The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: yuna (page 2 of 12)

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.

P.S.
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.

P.P.S.
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.”

from http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/korean_peninsula/AJ201404250107

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..
Update
From http://media.daum.net/society/others/newsview?newsid=20140402111306534
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.

Uncle Sugar set to play schoolyard monitor at a side-meeting at the Hague

to quote from a comment by the commenter Wedge , Obama has persuaded president Park to hold a three way summit during the tea breaks of the Nuclear Security Summit in the city of the Hague next week.

Here is the BBC article in English and here is the link to a Segye Ilbo news article (in Korean) after the announcement was made. Interestingly, the Segye Ilbo’s take on the fact that the official announcement came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not directly from the Blue House, could be due to Park trying to “downplay” the event. It’s understandable, if I had been on the world news media saying “I won’t I won’t I won’t (meet him) ” I would feel a little peevish at saying “aw alright then I will.”

Park’s meant to have softened up a bit within the last few days since Abe’s announced not to revise the Kono statement. He’s a funny one as well – “I might I might I might (revise it)”- “oh alright then I won’t.”

That’s why we still need Uncle Sugar.

Interestingly, when I did a quick news search in English at the start of writing this post, the top news link hits were the Chinese sources. They are obviously very interested to snoop at what’s being said at this water cooler gathering behind their backs.
North Korea, *should be* too as it probably concerns them as well, but the way they fit in the picture in my head is still the big fat slow-witted kid playing by himself in the corner, killing ants with a stick.. oblivious to all of this..

Lately, Japan has been seen talking to this fat slow kid more so than usual. The primary topic they want to bring up is the Japanese abductees as usual, but I think it might just be because they were getting the silent treatment from the fat kid’s sister, that they “might as well talk with the dim brother, see if they get anywhere”.
The very strange relationship between Japan and North Korea, Continue reading

First case of AI(H5N8) transmission from bird to mammal and the space of less than one A4 paper

I have been refraining from writing about the big news that’s been hitting the Korean headlines for more than a month because readers here probably know by now that I have strong feelings when it comes to animal welfare in general, and might suffer some sort of fatigue if this piece of news were to come from me. On top of which, nothing depresses me more and makes me regard Korea with complete loss of hope in humanity as the way it treats animals.

A few days ago, South Korean press reported that they found the first bird-mammal cross infection case of Avian Influenza in which a dog was found to possess the antibody of AI (type H5N8). The dog is meant to have got it through eating an infected bird.
This has been building up for the last 2 months..

Following a case of migratory birds death in Kochang in the Jolla province in January which was found to be from AI(H518), South Korea has culled more than 10 million poultry birds (mainly chickens, and some ducks) for the last 2 months.

There has been much discussion on TV as to whether the intense battery farming method has not contributed to the exacerbation of the problem , if not, provided the very reason for it, which the government has tried to attribute solely to migratory birds (가창오리, in this case) and here(at 9:30 mark) it is even suggested that it might have originated from Korean 감금류 caged poultry to the migratory birds.
Much more plausible reason could be the backward way in which poultry birds are farmed in Korea.
From the article above:

세계 각국을 들여다봐도 대한민국은 유일하게 조류인플루엔자 발생 빈도가 높다. 이 중 도농복합도시인 충남은 이 중에서도 ‘위험 지역’으로 분류된다. 세계동물보건기구(OIE)가 집계한 자료에 따르면 2003~2013년 우리나라에서 모두 112개 농가에서 조류인플루엔자(AI)가 발생했다. 이는 세계 11위에 랭크된 수치다.

문제는 AI 발생 상위권이 모두 베트남, 태국, 인도네시아, 미얀마 등 후진국이나 개발도상국이라는 점이다. 선진국에서의 AI는 ‘딴 세상 이야기’다. 당장 주변국인 중국과 일본을 비교하더라도 우리나라는 4~80건가량 더 발생하고 있다.

