The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: yuna (page 2 of 12)

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.

두산 Bears Jorge Cantu in the Korean news for a “racist” tweet

Jorge Cantu who plays for the Korean baseball team 두산 Bears is hitting the Korean headlines because he tweeted a racist joke/photo. Apparently, he’d only re-tweeted the thing which was tweeted by one of his co-tweeters or followers (or whatever, I don’t know how it works in Tweetersphere, I don’t tweet)
Anyway, this link will send you to an article which you can scroll down for an image capture of the tweet in question before he erased it, and also further down there is a translated-into-Korean version from the original Spanish.
I don’t speak Spanish, so a rough translation from the Korean version goes something like:

Answer the next 5 questions:
1. Which student is asleep?
2. Try to find the male twins.
3. Try to find the female twins.
4. How many of them are girls?
5. Which one is the teacher?

Anyway, I burst out laughing, I found the faces so funny and cute, and the questions/joke so very Spanish (or Spanish-speaking if that makes any sense). Don’t know why but it just reminded me of the last time when Ronaldo pulled a chinky eye when he arrived in Korea. (OK, I know they speak Portuguese in Brazil) I find these characterizations not very offensive, but funny. Also kind of like how Koreans themselves would characterize other races.. kind of imbecile at worst.
Is it just me?

배두나 seen with Jim Sturgess at Cannes

So in the second installment of “will they won’t they” (first one here), 배두나 and Jim Sturgess as an item are a hot issue, as they seem to be more official in their ‘coupledom’ when they attended the Cannes screening of 두나’s latest film “도희야~(English Title: A girl at my door Trailer here )” which was invited to the festival under the category “Un Certain Regard”.

배두나 and Jim Sturgess first met when they filmed the “Cloud Atlas” together.

I know that 배두나 has her anti-fan(s) on this website, but still, as a Korean actress, she is stylish and natural, and seems to be not as brainless as the others. And though I don’t quite know if I dig her acting yet (I did not like her in Cloud Atlas although I liked her in 봉준호’s 괴물), I am happy about this couple because I think it’s refreshing and different from what we have seen – the other international celebrity couples involving a Korean woman being “Woody Allen and Soon Yi” or “Nicholas Cage and Alice Kim” sort..Other famous Asian women we have, Zhang Ziyi with a Israeli/American billionaire Vivi Nevo (although these two are no more) or Rupert Murdoch and Wendy Deng, Hugh Grant and the Chinese woman who is the mother of his two children, Madama Butterfly and Pinkerton etc…

They seem to be on a similar footing (if anything 배두나 more famous and established than he is) and down-to-earth and credible as a couple than many of these so called “unhealthy stereotypes”.

Here is the photo of the child star (the role of 도희) 김새론 in the film 도희야, yet another dark Korean film highlighting the ills of the society. I am well aware that reality is not in technicolor, but it always pains me to see such a stark contrast in these dark Korean films compared to the rainbow colours of the censored Korean TV dramas and entertainment. The Korea I know, lies somewhere in the middle. I would like to see this middle reflected more on both TV and cinema.

Door of a portable toilet

The Defense Ministry has been under attack from the 새정치민주연합 for giving a briefing/press release of “a climber discovering an object suspected to be part of a crashed drone” before actually verifying it. It turns out it was a door of a portable toilet, otherwise known as a portaloo.
This report has some photos of the famous object.

The opposition likened it to a second 보온병/마호병 (thermos) incident, so I had to look it up , and just got the best laugh of my life. For those who don’t like clicking links, it’s a TV clip of the Hannara (former Saenuri) politician 안상수 and some army expert picking up some different sized thermo-flasks in the debris of the Yunpyung attacks, and exchanging some very serious opinions on it, identifying them as bomb shells. But I advise you to watch it for the funny value.

