The World When Women Led Labor Unions in South Korea

by Kristin Pak

Recent Articles by ISC Korea 

A Reflection on Community Education

by Erica Sweett

Coming to Korea 1.5 years ago, I could never have imagined how much this country and its people could teach me. For me, education is about discovery. It is a shared knowledge that opens your mind to worlds beyond your own. Instead of passively learning about the culture and history of where we are living, we become active members of retelling and reshaping the future.
In March I was invited to see a play about three women who worked in the Korean garment factories during the 1970s. The women read their stories alongside actors who reenacted the scenes. Choking back tears, they spoke of the inhumane treatment, humiliation and violence they endured in the factories.

The Korea these women spoke of was not only of a different time, but of a completely different world. Their stories allowed me to see, from a personal perspective, the struggles many Koreans face.

Reigniting the Spark

by Ana Traynin

These days, most high-school-age Korean girls put on school uniforms and double over studying from morning to night, at the same rate as their male peers. As a visiting native English teacher in Korean high school, I’ve heard the word “hell” used more than once to describe these three years. However much they may hate it, for young people this remains the path to a kind of status denied to thousands of poor, rural girls growing up under Park Chung-hee’s military dicatorship of the 1960s and 1970s. Much of Korea’s economic progress, or the so-called “Miracle of the Han River” was carried out on the backs of workers like Shin Soon Ae of Cheongyye Union, Lee Cheong Gak at Dongil Textiles and Choi Soon Young at YH Trading Company.

“Enforce the labor code! We are not machines!”

by Stephanie Park

Anyone with a passing knowledge of Korea’s labor movement knows the name of Jeon Tae Il, the iconic young male worker who self-immolated in protest of working conditions in Korean factories during the 1970s, as well as the words he shouted that fateful day in Seoul’s Pyeonghwa Market. I first learned about Jeon Tae Il through a college class on Korean cinematography, where we watched A Single Spark, a film that dramatizes his life and the events that led him to such drastic action.

Being the Change We Want to See

By Taryn Assaf

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”­- David Foster Wallace

Seeking Participants: Survey of 30-Year-Old Women Around the World

Seeking Participants: Survey of 30-Year-Old Women Around the World

Please help us paint a picture of 30-year-old women around the world!

Turning 30 this year was a really great experience and I couldn’t help think back on all the ideas (some much less accurate than others) on what 30 was supposed to be. 

 I’ve been fortunate to connect with amazing people from around the world (you!) and I wanted to use these connections to paint a picture of 30 year old women around the world. (Men and women was just too much on my plate right now! Specifically 30, again to narrow down the variation.)

Vagina Monologues 4th Year in Busan


Korea Q&A: Racism, Girl Judo, Meds, CRC, Typhoons

Taking a few to answer some questions and comments I've received from my YouTube channel and blog.  Thanks to those who wrote them into me.

1. Racism in Korea
2. Prescription medications
3. Are there any women in judo?  Is judo expensive?
4. What is typhoon season like in Korea? Is it anything compared to hurricane season in the US?
5. How long does CRC take?

Paradigm Shift Sunday

I learned two incredibly important things today. One. Do not argue with women. It just makes them angrier. Instead, apologize for everything, agree with what they say, and do what they ask. If you’ve gotten your hands on a good one, she’ll come around to your point of view (if it is indeed the correct one) on her own eventually. It’s taken me about two years to figure this out. Life is just much more pleasant when you let women do whatever they want.

Two. I got this new Korean textbook, Intermediate College Korean by Clare You and Ensu Cho. It’s pretty awesome. After working my way through two lessons, and practicing a bit with A., I understood her today when she was speaking to her grandparents and used this crazy-ass verb conjugation that comes right in the middle of the sentence. She literally said:

Husband university at works because of university free so is.

When we translate the phrase with the help of a mirror, it becomes:

Is Seoul a Good City for an Expat to Live?

On the television this morning was a programme about the top ten cities in Asia for expats to live in. It wasn’t a particularly well made programme and I got the impression that it was segments from a collection of programmes pulled together under the rather weak connection that they dealt with  expats in  other Asian cities. Of course, there’s plenty of problems with this kind of competition, namely that the majority of those described as expats were Caucasian and in well paid positions, and in several cases the people were merely English teachers.

Anyway, the hit list goes like this:

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