The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: yuna (page 1 of 12)

Yep, this was bound to happen.

A Kenyan man lands in Pyungyang when he thought he was heading for Pyungchang for a conference :
from this WSJ report

Maybe they should have an Olympic slogan,
“2015 in Pyungchang, not Pyungyang”,
simple, effective and funny, much more cool than any of the dynamic sparkling shite variety they tend to come up with.
This story reminds me of how an acquaintance who was trying to book a plane ticket to Auckland (NZ) in a Korean travel agency in UK, talking to a Korean woman, nearly got himself a ticket for Oakland (USA).

What I want to know is why Chinese reporters (in Hong Kong?) are covering this story.

How much cash can fit in a box of Vita 500c

Lacking a political satire outlet like John Oliver or John Stewart does not matter that much in South Korea.

Why? Because the reality is funny as is.

How much won can you fit in a box of vita 500c, image taken from Daum

Here is a very seriously tongue-in-cheek report a la Mythbusters on how much Korean won in various denomination can fit in a box of energy drink (Vita 500c – tastes like Lucozade flavoured Red Bull). The assistant/driver of the dead man Sung Wanjong – see anonymous_joe’s post here is meant to have said in an interview that he delivered a box of energy drink -it is not clear whether he said that it was filled with money, though it is implied – when he accompanied Sung on 4th April 2013 on a visit to the prime minister Lee Wan-ku 이완구’s election campaign office.
성완종 is meant to have told the Kyunghyang shinmun in an interview before he died, that he gave the prime minister 이완구 3천만원 ~30,000 USD in cash when he went to see Lee at his election office.

Here is a better photo from Yonhap news of the recreation:

At first, the prime minister denied meeting Sung at all on the day – his condition was bad, he does not remember – let alone having a one-on-one meeting, but as more evidence piles up for the possibility of them having a meeting, it will be interesting to see where this ends up.

I still think it is possible after all that there is somebody random in that election office on that day who got more energy than he expected. Somebody who found out that Vitamin C and caffeine comes in denominations of 신사임당. Wehey!

More info (in Korean) here

And, yet even funnier, this article from Money Today is questioning the (mis)use of the 5 manwon notes printed in Korea, that it is used in times of low interest rates usually for shady purposes and bribes.

최근 적발된 뇌물수수 사건에서 뇌물공여자들은 모두 5만원권을 갑티슈나 담배갑, 비누갑 등에 넣어 전달한 것으로 드러났다.
Many recent bribery cases involved the delivery of 5 manwon notes in tissue boxes or cigarette boxes (I guess they mean the 보루/보로 carton, not the individual hard case), or soap boxes (same as cigarette cartons, unless they are talking about bribing the homeless)

Back in the old days the container of choice for the discerning cash bribers to the same politically-inclined camp as today’s 새누리 were apple crates, talking of which, I need some wooden crates/boxes for my balcony garden. Anybody has any experience of growing 무우/배추 daikon radish/ Chinese cabbage in containers? (If I don’t digress some people might think it’s Robert himself who wrote the article and like it, so I feel the need to put in my signature)

Later Upate Here is the link to the transcript (in 6 parts)of the Kyunghyang shinmun telephone interview held a few days before Sung died, in its entirety.
Kyunghyang shinmun finally released it after sitting on it a few days. I think they did well in this case.
Sung was interviewed by Lee Kisu (sociopolitical editor/section-chief of Kyunghyang) and the recording lasted 48 minutes and 14 minutes, equivalent to around 84 pages of 200-word-manuscript paper.

A slight correction on the Update Kyunghyang shinmun was *made* to sit on the interview it seems as there was an embargo placed on (I guess from the prosecutors?) from releasing the contents to the public. The embargo was lifted today, and they published it in its entirety.

Asiana Plane skids off the runway on landing at Hiroshima Airport

There is breaking news (in Korean) that an Asiana plane which left ICN, Seoul at 6:49pm and landing at around 8pm at Hiroshima airport skidded off the runway on landing. Of the 74 passengers and 7 crew members on board, 23 people suffered light injuries.

