The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: Sonagi (page 1 of 3)

LiNK Needs Your Vote

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is competing for a $250,000 grant from Pepsi. If LiNK wins, the money will be used to help North Korean refugees build new lives in the US. Read more at OFK and vote here or here. It takes only a couple of minutes, and you can vote once per day until the current round of voting finishes at the end of this month.

LiNK moved up from #7 to #6 today. Every vote every day helps.

85-year-old Grandmother Takes Korean Citizenship

An 85-year-old Japanese national and lifelong resident of Korea has finally been naturalized as a Korean citizen. Born in Hwanghae Province, the woman graduated from a high school in Gongju and became a teacher. She fell in love with a married colleague and had five children with him. Receiving no inheritance upon his death in 1975, she went back to work as a hakwon teacher while raising their children. Unable to obtain citizenship through her late partner, she initiated the naturalization process in her early 80s and received citizenship along with 25 others from 6 countries. Through October of this year, 21,691 foreign nationals have become Korean citizens.

Chuseok Photos from the Late 60s-early 80s

Check out at Discover Korea black and white photos of travelers climbing through windows to get a seat on a bus or sitting on the luggage racks of trains to get home for the holiday.

HT to GI Korea.

Open Thread #120

Wishing all who celebrate Chusok a happy and restful holiday.

5 of 6 NK Dam Flood Victims Found

Among the five bodies found in the Imjin River were a father and his elementary school-aged son, who can be seen cooking the day’s catch over a campfire the night before they were killed. How soon will we be seeing protests led by moms pushing strollers?

6 Missing in South After NK Dam Unleashes Water Downstream

UPDATE: North Korea has finally admitted to releasing water from the dam and has promised to notify the South in advance before any future water discharges. South Korean officials are dissatisfied with the North’s official response, which failed to acknowledge the six drowning deaths on the Imjin River. The dam is only 25 km from the border.

Six people are reported missing in Gyeonggi-do after the gates apparently opened on an Imjin River dam in North Korea early this morning, sending a torrent downstream and causing water levels to rise quickly by more than 2 meters. Fifteen rescue vessels are searching for the missing six.

Two K-bloggers Featured in WSJ Story on North Korea

North Korean Economy Watch’s Curtis Melvin and One Free Korea’s Joshua Stanton are highlighted in this Wall Street Journal story “Gulags, Nukes, and a Water Slide,” which gives examples of how private citizens have collaborated to share and publish information about North Korea. Dr. Lankov is quoted, too.

Open Thread #99

Let’s take a break from the expat-versus-gyopo boxing match on Open Thread #98 and discuss the startling results of this research study on the cause-effect relationship between increased food intake and weight gain in the US.

Open Thread #80

Why not start your weekend off with a few rounds of Sock and Awe?

Adultery “Popular” in Korea

ABC News’ solo reporter in Korea Joohee Cho creatively uses the word “popular” to describe adultery in Korea, a peculiar word choice to describe extramarital sex habits and misleading when one reads this statistic in the first paragraph:

In an online survey last year by monthly women’s magazine Woman Sense, 79 percent of married men and 15.5 percent of married women in their 30s and 40s admitted adultery.

If the results of the online survey are valid, it would more precise to say that adultery is ‘popular’ among men, not women. Joohee Cho’s report completely ignores the existence of prostitution as a factor in the high rate of extramarital sex among men, limiting the description of adultery in South Korea to affairs.

Caption Contest #2



From this Chosun Ilbo story. No peeking, Korean speakers, until after you’ve posted your caption.

US Climatology Expert: Fan Death is Real

Okay, all you expat and gyopo skeptics, time to get out your hats and start munching. US climatology expert Dr. Laurence Kalkstein was in Seoul for a seminar on heat waves and explained the science of how fans kill:

“선풍기로 인한 사망 사고는 대부분 70대 이상 노인에게 발생했으며 주로 밀폐된 방에서 선풍기를 틀고 자다 숨졌다”며 “이는 지금까지 우리가 알고 있는 것과 달리 질식사나 저체온증이 아니다”라고 말했다.

“In a majority of fan death cases, the victim is an elderly person over 70 years old who died in their sleep in an enclosed room with a fan running. Differing from what we know up to now, it’s not suffocation or hypothermia.”

그는 “실내온도가 높을 때 밀폐된 곳에서 선풍기를 틀면 방안의 열기가 사람에게 집중돼 오히려 더 체온이 높아진다”며 “여기에 노출된 피부에 선풍기 바람이 지나가면서 몸의 수분을 빼앗아 결국 심장마비와 뇌졸중, 호흡곤란으로 사망하게 된다”고 설명했다.

He continued, “If a fan is run inside an enclosed room where the indoor temperature is high, the heat is concentrated on the person, so the body temperature actually rises,” further explaining that, “As fan air blows on exposed skin, the body becomes dehydrated, resulting in a heart attack or stroke and death from respiration difficulties.”

미국 환경보호국은 선풍기를 반드시 창문이나 방문 등 외부와 공기가 통하는 곳에 설치하고 밀폐된 방에서 오래 사용하면 안된다고 경고하고 있다.

The US Environmental Protection Agency advises that windows and doors remain open to circulate air and not to use a fan for long periods in an enclosed room.

The entire EPA booklet on heat waves and public health can be viewed in PDF here. Dr. Kalkstein has given numerous media interviews on heat-related illnessed and deaths, including this one with NPR.

*translation note: I had a little difficulty with the sentence “Differing from what we know up to now, it’s not suffocation or hypothermia.” Although it’s a direct quote in the story and was translated as such, the comment discounting suffocation and hypothermia was likely in response to a question, and thus, the “we” in “differing from what we know…” probably refers to Koreans, not experts like Dr. Kalkstein, who I’m pretty sure never believed that fans could suck up oxygen.

