Author Topic: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article  (Read 1688 times)

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Offline Verify-12

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The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« on: September 28, 2014, 05:12:46 AM »
I've finished writing and preparing this new web-article on the South Korean "Hwan" coins, if you're interested:

http://www.dokdo-research.com/hwancoins.html

These coins were South Korea's very first circulation coins, and played a role in a currency reform.

If you find your eyes glazing-over from the long-winded narrative, just skip around and read the captions under the images. That may be more fun.

I hope some of you find it entertaining or informative on some level...

Offline THCoins

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2014, 10:12:32 AM »
Thanks for providing this opportunity ! I just read the first few paragraphs on the site.
It is an interesting part of history i did know nothing about. Your narrative itself is certainly not to long-winding. But if i may may offer one point of critique: some of your sentences are very long, with multiple commas. This may hamper readability. Apart from that i think the style is fine ! Will certainly finish reading the rest on a seperate occasion.

Anthony

Offline <k>

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2014, 11:53:02 AM »
some of your sentences are very long, with multiple commas. This may hamper readability.

Anthony

I would have to disagree here. Some sentences are long but not too long. The style is sophisticated, intelligent, adult, and highly readable, with a fine flow. A copy editor would find little or nothing to amend. The story he has to tell is already very long, so he has chosen to use a content-rich structure: maximum content, minimum words. If he had split everything out into short sentences, the piece would have been even longer. However, if the article had been aimed at, say, foreign readers with only an average understanding of English, then I would agree that shorter sentences would have been preferable.
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Offline THCoins

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2014, 12:35:14 PM »
I consider myself fairly fluent in written english, but i am not a native speaker. I found myself going back to the beginning of a sentence several times because i lost track of its message. So for me this affected readability. And from my experience as a scientific editor i know that if i encounter this, others less proficient in english will do so even more likely. I did not advocate splitting everything out into short sentences. But when something can be transferred in two logical sentences, there's also no need to glue these together into one composite sentence.
However, let this not distract from my general opinion about the piece. I do believe it is of a high quality and expertly written !

Offline Verify-12

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2014, 06:10:47 PM »
I consider myself fairly fluent in written english, but i am not a native speaker. I found myself going back to the beginning of a sentence several times because i lost track of its message. So for me this affected readability. And from my experience as a scientific editor i know that if i encounter this, others less proficient in english will do so even more likely. I did not advocate splitting everything out into short sentences. But when something can be transferred in two logical sentences, there's also no need to glue these together into one composite sentence.
However, let this not distract from my general opinion about the piece. I do believe it is of a high quality and expertly written !

I appreciate the criticism!  I need to hear that   If phrase/sentence length affects the readability and meaning of the piece for some, then that's something I need to take into consideration.  Thank you!


Offline Verify-12

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2014, 06:14:16 PM »
However, if the article had been aimed at, say, foreign readers with only an average understanding of English, then I would agree that shorter sentences would have been preferable.

Yes, that is something that I need to think about!   Thanks for your kind words.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2014, 06:37:58 PM »
Read the article with great pleasure. I was Korea "expert" in a Dutch ministry during the last years of the Park administration, so you may imagine I enjoyed the political part also.

South Korea has long looked at the two Germanies as a model of their own situation, so I am not surprised they used the introduction of the DM as a model for their own reforms, including the easy assumption that war profiteers had made a bundle, that should be taxed away. On another level, they must have looked at Japan's post-war devaluation, its development by "bureaucratic guidance" (which in Japan also, was far less efficient than people often assume) and its conglomerates (keiretsu in Japan, chaebol in South Korea). Park was the last South Korean president who spoke Japanese, the language he was educated in.

I get the feeling you are underestimating US influence, though. Korean civil servants often rejected offers for big projects from non-US countries with the argument that they could only order in the US. In hindsight, that may have to do with "development aid" being granted on the condition that it would be spent in the donor country (tied aid). In other words, the money never left the US. That may also have motivated Park to seek "economic independence". Anyway, economic control was in US hands. No wonder the ambassador bridled when he heard about the coinage reform when it was too late to stop it.

One Park initiative that sticks in my mind is a programme, that allowed villages some cement (Park had set up a grandiose concrete plant, one of his civilian plants for military use). The programme was executed by Saemaul Undong, a Park creation. The villages that used the cement got more, plus iron bars (yup, Park also had a dual use steel plant built) to reinforce the cement. Those who sold it or let it rot got nothing. The villagers were automatically motivated to work together, agree on a project and contribute work and they were rewarded with self-constructed bus stop shelters, schools and libraries. The project went out with Park as politically incorrect, but I wish other countries would try it.

One of the dark sides of the Park administration was a curious kind of women's discrimination. They were divided in normal women and Kisaeng. The normals were required to lead a painfully sheltered life in which little could be done outside the home. The Kisaeng could do anything, from running a business to prostitution and from travelling unaccompanied to singing in public, but they were not considered honourable or even marriageable by honourable men. That strange dichotomy went out with Park also.