In July 2013, a faulty landing at the San Francisco airport of the Asiana flight 214 resulted in the death of three people.

Update 1 :

It seems like the plane hit a ground antenna tower as it landed, exact cause to be obtained after more investigations.
Yahoo link (in English) here
Guardian Link (in English) here

삼국사기 of cherry blossoms

China (The president of Chinese cherry blossom association/Botanical society) has recently weighed in the cherry blossom dispute by saying that cherry blossoms came from China to Japan and Korea does not even feature in the dispute.

First of all, I was not even aware that there was a dispute over the origin of a particular species of cherry blossom/벚꽃/桜 between Korea and Japan.

Apparently there is.

The species in question is King Cherry 왕벚나무 (Prunus yedoensis var. nudiflora) with its natural habitat/place of origin still in Jejudo, Korea (the only natural habitat found in the world), and the similarity it has with the Somei Yoshino (Prunus × yedoensis) which is the Japanese Yoshino cherry that is believed to be produced from crossing the two separate Japanese species of Prunus subhirtella var. ascendens (Edo higan) and Prunus lannesiana (Oshima zakura).

The JTBC report makes it somewhat clear for me. It’s whether these two species are the same or whether the Japanese one could somehow trace its origin back to include the Korean one, or distinct (I mean they have the same species name, only difference being the Yoshino cherry has the x in between) which is the question. Juvenile as always, I know, but it’s become more of a question since the Nagoya Protocol was established in 2011, with respect to paying royalty to the country of origin of the genetic material.

The funny thing about this is that this is just what just about sums up the characters played by these three countries on everything.

Japan : is the best in packaging, propagating and turning into its own many many things which sometimes (and sometimes not) originates from China and Korea, and often many things just get buried in history, likes to believe that everything just sprang out of Japan the island nation out of spontaneous generation (people, culture, craft etc) with no influence/migration from outside to contaminate them.

Korea : always late into the game, it gave away and did not look after its own properly, busy fighting among themselves, only to find out too late, that a lot of things originated from Korea and comes across as a jealous crybaby who likes to claim many good things in Japan came from Korea.

China : Everything came from China. Everything. The two countries are just being silly. They remind me of the hilarious clip of “everything comes of India” from the BBC comedy series Goodness Gracious Me. “Is the Pope Punjabi?”

It’s really sad.
I don’t know why these three Asian countries bicker so much over such trivial things.

Korean adultery law (criminal) to be abolished in a historic decision

62 years since it was established, the criminal law code 241 was ruled anti-constitutional at the Constitutional court by 7 votes to 2, and is to be scrapped (or replaced) As it stood, any adulterer, that is any married person who cheats on the marriage partner with another person *and* his or her partner were both liable for up to 2 years in jail (with no other kinds of non-jail punishment possible), which smacked of an archaic law or an Islamic code of conduct.

The abolishment of such a controversial law had been up for votes four times in the past.

adultery constitution

Fig illustrating the yes-no votes on the anti-constitutional nature of the adultery law in Korea

The last vote in 2008, did have a majority of yes to abolishment (ruled anti-constitutional) but the majority was only 5 to 4 and the minimimum majority votes should be 6 for the abolishment to happen.

This means, (also according to a new law ruled to minimise chaos and compensation) that there will be people who can ask for compensation against the ruling that happened from one day after the day when the last constitutional vote was cast i.e. in 2008 According to the same article, even among such people, the compensation might be limited to only those who actually received the punishment, in this case jail time. How much? It would depend on the psychological and the financial loss of the defendant i.e. job/status but there is a rule which specifies upto 5 times the minimum wage, which can be calculated between 4 manwon and 20 manwon (per diem of the jail time).

