Odds and Ends

– The Maeil Gyeongje was quite impressed with North Korea’s handling of its Chinese fishermen problem, by which we mean sending armed soldiers to board the fishing boat, beat the crap out of the crew and lock them in a small storage space for 13 days. Oh, and then ransack their boat.

– A Yonsei university student who defected to the South in 2006 (after three tries) has a word of advice for Southerners enamored with North Korea—you try living there.

– A poll by Korea University’s newspaper of 262 students revealed that 58.8% thought it natural to discrimate against foreign laborers in terms of employment and wages. On the other hand, 82.8% said expanding Korea’s racial, religious and cultural diversity would help national competitiveness, but of that 82.8%, 78.8% said there is a limit to accepting people with different races, religions and cultures.

– Apparently, Warren Buffet’s Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) is going to sink a lot of money into reopening Yeongwol’s tungsten mine.

– Another former Juche fan has released an open letter to an unidentified friend of his in the UPP. The letter dealt with a student council debate the writer and the UPP figure had while students at Jeonbuk National University. Let’s just say it’s a bit shocking (if true)—at one point, the would-be UPP kid suggests that not only were political prisons in North Korea natural, but also needed to be built in South Korea after The Revolution ™ came. Anyway, read the letter—it’s quite impassioned, as I take it a lot of these former NLers-turned-North Korea human rights activists are.

– I really feel bad for Lee Mi-sook.

– I really can’t believe “House” is over. Perhaps it will finally hit me in the next couple of days.

– Really enjoying the Galaxy Note. Still looking for suggestions for podcast management apps, though. On suggestions from Facebook and Twitter, I tried Doggcatcher and BeyondPod. Any other suggestions?

  • jkitchstk

    “A poll by Korea University’s newspaper of 262 students revealed that 58.8% thought it natural to discrimate against foreign laborers in terms of employment and wages. ”

    They forgot to include foreign employers in the poll…
    “Diageo locked in W500 billion lawsuit”
    “It is a strong case,” a Diageo official said, arguing that the customs’ action is a rebuttal to foreign investors that is unfitting in open economies such as Korea.
    Diageo has every reason to stick to its guns. It has paid 194 billion won in penalties and depending on the court’s decision may have to pay 217 billion won more.
    “The customs’ demand is as good as telling us to shut down our business and leave,” the official said.

    The Diageo director said that the legal dispute has had a bad effect on the group’s global strategy of making Korea a hub for the Asian market.

    “Foreign companies put emphasis on transparent administration, and I think the Korean government has failed to meet that standard. I’m sorry that Korea lost the chance to attract more foreign investment with the tax dispute.”

  • jkitchstk

    More Anti-foreign sentiment,
    Update: Lone Star
    It appears tax authorities in S. Korea do the work of police in collecting funds for city budgets.
    “Lone Star handed $208M tax penalty”

    As does the S. Korean Federal Trade Commission(FTC)…
    “North Face slapped with biggest price-fixing fine”
    “The FTC’s investigation started in February at the request of Seoul’s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).
    The association claimed in a statement the company breached the fair trade law by implementing sale price restrictions, citing its own survey of 23 shops in Seoul.
    “Every single store offers the same deal within a specific discount range, which is illegal,” the YMCA said in the statement.”

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “the group’s global strategy of making Korea a hub for the Asian market”

    That would scare me out of investing.

    It is nice to see the YMCA is standing up for poorer kids’ rights to follow the herd.

  • http://pawikoreapics.blogspot.com/ pawikirogii 石鵝

    y do you feel bad for lee mi sook. u no gv link.

  • R. Elgin

    Re: #2, The Korean importer of North Face gear IS guilty of price-fixing. I don’t think the FTCs actions are signs of “anti-foreigner sentiment” in that case. There is a lot of price gouging done by Korean distributors and middle-men that drives up the price of so many things here.

  • Arghaeri

    It is when they appear to ignore local companies high pricing.

    Why is the cost of Hyundai cars and Samsung TV’s seems higher here, than overseas exports.

