The comically tragic case of Kim Ryeonhee

This article is very long, but it was somewhere between a hilarious and an interesting read. To summarize, 46-year-old Kim Ryeonhee, landed at Incheon airport on September 16, 2011. By her own account, she lived a middle-class lifestyle in Pyongyang as the wife of a doctor until she got sick and decided to seek treatment in China.

In China, she found that the treatment was too expensive to afford, so she decided to just work at a restaurant and take the money back to North Korea. While working there, she came across a broker who took North Korean defectors to South Korea and told her that she could make even more money in the South. By the time she realized that she couldn’t just spend a few months working in the South and then leave, it was already too late, the broker had her passport and wouldn’t let her leave. She says that she didn’t try to escape anyway because it would have endangered the other defectors.

So, she arrived in South Korea and immediately declared that she wanted to be sent back. The National Intelligence Service wouldn’t send her back, though, so she decided to go through the process of becoming a South Korean citizen and then just fly to China. However, having already requested deportation to the North, she was refused a passport. She then tried to get North Korea to help her, calling the North Korean consulate in Shenyang five times.

This, along with supposedly having given information about other defectors to a North Korean spy outside of a soccer game, led to Kim being charged with violating the South Korean National Security Act and being charged with a spy. She was convicted but given a suspended sentence, which is how she met with the Hankyoreh reporter who wrote this.

In effect, Kim stands as a South Korean citizen with a travel ban, not entirely uncommon if you consider travel bans on those who want to fight for ISIS, for example, or anyone else with ongoing legal proceedings, as is the case for Kim. On the other hand, Kim and her lawyers have pointed out that South Korea does send back North Korean fishermen who drift into South Korean waters, while North Korea does the same. At the same time, there is no process for sending back defectors to the North, which is why Kim remains where she is.

The top comment on the article incredulously asks “So you were living a middle-class lifestyle in Pyongyang, left it to get a part-time job here, got caught and now you can’t go back? And you expect us to believe that?”. Clearly, something about this doesn’t add up, because how can Kim declare, over and over, that not only is she a North Korean citizen with no desire to live in the South, but that Kim Il-sung “is like my parents, my body, my soul”? Why would someone like that willingly come to South Korea? Why would she worry, as she did, about the other defectors she met in China, who presumably did not share her affection for Kim Il-sung?

One thing that appears to be true, though, is that Kim was vocal about not wanting to come to the South when she found out, while in China, that she probably wouldn’t be able to slip out of South Korea as easily as she could slip out of China into North Korea. Another defector testifies to this.  It’s possible that Kim simply made a dumb mistake in agreeing to come South and couldn’t undo it. It’s also possible, likely even, that she didn’t have the foresight, once having agreed to come to South Korea, that she could have kept her mouth shut and obtained a passport to go to China, if going back to North Korea was her goal.

On the other hand, if her story happened exactly the way she says it did, going public in South Korea with her story and having her photo (and name, if that’s her real name) published in South Korean newspaper can’t be good for her. She says that when she explained her situation to the North Korean consulate in Shenyang, they responded by asking “how can someone who received the generosity of the Fatherland commit a sin like this?” Clearly, she won’t just get to go back to her home in Pyongyang, so she must have motivations other than patriotism for wanting to go back to the country she didn’t seem all that concerned about in 2011.

If Kim is a spy, she doesn’t seem like a very good one. The five calls she made to the North Korean consulate were used as evidence in her espionage case, with the prosecution arguing that she received instructions from North Korean intelligence officials, but it seems overly obvious for a spy to simply dial up the consulate. If she was a spy, she wouldn’t declare her loyalty to the North before even coming to the South, but it seems even less likely that she would have made, and would have been taken, thousands of kilometres from China’s Shandong province to Laos and then Thailand, where she boarded a plane to Incheon.

Whatever the truth is, it seems safe to say two things about it. First, it probably will never be known in this case, because Kim’s story is so utterly unbelievable, in the literal sense of the word. Second, whatever her past and whatever her motivations, it’s safe to say that things have horribly gone wrong for Kim. She may have been a spy at some point, or perhaps was a spy whose mission went awry, but she seems destined to live in this limbo for the foreseeable future. If what she is saying is the truth, she appears to be an incredibly naive woman who made some bad decisions with horrible, irreversible consequences.