Park is a good example of a dictator who was a benefit of his country when he started his rule, was unable to quit and became a burden of his country when he left. Yet, South Korea is the only country I know, where a military dictator Chun Doo-hwan) has abdicated on TV, apologising in tears.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Verify-12

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2014, 09:08:37 PM »
Read the article with great pleasure. I was Korea "expert" in a Dutch ministry during the last years of the Park administration, so you may imagine I enjoyed the political part also.

South Korea has long looked at the two Germanies as a model of their own situation, so I am not surprised they used the introduction of the DM as a model for their own reforms, including the easy assumption that war profiteers had made a bundle, that should be taxed away. On another level, they must have looked at Japan's post-war devaluation, its development by "bureaucratic guidance" (which in Japan also, was far less efficient than people often assume) and its conglomerates (keiretsu in Japan, chaebol in South Korea). Park was the last South Korean president who spoke Japanese, the language he was educated in.

I get the feeling you are underestimating US influence, though. Korean civil servants often rejected offers for big projects from non-US countries with the argument that they could only order in the US. In hindsight, that may have to do with "development aid" being granted on the condition that it would be spent in the donor country (tied aid). In other words, the money never left the US. That may also have motivated Park to seek "economic independence". Anyway, economic control was in US hands. No wonder the ambassador bridled when he heard about the coinage reform when it was too late to stop it.

One Park initiative that sticks in my mind is a programme, that allowed villages some cement (Park had set up a grandiose concrete plant, one of his civilian plants for military use). The programme was executed by Saemaul Undong, a Park creation. The villages that used the cement got more, plus iron bars (yup, Park also had a dual use steel plant built) to reinforce the cement. Those who sold it or let it rot got nothing. The villagers were automatically motivated to work together, agree on a project and contribute work and they were rewarded with self-constructed bus stop shelters, schools and libraries. The project went out with Park as politically incorrect, but I wish other countries would try it.

One of the dark sides of the Park administration was a curious kind of women's discrimination. They were divided in normal women and Kisaeng. The normals were required to lead a painfully sheltered life in which little could be done outside the home. The Kisaeng could do anything, from running a business to prostitution and from travelling unaccompanied to singing in public, but they were not considered honourable or even marriageable by honourable men. That strange dichotomy went out with Park also.

Park is a good example of a dictator who was a benefit of his country when he started his rule, was unable to quit and became a burden of his country when he left. Yet, South Korea is the only country I know, where a military dictator Chun Doo-hwan) has abdicated on TV, apologising in tears.

Peter


Thanks for your insights, Peter.  It is quite a treat to hear from someone with your background!

Yes, I've learned that Park considered the Meiji Reforms in Japan to be his own model of development.  But there were downsides to his Japanese background, in other ways: The real problem was that his connection to "Japanese ways" was through the Imperial military.  He applied that experience to his method of running everything.

Perhaps I'm underestimating US influence.  I'll leave that to the readers.  I think the fact that the USA was providing around 50% of the S.Korean budget in the period 1954-1965 speaks volumes about US influence, well beyond the content of this article.   Of course, I'm assuming some things in this article, and that the reasonably educated reader can fill in the blanks herself.

Yes, Saemaul Undong was one of Park's signature programs that pretty much everybody in S.Korea had a hand in.  It was more than construction, but that was the main point of it, of course.  Replacing thatched roofs with metal or tiles was a part of it:  Thatch is actually not cheap, and you have to constantly take the old thatch down and put new up.  Oh, and it leaks!(!)   That wastes a lot of time and money, not to mention one's health.  This is a problem that people in Uganda have to deal with nowadays, from what I've heard.

And, you know, I never heard about the inability of women to do things that men could easily do.  I didn't know it was "law" was involved.

Again, it's great to hear about your connection to all of this.
If you have other insights, please do tell!
Mark



Offline Figleaf

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Re: The "Hwan" Coins of South Korea: New online article
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2014, 10:21:34 PM »
Saemaul Undong was indeed a political indoctrination instrument. It just happened to do the right thing. Any economist who understands the Cobb-Douglas development model will realise that a solid development process needs an agricultural surplus. Saemaul Undong acted exactly on that front.

The irony of Park was that, if you take his policies all together, he was a Stalinist: development based on heavy industry, overbearing military with civil power, suppression of opposition, police brutality, dependent judiciary, suffocating financial controls, big conglomerates dominated completely by the state, impossibility to travel abroad, nomenklatura, uncle Joe would have approved. Park even went where Stalin did not dare to go with his nationwide curfew. Saemaul Undong could be as heavy-handed as a kolchoz operative, but it also brought people together and empowered and motivated them to make real progress. The farmers I spoke to  remained studiously politically neutral, but they were proud of their work and rightly so.

While Korea was under the Roh administration - the last general - I was driven to a ministry in Seoul. A group of farmers held a demonstration outside. My handler apologised. I told him I was happy to see the demonstration, that it was a sign of enormous political progress. I don't think he quite understood...

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.