For the whole day up to the decision of the ruling, there were a lot of headlines (yes, serious headlines, not the Daily Mail or the News of the World kind) which had words like “The law which has existed even in the times 고조선 Ko-Chosun” – and those who are not familiar with Korean history, this is the first ever proper historic era in Korea, which was founded by the son of the garlic eating bear in a cave. (Look it up on Wiki, otherwise I get pelted with eggs for digressing)

Well, yes, and of course one cannot forget how it goes all the way back to the time when Charlton Heston would part the sea and talk with burning bushes.

Quite a strong backlash was expected against this ruling (yes, seriously)
The real conundrum was that this law was not deemed an archaic law by any standards, though it should have been. Maybe having no other option of punishment than to send the *adulterers to jail* part was what made it seem archaic, but it still did not stop people from bringing many such cases to court and indeed, send their spouses to jail with the lovers.

Finally, here are some real archaic laws that I came across when I just googled for my favourite, the beating of the carpet over the balcony not within 1km radius of where the Queen lives between the hours of 2:35pm and 8:09pm or some such..

Just remember, no littering.

(img taken from Yonhap news)
P.S. Korea, Korea, where news headlines do not need to be funnied-up in any way

A Modern Day 플란다스의 개 (A Dog of Flanders)

플란다스의 개

플란다스의 개

플란다스의 개, and its main characters 넬로(Nello) the boy and his dog, 파트라슈(Patrasche) who was once abused by his former owner, a peddler that beat him to pull his cart, the dog then became the boy’s best friend and stayed with him until their tragic end – was one of the most treasured stories of my infanthood. Though I never watched it on TV, I remember having a book with the pictures from the animation in it, reading it again and again.

Along with 알프스 소녀 하이디 (Heidi from the Alps, whose animation character is used to advertise everything from air conditioner to apartments in Korea), these were the products of Japanese animation that were imported and shown on Korean TV during my infanthood. Other imported Japanese animations on TV included 은하철도 999, 우주소년 아톰, 요술공주 밍키, 사파이어 왕자 etc. despite Korean government’s attempt to keep Japanese culture out, I think my generation was undoubtedly shaped by these. What shapes a generation…and what is shared and common between the two…

So it was the memory of 플란다스의 개 and the same childhood tears which surfaced when I watched this JTBC clip which has some 1800 irate comments(as of 24 Feb) after it. The JTBC news team managed to film a beating of a horse which pulls one of those gaudy horse-cart for tourists. They suspect the horse was getting a beating just as a lesson into submission, or to pull when it is physically unable to do so. I watch clips like these (lots of them on Korean news) and think humans are indeed by far the worst animals in the world.

This also highlights problem with the tourism industry in Korea, related stories surface almost every other day. I visited the very same Kyungju-shi just over a year ago, flaunted as ‘the old capital of Korea, the Kyoto of Korea” and my non-Korean colleagues told me that our private tour-guide provided by the conference organizers was very rude and dismissive when they asked about the neon-lit building that were clearly sex-shops that they could see from the bus as they were being told about the Chomsongdae.

The problem with Korean tourism industry … only marginally different from that of North Korea, where they control each of your every footstep is this – what South Korea wants to show is like indeed putting lipstick on a pig, everybody can see the underlying ugliness. (not that pigs are ugly)
It wasn’t like this only 10, 15 years ago, but since an increase of tourism (from Asia, mainly China) I fear the place is being turned into one gaudy place where aggressive soliciting/touting for the custom of visitors take place everywhere. Visitors want to see and experience what the locals like, not to be herded to tourist sets and fleeced.

(image taken from Wikipedia)

What is the answer to 내가 누군지 아느냐 “Do you know who I am?”

甲乙 관계

The ideal 甲乙 관계?

Maybe 손석희 Sohn Sukhee should have a change of career to being an anchor in the style of the Daily Show, because I actually laughed out aloud a couple of times watching this clip in which he addresses the problem plaguing the Korean society, the so-called ‘갑질’ of the have’s and the powerful, over the poor and the powerless, encapsulated by the question

Apparently that was what a drunk executive officer of the Blue House civil office shouted when he was taken to the police station after beating up a taxi driver. He was dismissed from his post yesterday.

