Posts by R. Elgin

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Kim Jong-Un – The Busiest Man in the DPRK

Busy? Yeah, I’m busy but not like Kim Jong-Un, who is so busy that he canceled his attendance in Moscow of the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end citing “internal Korean affairs” as being the cause.

What in Korea could be keeping him at home? It’s simple. He has been busy. . .

. . . The director general of North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra and three members of the troupe were stripped naked and shot dead with machine guns in a public execution in Pyongyang last month, a resident of the North Korean capital said, as South Korea’s intelligence agency issued a tally of 15 executions ordered by leader Kim Jong-un so far in 2015.

watching_uand I almost choked when I read that these people were killed “while 400-500 members of the Pyongyang artistic community were forced to watch . . . There has been no execution done in this cruel way, so all people who saw this scene were shocked” and one of the people killed was a composer even!
Certain sources have stated that up to fifteen highly placed officials were executed this year by his busy-ness and there are even photos of some of it as well.
There are other North Koreans who are busy as well, like its diplomats when “A U.S.-organized event on North Korea’s human rights briefly turned into chaos at the U.N. on Thursday as North Korean diplomats insisted on reading a statement of protest (amid shouts from defectors) and then stormed out.” <link>
Yes, Kim Jong-Un has been busy shoring up his grip on power but, like many things in life, the harder you try to avoid something, the more likely it will become a visitor at night, when it is least expected.

A Youth Drinking Problem or A Business in Need of Regulation?

baby-drinkingAccording to reports, a bill that restricts people under the age of 25, from appearing in advertisements for alcoholic beverages, has passed a  committee vote, and will become law if approved in the National Assembly.  This strange bill was passed due to a perception that younger Koreans (teenagers?) are drinking more.  The same lawmakers, who had such a problem passing a decent anti-corruption law, have decided that pop stars, athletes and people of note, who are younger than 25, may encourage teenage drinking, since many of their fan base are in that age bracket.

. . . That means 21-year-old singer Lee Ji-eun, known to her fans as UI, would have to stop advertising a popular brand of soju liquor, . . . the bill was proposed after skater Kim Yuna helped advertise a brewery when she was 22 years old, leading lawmakers to question whether young idols could be enticing teenagers to drink. <link>

This sort of reportage dodges a better question though.  Are those cheap bottles of soju actually encouraging the noted rise in South Korean drinking?

Soju is really cheap in South Korea at just 3,000 won ($3) for a bottle. People tend to go out to drink almost every day, including women. At the very minimum, drinking is done three times a week” said South Korean native Lim Hyun <link>

As noted in other articles, often there is a correlation between economic problems and drinking in both unemployed and employed.  During the current “deflationary spiral amid near-zero wage growth” in Korea, the one thing that has sold better is alcohol. <link> This is more than merely a youth problem that has been exacerbated by young celebrities’ promotion of alcoholic products.

The only winner in this period of economic troubles & the ongoing problem of alcohol abuse are large beer and liquor manufacturers such as Hite-Jinro

with a 47% market share in Korea’s drinking habit.  If Korea’s drinking problems are so large (About 1.6 million of South Korea’s 50 million population are alcoholics, while social costs stemming from drinking is around 23 trillion won annually), wouldn’t cheap soju and neighborhood stores selling to younger Koreans be more of a problem than young stars marketing alcohol?  How about the management for the “younger celebrities” that are willing to force their talent to help Hite-Jinro expand their market share? How about the advertising campaigns put out by Hite-Jinro that target a younger audience?  Also, considering the advertising spent in printed news media, why is their no media-lead examination of the business side of this alcohol problem in Korea?

Adultery Is Now Officially Legal & Ashley Madison Is Back

what-Once upon a time . . .

adultery was illegal in South Korea. People could go to jail because of it.
Sites such as Ashley Madison – that promote married people having affairs – were banned in South Korea, despite their efforts to sue Korea, claiming that the Korean Government was protecting local hook-up sites (see Brendon Carr’s first comment on the linked page), until, one day, the law was changed.

