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by ZweiBieren Korea- July 10-16, 2006  The lawn at the Yangpyeong resort. Boathouse on lake edge.
  This week: Hanyang University.
Lessons in Hangul.
Samsung "tour".
Water and gas.

Monday, July 10

"Today I will build the website for this log and pictures."

That's the same first sentence from last week. I did work all day in productive directions, but no cigar. The one output was that I put some pictures up for E to see what people are wearing and selling in Seoul. She sent a note of appreciation. This success meant I had built the first bits of the website on the server.

Tuesday, July 11

This morning I revised genhtml.c, the program to interpolate information (like the date) into web pages. It seems to work.

This afternoon I got nothing done because Prof. Lee took us to visit Hanyang University where he taught for so many years before retirement. It is one of the top five universities in Korea, featuring two hospitals and a strong engineering school.  Interestingly, they have cooperative agreements with over a hundred universities around the world; including one in Nepal. These agreements include research arrangements and student exchanges. We visited their museum as well, but it was all in Korean and a little hard to comprehend. Many of the exhibits were pictures with lengthy explanations of the archeology involved. They have been digging in some ancient sites not too far from the university. Apparently there is still no certainty as to when mankind first settled on the penninsula.

On the way home we bought a $4 carrot scraper. Well, It was the Korean version of a dollar store where everything was 1000 Korean won symbol. I bought a package of 8 AA batteries and liked the price so much that I got another eight. S bought some cane tips that were really table leg booties. I suspect the cane tips will not last long. I know that the batteries do not work in the camera. So our 4000 Korean won symbol got us a carrot scrapper. It does a good job of scraping carrots.

In the evening we had our first class in Hangul, the Korean language. We learned the shape and pronounciation of the ten simple vowels and fourteen simple consonants.  You can see these at Hong's Hangul page. The written form is unique in having been designed rather than assembled from odds and ends. The letters actually have some relationship to the shape of the throat and mouth in making their sounds. See Hong's introduction. I've been learning these symbols over the past week from a list in a travel guide, so I was able to do well in class. The letters are not strung out sequentially, but are insead grouped in syllabic squares.

My name in Hangul is something like FRED in Hangul which is two syllables with the letters  H and OU in the first and L, AU, EE, and D in the second. Strung out in a line (as they never are) these letters would be, respectively, Hangul H, Hangul U, Hangul L, Hangul E, Hangul I, Hangul D. The AU EE combination is a dipthong pronounced like the e in Fred. It would be a mistake to pronounce the name as though it were "horrid."

Our instructor told us that The Hangul alphabet was invented in the fifteenth century, with which Hong agrees. This left me with a problem. The letters are just too angular and awkward to have suffered through use for five centuries. And in fact they have not, Hong later makes clear. Until the latter third of the twentieth century educated people and government officials (who are usually also educated) continued to use Chinese characters in writing. The Hangul alphabet had been invented to let less well educated peoplke participate in written discourse. It served this purpose, being used by women and children and those less educated. After 1980 or so, the Hangul alphabet became more popular and young people are now too impatient to study Chinese characters in school. The fact that Hangul characters are more readily typed into computers may also be a factor in this change.

As time and usage go on, I expect the Hangul script to evolve. Font designers will develop less angular variants of the letters that will retain the familiar meanings and the compact nature of the script. Font design is a daunting task, however. It is not enough to design the twenty-four simple vowels and consonants, nor even the larger set of compound letters. The problem is that a letter's shape expands or contracts either vertically or horizontally as it is combined with others into square-ish syllables.  So the font designer must look at the letter as it appears in thousands of possible syllables.

(Hmm. How many possible syllables. There are 14 simple consonants, 5 double consonants, 10 simple vowels, 7 dipthongs with 11 spellings. Syllables must be either consonant-vowel or consonant-vowel-consonant.
11172 Hangul syllables
The final consonant may be double or even a pair of different consonants, but only 6 trailing consonants are common (according to an IETF draft).  This gives 19*21 + 19*21*6  = 2394 common syllables. The National Museum (see Sunday, below) has a table showing 11,172 syllables (19*21*28). Unicode has all of these syllables. However, far fewer are in actual use. One study of a million syllables from newspapers found only 1526 distinct syllables used. I guess a font designer could reasonably start work designing only two or three hundred syllables.)

Wednesday, July 12
Won't get much done today on the website because we are off to an arranged tour.  The "Folk Village" and the Hyundai factory. More later.

The weather has been great so far this summer. Gray and gloomy, but only hot, not boiling. And not rainy. This morning that has all changed. It is not raining, but rather fire hosing from the sky. More later.

Later: Good news. The bus is coming to us instead of our having to walk a kilometer in the rain. Bad news. The folk village is closed due to mud. And we are going to Samsung instead of Hyundai. The worse news was to await us at Samsung. Instead of seeing anything interesting they gave us an eight minute puff piece video, a sales tour through released products (but we were not allowed to take pictures), and a whirlwind tour through the self-serving "museum" of Samsung.  That was it. No factory. No technology. And only an English major to lecture us. A very nice English major, well informed. But not one willing or able to tell us anything interesting. We did get a free lunch. So I had a big Korean lunch two days in a row and gained weight.