Everybody is supposed to be equal especially in a democratic system, and if anything, both public and private conduct should be measured by a harsher ruler for those who are *in office*. However, in Korea, a relatively newcomer to the Western-style democracy and social-system, if anybody gets into office, or money, or power and they typically think it is a licence to lord over the rest and get away with acting like they are something special.

The reason such conduct is called ‘갑질’ is because traditionally in legal documents, two parties are denoted 갑(甲)and 을(乙) and usually it’s the employers (the former) which were the 갑’s. The word ‘질’ is simply a Korean slang word which follows some other word to negatively denote some a bad conduct e.g. 손가락질, 삿대질, 욕질 etc. Therefore, it’s a newfangled media-word which combined to denote saying misuse of power (in particular in the way of ‘do you know who you are talking to?’)

Sohn ends the commentary with another question as an answer to the question:
“Who *are* you?”

Well, there is always the football chant, ‘Who are ya? ‘:

Know yourself.
너 자신을 알라.

(image taken from:

Roombarella Rebellion

The Judgment Day
Image taken from
First there are TV’s that eavesdrop(see RElgin’s post below), next come the robot cleaners which pull your hair out.

The Guardian reports on the incident where a Korean woman had to call the emergency to rescue her from a robot cleaner which took its job too seriously.
The woman was not seriously hurt so it does make one laugh. Does anybody own one of these robot cleaners? Do they work well?

I am thinking of getting one as a companion for my dog who is terrified of the normal vacuum cleaner, to the point that he will not enter any large electrical goods store (he has seen that it’s the bowels of these hell where they originate from) Also, I have seen several funny Youtube videos with pet cats and dogs reacting funny to the robot cleaners.

(Terminator image taken from the Wiki, Incident photo taken from

Sohn Sukhee 손석희 interviews Alain de Botton

In a JTBC interview that filled my little heart to the brim, 손석희 manages to interview Alain de Botton in English about de Botton’s new book on the subject of news, and cover several interesting topics (KAL/nut, Charlie Hebdo)
Apparently de Botton is one of the “favourite authors of Korea”, but it’s his comment on the KAL/nut incident (watch the clip to find out) that seems to be making him the No.1 search word in the news portal at the moment.
It’s just a pity that people like Sohn does not run for politics.

P.S. DL Barch :
Doesn’t de Botton comes across as a classic case of milquetoast you mentioned, telling other milquetoasts to be less of a milquetoast..

Here are the laws of ajossi-dynamics:
1. smart inv.proportional to aging/ajossification
2. opinionated prickfying proportional to aging/ajossification.
3. smart inv.proportional to opinionated prickfying independent of ajossification

I do think de Botton is suffering from a rash he developed from being subjected to the champagne-socialist-prominent-attitude of the British media when he pushes for media to have a stronger voice, because in places like Korea it’s a different story. 손석희 and the JTBC is like a long overdue aberration. One must learn to crawl before one walks.

A Round-up of some Korean news

1. Mystery deepens over the Korean teenager gone missing in Turkey

There is a possibility being raised that a 17 year old Korean boy who went missing from his hotel room in Turkey might have been interested in joining the terrorist group IS. At first the Korean news was simply reporting on the fact that he went missing, hinting at a possible kidnapping connection, but as more evidence mounts- including some picture of IS on the background of his twitter account, and his twitter messages which included :

I want to know how to go about joining ISIS, I would like to join ISIS.

Currently we live in the times when males are discriminated against, I abhor feminists therefore I like ISIS.

(emphasis mine. Disclaimer: I don’t like feminists either, but ffsake what a fool)
– this is now replaced by another scenario, at least for the first part of the story.

