One Won

One won일원One -v- ten

One Won, a set on Flickr.

Here is an old one won coin. It’s about forty years old and weighs less than a gram, which is lighter than it’s nearest modern day contemporary, the ten won coin. It was found by my father-in-law on the beach in Jumunjin a while ago.

Herself can remember using a one won coin and recalls that back in the day that you could actually buy things with the one won coin. As a historical source, herself can be less than reliable at times. When I asked what she said, “ah, ye know, this and that”. Yes. Of course I know… Either way, can you imagine finding anything for sale at ten won today?

Doing a bit of research about this, as you do, I found that this is actually the second of three of the one won coins minted. This coins minting began in 1968 and, if I’m not mistaken, it was the third coin ever minted by The Bank of Korea.

When I saw it first I thought it was Japanese. But the size, colour and weight actually reminded me of some old East German coins I recall holding when I was in secondary school – entirely made of aluminium. It felt really light and I thought I could litterally blow it out of my hand like a feather.

Coins are always kind of special I think, because they seem to last forever. I always feel amazed whenever I hold a coin which is thirty years old or more. What has this coin seen? Where has it been and what has it bought? A forty year old coin like this one won coin definitely gets me asking these questions that I will never be able to answer.

Being a Rock Star in Korea

For a while now I have been musing with writing a very accusatory article about musicians in Korea, in particular western English teachers who come here and find out that they can also be rockstars whilst filling in their 30 hours a week in a hagwon – I was one of these two. So instead of actually losing a lot of friends, I’m going to try and raise awareness and encourage people that music in Korea is a great opportunity to become something else, to build talent, to learn mistakes, and of course to just make the music scene better.

Of course, problems with the music scene in Korea don’t just start with westerners who are trying to have a bit of fun, they go much deeper than that. I’ve reposted an article from Yonhap News, the Korean news service, that highlights the significant problems that Korean bands suffer from in an industry that is full of publicity for one particular kind of music, pop music or K-pop, and leaves all others struggling to find their own way of publicity. By ignoring other genres of music, the media (not in this case obviously, I meant the broader scheme) creates the impression that Korean people only listen to K-pop! Which is like say that Irish people only eat potatoes – which is ridiculous because I remember having rice once when I was nine.

Hardships of being an indie musician in Korea

By Niels Footman
SEOUL, Dec. 10 

When singer Song Eun-jie made a shock admission about her life as a musician in Korea, it was sadly unsurprising to people familiar with Korea’s indie scene. “I’m 30 and I make around 600,000 won (US$520) a month, which leaves me just enough to buy a little make-up. My parents say I should get married, or tell me to find a proper job,” she said.

   Speaking in a cable TV documentary in January about Sogyumo Acacia Band, for whom she is the lead singer, Song provided a stark reminder that however vibrant Korea’s TV shows and pop culture have become in recent years, life for the country’s indie musicians remains extremely onerous.

   Nor was hers the only tale of hardship among Korea’s indie musicians to make news this year. Following the death of Lee Jin-won, the singer with indie band Moonlight Nymph, from a heart attack in early November, stories soon emerged of the serious financial difficulties he had reportedly faced toward the end of his life.

Perhaps you will hear more from me on this subject in the future.