왜 우리나라가 선진국보다 AI·구제역에 취약한 것일까? 전문가들은 철새의 원인도 전혀 부정할 수 없지만, 공장식 찍어 누르는 사육 시스템을 지적하고 있다.
A4 용지만 한 철창에서 먹이만 먹는 사육장 환경이 첫 번째 원인이라는 얘기다.
날개 한번 제대로 펴지 못하는 닭·오리는 당연히 질병에 취약할 수밖에 없다는 게 전문가들의 분석이다.
실제 공주시 인성실업 농장에서의 AI는 남의 일이다. 2012년 동물복지 축산농장으로 지정된 이후 단 한 차례도 이렇다 할 전염병에 걸린 기억이 없다.
농장 한 관계자는 “친환경적으로 닭을 사육하면 면역력이 강해질뿐더러 가금류의 육질도 좋아진다”며 “우리나라 동물복지에 대한 인식은 매우 낮은 수준”이라고 말했다.

South Korea comes in at the top 11th position in the frequency of recorded AI cases in the world. They are the only “developed” nation to come in at such high position, AI is very rare in developed nations, even comparing to China or Japan, Korea is recording 4~80 more cases.
The horrendous environment in which Korean farmers can raise their battery poultry is to blame, as these birds stuck in a cage, with a space of less than A4 paper per bird their whole lives) have detrimental effect on their immune system and health.
It goes on to present a case, in one farm in Kongju city, that after becoming certified as a animal welfare farm, they have not had a single case of infectious diseases.

Here is another good summary of the case in Korean.

The next “thing” is just around the corner. With all their crazy fads and catchphrases of “well-beings” and “organic” and “natural” this and that, it *should be* only a matter of time before the mothers with their princess daughters and money start spending it on ethical food, but this seems to take more time. Maybe because the term “mothers of princess daughters” itself implies teacup-pooch-in-a-handbag, brain-dead fur-wearing fad-without-substance thinkers themselves.

I am also aware that the evil practice from factory farming is rampant elsewhere, including the US too. However, I am worried that the traditionally (plant)agricultural society like Korea (less animal farming and less hunting, plant-based diet than dairy,meat-dominant diet of the West) without a natural evolution of an animal farming practice will cotton on and be stuck in the worst time-limbo by adapting the worst kind of modernization possible (like the 60’s 70’s apartment block based architecture that predominates the modern Korean architecture)

Racist Japanese football (soccer) fans

Japanese football fans of the team Urawa Reds got their team in trouble by showing a banner of “Japanese Only” at a game against the Sagan Tosu. The Japanese League has ordered the Urawa Red Diamonds to play a home game without any fans present for the next home game.
For me it’s blatantly obvious what the fans meant by the banner, especially if you just glance at the wiki entry of Sagan Tosu – the team they were playing against, but apparently not to Debito Arutou, who’s written a whole article and a online check-box thingumajig to find out what people think the banner intended. I’m surprised he mentions China (like, come on Japan is not China, so should behave better) but not South Korea.

Bringing Tokdo, Comfort Woman etc to the sports arena is distasteful enough but I would say it rests precariously on the “political” side of the fence.. However players making monkey faces (yes, I’m talking about Ki) at fans’ Rising Sun Flag and banners like these are clearly going towards the more ugly end of the spectrum. In fact, I would say they are just ugly juvenile miming of the European league hooliganism, which has so far managed to evade the Asian football leagues, but perhaps no longer.

Spring is here, and so is love…

Spring has arrived and it’s fitting to find out that there is love in the air, namely, the retired Queen of ice Kim Yuna 김연아 is publicly dating.