Besides this (possibly greatly misguided fool of a) person, who I hope (to the Lords of Kobol), doesn’t himself star in an ISIS video in an orange suit in a few weeks with a masked man demanding ransom from the Korean government, I have been also thinking about the “journalists” who go to places like Syria to report and get themselves captured and killed. My one more possibly controversial opinion/affront against the journalistic blah-di-blah integrity (I can’t help it) is that “I don’t want to know what is happening in that neck of the woods, I’d rather they didn’t go.” There! I said it!

2. Lee Minjung announces pregnancy

Almost straight after the guilty-of-blackmail verdict against the women who threatened her husband, the actress Lee Minjung has announced that she will give birth to a baby in April. She and Lee Byunghun were seen spending time in the US, supposedly away from all the palaver, to the tune of “stand-by-your-man” but now the reason becomes more clear. The timing of the pregnancy is seen as bad form on LBH’s part, as the punters who got A’s in maths did the sum and they say he was chatting up the other women while his wife was pregnant.

3. Kindergarten and Children’s Day-Care centre under scrutiny after several recent abuse scandals

This is just terrible. There have been several cases against children’s day-care centres in various parts of the country (I’ve actually lost the exact count, I know I am missing a few)

First there was a woman helper at day-care centre in Incheon who used her fist to hit the head of children (4 years old) because they could not do the colouring-in properly (amongst other things)

Then there is investigation launched against the Kimhae day-care centre where the cook is meant to have punished those who ate slowly by making them eat out in the cold corridor, or hitting them on the head or bum making them swallow the throw-up.

There is now a police investigation launched against the head of a Ulsan day care centre as she is accused of stuffing wet wipes in the mouth of a 22-month-old infant because the baby cried too much, or to use her leggings to tie 10-month-old twin babies onto a bed.

I have missed a couple of cases.

The politicians are scrambling over themselves to come up with various ways of fixing the system, from employing grandmothers at the day-care to watch over the kids, to making CCTV a compulsory requirement. Also under scrutiny are the way the centres are graded (like restaurants) and the relative ease with which the qualifications are doled out to the centre employees and carers.

A Discussion on Political Satire

Tina Fey was asked about the killing at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and her answers made headline news.

What resonated with me in particular (and not for the reasons you might think) was:

But … we’re Americans. … Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview, we have the right to make them.

So ronery with my views

So Ronery with my views

My disclaimer is:

1) I have not seen The Interview the film, but only the youtube clip where Kim’s head gets blown up.

2) I have skimmed through maybe a dozen Charlie Hebdo covers (Maybe 6 or so of the so-called anti-Muslim ones, and another 6 or so about Animal Rights) & I speak enough French to understand them.

OK, with that disclaimer, let me add another large one, I don’t condone the violence or the illegal hacking nor threatening (of the movie-goers)..however, I do find the tactics of the North Koreans (if they were responsible for the Sony hacking) much more palatable and laudable in some twisted sense, but that is another story.

When the Charlie Hebdo incident happened, and I skimmed through the covers, I found myself saying: “But it’s not very good, nor funny”.

My first question is: should political satire not be funny ( i.e. good)?

It’s heresy, I know, to ask this (all my friends in and out of France and in and out of the media business are changing their FB profile to “Je suis Charlie”) but why risk so much for such mediocre material? I found it offensive – the cartoons (a couple of them) and I am not even Muslim. And from what little I know, The Interview also looks to be a terrible film. So when Tina Fey made that remark “Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview,” that bit resonated with me.

For example, my brand of humor is:

Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and Sacha Baron Cohen. Clarkson, in particular, has not lost any support on his home turf, because he is always offending some country or some people. I still find the British “rah-rah” insensitivity a good antidote to the politically-correct-gone-overboard antics of other countries.

A skew-related subject is a film I recently watched at the cinema called Interstellar. I absolutely hated it, but virtually everybody I knew liked it, and kept saying “it’s a film, it doesn’t have to be all scientifically feasible”…they were missing the point, I wasn’t objecting to the science, I was just objecting to how crap it was – the story line and the actors.

