The first draft of a dream – polar bear

I had a dream about a polar bear -a short dream. The bear was stuck on a small ice island. Just as the bear always appears in global warming broadcasting.

At first, I was clearly observing the scene of a hopeless bear, but soon I myself had become the bear, and the ice was an earthen island. The size of the land was shrinking every second.

Huge fishes were passing by my island. My land was lessening slowly.

And my eyeglasses.

It happens to my eyeglasses in all my nightmares. To be lost or broken.

So it goes.

They flew out on the far corner of the land by a shake. Soon after they slipped into the water and disappeared.

Everything was blurred anymore.

A silhouette of a person appeared on the last piece of my island.

A familiar man.

Yes, he was.

He was my dad.

He was about to say something just before slipping into the water as my eyeglasses did.

It ends here.

Related image

Artwork: RubyandLuna

Redevelopment, forced eviction and resistance in Haengdang-dong (Seoul)

We see successful community participation in recent urban renewal projects in Seoul. Active engagement of civil society organizations in Jangsu Town, Songmisan Town and Insa-dong can be examples of good community involvements. However, back to 1990s, the situation was so different.

Until the last decade, local governments in Korea have preferred urban redevelopment over urban regeneration, and they favored private interest over communal ones.

Haengdang-dong is a turning point. Today, I am going to tell you about Haendang-dong, where a strong community resistance happened against the urban redevelopment project in the 1990s. I will talk about the subject especially by giving references to a documentary: Haengdang-dong People. It is a 30 min film directed by Kim Dong-won in 1994.

In the late 1980s, as Seoul prepared to host the Olympics, the government proposed a policy of forced evictions for fear of exposing slum life. Most of the lower-class families who came to Seoul to survive lived in areas which became the scene of war between police, gangsters, and residents. The movie includes harsh encountering of anti-eviction local community and interviews with the locals.

In Haengdang-dong, about 3500 residents lived in a physically bad, socially active environment. It is located around Wangsipri area.

They had an annual singing contest, a care center taking care of children for a whole day for working parents, and they also had a study center helping children on the street to do their homework and teaching what is right.

Timeline of the project described in the film:

1. Haengdang-dong is being designated as a redevelopment area by the government.

2. The private company makes a development project for the area.

3. The declaration of the neighborhood as a Renewal Area encourages the property owners to sell their property and leave the area.

4. Some tenants chose to leave. Others don’t leave (or can’t leave).

5. Eviction attempt begins without offering shelter for Haendang-dong’s residents. Worst of all it is raining season. Meanwhile, treatment to landowners and tenants are different.

6. The private company takes brutal actions against who do not leave. Gangsters hired by developing company threaten tenants to move out.

7. Haengdang-dong’s residents’ resistance against the project (or better to say ‘against the eviction’) begins. Residents build a statue on the top of the town. People file up tiles and set barricade of flatted tries in every corner of the town. And every night, the self-security team is guarding the town and training for an emergency of eviction.

8. The resident organization gets signatures in order to correct unfair law. Some activists involved in negotiations between the community and the state.

9. In the end, the government takes the step. The residents of Haendang-dong-dong settle in temporary housing facilities at the end of 1995 after three years of struggle. They also build successful local communities through the union movement and set an example for those who are displaced elsewhere.

“We become one by one, for peaceful and loving land. We learn that we can achieve what we dream of if we depend on and encourage each other.”
(Tenants committee’s first anniversary, 1994.5.29)

Watch the film here.


Since the last 50-60 years, Korea (the South) has been living an economic booming. It can clearly be seen in GDP changes per years. Koreans call this change as a miracle; The Miracle of Hangang (Han River).

A Korean in his/her 50’s or 60’s is a man or a woman who was born into one of the poorest countries of that time, and, who is a citizen of one of the wealthiest countries of the present time. To adopt this fascinating change must be difficult for some people…

Reporting from Korea / Dogania News Selection

~ Seoul will make public transportation free in polluted days.
You may know that air pollution has been a concerning issue in Korea since last few years. Many debates have been done and numerous solution methods have been raised. I think this is one of the most interesting and most creative ones.

More about it: here

~Masturbation scandal in the school.

I am sure this is the top news for this week. Nine middle school students involved in public masturbation in the classroom.

How does it sound?





And what do you think about the cause of such a happening?

Our Korean experts unanimously said something: it is because that reaching sexual materials (porn) is so easy. Do you agree with this?

Honestly speaking I am not satisfied with this claim. Doesn’t public nudity deserve small blame? Or norebangs and massage rooms in every corner of cities in Korea.  A middle school kid can find more real materials in the streets to be sexually attracted.

Some more public masturbation occurrences: here.

~ Elderly man murders his Vietnamese daughter-in-law.

There are many sad stories of Vietnamese brides in Korea. Stories of girls who marry to men who are dozens of years older than them. It requires extensive analysis. I want to write a long post about it later.

For this news: here

Escape from Camp 14

A North Korean man’s escape story.  A bestseller book.