June: Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month

dprk_propEric Talmadge of the Associated Press has posted an interesting article on June, in the DPRK, as being the “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month”, wherein the official history of the state’s struggle against America is remembered:

. . . it’s a time for North Koreans to swarm to war museums, mobilize for gatherings denouncing the evils of the United States and join in a general, nationwide whipping up of anti-American sentiment. . . the North Korean version of the war, including the claim that it was started by Washington, is radically at odds with that of the United States and often doesn’t even jibe well with documents released over the years by its wartime allies, China and the Soviet Union. . . At the Susan-ri Class Education Center, guide Choe Jong Suk, a somber middle-aged woman in a black-and-white traditional gown, gave a well-practiced lecture on the variety of tortures — 110 in all, she said — inflicted on Koreans by the U.S. that, she said, were “worse than the methods of Hitler.”

Which is far worse than the crimes comitted by the DPRK against its own citizens (Godwin’s Law here?).

You can read the full article here.

More Shizzilistic Science from the DPRK

DPRK_scienceThe Associated Press has reported that the DPRK has a cure and preventative for MERS, SARS, HIV/AIDS and likely the Ebola virus (cite).

. . . The official Korean Central News Agency said scientists developed Kumdang-2 from ginseng grown from fertilizer mixed with rare-earth elements. According to the pro-North Korea website Minjok Tongshin, the drug was originally produced in 1996.

I know this remarkable stroke of good fortune will be well recieved by the large community of AIDS-infected English teachers here in the ROK.

Kim Jong-Un – The Busiest Man in the DPRK

Busy? Yeah, I’m busy but not like Kim Jong-Un, who is so busy that he canceled his attendance in Moscow of the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end citing “internal Korean affairs” as being the cause.

What in Korea could be keeping him at home? It’s simple. He has been busy. . .

. . . The director general of North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra and three members of the troupe were stripped naked and shot dead with machine guns in a public execution in Pyongyang last month, a resident of the North Korean capital said, as South Korea’s intelligence agency issued a tally of 15 executions ordered by leader Kim Jong-un so far in 2015.

watching_uand I almost choked when I read that these people were killed “while 400-500 members of the Pyongyang artistic community were forced to watch . . . There has been no execution done in this cruel way, so all people who saw this scene were shocked” and one of the people killed was a composer even!
Certain sources have stated that up to fifteen highly placed officials were executed this year by his busy-ness and there are even photos of some of it as well.
There are other North Koreans who are busy as well, like its diplomats when “A U.S.-organized event on North Korea’s human rights briefly turned into chaos at the U.N. on Thursday as North Korean diplomats insisted on reading a statement of protest (amid shouts from defectors) and then stormed out.” <link>
Yes, Kim Jong-Un has been busy shoring up his grip on power but, like many things in life, the harder you try to avoid something, the more likely it will become a visitor at night, when it is least expected.

KJU climbs Mt. Paektu, provides precious “pabulum” to press

KJU Summits Mt. Baekdu

Kim Jong Un scaled Mount Paektu, the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula, on Saturday, according to North Korea’s state-controlled newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.  The Rodong Sinmun further reported that Kim delivered a speech, three days after the celebration of Kim Il Sung’s 103rd birthday, on the significance of Mount Paektu.

Climbing the 2,744 m (9,003 ft) Mt. Paektu is no mean feat; doing so in a double-breasted wool overcoat and oxfords is… wait for it… legend-ary.

The western press has lapped up Kim Jung-un’s precious use of pabulum as reported in the Rodong Shinmun:  “When one climbs snow-stormy Mt. Paektu and undergoes the blizzards over it, one can experience its real spirit and harden the resolution to accomplish the Korean revolution. Climbing Mt. Paektu provides precious mental pabulum more powerful than any kind of nuclear weapon and it is the way for carrying forward the revolutionary traditions of Paektu and giving steady continuity to the glorious Korean revolution.”

Here is the piece as published by the Rodong Shinmun:

Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, climbed the top of Mt. Paektu at dawn of Saturday, together with the members of KPA fighter pilots’ expedition of the revolutionary battle sites in the area of Mt. Paektu.

With a broad smile on his face, the Supreme Commander said that the look of Mt. Paektu is impressive and the sunrise over Mt. Paektu is a charming and beautiful sight rare to be seen, adding the new morning of Korea dawns from Mt. Paektu.