I was so put off, I took no pictures, not even of lunch. Sammsung did take out picture and gave us each a mouse pad with a copy of the group photo.

The one good thing today was that I finally put together a Makefile to automatically update the picture files on the website. Tomorrow I can get the site going.



My grandfather was a pipe estimator. Jobs would come in for bids and he would pore over the drawings counting up exactly how much of each piece of plumbing was needed and what it could be delivered for. When we visited buildings he would often have comments about the deign of their plumbing: "They used three inch sewer pipes so they clog. This level of usage demands four inch," and so on.

He would have raised at least one eyebrow at the plumbing in CJ International House. Not the sewers, they seem fine. But the hot water. First of all it comes in at over 140º. Then, the pipes are of such a size that the temperature varies every few seconds as others turn on taps or flush.

Here at CJ I-House, as well as many public facilities I have visited, the bathroom fixtures are all American Standard. This would seem to be an opening for an industrious Korean firm. But the exciting work is all in high tech, so such firms are unlikely to get started in today's climate.

There is some controversy in our household over the potability of tap water. When we first arrived, we were dying of thrist and drank each a glass of tap water. Nothing ill seems to have happened to either of us. Certainly we did not get diarrhea; we have to buy huge 6000 Korean won symbol boxes of Bran flakes. The next day, however, we learned that every establishment has a water purifier; there is one at the end of our corridor. And most people drink only from the purifiers. One of my daily chores is to fetch the water, just as if I were a native in a small village served by a single well. There are those among us, though, who continue to drink tap water on a daily basis. Your prayers are hereby solicited to shield us from possible water-borne disease.

Thusday, July 13

Metrification is pervasive in South Korea, as it is in most developed, under-developed, and undeveloped nations. Distances are in kilometers, my weight is in kilograms (lost 4 so far), and temperatures in Celsius.  It turns out that 26º is too hot and 23º is chilly; 24º is about right for still air. Even the grocery is metrified: a "dozen" is ten eggs. 

During the day I built a Makefile to massage the files I've created and put them on the server. TODAY I will make the website.

Friday, July 14  french flag from www.pcdingo.net

Yesterday morning I took pictures of the high-tech controls around our place and today I've put them into this page!

This shot is from the kitchen, looking toward my study/the spare bedroom.

gas detector doorbell control panel light switches and AC control overview of switches living room with controls outlined

Click a red box to zoom in on a control.
Click a blue box to zoom even bigger in another window.

From left to right, the controls are the gas manager, the doorbell (it's actually outside the door), the doorbell panel, and the light switches next to the AC control.


Gas, fire, and emergencies seem to be  special concern. Here's how to use the stove:
  1. Press the open button on the gas manager. The light changes from green to yellow.
  2. Open the valve next to the stove.
  3. Turn the stove handle all the way on.
  4. When the little clicker has ignited the gas, turn it down.
  5. After use, turn off the stove.
  6. Finally, push the close button on the gas manager. It turns the light back to green.
If you don't understand all this, you might discover instead that you can skip step 1 and go outside the front door.  There you will find that the emergency gas shut off valve is closed. So you push a black override button and open it. This -- it turns out -- defeats the gas manager. When you do steps 1 and 6, the gas manager sends a signal that turns the red handle for you.

The real function of the gas manager is to keep sniffing for gas. The big round knob on its front does not turn; it is the nose. When it smells gas it panics. All systems are shut down, except the doorbell panel is alerted. It sounds the alarm and flashes a light. At least I imagine this is what happens. It hasn't yet, but the doorbell instructions show a light that is supposed to indicate a gas leak.

The doorbell panel also has an alarm for an intruder. I cannot figure out how it determines that we are not intruders.

The doorbell panel also sounds when the phone rings. You can push a button and speak into it, but it's pretty awkward. The phone is better.

Yes, the doorbell panel does also work as a doorbell. When someone wants to come visit, the first encounter the secure outer door. They type in your number, your doorbell sounds, you look them over (yep televiewer), and you press the button to unlatch the door.  After they come up the elevator, you can meet them or they can ring you up again. When at last they reach your door, they can once again ring and be seen on the viewer.

All these door functions are indicated with the labels on the buttons. All in Korean, of course. Fortunately the staff provided us with a cheat sheet explaining  it all, mostly.

The light swithes rock sideways. A little red line in the switch glows when the light is off so you can find the switch in the dark. Next to the light switch is the control for the AC. It has two temperature guages: a set point and the current room temperature. Sad to say, the set point seems not to function. Once the AC is on, it keeps making things coooler until you freeze and turn it off. I think it also provides heat, but that is something we are unlikely to want any time soon.
Corridor outside our suite
Here's the corridor outside our suite. At the far end is the water cooler. Behind the photographer it's about the same distance to the elevators. The doorbell is the rightmost shiny object. The door comes next. Its handle has a flat spot where we hold the key to get the door unlatched. The key looks like a credit card, but has a computer inside which holds a little conversation with the door to get us in. In the top middle is the gas manifold which includes the red emergency lever to get gas. The red item is a pair of fire extinguishers. They seem to live in pairs scattered about the building. At floor level. This is the right place for them because if there is a fire you'd be best advised to get down on the floor. The exit signs are at floor level, too.