유병언, 유대균 of Sewol Ferry group, about to be made into “public enemy no.1”

The founder/owner of the Sewol ferry group, 유병언 and his eldest son, 유대균 as well as his close family members are wanted by the police and the prosecutors. These two are known to be hiding somewhere in Korea, and the police have placed a watch to prevent them from secretly leaving the country, and asked for 유병언 to present himself to the police by 16th (tomorrow) otherwise, be turned into the public enemy no.1. There is already a reward/promotion prospect for the police who can capture his son. One place either one of them could be hiding out is suspected to be 금수원 a kind of headquarter for these 구원파 (official name 기독교복음침례회) cult/religious sect.

There is currently a stand-off between these religious followers outside the 금수원 – they are decrying “religious persecution (!?!?)” and 유대균 has apparently told somebody “Our family has already an experience of a flat out *war*”, probably referring to an incident in 1987 where his father, as a member of a cult 오대양, was sent to jail after mass-suicides of the cult followers.

His other close relatives 김혜경 and 김필배 who used ESTA (electronic visa for visa waiver countries) to leave for the US on the 20th of last month, a few days after the Sewol ferry went down, might become classified as illegal stayers, as the Korean police wanting them can revoke their ESTA visa.

Finally, 유병언’s connection to high society and the powerful was highlighted in a recent JTBC news clip where he is acknowledging many important society people who came to his photo-book launch party. The guests he singles out include the US ambassador to S.Korea Sung Kim, and also the Israeli ambassador.

There is a saying in Korea 개독교 – a derogatory way of referring 기독교.

My grandfather was probably one of these people who referred to the Korean *evangelical Christianity* as 개독교.
I have little connection/experience to even begin to clearly distinguish what is a *cult* from a *branch of a Korean Evangelical church, but based on what I know, one of the biggest ills of the Korean society which has come to light in this disaster is the power and the community that belongs to these evangelical Christian bodies/sects, just another shell covering the typical Korean structural hierarchy. And I have definitely seen them thrive outside of Korea as well. I remember my mother once pointed out in awe/disgust that in the local Korean phone book she found there were more than 50 churches(or something like that) just starting with “Korean Washington..”

Science, it’s a girl thing!

Disclaimer (added 11 comments later, 5 of them mine):

Please skip this post if you are not into any of the following:

1. makeup
2.*failed attempts* of women in science/innovation,
3. tactile sensory tech application trying to creep into everyday use.
4. clicking links to watch some funny clips to find out the gist of the post
5. reading a post that doesn’t go anywhere because it’s not got a ticket.

Thank you.

I remember I was laughing at this EU campaign a while back.

But then I’ve seen this woman Grace Choi, the founder/CEO of MINK pop up everywhere.

The idea behind MINK is that with the minimum of raw material, the printer can basically get colour off your screen and match it to produce a makeup with that colour. Of course, I can immediately think of “what about the way colour blends/changes on the skin depending on the ingredient” etc but then again I am pretty certain that the cosmetics companies, even the high-end ones, do not have some magic luxury colour ingredients either. (unlike Vermeer with his paint preparation). Also it always amuses me that Asian American or African-American women say how hard it was they could find the right colour for them, especially in cosmetics. It’s such an Oprah moment.

Do you think it will fly off the shelf for 300 dollars?

Yes, and I guess I am directing it at the fathers of girls between 13 and 21 amongst the TMH readership, otherwise I might as well be waiting for the echo to bounce off the wall.

Finally, let me end with “Women Know your Limits!” the video I always link after linking the first video, because they go in pairs.

This product reminds me of another iphone/smartphone app I’ve seen advertised called Scentee from Japan. LOL at the CEO explaining the gunpowder smell, especially after trying to sell the romantic angle about a couple. Also, eating while salivating over the smell of something is a very famous Korean children’s story – a famous miser called 자린고비, who used to hang a smelly 굴비(fish) while making his family just eat rice.

Here are some other articles:
Daily Mail
The Time
Like I say, I cannot believe the buzz that this idea is getting. Maybe it’s not so silly sounding and so preposterous, and the skeptics are the ones left with empty cheques.

손석희’s interview with 정몽준 on JTBC

정몽준, Saenuri’s candidate for the position of Seoul City Mayor has been on the news after he was interviewed by 손석희 on JTBC.

