The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: WangKon936 (page 1 of 39)

Hyundai Rotem Rail Cars May Have Saved Lives

Hello, I haven’t been around much lately.  Sorry, I’ve been very busy and I will probably continue to be quite busy until the end of April.  Any ways, I’ve come up for some air recently and figured, why not?  Let’s post.

It is well known in these parts that Korea doesn’t have the best record for public safety.  In OECD road accident deaths Korea ranks number 2,  just below Poland.  However, perhaps Korean safety technology is better than Korea’s present safety record?  For example, it is widely known that Korean cars generally rank well in crash tests.

In 2005, in my home state of California, there was a horrible passenger train accident that killed 11 and injured 177 people.  In 2008 there was another accident that killed 25 people and left 135 injured.  In order to calm public fears of train safety, California Metrolink bought Hyundai Rotem cars that apparently featured “Crash Energy Management (CEM)” technology.  These safety features include piston-like, push-back frames and couplers that transfer crash energy around passengers to the rear of the train.  Sounds fancy right?  Will it work?

(Photo from Channel 10 ABC San Diego)

Well, the test came just a few days ago when a truck driver inexplicably stopped in front of the rails, abandoned his vehicle and the passenger train (predictably) hit the truck.  Thankfully, there were no fatalities this time and 28 total people injured (four critically, including the train’s driver).  Was it the Rotem cars and their “CEM” technology?  Quite possibility yes, but an investigation is under way to see for sure.

Plastic Paddy goes to a Korean Spa

Suck it up Conan.

Cheating Ahjussi Destroys Pair of Blackmailing Agasshis

What do all these events have in common?

They were memorable lopsided victories.

First reported by Yuna last week, Mr. Lee Byung-hun looked like he was in a bit of a pickle with two young women trying to blackmail him over apparently “sexually suggestive” video content.  The married Lee Byung-hun (age 44) met model Lee Ji-yeon (age 24) earlier last year and in alleged text messages, it appeared that Byung-hun tried to seduce the younger woman into having sex with him through gifts and flirty text messages.  All this was apparently happening while Byung-hun was barely a year into his marriage with actress Lee Min-Jung (age 32).

Lee Ji Yeon's parents clarify and protest regarding their daughter actions against Lee Byung Hun.

From left to right- Kim Da-hee, Lee Byung-hun and Lee Ji-yeon.

So, as the story goes, Lee Byung-hun tries to shag up with Ji-yeon, is apparently unsuccessful, and after tiring of the blue balls inducing chase (other accounts says that Byung-hun dumped Ji-yeon only after she insisted on having sex with him), he dumps her.  Jilted, Ji-yeon plotted revenge with her friend, GLAM girl group member Kim Da-hee (age 20), to extort $5 million USD out of Byung-hun by threatening to release of video that allegedly has him making sexually suggestive (lewd?) comments to the girls in one of their evening outings.  $5 million USD?  Seriously?  These girls need to get their heads checked!

Presented with such a ludicrous request Byung-hun did what any sane man would do.  He said “hell no” and reported them to the police.  Wow, talk about backfire!  So, the police question Da-hee and Ji-yeon, they apparently confess to their attempts at blackmail and were formally charged.  Yesterday, the Seoul Central District Court convicted both Da-hee and Ji-yeon of attempted blackmail with a jail sentence of one year and one year and two months, respectively.

These girls certainly tried to go big.  They bet all their money and the keys to their car on a pair of twos, bluffed badly, and got royally shafted.  Spectacular fail, but deserved due to their gross stupidity and hubris.  Lee Byung-hun doesn’t come out smelling like roses either, with all kinds of evidence pointing to him being a pervy married ahjussi trying to seduce a girl 20 years his junior.

Photo from Kpopstarz.com via Twitter.

The Economist on Korea’s Changing Economic Nationalism, but Lee Hyori is Doing Her Part!

Don’t often get long articles on South Korea in The Economist, but apparently tomorrow (the article is strangely dated into the future: January 17th) they will publish an article about Korean economic nationalism.  Yes, good old fashion economic nationalism!  Everybody has it, but Korea’s version seems to be a bit more, how shall we say?  Focused, aggressive and pervasive?  Yeah, that will work.

