The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: R. Elgin (page 2 of 63)

Mercedes Benz Is Very Unpopular With Korean Golfers


benz swing

This gentleman had his S-class Mercedes break down several times and was very dissatisfied with MB’s customer service.

The result is at least a par 89. Click the photo above for the whole merciless Mercedes beating.

UPDATED – September 17

According to one source:

. . . car owner Yu Je-ha hitting the German luxury sedan, worth about $500k (£320k), with a golf club in front of Shin Sung Motors, a Mercedes dealership in Gwangju on 11 September.
Mr Yu confirmed to Reuters that he was the owner of the car and said he bought the vehicle in March this year. He added that his moment of rage came in protest against poor customer service at the local car dealership.
Yu told Reuters that he had requested the dealership to exchange or refund the amount he paid for the car, due to engine problems. He added the car had already been serviced several times, but was not fixed.
He said he was told to wait and didn’t get a satisfactory answer from the dealership, so he decided to destroy his car as a form of protest. According to Gwangju Seobu Police Station, the Mercedes Benz dealership filed a suit against Yu for obstruction of work but decided to drop the charges.

Also from the site:

The sight of Yoo smashing the car had dealership employees report Yoo to the police, claiming that he interrupted their business by parking the car on an entry road to the dealership. Yoo also vowed to take legal action while continuing to protest in front of the car. “The warranty papers tell me that I deserve a new one,” Yoo said. “I will take legal action by appointing a lawyer.” Controversy grew as Mercendes Benz Korea responded to the situation with a lukewarm attitude, only repeating “We will find solutions.”

As the dealer company sued Yoo for interference in its work instead of resolving the situation with the customer, Internet sites and SNS services were flooded with negative reactions and other customer complaints that similar malfunctions happen to their Mercedes Benz cars.

The negative online wave against Mercedes Benz prompted Mercedes Benz Korea to make an official announcement on Sept. 15. “We are making efforts to find a rational and amicable solution with the customer,” (hint: try harder) Mercedes Benz Korea said in the announcement. “We will meet the customer and carefully listen to him.” Consumers are paying much attention to how much this case will affect the attitudes of import car dealers and companies that have tried to avoid customer complaints.

Current Bias in South Korean Art, Education & News

Prison, artwork, media bias & control . . .

A court in Seoul has handed down a 12-year sentence to Kim ki-jong for his assault on American Ambassador Mark Lippart back in March. The prosecutors originally asked for 15 years though both the prosecution and defence will have a week to determine if they wish to appeal the decision. (cite)

attack_artMeanwhile . . .

I like looking at art but, hey, isn’t putting up a painting showing Kim Ki-jong attacking Mark Lippart a bit risqué? a branch of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) in southwestern Seoul recently displayed the above painting, by Hong Sung-dam and has decided to take it down after reports in local media about the work being more a political endorsement of violence than merely art. The inscription in the art work is as follows:

I have felt despair about these problems for a long time. However, I’ve kept my mouth shut about the despair. On the other hand, Kim Ki-jong expressed it with a knife, though it was just a fruit knife.

The artist takes great liberties with reality. Even Kim Ki-jong, during questioning by the police, stated that “South Korea is a semi-colony of the U.S. and that North Korea has an independent, self-reliant government” and shortly after his arrest, Kim shouted that the U.S.-South Korea war games were an obstacle against a Korean unification” (cite). Imagine that – truth takes a very long holiday, it seems. If I were the ambassador, I might buy this work and hang it somewhere as a part of his tenure, in this space and time. Then again, he could just let his basset hound have a go at it.

Historical revisionism and who(?) audits the auditors

Ten education superintendents on Tuesday released statements opposing state-authored history textbooks in response to a government plan to standardize them. (cite) This controversy has been around for some time, even before 2013 when material in some history textbooks approved by the National Institute of Korean History were deemed controversial.

Currently, Minister of Education Hwang Woo-yea “has insisted that history education be standardized and consistent”. Even Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung commented, on September 2 of this year, that neutral state-authored history books, based on facts, were needed to prevent confusion among students.

The real question is whose version of history is going to be told and how will it be told.

