The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: R. Elgin (page 1 of 58)

Having the Intellegence to Know When to Slap the Right Hand

tricky handsThe Bible speaks of the “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing” and when applicable to a government, this is usually bad news since it could imply a “deep government” that exerts undue control over a democratic process.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina has announced plans to disband Argentina’s intelligence agency after the suicide (murder) of prosecutor Alberto Nisman – hours before he had been due to testify against senior government officials about the government cover-up of Iran’s role in a bombing that took place in 1994 (cite).

President Kirchner was quoted:

“I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service,” President Fernandez said, adding that she wanted the proposal to be discussed at an urgent session of Congress. “The plan is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat and create a Federal Intelligence Agency,” she said that a new leadership should be chosen by a president but would be subject to a Senate approval. (cite)
“Combating impunity has been a priority of my government,” she added. She further stated that the existing intellegence service “has not served the national interests”.

Considering the heavy-handed direct interference of the NIS (1, 2, 3)  and the CIA (torture instead of gathering actual information) in their respective governments, the undue political interference in the Prosecutor’s Office in Seoul, and the use of these intellegence services to further the political aims of a select group of politicians, it is past time to make a greater committment to our respective societies’s democracy and make these agencies anew.

General Cho Young-ja Wants A Picture with Meryl Streep

margaret-cho-golden-globes

General Cho is not amused and wants a picture with Meryl Streep. Naturally, some Rollos were not pleased with the general and called this presentation “racist”

Please click the photo for a sample of General Cho’s anger.

News Flash: North Koreans Are Not Idiots

hope

Choe Sang-hun has written a rather obvious article that points out that the only thing worse than living in a murderous, despotic country is having a bad movie made about you while being resigned to live there.

As for good news, Sony is still offline.

Shhhhhhh . . .

gagConsidering the current concern with satire and free speech, Hyung-Jin Kim’s (AP) article on Shin Eun-mi, the Korean-American woman that has been accused of saying nice things about the DPRK, is a recent report concerning the National Security Act, free speech in South Korea and the politically inspired abuse of such in South Korea.

Shin Eun-mi is due to voluntarily leave today (?) after the Prosecutor’s Office issued a request to have her deported from South Korea today, due to her praise of the DPRK. The Prosecutor’s Office has also requested that she be barred from returning to South Korea for five years and that she be required to apply for a visa to return after that time, even though US citizens do not need a visa to visit South Korea (link). Shin Eun-mi’s “praise” has been construed as being a violation of the controversial National Security Act (an abbreviated translation of it is here). This has also not been the first time a foreign national has been expelled from South Korea for expressing pro-DPRK views – last year, a Chinese student was expelled for such for “suspicions of ‘aiding the enemy'”. (link) The National Security Act has long been a means by which critics of the ROK Government and DPRK supporters, both, have been prosecuted and imprisoned for up to seven years.

This issue illustrates the political intolerance that has characterized the current administration in squashing not only those that say good things about the DPRK but those that criticize the politicians in power and those that would expose the majority party’s incidences of violating the law though means of illegally manipulating government agencies, such as the NIS, or the use of media allies to help thwart investigation into their own violations of law.
Even the closest ally of South Korea thinks that the South Korean Government has gone too far in suppressing what most Americans would consider to be a freedom of speech issue:

. . . In a rare note of criticism of a key ally, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that despite South Korea’s generally strong record on human rights, the (South Korean) security law limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.

A fair description about the current state of South Korean politics and its effect upon free speech and political commentary, by Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo, describes how the security act and government have grown bolder in using the issue of state security to supress those that would indulge their opinions:

. . . In this essay, we argue that this rhetorical shift has been accompanied by an expansion of what South Korean intellectuals term ‘politics by public security,’ a phrase used to describe the use of public security as a ground for stifling dissent and criticism. What is unique about the present moment is not simply the evocation of a threat to national security but the extent to which state agencies have been actively involved in this process, whether it be in the form of direct electoral interference, the leaking of confidential state documents, or the initiation of probes into prominent critics of the government from across the liberal-progressive opposition. In what follows, we examine the recent sequence of events from NIS electoral interference to the more recent move to disband the United Progressive Party in order to better understand distorting effects to Korean democracy brought about by this recent rhetorical shift and its intricate relation to ‘politics by public security.’

A link to this essay can be found here

The DPRK Is Sloppy Says the FBI

FBI_screenThe FBI’s director has responded to suspicions about where the Sony hack came from by declaring that the FBI’s allegations were made because “the hackers failed to mask their location when they broke into the company’s servers”.

. . . Mr. Comey (FBI Director) said that instead of routing some of the attacks and messages through decoy servers, the hackers sent them directly from Internet addresses in North Korea.

This also gets even more sloppy and stupid according to the article:

. . . senior government officials said that F.B.I. analysts discovered that the hackers made a critical error by logging into both their Facebook account and Sony’s servers from North Korean Internet addresses. It was clear, the officials said, that hackers quickly recognized their mistake. In several cases, after mistakenly logging in directly, they quickly backtracked and rerouted their attacks and messages through decoy computers abroad.