He has been in the news following the Sewol disaster due to his son’s statement only a few days after the tragedy that “the President is having a hard time due to 미개한 국민성 (uncivilized/primitive national character of the people)”.
He has also been in the news due to his wife being charged for campaigning for himself (somebody in a current political position) a violation of election law according to the election committee.

Here he is being interviewed, and answering questions on this issue, as well as some other issues. 손석희 says he would not question him on his son’s statements, and 정몽준 says “well saying you won’t is the same as (being questioned)”

On the charge against his wife, he says that things are not so clear cut – the rules of election, and also says that the way the media is treating it, it’s as if “his wife has distributed money-filled envelopes”. He then goes on to add “she asked people to vote for “the candidate that would win” and did not specifically mention his name.”

He also calls 손석희 “우리 손사장님” in a sarcastic manner during the interview when he is in a pinch.

What comes across very strongly is his character as well as the level of intelligence during the interview.

What Obama did do

As I started writing this post, aware of the possibility of developments which could add to it, there is breaking news that North Korea released a statement that they are holding an American tourist named Miller Matthew Todd (24).
There is speculation that this was planned as he was seized two weeks ago, and they timed the release of information to coincide with Obama’s visit. It is some new low even for North Korea.
I will add more on this as things develop.

Here is a link to the comprehensive summary (Yahoo English article) of Obama’s visit and some of the scheduled events he will attend (with emphasis on his US military related visits) during his time in Korea, which is overshadowed by the Sewol disaster.:

The president will also reiterate his plea for Asian nations to avoid escalating multiple territorial disputes with China. Seoul’s key concern is over an area in the East China Sea that is effectively controlled by South Korea but falls within a controversial air defense zone China established last year.

I like how the article just raised South Korea’s territorial issue with China at the end.

So what has he done that has been reported in the Korean press so far?

1. In relation to the Sewol disaster:
* He held a 30 seconds of silence before the summit with Park. He also presented her with the Stars and Stripes which was flying at the White House on the day Sewol went down.
* He promised to present the school in Ansan where the students on the Sewol were from with a Magnolia tree from the White House. This seems like such a thoughtful gesture, that we would want to give a big gold star to the person who came up with the idea. However, it’s not the first time that Obama has played this repertoire, as I found out while looking for articles on Google.

2. Obama brought with him 9 Emperor’s seals made and used during the period of “대한제국 Korean Empire”, which were illegally taken by an American soldier during the 6.25 War. The difference between 국새 and 어보 is explained in the report, which I hadn’t been aware of.
Obama said:

this is a symbol of respect that we have for Korean culture and the country.

Kind of makes you wonder though, how much stolen stuff stashed away there must be internationally, and every time some head of state visits another nation, he could ask his secretary “How much stash have we got from country XYZ that I can take with me this time?”

3. Defence
* This is the key issue, Obama mentioned yet another possible 전작권 연기 (postponement of transfer of the Wartime Operational Control, OPCON, to Korea) which was set to be in Dec 2015.
Originally the transfer of OPCON was decided during RMH times(2007), set to be in 2012, however, LMB government had postponed it to 2015.

4. Economy
There were some discussions with regards to firming up the FTA between Korea and USA (the US has complained about Korea’s applying the 원산지 breaks on products from the US – i.e. the country of origin of the ingredients), and also Korea’s possibility of joining the TPP. Interest from the Korean side was welcomed by the US.

5. Comfort Women

Obama calls Japan’s use of Comfort Women a “terrible, egregious violations of human rights”

“Those women were violated in ways that even in the midst of war was shocking,” “They deserve to be heard, they deserve to be respected.”


This is a post in progress, I might tidy it up, and possibly add more if anything else comes up before his departure.

What Obama should do

So Obama apparently enjoyed a cosy Sushi dinner at a Ginza joint with probably less than 10 people present, including Caroline Kennedy the US Ambassador to Japan, and Abe Shinzo. They probably sat and ate at one of those typical shoulder-to-shoulder counters at one of those posh sushi joints smaller than a shoe display case attached to one of those walk-in closets in most American houses.