“Mt. Paektu is the ancestral mountain and the sacred mountain of revolution associated with the soul of the Korean nation and suggesting the spirit of Songun Korea, and it is the cradle of the Korean revolution, the symbol of victory and the eternal beacon of the Songun (army-first) revolution”, he said, adding:

“When one climbs snow-stormy Mt. Paektu and undergoes the blizzards over it, one can experience its real spirit and harden the resolution to accomplish the Korean revolution. Climbing Mt. Paektu provides precious mental pabulum more powerful than any kind of nuclear weapon and it is the way for carrying forward the revolutionary traditions of Paektu and giving steady continuity to the glorious Korean revolution.”

KJU Summits Mt. Baekdu 01

KJU Summits Mt. Baekdu 02

The revolutionary spirit of Paektu, the spirit of the blizzards of Paektu, is the noble spirit the army and people of the DPRK should keep in their minds forever, he said, adding that they will have nothing to fear and they will do everything when they live in the spirit.

Saying that the Korean revolution started in Mt. Paektu is not yet over, he expressed expectation and belief that the fighter pilots would fully discharge their mission as heirs to the Songun revolution. And he had a photo session with them on the top of Mt. Paektu.

He was accompanied by Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae, Kim Yang Gon, Ri Jae Il and Ri Pyong Chol.

KJU Summits Mt. Baekdu 03

KJU Summits Mt. Baekdu 04

In addition to republishing the Rodong Shinbum’s pabulum, the western press has focused on the obviously photoshopped images:

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the Kim Jong Un visit to Mount Paektu was presented in a manipulated photo image, seen above. In the circled area, one soldier is standing without support. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the Kim Jong Un visit to Mount Paektu was presented in a manipulated photo image, seen above. In the circled area, one soldier is standing without support. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

Perhaps a long-time Marmot’s Hole commenter could lend his Photoshop skills?


Okay.

What I want to know is where’s his cane?

I feel like KJU is sandbagging us like Yoda in Star Wars Episode III when all along he hobbles with a cane, and then…  BAM!  He opens up a can of whoop-ass on Count Dooku.

From now on, whenever I see Kim Jung-un, I’m going to think foppish Mr. Peanut carrying a cane as an affectation.  How long until he assumes the monocle?

An Evil Twin, Christian Hostages and Media Players that Can Get A Person Killed

Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung has an evil twin.

He sounds like him and talks just like him and he is calling women to ask for money and is getting it.

The real Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung is not amused, especially since he is not getting a cut and has warned people that this phone twin of his is evil and is actually a scam artist:

A number of people told me they received a phone call from me asking for money. Fortunately many did not wire the money as demanded to a bank account…The victims told me that the suspect’s voice and the way he talks on the phone were identical to mine.

Remember, if your phone rings and it is Kim Moo-sung asking for money, hang up on him.

The DPRK has taken prisoner two South Koreans in Dandong, China (not North Korea).

The DPRK alleges that the two are spies for South Korea but it turns out they are affiliated with a church around Dandong, thus this might explain why DPRK agents were allowed to apprehend the two South Korean citizens in Dandong, China – the same city that Kevin and Julia Garratt (Canadian couple that ran a coffeeshop) lived in.

What is the fifty-dollar gadget that can get a person killed in North Korea?

How about a hand-held media player called a Notel that can play DVDs or video files from memory sticks?

People are exchanging South Korean soaps, pop music, Hollywood films and news programs, all of which are expressly prohibited by the Pyongyang regime, according to North Korean defectors, activists and recent visitors to the isolated country. “The North Korean government takes their national ideology extremely seriously, so the spread of all this media that competes with their propaganda is a big and growing problem for them,” said Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an organization that works with defectors.

From Russia, With Very Little in the Way of Love

Other than the PRC intervention during the Korean War, in Korea, Russia has had a rather devious hand in Korean affairs since attempting to install a proxy in Korea (Kim Il Sung) and now Putin’s Russia has decided to be friends with the DPRK, however, it becomes apparent that Russia had sold an SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile several years ago, which the North Koreans promptly have been reverse engineering and are now attempting to develop a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) based upon the Russian-supplied version, thus it is a disingenuous Russia that complains about South Korea installing a THAAD system in their country, complaining that it is “destablizing” . Russia and the PRC have helped create a potentially destablizing situation in Asia through their selling of weapons technology to the DPRK but, this did not stop the Russian Government from talking garbage:

. . . Such a development (regional THAAD defense) cannot but cause concern about the destructive influence of the United States’ global missile defense on international security . . .