Now, according to the claims of Christoph Kraemer, director of international relations for Ashley Madison, “. . . Membership is growing quickest in India, South Korea and Japan.” (cite)
When I read about this, I checked and, yes, the site is accessible now from Korea and does offer support in Korean, however, since there are quite a few complaints of this service being fraudulent.  Several people I know thought that this site was a typical dating scam setup, where there are fake accounts setup just to drawn in the unsuspecting, so we thought it would be a good idea to test this and to ascertain if previous complaints had any merit and the following is what we found.

First, any adult can sign up for an account, which we did. We fought more over the online name than we did about anything else. We were torn between choices like “Nunchi lover”, “Peachy white guy” or “Tall and handsome carpet muncher” and so many other corny names but, just as soon as we created our account, we got four notices in our mail account from interested women, but wait, under the “viewed me” section of our account, it said “no one has recently viewed your profile”! Wow, these women must be psychic and married since they knew we had just joined Ashley Madison before anyone had even looked at our profile yet.

We went on to search the site for Seoul listings, for women that listed both Korean only or Korean and English as languages. We viewed several listings; many without photos. We pulled up one listing several times, arguing over whether or not a certain woman looked good or not. Lo and behold, some hours later, the same woman whose profile we had argued over had sent us mail but – we had spent no money to buy “credits” for the site’s service, thus we could not read the obviously juicy mail sent to us by the very women whose profile we poured over. We were also amazed because the site dashboard told us that no one had viewed our profile as of yet, thus this women must also be another psychic married woman, looking for action.

Well, it was obvious to us that the time had come to make a decision – do we wisely save our money or do we give in to our lustful, now legal desires?

After splitting the cost, we bought the cheapest option, which is still pretty expensive for one person. We also discovered a little tricky thing about this site.  As listed in the conditions for this service (DO READ THE FINE PRINT) they have the option to automatically charge your card or Paypal account to purchase additional credits for you to keep your account active:

. . . (we use an) automatic re-bill “top up” feature to keep your account active. In the event that any action you take or features you use on the Service that require the expenditure of credits results in you having a “zero balance” or a negative balance of credits, WE WILL AUTOMATICALLY PURCHASE (WITHOUT FURTHER AUTHORIZATION FROM YOU ONCE YOU OPT IN) FOR YOU THE SAME MEMBERSHIP PACKAGE THAT YOU HAD PURCHASED PREVIOUSLY . . .

basically, they reserve the right to charge you again if you are careless and opt-in without understanding what you are agreeing to. This auto-charging is a similar practice to one used by certain illicit online streaming sites where they offer a free trial for their service but the fine print says that if you don’t cancel the trial before a certain time, they will charge you the full fee and their fine print also says there is a cost to cancel.  Ashley Madison also charges for a “full deletion” of account information from their site as well, which again is in the fine print. (link) though you can hide your account from viewing.  It is definitely not clear just what happens to a members photo if they should cancel their service either.

There is also this bit of fine print from the site:

Our profiles message with Guest users, but not with Members. Members interact only with profiles of actual persons. Guests are contacted by our profiles through computer generated messages, including emails and instant messages. These profiles are NOT conspicuously identified as such.
You understand, acknowledge and agree that any interaction or messaging with our profiles is independent of, and separate from, our general database of Members who may be seeking in person or other kinds of encounters or introductions. You understand that you cannot meet any of the images associated with our profiles in person and you acknowledge and agree that such communications are solely for your entertainment and to encourage your use of our Service. You acknowledge and agree that the user conduct provisions of these Terms apply to your interactions with these profiles. If you do not wish to continue to receive communications or other interaction from our profiles, to which the receipt of such messages you hereby agree to and consent, go to “Manage Profile” and click on “Profile Options”, in “Profile Options” select “Check this box if you do not wish to by contacted by Market Research.” Then click on “UPDATE”.

This means that the “psychic married women” we encountered were actually Ashley Madison bots that were inticing us and giving us the impression that their site is really active with women looking for sex.

Once having bought credits on the AM site, they charge five credits to send mail to any member (or bot) though any additional follow-up mail to a member is free, according to their site.  Having loaded up on credits, our itching fingers grabbed the mail that had been out of our reach, only to read that the women wanted a photo and would reply if interested. She never did, in fact, after having purchase our credits, all mail from these psychic married women stopped completely.