Abe chose the menu apparently, hearing that Obama was a sushi fan. I wonder if Abe pulled one of those stunts – “Guess what you’ve just had, Madame Ambassador! Delicious, wasn’t it? Mwahahaha!” Probably not.

Obama is coming straight from Japan to Korea in a couple of days.

Ahead of his trip to Asia, the Whitehouse released Obama’s answers to his “interview with Yomiuri Shimbun”.

The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

I think Obama’s last attempt at getting Abe and Park to hold hands and be nice to each other went rather dismally at the Hague. As we know, Abe tried to break the ice with his attempt at Korean, but was met with a rather stony expression from Park.

Abe was recently asked at a Japanese Yomiuri TV show, “Were you surprised at being dismissed/ignored by Park?” to which he graciously replied “I heard her condition was not so good on that day. Maybe there was some problem with my Korean accent, although my wife had told me it was good.”

Park, on the other hand, has apparently been on the phone with China’s Xi namely to ask China to do everything to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests, as North Korea is clacking its pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard filled with supplies of “the enriched variety” , ahead of Obama visit to make him feel welcome. However, I see Park’s phone call more like phoning a current boyfriend to placate him ahead of an ex’s visit, to ensure nothing will happen. I notice she is so transparent and likes to do that – she also had a chummy meeting with Xi just before the last 3 way meeting between Japan US and S.Korea at the Hague.

So what should Obama do, as that is my title?

He should apply exactly the same principle w.r.t what he told Yomiuri Shimbun to his East Asian allies as well.

If his standard is based on “which country administers” then surely there is your answer.
Obama’s clear stance on the Senkaku islands has probably made Abe chuffed to bits, and if he really wants Japan and Korea together, Obama can and should tell Abe to lump it because “it is equally clear to the US that 독도 is administered by Korea.” If Abe can lump that, I think there will be some ray of hope between the Japan and the Korea relations.

However, “as if that would happen.” I invite comments on why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Maybe Obama will want to have a question from the Korean press. Anyone? Anybody? From the Korean press? Anybody?

Thursday Roundup

1. Party Nominations

Ahn Chulsu 안철수 of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) has bowed to the pressure of the party politics and opinions by following the result reflected in the public poll carried out yesterday with regards to party nominations for basic elections. The overall result was 56.44% to 46.56% for the status quo (to keep the party nominations) – a breakdown of 49.75% to 50.25% for the public opinion but a result of 57.14%:42.86% for opinions of his own party-members.

He had been stuck-in-the-middle between the President Park/Saenuri and Roh-supporters within his own newly founded political camp – who went back on their promise of getting rid of the party political nominations. Here is a link to a good background article in English. He even went for a surprise-visit to the Blue House to ask for a meeting with Park who’d been giving him the silent treatment (the woman’s really good at not seeing people she doesn’t want to see) on this issue. Incidentally, the president was out at that time, “meeting with the soap star Lee Minho 이민호 to discuss Korean contents promotion abroad (uh, why????!!!!)

When I talk with some older Korean men about Ahn, the overall reason for a negative opinion on him has been of the following kind : “He has no political experience.” or “How is he any different from what exists already?”

There is a Korean saying 요령이 없다, to not possess a know-how. The word 요령 is one of those words that sits precariously on the fence of positive/negative connotation depending on the verb which follows it and the circumstance involved.

For example, To possess 요령, 요령이 있다 can roughly be translated into “to do something with ease and possess a know-how”, often perceived as taking a short-cut. To lack 요령, 요령이 없다 on the other hand, is to stick to principles and be too diligent and a bit obtuse to the point of being a bit 답답하다.

요령을 부리다/피우다, (as in 꾀를 피우다, 잔머리 굴리다) is to go one step further towards the negative connotation, i.e. to apply the know-how to do something in a sly way.