At the far end you see a neighbors umbrella drying. We all dry our umbrellas outside to avoid getting water in the apartment. We also take off our shoes just inside the door to avoid tracking in dirt. Sandals are provided, but I just use my socks or my shower clogs.

This evening I joined S for dinner at 6:30 as she was returning from a shopping expedition. As I left the room, I discovered there was brilliaqnt sunshine so I rushed to get the camera and take some pictures.  I also took lots of pictures so E can get an idea of what the girls are wearing.

We had agreed to meet at "the sushi place half-way to Baskin-Robbins." Too bad. There were two sushi shops and we each chose a different one to wait in. When S finally found me, we had an excellent supper. Then we shopped for food and came home.


Put maps on web.
Put pictures on web for E.
Sort pictures from the day we took the bus tour.
Put selected pictures on web for everybody.

Start work on the oyts paper.

Saturday, July 15

S got paid yesterday. And our Korea stay is half over. I'll miss it.

Yesterday I took pictures for E; today I added them to a page for her. I also made a web page for the images I collected last Christmas:
But now it's 4 and I've still not gotten the Korea images to the web. That's next, fer sure!

Sigh. No. S returned and had some study questions to put on the course website. So I did. And I refused to just put out the .doc files. Oh no, not me. I went ahead and formatted them as a web page. Learned a bit more about CSS in the process. But didn't get out the pictures. 

For supper we had rice cooked in the fancy Cuckoo rice cooker that comes with the suite. I had to push the buttons because its magnetic fields (induction heater) may set off S's pacemaker.  (Probably wouldn't, but I was not interested in finding out.)

Now to take the rest of the weekend off.
Movie tonight. National Museum tomorrow.

genhtml to have $$include(filename)
add copyright notices
web site
pictures from the bus tour day
oyts paper

Sunday, July 16

walk to museum
main corridor
coffee shop & coffee ('til noon)
check clock
king & palace
go get batteries
meet S
more archeology
    treasure #91 ("Don Quixote" vessel)
pagoda and corridor
fine arts historically (third north)
subway home
4 easy sudoku to one medium

One half of one side of the first floor of the museum is devoted to Hangul and written works. Hangul is the world's only designed alphabet. King Sejong and his cholars invented it because:

Being of foreign origin, Chinese characters are incapable of capturing uniquely Korean meanings. Therefore, many common people have no way to express their thoughts and feelings. Out of my sympathy for their difficulties, I invented a set of 28 letters. The letters are very easy to learn, and it is my fervent hope that they improve the quality of life of all people.
King Sejong, 1446

This statement has several unintended implications. Firstly it speaks to the importance of the written word to the culture. Secondly it makes the possibly specious claim that Koreans have thoughts and feelings that differ from those of other cultures. Finally, it speaks of a king who is genuinely interested in the well-being of his people.

See history of Hangul.

Some highlights of Korean printing listing on a display:
  • before 751 CE - Pure Light Daharani Sutra printed with wood-blocks.  ("... Bulguksa Three-storied Stone Pagoda ... the Pure Light Daharani Sutra was found inside. This Buddhist scroll is the oldest woodblock print in the world.")
  • 1234-41 - 25 copies of Collection of Rituals were printed with metal type.
  • 1403 - Cast metal font produced.  Many others followed in ensuing years.
  • 1455 - Guttenburg invents cast metal fonts (& goes broke).
magnified image of a letter from a fontAt right is a museum exhibit of a single letter from a font. Many museums use magnifiers to reveal details, but I'm guessing that only the National Museum uses one to show a type font. One more indication of the importance of text and information in Korean culture.

Moving from fonts to documents, a plaque states:
The National Museum houses a vast collection of ancient documents in various forms .... Often called a "land of writing" by neighboring countries long ago, Korea has produced a great amount of written documents. The collection of old documents in the museum is highly regarded as a primary source for historical studies.
In addition to old documents, there is an exhibit of old maps, another form of symbolic representation. Being ancient, fragile, and subject to light damage, the old images are in very dim light and none of my photographs is worth anything.

The periods of Korean history adapted from signs at the museum

4000 BCE Human inhabitants arrive

2333-57 BCE (legend) Gojoseon Kingdom ("Land of the Morning Calm")

...-1000 BCE neolithic period

1000-300 BCE bronze age

300 BCE -50 CE iron age

57 BCE - 668 CE The Three Kingdoms (Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje)
    372 CE - Buddhism was introduced to Goguryeo

668 - 935 Silla Kingdom  (pronounced "Shill-ah")

918 - 1392 Goryeo period
     1231 Mongol control

1392 - 1910 Joseon Dynasty

1910 - 1945
Under annexation by Japan

Korea divided between capitalism and communism

The prefix "go-" (sometimes written "ko-") means "old", as in gojoseon and goguryeo. Incidentally, "Joseon" is only two syllables, pronounced like "Joe Sean."
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