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自尊受創的南韓人 幹起粗工

自尊受創的南韓人 幹起粗工
In Korea, Manual Labor and Wounded Pride

【By MARTIN FACKLER/王麗娟譯】

KUNGHANG, South Korea — With his clean white university sweatshirt and shiny cellphone, Lee Chang-shik looks the part of a manager at a condominium development company, the job that he held until last year’s financial panic — and the one he tells his friends and family he still holds.

 

穿著乾淨的白色大學運動衫,手機閃閃發亮,李滄錫(譯音)看來就像位公寓大廈開發公司的經理,去年金融恐慌發生前,那的確是他的本行,也是他告訴朋友與家人現在還在做的工作。

But in fact, he leads a secret life. After his company went bankrupt late last year, he recently relocated to this remote fishing village to do the highest-paying work he could find in the current market: as a hand on a crab boat.

 

其實,他過的是一種不為人知的生活。去年底公司宣布破產後,他最近搬到這個偏遠的漁村,做起目前市場上他能找到的最高薪工作:在捕蟹船上當幫手。

“I definitely don’t put crab fisherman on my resume,” said Mr. Lee, 33, who makes the five-hour drive back to Seoul once a month to hunt for a desk job. “This work hurts my pride.”

 

33歲的李滄錫說:「我絕不會把捕蟹漁夫寫到我的履歷表內。這活兒很傷我的自尊心。」他每個月開車5小時返回首爾,尋找坐辦公桌的頭路。

Tales of the economic suffering have become common during the current financial crisis, and South Korea has had more than its share since the global downturn hammered this once fast-growing export economy. But they often have a distinctly Korean twist, with former whitecollar workers going into more physically demanding work or traditional kinds of manual labor that are relatively well paid here — from farming and fishing to the professional back-scrubbers who clean patrons at the nation’s numerous public bathhouses.

 

這種生計困難的故事,在當前的金融危機中比比皆是。但是自從全球經濟衰退,重創出口經濟一度快速成長的南韓後,類似情況在南韓特別多。但這種失業的故事在南韓有其特色,過去的白領員工投入對體力要求較高,或相對來說薪水較高的傳統勞力工作。包括農耕、捕魚,或是在南韓眾多的公共澡堂當專業的搓背工,替客人清潔身體。

Just as distinctly Korean may be the lengths to which some go to hide their newly humble status.

 

另一個南韓特色或許是有些人費盡心思,隱瞞他們新近的低下身分。

Mr. Lee says he carefully avoids the topic of work in phone conversations with friends and his parents, and passes on invitations to meet by claiming he is too busy.

 

李滄錫說,和友人及父母電話交談時,他會小心避開工作的話題,對邀約見面,則以工作太忙為由推辭。

In a competitive, status-conscious society, these and other workers say they feel intense shame doing manual work. Some also say they feel guilty working such rough jobs after years of expensive cram schools and college. And many younger workers, having grown up in an increasingly affluent nation, consider physical labor a part of the bygone, impoverished eras of their parents and grandparents.

 

在一個競爭高、地位意識強的社會,這些工作者都說,他們對從事勞力工作感到非常可恥。有人還說,在上了昂貴的補習班和大學多年後跑來做這種粗活兒,讓他們心生愧疚。許多年輕工作者,因是在日漸富足的國家中長大,認為只有在他們父母與祖父母那個貧窮、過去的年代,才會有體力勞動這種事。

“These days, many South Koreans think they have the right to be white collar,” said Lee Byung-hee, senior economist at the Korea Labor Institute, a government- linked research organization based in Seoul. “But their expectations hit the dark reality of this economy, where people have no choice but to go into the blue-collar work force.”

 

總部在首爾,政府資助的研究組織「韓國勞動研究院」的資深經濟學家李秉熙(譯音)說:「近來,許多南韓人認為他們有權當白領階級。當他們的期待碰上經濟的黑暗現實時,人們別無選擇,只有加入藍領的勞動行列。」

Labor experts say that the number of former office workers who are moving into blue-collar jobs has increased as South Korea has suffered its worst unemployment since the 1997 Asian currency crisis.

 

勞工專家指出,隨著南韓面臨1997年亞洲貨幣危機(亞洲金融風暴)以來的最嚴重失業率,昔日坐辦公桌的改當藍領的人數有增無減。

Mr. Lee said he decided to fish because he could make about $1,700 a month, much more than he could earn in Seoul in a coffee shop or busing tables. The high salaries stem from the chronic labor shortages in these occupations during the boom years when South Koreans shunned them as too dirty, leaving them to Asian migrant laborers.

 

李滄錫說,他決定捕魚,是因每月可賺1700美元,比他在首爾的咖啡館端咖啡或是在餐廳收拾桌子賺的多得多。捕魚能有高收入,是因經濟景氣時,這些行業長期出現勞力短缺。南韓人認為這些工作太髒,把它留給其他亞洲國家的外籍勞工。

Na Deuk-won, who owns a school in Seoul that trains backscrubbers and bathhouse masseuses, says enrollment has jumped 50 percent this year, to 180 students, because of a sudden influx of university graduates and laid-off office workers.

 

在首爾擁有一所培訓搓背工、澡堂按摩師學校的羅德元(譯音)說,因為大學畢業生以及被裁的上班族暴增,今年的入學人數激增50%,有180名學員。

“Even in a recession, people need their back scrubbed,” Mr. Na said.

 

羅德元說:「經濟再不景氣,人們還是需要有人刷背。」

In Kunghang, many of the new crab fishermen expressed regrets about their choice. “This is so smelly and dirty, it makes me want to vomit,” Kwak Jung-ho, 33, a branch manager of a cellphone store in Seoul before it closed this year.

 

在宮漢(譯音),許多新來的捕蟹漁夫對他們的選擇後悔極了。在首爾一家手機店當分店經理,公司今年關門大吉,33歲的郭政鎬(譯音)說:「這真的很臭、很髒。讓人想吐。」

“If my parents knew what I was doing now, they would pity me,” he said. “Now, I look at the ocean and think, I should have worked harder at the cellphone store, and be a better man for my family.”

 

他說:「我的父母假如知道我在做這個,會很心疼。現在,我一邊看著大海一邊想,在手機店工作時,我應該更賣力點才對,為了我的家人,做個更有出息的人。」

 

關鍵字句

去年全球開始鬧金融恐慌(financial crisis)後,經濟受創大於應有程度(have more than its share)的南韓,被迫面對1997年亞洲貨幣危機(currency crisis)以來,最嚴重的失業率(worst unemployment)。

這種民眾找不到頭路,經濟困苦(economic suffering)的故事,全球皆然,而南韓有它獨特的韓式發展(distinctly Korean twist)。一是白領員工(whitecollar worker)開始從事需要較大體力(more physically demanding)的工作,或是從事薪水較高,但屬於傳統形式的體力勞動(manual labor)。

二是這些跑道轉換者,無不費盡工夫(go to all lengths,),隱瞞(hide)自己目前的卑微地位(humble status)。此即是標題所指的體力勞動與受傷的自尊心。

他們也會儘可能避談(avoid)工作的話題(topic),有人邀約見面,則宣稱(claim)太忙,予以推辭(pass on)。

南韓是一個競爭高且地位意識強(status-conscious)的社會,淪落到當體力勞動者(munual worker ),令他們無地自容(intense shame)。

【2009-07-21/聯合報/G5版/UNITED DAILY NEWS】

 


http://mag.udn.com/mag/campus/storypage.jsp?f_MAIN_ID=381&f_SUB_ID=3731&f_ART_ID=204605

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