Judging by what he has done so far, I think when Ahn is accused of “not having the political experience” it is simply that his character is that of somebody who is surprisingly 요령이 없는 사람. Surprising, for an entrepreneur type, that is. Seems like it’s both his good point and contributing to his downfall. Still, so far, I think it is refreshing to see this in Korean politics where, let alone 요령, an advanced level skill of principle-bending seems to be a necessary admittance-pass one must possess.

2. Child-Abuse and welfare blind spots
The government is set to address the issue of child-abuse and welfare blind spots – two social issues which have seen an increasing number of sad incidents recently including:

– Two separate horrific abuse/beating to death of the stepdaughters in Taegu, and Ulsan – which will both get the court ruling tomorrow (11 April 2014)

The case of neglect – Incheon 4 siblings in primary/middle school years found neglected in a flat which was “like a rubbish-tip”.

– The case of a Seoul-Songpa-ku mother and two grown-up daughters committing suicides related to poverty-issues covered here on this blog

3. Noisy Neighbours

This is a social topic that I have seen being discussed between friends and family in Korea recently..but it seems now the government has set some sort of guidelines as to what constitutes an acceptable noise level between neighbours (43dB consecutively for more than a minute(Leq)) & 52dB(maximum noise level (Lmax))during the day, 38dB(Leq) & 52dB((Lmax) during the night.

For those without a noise-barometer handy, roughly what corresponds to these noises?

43㏈은 체중 28㎏의 어린이가 1분간 계속해서 뛸 때 나는 정도의 소음이다. 38㏈은 30초간 뛸 때 나는 소음에 해당한다. 또 57㏈은 28㎏ 어린이가 50㎝ 높이에서 바닥으로 뛰어내렸을 때 생기는 소음이다. 따라서 이 기준은 아파트 거주자가 무심하게 걷거나 일상생활을 하는 데는 지장이 없을 수준이라고 국토부는 설명했다.

I guess the examples given indicates clearly what is the primary cause of the neighbour disputes in Korean apartment buildings. I blame the large 평수 area of the middle-to-large apartment buildings nowadays. When I was young, the average floor area of an apartment flat was not as large as what you see nowadays, certainly, very few families with young kids would be able to afford an apartment with a large enough space for them to “run around” in. 다다다다다다-

4. Trains

-Larva Trains
This made me laugh.

Park Wonsoon, the Seoul City mayor has replied “Egg of Columbus“- when he was accused by some of “using what was originally Oh Sehoon (his predecessor)’s idea” in implementing Tayo bus around Seoul, an idea that has proven to be so very successful, now they are in discussion of making the Seoul metro into Larva trains, after another hugely successful children’s animation character.

Really, what some people accuse other people of…

-Cheap Chinese Lines
There is a police investigation into whether the wires supplied for the construction of Honam line KTX (specifically 조사선, support/balance wires) were switched to cheap Chinese equivalent at the supply level after initially passing the test with higher quality domestic manufactured/constructed wires. 60 percent of the 745km long Chinese wires has already been put in place, which would mean depending on the ruling, the pulling-down and re-constructing will significantly affect the completion time and the budget.

When 존댓말 (honorifics) goes out of control..

You have no idea how much I just laughed, like a crazy woman, and felt like shouting, “FINALLY THEY HAVE NOTICED” watching this SBS report.

I had started to notice how people in shops in Korea seem to be putting 존댓말 to *everything* even if the subject is not the customer, but the merchandise itself. This has been driving me up the wall for quite a number of years.

It seems this rampant wrong honorific usage to denote all merchandise being discussed has resulted from having to deal with the odd ignorant customer(yes, usually the older lot) who has little idea about correct grammar usage themselves and shouts at the poor kids, and this has managed to turn the whole service industry into some sort of ruled-by-fear Third Reich of honorifics – the return of the well-known joke “아버님 대갈님에 파리님이 앉으셨습니다.” (the joke is that a newly married daughter-in-law was so scared and mindful that when she tried to say “There is a fly on the head of father-in-law” she made the mistake of putting honorifics for the fly as well as using a very derogatory word for the “head” (대가리) and putting a 님 at the end)

So here is the youtube link to the satirical video produced by the 한글문화연대, this should get shown on TV.(It’s a bit too long, they should cut some of the beginning..)