Though the Russians have lost much through their aggression in the Ukraine, they are not above playing the perennial spoiler by using the DPRK as a proxy, befriending them simply to spite other countries like America .

As for the latest insult to humanity that is Russian foreign policy nowadays, Russia has invited Chinese and North Korean leaders to attend their WWII anniversary in Moscow, which might be one reason why Chancellor Merkel has decided to skip the event.

Also, over time, I’ve read quite a few comments from people that claim that the US would have been more active in dealing with the DPRK if they had oil – well guess what?

They’ve might have lots of oil too and a good bit more of natural resources that could keep a Kim Dynasty in power for a long time – that is, if they can get it out of the ground and without the direct help of China or dealing with commodity price fluctuations.

100 Years of Beauty: Korea

100 Years of Beauty Korea

Following up their December 2014 viral video 100 Years of Beauty in 1 Minute:  USA , those clever folk at cut.com have released their fourth installment in the series, 100 Years of Beauty in 1 Minute:  Korea.

The videos show an actress/model in time-lapse motion undergoing a century of makeup, hairstyle, and attitude changes representative of the beauty standards and zeitgeist for each decade of the last 100 years for each depicted country and culture.

The first two videos in the series looked at American trends for both white and black women, which seemed like easy and natural choices.  The third video, released in February, intriguingly spotlighted Iran’s beauty trends for women.  In an equally intriguing choice, cut chose Korea’s for March.

Here is the first video, depicting white American female beauty, in the series:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOyVvpXRX6w&w=560&h=315]

Although the model of course ages no more than eight hours over the course of the video shoot, she seems to represent beauty representative of different aged women in the videos.  For example the representative look seemed late 20ish for the ’50’s and high school senior/late teens for the ’80’s.

Here is the video for 100 Years of Beauty – Korea:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SWHjWtykns&w=560&h=315]

I’m glad I wasn’t here in the ’90’s.

The Korea video splits in the ’50’s, depicting the political separation and split in beauty trends for the North and the South.  Immediate comments from my small, unscientific, not random sample include “Those Yalu girls really knock me out”, “they leave the South behind”, and “…that Pyeongyang is always on my mind”.  One stammered, “I want back in the DP, back in the DP, back in the DPRK.”

There is no word yet whether cut will feature beauty representative of males or transgenders in the series.

Using Smartphones to Rob Us?

robbers_and_shiz

Imagine that there was a better way to help crooks steal more money . . .

Well, now there is a new way to do just that. Apple developed a new way to pay for things by using the iPhone and a new payment system called Apple Pay.  The idea is that when a person goes into a store, instead of using a credit card, they can pay, using their iPhone,  however there is a problem with this.

Brian Krebs, a touted authority on security in today’s online world says “Apple Pay makes it possible for cyber thieves to buy high-priced merchandise from brick-and-mortar stores using stolen credit and debit card numbers that were heretofore only useful for online fraud.” (cite) The banks that Apple has partnered with are now feeling this increase in fraud (6% and growing) and the pressure is on Apple to fix this though the problem is not really their’s to fix.  To be fair, the real real weak point in security is the bank since what is really happening is stolen credit cards are being put into Apple Pay and the banks are not catching this.  Remember all of those stolen credit cards from the Target credit card heist? Apple Pay allows theives to use this stolen information in a  new way (cite).  Avivah Litan (a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc.) believes that this problem will only become worse:

. . . This problem is only going to get worse as Samsung/LoopPay and the MCX/CurrentC (supported by Walmart, BestBuy and many other major retailers) release their mobile payment systems, without the customer data advantages Apple has in their relatively closed environment.

Samsung has wooed the same bank partners Apple did to start a mobile payment service (Samsung Pay), they have released the Galaxy 6 phone as being a means to conduct mobile payments (it is a nice phone too) and they released a security layer for Android called Knox, which enables the user to securely pay for things with their smartphone (preferably their Galaxy phone).  Samsung’s Knox was even certified as being safe and secure by a part of the American Government (the guys that want backdoors into everything).  Knox had been compromised, however Samsung is working to address this problem and has made progress,  Samsung wants their cyberpayment software to use a magnetic card reader, which is not encouraging since credit cards with magnetic strips are known enablers of credit card fraud. (cite and cite)   Samsung will also waive fees for using their mobile payment system, which does encourage use.