The Wiki entry on fan death notes US expert opinions that fans can accelerate hyperthermia when used in spaces with very high temperatures.

HTs to two fellow bloggers who thought the story blogworthy but didn’t have the time to translate it.

Caption Contest

Dokdo performance art in NYC: Post your caption on this thread. Humorous responses only, please.

photo from the Chosun Ilbo.

US University Students Give Dokdo Geography Lesson to Korean Kindergarteners

A group of Cal State University Fresno students visiting Korea for two weeks to learn about Korean culture taught Korean kindergarteners in Busan that Dokdo is our land. Said participant Ms. Torres:

“유치원 아이들에게 동화를 들려주면서 세계지도도 함께 보여줬습니다. 그리고 아이들에게 독도는 당연히 한국지도에 들어가야 한다고 말했습니다”

“아이들의 맑은 눈을 떠올리며 한국에 작은 도움이라도 주기 위해 다른 외국 학생들과 함께 힘을 모아 플래카드를 제작했다”

While the kindergarteners were listening to a story, we looked at a world map, and we said that Dokdo naturally belonged on a Korean map.

With the children’s bright eyes open wide, we worked together to make a placard to help out Korea a little.

The US university students then held up their “We love Dokdo” sign at a Busan baseball game. Awwww. Even after so many years of reading the Korean media, I’m still amazed that a story like this is not only posted on the front page of the Chosun online but with a larger, attention-grabbing headline.

Relating this story to the recent post on expats criticizing Korea, Dokdo is one issue that divides Koreans and present/former expats. It’s not that most expats dispute Korea’s possession of the rocks. It’s that expats think Koreans overreact to Japanese claims.

Chinese Netizens Discuss the Beef Protests

Update: The original thread got the most hits, almost 7000 so far, among the dozens posted yesterday at Net Ease.

Often the Chinese, especially in a national or widely read forum, praise actions in foreign countries as an oblique criticism of the Chinese government. The message in this ode to people power in Korea isn’t hard to discern at all.

I’ll begin with the original post:

On April 18, 2008 began the “beef disturbance”,” which passed through several changes, finally brewing into a political typhoon, unexpected not only from South Koreans but from ordinary people. A little bit of beef, at best a business dispute, has quickly and unexpectedly evolved into major unrest. The South Korean prime minister and the cabinet plan collective resignations, resulting in a large-scale reorganization of the President’s office. President Lee Myung-bak apologized personally to the South Korean people and finally pushed the powerful US to sit down and sign a new agreement.

It must be said that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak does not have a long time to wield political power, and with the world’s economy facing a crisis, he wholeheartedly wants to achieve an economic breakthrough, seeking to raise his prestige in the hearts of the people. It is fair to say that he had good intentions in trying to get the people to trust in his governing authority, but because of small negligence, the people’s scruples and concerns were overlooked. This has finally brought about a political crisis for the administration with fears that this could become a permanent millstone.

South Korea’s “beef disturbance” has profound pedagogical meaning, giving the whole world three striking revelations:

First, it makes us realize that people power is endless, the call for justice strong, and one or two people may be weak, tiny specks, but a million people amass to become a mighty current, forming one cooperative effort. This great power is a strength that cannot be contended with in the world, cannot but prevail.

Second, it makes the ruling leaders recognize clearly that a government must put the needs of the people first. The people are not individuals; their needs can be taken as a whole, joining the people’s interests to the nation’s interests. If one dares to ignore the people’s demands, go against the people’s interests and will, this government will certainly face the people’s opposition and rejection.

Third, as long as the demand is reasonable, it will certainly attract sympathy. Although at first the voices may be small in number, they will become more widespread over time, with increasing numbers of people responding, the ranks becoming huge. It’s because the call for justice resonates most in people’s hearts, so crying out for justice will certainly emit a timely, loud sound.

The people are the body of the country, and food is their heaven. The South Korean people are the body of the South Korean government, beef is the South Korean people’s food, i.e. their heaven. This deductive process through the course of events in the South Korean “beef disturbance” alerts us to annotated sayings from the great classics.

(note: I think the “annotated sayings” in this final sentence refers to the “people are the body of the country…” bit preceding it.)

Selected translated comments:

“Doesn’t Korea have beef?”

“It does, but it’s much more expensive than US beef.”

“I don’t get these Gaoli bangzis. What’s all this stuff about sickness when the real issue is regional protectionism? Don’t they know they can trade with China? Our beef isn’t cheap, but relative to the US, it’s decent.”

“…Our country’s beef demand and production are completely different from Korea’s. Our country is basically self-sufficient but Korea is a top beef consumer, importing 2/3 of its needs. …(in China) Beef is expensive and limited to upscale restaurants… but in South Korea, imported beef is cheaper than domestic beef, proliferating consumption among different social classes. Our government insists on an independent economic policy without dependence on others. Food security is of highest importance in international trade of food imports and exports.”

“Now that’s real unity.”

“Korea’s nuts. Their so-called self-respect has erupted.”

“Beef is not only a symbol, but on a deeper level, the bangzis are afraid of Uncle Sam staring down at their purse strings, worried that Lee Myung-bak played with the Americans, and their economy will go belly up. During the last economic crisis, the bangzis donated jewelry to get through the hard time, left with a lingering fear. In fact, our country is the same. It’s only that the bangzis are radical.”

“Expand people power!”

“It’s the equivalent of Chinese people farting.”

“Pure regional protectionism! Narrow nationalism!”

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