Graffiti in Seoul (Sinchon)

09 May

Korea is home to some of the best B-boys in the world and has fully embraced the watered-down version of hip-hop culture. However, there isn’t a lot of illegal graffiti within in the bounds of the city. It’s actually quite hard to find in most places, so I’ve been taking photographs recently whenever I happen to come across some.

In Sinchon, I’ve only found three instances of graffiti. One isn’t worth posting. Just some dude who spraypainted ANDY LEE SOL in bright green lettering, but the other two are interesting political statements.

This is just outside Starbucks, and reads “남대문 화재 책임 한명백”, which to my understanding means “It is obvious that the Namdaemun fire is the responsibility of one man.” The 한 throws me off, but 명백하다 means to be clear/obvious, etc… “one thing is obvious” is probably more accurate than ‘one man’ but… my head hurts. Upon correction, I should have gone with my usual assumption that a three syllable word is a name. The statement means “Han Myung Baek is responsible for the Namdaemun fire.” I should note that someone wrote lightly underneath is “아니다” i.e. No.

“삼성중공업은 서해를 살려내라” something to the effect of “Samsung’s heavy industry delivered him to the Yellow Sea.” I’ve probably messed it up a bit. I’m not familiar with the 라 ending. (Correction 라 is a command suffix, and thus the statement should read: “Samsung heavy industry LTD revive our West Sea!). Anyway, It’s a memorial of sorts to a company worker who immolated himself as a statement… I believe as part of a 2003 labor dispute. This translated article mentions

It had been less than a week since Kim Joo-Ik, President of Hanjin Heavy Industries Union committed self-immolation, that Lee Hae-Nam, President of Sewon Tech Union (affiliated to the Korean Metal Workers Federation) also attempted to burn himself to death. Lee Hae-Nam lies in a hospital, in a very critical condition.

Neither of the men look like the airbrushed picture, but perhaps it’s not even meant to be one of them. Also, there’s no strict subject to this statement, so the him that I put in my statement (deduced from the photo) could just as easy mean ‘them’. Either way self-immolation is no joke and it’d be near the bottom of my list for ways to commit suicide, especially since there’s a good change you’ll live to suffer for a few days or even weeks.

I have some more pics from Hongdae that I’ll share in a future post.


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