Not all critics of the FBI’s case are placated though:

. . . some of the most vocal critics of the government’s claims, like Marc Rogers, a security researcher at CloudFlare, said they were still not convinced. “If the government had laid out its attribution in the beginning, that may have quelled the criticism, but the evidence that’s been put before me and many of my colleagues is flimsy.

Other articles on this can be found at engadget and wired.

Is Drawing on A Dirty Jet A Security Concern?

dirty tailThere is a report of thirteen former United Airlines attendants having been improperly fired for refusing to fly on a jet that had vaguely menacing artwork painted on its tail (thirty feet of the ground). According to Bloomberg:

The fired flight attendants say they had a right to disobey orders to make the July 14 San Francisco-to-Hong Kong trip after the words “bye bye” were found written in an oil slick on the fuselage, according to a complaint to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Oddly enough, the artwork was probably applied here in South Korea:

With the 747 in a secured area of the airport and the graffiti on the tail about 30 feet off the ground, the images should have triggered a more-comprehensive reaction, according to the complaint. A pilot’s suggestion to the crew that images were applied when the plane was in South Korea before arriving in San Francisco should have raised alarms about safety in that country, the attendants said.

Maybe the plane was just dirty and someone felt like writing in the grease left on the jet?

The Sony Hack – North Korea Is Not Guilty?

The FBI and President Obama have declared that the DPRK hacked Sony and that a response would be forthcoming, however actual experts in data security point elsewhere, such as the Director of Security Operations for Def Con, who has stated “I am no fan of the North Korean regime. However I believe that calling out a foreign nation over a cybercrime of this magnitude should never have been undertaken on such weak evidence.” (cite)

Then there are the concerns of Bruce Schneier, who also does not believe the FBI has grounds to conclude that the DPRK is responsible.  Considering the problems with trustworthiness, I would tend to give more credence to the individuals, with actual credentials, than government organizations that have records of being less than truthful and biased in their actions.

Open Thread, December 20, 2014

alice in Korea

. . . from a series of western folktales that have been transliterated into the Korean genre.  I *love* that rabbit.  Luckily, this is not a Korean spit-take moment but a neat interpretation, though I never like the Japanese big-eyes thing.

The Letter “D” as in . . .

Defamation is a problem for many in Korea, whose enforcement (or lack of enforcement) quite often infringes upon free speech, if not democracy itself.  The Wall Street Journal has a good, short piece on this issue here.

Have You Seen This Man?

CYH

Apparently, he was reported to be in the vicinity of the Blue House but there is some disagreement with this sighting and there are concerns that more than this man may be missing.  If you spot him, please call the Segye Ilbo, since they have invested some effort in locating this fellow.

Open Thread – December 13, 2014 – Have an Asian Christmas

Japanese xmas

Ho, ho, ho . . .

Have A Jazz Christmas and A Happier New Year Too

poster_2014_web_version

This year, try celebrating the holiday season with some Jazz – the Ronn Branton Group is performing at Seoul Arts Center, on the 21st (IBK Chamber Hall) and Christmas Eve at JangCheon Hall (Apkujeongdong).  This year, he has a great lineup of musicians from the U.S. and Germany, performing original arrangements of Christmas songs and seasonal favorites.  For tickets, in English, just call 010-3817-7214.

Open Thread – The Civil Forfeiture Edition

Say what you will about Korean police but they don’t do anything like this or this  because of the worst has been deemed proper.

Have a good weekend.

The Taxman Cometh – What Would Jesus Do?

The National Assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee held a  meeting with representatives of various religious faiths (Catholic, Evangelical Protestant and Buddhist) for the purpose of discussing how clergy should be taxed.  Their plan is to levy an income tax of 22 percent on 20 percent of the incomes earned by ordained clergy.  (cite)

Well, out of the three main faiths represented, guess which one threw a fit over the money and threatened fire and brimstone?

Here is a hint: which faith is well known for running a growth-for-profit scheme where the pastor has sole proprietorship of the church and runs some of the world’s most intensive missionary programs, not to mention urinating and defacing Buddhist temples and statues in Korea?

Continue reading

The DPRK vs. The World

Yesterday, the UN voted for a resolution that condemns North Korea for human rights abuses and for the first time recommends the prosecution of its leaders for crimes against humanity at theInternational Criminal Court.  The only question I have is will the DPRK’s long-standing mentor and supporter – the PRC – or the original instigator of trouble in the region – Russia – stand up and defend the backshooters?

As quoted in the linked article:

“If they want to be seen defending the human rights record of the worst human rights offender on the planet, let them do so in public and pay a price” (Sue Mi Terry, a senior research scholar at the Columbia University Weatherhead East Asian Institute and a former intelligence officer with the United States government, who specializes in North Korea.

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