The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: South Korean Politics (page 1 of 49)

I•Seoul•U …Riiight

Seoul City government released an explanation for and decryption key to its inscrutable I.Seoul.U brand at its official website.

I.Seoul.You logo

Aesthetically, not bad.  I can see Seoul selling some t-shirts to some tourists, the schlemiels in the no soap, radio joke genre who make schlimazels of the rest of the world.  I•Seoul•U is the soup that spills from their soul.

I.Seoul.You - Between people, there is Seoul

I had a strong negative initial reaction to Seoul coming between you and I.  I have a stronger negative even visceral reaction to the idea that “Seoul is at the center of all relationships”.  I would have gone with “mutual respect” or “tolerance” (someone help me out here), but I suspect that “I•Tolerate•U” for Seoul city’s branding would have proved ironic (if not hostile) on too many levels and even more inscrutable as Seoul’s brand.

I.Seoul.You - Seoul fills the gap between the dots

Everyone else get that?  Yeah, me neither.

I.Seoul.You - Korean and English brought together as one

“The letter “O” in “SEOUL” is expressed as the Korean letter “ㅇ,” illustrating the pride of Koreans and highlighting Seoul’s coexistence with the rest of the world.”  Okay, I can buy that.

“The Korean letter ‘ㅇ’ is also the same shape as the traditional Korean door handle. Therefore, it also suggests that ‘you and I knock on the door to Seoul and walk in together.’ ”  Riiiiight

Contact Anonymous_Joe on Facebook


…which I believe means it’s about time in some long lost, all but forgotten (except for Hallelujah!), dead language.

In a move expected to be approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday, Korea will implement sweeping reforms in its tax system to include a tax on religious leaders’ incomes.  “The revision categorizes income of religious leaders as ‘religious income,’ instead of what is currently classified as an ‘honorarium,’ and it will be collected under the same conditions as regular workers’ income.  The revised code levies a tax based on the level of income. Currently, all pastors, clergy and monks receive a flat tax exemption of 80 percent, regardless of how much they make.”

Starting in 2018, if a pastor earns 40 million won ($34,500) or less annually, an income tax of 20 percent of total income will be imposed. Religious leaders earning between 40 million won and 80 million won a year will pay 40 percent of their total income.

Higher-earning church leaders earning between 80 million won and 150 million won will be taxed 60 percent, and anyone earning above 150 million won will be taxed 80 percent.

The tax system reforms will also revise the regulations governing corporate cars.   Under the current tax code, all vehicle expenses are included as a business expense.

Once a vehicle is registered under the name of a business, the car is included as an expense, which also includes the consumption tax generated when buying a car – including gas, auto insurance, auto taxes and toll fees.

The government also refunds the value-added tax paid by corporate car owners.

A firm can also report 20 percent of the price of the vehicle as a business expense for the first five years. Therefore, if a firm purchases a 200 million won car under its name, the firm can report 40 million won as an expense per year, meaning the user can include 200 million won as expenses that are not subject to taxes for five years.

Under such exemptions, many companies and individual entrepreneurs purchase luxury cars under the firm’s name.

But lawmakers want to lower the 20 percent limit to a standardized 8 million won per vehicle per year, meaning that it would take 25 years to repay the cost of a 200 million won car.

Firms will also be limited to claim a maximum of 10 million won a year in operational costs.

Perhaps we will see the last of Protestant preachers riding around in cars like a new Chairman and more driving their own cars like an older Parson.

Against the clergies’ 50 years of wrangling, hand wringing, and prayers and in a bit of irony, I finally have an iota of evidence supporting the existence of their metaphysical God.

Contact Anonymous_Joe on Facebook

The Tweet that set Korea atwitter… Really

A one word twitter response to Park Geun-Hye’s likening local protesters in masks to ISIS lit up Korean mainstream and social media and made mainstream and social media around the world.  Really.

Alastair Gale, Seoul bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, posted to his Twitter account, “South Korea’s president compares local protesters in masks to ISIS. Really.”   His one word commentary questioning PGH’s comparison “captured what many were thinking with highly evocative understatement”, as John Power wrote in his piece for The Diplomat.