When South Korean celebrities, eager to prove their patriotism, swapped their German BMW cars for home-grown Hyundais on television, during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, they rallied the whole nation behind domestic products. To wean South Koreans off their Coke and Pepsi, a local firm launched “815 cola”, commemorating Korean liberation from Japan on August 15th 1945.

[…]

However, such appeals to patriotism seem to have run their course, and South Koreans have rediscovered their fascination for all things foreign. What has prompted them to rethink is a growing awareness of how much more they pay for things than foreigners do—and not just because of high tariffs—and how easy it has become to import cheap stuff.

[…]

Among the first signs that patriotic propaganda was losing its effectiveness came in 2009, when Apple launched the iPhone in South Korea. Samsung fought back by promoting its Omnia 2 mobile as “the pride of South Korea” and local media weighed in with negative reviews of its American rival. Yet Apple went on to seize a quarter of the country’s smartphone sales in one year. More recently, a petition by local grocers last March, calling for a boycott of popular Japanese-branded products, such as beer and cigarettes, flopped.

Yes, but economic nationalism is not dead!

The beautiful Lee Hyori (God bless her heart!) on Twitter said that if Ssangyong rehires all the workers they laid off in 2009, then she will star in a Ssangyong commercial promoting the Tivoli crossover, dancing in a bikini!

Lee Hyori- beautiful AND generous!

Unfortunately, Ssangyong showed their poor sense of aesthetic and business acumen by declining Hyori’s offer.

Personally?  I admire Hyori’s sense of community activism and civic virtue, whether or not it’s to promote Korean beef, or raise awareness for abandoned petsfeeding the poor or finding attractive mates for ugly Korean men.

Photo from Soompi.com.

 

The bad Korean used in the movie The Interview

I saw this movie recently on VOD, not long after Christmas, and I noticed the weird Korean too, but given that it is an American movie and all the Korean actors are Korean American or Korean Canadian, my expectations weren’t high in the first place.

Much of the pronunciation was off.  Diana Bang‘s accent was really off, although at least I thought Randall Park‘s accent was a little better.  The girl singing in the beginning clearly was a Korean-North American (probably taught how to speak Korean by either weekend language school or parents).  Nobody bothered to try and imitate the North Korean accent (which I think is fun to mimic).

So, the blog Kotaku summaries what Michael Han over at Quora had to say about the bad Korean peppered throughout the movie.

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

What the heck is “모든|,” huh?

According to Michael Han:

Most of the Korean language spoken in the movie sounded like kindergartners speaking. This is often the case with any language used by non-native speakers. There were some supporting characters whose Korean language seemed more natural, but the main characters sounded like they use English as their primary language, and do not use Korean regularly.

Here is an exhibit A: Randall Park (Kim Jong-un in the movie) says these two lines for a subtitle: “I want his severed head on my desk!”

그 새끼 대가리 원해! (geu seki daegari won-hae!)
눈 목을 거야! (noon mok-eur guh-ya!)

Literal translation:
[I] want his head!
[I] am going to eat his eyes!

“[I] want his head” sounds more natural in Korean if it’s translated, “그 새끼 대가리 가지고 와!” (geu seki daegari gajigo wa! / “Bring me his head!”) , because no native Korean speaker would write or say “won-hae” (“[I] want”) in the context of the situation and the expression used.

Diana Bang mispronounces her character’s name in the beginning of the movie as Park Sook-yong and later corrects it to Park Sook-young.  Sook-yong being more of a guy’s name and Sook-young being the correct girl’s name (the Chinese character “龍,” pronounced yong meaning “dragon” and the Chinese character “荣,”pronounced young means “glory”).

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

받아막다 means “confront (or ram on) to block,” instead it should say 정지 or “Stop” like:

Photos from Kotaku, via YTN or Wikimedia Commons.