My second question is when is it OK to make fun of people and what is free speech really?

For example, in South Korea, back during the election campaign various “street-artists” were being questioned for putting up posters depicting (President) Park as Snow White eating an apple which had her father on it. They were detained and “investigated” for breaching various rules including breaking into a building (to spray the pictures onto the street from the rooftop?) I also vaguely remember the authorities not happy with mice pictures of LMB. However, South Korea is spraying propaganda leaflets still in North Korea and the North are unhappy about that. I object to spraying any material that might litter (as anybody who lived in Seoul will know) Also, on the South Korean television we hardly have *any* political comedy nowadays. I really doubt that Japan and Korea (and definitely not China) have the same notion of “true freedom of speech and expression” as in the West. Their comedy is still shite. Why can we not have our own John Stewart or John Oliver in Asia? I swear, if we did, all our conflicts would disappear, because it’s just laugha-away-able – the problems we have between the neighbors.

Back to the topic, leading up to the Second World War, there were a lot of propaganda material against the Jewish people, depicting them as large-nosed money grabbing monsters. How is that much different from what Charlie Hebdo was doing in that it is targeting a minority in a country, and not the people in political power in their own country?

In a sense, Tina Fey hit another point when she mentions, how with the way we consume media, it’s not confined to the country anymore. I think political satire flourishes when the true freedom of expression is exercised, i.e. it is against the status quo, or the faction-in-control. When it starts to border on foreign policy, or minorities with less power, then is it still all-that? Or If we can classify some groups of people as violent, dangerous, but lacking in brain cells, what use is it to taunt them under the context of free speech? And not very well at that?

P.S. I also enjoyed Team America tremendously, why? because it was funny, and good.

P.P.S. Another Disclaimer: The views expressed on this post is a sketchy one in more than one sense of the word, and does not in any way reflect the views of the blog owner who is a very coherent and reasonable person.

Photo from

A tentative return

Have you missed me?

I have been taking a break mainly because I felt reading the Korean news made me upset, to say the least, causing additional havoc to my already sensitive digestive system.
As I have not followed the blog at all and only just quickly skimmed the last few entries please excuse me if these have been covered.

1) First of all, the IKEA saga in Korea.

Fools! I’m sorry but nothing highlights everything that is wrong with the way Koreans act than the drawn out saga being played out as the McDonalds of the furniture world comes to the last bastion, reminding me of a title of a book by Douglas Adams.

On the one hand, we have masses of Koreans without an ounce of originality in their heads when it comes to design idea thirsting for the flatpacked furniture ubiquitous to the family homes, student digs and mobile abodes in the rest of the civilized world… that they are descending upon the city of Kwangmyung like shameless swarms of flies to a fresh pile of shite… On the other hand, we have all the knucklehead defensive strutting by the domestic furniture businesses (like everything Korean which has survived on scamming the Korean public with virtually zero competition from the outside) all coming together with the local government officials and the press to fight IKEA tooth and nail..from bringing out the J-card… yeah that old complaints about the price name it IKEA’s done it.

The latest is that in a laughable move the city of Kwangmyung has given IKEA an ultimatum to fix the traffic congestion and parking problem or to move out. They also want two Sundays closed which is a ridiculous rule currently applied to multi-supermarket stores like Lotte Mart… saying IKEA should be grouped along with those stores as they sell things other than furniture.

2) The actor Lee Byunghun’s saucy (but unconfirmed) mobile message to one of the two girls awaiting verdict for blackmailing him was released by the television program Dispatch.

One of the first exchanges:

LBH(actor): What’s for dinner?
LJY(model): What would oppa(LBH) like?
LBH: You

(me): gags

If true, it highlights the danger of married male celebrities flirting over mobile chatting in South Korea where the reputation of being a bad boy does not play well as it does in Western countries. Recently a rising star of the TV program 비정상회담 (Abnormal Summit) disappeared from the public eye due to the women he text-flirted with whilst married, coming forward to reveal his double standard- that even an intent and not the deed can ruin one’s career, hand in hand with the reputation.