Business does make for unusual alliances, and so Blackberry and IBM have come together with Samsung to create SecuTablet – a modified Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 bundled with security management software and a hardware encryption module, however the normally 500.00 USD Samsung phone becomes a 2,250.00 USD device called SecuTablet! (cite) This sort of device is not for the casual user that wants to buy something though, rather it is intended to be for environments that require better security (government, etc.).

Though Apple and Samsung may eventually perfect secure devices, the banks are still the biggest source of security worries, especially when they continue to use cards with magnetic strips or a chip and PIN system that has been hacked.  Even now, the Korean banking industry is finally getting around to blocking the use of mag-stripe plastic cards, in all Korean ATMs, from May.  (cite) There are still reports of credit card information being stolen by infected POP systems in business.  One place that has seen a rise in credit card fraud is Aspen, Colorado, since Aspen has so many holiday visitors from everywhere.  As one Aspen police detective notes:

A lot of these network intrusions are coming from the Ukraine, Russia, North Korea and China . . . It all comes down to the information stored on credit cards. Once a card is scanned at a business that information is sent to a server. If it’s infected with malware, that server sends the credit card information to criminals.

Considering how more and more large businesses are having their fee processing system infected with malware and how inept banks are at dealing with credit card fraud, companies like Apple and Samsung may eventually become more trustworthy than banks, especially if they don’t gouge their customers with processing fees and are more secure than banks are now in their transactions.

Why Does the PRC Leadership Persecute Christianity?

Chinese-Jeasus

Not that persecution is anything new to Christians, however the PRC has steadily increased its suppression of domestic Churches and Christian-related NGOs, including those that work to help people in the DPRK that need help (such as orphanages).

This last November, Peter Hahn, a Korean-American, who had used his life savings to help relocate from the United States and set up his NGOs, was detained and accused of various crimes (He is being held on suspicion of embezzlement and using fraudulent invoices) by the PRC:

The 73-year-old naturalised US citizen, who has overseen a range of aid projects straddling the border between China and North Korea over the past two decades, was called in by authorities in Tumen, China for questioning on Tuesday and placed under detention after a six-hour interrogation. Two other staff members, including a South Korean national, have also been detained in recent weeks. . . .”I feel that the Chinese government doesn’t want foreign NGOs working on North Korea any more,” (Mr Hahn’s wife, Eunice), having fled to Seoul soon after the first police raid. “In the past, it just left us alone; but now it is cracking down.” (cite)

Several months ago, a Canadian couple, (Kevin and Julia Garratt) who ran a coffeehouse in Dandong, PRC were arrested by the Chinese Government and charged under the notoriously vague state secrets law since they were allegedly spying and stealing military secrets (believe it or not).  The Garratt’s were also loosely affiliated with local Christian NGOs, thus drawing the attention of the government there.

Certain sources report that this increased anti-Christian action has become more common as of late:

. . . South Korean missionaries working in China near the North Korean border have reported being forced out in recent months after having their visa renewals refused.  The crackdown is variously viewed as part of a broader campaign against Christianity, or consistent with a ramp up in official rhetoric against foreign influence seen as undermining Chinese interests. (cite)

As of several days ago, the Chinese have decided to formally detain (as if this has any meaning at all!) Mr. Garratt and charge him under their state secrets law.  His wife has been released but can not leave the PRC, according to an article:

The Garratts have not been formally arrested and no charges have been filed, the family said in a statement released through their lawyer, James Zimmerman, who is based in Beijing. “No evidence of any crime has been provided to the Garratts, family members, or their lawyers of any criminal conduct,” the statement said.
Ms. Garratt has been barred from leaving mainland China for one year. Her husband has been relocated to “a more formal detention center at an unknown location,” the statement said. (cite)

The Garratts apparently were motivated by spiritual concerns to move to and open a coffeeshop in Dandong:

Their relocation to Dandong was divinely inspired, Mr. Garratt said in a recorded sermon that had been posted on the website of the Terra Nova Church in Surrey, British Columbia, before it was removed in August. “God said, in a prayer meeting, ‘Go to Dandong and I’ll meet you there,’ and he said start a coffee house,” Mr. Garratt said, adding that “we’re trying to reach North Korea with God, with Jesus and with practical assistance.”

