22 November 2008

Hong Kong culture/Korean Presidents

Two things continue to come up as I drive around.

First, yesterday's massive traffic jams in Seoul allowed me to listen to some radio programming, dealing with the "Hong Kong Noir" genre of movies that were so popular in the 1980s. Many South Koreans have a special affinity for this era, as everything related to Hong Kong at that time - trench coats, hairstyles, martial arts moves, and more - was extremely popular then, just like everything Korean is today. Many Korean boys nagged their mothers to buy them a trench coat or a pair of skinny white jeans, so that they could look like Liu De Who (pronounced in Korean as Yu Deok-hwa) or Leslie Cheung (pronounced in Korean as Jang Guk-yeong) as they walked around. (Sadly, Cheung jumped to his death in 2003.) Every girl had a crush on delivery men who happened to look like either Liu or Cheung. And the epitome of Hong Kong Noir, lots of dark, bloody scenes, was Chow Yun-fat (pronounced in Korean as Ju Yun-bal); many people say that after watching Chow's movies, they felt afraid to go to Hong Kong, as it looked like the entire Hong Kong had bad guys lurking around every alley, ready to pounce.

Every mention of Hong Kong makes me look forward to my trip. In fact, a week from now, I will certainly be walking the streets of Kowloon (minus the bad guys in Chow Yun-fat's movies) and taking the Star Ferry across the harbor. This will be a great trip - and I look forward to picking up some fashion cues while at it too. Sure, Hong Kong's 1980s actresses weren't as fashion-forward as their male counterparts, but they still set lots of new trends.

On the subject of Hong Kong actors, my favorite remains Jackie Chan (pronounced in Korean as Seong Ryong, and he certainly put in lots of time in South Korea before fame came to him) with his sense of humor, even though his movies are very silly.

Turning my attention back to South Korea, I've been mentioning various Presidents over the years. I've finally figured out the order of the Presidents, as well as their terms. Unlike the US, South Korea counts a single President multiple times if he serves multiple terms. Of course, since 1987, multiple terms are no longer allowed. There have been seventeen presidential terms in total, served by ten men, as follows:
  • Syngman Rhee, terms 1-3, 1948-1960
  • Yun Po-sun, term 4, 1960-1961
  • Park Chung-hee, terms 5-9, 1961-1979
  • Choi Kyu-ha, term 10, 1979-1980
  • Chun Doo-hwan, terms 11-12, 1980-1988
  • Roh Tae-woo, term 13, 1988-1993
  • Kim Young-sam (YS), term 14, 1993-1998
  • Kim Dae-jung (DJ), term 15, 1998-2003
  • Roh Moo-hyun, term 16, 2003-2008
  • Lee Myung-bak (2MB), term 17, 2008-2013
Roh Moo-hyun said as a fan of Abraham Lincoln, he was very honored to serve the 16th term, like Lincoln himself. However, the Korean-American Christians were quick to point out that unlike Lincoln, a devout Christian, Roh was an atheist, and therefore that alone disqualified him from the job. I never knew that being a Christian was a qualification for the Presidency in South Korea! (By contrast, 2MB is a Presbyterian, makes his biases clearly known, and the Buddhists are fed up as hell.)

Time to do my final day of driving!