4 years ago, when I first moved to South Korea, I saw this book in a bookstore. That time I thought it would be a man’s exaggeratedly dramatized story. So I didn’t have any interest to read it.

But, recently  I wanted to read something about North Korea. So it goes. I read it.

It is worthy to read. It is not only a critique to North Korea but also it has many biting words for South Korea and America.
2 Koreas.

The route of escaping from North Korea: River separating North Korea from China.

China~North Korea border.

China’s Koreans (Juseonjok People)

The activities of South Korean authorities and Korean churches for North Korean defectors in China.

Next step for North Korean defectors: Thailand.

Difficulties of adapting to South Korea for a North Korean defector.

Yes, it is a truth North Koreans are happier than their kins in South.

Why Protestors Carry American Flags in Korea

Since the impeachment of the president Park Geun-hye,  pro-Park demonstrators have been holding protests every Saturday in the heart of Seoul, in front of the City Hall. Till the impeachment, mass protests had been done in the same place by millions of anti-Park demonstrators.

The protestors are mostly elder members of society. It is so hard to find someone younger than 30’s, even than 40’s. They are angry to anti-Park protestors. They blame anti-Park groups as North Korea sympathizers. They are also angry toward mainstream media.

This week I happened to see one of these rallies on the place. I was so surprised by the number of American flags being waved by protestors. As many as Korean flags, they carry American flags.

I wonder whether pro-Park demonstrators’ love of American flag causes an anti-reaction,  anti-American feelings on the other side. Most analysts believe that Korea’s ties with China will be better with the next administration, most probably Ahn Cheool-soo or Moon Jae-in’s presidency. Even some people say that a sharp shift similar to one in the Philippines will happen….

Other than American flags, the other interesting thing is the symbol and banners of Christian groups. I saw many symbols of Christianity.


The Things They Carried (by Tim O’Brien)

Hello and welcome to Dogania.

I would like to make regular posts on books I read.  At least a photo or a brief paragraph will be enough. I also encourage you to add your comments about them.

Today my post will be about a book I recently read; The Things They Carried. 88f712a7-cae3-4ebc-ad73-674209574dff

I am not sure how to range it; a fiction,  an autobiography, or short stories. When you read the book you feel like this is what really happened to Tim O’Brien in Vietnam. Every chapter independently tastes a beautiful short story. A war story, a love story…

When I was reading this book I felt Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5. Did anyone else have this reaction?

If you go as s soldier for a military operation abroad, what will you carry in your pockets or in your bag?

A photo? An object? Some candies?

The Cup of Humanity; Tea (Book)

Tea Romanticism from Long Time Ago

Recently, I happened to read an interesting book: “The Book of Tea”, written in 1906 by a Japanese-American author, Kakuzo Okakura.

To be a tea addict, this book has boosted my love of tea. Now I feel more sophisticated when I drink one more cup of tea.matcha-tea-japanese-ceremony1

There are many artworks aggrandizing tea like mural graffiti works, but this one is so different. It is honoring tea from a wider perspective.

It approaches tea as a biological plant, as a socio-cultural norm, more interestingly as a religion. It was also so surprising to see how big tea affected Taoist and Buddhist practices.

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order.

There are many proverbs about rice and bread in different languages, especially in languages like Turkish and Korean.  Not as many as bread and rice, there are interesting sayings about tea as well.

the man with no tea in him.


talking with him is without-salt.

Besides the oral influence, tea also has inspired art and architecture in China and Japan. Especially the influence of tea on Chinese ceramics is worthy to be considered. During Tang Dynasty, the ideal color of tea-cups was intellectually discussed. Okakura tells about the book of Luwuh in his book. In that book a detailed paragraph describes the form and color of tea-cups;

Luwuh considered the blue as the ideal colour for the tea−cup, as it lent additional greenness to the beverage, whereas the white made it look pinkish and distasteful. It was because he used cake−tea. Later on, when the tea masters of Sung took to the powdered tea, they preferred heavy bowls of blue−black and dark brown. The Mings, with their steeped tea, rejoiced in light ware of white porcelain

Not everybody makes the propaganda of tea, sometimes it meets with the opposition as well.

Like all good things of the world, the propaganda of Tea met with opposition. Heretics like Henry Saville (1678) denounced drinking it as a filthy custom.

And, tea’s charm against the rivals

Everybody is a fan of those; tea, wine, coffee, cocoa. I am of tea. Now, me and my group we have good quote against the others;

It (tea) has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.

Tea’s story as a plant:

The tea−plant, a native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine. It is alluded to in the classics under the various names of Tou, Tseh, Chung, Kha, and Ming, and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eyesight. It was not only administered as an internal dose, but often applied externally in form of paste to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as an important ingredient of the elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.

Tea methods vary from culture to culture, from time to time. Throughout history mainly it has been tried together with a few main other ingredients.

The leaves were steamed, crushed in a mortar, made into a cake, and boiled together with rice, ginger, salt, orange peel, spices, milk, and sometimes with onions!