Rather than this being an issue of “state secrets” – which is clearly unlikely – this case and many others shows that the PRC leadership seems to have panicked over  the increasing influence and afluence of Christian groups within the PRC, which is something that they can not control, therefore is percieved as a direct threat to their existence.  According to an article in the CS Monitor:

While Christianity is waning in many parts of the world, in China it is growing rapidly – despite state strictures. The rise in evangelical Protestantism in particular, driven both by people’s spiritual yearnings and individual human needs in a collective society, is taking place in nearly every part of the nation.
Western visitors used to seeing empty sanctuaries in the United States or Europe can be dumbfounded by the Sunday gatherings held in convention center-size buildings where people line up for blocks to get in – one service after another. In Wenzhou, not far from Hangzhou, an estimated 1.2 million Protestants now exist in a city of 9 million people alone. (It is called “China’s Jerusalem.”) By one estimate, China will become the world’s largest Christian nation, at its current rate of growth, by 2030.

which is enough to make the current CCP leadership sweat in anticipation as their grip on power is unwittingly contested by Chinese in pursuit of spiritual meaning.  This pursuit, as in South Korea, also has the smell of money though.  One recent study proports that Christianity has been a major part in the PRC’s success.

“Christianity (in the PRC) has the most significant effect on economic growth” and that the steady increase of Christianity has played an important role in China’s economic rise.

This study, by Qunyong Wang of the Institute of Statistics and Econometrics at Nankai University and Xinyu Lin of Renmin University of China, claims that Christianity has significantly contributed to China’s economic growth by demonstrating a positive correlation between areas of particularly robust economic growth and the prevalence of Christian congregations and institutions in these areas, in China. (cite)

Having spiritual beliefs can be enriching for many people and help them in their lives, however, a collective body can be easily lead and manipulated if the collective is prone to the effects of blind faith – faith in someone or something without the benefit of reasoning.

Faith without reason can be an incredibly dangerous thing and it is precisely this blind faith the party would love to harness for their own goals, however it can become a very unmanagable thing as they are belatedly discovering, thus the pronounced effort to clamp down on churches, in the PRC and on the border with the DPRK, that are not sanctioned by the Party.

The bad Korean used in the movie The Interview

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

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

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

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

What the heck is “모든|,” huh?

According to Michael Han:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

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

Photos from Kotaku, via YTN or Wikimedia Commons.

The DPRK Is Sloppy Says the FBI

FBI_screenThe FBI’s director has responded to suspicions about where the Sony hack came from by declaring that the FBI’s allegations were made because “the hackers failed to mask their location when they broke into the company’s servers”.

. . . Mr. Comey (FBI Director) said that instead of routing some of the attacks and messages through decoy servers, the hackers sent them directly from Internet addresses in North Korea.

This also gets even more sloppy and stupid according to the article:

. . . senior government officials said that F.B.I. analysts discovered that the hackers made a critical error by logging into both their Facebook account and Sony’s servers from North Korean Internet addresses. It was clear, the officials said, that hackers quickly recognized their mistake. In several cases, after mistakenly logging in directly, they quickly backtracked and rerouted their attacks and messages through decoy computers abroad.

Not all critics of the FBI’s case are placated though:

. . . some of the most vocal critics of the government’s claims, like Marc Rogers, a security researcher at CloudFlare, said they were still not convinced. “If the government had laid out its attribution in the beginning, that may have quelled the criticism, but the evidence that’s been put before me and many of my colleagues is flimsy.

Other articles on this can be found at engadget and wired.

Here a cyberwar, there a cyberwar, everywhere a cyberwar cyberwar

8442476626_33bfb7c564_k

Some major North Korean websites, including Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean cyber university (who knew!) and some other propaganda sites are reportedly still down – all these sites apparently have their servers in China.

Sites using the domain .kp such as the Rodong Shinmun and KCNA and some pro-North Korean sites in Japan and the United States, however, seem to be working properly. Or at least that’s what the news, says – they are blocked in South Korea, so I can’t verify.

Anyway, although nobody is officially taking credit for the attacks, North Korea seems pretty sure who the culprits are, and they are expressing their displeasure in, ahem, earthy language:

In a statement Saturday, North Korea’s ruling body, the National Defense Commission, said Obama was “the chief culprit” for the movie’s release.

“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

As opposed to monkeys that hang out in temperate forests and Japanese hot spring resorts. Which I’ve always wanted to see.

Anyway, this is not the first time North Korea has used simian comparisons to refer to the American head of state. You’ll recall that in May, the KCNA contributed this bit of reporting around the time of President Obama’s visit to Seoul (see also here):

The Korean only article, comprising the direct opinions of four local North Koreans, said Obama resembled a “monkey“ and that Park, who hosted him during his recent visit to Seoul, was a “whore”.