Alastair Gale - Really tweet

The Korea Times in an editorial, also run by Yonhap News, published the following:

Worrisome is that the anti-mask proposal comes as the President is increasingly showing a “my way or highway” tendency, using law above dialogue and confrontation above reconciliation as her primary means of governance. Regarding the mask ban, the latest survey, conducted by Realmeter, shows that 54.6 percent are against it with 40.8 percent who support it. Park is pushing for the renationalization of history textbooks, although a majority of people oppose it, along with even conservative newspapers, the erstwhile supporters of Park, calling it a foul.

History is also against her on the mask ban as well. There have been several attempts to push for the anti-mask legislation, favored by police for making it easier to identify leaders of protests. In 2003, police tried unsuccessfully to have a relevant revision submitted to the National Assembly, while, respectively in 2006 and 2007, a bill was submitted but left unattended. In 2008 after the candlelit vigils, that almost toppled the Lee Myung-bak administration, a similar attempt was shot down as the Constitutional Court sided with progressive nongovernmental organizations, ruling that it ran against the spirit of the basic law to suppress protests. The National Human Rights Commission also rejected it as well.

Gale’s Tweet was shared over 3,300 times and translated into Korean by local media.  The Hankyoreh published a piece in Korean as did SBS.   Facebook comments on the many shares half-facetiously, which means half-seriously, inquired about Mr. Gale’s civil liberty.

Really.  Really?  Really.

Contact Anonymous_Joe on Facebook

The Two Faces of Tragedy & The Lack of Trust

sinkingOf the three most precious commodities in Korea – land, silence and trust – trust is the most difficult to obtain

Both South Korea and the PRC have experienced terrible tragedies in having a cruise ship, filled with passengers sink, resulting in the deaths of many. Though the accidents are very similar, the results are very different and telling but both share a common problem and that is the lack of trust.

When the Sewol sank, the public demanded answers. The relatives demanded accountability, which is still wanting. Memorials were erected, people paid their respects and mourned.  Several safety inspectors, shipping company employees, Coast Guard officials were prosecuted. Out of 388 people directly and indirectly related to the accident 154 were arrested (cite).

Of the “Dongfangzhixing” or Eastern Star in the PRC, approximately 454 people were on board and unlike the Sewol, there is still no answer provided as to why the captain of this ship continued sailing when warned of the approaching storm that sank the ship or why sudden turns were executed before the ship sank.

The relatives of victims in both cases were concerned with the lack of accountability on the part of both governments. Korean parents of the Sewol victims became embroiled in attempts to use the accident as political fodder against the current government. Some parents ended up being detained by police at some point due to their participation in protests (cite).  Likewise, in China, parents and families of victims were essentially treated as “troublemakers” and enemies of the state:

They (Party officials) tried to prevent us from going to the rescue site, and they wouldn’t even let us have a meeting of the victims’ families,” said a woman who lost her mother but asked not to be named for fear of inviting trouble from authorities.
“That’s why they sent so many officials — they were just there to watch us,” she said.
Questions immediately surfaced about why the captain of the vessel had not dropped anchor in the face of a violent storm and about whether a refitting of the ship to carry more passengers had undermined its stability, but those questions were swiftly suppressed — as instructions went out to local media to remove reporters from the scene and to strictly follow the party line. (cite)

Both cases saw concerns of the victim’s family with accountability and dis-trust with the government’s role in both tragedies.  As time has progressed, both cases illustrate the inherent problems with corruption and its effect upon public safety. While the prosecution in South Korea actually arrested people for their roles in the Sewol affair, there has been a vacuum of information on the Chinese sinking and a lack of accountability:

. . . All the news we heard was about the glorious behavior of officials and soldiers who rescued people, . . . We heard so little about what actually happened that night and who should take responsibility.

Mourning the dead is one example of a marked difference between the two governments. Koreans widely mourned the deaths from the Sewol, with large memorials, however, in the PRC, the government effectively silenced any public mourning from the families with intimidation and threats.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, even the president’s role in the Sewol affair has taken a strange twist.

