Asian History Carnival 2

Welcome to the 2nd bi-monthly Asian History Carnival. Thanks to those who offered submissions to the carnival. I think we have an excellent spread of region and time period but my choices reflect the range of submissions I received for inclusion and the limits of my own online reading. Remember, if you feel your region was neglected or that excellent postings went unmentioned, consider nominating them for the next carnival, to be held February 2nd, 2006. If you are interested in hosting the next asian history carnival, please contact me at konrad [at] We will post information on the next hosting at the carnival’s homepage as soon as we have a host.

And now for the postings:
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Now you can Look Like Yong-Sama too!

The Korea wave has hit Taiwan too. In case there was any doubt, here is an advertisement for “Korean-style” plastic surgery available in Taipei’s Ximen area.

Not only is the plastic surgery Korean style, but you can even look like Bae Yong-jun, known in Japan as “Yong-sama”! Check out their “before” and “after” pictures in this advertisement.

Yong-sama Surgery
They might even give you some Yong-sama glasses to complete the effect! Read more about their products at their phone-number-website.

Some More Taiwan Stories

I’m back from Taiwan and continuing my Korean language studies in Seoul. Did some reading, met some friends, and visited Jiufen.

Since she hasn’t blogged it herself, I’ll share a few things Sayaka has told me about living in Taiwan. She often visits a Korean restaurant near Taiwan Normal University. In many Korean restaurants you get free side dishes, including Kimchi. However, where Sayaka goes and a number of places I have been outside of Korea, they list these side dishes as “Kimchi” on the menu and charge money for it. Recently however, Sayaka visited the restaurant with a Korean and he asked, in Korean for Kimchi. The side dishes emerged and, of course, there was no charge for it…

One of the delightful things about Taiwan is its social and linguistic complexity. It isn’t unusual to be speaking with someone in Chinese and have them throw in some Taiwanese dialect (Minnanhua) or switch in and out of the dialect when they are speaking to someone else who understands it. It is fascinating also to see the different occasions and contexts in which each are or can be used. Here are two anecdotes along these lines:
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Some Coffee Shop Oral History

I recently blogged an enjoyable chat with an elderly Korean gentleman that I had outside the national library in Seoul and shared some of his stories about life in colonial Korea and during the turbulent years that followed.

Today Sayaka and I are spending a leisurely afternoon reading in a Taipei coffee shop (chain) called QK咖啡. Although their motto is “ranQueen ranKing” which seems to explain the Q and the K in their name, we noticed the elderly Taiwanese couple sitting next to us talking about the name. The same couple had earlier taken notice of the fact that Sayaka and I were often using Japanese with each other. When they pointed the “QK” out to each other and read it out loud, our eyes met and I told them, in Chinese, that I just realized that the name is actually quite interesting. When you pronounce “QK” together you also get the Japanese word 休憩 or “kyûkei” which means “to rest” or “to take a break.” Since it isn’t unusual at all to see Japanese words in the names of Taiwanese stores and restaurants (For example, Sayaka lives very close to a coffee shop called 黒潮 (the Japan Current), which has the Japanese pronunciation for these characters, “Kuroshio” written next to it), we believe it simply can’t be a coincidence that the title of the coffee shop ends up a play on a Japanese word (the whole store name read in Japanese also makes a nice alliterative Kyûkei Kôhii, as it does in Chinese, QK Kafei).

Having thus broken the ice, the Taiwanese couple asked Sayaka if she was Japanese and started to speak to us in absolutely fluent Japanese. We complimented their Japanese and they said that they had both spoken Japanese as children through until they graduated from junior high school. If they graduated from junior high school in 1945, which at least the husband claimed to have, that would now make them about 75 years old. With this as an opening, we asked them all sorts of questions about their lives back during this time. As in my other encounters of this sort, they had lots of fascinating stories.
Continue reading Some Coffee Shop Oral History