FT hails New Malden parakeets, and other recent London Korean stories

Keith Howard at SOASFirst up, Professor Keith Howard from SOAS got featured in the JoongAng daily in an article entitled Samulnori beats in an English heart, on the occasion of a recent trip to Seoul to attend a Samulnori symposium. Professor Howard will soon be off to sunnier climes, with a year in Sydney Australia. Howard was recently to be found playing changgo on the stage of SOAS’s Brunei Gallery theatre (right), accompanying kayageum player Lee Myung Hee.

Second, those of us who live in South West London have noticed a growing population of green parakeets invading our gardens and the parks where we go on our early morning runs. The FT recently paid tribute to another breed of migrant population, in an interesting feature on the Korean community in New Malden (뉴몰든), in an article entitled Dispatch from New Malden.

This is a bourgeois invasion. Korea and Britain could hardly be more remote and different from each other. Yet these two groups, the Home Counties British and the Korean newcomers, are astonishingly similar: self-contained, reticent, desperate to avoid offence and very bad at making connections, partly because they are both hopeless at foreign languages.

Some other familiar stereotypes are rehearsed, including how clean these new exotic residents are:

Yet the locals only really cottoned on in 2002, when the South Korean soccer team reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. As the tournament went on, the community descended on The Fountain pub, which erected a big screen in the garden. Then a strange thing happened.

“Afterwards, you wouldn’t even have known there had been a major event,” said Derek Osborne, the local Lib Dem councillor and now leader of Kingston upon Thames council. “They even picked up every cigarette end in the garden, and the Koreans are heavy smokers.”

Their law-abiding nature and frightening work ethic is mentioned, but the author hints that not all might not be as it seems if you look below the surface:

Local officials have only the vaguest idea what might be happening within the Korean community. “If there is something negative to report, we don’t tend to hear of it,” said Brigitte Pfender of Kingston council. “Any social services or child welfare issues are not necessarily known. To take council help would be considered shameful.”

Certainly, to an outsider, the Korean community in New Malden is hard to fathom. There are stories that kirogi mothers have a tough time keeping some of their offspring in line, with the fathers hard at work back in Korea to keep their children at school in an English-speaking country. LKL does not pretend to have even started scratching the surface. It’s a long term project.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the New Malden Trailers, a video project by Paik Tae-yun, completed as part of his masters degree in graphic design at the London College of Communication.

Paik explains his video thus:

New Malden is a town within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, located southwest of central London (zone 4). The journey from Waterloo station takes approximately 25 minutes by train. With a population just above 30,000, New Malden hosts the largest and most concentrated Korean community in Europe with around 10,000 Korean inhabitants. Often regarded as the Korea Town among the Koreans, the area boasts a wide selection of Korean restaurants, shops and other cultural, religious and business establishments genuinely integrated into the English community, providing a truly unique bicultural experience to everyone.

A trailer is a shortened version of a movie whose main intention is to spark enough interest and curiosity to go watch the whole thing. This video contains nine trailers that parody well known Western and Korean movies. It is a footage of the real life in New Malden where its people are the protagonists. This gives a movie-like special quality to the place and gives credit to the people and the community.

Enjoy.

Finally, Michael Rank over at North Korean Economy Watch reports on a little-noticed trip to the UK by a delegation from the Workers’ Party of Korea. The visit included a trip down to Bristol to see the site of the proposed Severn Barrage.

According to Rank, Glyn Ford, author of North Korea on the Brink and MEP for the Bristol area, said

a deal on the nuclear issue and on reviving the human rights dialogue could result in the EU agreeing to provide wind, tidal and other renewable technology to North Korea, just as the EU has provided €500 million ($640 million) in humanitarian aid over the last eight years.

Read the rest of the interesting report over on nkeconwatch.

One thought on “FT hails New Malden parakeets, and other recent London Korean stories

  1. I was looking forward to watching the New Malden video, both having visited Korea & living close to New Malden, but was very disappointed by it. Is this really a Masters quality submission? The quality of the photography & the overall feel of it was poor I felt – at Masters level I would expect far more……

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