After much deliberation and obvious concern over the lack of impartial investigators over the sinking of the Sewol, the investigative committee under the National Assembly investigating the Sewol ferry disaster has decided to examine President Park’s role in the aftermath of the sinking, however, the ruling party seems to have a big problem with doing so, in fact,

Members of the committee nominated by the ruling Saenuri Party opposed the decision and wanted to exclude an investigation of President Park’s instructions that day. Four committee members nominated by the Saenuri Party threatened to quit if such an investigation proceeded.
Blue House spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk said the decision was an “unconstitutional idea” (!?). (cite)

This odd behaviour can explained better if we were to recall the tale of a certain Japanese reporter, who reported upon rumours that had appeared in Korean media about the whereabouts of the president during a mysterious seven-hour lapse.  (cite)

An Obit for Kim Young-Sam

Former President Kim Young-sam has died at 87 and Choe Sang-hun has posted a timely and concise summary of his life here.

South Korean professor indicted for defaming comfort women

Prosecutors indicted a South Korean university professor on defamation charges, alleging that she falsely described some former “comfort women” as prostitutes who acted without coercion to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.   On November 18, prosecutors charged without detention Park Yu-ha for statements made in her book “Comfort Women of the Empire”.  Park is a professor at Sejong University.

The Asahi Shimbun wrote,

In the book, Park wrote that she sees the relationship between the “empire” (Japan) and the “colony” (Korean Peninsula) as the backdrop for the Korean comfort women issue.

She explained that as the war progressed, Korean women who were poor and lacked protection of their rights were sent to battlefronts as comfort women for Japanese troops.

In the book, Park raised the issue of whether the women were “sex slaves” or “prostitutes.”

Based on testimonies of former comfort women and other people, Park said the actual conditions and circumstances surrounding the women were diverse.

“It is extremely regrettable that my ideas were not accepted,” Park said on Nov. 19. “But the indictment has become an opportunity for my assertions to be known widely.”

The prosecutors office contends that the Korean comfort women were forced by the Japanese government and Japan’s military forces into sexual slavery.  The prosecutors office cited the Kono Statement issued in 1993 by then Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and the United Nations report promulgated in 1997.

“Prosecutors took issue with what they described as ‘false facts’ in Park’s book.  One is her description saying comfort women were within the framework of ‘prostitution’ and comforted Japanese soldiers with ‘patriotism.’ The other is a passage saying that, officially, the comfort women were not forcibly taken away by Japanese forces, at least on the Korean Peninsula.”

Park published “Comfort Women of the Empire” in summer 2013.  Former comfort women filed a criminal defamation complaint against Park in June 2014 and won an injunction against publication of the book in February 2015.  The Seoul Eastern District Court iruled that the publication of the book would not be allowed unless some parts were deleted.

In a 2015 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Park said,

“she wrote the book in an attempt to re-portray them in light of the variety of testimonies provided by former comfort women.  She said their words opened her eyes to the sheer diversity of the circumstances and experiences of Korean comfort women, and to the bigger picture of ‘an empire and its colony.’

“Park believes that Japan did not recruit comfort women in Korea, which was part of Japan from Tokyo’s perspective, in quite the same way that it did on the front lines and in occupied areas, such as in the Philippines. In those areas, records show that Japanese soldiers were directly involved in the forcible and violent taking away of comfort women. ‘Many of the Korean comfort women were apparently recruited while being cheated by agents of prostitution, some of whom were Koreans, or being sold by their parents,’ Park said. ‘While some have testified they were forcibly taken away by military personnel, I suppose that such cases, if there were any, were exceptional.’

But Park emphasized that Japan is not exempt from its responsibility for the comfort women, who were taken to ‘comfort stations’ against their will and experienced pain. That is because she sees the relationship of an empire and a colony in the backdrop of the Korean comfort women issue.

The Japan Times in a commentary, Rightists distort author Park Yu-ha’s views on ‘comfort women’, published the following:

Park Yu-ha, an academic at Sejong University in Seoul, is the darling of the Japanese right because of her alleged stance on the “comfort women” system. But their cherry-picking of her writings distorts her views and twists them into support for the revisionists’ vindicating and exonerating narrative.  Park presents a nuanced analysis of the comfort women system, one that challenges the prevailing consensus in South Korea, but she is also quite critical of the role Japan played.

I highly recommend reading the Japan Times’ commentary.

