Just because the Korea Economic Research Institute hires old-school idiots that love felons does not mean you can’t enjoy this beautiful fall weather.
Just because the Korea Economic Research Institute hires old-school idiots that love felons does not mean you can’t enjoy this beautiful fall weather.
If you American expatriates remember, back in March, we wrote a thread about the effect of the FATCA American tax law upon Americans living in Korea. Between now and 2015 marks a transition period for foreign banks to comply with reporting guidelines issued by the US Government for reporting overseas income from Americans in Korea. You may well ask why should the Korean Government and banks do the leg work for the IRS in America, well congress decided to issue an ultimatum to world banks “report to us or we will cut you off from the American market (congress has decided to punish foreign financial institutions that refused to surrender U.S. accountholder information by cutting off their access to critical U.S. financial markets) cite.
This means, to summarize, that beginning roughly now, any American with 10,000 USD in a Korean bank or at least 50,000 USD in assets (stock, trust, etc.) will be reported to the IRS in America. You may also think that this affects only Americans but NO – it directly affects Koreans, for example, today I sat in a certain major Korean bank and watched a Korean national open a new account and, to my compete surprise, one of the documents they signed was a FATCA compliance document – all in Korean – that confirmed that the bank customer was really a Korean citizen and not an American.
I would never have imagined that the US could or would insert themselves so deeply into the common affairs of citizens of a foreign country, to this extent; requiring them to sign a document stating that they are not American citizens! This also explains why so many Americans were refused service from European banks this last year.
Some of the JoongAng Ilbo editors understand that when we lose our capacity for kindness, we lose much of what makes life bearable, not to mention the better parts of Korean society:
Everyone is entitled to express their opinion in a democratic society but that does not mean they should be cruel. To safeguard society, decency and respect toward others must be upheld regardless of differences in opinions and beliefs.
After the electioneering done under the auspices of Won Sei-hoon (former head of the National Intelligence Service), where millions of tweets flooded twitter-space in a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in South Korea, Won has received a two and a half sentence – suspended.
According to a report by Yonhap News, “While the Seoul District Court decided he had ordered agents to post politically sensitive comments, it ruled there was not enough evidence to prove he directly sought to influence the outcome of the presidential ballot” – believe it or not. (cite)
According to the JoongAng:
The court, however, rejected the prosecution’s argument that Won violated the election law by ordering a systematic operation to influence domestic politics.
“No evidence was presented that Won made a direct order to the National Intelligence Service agents to influence the presidential election,” the court said. It also said the team’s operation was part of the agency’s routine activities.
The court said Won had a heavy responsibility as head of the NIS to protect the agency’s political neutrality and prevent its agents from meddling in politics. He, therefore, deserves severe criticism for promoting government policies while trying to smear opposition political parties, the court said. . . the court wrote “Won did not plan the operation with a purpose and he merely followed past practices.” (cite)
The court’s “get-out-of-jail-free” card was given to Won after he left prison for serving 14 months of a two year sentence for graft.
Two other former senior officials of the spy agency who had been indicted on similar charges were each sentenced to a year in prison on Thursday, but their sentences were also suspended. Both the prosecutors and the defendants have a week to appeal the verdicts. (cite)
So who is responsible for running a subversive campaign against the Republic of Korea, if it wasn’t the DPRK and it was not Won’s boss (the president)?
Kim Young-Oh is hungry but more sad than hungry.
Mr. Kim lost his 16-year-old daughter to the Sewol Ferry disaster and he collapsed from his hunger protest last Friday and has been hospitalized.
Mr. Kim was demanding that a fully independent investigator be assigned to the Sewol case instead of a government-connected prosecutor. A bill has been proposed but rejected because a government-connected prosecutor is a problem for many because there has been a profound and long-held distrust of the government under the majority Saenuri Party, which has had a troubled history of manipulating events at the expense of the public’s trust. Because of the reluctance of the ruling party to give such powers over to a non-aligned prosecutor, – citing constitutional problems as being the reason – Mr. Kim decided to fast.
Along with Mr. Kim’s fast, an all too common problem has been demonstrated, once again and that is a major problem of not just Korean politics but of most two-party political systems.
The real problem is a political system that is so degraded that it is suffering under a “false dilemma” – also known as “black-and-white thinking”. Such an inflexible mindset is best exemplified in a two-party political system, which produces a either-or way of voting. Due to the bi-polar (black or white) mentality of the political system in South Korea, many Koreans have assumed that:
Mr. Kim is a likely a bad man, that wants money, that failed to be a good parent and is probably a Communist and wants to wrench control of the country from the ruling party
OR . . .