The big LOL sentence for me, was when the Coffee 알바 (short for 아르바이트, “Arbeit(work)” from the Japanese-German arubaito/baito which denotes part-time workers in Korea) in the video says,

그 사물 들에게 우리는 존경의 마음을 억누를 수 없습니다. 커피 나오셨습니다. 커피가 제 시급보다 더 비싸거든요.

roughly translated as:

“We cannot control the boundless respect we have for these things. “Here’s your coffee.” (this is the kind of sentence they are talking about, which to my ears, can only be translated into English as (with a little bit of exaggeration) “His Coffeeness has graced us with his presence.” Then she goes onto say “It’s because (a cup of) coffee is more expensive than my hourly wage.”

Roundup of some stuff in the Korean-Korean news

1.North Korea
is suspected of being behind the drone which crashed into Paju area, as well as another one in 백령도 only a week later.

is accused by the Blue House of using language that even “a low-life” wouldn’t use. What pissed them off is obviously the language they used to criticize Park , including “twisted spinster”, “frog-in-a-well” and her speech as “nonsense spewed like sewage” & “random stuff which she scraped together and presented under the grand pretext of suggestion for unification”.

I have a feeling that politicians in general suddenly develop the urge to become even more self-important than usual when they visit Berlin/Germany. They suddenly think that they have to make a charismatic speech, or leave a sound-bite into posterity..I would call it “AASS” (Affected Air Speech Syndrome). This AASS is obviously what afflicted Park as she was planning her trip to Germany. I suspected as much when they were talking about 드레스덴 선언 (Dresden Declaration) in the press before anything was declared..Park has said she admires and respects Merkel in the past. She should take a page out of the relevant section of Merkel’s book, not the bit on how to dress and the mushroom haircut. The reason that Merkel stays popular is that she is a relatively straight-talker, and rarely acts self-important.

2. Temperature rise and cherry blossom emergency
Last month was warmer than usual in Korea.

This has led to a panic of the organizers of the cherry blossom festivals up and down the country.. as there might not actually be any flowers left on the tree by the time it gets around to the scheduled dates.

3. Find out what your boss earns.
The directors of large companies in Korea are sitting tight and apprehensive of the public sentiment after their paycheck was revealed. You can now give them *that look* when you hand them a report – “I know what you took home for yourself last summer, you shameless b******”

4. Buses
The bus accident which everybody merrily went off hand in hand and contributed to great irrelevant lengths on – is more probably a mechanical failure , as asserted by experts and drivers alike. They are angry that the press initially tried make it the “sleepy driver’s fault”..the kind of error that arose is unlikely to have been from the driver’s mistake. We should wait for the result of a further investigation, but it is looking difficult as the crucial records seem to have been destroyed in the accident. It could very well be that the first crash might have arisen from the driver’s fault, but the second subsequent “1 minute of holding down the accelerator pedal” while trying to swerve is what is deemed unlikely to be the action of the driver with 20 years of experience. Some system on the bus was probably destroyed by this time, is the point put forward by the expert.
It was most likely nothing to do with a “suicidal rampage”.
One should know by now if one spent any time in Korea and went on the bus that the bus drivers tend to “let the pressure out” every 3 seconds by repeated switching of the foot from one pedal to the other pedal, and treating passengers like dirt, so no pressure would actually build up for such an action.

“Tayo bus” based on a Korean children’s animation and in operation for a month around Seoul -타요(370번)와 로기(2016번), 라니(2211번), 가니(9401번) – is proving to be such a popular hit among the tiny tots , that they are skipping kindergarten to go on them, and people from other cities are bringing their kids to go on it..
Some internet commenter suggested that all Korean police cars to be changed into 로보카 폴리 “Robocar Poli” and one funny guy says that as they need an event for adults as well, Seoul metro Line 2 could be made to look like 설국열차 (from the film, “Snowpiercer”)
Many are asking for the Tayo-event (it is temporary for a month, to mark the Public Transport Day) to be turned into a permanent thing.

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