김연아 김원중 (source chosun.com 연예 section)


Apparently, the Korean internet gossip /paparazzi media Dispatch brought the photos of the two out a few days ago, swiftly followed by “threat with legal action” by her agency, and admission of the relationship, which has been going on for 2-3 years now (depending on the source)..
So who is the Queen’s bf? His name is Wonjoong Kim 김원중, and he is a 30 year old ice-hockey player for the national team. They met at 태능선수촌 Taenung Training centre, where they had to share the ice rink for training. Wonjoong Kim is also a graduate of 고려대 (Korea University) so they have a common alma-mater. Apparently, the two mostly had samkyupsal dates (in preparation for games) around the training centre along with other friends to avoid suspicion.
Dispatch has distanced themselves from another unpopular source of gossip, 기영노 Ki Youngno, a sports critic who said at an interview that the couple was already a known thing within the figure skating circle for going on 4 years, and then hinted at even a bigger story (yet to be disclosed) – “더 큰 일도 있다”.. LOL. It must be that Kim Yuna actually has donkey ears.. Dispatch has said of Ki, “기영노라는 스포츠평론가도 입을 놀렸다” - the expression here 입을 놀리다 – “to blab”.

It’s good to see the Queen having a rest, and doing the love-thing..

How to grow STAP Cells and a national scandal involving stem cells

There were many congratulations and hullabaloo last month as a paper on producing STAP cells got accepted in the Nature magazine. STAP is short for “Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency”, and in layman’s terms, these refer to cells which can be “stressed” into becoming a basic block cells (stem cells) to become other kinds of cells, the so-called “pluripotent cells”.
The main author from RIKEN (a Japanese government research institute in KOBE), Haruko Obokata, 30, became an instant celebrity not least for her age and pretty looks amid a muttering of first Japanese female “Nobel-prize” here and there..

However, a little over a month after the publication, there is concern about the legitimacy of the paper, the latest call for retraction by one of the Japanese co-authors of the paper itself. The main concern has been some image duplication/misuse and the lack of replication of result so far despite attempts by the outside institutes, despite the authors following up with a ‘how to’ manual – which reads like ‘a how to make a perfect sponge cake – with extra ふわふわの感じ..’

There has been some interest in this in the South Korean press, as South Korea knows all too well about stem cell related national disgrace. I think it’s early days for dismissing the result altogether. The co-author who asked for the withdrawal himself still believes in the main result, but if you read that one lone comment on the Nature blog, it’s “Sounds Familiar?” time again. And this article paints a rather glum outlook.

So now is the time to comment and to predict, and to refer back to it and say “I told you so!”(similar things happened with a few physics sensationalist results recently, where there was a period of time where speculators were commenting on the blogs/FB before some further investigations reached a conclusion..i.e. it’s “bets are on time!” – pure punting, without knowing the full detail..)

Personally what’s more interesting for me, Continue reading

New Zealand MP says too many Asians at Kiwi universities

The Korean press is reporting on statements made by a Kiwi MP (Labour) Shane Jones in a speech given during his visit to Auckland University, the nation’s largest and most well-known university.
Here is the report by the New Zealand Herald.

“They (universities) tell us they don’t have enough dough so, disproportionately, they are racing into the crescent from India through to China and bringing in more and more international students. I don’t want to have a situation where there is no room for Kiwis at the intellectual inn.”

The New Zealand Herald has the following numbers :

Almost a third (1,576) are from China, with significant numbers also from Malaysia (591), the United States (529) and Korea (456).

I completely agree with him. Already the academic level of such a rural backwater of a country has been suffering, as is seen by the brain drain of its own brightest and the best. Unlike those who worry about the short-term economic aspect, I don’t think that the whole country turning into a English language school for Asians who cannot afford Europe or the US is the solution to its problems, especially at the cost of drop in the overall standards.
The more fundamental problem that needs to be considered is that countries like N.Z., Canada and even Australia – those countries which have relied on immigration-prone policies until quite recently – need to think carefully about the kind of people landscape they want for themselves. If they just want the money but not the people, then it may be far better to stick to things like niche-tourism than pimping(promoting) further education.

Sounds familiar?

Adam Wilk, Pittsburgh’s new pitcher and the former baseball player for NC Dinos has been in the Korean press for mentioning how terrible his sojourn in Korea has been for the 1 year contract period, now that he is back in the US.
NC Dinos is the new baseball team founded in 2011 with money from the online games company NCSOFT, to fill in one of the several regional/geo-cultural voids in Korea – the Masan/Jinhae/Changwon area. According to the USA Today it is also:

an expansion team in about as remote an outpost as you can find in the Korean Baseball League…in Changwon in extreme southeastern South Korea, about as far as you can get from Seoul.