South Korea to sell K-9 Thunder chassis to Poland

Announced earlier last month, but not seen until it was mentioned in Dave Axe‘s excellent War is Boring blog, South Korea and Poland just inked a deal to sell 120 K-9 Thunder chassis (and accompanying technology) worth $320 million USD.

(K-9 Thunder)

With the Ukraine getting sliced up by Russia like the proverbial holiday turkey, and with Poland essentially NATO’s eastern firewall with Russia, they have been beefing up on its defense procurement and expenditures.  Self propelled artillery is key in Poland’s defense plans and the K-9’s chassis (and perhaps other engine and transmission technology also?) will be incorporated to build a chimera product of sorts.  Poland’s self propelled artillery solution will be called the AHS Krab and will incorporate a K-9 chassis, with a British turret, a German Rheinmetall gun barrel and a Polish fire control system called “Topaz.”

(AHS Krab)

This deal represents the second export of K-9 components and technology, the first to Turkey in 2004.  Turkey has named their K-9 variant the T-155 Fırtına and it has been involved in pounding Kurdish-held territory and Syrian positions.

Probably another story for another time, but this deal represents the increasing size of South Korea’s arms exports, which hit a record high of $3.6 billion USD in 2014.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

The USFK’s official drag queen show

War is Boring is one of my favorite (and perhaps Mr. Koehler’s as well) non-Korean related blogs.  They don’t mention Korea often, but sometimes they do.  Their latest blog post  that kind of mentions Korea, albeit in passing, is the U.S. Army’s only officially sanctioned drag queen show.

Yes, it happened in 1946 when American troops stationed in Europe and Japan had plenty of local diversions and attention from the USO to keep them entertained.  Post colonial Korea?  Not so much.  How did you keep men of the 7th Infantry Division stationed in Korea entertained, distracted and free from trouble from the local populace?  You dress a few men as women and put on burlesque shows.

Photo by Blue Delliquanti.

WSJ: The “token” non-Korean hire

Hey, not meant as a slight.  The writer of the article in question would readily admit it!

So, non-Korean guy (presumed to be white?) applies for a office job in Korea.  During the interview he is asked many highly relevant questions on his qualifications!

“Do you like drinking?” “How many bottles of soju can you drink?” “Do you like kimchi?” “Where do you live?” “How old are you?” “Do you have a girlfriend?” My job interview may as well been held in the backseat of a taxi because these are the questions I would get anytime I travelled (sic) in a Seoul taxi for more than 20 minutes.

He becomes an integral part of the team!

I fell into the typical token non-Korean work role. My team leader struggled with how to deal with me and what work to assign to me. The company wasn’t prepared for a non-Korean worker. All they knew is that they wanted to reflect a global image and I would fulfill that requirement.

Has realistic and achievable expectations!

In order to see the potential returns and benefits of employing non-Koreans the job roles and power placed in these candidates needs to reflect the same respect and scrutiny that is placed on Koreans.

Okay, in all fairness, a lot of foreign office workers are treated similarly in Japan.

 

Japanese-Korean potato chips latest peninsular addiction

Say hello to the 허니버터칩 (“Honey Butter Chip”), the latest snack addiction in Korea.  Made by the Haitai-Calbee joint venture (Haitai the Korean company and Calbee the Japanese company), they have taken the peninsula by storm.

(Image from JoongAng Ilbo – what the heck is the Eiffel Tower doing in there?)

The chip has sold out in many places,  stores are only allowing one per customer, celebrities are instagraming themselves with the product.  There is of course the typical response when demand far outstrips supply:

(eBay screen capture)

(Image from Korea Times, U.S. Edition)

Yes, that’s right- price gouging.

Get your Honey Butter Chips right here folks.  Only $51.75 USD each (S&H included)!

Lee Byung-hun to be the next T-1000

X-Geners, y’all remember the original T-1000,  Robert Patrick?

Well, the next T-1000 will be Lee Byung-hun:

This new movie appears to be a “reboot” of the original movies.  The natural question would be is a reboot necessary?

Any ways, mine is not to wonder why.