The method of tea-making in Luwuh’s book “Chaking”:

In the fifth chapter Luwuh describes the method of making tea. He eliminates all ingredients except salt. He dwells also on the much−discussed question of the choice of water and the degree of boiling it. According to him, the mountain spring is the best, the river water and the spring water come next in the order of excellence. There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fishes swim on the surface; the second boil is when the bubbles are like crystal beads rolling in a fountain; the third boil is when the billows surge wildly in the kettle. The Cake−tea is roasted before the fire until it becomes soft like a baby’s arm and is shredded into powder between pieces of fine paper. Salt is put in the first boil, the tea in the second. At the third boil, a dipperful of cold water is poured into the kettle to settle the tea and revive the “youth of the water.” Then the beverage was poured into cups and drunk. O nectar! The filmy leaflet hung like scaly clouds in a serene sky or floated like waterlilies on emerald streams. It was of such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: “The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,−−all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup−−ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.

The place of tea in Buddhism (specifically in Zen Buddhism) is so special. Tea has a proverbial connection with Zen Buddhism. Zen monks used tea as a faith metaphor and practiced tea rituals by it. I was surprised to know that most of the modern day cultural tea ceremonies in Korea and Japan originated from those practices.

 The monks gathered before the image of Bodhi Dharma and drank tea out of a single bowl with the profound formality of a holy sacrament. It was this Zen ritual which finally developed into the Tea−ceremony of Japan in the fifteenth century.

Zen… Taoism…. Confucianism … There are dozens of precious details to learn about Asian beliefs in the book…

 Chinese historians have always spoken of Taoism as the “art of being in the world,” for it deals with the present−−ourselves. It is in us that God meets with Nature, and yesterday parts from to−morrow. The Present is the moving Infinity, the legitimate sphere of the Relative. Relativity seeks Adjustment; Adjustment is Art. The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings. Taoism accepts the mundane as it is and, unlike the Confucians or the Buddhists, tries to find beauty in our world of woe and worry.

Mongolian invasions and tea…. Mongolian invasions were so destructive, but they helped to spread the cultures long distances away. When Mongols invaded China, they destroyed most of the tea gardens. Though they introduced tea to other nations under their rule, their damage on China’s tea heaven was so huge.

Tea-room. Okakura makes an informative tearoom description in his book;

In the tea−room the fear of repetition is a constant presence. The various objects for the decoration of a room should be so selected that no colour or design shall be repeated. If you have a living flower, a painting of flowers is not allowable. If you are using a round kettle, the water pitcher should be angular. A cup with a black glaze should not be associated with a tea−caddy of black laquer. In placing a vase of an incense burner on the tokonoma, care should be taken not to put it in the exact centre, lest it divide the space into equal halves. The pillar of the tokonoma should be of a different kind of wood from the other pillars, in order to break any suggestion of monotony in the room.

And, some artistic quotations from the book:

——-Noble secret of laughing at yourself…

——-Thus began the dualism of love−−two souls rolling through space and never at rest until they join together to complete the universe. Everyone has to build anew his sky of hope and peace.

——-Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal.

——It is true that with cultivation our sense of art appreciation broadens, and we become able to enjoy many hitherto unrecognized expressions of beauty. But, after all, we see only our own image in the universe,−−our particular idiosyncrasies dictate the mode of our perceptions.

—— We classify too much and enjoy too little. The sacrifice of the aesthetic to the so−called scientific method of exhibition has been the bane of many museums.

——To gladden the flowers with soft music.

—— In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained..

The ceremony is over; the guests with difficulty restraining their tears, take their last farewell and leave the room. One only, the nearest and dearest, is requested to remain and witness the end. Rikiu then removes his tea−gown and carefully folds it upon the mat, thereby disclosing the immaculate white death robe which it had hitherto concealed. Tenderly he gazes on the shining blade of the fatal dagger, and in exquisite verse thus addresses it:

“Welcome to thee, O sword of eternity! Through Buddha And through Daruma alike”

Constantinople’s Beautiful Days During Multilingual Empire

A photo of Istanbul from the last days of the Ottoman Empire. A bakery shop in Ortakoy. Name of the shop is written in 6 languages: Turkish, Armenian, Greek, English, Russian, and Hebrew…

It depicts the multilingual face of the Empire. Contrary to Turkey’s one-language-dictation, it shows there was language freedom during Ottomans.


Sadly, most of Ottoman Empire fans in Turkey are severely anti-minority languages. A sign in Kurdish or Laz language may cause a big problem. Shop owner needs to struggle with both laws and public reactions. Even though recent reforms allow more freedom, public pressure, which is called mahalle baskisi (neighborhood pressure) becomes more suffocating.

Yar-e-Dabestani e-man (My Classmate) – Iranian Song

Yar-e Dabestaniye Man (“My Classmate” in Persian) first performed in the mid-1970s and became popular with the anti-Shah students in the colleges and universities in Iran. It is known to be Fereydoun Foroghi’s song. Ironically, this song like many other anti-shah songs later was revived against the Islamic regime by the anti-Islamic revolutionary student. I heard it many times during demonstrations of pro-reformists’ in 2004.



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