Almost once every other day, we did get a “wink” from women who actually viewed our profile, right after we logged on, but were located on the opposite side of the earth from Korea (!??) and a couple looked like sex pros, but the dashboard on the AM site still told us that no locally available married women, including the ones we “winked” at, had viewed our profile. We are smug in a dejected sort of way at this point since we suspected that this very thing would happen, however we picked the sexiest pictures we could for our profile and feel that they have been wasted so far.  Even Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung is more popular than we are and we feel we are collectively much more handsome than he is.

disappointed

“no one has recently viewed your profile”!

We sent out more “winks” to certain local women to show our interest in them. We tried a combination of English and Korean but to no avail and still no members in Korea, who are Korean, have viewed our profile! Only one local “member” (we never “winked” at them) did view our profile but they were listed as having English as a primary language and wanted to only chat, which was not a selected option for our profile.  Why were they trying to send a message to us?  We were looking for action and fun; not “chatting”.  Despite the sites’ statement in their terms and conditions that their “angel” bots would send messages to only “guests” we still received one message (with a Korean online name) from what apparently was a bot since the “member”(?) was not listed as having viewed our profile. We believe this should have been a violation of the terms and conditions of their site. (Note: we have kept a log and screenshots of everything as well just in case . . . )

A few listings did look like they *might* be actual people but we felt that the cost alone to determine if they were real would preclude investigating this further and some of the accounts had pictures that looked very much like the shots seen on those little business cards that litter the streets around Gangnam and Seolleung. Humm . . .

Even now, our conclusions are unanimous. We feel that people would have a better chance of meeting someone in Korea – married or not – by learning some Korean and learning how to smile and be pleasant rather than wasting their money and time on Ashley Madison’s site.  This site left us with more doubts about the veracity of the site than fun.  We think it is also probably a good idea for the Prosecutor’s Office, in Seoul, to investigate these people or have their site blocked since they are probably not the sort of people that should be allowed to operate in Korea.

Suicide – A New Political Tool?

I can well understand Moon Jae-in at this point in time.

He realizes that he was robbed by the more radical elements in his own party during the last election and, now, he is attempting to realign his platform and change his focus and image by becoming much more pragmatic in his goals.

ticket_to_rideFor a completely different approach to politics, then there is this case within the Saenuri Dang: the case of the suicidal Saenuri Dang Prime Minister, who encouraged the corruption probe (War against corruption) that has caught him as well:

. . . Prime Minister Lee bet his life on his innocence Tuesday, but he refused to step down, although the ruling party made clear that it wouldn’t provide a shield for him.
“If there is evidence that I had taken the money, I will lay down my life,” Lee said during a National Assembly hearing.

All on the heels of Sung Wan-jong’s suicide due to a corruption probe by the prosecutor’s office. (link)

Using the threat of sucide to put off the very investigation that the PM demanded is unprofessional.  I would really hope that, if the PM decides he should kill himself, his leadership skills would inspire his beleagered compatriots to follow him.  Only then can this strange cycle of politcal evolutionary extinction end.

Hope For Night Owls . . .

A new study suggests that being a night owl may promote health problems.

blue owlA study conducted here in Seoul found that many middle-aged night owls (people that keep late hours) had a higher instance of diabetes (in men) and abnormal levels of lipids (higher blood sugar) and too much fat around the waist.

Dr. Nan Hee Kim, an endocrinologist at the Korea University College of Medicine, thinks there is hope for night owls that want to switch to become an early riser:

. . . (sleep patterns) can be modified by external cues such as light, activity and eating behavior. But it isn’t known if this would improve the metabolic outcomes (blood sugar levels, etc.).

If you are not sure you meet the criteria of being a “night owl”, you can take the test that was used here. If you would like to know more about changing your sleep patterns, try this link at the Times and quit dreaming about it.

 

A Nagging Reminder About Trust & Transparency

This BBC article, on the current discontent the families of the Sewol victims have with the government’s position, is to the point:

Committee chairman Lee Suk-Tae, one of the members nominated by the families, said that the “attempt to appoint maritime ministry officials, who should be the very subject of our own investigation… is completely unacceptable” . . . We need full political independence to get to the bottom of this tragedy and to prevent accidents like this from happening again.” A statement from the victims’ families said that “the priority for the government should not be monetary compensation but getting to the bottom of the incident, salvaging the wreckage and finding the last missing persons”.

which really contrasts to the comments I personally heard from one conservative constituent in Taegu, who mockingly accused the Sewol families of holding out for more money.