  • ulsanchris

    There are a number of companies that are guilty of the same crime as the north face. All the car and cell phone companies, apple, and others. perhaps if complaints were filed against them they would be punished as well.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    It’s called retail price maintenance. It’s been a very, very long time, and the nuances may have changed, but as far as I recall, the idea is that while a mfgr is free to set the price of his goods as he sees fit in his own retail distribution outlets, if he sells to other distributors, any attempt to coerce compliance with any “suggested” retail price is considered a restraint of trade that injures both the other distributors and, through the attempted restraint of competition among such distributors, the interest of consumers. KFTA is just enforcing pretty standard competition law in going after NF. It’s also being anti-foreign in singling out a foreign company while generally turning a blind eye to the same conduct by Korean companies, among whom it is rife.

  • R. Elgin

    Apple’s gear is priced about the same BUT the DOJ is investigating them now for price-fixing e-book prices. Why should someone pay more for an e-book than a real book!? That is why I have held off on buying any books from them and will avoid buying from them in the future.

  • ulsanchris

    Seems to me that any group could ask any company to be investigated. Perhaps somebody who cares enough could launch one against a Korean company.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Multiculturalism is a work in progress. Just ask any red state in the 60’s.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936


    1) It’s a little like price dumping, the practice Japan, Inc. was guilty of all throughout the 80’s and 90’s. However, at the same time, it’s a little less like Japan, Inc. too because Korea never enjoyed the same size market as Japan. 48M consumers vs. 130M.

    2) Yet, could you imagine Americans paying the same amount in the U.S. for a Korean product? Well, at least not yet.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I’m sorry. Just ask any U.S. state in the 60’s. Fixed!

    Why just single out the red states?… 😉

  • iMe

    @ #11
    Multiculturalism is a FAIL. No need to ask. Just spend a month or two in Paris, Rome or Any Metro, USA.

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  • iMe

    PS. I think I’m in love with Lee Mi Sook.
    She is beeeeeaauuutiful!

  • CactusMcHarris


    I guess you’ve never been to San Francisco or New York, Chicago or Seattle…that’s too bad about living under a rock.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936


    Yeah, I guess so in a ajomma kind of way…

  • YangachiBastardo

    PS. I think I’m in love with Lee Mi Sook.
    She is beeeeeaauuutiful!

    Yeah, I guess so in a ajomma kind of way…

    Didn’t know this Lee Mi Sook, i just checked her wiki: she’s 52. Her surgeon surely is a very wealthy man

    Multiculturalism is a FAIL. No need to ask. Just spend a month or two in Paris, Rome or Any Metro, USA

    I was in Paris very briefly last Good Friday (yes i went to see Super Junior, but it was for a business reason, i swear the God)… Paris is one of the few places in this world that put me in a good mood when i finally come back home.

    I gotta go there again at the end of June (gf is going for fashion week or some shit like that), a whole week in the ghetto of Europe hooray !!!

    Rome well i go there approx. twice a month and always spend very little time there, thanks God for the Eurostar.

    I guess you’ve never been to San Francisco or New York, Chicago or Seattle…that’s too bad about living under a rock

    Parts of Chicago are cool, for instance some corners of the Loop esp. aorund the old CBOT building and the western part around Greek town.

    Some areas of Northside Chicago are also awesome, i remember fondly walking for hours up and down the North Clark. Also Wicker Park and Bucktown are cool, despite getting a bit gentrified they retain some raw energy.

    A significant slice of Chicago is a huge, stinky dump though

  • iMe

    actually, I schooled, worked & lived in Manhattan for two decades. I go to San Francisco at least twice a year and I’ve lived & worked in Europe for six months, splitting my time mostly between Paris & Rome. Paris, the city everyone likes to romanticize, sucks. Their food is grossly overrated and I hate the slow pace. Plus the city is crawling with illegal immigrants. I found Rome to be much more tolerable but that historic city, too, is crawling with illegal immigrants including a surprising number of Chinese. I won’t even get into both countries’ doomed economies.

    Manhattan is charming, sure. But have you ever been to Queens or Brooklyn? Other than a few hot spots, SF sucks. I’m currently living in Los Angeles. I can tell you right now based on my experience that multiculti is a FAIL.

  • iMe

    if my wife looked that good in 15 years, I’d be a very happy man.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Multi-culti can be very successful, the key is to import educated and skilled immigrants (and those who have enough cash – and therefore wherewithal – to start a business) only.

    In Australia it has generally been a success; the only problems have occurred when unskilled people and refugees have been imported, especially en mass.