The human tragedy that is the comfort women’s story, as heinous as whatever the truth might be, is not the real and present danger facing Korea today.   The real danger wrapped in this criminal charge is the criminal prosecution of scholarship (if not historical facts and truth itself).  The market place of ideas winnows poor scholarship, fallacious reasoning, or “false facts” along with their authors without the need of criminal prosecution.

The real story here is the Korean government’s prosecution of speech, regardless of truth value.


Contact Anonymous_Joe on Facebook

Flavour of the Month – Consumption Without Awareness Is Potentially Unhealthy

blue_crabHumans process mostly food and ideas

When either one are tainted, there can be some very unhealthy results, for example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently classified processed meat and red meat as being carcinogenic to human (link) (still less of a risk than smoking cigarettes) and according to one local report, retailers in Korea saw a sharp drop in meat sales (link). While eating less red meat and eating more vegetables is great idea (IMHO), there are other local food sources that are worse than eating red meat, for example, crab organs and certain types of cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc.) contain unsafe levels of metals, notably cadmium (as used in modern batteries):

Samples of seven species of cephalopods and crustaceans were collected from major fish markets on the Korean coast and analyzed for mercury (Hg) using a direct Hg analyzer and for the metals cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), chromium, silver, nickel, copper, and zinc using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The distributions of heavy metals in muscles, internal organs, and whole tissues were determined, and a risk assessment was conducted to provide information concerning consumer safety. The heavy metals accumulated to higher levels (P < 0.05) in internal organs than in muscles for all species. The mean concentrations of Cd, which had the highest concentrations of the three hazardous metals (Cd, Pb, and Hg), in all internal organs (except those of blue crab) exceeded the regulatory limits set by Korea and the European Union. The Cd concentrations in all whole tissues of squid and octopus (relatively large cephalopods), red snow crab, and snow crab exceeded the European Union limits. The estimated dietary intake of Cd, Pb, and Hg for each part of all species accounted for 1.73 to 130.57%, 0.03 to 0.39%, and 0.93 to 1.67%, respectively, of the provisional tolerable daily intake adopted by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives; the highest values were found in internal organs. The hazard index (HI) is recognized as a reasonable parameter for assessing the risk of heavy metal consumption associated with contaminated food. Because of the high HI (>1.0) of the internal organs of cephalopods and the maximum HI for whole tissue of 0.424, consumers eating internal organs or whole tissues of cephalopods could be at risk of high heavy metal exposure, therefore, the internal organs of relatively large cephalopods and crabs (except blue crab) are unfit for consumption. However, consumption of flesh after removing internal organs is a suitable approach for decreasing exposure to harmful metals. (link)

Meaning that certain seafood organ parts are not safe to eat though the flesh is relatively safer to eat in moderation and despite this, there are other problems with eating crabs if they have ingested algae that forms toxins. This also means that certain Korean marinated crab dishes are very likely unsafe to eat and should be avoided.

As for the ingesting of ideas, currently there is much political discussion over the Korean Government’s decision to take up regulating the content of Korean history books, specifically pertaining to history in the late 19th and 20th Centuries. There is the obvious concerns by politicians over the biased interpretation of factual information regarding Korea’s recent past, since as one Korean historian has put it, “The current textbooks contain various problems. I decided to participate (in working on the new government-regulated history texts) because I want the new textbooks to serve as an opportunity for the public to more closely approach our history based on more clear and accurate facts.” (link) The NPAD has reacted vehemently against the state-controlled revision of history books simply because they perceive this to be an attempt of certain political elements to legitimize their version of history and because they have their own interpretation of historical fact, which is based more upon their political beliefs, as opposed to fact (IMHO) . As per Moon Jae-in, head of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD):

Pushing forward the state-penned history textbook plan is a conformist and totalitarian concept,…It denies liberal democracy.

It is odd that the government would choose this time to pursue this issue, considering the more urgent financial and social needs of Korea (household debt, chronic under-employment, economic issues). Though the Saenuri Dang claimed that they won due to public support for the Park Geun-hye government’s decision to start writing history textbooks (they wish!), it would be more accurate to say that, due to the NPAD’s focus upon ideologically-driven issues instead of developing better economic plans and strategies, the public is distrustful of their ability to help them in their daily affairs.

Considering the ruling parties attempts to trick the public into partaking of their own ideology, it might be best if actual historians were to decide how to narrate Korean history, providing they could avoid any undue pressure from political elements.