“Quo Vadis”- problems with Korea’s Mega Churches

A documentary will be coming out on December 10th that will examine allegations of wrong doings by three of Korea’s largest Christian churches.  Titled “Quo Vadis“(Latin for “Where are you going?”) the documentary was made by Kim Jae-hwan, a self identified Christian, who says he spent $270,000 USD of his own money to make it.

Documentary Quo Vadis’ challenges the mission of South Korean churches

(Photo from Los Angeles Times via Han Cinema)

According to a L.A. Times article on the  documentary:

Kim [Jae-hwan], a Christian, said South Korea’s media have gone soft on the churches because of their significant political influence and financial clout. His goal: to spark what he calls an overdue debate on whether churches have lost their moral authority in a quest to accumulate more congregants and money.

Kim centers his greatest condemnations on Korea’s largest Church- Yoido Full Gospel:

One of the scenes in “Quo Vadis” includes a 2013 news conference in which elders from the Seoul-based Yoido Full Gospel Church, purported to be the largest Pentecostal church in the world, asked embattled senior pastor David Yonggi Cho to step down.

The elders accused Cho of using millions of dollars of church funds to buy stock in a company owned by his son. Despite the evidence against Cho, other Yoido elders argued that the allegations were baseless. Cho supporters who barged into the church gathering included one who reached for the throat of a speaker. A brawl ensued. As groups of suited men shoved one another and threw punches, journalists’ cameras rolled.

A few months later, Cho was found guilty of tax evasion and professional negligence. He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined more than $4 million.

 

Seth Rogen and James Franco’s culinary crime against humanity

Behold, the “Korean barbecue” lasagna:

Layers of bacon, short ribs, pork, beef, kimchi, pajon and gochujang and coming in at 33,083 some odd calories, this monstrosity is evidently an attempt to promote their new movie, coming out on Christmas day in the States.

To THAAD or not to THAAD? That is Korea’s question.

What is THAAD?  It stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and it’s essentially a province/state, small country-wide anti-ballistic missile defense system.  It apparently has a range of 2,000 kilometers and the U.S. is offering it to both Japan and South Korea.  So what?  Well, the Chinese don’t like it.

(Image from JoongAng Ilbo)

Although the U.S. says it’s to protect South Korea and Japan against possible missile attack from North Korea, the pure raw capabilities of the THAAD system would indicate that the defensive target isn’t just North Korea.  The long-range THAAD missiles, along with their powerful X-Band radars, if deployed in both South Korea and Japan, offers a multilayered anti-ballistic missile defense that could theoretically render a sizable chunk of China’s ballistic missile arsenal obsolete.

Earlier this year the U.S. delivered the enormous X-Band radar that helps power the THAAD, to Kyoto, Japan and the PRC was not pleased.

The spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said “the deployment of anti-missile systems in the Asia-Pacific and seeking unilateral security is not beneficial” to regional security. In an apparent reference to the Washington’s often quoted excuse of protecting against North Korean antagonism, Hu said the deployment should not be an “excuse to harm the security interests of other countries.”

The Chinese have given rather ominous warnings to South Korea not to adopt THAAD:

China has told South Korea that joining the U.S. missile defense system would cross a “red line” in their bilateral relationship.

And the PRC’s ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong:

“The THAAD would have a range of around 2,000 kilometers, which goes beyond the goal of countering missiles from North Korea,”

[…]

“The deployment of the THAAD will badly influence the relations between South Korea and China … It would harm China’s security system,”

Cross a “red line?”  Badly “influence” relations?  Uh, oh.  That doesn’t sound good.  South Korea, for their part, says they are not interested in THAAD because they are apparently developing their own anti-ballistic weapons system.

In Oct., 2013, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said South Korea would “definitely not join the U.S. missile defense system,” citing the associated costs and plans to develop South Korea’s own, similar system.

And that would be the so-called KAMD (“Korean Anti Missile Defense“) system, a mix of  Patriot  PAC-3 missiles, SM-6 and perhaps SM-3 missiles,  guided by the Israeli Green Pine radar.  There is also an apparent “indigenous” Korean anti-ballistic missile in the works, which may be similar to an Israeli Arrow type missile.

