- If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Mark Russell’s piece in the New York Times, “Korea Rediscovers Its Rock ‘N’ Roll Soul.” A sample:
Bands that got their start rocking out on U.S. Army bases became the vanguard of a new music scene in South Korea. Mr. Shin was at the heart of it, creating bands, finding singers and writing many of the most memorable rock songs recorded in South Korea, especially from 1968 to 1975.
He has been called the godfather of South Korean rock. Mojo magazine likened him to Phil Spector for his ability to discover talent and create sounds. Mr. Shin’s sound was low-fi and psychedelic, freely mixing genres and, as time passed, it grew ever more wild. His albums typically had short, poppy songs, on the Aside, but side B was for Mr. Shin and the band, featuring free-flowing instrumentals up to 22 minutes long.
- In this day and age of shrinking newspapers, journalists need to suppliment their income, too—police in Yeongdeungpo have applied for an arrest warrant for a reporter at a daily paper who is accused of walking into a massage parlor, impersonating a cop, and shaking down the owner for 2.5 million won in cash and other valuables.
- In the Dong-A Ilbo, there’s a pretty interesting human interest story on two old middle school friends—one Korean, one Japanese—who reunited in 1986. Both went to school together in what is now Kimchaek, North Korea, during the colonial era.
- Speaking of the colonial era, check out this Russo-Japanese War gun emplacement down near Busan. See also here, with old photographs to show what those monster guns looked like. Oh, and if you have any interest in Korean military history, spend some time going through the second site—he goes to a lot of old Joseon-era fortress sites, photographing what he finds. He also makes good use of old Korean maps. Definitely worth looking a visit.
- Korea keeps the world’s top spot in shipbuilding. Speaking of ships, here’s a model of Korea’s first modern warship, the Yangmu, purchased by the Daehan Empire in 1903. Here’s the history of that ship:
Katsudachi Maru—1888—built by Sir Raylton, Dixon & Co., Middlesborough | ex- Pallas, 1895 purchased from Rathbone Bros renamed Katsudachi Maru, 1903 sold to Korean Navy renamed Yang Moo, 1909 sold to Harada & Co. renamed Katsudachi Maru, 27 September 1916 foundered off Quelpart Island.
- Now, I know one of my co-bloggers may disagree, but I say as much as someone may dislike Lee Myung-bak, it could have been worse. The Chosun Ilbo reports an exchange between Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and Democratic Party lawmaker Chung Dong-young, who, in case anybody needs reminding, was the DP candidate for president in 2007. During a debate on the KORUS FTA at the National Assembly yesterday, he said the Foreign Ministry’s weakness is that it focuses on Washington in all matters, and that he didn’t know if they were Korean or American. During a committee meeting on Oct 13, he pointed to Trade Minister Kim and said he “didn’t have a Korean soul” and virtually called him a Yi Wan-yong. Kim responded—quite cleverly, IMHO—by thanking Chung for the help he rendered during FTA negotiation when the lawmaker was a minister in the Roh Moo-hyun government. To which Chung got angry, telling Kim to “stop lying.” To which Kim again said Chung was a great help during the negotiations. Fellow DP lawmaker and former foreign minister Song Min-soon, about whom I’ve made some, ahem, pointed criticism (well, me and Rummy), criticized Chung for his blanket criticism of the Foreign Ministry, to his credit.
- At a recent debate, Brookings Institute scholar Jonathan Pollack said that even if there are cuts to the US defense budget, it’s highly unlikely USFK will shrink, considering both the possibility of North Korean adventurism, the current healthy state of relations and the close ties between the US and Korean presidents. If something’s got to shrink, it’ll will be US forces in Europe, not Korea. So, does this mean I’ve got to root for an asshat to win in the Korean elections next year to see any change in the current relationship?
- Not that I’m going to take what a Democratic Labor Party city councilman says seriously, but I fail to see how four GIs climbing on somebody’s roof, causing a disturbance and then taking off back to base leaving the guy’s roof damaged helps improve bilateral ties.
- The Kyunghyang Shinmun worries that the right-wing Korea Freedom Federation’s expansion in North America is an attempt by the group to interfere in next year’s elections, when overseas Korean nationals will be able to vote. The Munhwa Ilbo, on the other hand, expresses another concern, namely, that North Korea may attempt to interfere in the election by having overseas operatives acquire South Korean citizenship. This is a particular concern in Japan, where you have a lot of pro-North Korean zainichi affiliated with groups like Chongryon. A diplomatic source familiar with Japan’s Korean community said over the last decade, about 50,000 Koreans have acquired South Korean citizenship, and some may have done so for voting purposes, and even the Central Election Committee believes many officials with Chongryon and other pro-North Korean groups are acquiring South Korean citizenship.
- You won’t here me saying many nice things about the Four Rivers Project, but I do confess, that is one architecturally pleasing levee.