As in the recent debate over displaying the Confederate battle flag in America, what is taught as history also reflects a societies’ values.  A good question that should be asked and answered is how can the mutual histories of the ROK and DPRK be narrated so as to best serve the interests of all Koreans. Reunification will take place and a mutual history that preserves the dignity of both groups will be an important and positive step in the right direction, even if some viewpoints are difficult for Saenuri legislators and North Koreans to comprehend.

Almost simultaneously, the Saenuri Dang has also decided to go after the major internet portals in South Korea, accusing them of lacking both professionalism and being biased. Per the JoongAng Ilbo:

The Saenuri Party said changing how portals handle news will be a key issue for this year’s audit of state affairs. (The National Assembly will begin an audit), under the order of Chairman Kim Moo-sung, vowed to scrutinize the nation’s largest web portals, such as Naver and Daum.
“Precious news articles produced by genuine journalists and the media autonomy are being distorted by the power of giant Internet portal sites,” (claimed) Rep. Lee Jae-young, who was recently appointed to head the ruling party’s think tank, the Yeouido Institute. (cite)

Why would Lee Jae-young feel this way?

According to research piece performed by Choi Hyung-woo from the School of Communications at Sogang University (Big data analysis of mobile news main pages of portal sites), after analyzing the headlines of 50,236 news postings, Choi determined that both Naver and Daum “had more content using negative expressions about the Blue House and Park Geun-hye administration than content using positive expressions“.

<Spit coffee on screen here>

The report also said Chairman Moon Jae-in of the NPAD was featured on the main pages of the portals more frequently than Saenuri Chairman Kim (Jealousy?). While 153 articles on the main pages were about Moon, 101 were about Kim, the report said. “Portal sites are not media companies, but they are deciding which articles from which media will be put on the main pages and how high they will be positioned in the layouts,” Rep. Lee said. “They are also editing the headlines. This is a de facto act of journalism, and this a serious issue.” the portals have no oversight or limits. “To ensure the independence of the media, conglomerates are only allowed to own certain stakes in broadcasters and newspapers, but portals are performing the role of the media, and conglomerates own them 100 percent. This is a serious issue. . . Portals have absolute influence over society, particularly the young, and it is unacceptable for them to distribute distorted information (information that makes Saenuri Dang look bad).”

So, here is the really funny part: if Daum and Naver are producing articles that are more negative towards Saenuri Dang, and Saenuri Dang representatives are in a position to audit Daum and Naver, isn’t this also a conflict of interest on the part of Saenuri politicians who have a vested interest in such an audit, especially just months in advance of general elections? Who audits the Saenuri Dang when they actively support the activities of the NIS electioneering and after the libellous slander used in the Chosun Ilbo – a notorious agent for Saenuri Dang interests – against the Prosecutor General’s Office, how can the public trust any audit performed by Saenuri Dang members? When Park Guen-hye said “They (DPRK) don’t have to come to the South, but they can always create social confusion and manipulate public opinion using cyberspace” (cite) was she referring to Daum and Naver!?
How is it that business leaders in large companies like Naver and Daum could possibly act as a proxy for DPRK concerns?
Are all media companies that criticize the Saenuri Dang working for the DPRK!?

Considering its claims, I think the Saenuri Dang has much to account for itself.

Just Two Words – No Lifejackets

life_jacketAfter the horrible Sewol tragedy, one would hope that safety issues would be reconsidered but when a fishing boat with twenty-one members sank off Chejudo, apparently none of them had lifejackets, on a ship in a stormy sea! Wasted time also accounts for tired crew members being lost:

While it was around 7:40 a.m. that the boat last identified its location, it wasn’t until 8:30 p.m., when the captain of another fishing boat that accompanied the Dolgorae reported the situation to authorities, that the vessel traffic service (VTS) or the coast guard became aware of the accident, coast guard officials said. (cite)

Trying to reach crew members by cellphone to confirm an emergency is also a failure of sorts:

. . . Coast guard officials said that after being notified of the boat’s possible distress, the safety center could not get a fix on the boat and it wasted precious time trying to contact those on board by mobile phone. (cite)

What is telling though is the fact that more than fifty fishermen died in December of last year, in the same area (cite)  Though undoubtedly technical improvements can be made, it would really make a difference if basic safety equipment, such as lifejackets, were used.

WWII History Redux – What’s in It for Korea?

