hair salon written on the pole.

  • Mr. Nam, thank you for sharing a very interesting story. I look forward to seeing many more stories from you.
    • By Mr. Nam @sangsonam , July 2,2017

      The stories are from what I’ve heard from my Chinese cousins and friends and various Japanese history books I’ve read, and also based on my random citations from the following books written by author Kim Bungaku (in Japanese), Jin Wenxue (in Chinese), Kim Munhak (in Korean); “The truth about Chinese characters,” “Four thousand-year Chinese history of love and appetite,” and “The front face and rear face of Japanese, Chinese and Korean.”

      Kim Bungaku 金文學 was born in China as a third generation Korean in 1962 and currently teaches at Fukuyama University in Japan and writes especially of books on the folk literatures of these three nations.

      (I’ve drafted following article “Our close neighbor Chinese” to contribute to The Korea Times but has not yet been submitted. I’m putting the essay as an introduction to these stories.)

      (Quote) It’s a country of dragon which is the most sacred animal among Chinese. It had been the symbol mark of the Chinese emperors. It’s a legendary creature, typically drawn with a reptilian body covered by carp scales, talons of hawk, rabbit’s eyes, tiger paws, cow’s ears, and it flies high in the sky and splash into the deep ocean. It’s the most coercive creature among the animals. Some dragons spew fire from its mouth when they get angry something about human being. They are always upset and irritated that they must be all male as we don’t see a cute female dragon having long eyebrows.

      The fictitious yet intimidating dragon symbolizes Chinese people very well. It seems that peoples in the continent are unified under the image of the dragon. Having the northern boundary of the peninsular attached to the Chinese continent and getting their dusts created by the spewing dragon fires ride on the prevailing westerlies, the descendants of Dangun, the founding father of Korea, have had no chance to be free from the influences of the dragon culture to such a degree that some Chinese even say Korea was once a part of China, which may not be completely false as all of our surnames are in Chinese characters many duplicating with the Chinese family names.

      The philosophy of Confucius or Kongzi (孔子) emphasizes personal and government morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Many Koreans see Chinese are a great people and its culture retains fine humanities with the preconception which had been greatly influenced by the Confucianism. The reality, however, is not always what the Confucianism demands, rather greatly alienating from the Master Kong’s teaching.

      There was once a big thief named Dotak (Korean pronunciation) in the Confucius era. He was born in the same village as Kongzi was and had 9,000 small thieves as his followers. Kongzi visited the master thief one day to persuade him to be a good man when Dotak was grilling a human liver and just about to eat it. The master thief cut off the Kongzi’s disciplinary words, and shouted back, “If you don’t leave here now, I’ll kill you and broil your liver and eat it. You are deceiving poor people with honeyed and false words. You are worse rascal then us.” The Confucius ran away without further word. The Chinese people nowadays interpret Dotak’s words as “the thieves steal just in order to survive but Kongzi stole the nation by the seductive words of Confucius. The story displays the both sides of the Chinese culture. Sometimes in the history the thief’s theory in China had been on the obverse side.

      Koreans are not qualified to blame Chinese culture too much as we have the wrong side of culture similar to those in China. Yet Japanese have a far worse phrase on the two sides of coin; “tatemae” for principles and “honne” for real intensions…(unquote)

      Now for the feature stories;

      The life’s target, say young Chinese men nowadays, is becoming a government official and make money. That’s the easiest way to make money, they believe. And the most idealistic life style would be, so Chinese men dream; live in a British style house, wearing a Swiss made watch, receiving American salary, marry a Korean woman, play with Russian girls, ride in a German car, drink French wine. And have a Filipina house maid, and become a member of Chinese Communist Party. It was Japanese woman they wanted to marry until around the year 2007 but most Chinese men now find Korean women far more attractive. The change of their mind may have to do with the Korean produced fine cosmetics and well advanced plastic surgeries in Seoul.

      When the Cultural Revolution (Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) took place in China from 1966 until 1976 which was set into motion by Mao Zedong, everyone, elders, young, male or female, wore the same style of the People’s cloth in dark blue, grey or sometimes green. Women were not allowed to wear red or pink color cloth or skirt and impossible to visit hair dresser to get perm. So that it was difficult to distinguish women from men. The visitors to China then said, “we understand the Chinese revolution but why they must make men and women look alike,” or “Chinese women don’t like to wear makeup but they prefer to be armed with the arms.” It was a revolution but a kind of sexual revolution as Mao had eventually created a nonsexual era. And the talk about sex was the highest taboo among the people of China at the time.

      Photo source: http:makeup.vidalondon.net

      But it was the same Chinese who authored in 1596 a novel called Jin Ping Mei

      (金瓶梅), or The Plum in the Golden Vase or The Forbidden Legend Sex and

      Chopsticks which explicitly depicts of sexuality garnered the novel of notoriety.

      Jin Ping Mei takes the names from the three central female characters. For centuries it had been identified as a dirty book and officially banned most of the time. The book has nevertheless been read surreptitiously by many as a matter of cause.

      The erotica literature in China has been developed since time immemorial.

      The famous Chinese four words of “Ponds of wine and mountains of meat, or a prodigal feast (酒池肉林) all have been willingly employed in Korea and Japan.

      The Qin dynasty 秦 王朝 (246 to 206 BC) which had established the first centralized imperial government and built much of the Great Wall had also built the famous Aboukyuu harem where the Emperor Qinshihuang had boxed thousands of royal concubines. In order to control the congested traffic by so many fancy women around the Emperor’s bedroom, there was an old woman of government official called Josi in Japanese and Yeosa in Korean and 女史 in Chinese (and in those three far eastern countries use now the same Chinese characters for a lady in English) was responsible to decide who and when, and the only selected woman can enter into the Emperor’s room.