Mr. Kim is a victim of the corruption of the ruling party that controls the government (at this moment) and is a hero that can help end the unjust rule of corrupt conservative politicians.
Actually, Mr. Kim is neither A or B.
There are several aspects to this situation.
Since the Sewol disaster, the NPAD faction and other supposed civic groups have offered their assistance to the parents of the kids that perished from the disaster, using it partly for their political agenda. According to one parent, many did not want such help from the start:
Another father of a victim said some family members did not want left-wing activists helping them, as it compromised their political neutrality. “Some of us didn’t want to mingle with them, but at that time we were office workers who didn’t know how to speak up for ourselves,” he said. “So I thought we needed their support.” (cite)
The NPAD has also begun a boycott of government, bringing most legislative activity to a halt since this seems to be one of their areas of expertise.
Then there is that HUMONGOUS problem of credibility (sabotaging a prosecutor general, NIS-generated electioneering, etc.) , which the Saenuri-Hanara Dang/Administration has lacked, except in parts of the country where they enjoy an older constituency that vote out of that false dilemma thinking called regionalism. I had a conversation with a fellow (over 50) in Daegu recently where he said he believed that Mr. Kim was a contemptible fellow, who was holding out for more money. To this self-described Saenuri supporter, it was all about money since there could not possibly be any other reason for Mr. Kim’s fast.
Very black-and-white in Daegu.
Meanwhile, many Koreans, that are against the Saenuri Dang feel that the ruling party does not want a truely independant investigation because of so much corruption tied to the ferry owner and people higher up in the ruling party. The government’s citing constitutional problems as being the reason why independant investigators can not be allowed is seen by many as being a “false choice” or “a deliberate attempt to eliminate several options that may occupy the middle ground on an issue”.
As for Mr. Kim? – he has said that “I have a headache. I have a headache because of politicians in South Korea, . . . We want to find why more than 300 people died unfairly. We want to clarify this and hold a person in charge accountable”. He does not want money – he wants accountability so that his daughter’s short life and death will not have been in vain.
When there is such a firmly encamped case of the false dilemma, there can be parity only after much struggle since this way of thinking quickly becomes a device of the few that manipulate the many for gain, for example, currently there is an “ice-bucket challenge” that has become a popular way to raise the awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease – a disease that can strike anyone no matter which political party they belong to. The challenge is “to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research” . . .
However . . .
Both Rep. Park Jie-won of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) and Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung have both taken the challenge not so much to donate money to fighting ALS but as a tool for political means, as per Kim Moo-sung’s statement “Please persuade hawkish lawmakers [within the NPAD] after sorting out your thoughts with some cold water” followed by Park Jie-won’s comment “Though I participated [in the charity event] there are still people gravely concerned over the passage of the Sewol law and who are still waiting for the return of their loved ones. I hope that ice bucket challenge and the Sewol bucket challenge will go together”.
I give you a visual example of the false dilemma on ice.
Yoon Yeo-joon also sees all of this as well but, like him, we are left without a ready solution. IMHO, the change will have to come from the people – without the aid of any current party and in a manner that can not be co-opted. That will take time and probably something unforeseen.
Douglas Martin of the NY Times writes a eulogy, if not obituary for Chung Eun-yong, the gentleman whose protestations exposed the tragedy of No Gun Ri; the killing of more than 100 Korean civilians by American forces during the Korean War.
Mr. Chung’s protests against the killings, years later, gained the attention of Choe Sang-Hun (one of our favorite reporters with the NY Times) and others, who went on to write about this event.
Words fall short.
The pope is in town and it is a rainy Sunday; the perfect time to go puddle splashing.
The Park administration is angry at a Japanese newspaper and is threatening them with prosecution under the dreaded Korean defamation law.
The Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, posted an article “President Park Geun-hye, missing on the day of the ferry’s sinking … With whom did she meet at the time?” whose sources mention a Chosun Ilbo column that put forward the notion that the president was having a meeting, of a personal nature, with a Saenuri Dang member, who was also married (cite).
Mind you, I have no interest in anyone’s personal affairs, especially since it has no bearing upon any important issues, however, I do note one thing – isn’t it more than a little rich that one of the sources, mentioned by the Japanese newspaper, was the Chosun Ilbo, the same newspaper that interfered in the political process here, accusing (defaming) then Prosecutor General Chae Dong-Wook with marital infidelity?. . . and the news leak to the Chosun Ilbo about General Prosecutor Chae was a Blue House aide.