According to the Sports Daum link, he has already recently dissed Korea in an online article (dated 28-02-2014) of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Triblive :

This spring, Wilk is in camp with the Pirates on a minor league contract. But the left-hander said his time in Korea did nothing to boost his career.
“It was an experience, to say the least,” “For me, it wasn’t a good experience. A lot of (the team’s) promises were very deceitful, an attempt to get us to sign.”
“It was nerve-racking,” Wilk said. “I had a ‘to-go bag’ ready to go in case I needed to ditch the country and escape on a boat to Japan. I tried my best not to think about it because I didn’t want to be worried.”
Wilk said team officials told the Americans they would live in upscale apartments in the Jungang-Dong district, which has plenty of shops and restaurants that cater to foreigners. Instead, Wilk said he was housed in an area several miles away.
“No parks, no restaurants, no anything,” Wilk said. “There was nothing to do. We found out later that the apartments in (Jungang-Dong) were significantly more expensive and the team wanted to cut costs.

He then slagged off the cheering culture (and softball?) in the USA Today Sports article:

“(The players) cheer like it’s college,” Wilks says. They cheer every strike, every ball. It’s just softball style rah-rah. They didn’t like that we didn’t cheer like that. Well, we cheer when good things happen. We don’t cheer when our guy strikes and loses the game with the bases loaded looking at a fastball. But they kind of do, so it gets a bit overwhelming at times. You just adjust to and deal with it.

Misuda women, academics, and sportsmen, and virtually all the English teachers..

I am curious as to why the Korean press seems to be obsessed with semi-celebrity former foreign residents of Korea going back to their home country and badmouthing Korea. Is it masochism of some sort? It doesn’t seem healthy to me, kind of related to why Korea is not a popular destination in the first place.

The level of East Asian politics – unwelcome love calls & my enemy’s enemy is not my friend

Firstly, let me re-iterate that there is something that I am absolutely 150 percent fine with, and that is the name of 동해 East Sea, expressed by everybody as Sea of Japan. In fact, I have always maintained that this naming is one of the issues which detracts from the more serious issues of contention by Korea in the East Asian politics.
Having said that, there is something so low about the way Chinese are blatantly trying to enlist Korean government’s support in its anti-Japan stance, that it makes my flesh creep. Recently, I’ve seen interviews of Chinese politicians talking about Japan, with no Korean presence, saying “Korea is also agreeing with us in how Japan should do XXX” or “Korean president also blah blah”.
Now, quoting a Chinese professor, the Chinese government has let it slip that if requested formally by the Korean government, it can consider co-labeling East Sea on its map on the government website (at the moment it’s only labeled as 日本海)..Isn’t it a joke? I think I have seen more highbrow political maneuvering at a kindergarten playground when you swap toshirak side-dishes 반찬. Understandably, the Korean comments which follow are 95 percent against it, ranging from mild skepticism to “return Koguryo’s history and Kando first, and free Tibet! and “Stop with the mirco-dust”

Usually I don’t really like what comes out of the mouths of those hired by Park Kunhye but a few days ago, I read this from the Blue House spokesman, Cho Taeyoung with regards to relations with Japan, and I thought he was quite coherent and succinct.
Cho says that “the Japanese government keeps on choosing to do all the things Korean government has requested specifically not to do yet keeps going on about the worsening relationship.”
Asked about the possibility about collaborating with China on the history problem, Cho’s said

그는 또 일제의 난징(南京)대학살 만행을 국제사회에 다시 고발한 중국과의 ‘과거사 문제’ 공조 문제에 대한 질문에 “협조할 필요가 없다”면서 “굳이 만나서 협의하고 협조할 필요가 없을 정도로 상황이 돼 있다”고 답했다.
There is no need for any collaboration (with China). The situation is already so that there is no need to meet (with China) and collaborate and aid each other on this…

How hard it is to stay in the middle..is it shrimp season?

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