The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: yuna (page 1 of 12)

Anti-gay marriage protesters and the current address of the Korean right wing

As the world is celebrating the verdict of making gay marriage legal across the US, Koreans are also joining in the celebration . What is interesting, however is the hodge-podge mixture that is shown in the anti-gay protesters who are representing some sort of ‘values’ that they *think* they want to represent . I used to think that the standard of the psychological development of a nation rested on the standard of the educated liberal/left, but in Korea, the embarrassing majority (whenever the media says that the support for the president has “fallen” to 30 percent I am wondering, what? 30 percent? WTF? Who are these people? ) does its fair share.

I am going to share a twitter entry going around on the internet which sums up the make-up of the Korean anti-gay protesters here:

분명히 기독교 단체의 동성애 반대 집회인데 태극기가 등장하고, 한복과 부채춤이 등장하고, 박원순 OUT이니 이승만 대통령님이 세운 나라라느니 이런 것들이 등장해요. 이게 극우, 근본주의 기독교, 국수주의와 심지어 유교까지 죄다 뒤엉켜있다는 증거에요.

(literal word-to-word translation)
Clearly, it is a gathering/protest of anti-gay Christians, however there are Taeguki’s, hanbok and fan-dance, and (placards saying) “Park Wonsoon(Seoul Mayor) OUT”, “This is a country built by Rhee Seungman”. This is the evidence that extreme right, fundamentalist Christianity, ultra-nationalism, and even Confucianism are all mixed up.

Let me just add at this point, that I really don’t like 비빔밥. I don’t understand why everything has to mixed up before eating, and made worse by the horrible strong taste of sesame oil to boot. To me, the Korean right wing seems a Korean national dish comprised of the worst possible ingredients, all mixed up.

US Defense ships Live Anthrax by mistake to South Korea

Korean media (Chosun article here) are reporting on a revelation that live anthrax was shipped by mistake to Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition Program (ITRP) at Osan Airbase in South Korea, from Dugway, Utah in the US. Some report that it is the first time the ITRP program was officially acknowledged at all. Needlessly to say, this Hankyoreh article is highlighting the unanswered – whether the US government had notified the Korean government prior to the shipping of the anthrax, how much was shipped, and if they ship (hopefully dead) sample often.

주한미군사령부는 살아있는 탄저균 표본을 발견한 사실을 27일 한국 정부에 통보했다. 하지만 주한미군 쪽은 실험 목적이나 사전에 탄저균 이동 등의 상황을 한국 정부에 통보하고 협의했는지 등은 밝히지 않고 있다. 탄저균 양이 어느 정도인지, 얼마나 자주 탄저균을 들여오는지 등의 의문에도 답하지 않았다.

The same article says that North Korea is meant to possess up to 5000 tons of Anthrax, and only 100kg of it in a large metropolitan city would kill 1 million to 300 million people.

This Kyunghyang article reports that the Korean defense ministry is trying to develop their own vaccine by 2016. They have been asking the US to buy the vaccination for the last 10 years or so, but the US have turned them down due to lack of previous such cases (exporting anthrax vaccine) and lack of stock. Korean government does however, possesses some amount of antidote (Cipro, developed by Bayer), but this amount is nowhere near enough for the number of Korean troops. Kyunhyang also adds that the US have been vaccinating its own troops based in South Korea, since June 2002. (they started in September 1998, but stopped for a while)

Here is the link to CNN report in English on focusing on just the event.

A question of love

This MBC report(in Korean) highlights the problem of the increasing number of failed marriages in the case of Korean farmers marrying women from abroad, mainly South East Asian countries (Vietnam, Philippines etc)

It is said last year 43 percent of such marriages ended up in divorce, and including non-divorce cases where the women simply left home, it could be as high as 60 percent.
Previously the news had highlighted the plight from the women’s point of view, sometimes citing violence from the husbands as a reason for the women to leave home in the first place, but it is interesting to see this report shows the other side of the fence, portraying the women themselves as only getting married in order to obtain the (Korean) nationality, and then leaving the farm/country life to go work in the city (often in Karaoke bars frequented by workers from other South East Asian countries).

I have probably said it before, and I will say it again.
I have little sympathy for either party.

I don’t even know why people would go on internet dating sites, let alone inter-country marriages arranged by brokers.
Am I old-fashioned?

Often people would say that is easy if you are a girl, or if you are eligible, but I don’t think this is the case necessarily. I find it strange that it is not easy to fall in love with somebody around you, if you are looking, with somebody around you or at school or at workplace. In the depths of Korean farmland, it might indeed be the case, but then to have to go abroad to bring wives?
In the case of women friends that I have around the globe, “who are fast approaching or missed their golden window of opportunity in terms of age” according to themselves, I find they are/were simply too picky..

This reminds me to look up and link to another recent article from Chosun that I have been informed from my mother that my parents had a fight over this morning. It says that men are more vulnerable to their “first love” apparently, and says that it was mostly men who were susceptible to a voice phishing scam which involved “I am your first-love in primary school” whereas most women find out by the age of 40 that all men are pretty much the same. So what did my parents fight about? My father told my mother about the article and asked how it was in her case. Her answer was “I found out much earlier than that (that all men are pretty much the same)”, with which my father got all huffed up and stormed off the hill by himself.
Cute, my parents.

Language Buffs (and others) might find this interesting

I came across this very interesting article/podcast that I would like to share with TMH readers. The podcast is actually much more interesting and goes into much more detail, leaving the theme of the North/South Korean dictionary smartphone app to go into how Korean just changes for everybody when it interviews a KA woman who has never actually lived in Korea but learned it from her mother who left in the 1970’s.

The only thing I wanted to point out listening to that interview is that it is probably *not* because of the fact that the waitress didn’t know what she meant when she said the word 다꾸앙 that she rolled her eyes, it is more likely that she knew but also know that this is one of those words that the Korean government at some point actively discouraged Koreans from using due to the Japanese origin. This is actually the one word that I think Koreans (South Korea) are stupid and go over the top with their nationalistic tendencies..just like the North Koreans they are actually accusing of..I mean the yellow pickled radish is so clearly Japanese in origin, and it is supposedly named after a Buddhist monk of the same name..to actively make up a new word called 단무지, just to replace something that has been in use.

This and another word I had an argument with a very stubborn Korean woman (who herself had lived in the US) and that other word was 건배 (cheers) In her very unsightly Pusan accent(boy, she is loud) with spittle flying out of her mouth, she objected in front of all the foreign people who asked me how to say “cheers” in Korean, and when I said “건배” she was like “No, it’s 위하여! 건배 is Chinese or Japanese! Koreans say 위하여!” – so I had to quickly explain this background of how the Korean authorities every so often, getting the urge to arbitrarily purge the influence of a perfectly good language and overhaul a perfectly good system (included is the new Romanization). The laugh was on her when the Kyosu (professor) in charge of the conference stood up from the other end of the table (he had not heard the conversation on this end) and toasted “건배!” – she went red in the face and said “he’s from the old generation”..The funny thing is, it is not just the old generation, even now most young people in Korea will say 건배, so it is actually she is just stuck in some weird time slip limbo by herself..위하여 is just going to to go into history into the room 101 of arbitrary bad ideas..

Times like these, it easy to see why the Japanese use the katakana system for words of foreign origin. Talk about hang-ups carrying over to the area of language, talk about nationalism lacking in self-confidence.

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
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

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: http://m.zum.com/news/economy/6797828)

Roombarella Rebellion

The Judgment Day
Image taken from Chosun.com
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 Chosun.com)

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 morethings.com.

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