Just remember boys, real men flirt with their wives.

3) This youtube video of Shapiro’s message to the South Korean president, which apparently was published a while back, is only just gaining attention of the Korean news portal (Good Lord, No!).  I cannot think of any comment on it apart from the fact that it is a little bizarre. Do you think he reads this blog?


I am trying mobile blogging for the first time. Please let me know if the links don’t work.

Note 2

I read Robert wants an image to pretty the posts… can I do that later when I get around to it?

Yoshiki Sasai suicide and the NHK

I did a post on the STAP cell scandal back in March when it was all about to break out (you can also see my comments in the same post for its development. In one of the last comments, I see I was sticking up for the woman at the centre of the storm Obokata Haruko, saying I feel sorry for her, just after her tearful appearance).

Since then, having followed what is said about her both in the Japanese establishment media(“let’s string her up”) the more public sentiment-reflecting media (morning shows, TV professors and chat-show hosts – “she’s just a poor girl, a victim”), as well as conducts of herself and her lawyers, I have changed my mind on this, and have withdrawn all my sympathy for her.

The latest news is, that her boss at work (RIKEN), Yoshiki Sasai has been found dead at the workplace, (hanging by the neck, with a suicide note), and of course the Japanese media is reporting it at full blast.

This is because, lately the NHK Japanese public broadcasting company has come under intense fire from the public, for hounding Obokata for an interview, (paparazzi style), during the tryst, Obokata supposedly falling and injuring her arm (which is “very important” for the work she is trying to re-create now under intense surveillance), as well as the NHK unearthing some email exchanges between Sasaki and Obokata, suggestive of some private relationship between the two.
The Japanese public has gone apeshit on the conduct of the conduct of the NHK, a supposedly *public broadcasting system* on the style of their reporting as well as the way they want to scapegoat somebody, namely a tearful girl who looks all innocent and weak.

I disagree with the Japanese public on this matter. It’s a damn shame that there are (not often and very far and few between) women scientists who do get somewhere by their own sweat and tears and not relying on the merits of their feminine guile, and to have it discredited by a big muddy splash by a substandard snivelling person in a job that they obviously did not deserve to have, make a big botch up job of it and have all the negative preconceptions strengthened. The Japanese public should expect the same standard of defence and retribution from Obokata as they would expect from any other scientist in that position and spotlight, and not say “it was the system’s fault, she’s just a poor lamb”.

The second point I brought up in my previous post concerns my misgivings about the biological science and reproducibility of a result, and the order of the publishing process in a journal. This requires a deeper discussion see a skew-related SLATE piece on this , but let me just say, out of all the Japanese ajossi(ossan) comedians and experts alike and comments on this whole saga, the one I liked the most was by Sanma (明石家さんま), he said he understood how Obokata felt, because he has been trying to get the right combination of “コー茶 Ko-cha” by mixing up Coffee(Kohi) and red tea(紅茶 koucha) and he did get it once by mistake, but has since been unable to reproduce it.

I thought it was a mild, sympathetic, yet funnily caustic enough comment on the whole matter.

Names of Typhoons

The Typhoon in the region of Korea/Japan at the moment is called 너구리.

너구리 is the Korean word for Raccoon Dog (and not Raccoon, which are also called 아메리카 너구리 (America-noguri) in Korean)

I don’t remember the last time a typhoon was named after a Korean word (OK, maybe I have a vague recollection of Nabi 나비, but I was not sure if it came from the Korean word back then) so I decided to look up the convention of typhoon naming.

As expected there are some humorous comments on the internet related to how this typhoon is named after one of the most popular instant noodles in Korea. Incidentally, the reason why the instant noodles is named 너구리 is also interesting, as the *tenkasu (bits of tempura batter pieces)* which used to come in the 너구리’s 건더기스프 has disappeared, and the why たぬき udon/soba is named tanuki is also interesting, but I digress.
For those interested, this link in Korean explains a lot.