Religious Convictions & Military Service in South Korea – An Article

Choe Sang-hun has written a very nice bit of writing about the long standing conflict between conscientious objectors from the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect in South Korea and the government.
One fellow speaks of his time in prison for his refusal to perform his mandatory military service:

I was predestined to become a convict because I believed in the creator,. . . I want South Korea to recognize that there are other, non-military ways for us to serve the community.

The article is here.

Current Bias in South Korean Art, Education & News

Prison, artwork, media bias & control . . .

A court in Seoul has handed down a 12-year sentence to Kim ki-jong for his assault on American Ambassador Mark Lippart back in March. The prosecutors originally asked for 15 years though both the prosecution and defence will have a week to determine if they wish to appeal the decision. (cite)

attack_artMeanwhile . . .

I like looking at art but, hey, isn’t putting up a painting showing Kim Ki-jong attacking Mark Lippart a bit risqué? a branch of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) in southwestern Seoul recently displayed the above painting, by Hong Sung-dam and has decided to take it down after reports in local media about the work being more a political endorsement of violence than merely art. The inscription in the art work is as follows:

I have felt despair about these problems for a long time. However, I’ve kept my mouth shut about the despair. On the other hand, Kim Ki-jong expressed it with a knife, though it was just a fruit knife.

The artist takes great liberties with reality. Even Kim Ki-jong, during questioning by the police, stated that “South Korea is a semi-colony of the U.S. and that North Korea has an independent, self-reliant government” and shortly after his arrest, Kim shouted that the U.S.-South Korea war games were an obstacle against a Korean unification” (cite). Imagine that – truth takes a very long holiday, it seems. If I were the ambassador, I might buy this work and hang it somewhere as a part of his tenure, in this space and time. Then again, he could just let his basset hound have a go at it.

Historical revisionism and who(?) audits the auditors

Ten education superintendents on Tuesday released statements opposing state-authored history textbooks in response to a government plan to standardize them. (cite) This controversy has been around for some time, even before 2013 when material in some history textbooks approved by the National Institute of Korean History were deemed controversial.

Currently, Minister of Education Hwang Woo-yea “has insisted that history education be standardized and consistent”. Even Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung commented, on September 2 of this year, that neutral state-authored history books, based on facts, were needed to prevent confusion among students.

The real question is whose version of history is going to be told and how will it be told.

As in the recent debate over displaying the Confederate battle flag in America, what is taught as history also reflects a societies’ values.  A good question that should be asked and answered is how can the mutual histories of the ROK and DPRK be narrated so as to best serve the interests of all Koreans. Reunification will take place and a mutual history that preserves the dignity of both groups will be an important and positive step in the right direction, even if some viewpoints are difficult for Saenuri legislators and North Koreans to comprehend.

Almost simultaneously, the Saenuri Dang has also decided to go after the major internet portals in South Korea, accusing them of lacking both professionalism and being biased. Per the JoongAng Ilbo:

The Saenuri Party said changing how portals handle news will be a key issue for this year’s audit of state affairs. (The National Assembly will begin an audit), under the order of Chairman Kim Moo-sung, vowed to scrutinize the nation’s largest web portals, such as Naver and Daum.
“Precious news articles produced by genuine journalists and the media autonomy are being distorted by the power of giant Internet portal sites,” (claimed) Rep. Lee Jae-young, who was recently appointed to head the ruling party’s think tank, the Yeouido Institute. (cite)

Why would Lee Jae-young feel this way?

According to research piece performed by Choi Hyung-woo from the School of Communications at Sogang University (Big data analysis of mobile news main pages of portal sites), after analyzing the headlines of 50,236 news postings, Choi determined that both Naver and Daum “had more content using negative expressions about the Blue House and Park Geun-hye administration than content using positive expressions“.

