For the chapter I am currently working on, I have been looking back at the time South Korea was under military dictatorships. As it officially ended in 1987, I should remember what it was like. I do remember quite a few things – except that I was not aware of the concept of military dictatorship back then. I was born under one and spent most of my childhood under another, so I understood that was how the government functioned. I didn’t quite get why university students went on demonstrations, although I picked up a few words along the way and guessed there was more than I was told in school. To be honest, my pacific self just didn’t like Molotov cocktails and tear gas.
Among the few things I remember, one is that every evening, 30 seconds before the 9 o’clock news, the telly displayed a still cartoon of a boy in pyjamas making his bed, which was accompanied by a comforting lullaby kind of music and a voice, “It’s time children of the new world (새 나라의 어린이) went to bed.” Nighttime curfew was also in effect until I was 6 or so, but I have no personal memory of it.
Having looked back on, I find myself amazed realising how recent all these episodes were. I am also amazed wondering how come it never struck me as funny that the TV told me to go to bed, not my parents or grandparents. Above all, I am most amazed how hard the government tried to convert everyone to a ‘morning person’ … in vain. Well, look at me for instance. 😛