Okay, the President will go but the seating chart is a mess

The JoongAng writes that the South Korean president will attend the controversial military parade in Beijing next week to commemorate China’s new and improved version of history and of course they will help facilitate an improvement in ROK/DPRK relations, if possible:

When world leaders are watching the military parade in Tiananmen Square, thirty heads of state will stand on the front row with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Choe Ryong-hae (a senior DPRK Party secretary) is expected to stand behind them in the second row,” a source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Taking into account the [recent] improvement in inter-Korean relations [laugh track here], China may deliberately place Choe behind Park so they can talk.

I wonder if Party Secretary Choe knows any good jokes.

Chinese Armour Moving Towards the DPRK Border?

When there are threats to the whole of Korea, can America realistically be relied upon to guarantee the integrity of all of Korea for Koreans?

chinese tanksThere are reports that China is shifting armour and military assets to the border region with North Korea (cite).

The Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily reported Saturday that internet users have been uploading photos of what appear to be PLA armored vehicles and tanks passing through the streets of Yanji, the seat of the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in eastern Jilin province. The city, considered a key transport and trade hub between China and the DPRK, is less than 30 kilometers from the 1,400-kilometer border. The military deployment is believed to reflect how seriously Beijing considers the the current standoff between North and South Korea.


A Change Not Heard Before?

DMZ_shellSomething new that has not been heard before?

As most know, South Korea has turned their speaker broadcasts back on in response to the sneak attack perpetrated by DPRK soldiers, who planted mines on the southern side of the DMZ last week. The speakers have been off since 2004 and as Choe Sang-hun points out, this return to broadcasting seems to be a concern to the leadership in the north and to a degree of sensitivity that is different from the past.


The North is desperate to stop loudspeaker broadcasts because they can undermine the morale of front-line North Korean troops and its military’s psychological preparedness,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seoul. Given the North’s sense of crisis and anxiety over the loudspeakers, it is highly possible for the North to attempt a military provocation if the broadcasts continue. . .  (cite)

Early this week, the South Korean Army fired about thirty 155-milimeter shells into North Korea, targeting a rocket launcher after an incoming missile was detected (cite).

The events of the coming weeks may prove interesting.

An American DMZ – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The DMZ is a place that inspires ideas . . .

Even though the New York Times is currently hard at their “Hillary for Prezildent” tripe, some editorials are interesting, for example, how about the idea that Donald Trump could learn from the Korean DMZ as a means of protecting Americans from the flood of illegal immigrants that come north from Mexico:

Since Mr. Trump bills himself as a hard-headed businessman interested only in effective solutions, I have a border he should strongly consider as a model: the one between North and South Korea, better known as the Demilitarized Zone. . . The good news for Mr. Trump is that we have a jump-start on building our own DMZ on the 2,000-mile Mexican border. Nearly 700 miles of 18-foot-high pedestrian fencing or vehicle barriers have been built since Sept. 11, 2001, at a cost of $3 million per mile. . .
several sections of the border come equipped with razor wire, night-vision cameras and Afghanistan- and Iraq-perfected drones. Plus, we have more than 18,000 Customs and Border Protection officials on patrol there. This isn’t quite the same number that we have in Korea, but it’s double the number of just 10 years ago. In short, Mr. Trump, we are well on our way to a Korea-style border. You would just need to finish the job.

Just when you thought politics is boring, it gets worse.

Screening Travelers from Saudi Arabia Is A Great Idea

Maybe, it’s not over yet . . .camel_mers


After the MERS outbreak in Korea has been eliminated, according to Wired:

IN THE LAST 24 hours, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has reported ten new cases of MERS in the capital city of Riyadh, and one death from the virus. Those numbers follow reports of nine new cases yesterday, along with two deaths. According to Helen Branswell, one of WIRED’s favorite infectious disease reporters, the state hasn’t seen that many new infections in a day since the height of the MERS outbreak last year.

Remember this whole MERS panic and tourism flight from Korea started with one man returning from Saudi Arabia.

