For CO.

In the process of writing my thesis I found a commentary on the difference between 19th century life in northern and southern Korea. It struck me as amusing and something that you might get a proper chuckle out of:

“the traveller is impressed in the North by the independent, manly spirit of many of the mountain people. A man seems to be more of a man in the North than in the South. In looking for causes of this I find it in the marked absence of the so-called “gentleman” class. In the South the independent middle class is apt to be crushed out between the upper and the nether mill stones, between the strutting, conceited “yangban” and the obsequious, cringing serf. The North is brighter with hope because of the predominance of an independent middle class, who have to work for their own living, and as a result have more muscle and more brains.” William Baird, 1894.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

16 thoughts on “For CO.”

  1. Sheona: oh, of course! One could argue that for all its faults, the Japanese colonial rule did the Koreans a favour by getting rid of the yangban allowing for the south to have a more dynamic society. Pity the fate of the north… Quite like the people, however.

  2. It really is so sad it is wryly funny. One wonders if they will ever be free of their crushing dictatorship.
    the current model seems worse than the last!
    At risk of being thought somewhat provoking I have always thought the same of the contrast between Wales and Scotland. Wales has very few aristocrats, especially who live there, mainly courtesy titles. But in the rural areas there are many somewhat politically robust yeoman farmer types. There is a strange egalitarianism based on the principle of ‘werin’, folk. I suspect the basis for this was the general anti English stance of the population.
    When I went to live in Aberdeen I could find absolutely no-one with whom to be friends. They were all either pretty dreadful peasants and rather violent with it or terrible upper class snobs. No middle of the road types at all. Stayed two years and got the hell out ASAP!
    I suppose it would be different were you to marry into either group say but it is noticeable that there are very few people who have lived both in Wales and Scotland with the exception of a handful of refinery workers who travel from job to job. The societies are remarkably different

    Footnote. The English monarchy deliberately created a middle class in Wales in the middle ages by allowing them to run their own towns. It was an effort to stop them revolting and giving them some serious responsibility to keep them off the streets so to speak. It worked.

  3. Christina, JM will no doubt correct me if I’m off-beam, but you might have been happier in the Lowlands, esp. Edinburgh. Remember Aberdeen was a fishing port and not much else until the oil arrived, so it became a Klondike society, attracting the chancers. I’m sorry for the indigenous folk.

  4. The “indigenous folk” as you call them are very happy in Aberdeen, Janus. Whoever loses out when the oil and gas dry up, it won’t be the Aberdonians. “Fishing port and not much else” indeed! (Makes me wonder about the standard of education in Oxford.)

    Christina, you did not mix in academic circles in Aberdeen, obviously. The university, founded in 1494, has been an important part of city life for centuries as was the merchant class. And there were lots of us who were neither “pretty dreadful peasants” nor upper class snobs. Now the trawlermen were a law unto themselves of course, but I doubt you did much socialising in Torry. The English monarchy didn’t have much say about Scottish affairs in the Middle Ages, but then the Scots were running their own towns anyway.

  5. janus :

    Christina, JM will no doubt correct me if I’m off-beam, but you might have been happier in the Lowlands, esp. Edinburgh. Remember Aberdeen was a fishing port and not much else until the oil arrived, so it became a Klondike society, attracting the chancers. I’m sorry for the indigenous folk.

    Never heard the expression “As deserted as Aberdeen on a Flag Day”? 🙂

  6. FEEG, this “canard” has been disproved frequently. A survey found that Aberdeen university students raised more money per head with their charity Rag Week than any other university in the UK. Having said that, I admit that their would be many so-called charities that I would not contribute to, but I wouldn’t desert the streets of Aberdeen or anywhere else for that. The word “No” usually works.

  7. As yes, Sheona, but my late Weegie father in law told me that pre-Oil boom.

  8. I was there pre oil. I worked for the Press and Journal, the local paper. The University did not figure on my social calling list, why should they? Academics rarely mix outside their own set in my experience.
    We ended up mixing with other expatriates that we found. In those days women couldn’t even go into pubs which were not open on Sunday either. The city was very rough, fights regularly broke out. Swansea and Llanelli are pretty bloody grim but Aberdeen on a Saturday night beat them hands down in the drunken violence stakes!
    I merely speak as I found, just the way it was.
    Got offered a job with the British launch of Cosmopolitan and scarpered with thanks to Chelsea.

    It is rather interesting to see that differing countries appear to have differing proportions of the three social classes. England appears to have far more middle class people traditionally than any where else I have lived. I think that is one of the problems currently. the middle classes are being squeezed out of existence along with their values which used to be dominant.
    Everywhere I have lived have had differing proportions and differing values in society. It isn’t until you have lived in other models that you either appreciate or deprecate certain models. My son particularly liked the Russian model of demagoguery, he always reckoned that most people were too stupid and self interested to partake in democracy. He liked visiting Russia, said you always knew where you were with them for better or worse! Perhaps he had a point ,seems like the Crimea tends to agree with him! Of course he was of an age to not remember communism as an adult, which rather colours our judgement

    Not my cup of tea so I think I’ll hope not to come back as a North Korean!! Poor sods.

  9. CO: what happened in Korea is truly tragic. It is especially ironic considering that Korea has been a unified kingdom since the 9th century and had been one of the world’s most centralised states since the 15th century. One hopes that North Korea will fall eventually, but it seems as if China is content to keep it around just to be able to distract the USA with another potential geopolitical disaster.

  10. In our Northern Lands the independent working middle classes are being crushed by socialism.

  11. jazz606 :
    In our Northern Lands the independent working middle classes are being crushed by socialism.

    Of course I should have read everyone else’s replies before posting a repetition.

  12. I don’t know if this is a particularly middle class way of thinking, but for as long as I can remember I have thought that I have no rights and No one owes me anything.
    So far I haven’t been disappointed.

  13. jazz i suspect you are suffering from the same malaise as the rest of us, funny that, how many of us think alike!

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