Naturally, the local editor of the Japanese newspaper is to blame for repeating this defamation.
There has always been this fear that Chinese technology firms will knock-off major Korean businesses like Samsung or LG and now, these concerns seem to be coming closer to realization: Samsung has lost its top spot in cellphone manufacturing, in China, to an upstart Chinese firm Xiaomi – which makes an android-varient OS and gear that looks a whole lot like Apple’s.
Oddly enough, even their founder looks like a Steve Jobs knock-off. Can’t he manage something original!?
Right on the heels of this news, Samsung and Apple have called a truce to their legal pugilism outside of the US. I suspected that something of this sort would happen and, yep, it certainly did.
What passes for the state security apparatus in China is now holding a Canadian couple for stealing state secrets about national defence and the military”. The couple in question are running a coffee shop in Dandong (Peter’s Coffee House), right on the border with North Korea.
Apparently they host an English table every Friday and have entertainment – as well as steal state secrets.
Their customers seem to agree that Peter’s Coffee House has the tastiest secrets in the region:
“We stopped in to Peter’s Coffee House while on a walk along the Yalu River, to grab a bite for lunch, and were pleasantly surprised. The owner and his staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food was great.”
The owners of the secret coffee house – Kevin and Julia Garratt – are baffled by the Chinese security service’s claims and, according to their son, the charges are “absurd” and made “absolutely no sense”. A good Reuter’s article on this is here.
Why am I not surprised?
There is one up and coming Jazz concert that should be a good way to cool off from the heat with some very cool sounds. Ronn Branton is celebrating his new recording entitled WATER, with a concert at the Sejong Chamber Music Hall this coming August 23, at 8pm. This CD marks a wholly new and original collection of music based upon water themes, most of which are set here in Korea.
His band also includes some of the best Jazz musicians in Korea. If interested, you can try interpark.co.kr, yes24 or just call 02-888-0650.
I have a daughter who went to Kindergarten for several years and public school here in Seoul for eight years. She is smart, however, she had problems when she did her big exams. Her weekly scores were fair but the grades on the larger tests were horrible. I didn’t yell at her but her mother worked with her on some subjects, I bought science books and hired a tutor for her math and her scores improved over time.
This last January, I let her go to live with my sister in Nebraska (her aunt who shares the same birthday even) and after two months there, her scores went from a 56 (here) to a 99 percent!
I thought maybe American schools are teaching easier than Korean schools, which in many cases seems to be true since her middle-school classes would introduce subjects that I only got in high school myself, however I then ran across an article from the Atlantic that maintains standardized tests, in America, aren’t actual tests of knowledge but are branded products produced by textbook companies, and getting a good score depends on whether you bought the right books to study. It seems that many schools here in Korea pull their testing material straight from textbooks here, that have a vested interest in making $$$ and some teachers do get gifts from certain publishers, so . . . it turns out I have a smart daughter after all who will not end up working in Wallmart. I only wonder and worry about her friends here and so many other bright Korean kids that have to labour and suffer under this deliberately weighted variable, not to mention the high household debt 1 2 3 here in Korea – much of which is due to educational expenses to help these kids keep up and to study at the *right* places or the very high rate of suicide (the number one reason for death between the ages of 10 and 30) (cite), due to the stress of living. How much income is lost to average Korean households due to this system and how long will the system function before it flips over and sinks?
A new opinion piece in the NY Times discusses the stresses upon Korean kids in being driven by their parents (if not mom) to excel in grades:
. . . She (mother) did not want me to suffer like my brother, who had a chest pain that doctors could not diagnose and an allergy so severe he needed to have shots at home.
I was fortunate that my mother recognized the problem and had the means to take me abroad. Most South Korean children’s parents are the main source of the unrelenting pressure put on students.
The opinion piece is here.
The PRC wants soft power; wants Kung Fu Panda – can’t get their heavy, bloody hands on it, however some Chinese do parody pretty well and much to North Korea’s discomfort.
According to Reuters, Chinese state media on Friday branded Apple Inc’s iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. Apple’s competitor, Samsung also has the means to track phones and log locations, however it is not made by the evil Americans.
I suppose the iPhone could really be a threat to state security if too many Chinese started using the ethics finder app . . . this is more a sign of insecurity than a lack of security!