<Spit coffee on screen here>

The report also said Chairman Moon Jae-in of the NPAD was featured on the main pages of the portals more frequently than Saenuri Chairman Kim (Jealousy?). While 153 articles on the main pages were about Moon, 101 were about Kim, the report said. “Portal sites are not media companies, but they are deciding which articles from which media will be put on the main pages and how high they will be positioned in the layouts,” Rep. Lee said. “They are also editing the headlines. This is a de facto act of journalism, and this a serious issue.” the portals have no oversight or limits. “To ensure the independence of the media, conglomerates are only allowed to own certain stakes in broadcasters and newspapers, but portals are performing the role of the media, and conglomerates own them 100 percent. This is a serious issue. . . Portals have absolute influence over society, particularly the young, and it is unacceptable for them to distribute distorted information (information that makes Saenuri Dang look bad).”

So, here is the really funny part: if Daum and Naver are producing articles that are more negative towards Saenuri Dang, and Saenuri Dang representatives are in a position to audit Daum and Naver, isn’t this also a conflict of interest on the part of Saenuri politicians who have a vested interest in such an audit, especially just months in advance of general elections? Who audits the Saenuri Dang when they actively support the activities of the NIS electioneering and after the libellous slander used in the Chosun Ilbo – a notorious agent for Saenuri Dang interests – against the Prosecutor General’s Office, how can the public trust any audit performed by Saenuri Dang members? When Park Guen-hye said “They (DPRK) don’t have to come to the South, but they can always create social confusion and manipulate public opinion using cyberspace” (cite) was she referring to Daum and Naver!?
How is it that business leaders in large companies like Naver and Daum could possibly act as a proxy for DPRK concerns?
Are all media companies that criticize the Saenuri Dang working for the DPRK!?

Considering its claims, I think the Saenuri Dang has much to account for itself.

WWII History Redux – What’s in It for Korea?

Okay, the President will go but the seating chart is a mess

The JoongAng writes that the South Korean president will attend the controversial military parade in Beijing next week to commemorate China’s new and improved version of history and of course they will help facilitate an improvement in ROK/DPRK relations, if possible:

When world leaders are watching the military parade in Tiananmen Square, thirty heads of state will stand on the front row with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Choe Ryong-hae (a senior DPRK Party secretary) is expected to stand behind them in the second row,” a source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Taking into account the [recent] improvement in inter-Korean relations [laugh track here], China may deliberately place Choe behind Park so they can talk.

I wonder if Party Secretary Choe knows any good jokes.

The Politics of Belief – The Convergence of Reality & Faith

The convergence of faith and politics can be a dangerous thing

Yonsei University, one of the oldest universities in Korea, is now offering a course on Creationism – the belief that the Universe and Life originate “from specific acts of divine creation.”  The Hankyoreh has a good article on this and the  (electrical engineering) professor’s description of his course is interesting:

It isn’t about how creationism is correct and evolution is always wrong,… As a Christian studying and teaching engineering, I have often had to think about faith and science. My aim is to talk about these concerns with students – not to try to boost creation science,…scientists in the Christian faith “often experience conflict between the words of the Bible and their scientific understanding.” The course, he explains, is intended to “find the parts of the Bible that can be tested scientifically and aid Biblical understanding through a scientific approach to creationism and evolution.”

Creationism has migrated throughout the world in different forms since the 70’s:

For decades, the creationist movement was primarily fixed in the United States. Then, in the 1970s, American creationists found their ideas welcomed abroad, first in Australia and New Zealand, then in Korea, India, South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere—including Europe, where creationism plays an expanding role in public debates about science policy and school curricula. (cite)

however, the criticism has been made due to concerns that “trying to teach creation science as ‘science (is) against the mission of education; to take a pseudo-discipline that repudiates the established theory and teach it as if it were a specific theory rather than an opinion” (philosopher of science and Seoul National University liberal studies professor Jang Dae-ik – cite).

Whether a nation’s controversial political history or a society’s view of the world around them, what is more interesting is how the politics of belief converge with personal beliefs. Since January, Canadian Pastor Hyeon-Soo Lim has been held in North Korea on charges of engaging in “anti-D.P.R.K. missionary activities” and to set up a new “religious state”:

Mr. Lim, 60, said his goal had been to undermine the North Korean people’s “worship for the leader,” according to the report, a reference to Kim Jong-un, the authoritarian country’s supreme leader. (cite)

“The worst crime I committed was to rashly defame and insult the highest dignity and the system of the republic,” Lim told a Pyongyang congregation, apparently reading from a script”. (cite)

“Mr. Lim follows a spate of Western missionaries who have been arrested in North Korea, which has spent the last 13 years topping Open Doors’ World Watch List as the worst place for Christians to live. An estimated 70,000 Christians are held in prison camps there.”