The Politics of Belief – The Convergence of Reality & Faith

The convergence of faith and politics can be a dangerous thing

Yonsei University, one of the oldest universities in Korea, is now offering a course on Creationism – the belief that the Universe and Life originate “from specific acts of divine creation.”  The Hankyoreh has a good article on this and the  (electrical engineering) professor’s description of his course is interesting:

It isn’t about how creationism is correct and evolution is always wrong,… As a Christian studying and teaching engineering, I have often had to think about faith and science. My aim is to talk about these concerns with students – not to try to boost creation science,…scientists in the Christian faith “often experience conflict between the words of the Bible and their scientific understanding.” The course, he explains, is intended to “find the parts of the Bible that can be tested scientifically and aid Biblical understanding through a scientific approach to creationism and evolution.”

Creationism has migrated throughout the world in different forms since the 70’s:

For decades, the creationist movement was primarily fixed in the United States. Then, in the 1970s, American creationists found their ideas welcomed abroad, first in Australia and New Zealand, then in Korea, India, South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere—including Europe, where creationism plays an expanding role in public debates about science policy and school curricula. (cite)

however, the criticism has been made due to concerns that “trying to teach creation science as ‘science (is) against the mission of education; to take a pseudo-discipline that repudiates the established theory and teach it as if it were a specific theory rather than an opinion” (philosopher of science and Seoul National University liberal studies professor Jang Dae-ik – cite).

Whether a nation’s controversial political history or a society’s view of the world around them, what is more interesting is how the politics of belief converge with personal beliefs. Since January, Canadian Pastor Hyeon-Soo Lim has been held in North Korea on charges of engaging in “anti-D.P.R.K. missionary activities” and to set up a new “religious state”:

Mr. Lim, 60, said his goal had been to undermine the North Korean people’s “worship for the leader,” according to the report, a reference to Kim Jong-un, the authoritarian country’s supreme leader. (cite)

“The worst crime I committed was to rashly defame and insult the highest dignity and the system of the republic,” Lim told a Pyongyang congregation, apparently reading from a script”. (cite)

“Mr. Lim follows a spate of Western missionaries who have been arrested in North Korea, which has spent the last 13 years topping Open Doors’ World Watch List as the worst place for Christians to live. An estimated 70,000 Christians are held in prison camps there.”

The PRC has also been on a program to decimate the profile if not influence of Christian churches in China, however they are now drawing the wrath of state-sponsored churches as well:

Pastor Bao Guohua of The Holy Love Christian Church & his wife

Pastor Bao Guohua of The Holy Love Christian Church & his wife

Seven Christians have been detained in China accused of embezzlement and disrupting social order (i.e., doing something the Party doesn’t like). Pastor Bao Guohua, his wife and five church employees were detained in Jinhua, in eastern Zhejiang province, but the church’s lawyer, Chen Jiangang, told the BBC he believed they were being punished for protesting against the removal of their church cross. The local government in Zhejiang has recently been ordering state-sanctioned churches to stop displaying crosses… What is unusual is that this was an official church, recognised by the Communist Party. Everything had been properly approved by the authorities.

Chinese leadership has, not only a history of repression and authoritarian rule in common with the DPRK, but also feels itself as being under siege from Christianity since they apparently see Christianity as a threat to their rule.

This could be one time in history when both China and the DPRK could benefit from the influence of Christianity, though rabid protestant sects in South Korea have too often been intolerant of others and ignorant of their own culture, still, it is an influence that is a lesser evil to contend with than what currently exists.

Looking Through The Big End of A Telescope – Dynastic Rule & Revisions To Be Made

what_happenedMurder and dynastic rule is a good idea that has persevered through the ages, especially now

The Sukarno Education Foundation, run by a daughter of Indonesia’s founding president, will award a peace prize to Kim Jong-un in September for his “peace, justice and humanity”.

Ms. Sukarnoputri herself was an elected ruler of Indonesia in turn, not unlike South Korea’s current president.

Ms. Sukarnoputri justified the North Korean leader’s suitability for the award:

“should be honoured for his fight against neo-colonialist imperialism . . . the allegations about human rights abuses are untrue. Those Western governments like to put ugly labels on North Korea.” (cite)

. . . and some Americans think electing another Bush or Clinton is a good idea.

So, you want to take a trip through memory and time?

The Chinese Communist Party wants to commemorate its supposed victory over Japan at the end of World War II, since it is a useful foil and has invited South Korean president Park to attend:

The government in Beijing will invite world leaders to this year’s commemorations of China’s “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression as well as the World Anti-Fascist War,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. (cite)

Some think she should go simply because Kim Jong-un might be there and the CCP is maybe keen on cultivating the future relations on their own terms.