    Two cases: after the Vietnam War, Australia opened the doors to Vietnamese refugees. They had no skills, no education, barely any English and the local population in the 70s was intolerant. Result: a nightmare.

    In the 90s Australia opened the doors to Lebanese refugees. Again, no skills, no education. It’s amazing that anyone expected it would work out. Today, sad to say, Lebanese immigrants are generally despised in Sydney. They’re thugs.

    It’s not a matter of ethnicity, it’s about the socio-economic status of the people involved. I’d pity any country that imported white trash Australians, so why do we think bringing in poor and marginalised foreigners will work out? It’s a warm and fuzzy idea that rarely works.

    The UK has the same problem with Pakistani immigrants from the tribal areas of pushtun. Great idea that one. And look at how well North African refugees are working out for southern Europe. I’m sure Yangachi can elaborate on that point.

    In contrast, educated – or at least skilled (and therefore motivated) -immigrants to Australia have been hugely successful. I imagine the same can be said for most other countries. Pretty simple.

  • slim

    The educated and skilled tend toward assimilation and away from multiculturism, no?

  • http://www.idlewordship.net Bobby McGill
  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    The educated and skilled tend toward assimilation and away from multiculturism, no?

    Not sure; I know quite a few educated immigrants (Indians particularly) who keep true to customs and norms from their home countries, like arranged marriages etc. But I think that as far as Muslim immigrants are concerned, the least educated also seem to be the most fanatical and the most averse to assimilation. And Christian immigrants from the ME seem to be the most model immigrants; Coptic Egyptians and Lebanese Christians are wonderful folk, from my experience.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Besides HS’s good point in #21, the volume-speed of the immigration is also crucially important — it must be slow/steady enough to allow proper assimilation instead of ghettoization. Vital to that is that the immigs are legal, so that they can have legitimate stations in the host society.

  • αβγδε

    I didn’t have a negative opinion toward Ron Paul.. Until I started passing by the obnoxiously frequent posts of the few individuals on this blog who loudly support him. These individuals, though, they’re not very smart and are even rather stupid.

    Take iMe, up there, for example, who can’t distinguish the multiculturalism in a city from crime and poverty in a city. Nobody likes the ghettoization of any place. But to say that that has anything to do with multiculturalism is missing the point. And the only people who can miss such an easy point are low-IQ hicks. No? Affirmative. Too true.

  • eujin

    So for some people does “multiculturalism” just mean “ghettoization”? Not in a causal way but in a purely synonymous sense? I love this site. Explaining the inexplicable.

    I notice that governments have been encouraging men and women to live together in the same cities for years now, sometimes even in the same families. There’s probably been some assimilation but it still looks like two different cultures to me.

  • Soulz

    Speaking about Australia, interesting to see how it dealt with a particular refugee @ http://au.news.yahoo.com/opinion/post/-/blog/deanfelton/post/7/comment/

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Hey, did you guys know that intra-brand “price-fixing” can, in some cases, have a beneficial effect on competition between brands, and thereby save consumers money in the bigger picture? And, that there is a famous economic theory whereby the demand for luxury goods increases along with the increase in the price for such goods?

    Sperwer’s analysis is correct: North Face’s main problem was being a successful foreign brand. While it’s not at all true that the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) does not enforce the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA) against Korean companies, KFTC does enforce MRFTA against foreign goods and foreign companies with a certain relish.

    Another element of landed-in-Korea product cost, especially for low-volume items, is the transportation of foreign goods to Korea in a timely fashion. Right now I’m working on a case where KFTC is investigating foreign automakers for allegedly gouging consumers on car parts — well, as it happens, a large component of the end-user cost for those parts comes from the fact that there aren’t enough accidents to justify a large parts depot in country, and so parts get special-ordered air freight on demand (i.e., when an accident occurs), which costs a lot of money.

    In a past case, we had a US software company whose Korean distributor sold its education-version software product for US$259 or so, but about W800,000 in Korea. Seems like classic price-gouging, no? As it turns out, the software was accompanied by 25 pounds of books, which makes a single unit of this software cost US$300 to ship to Korea. US$559 × W1200 x 1.1 (10% VAT) = W737,880. Now we see the distributor, who had to support the software with its own employees, in the Korean language (the books were all in English, and usually ended up in the trash), only had a margin of about 10%. Still price gouging?

    There’s usually more to the story than meets the eye.