If the next president ends up being any other candidate than a Saenuri candidate, it will be because of this lack of transparency and trust generated by the government and the party that has continually not acted upon one of the most obvious needs of society – having a government that can be trusted.

DNS Poisoning and Script Attacks – Made in China

Some website owners are baffled by what amounts to DOS attacks on their sites since they originate from China.  Why should some site that has nothing to do with things Chinese be subject to attacks that route back to the PRC?:

Software designer Craig Hockenberry noticed something very strange was happening to his small corporate website. . .  one morning last month: traffic had suddenly spiked to extremely high levels—equivalent to more than double the amount of data transmitted when Kim Kardashian’s naked photos were published last year. The reason, he quickly discovered, was that China’s Great Firewall—the elaborate machinery that China’s government uses to censor the internet—was redirecting enormous amounts of bogus traffic to his site, which designs online icons, quickly swamping his servers. (cite)

This resulting denial-of-service (DOS) attack happens due to something referred to as “DNS poisoning” when servers (in China) that keep the addresses of sites are used to redirect traffic away from certain sites that a deemed sensitive to government personnel, they redirect inquiries to completely different sites deliberately. The result is a mass of traffic is directed to one site, which can quickly overload their servers.

South Korea is not immune to this sort of Chinese DNS poisoning either, China has also done the same thing to South Korean Government sites in the past. As shown below, at one time, Chinese web users were unwittingly used to DDOS a Korean Government website – just because (cite).  Even French sites have been hosed by the Great Firewall – no where is now safe.

Korean gov DNS poisoning

Even now, an American company’s site – GitHub – has been subject to just such an attack, which appears to be a deliberate attempt by the PRC Government to prevent Chinese net users from gaining access to their GitHub tools that would allow users to view sites and information on the internet that has been censored behind the “Great Firewall” in China:

The attack on San Francisco-based GitHub Inc., a service used by programmers and major tech firms world-wide to develop software, appears to underscore how China’s Internet censors increasingly reach outside the country to clamp down on content they find objectionable. . . Specifically, the traffic was directed to two GitHub pages that linked to copies of websites banned in China, the experts said. One page was run by Greatfire.org, which helps Chinese users circumvent government censorship, while the other linked to a copy of the New York Times ’s Chinese language website.

Likewise, there are certain things related to South Korea that are off-limits to the average Chinese citizen as can be seen here.

Another variation of this DNS poisoning involves scripts to reroute traffic.  The basic pattern of this sort of attack is as follows:

  • An innocent user browses the internet from outside China
  • One website the user visits loads an analytics script – a sequence of instructions – from a server in China, for example Baidu, something that often used by web admins to track visitor statistics
  • The web browser’s request for the Baidu script is detected by Chinese equipment as it enters the country
  • A fake response is sent out from within China instead of the actual Baidu Analytics script. This fake response is a malicious script that tells the user’s browser to continuously reload two specific pages on GitHub.com

(Cite)

A News Report Worthy of A Movie Script

Thanks to Kim Hyung-Eun (JoongAng Ilbo) this news report of a fire turns out to be a cross between a detective-mystery and tragedy.

The  “Hunminjeongeum” or “The Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People” was written  so that the common people illiterate in hanja could accurately and easily read and write the Korean language. It was announced in Volume 102 of the Annals of King Sejong, and its formal supposed publication date, October 9, 1446 ( Hangul Day). The Annals place its creation to the  25th year of Sejong’s reign, 1443~1444 thereof.  The book has two parts: the Yeui section, which explains why Hangul was created, and the Haerye section, which details the principles, usage and gives examples of the writing system but the Haerye section is far more rare, thus very much sought after by collectors.

The story begins in 2008 when Bae Ik-gi notified the government that he had a copy of “Hunminjeongeum” with the Haerye section intact.
Curators found this to be true and noted the book even contained footnotes missing from the version that was known, however, there was a problem:

an antique dealer Jo Yong-hun claimed that Bae had stolen the book from him: “Bae bought several ancient books from me at the price of 300,000 won [$272] and sneaked ‘Hunminjeongeum’ into the books,” Jo said while filing civil and criminal lawsuits against Bae. Jo won the civil suit in 2012 and announced in May that year that he would donate the book to the state. The CHA even held a donation ceremony with Jo – ironically without the presence of the artifact, as only Bae knew where it was . . .