The PRC has also been on a program to decimate the profile if not influence of Christian churches in China, however they are now drawing the wrath of state-sponsored churches as well:

Pastor Bao Guohua of The Holy Love Christian Church & his wife

Pastor Bao Guohua of The Holy Love Christian Church & his wife

Seven Christians have been detained in China accused of embezzlement and disrupting social order (i.e., doing something the Party doesn’t like). Pastor Bao Guohua, his wife and five church employees were detained in Jinhua, in eastern Zhejiang province, but the church’s lawyer, Chen Jiangang, told the BBC he believed they were being punished for protesting against the removal of their church cross. The local government in Zhejiang has recently been ordering state-sanctioned churches to stop displaying crosses… What is unusual is that this was an official church, recognised by the Communist Party. Everything had been properly approved by the authorities.

Chinese leadership has, not only a history of repression and authoritarian rule in common with the DPRK, but also feels itself as being under siege from Christianity since they apparently see Christianity as a threat to their rule.

This could be one time in history when both China and the DPRK could benefit from the influence of Christianity, though rabid protestant sects in South Korea have too often been intolerant of others and ignorant of their own culture, still, it is an influence that is a lesser evil to contend with than what currently exists.

Flavour of The Month: The Chaebol Recipe Is Still Hard to Swallow

chaebol_recipeThough August has yet to arrive until next week, this taste sensation can not be denied, so please pardon my haste in posting.  I also note that, once again, my psychic link to certain editors at the JoongAng Ilbo is resonating. Upon penning an unctuous article on the president’s “creative economy” shiz-nizzle
(Park thanks tycoons for support on creativity), an companion editorial observes that:

The innovation incubator project underscores the country’s reliance on our chaebol (a major weakness). The large conglomerate groups were put in charge of hosting innovation centers according to their corporate home bases…Whether the projects can last and bear fruit is also questionable because of the pretentious way the government and chaebol address the project. Large companies announced investment plans in time for the center opening and the arrival of the president. The heads of the 17 conglomerates that took part in the project were invited to a luncheon at the Blue House. Now the president has also decided to include jailed corporate heads on the list of special pardons on Aug. 15, Liberation Day… other conditions should be right to encourage start-ups.
Start-ups (should) not be afraid of failure if there are sufficient programs to support them in their new ventures.
Start-ups and innovation cannot sprout under heavy layers of regulations and (under) a discouraging business culture.
Various funding and support programs should come under one roof (with simplified procedures for implementation).
The centers must be able to assist individuals and companies in the entire process of starting a business or venture.
The innovation network should not end as the showpiece of an administration that lasts five years (but be a part of a sustained, bi-partisan effort – without the politics).

Meaning, these chaebol heads take nice pictures with the prezildent and smile but, unless pushed and unconditionally held to a meaningful program of a sustained hands-off, support for entrepreneurs (start-up companies), this whole “creative economy” is just 17 ways to float down the four rivers, while Korea is stuck up shitzzle creek without a paddle.

UPDATE: July 29, Wenesday

The JoongAng Ilbo has added further depth to their observations in a new article, in regards to the waste of resources due to poor management, oversight and a lack of political will to make a sustained effort in developing a better business climate:

Lee Byung-woo, head of the South Chungcheong center, pointed out earlier this month that the new centers for creative economy and innovation overlap with existing local government-backed institutions designed to support start-ups, such as the techno parks scattered nationwide that actually accommodate the creative economy centers.


Techno parks and creative economy centers are supposed to be partners. The former caters to already established companies and the latter to start-ups,” said Koh Hyung-kwon, head of the Creative Economy Initiative for Public-Private Partnership, which overseas the creative economy center project.

These heads seem confused as to what is what. The uncertainty of politics almost certainly ensures that this creative shizzle will be lost:

I am not sure what’s going to happen [with the creative economy centers] in three years, said an executive from one of the participating conglomerates who is now dispatched to a center. “There is a saying already that the centers will be gone at the turn of the administration. We also think the centers will pretty much be temporary.