Back to the typhoon naming.

This Korean Meteorology webpage has information on how the names were provided -10 each from 14 countries which lie within the influence of Typhoon. These are placed in 5 different groups and every typhoon gets its name taken in turn from each group.

Since North Korea also submitted 10 entries, there are 20 Korean words floating around to be used. Say what you will about North Korea, looking at their entries and how they are spelled, they have the right idea about keeping the words sounding Korean.

Hereis the complete list of the 140 names from the 14 different countries and their meaning.

Apparently, the words submitted from South Korea carry the wish that it should not cause a large damage, and therefore the names are chosen from weaker and softer of the animal kingdom.

Finally, the piece of information I found most interesting is that every year, typhoons that caused a large damage in that year get their names replaced by new entries submitted from the same country.

From the article link :

우리나라가 제출한 태풍 ‘나비’의 경우 2005년 일본을 강타하며 엄청난 재해를 일으켜 ‘독수리’라는 이름으로 바뀌었다. 이 밖에도 ‘봉선화’가 ‘노을’로(2002년), ‘매미’가 ‘무지개’로(2003년), ‘수달’이 ‘미리내’로(2004년) 각각 대체됐다.

In the case of South Korea, 4 names have been replaced already.

너구리’s left South Korea but caused havoc in Nagiso in Nagano prefecture in Japan.

Here’s hoping that 너구리 goes away quietly in the night, and does not cause any more damage anywhere.

2014 World Cup : Ahead of the Korea vs Russia game: 홍명보 and 까방권

홍명보 감독 2014 월드컵
자료출처 : 네이버/OSEN

I don’t think that I have come across a more subdued and *given-up already* Korean atmosphere for the World Cup than that of this year’s (at least online, of course, I am sure once the games start properly there will be seas of red t-shirts out in full force). Even scanning the comments that follow the provocatively titled article, “Capello (the manager of the Russian team) says there’s no need to know the Korean players names” the 자포자기한 comments go like “예리하긴..He(Capello)’s very sharp”.. Even the potential fodder to light the fire against the Russians (i.e. figure skating medal controversy at Sochi) doesn’t seem to be enough to stoke any flames. It’s not entirely a bad thing, I think sports nationalism has had its day in most places.

So Korea has a weaker team than usual (or maybe not? The combination of fresh young blood playing in Germany like 손흥민, 구자철 and the mid-gen dragons in the UK like 기성용 and 이청용 should be interesting, but the friendlies leading up to the WC were mainly disappointing) – And without knowing anything about Korean football, it looks like the worries have been mainly over the generation change (the glory days of the Park et al. are over with the retiring of the experienced veterans) and also Hong Myungbo insisting on using the remaining players from the previous generation (e.g.박주영) who might not be so great either in form or ability, by some tenuous loyalty issues -giving rise to a internet slang word 최종 “엔트으리” = 의리 + 엔트리.

Another internet slang word which I was laughing at this morning is 까방권. 까임+방지+권리 the right not to be dissed- it applies to some sportspeople and celebrities (especially those who have served their time at the army) who have somehow achieved a close-to-deity status and an immunity from possible internet lynching by their personality and achievement.

I actually came across it scanning this linked article in the today, and was initially puzzled by it, because it could have been 가방권, the way it was written in Japanese カバン権。 Even when the writer(a third gen zainichi) was trying to explain ”カイム” 가이무, it took me more than a second to realize that he meant “까임” – “까다” – a slang to criticize – kind of like “diss” in English language.

So basically, the Japanese article was saying that Koreans are very down and not very confident going into the World Cup, and the 까방권 – “a right not to be dissed” which used to apply to Hong has all but disappeared when he insisted on including 박주영, despite his lack of match play time/condition.

Hong has generally a good image in Korea and abroad, and his players always swear by his manly charisma and 의리. Let’s see if the Korean team does enough to retain his 까방권.

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