What to do?

Open Thread – 입추: Fall Has Entered

This Saturday marks the official entrance of Fall

the crickets know this already since they started chirping only days before.

A Zero Waste Concept – An New & Better Habit for Korean Society and Industry

Everybody picks up; nobody throws down

Tshering Tobgay, one of my favorite people from Bhutan (the PM), who gives the word “politician” a positive meaning, made mention of a very simple yet profound idea for change in Bhutan, that could and should be applied here, in Korea:

zero wasteCheku Gyaltshen, Class 10, School Captain, Gyalpoi Tozey, showing off his zero waste bag. Cheku introduced this concept in Chundu Centra School and today all students carry zero waste bags in which they store personal and other waste they come across in their school campus.

As one Bhutanese observed, “I remember the doctrine of Mr.Tshering Dukpa, JNLSS Principal lecturing on his formula “zero waste”, during morning assembly,  as follows: EVERY BODY PICKS UP, NOBODY THROWS DOWN.
This simple rule if followed makes everyone a friend of environment and society.”

If applied, here in Korea, the improvement to the environment, quality of life, national pride, not to mention the savings in clean-up costs, would be phenomenal.  I would really promote this one simple thing since it would have the greatest positive social impact on Korea since the New Village Movement (새마을 운동).

The Bhutanese are aware that happiness is very important and that it does not stem from money alone but how one lives.

Before the New Village Movement that the current president’s father started, many Korean’s thinking in villages was poor. Many got drunk and gambled and had little ambition. By setting new standards, new daily habits, new ideas, PCH was able to inspire many Koreans to improve their lot.

I noticed an advert up in the subway for people to submit a new slogan for Korean tourism. Hey, how about doing something to help people form a new attitude, even if there is a stick behind it sometimes. Why not require students to carry a zero waste bag and use them? As we say in the West, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but you can certainly start educating youth in a better direction. The adults should be fined for any everything they throw down since they are maybe to old to understand the virtue of it; save the stick for them alone. A really aggressive program of zero waste would improve many things: quality of life, tourism, avoid spending more money to clean up.

I really think it is time for Koreans to adopt new habits that define their culture better than the materialism that puts an emphasis upon making money.

If Park Guen-hye’s father lead and pushed Koreans into better and more productive habits, then it is time for his daughter and other leaders to help start some new and better habits for the sake of the society and country. Considering the high suicide rate here, there is a background of dissatisfaction that needs many things to effect a cure and a new attitude about the world around them is a part of that remedy. There are other efforts government should make as well, such as requiring all companies here to revise their packaging to reduce waste as much as possible. Germany has done exactly this and the savings, to the country and business, have been considerable.

A program like this is a good place to start since it is not costly. I’ve seen some churches go out into the neighborhood and clean up parts of it as part of an outreach program. Though their aim is to inspire new membership, they do recognize the power of an empowered and positive mind to inspire others.

This is exactly what Korea needs.

Open Thread – The Chinese Winter Olympics Edition


This just blows . . .

Just when you thought it couldn’t blow any harder, Beijing is awarded the Winter Olympics for 2022.

korea post logo
Starting in July, the post office will be using 5-digit ZIP codes.

Click here for the ZIP code finder.

. . . You Will Find This Hard to Swallow Too, Maybe

“The fate of South Korea’s kimchi industry rests on whether China considers it pickled or not.”

kimchi_articleThe NY Times has a very nice article on the plight of contemporary Kimchi (Chinese Trade Rules Puts Korea’s Kimchi in A Pickle). Chinese and Korean versions too.

One of the obvious differences here a visitor or resident discovers  is kimchi, which has been as ubiquitous as the somewhat dusty air that we breathe.  Personally, I note that the most essential thing that defines Korea is the importance of family, which lies at the heart of everything Korean, thus this one comment says much to me about what is important to Koreans in today’s world:

Now, most of Ms. Park’s (kimchi) customers are other market stall owners, tourists and the occasional housewife. “Nobody wants to make it at home,” she said. “It’s a bother, and they are too busy making money.

Neglecting Kimchi, maybe, is a bit like neglecting our family and that is something that one can not really blame China for, although they have much to account for when it comes to their influence upon both Koreas.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2015 The Marmot's Hole

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