Trump on US-ROK Cost Sharing Agreement: “It’s Crazy”

(Current) Republican presidential nominee front runner Donald Trump blew a sour note in Korean media, criticizing South Korea for riding the backs of U.S. taxpayers for its security while giving “nothing” in return.   According to the Korea Herald,

Trump made the remark during a campaign speech in South Carolina on Tuesday, mentioning South Korea apparently as a nation similar to Saudi Arabia that he accused of enjoying a security free ride on U.S. taxpayers’ money while giving “nothing” in return.

“I like the Saudis … They buy all sorts of my stuff, all kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundreds of millions. But you know what? They make a billion dollars a day, folks, and whenever they’re in trouble, our military takes care. You know we get nothing,” he said.

“South Korea,” he said before a member of the audience apparently shouted “crazy.”

“Who said that? Stand up, stand up. He said it’s crazy. It’s true! It’s true! It’s crazy. They make a billion dollars a day,” Trump said.

Trump did not elaborate on South Korea, but in 2011, ahead of the 2012 presidential election, he made a similar remark that the U.S. is protecting South Korea, but “they don’t pay us.”

Seoul and Washington reached a new five-year Special Measures Agreement (SMA) last year, with Seoul agreeing to increase its contribution 5.8% to $867 million adjusted each year by formula for inflation with increases capped at 4%.  The agreement increased Korea’s cost share from approximately 40% to 42% and proved unpopular with Korean media and among Koreans.


Arirang TV broadcast two different segments.  In the first segment Mark Broome cited Trump’s “critical comment”.  In the later segment, the visibly ambivalent Broome cited Trump’s “misguided comment” and opined that “the flamboyant American billionaire… might want to get his facts straight.

Here’s the first, “critical comment” video:

…and here’s the “misguided comment” video:

Arirang Television is operated by the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation (KIBF).


Addendum, July 20:

Ruthless-Non-Jewish Samsung Wins . . .

Bloomberg has a further analysis of the merger deal and why Korea and Park Geun Hye was the loser in the deal:

Long before the South Korean media began indulging in anti-Semitism, Samsung’s recent effort to pull a fast one on its own investors was already firmly in insult territory. The company’s affront extended both to shareholders and to the Korean public.
The bid by Samsung’s de facto holding company, Cheil Industries, to buy Samsung C&T at a laughably below-market price was a naked power grab by the company’s founding Lee family, but Samsung so dominates South Korea that it managed on Friday to convince the subsidiary’s shareholders to ignore their own interests.
The merger marks a defeat for South Korean President Park Geun Hye, who won office in late 2012 with promises to rein in the family-owned companies that stifle Korean innovation. Friday’s vote was Park’s economic Waterloo, the moment her government decisively lost the fight against the oligarchs.

The article is here.

Flavor of the Month – A Mysterious Ingredient Is Added

He burned coal while sitting inside his car.
He is now dead.

This someone is an employee of the NIS that has killed themselves (in Yongin).

As the reader may recall, On July 8, WikiLeaks released over 400 gigabytes of leaked data from Italian surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team, which included correspondence between officials from South Korea’s 5163 Army Division – a code name for the NIS – and the company about its remote control spyware system.

Now, an 46-year-old employee of the NIS has been found dead from apparent suicide and he left a will inside the car, along with his body, that discusses his family and work, namely the hacking activities of the NIS:

The apparent suicide and the will are expected to further stoke the controversy surrounding where and how the NIS used the hacking program. The software program, which uses Remote Control System technology, allows hackers to manipulate and track smartphones and computers by installing spyware.
The NIS said it bought the program made by an Italian company in 2012 and confirmed it can be used to hack into up to 20 mobile phones simultaneously.(cite)

Of course the NIS has denied it has been snooping on people with the software, in a statement, asking “Why would the NIS carry out surveillance on our own people?”


Update, July 19

The suicide note left by the agent claimed the spy agency had not used the software for domestic spying (cite):

A South Korean intelligence agent found dead in an apparent suicide left a note denying his team had used spyware to tap the mobile phones and computers of private citizens in the latest scandal involving the spy agency.

which leads me to wonder – why would an agent kill himself for not doing something wrong or was he simply a depressed man?
Either way, may God bless and help him and his family.

Older posts

© 2015 The Marmot's Hole

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