Posts Tagged ‘Les Miserables’

Les Miserables and Korean society ①

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

Les Miserables has been a smash hit in Korea. There have been over two million people that have seen this film within a week of its premiere and it topped the box office in that time. It seems that this movie has helped soothe those who have suffered from the aftereffects of the presidential election. (particularly voters who desired a change of government.)

It is understandable because the younger generation who eagerly desired for a change in Korean society has fallen into despair and feels betrayed. There are many reasons why the younger generation want changes in the Korean society, but one only has to look at the number 1 cause of death in those younger than 40 to have an understanding of how the generation feels. A number of estimates show suicide to be that cause of death.

According to the BBC (2012), Koreans officially work an average of 2193 hours annually, which is 125 hours more than the second ranked Chile.

It is because of this situation of being overworked and a feeling of despair that the younger generation cast their votes the opposition Democratic United Party’s Jae-in Moon, and not the conservative ruling party’s Geun-hye Park. (Korea elected Park as the 18th president)

Should the youth  feel frustrated with the current living conditions of Korean society? It seems the answer  is ‘yes’,  but we can find some perspective  thorough Les Miserables’s tremendous popularity in Korea.

The backgrounds and social problems in Les Miserables are closely related to recent Korean events. For instance, scores of men at semiconductor companies have contracted cancer and workers at automobile companies have committed suicide because of their unfair dismissal from their work. In addition, many workers risk their lives to clime to the top of transmission towers. After the presidential election, a total of 5 people lost their lives due to difficult living conditions and suicide.

Social issues are applied to not only workers  but also children in Korea. In the last 10 years there has been a two fold increase in the number of children who have been abused emotionally, physically and/or sexually. More than 40 million primary school children have to skip lunch during  vacation due to disturbed backgrounds. There are over 20 million teenagers  who run away across the nation and a quarter of women who have become a prostitute have done so only to stave off hunger and to live more comfortably.

These unbelievable problems have persisted in the country with 10th largest economy in the world. It would be better for the government to do nothing, as they aggressively promote an unfair education system, deregulate employment protection legislation and welfare retrenchment, that all negatively affect the lives of regularly working people.

* For orginal article in Korean:  http://bit.ly/TFtCPL (by Ingyu Kang)

14

01 2013

Les Miserables and Korean society ②

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

21 century Korean edition <Les Miserables>, more miserable than the original

Les Miserables discloses what the powerful are likely to conceal, which elaborates on legislation that is used as a powerful instrument of vested rights. The stringent laws are never applied to the corruptors, but on the contrary these unfair laws are enforced on the less fortunate as seen in the case of Jean Valjean who spent 19 years in prison on a charge of stealing a piece of bread.

Some might think that Jean’s life sounds unrealistic, although it can easily be seen in our current laws. Many are enforced to the letter against trash collectors for their illegal acts but the same law has been applied far too leniently with a cooperate mogul on suspicion of tax evasion and/or misappropriation. That has been the Korean style of righteousness of the law to this point.

Another tragedy in Korean society relates to the overwhelming indifference that people have in our society towards those less fortunate. This presidential result magnifies that point. A direct presidential election in Korea has been completed by those who sacrificed and devoted themselves realizing a true democracy. Ironically, people this time voted for the daughter of a former dictator.

It seemed that the student revolution in <Les Miserables> was unsuccessful but  consequentially the French Revolution changed France from a monarchy to a republic, which also contributed to the growth of democracy all over the world.

* For orginal article in Korean:  http://bit.ly/TFtCPL (by Ingyu Kang)

07

01 2013

Les Miserables and Korean society ③

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

A perspective of the 2012 presidential election

There has been an extreme cry for change in the Korean society leading up to the 2012 presidential election. Although the election was lost, those wanting change made their voices heard. A certain circle might be pessimistic about this 2012 election because the proportion of voters in their 50s’ and over who are more likely to have an inclination toward conservatism is increasing. I do not agree with that sense of pessimism.

we should remind ourselves that 37% of conservative 50s did not select the ruling conservative Saenuri party Park, but it is equally important that nearly 34% of 20s did support her as president. Therefore we do not need to  fall into despair but  be optimistic for our future.

An important question that should be followed upon is how we effectively communicate with each other and harmonize our differences. Putting the 2012 election aside, we should shed more light on the constructive criticism to set Korea to in right direction regardless of particular factions.

“Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums. It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes .”

The ending background music of the movie implies that tomorrow comes when the people take the lead at solving social problems putting their heads together and it is necessary to take care of those less fortunate so as to create a better society.

It is the only way that <Les Miserables> will play a role as motivator of social change as well as simply consoling Koreans. Soon afterwards the future that people bring will come.

* For orginal article in Korean:   http://bit.ly/TFtCPL (by Ingyu Kang)

05

01 2013