Jo passed away and the government held Bae but Bae never revealed where the book was and would not reveal where it was until the government cleared him of charges, saying the world will never see the book, yet – he was reportedly seen running into the burning house with a small hammer, attacking a portion of a wall . . .

. . . Gwangheung Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang, has been arguing that one of Korea’s most notorious antique thieves, surnamed Seo, stole a group of artifacts kept inside a Buddhist statue in the temple in 1999 and that the book was (originally) one of the items.

and the house burned.

burning

If there were a love interest, this would make a great movie but there was little love to be found therein and more so is the tragedy.

An Evil Twin, Christian Hostages and Media Players that Can Get A Person Killed

Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung has an evil twin.

He sounds like him and talks just like him and he is calling women to ask for money and is getting it.

The real Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung is not amused, especially since he is not getting a cut and has warned people that this phone twin of his is evil and is actually a scam artist:

A number of people told me they received a phone call from me asking for money. Fortunately many did not wire the money as demanded to a bank account…The victims told me that the suspect’s voice and the way he talks on the phone were identical to mine.

Remember, if your phone rings and it is Kim Moo-sung asking for money, hang up on him.

The DPRK has taken prisoner two South Koreans in Dandong, China (not North Korea).

The DPRK alleges that the two are spies for South Korea but it turns out they are affiliated with a church around Dandong, thus this might explain why DPRK agents were allowed to apprehend the two South Korean citizens in Dandong, China – the same city that Kevin and Julia Garratt (Canadian couple that ran a coffeeshop) lived in.

What is the fifty-dollar gadget that can get a person killed in North Korea?

How about a hand-held media player called a Notel that can play DVDs or video files from memory sticks?

People are exchanging South Korean soaps, pop music, Hollywood films and news programs, all of which are expressly prohibited by the Pyongyang regime, according to North Korean defectors, activists and recent visitors to the isolated country. “The North Korean government takes their national ideology extremely seriously, so the spread of all this media that competes with their propaganda is a big and growing problem for them,” said Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an organization that works with defectors.

South Korea Is To Join the AIIB

Though certain people thought I was “alarmist” in describing the earlier visit of Chinese President Xi and the PRC’s efforts to engage South Korea in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), South Korea has announced their intention to join the Chinese-lead bank. (link)

Supposedly Seoul has asked for improvement in the governing structure of the bank and other safeguards, which has been done.

Currently both Australia and Japan are considering whether or not to join as well.

From Russia, With Very Little in the Way of Love

Other than the PRC intervention during the Korean War, in Korea, Russia has had a rather devious hand in Korean affairs since attempting to install a proxy in Korea (Kim Il Sung) and now Putin’s Russia has decided to be friends with the DPRK, however, it becomes apparent that Russia had sold an SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile several years ago, which the North Koreans promptly have been reverse engineering and are now attempting to develop a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) based upon the Russian-supplied version, thus it is a disingenuous Russia that complains about South Korea installing a THAAD system in their country, complaining that it is “destablizing” . Russia and the PRC have helped create a potentially destablizing situation in Asia through their selling of weapons technology to the DPRK but, this did not stop the Russian Government from talking garbage:

. . . Such a development (regional THAAD defense) cannot but cause concern about the destructive influence of the United States’ global missile defense on international security . . .

Though the Russians have lost much through their aggression in the Ukraine, they are not above playing the perennial spoiler by using the DPRK as a proxy, befriending them simply to spite other countries like America .

As for the latest insult to humanity that is Russian foreign policy nowadays, Russia has invited Chinese and North Korean leaders to attend their WWII anniversary in Moscow, which might be one reason why Chancellor Merkel has decided to skip the event.

Also, over time, I’ve read quite a few comments from people that claim that the US would have been more active in dealing with the DPRK if they had oil – well guess what?

They’ve might have lots of oil too and a good bit more of natural resources that could keep a Kim Dynasty in power for a long time – that is, if they can get it out of the ground and without the direct help of China or dealing with commodity price fluctuations.