Publicly, this has been what the Korean government has said about why they may not adopt THAAD, but some Koreans are taking China’s tough talk seriously.  One of Korea’s most popular best selling authors, Kim Jin-myung, suspended all this other projects to rush and write a new novel titled “THAAD.”  According to Kim:

If it accepts the U.S. calls to deploy the anti-ballistic missile system here, he predicts, this will cost the country its No. 1 trading partner. China remains suspicious of the U.S. motive to deploy THAAD on the Korean Peninsula because it will nullify its ballistic missile system.

[China] reportedly believes that the United States seeks to encircle it.

If South Korea rejects the U.S. calls, Kim claims, it will not only lose its closest ally but also may face a catastrophic circumstance — a war on the peninsula.

A “war on the peninsula?”  A bit of hyperbole IMHO, but Kim Jin-myung says he’s not going to take a side in his novel.  He just believes there should be public discourse and concensus before the Korean government makes a decision on THAAD.

South Korea’s traditional ally the U.S. or China?  Not saying the choice is between the two here, but the choice for South Korea is getting increasingly more complex, especially in light of China’s growing economic power and influence.

(Graphic from the WSJ).

NOTE

Russia doesn’t like THAAD in Korea either.

 

WSJ: What’s the average off the street Seoulite think of Japan?

Often not discussed in many Korean blogs is what the average person off the street in Seoul thinks of such and such.  The WSJ’s Korea Realtime looks to remedy that.  The upshot?  Dokdo is ours, Japan needs to repent, but PGH needs to meet with (and talk to) Abe and an amicable relationship with Japan is important.

(Image from WSJ: Korea Realtime)

Apple cannot cure itself of its Samsung addiction

If one is to believe “a source familiar with the deal” from Korea Times, then yes.  It was announced recently that Apple and Samsung had signed a huge chip manufacturing deal for Samsung to fabricate 80% of all of Apple’s application processors (“AP” chips) by 2016.

“Apple has designated Samsung as the primary supplier of its next A-series chips powering iOS devices from 2016 as the alliance with GlobalFoundries (GF) enabled Samsung to cut off capacity risk,” a source familiar with the deal said.

It was speculated earlier this year that Apple would primarily drop Samusung as an AP chip supplier:

TSMC was expected to handle up to 70 percent of the manufacturing load, while Samsung would pick up the rest. Production problems may, however, have resulted in Samsung being removed completely from the A8 supply chain.

Samsung “being removed completely from the [Apple] supply chain” has been a fervent wish by many Apple fans since at least 2010, when they started to compete directly in smart phones.  Invariability, every year since 2010 there is always some rumor that Apple is going to drop Samsung  as a major AP chip supplier and every time that rumor ends up being false.

Part of the issue is that it is very hard to make a lot of complex chips quickly, efficiently and with very little defect rate.  Initial capital expenditures and investments are prohibitive as well.  For those type of manufacturers you have pretty much only four games in town: 1) Samsung 2) Taiwan Semiconductor (“TSMC”) 3) Globalfoundries and 4) Intel.  Of the aforementioned, Intel has very little experience in mass fabricating smart phone AP chips.  Samsung and Globalfoundries appeared to have foreseen the threat of TSMC and had thus gotten into a strategic partnership in April of this year.  This relationship seems to have paid big dividends for both companies.

MarketInsider also has interesting information on why Samsung is in a superior position:

TSMC will ramp up production of chips using 16-nnometer FinFET technology. Samsung’s technology is better in terms of efficiency and energy consumption…. Bernstein Research in a note to clients. IM Investment, a local brokerage, expects Samsung to win more orders to fabricate customized chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia and Sony, helping it generate more revenue to make up for its struggling smartphone business.

On the flip side, this would appear as if Apple is throwing Samsung a lifeline while its profitability is declining.  AP chip fabrication is difficult, but higher margin and as such is known to be among the most profitable of chip manufacturing jobs.

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