In yet another new feature here, I’m going to take a regular look at some of the most popular Korean Tweets of the week and, where possible, any stories around them. I’m not altogether sure how successful/interesting this approach will be, but given how often Tweets are appearing in news stories these days, there must be a few gems in there that never make it as far as the English-language media.
Here’s three of the most popular this week, all perhaps influenced by the recent North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong Island:
- Fourth most read and retweeted this week comes from @ChungMinCho, a minister at the Onnuri Community Church and a presenter on CGNTV, an evangelical Christian TV channel, who Tweeted this possible allusion to North Korea’s shenanigans on Yeonpyeong Island last week — “With buildings, the depth of the underground floors decides the height of the floors above ground. In life, the depth of your suffering decides the heights of your character, and the depth of the people’s suffering decides the heights of their glory. Our suffering … is not something we just endure before it all comes to an end.”
- With third place taken by a promotional offer, second belongs to MBC anchor Kim Juha (@kimjuha), who also makes a Yeonpyeong-related comment (which appears to have vanished from her original Twitter feed) with a tribute to a local businessman who helped out.
A compliment. President Seo Gi-suk from Incheon InSpa World. You turned away paying customers and from your own pocket, you employed 10 extra people to prepare food and beds for the people of Yeonpyeong. You are the true face of Korea. Thank you. (칭찬합니다. 인천 인스파월드 서기숙 사장님. 유료 손님 거절하시고 연평도 주민을 위해 식사와 잠자리에 서비스할 아르바이트 10명까지 추가고용 모두 자비로 부담하고 계십니다. 당신이 진정 대한민국입니다. 고맙습니다.)
- And the most mentioned Tweet in Korea this week — and, astonishingly, at the time of writing the fourth most mentioned Tweet in the world — comes from Korean Twitter legend Lee Oi-soo (@oisoo). A controversial 68-year-old novelist whose caustic wit draws affection and disdain in equal measure, Lee has more than 500,000 followers, making him by far Korea’s most popular Twitterer.
This Tweet has a bit of a backstory, making it incomprehensible to the uninitiated (including myself and the first two Korean friends I asked). Gaining Lee as a Twitter follower is apparently quite an honour, so he occasionally asks questions to his own followers, telling them that he will follow those who give the correct answer.
On this occasion — again, perhaps with the events on Yeonpyeong in mind — he asked:
Here’s a question from my nonsense quiz. A soldier is mentioned in one verse of our national anthem. Do you know his name and rank? People who’ve read my long work “Monster” will know.
The Tweet giving the answer, which has so far gained 2,753 replies and 134 RTs, explained that it was “이보우 하사” (Lee Bo-u Hasa, or Staff Sergeant Lee Bo-u) which was a word play on: “하느님이 보우하사 우리 나라 만세,” meaning “May God bless Korea our land for endless ages to come!” (Which is, as the Korea old hands among you will know, a line from Korea’s national anthem.)
This concludes this nonsense quiz. The answer was “Lee Bo-u Hasa” or “Hasa Lee Bo-u.” I’ve followed everyone [who got it right]. People who answered “Bo-u Hasa,” better luck next time!