UPDATE: About 100,000 men of the PLA Shenyang Military Region’s 39th Army recently began a winter training exercise in the area around Mt. Baekdusan. The Shenyang Military Region would handle an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, including a North Korean collapse. It conducts winter exercises every year, but this year’s exercise is quite big, which has some people wondering if perhaps this might have to do with instability in North Korea.
- I know what the BBC and FCO are thinking, but frankly, I can’t think of anything that would scare the North Koreans into embracing their regime even more firmly than the Teletubbies and Mr. Bean.
- So, Korea gets to pay more to keep USFK around:
Korea has agreed to pay 920 billion won ($866 million) for the upkeep of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) this year, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
The amount represents a 5.8 percent, or 50.5 billion won, increase from the 869.5 billion won it paid in 2013.
The agreement still has to clear the National Assembly where opposition parties are calling for a significant reduction in the payout.
I’ll address the development in a separate post later.
- Is there a bigger waste of time that politicians talking about Korean reunification? At the same time, though, the DP head said his party would come up with a North Korean human rights act, which should be interesting.
- Daegu—an underrated city, if you ask me (which you didn’t)—has a street dedicated to late singer Kim Kwang-seok, who also happens to be your Uncle Marmot’s favorite Korean singer. Fun article, but I hate when officials say stuff like this:
“We’ll make Kim Kwang-seok Road as famous a tourism zone as Montmartre [in Paris],” said Yoon Soon-young, the head of Jung District Office.
Good luck with that. Anyway, my wife spent the weekend on a
How I Met Your Mother Korea Reply 1994 marathon, so we’ve been getting a lot of Kim Kwang-seok. And with that, I give you his Dylan-esque (very Dylan-esque, as in I think he based it on “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”) “두바퀴로 가는 자동차”:
- Sorry to follow that up with two guys from DC rapping in North Korea, but here’s two guys from DC rapping in North Korea (hat to Erik). Unlike them, I won’t be encouraging you to “see the country for yourself,” but I am inclined to agree that Pyongyang’s probably a whole lot safer than Washington DC. Of course, Anbar Province is probably safer than Washington DC, so that might not be saying much.
- It has nothing to do with Korea, but the photo on this article about the Spetsnaz is awesome (HT to Joshua Trevino). This, on the other hand, is less awesome:
Despite his perceived toughness, many Spetsnaz fighters don’t like Putin. Russia’s strongman still seems too soft to them — and much too liberal. “We need someone like Stalin,” says Mikhailov, the retired colonel with Spetsnaz’s “Alpha” unit.
The majority of the Spetsnaz fighters are nostalgic for the lost Soviet imperium, even if most of them were small children — if they had been born at all — when it vanished. They hate America and NATO and don’t think much of democracy. As a result, those who are charged with protecting Russians against terrorists and insurgents are skeptical of their own state.
To be fair to the Russians, I don’t envy their geopolitical circumstances.
- Speaking of the Rooskies, Andrei Tarkovsky’s films are now available for free online (HT to Jason). Which is super dope. Spend much of last night watching Stalker.
- Korea is getting a new Catholic cardinal. He comes from an old Catholic family, and by old, I mean he’s the direct descendant of a believer who was martyred in 1850.
- Over at Ye Olde Photoblog, I’ve got photos up of Gwangjang Market and some other places.