      She, the Josi, had her own way of keeping the program (the author Kim Munhak details but I must skip the meticulous wordings here) and a record of the night or day acts so that the control lady can make arithmetic and decide, when a sign of pregnancy was displayed by a concubine, if she was legitimately conceived. Since the candidates women are in such a large number, there were far larger numbers of neglected lonely beds whom naturally sought clandestine love affairs.

      The Josi held a strong power over the management of the Emperor’s royal women and had a clear record showing which girls would be ready to conceive. And in order to distinguish from the others, she painted a rouge round mark about a size of recent day coin on both cheeks of the subject ready girls. The last Emperor of China Puyi (1908 – 1912) had about the same concubines. Ref: The Last Emperor, a Columbia Pictures movie in 1987.

      (Korean bride now after following the old Josi’s invention created thousands years ago displays that she would be ready to become a wife by painting a rouge marks on the middle of brides’ cheeks in the customary wedding ceremony. I remember Ham had the round rouges painted on her cheeks (연지臙脂) on our wedding day in 1961)

      The beauty contest nowadays is being held every year all over the countries. It was actually originated in China. The Emperor Yodai of Zui China (581 – 618) was having a difficulty in finding the most beautiful woman from thousands of royal concubines in his harem and decided to review by lining them up in front of him. The candidates naturally had to dress well with their best makeups to be elected in the contest just like we see the contestants in the beauty contests. Yet, Emperor Yodai couldn’t find the women he likes inside his harem and asked to expand the beauty contest over the country wide. That was some 1,400 years ago in China.

      Now you’d believe a Chinese saying that history was created by the men’s heroism but the history was broken by women’s beauty. They even believe that Cinggis Qayan (Genghis Khan in English, 1206 – 1227) had conquered Europe sacrificing thousands of Mongolian soldiers, for what? Some Chinese historians suspect that he was tired of Mongolian women and wanted to find more attractive women in other countries, which reminds us of the love story of Cleopatra and Caesar.

      The Kings of the Korean dynasties were not too far behind the Chinese emperors in having so many royal concubines. The government printed Korean history books for elementary and middle schools show that some 3,000 royal concubines threw themselves from Nakwha cliff (now in South Chungcheong province) into a river below in the Baekjae (百済) era when enemy invaded the country in order to avoid becoming slave.


    • photo from Internet. All rights reserved.

    • Below is an essay written by Chang Soon-hee (Mrs. Nam) published by The Korea Times on April 21, 2014, which might ease in a way the surprised minds of the US Military personnel and also help understand more about the Korean history.
      Mr. Nam, 2017 Feb 26

      Riding sedan chair to wedding
      Sedan chair is “gama” in Korean. It was a kind of wheel-less, human-powered vehicle for the transport of mainly bride and groom. The carriage is enclosed for protection from the cold and sun and from getting wet.
      In a traditional village wedding, the groom rides a gama to the ceremony held at the bride’s home and later the bride marries into the groom’s home, also being carried by a sedan chair. The gama I’d ridden some 53 years before was made of wood enclosing a square space much smaller than today’s telephone booth.
      There was a small window in the front and the side walls were made of colorfully decorated drop curtains. Yellow silk cushions were placed on the small wooden floor so I could squeeze and sit, cross-legged. I noticed I’d fall off the sedan chair if I dozed off.
      There were two gama porters – one in front and one in the back – who used cloth suspenders to shoulder two wooden horizontal long rails that passed through brackets on the sides of the cage.
      They wore a small black round net hat made from horses’ tails. The front man was one of my distant uncles known as the village’s champion of ssireum, or Korean wrestling.
      I was heavily dressed with a newly sewed oversized traditional wedding dress in pink, golden and dark blue striped design and a colorful bridal tiara was tied on my head. I crossed my hands in front, hiding them in the large sleeves and I was told not to show my bare skin except for my face which was rouged in coin-size crimson in the middle of cheeks.
      My mother and an aunt helped me slide into the gama in the yard of my farming house surrounded by the smiling eyes of well-wishers.
      “Remember, today is your day, dear. You are not going to bow to anyone but your groom, and we won’t yield the way to no one until we reach your man’s home,” the big front porter told me. “Don’t worry, I’m strong enough to fight off any oncoming gama, if we happened to meet one on a narrow levee of a rice paddy or a log bridge,” he assured me.
      I’ve heard about the frightful uncompromising tradition of omen that if the groom or the bride makes a concession to an oncoming gama on its way to wedding, the couple would have an unhappy marriage. So, the wrestling champion was the front man.
      It was a warm early spring day with lingering snow in the shades of bushes along the foot of mountain – a beautiful day for a wedding, for other couples too.
      There were some five kilometers of dirt path in the rice fields to walk, two shallow but wide river crossings with steppingstones and a single logged bridge to cross over before we can reach the destination.
      Why couldn’t we just wait for the other party, who no doubt won’t concede, to get through first instead collide with, and on a log bridge? I was disturbed and the sedan chair riding wasn’t comfortable since it swayed a lot. I felt motion sickness.
      “There is no gama headed this way!” a young man running toward our entourage reported breathlessly. The front man whispered back to me over his shoulder, “Your groom sent a scout to let us know the coast is clear.”
      I felt for the first time I loved my groom (he is 82 now).
      P.S. I think I know why we Koreans lack the concession courtesy in the modern streets.
      By Chang Soon-hee (Mrs. Nam) who was born in Uljin on the east coast. This article was once published by The Korea Times on April 21, 2014)

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