“How Obama looks like makes me disgusted,” Kang Hyuk, a worker at the Chollima Ironworks Factory said when translated into English.

“As I watch him more closely, I realize that he looks like an African native monkey with a black face, gaunt grey eyes, cavate nostrils, plump mouth and hairy rough ears.

“He acts just like a monkey with a red bum irrationally eating everything – not only from the floor but also from trees here and there…Africa’s national zoo will be the perfect place for Obama to live with licking bread crumbs thrown by visitors,” Kang concluded.

Jung Young Guk of the DPRK Ocean Management Office said the timing of Obama’s visit – so soon after the sinking of the Sewol ferry – was difficult to understand, adding that Obama had a “disgusting monkey look even though he is wearing a fancy suit like a gentleman”.

They also referred to him as a “mongrel,” which on the bright side, at least suggests that in this politically divisive would we live in, there are still things the KCNA and Ted Nugent can agree upon.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, South Korea’s left-leaning Hankyoreh is a bit worried about the North Korea-U.S. cyberwar driving up tensions at a time when they think the two countries should be working to improve relations. Mind you, they do criticize the North for, well, calling President Obama a monkey and, ironically, making “The Interview” more popular with its criticism of it. But they also criticize the United States for concluding the Sony hack and terrorist threats were North Korea’s doing without solid evidence (Marmot’s Hole: fair enough) and criticized President Obama for praising Sony decision to release the film (Marmot’s Hole: OK, whatever). More important, they said if the United States is responsible for the attacks on North Korea’s Internet network (Marmot’s Hole: good luck getting Washington to cop to that – hey, maybe it ain’t – and even if it is those dastardly Yanks, good luck to the North Koreans trying to prove it), Washington will come under international criticism because shutting down an entire country’s Internet network is on a whole different level from the Sony hack and not the “proportional response” promised by President Obama (Marmot’s Hole: Honestly, I’m not sure how much international sympathy North Korea is going to get here).

The right-leaning Dong-A Ilbo, on the other hand, thinks South Korea should develop the hacking capabilities to overwhelmingly retaliate against the North for its suspected hack of the South’s nuclear power plants like the Americans did in response to the Sony hack.

New cyber security laws?

Which brings us to the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) hack, the cyber-incident that’s been of much more important to South Korea. KHNP says its headquarters is still under attack but the country’s nuclear power stations are safe. The state of the nation’s cyber-security, however, doesn’t leave many folk reassured – in an editorial, the JoongAng Ilbo says if cyber-security isn’t isn’t strengthened, we could even see something like what happened in “Live Free or Die Hard.”

Which I thought was cool, because they cited “Live Free or Die Hard.”

Boosting the number of people dedicated to cyber-security is especially urgent, says the JoongAng, particularly as it pertains to Korea’s 32 nuclear plants. Korea has just three folk dedicated to crafting and overseeing cyber-security technology for Korea’s nuclear power plants, just one sixth the recommended number. It has another nine technicians on the ground. The United States, meanwhile, has 40 people overseeing cyber-security for the country’s 105 nuclear power plants, and Britain has 15 for its 31 plants. The paper suggests the military consider building a “cyber-Talpiot” program in which engineering students would work on developing cyber-security technology while doing their military service.

The ruling party, meanwhile, is trying to pass a cyberterrorism prevention law that would create a national cyber safety center to operate under the direction of the NIS. In light of the KHNP hack, the ruling party is particularly keen to get the bill passed as soon as possible, arguing that Korea needs to build a comprehensive national security system – with the participation of both the government and private individuals – at a time when cyber-attacks were growing more sophisticated. The opposition, however, is arguing that the NIS already has a cyber-security center – created in 2004 – that was supposed to be taking care of these problems but dropped the ball. They see the law as an attempt by the government to avoid taking responsibility for its security failure. The root of the problem, they say, is that the people tasked with protecting cyber-security aren’t properly using the regulations and organizations they already have, and perhaps if the NIS’s cyber-security folk weren’t so busy interfering in politics during the last presidential election, maybe cyber-attacks like this wouldn’t have happened. Ouch.

Anyway, the JoongAng Ilbo has an editorial (in English) supporting the legislation, while the Hankyoreh has one against (in English). Read them at your own leisure.

Photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy.