The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

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Korea’s made progress, but racism still a problem: U.N. special rapporteur

U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was in Seoul and apparently didn’t like everything he saw:

Ruteere said that South Korea has made “important progress” in addressing the issue of racism and xenophobia, given its history of ethnic and cultural homogeneity.

The country, however, now confronts “emerging challenges” due to an influx of foreigners and migrant workers who are contributing to social change and a shift from a migrant-sending country to a migration destination.

“I found incidents or problems that are serious enough to merit attention (in South Korea),” Ruteere told a press conference, without elaborating.

Ruteere showed particular concern for the rights of migrant laborers and called on Seoul to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

He did address other aspects of racism in Korea, though, too. For instance, he notes that in the vast majority of cases, policies for multicultural families apply only to foreign women who marry Korean men, not the other way around.

Black face performances and the “This Africa” cigarette ad apparently got honorable mention, too.

He also argued against Korea’s immigration policies, which focus on assimilation, saying, “My understanding of multiculturalism is to strengthen intercultural understanding. It is not a one-way street, but a two-way street…Koreans have a lot to learn from their migrants, and the culture of their migrants. True multiculturalism means learning from both sides.”

Some might argue with the last point, but OK.

He also called on Korea to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination act. Now, I think I’ve expressed skepticism about such a law before, and while nobody would argue that the media shouldn’t be responsible, I’m not entirely comfortable with rhetoric like this:

“(It is also important) to ensure that the media is sensitive of the responsibility to avoid racist and xenophobic stereotypes and that these are properly addressed and perpetrators punished where appropriate.”

Emphasis mine. “Punishing perpetrators” can mean anything, of course, including some pretty outrageous things, let alone what groups like the OIC would do with that principle if they could. Being an asshole shouldn’t be a criminal offense.

Anyway, on Twitter, Benjamin Wagner reminds us:

Former Mongolian president takes asylum in Korea: report

Former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar has taken asylum with his family in Korea, reports the JoongAng Ilbo.

For those keeping score at home, this would be the first time a foreign head of state—serving or former—has taken asylum in Korea. Assuming the report is true, that is.

A former poet, translator and minister of culture, Enkhbayar was president of Mongolia from 2005 to 2009. A former communist, he was credited with helping Mongolia transform into something resembling a liberal democracy, earning the appellation “Asia’s Tony Blair” from Reuters and USD 285 million in aid from the American taxpayer.

In 2012, however, Mongolia’s anti-corruption board—a board I would not want to sit on, BTW—arrested him on charges of illegally transferring ownership of state-owned factories, hotels and other properties to his family. He cried political persecution, explaining that what he did was just common practice for Mongolian politicians (Marmot’s Note: his complaints were not completely without substance). While he was being detained, he went on hunger strike, prompting his friend, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to call current Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to ask for leniency.

Anyway, a court found him guilty of abuse of authority and sentenced him to two years and six months in the sin bin. Rather than prison, though, he spent some time in the hospital before getting pardoned for health reasons in August of last year.

After his pardon, Enkhbayar spent much of his time in Korea, getting medical treatment and engaging in various activities. Recently, he and his family took Korean citizenship. While president, Enkhbayar was a good friend to Korea, visiting Seoul several times and proposing a number of joint projects—including mining development—to both presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak. A devout Buddhist, he also received Korea’s Manghae Prize in 2006.

His asylum was reported first in the local Mongolian press last month, but that story reportedly ended when the secretary general of his party, the Mongolian People’s Party, denied the report. However, Enkhbayar is still currently president of the Mongolian People’s Party, so his taking of Korean citizenship has to be a sensitive issue, says the JoongAng Ilbo. When the Mongolian press reported his exile last month, it said he was concerned that he might be recharged with illegal real estate acquisitions. A Korean government official told the JoongAng Ilbo, however, that since Enkhbayar had been pardoned, his taking of Korean citizenship did not pose any legal problems between the two countries.

Marmot’s Note: As far as I know, the Mongolian government has not confirmed the story yet, but the JoongAng Ilbo report has apparently made the news in Mongolia, so I imagine UB will be commenting on it soon enough.

UPDATE: The Korean government is denying the JoongAng Ilbo report:

The government denied a news report, Monday, about a former Mongolian President seeking political refugee status in Korea.

“We have not received any requests from Nambaryn Ennkhbayar seeking asylum here,” a Korea Immigration Service (KIS) official said on condition of anonymity. Ennkhbayar, 56, was convicted of corruption by Ulaanbaatar’s highest court in 2012 after serving his four-year presidential term from June 2005 to June 2009.

Seoul’s immigration office added that Ennkhbayar has been living in Korea since August of last year after the Mongolian government granted him a pardon, citing his “health.”

Interesting, but the JoongAng Ilbo also cited a Korean government official. So who the hell knows what’s going on.

North Korean delegation visits Incheon, but no meeting with the president

We got some unexpected visitors in town today, it seems:

North and South Korea have agreed to hold another round of high-level talks after a top-level Northern delegation, including the men thought to be second and third in command behind Kim Jong Un, paid a surprise visit to the South on Saturday.

The unusual and unannounced trip — the first such high-level visit in more than five years — comes at a time of intense speculation about North Korea’s leadership, given that Kim, the third-generation leader of the communist state, has not been seen in public for a month.

[...]

“It’s a big deal, it’s really a big deal, because it’s completely unprecedented,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea scholar who studied in Pyongyang and now teaches in Seoul.

Far be it from me to be skeptical about anything Lankov says—he’s one of the few people I actually listen to when it comes to North Korea—but I’ll believe it’s a big deal when I see something big come out of this. Which, of course, is a possibility.

NoCut News reports, however, that this time, the high-ranking delegation—led by Korean People’s Army and vice chairman of the National Defense Commission Hwang Pyong-so—were unable to visit Cheong Wa Dae for a chat with President Park Geun-hye. Which is unfortunate, says NoCut News, because it had become almost usual practice for high-ranking North Korean officials to talk with the president when they visit the South.

The North Korean delegation said they’d come to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games and that they simply did not have time to stop by Cheong Wa Dae, but NoCut News, quoting various experts, says this was likely just an excuse. Either they didn’t like what they heard during their talk with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae and Cheong Wa Dae National Security Advisor Kim Kwang-jin, or they had no intention to visit President Park in the first place. It could also be that it would have looked odd for a high-ranking delegation to pay a courtesy call on President Park when Pyongyang has focused much of its energy recently on launching personal attacks on her.

For what it’s worth, Unification Minister Ryoo apparently asked one of the North Korean officials how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un—who hasn’t been seen recently—was feeling, and was told he was just fine. Which, for all we know, could mean he’s already dead.

Oh, and the North Korean delegation stood during the South Korean national anthem when it played during the closing ceremony of the Asian Games. Which was nice of them. I’m guessing they didn’t visit the MacArthur Statue in Freedom Park, though.

Open Thread: October 5, 2014

Festival Week, and I’m frequenting my favorites.

Busan Film Festival to tone it down

In past years the Busan International Film Festival’s (BIFF) red carpet was a chance for some of Koreans’ more sexy, but less well known actresses, to, uh, show off their talents.  Who can forget past entrants?

Oh In-hye, BIFF 2011:

Oh In-hye

(Image from Chosun Ilbo)

Bae Soo-eun, 2012:

(Image from Seoul Beats)

Han Su-ah, 2013:

(Image from HanCinema)

Kang Han-na in 2013:

(Image from Koalas Playground)

According to Bobby McGill’s on the scene and “in-depth” reporting over at Busan Haps, this year’s BIFF organizers, bending to the will of their militant and angry dry, old hag committee, have announced a dress code of sorts to eliminate the low cut dresses that have walked previous red carpets.

It is reported that BIFF organizers are pleased this year as it would seem that the actresses have heeded the dress code with attire that is a bit more, uh, sedate:

(Image from Korea Times)

By the way, it is just me or does the Busan Cinema Center look like a Cylon Basestar?

BIFF kicked off this Thursday and runs through Oct. 11.

Judging of boxing matches at Korean hosted events still controversial

Boxing in itself is pretty corrupt, however, it would appear that Korean boxing is even more blatantly corrupt than average.  Take for instance when Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold medal in the Seoul Olympics, which is listed by some as the third worst moment in boxing history (and the 14th most stunning moment in Olympics history by The Guardian).

What would an internationally hosted event in Korea be without more boxing controversy?  Well, there are two this year.  The most dramatic was in female boxing as many thought India’s Sarita Devi should have won the silver medal bout.  It was even reported that her opponent, Park Ji-na, told Sarita that she was the real winner of the silver medal!

(Image from Reuters)

Sarita was so upset that she refused her bronze medal, giving it to her opponent Park Ji-na.  Park, confused what to do with it, just left it at the podium.

On the men’s side the Filipinos are complaining after the controversial win of Shin Jong-Hun over Mark Anthony Barriga.  President of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, Ricky Vargas, said, “Hometown decisions are very prevalent here.”

Controversial judging of boxing matches needs to be added to the Cluster F@ck list.

Well, I’m just glad there won’t be any boxing in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Finally, Happy in Seoul

Pharrell Williams’s infectious song that inspired videos around the world has finally inspired Seoul, and Happy videos taken in and around Seoul have sprung up on YouTube.

I first became aware of the song and the selvies (I’m looking to trademark the portmanteau self + video….  a little help BC, DLB?) during the international story that came of six Iranis, three men and three unveiled women (oh, the jackals),  who were arrested and sentenced to 91 lashes and jail for dancing to Happy.  (For those unaware of the story and video, be certain to view what people in parts of the world face prison for.)

Since then a spate of selvies™ has appeared on YouTube.  A notable project is 24 hours of Happy, which shows selvies™ stitched together in an hour loop taken at each hour of the day.

Seoul seems late to the Happy hour project party, but the Irani Happy story broke in May, around the time of the Sewol Ferry trajedy.  Korea wasn’t feeling Happy.

Here’s a Happy sampling of Seoul:

–and–

I like the song, and I like the videos.   Seoul looks great, and Seoul’s selvies™ are every bit as good as, if not better than, other cities’ selvies™.

Breaking News: Jessica Jung dropped from Girls’ Generation

It all started with an update to Jessica’s official Weibo account, which stated:

Untitled_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I was excited about our upcoming fan events only to shockingly be informed by my company and 8 others that as of today, I’m no longer a member. I’m devastated – my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG, but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out.”

The whole K-pop world is alight with speculation.  At first it was believed that Jessica’s Weibo account was hacked and that message was a fake.  Alas, it would appear not so.

SM Entertainment’s official statement is:

Hello. This is SM Entertainment.

We are offering our position on the words posted on Jessica’s Weibo posted today.

This coming spring, due to her personal situation, she has notified us she will halt her team promotions with the release of one [more] album.

Despite Jessica’s sudden notice, the agency and the Girls’ Generation members tried our best and tried to figure out a way that Girls’ Generation’s activities can continue in the best possible direction.

However, in the midst of insufficient negotiations regarding conflicts of differences in priorities and interest, Jessica started her fashion business. Due to this, despite ongoing talks, it has come to a point where the team could not be maintained.

Thus, the agency had no choice but to pull up Girls’ Generation’s activities as 8 members earlier than planned, and in the midst of while working out when to announce this, Jessica had posted her words early this morning.

From here on, our agency will continue to support and manage the 8-member Girls’ Generation and Jessica’s individual activities.”

Apparently, Jessica has other interests she wants to pursue.  According to Soompi, a popular K-pop blog, she is an aspiring fashion designer and wants to study fashion design in the U.S. and is attempting to launch her own brand “BLANC.”    Her dreams to become a fashion designer, going to fashion school in the U.S. while still participating in Girl’s Generation activities appeared to be too much of a conflict for SM Entertainment and they apparently considered it a breach of contract and dropped her.  The SM statement does say that there are “on going talks” so it’s not clear if the drop is permanent.  More to come.

The remaining eight members of Girls Generation were spotted today in Incheon Airport with dire expressions and one member short.

(Image from SBS)

UPDATE

Jessica releases her official statement.  Here are excerpts:

Up until the beginning of August when I was launching ‘BLANC’, I had received agreement and permission from SM, and congratulations from the members as well.

However, in early September, after only a month since the launching, the members suddenly changed their position and held a meeting, and told me to either quit my business or leave Girls’ Generation without any justifiable reason.

[...]

Shocked about this, I had met with the agency CEO on September 16 to convey my position, and once again confirmed their permission for carrying out my business.

However, on September 29, I was given a one-sided notice asking me to leave Girls’ Generation. Due to this, I was also unable to attend the fan meeting in China on September 30, and I have also been excluded from following Girls’ Generation activities.

So, management was supportive and the other eight members asked her to leave?  Whaaaat!?

Pardon moi?

Citing the downturn in the Korean economy, members of Park Geun-hye’s ministries have floated the possibility of special pardons to conglomerate owners and family members in prison on convictions of economic crimes such as embezzlement, breach of trust, and incurring losses to their companies.

On September 24, Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn hinted at the possibility of releasing or pardoning imprisoned businessmen by rhetorically asking, “Couldn’t they be given a chance if a national consensus is formed?”, and on September 25,  Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Choi Kyung-hwan supported  Hwang’s position:  “Punishing businessmen with excessively stringent penalties is no help when it comes to economic recovery.”

Candidate Park Geun-hye campaigned on a promise that President Park Geun-hye would have zero-tolerance for chaebol chiefs’ crimes.  Hwang had previously reiterated PGH’s stance for strict application of law regarding business irregularities, and a special amnesty in January did not include businessmen involved in financial crimes:  “The Justice Ministry last year declared that those in leadership positions in society and high-ranking government officials will not be given parole, as a matter of principle. It was in that spirit of nontolerance that Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of Taekwang, was denied parole even after approval was granted by the parole board.”

Chaebol Prisons Sentences

Now two high ranking members of PGH’s ministries have publicly voiced statements for some tolerance.  Given PGH’s bloodlines, Korea’s hierarchical culture, and PGH’s reputed imperial presidency, any remaining doubt whether PGH herself tested the proposal should be dispelled by Cheong Wa Dae’s failure to rebuke, deny, or distance itself from the proposal.  More so, two officials from two separate ministries making two such statements on two consecutive days feels like a toe in the water approach to ease the cold shock of an inevitable plunge.

The one positive, real difference that I had seen in PGH’s presidency was her stance on chaebol chiefs’ misconduct and the signal that got sent to Korea’s subculture of corruption.   Cheong Wa Dae’s seeking economic salvation from criminals convicted of accounting fraud, tax evasion, and embezzlement seems like bringing back the fox to shape up the hen house.

Pardon me, but are convicted criminals truly the best Korea can do?

The Asian Games Cluster F@ck Thread

Here’s the ask:

Can we have a thread on how much the Asian games has turned into a huge Korean style cluster fuck? My wife is embarrassed but she said, it’s typically Korean to fuck things up so well. Can’t wait for the Olympics now! Incheon is right next to Seoul and they couldn’t even get that right, how the hell are they going to manage in the middle of nowhere?

…and here’s the answer:

A clusterfuck.

1.Stadiums getting blackouts
2. Athlete’s lunch boxes found with salmonella
3. Volunteers asking for athletes signatures and making them late to their events – because they got 1 hour of training 1 week before the Games started.
4. 20% of interpreters quitting (because they had to pay for their own transport to and from the Games),
5. Athletes’ rooms not having fans or A/C,
6. Athletes’ rooms crammed with three beds and cramming athletes in them because they don’t have enough rooms
7. No mosquito screens for the rooms, subpar quality food for the athletes – partially caused by the fact that the majority of the cooks are college kids majoring in food science
8. Beach volleyball site doesn’t have changing rooms
9. Badminton stadium has A/C with strong wind that got the complaints of all athletes including Korean ones
10. Thailand baseball team had to practice in the dark because the lights weren’t on
11. Archery field was so shitty the Korean Archery association used their own funds to have the field meet the standards (including a whole new display)
12. The shooting field lacked lockers and seats for the athletes (forcing them to sit on the stairs with their stuff)
13. Plumbing trouble leaks urine at various stadium
14. The weightlifting stadium lacked curtains or other covers for the changing room – everyone saw the athletes change.
15. The Sepak Takraw (check it out, btw. It’s pretty epic) stadium leaked rainwater mid-event and the event was delayed for 20 minutes
16. No one informed the teams that the official basketball brand changed.
17. Critical shortage of medical staff at the basketball games, forcing the team trainers and other athletes to play doctor.
18. Organizers didn’t tell a Chinese fencer (A bronze medalist) that the shuttle bus stations changed locations. A Korean journalist had to give him a ride on the taxi, and the Organizers chastised the fencer for not getting on the earlier shuttles afterwards.
19. Organizers converted the Disabled Parking spots to VIP parking spots that can be bough at a fee. Yeah.
20. The broadcasters are not covering the events well – even the ones that Koreans would be interested in watching like badminton. The Koreans had to watch the badminton final using a Chinese TV station online.
21. Organizers selling most of the tickets to popular events to Chaebols, who of course doesn’t use them = empty stadiums even in events that are popular (baseball, basketball, etc)
22. It’s nice that the organizers had the ticket pre-sale available online with multiple languages. Too bad you need either a Korean ID number or foreigner registration number to buy one. Oh, and a Korean credit card. (Nice one, guys. Learn that move from Naver/Daum?)
23. The official Incheon Asian Games website was down until September 24th.
24. A shuttle bus driver, because he thought it was too bothersome to go through the entire route, decided to just skip the Field Hockey site (귀찮으니까…). What the fuck.
25. Organizers (read: Incheon city government) are forcing all school field trips in the city to go to the events because they have trouble keeping the seats filled (caused by the previous mentioned reasons.
26. Shuttle bus in general are either in critical shortage or arbitrarily changing/cancelling service. Disturbing amount of journalists/athletes are relying on taxis… except that the taxi drivers have no idea what any of the venues/buildings are.

And, of course, when the journalists asked the Organizers about these clusterfucks, the Organizers got into a verbal altercations with the journalists. Then they tried to issue a gag order on any articles critical of the Games. Then they flatly denied issuing any gag orders… to the journalists that they personally gave gag orders to.

A clusterfuck.

 Qatar women's basketball team walking off the court after withdrawing ahead of their women's preliminary round match against Mongolia. (AFP)

To the above list, I can add the row over the Qatari women’s basketball team forfeiting their final games and leaving the Asian games altogether over not being allowed to wear their hijab.  “The withdrawal of the Qatari team has tarnished the image of the Asian Games, which trumpets diversity and inclusiveness yet said it was powerless to help the players.   Competition at the Asiad is conducted under the regulations of the individual sports’ governing bodies, meaning organisers had to follow FIBA Article 4.4.2 prohibiting ‘headgear, hair accessories and jewellery’ for reasons of safety and uniformity.”  The Asian Games organizers and Qatari team should have addressed the Peng Yang of China, right, against Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin of Malaysia. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Imagesissue before the start of games.  Allowing the wearing of hijab seems  a reasonable accommodation unless someone can show that wearing hijab gives an advantage to the wearer, presents a disadvantage to the competition, or makes problems for the officials:

Indonesian archer Sri Ranti said she did not understand why she was allowed to wear an Islamic headscarf but other athletes in different sports were not.

“It’s about our religious freedom,” she added. “I don’t understand it.”

An archer on the Qatari men’s team, Al Mohandi Ibrahim Mohammed, said the issue was one of safety rather than religion but added that there were other more dangerous things to look out for than headscarves.

“I don’t think they are targeting Muslims, I believe that the hijab is banned for safety reasons,” he told Reuters.

“But from what I understand, hijabs, bandanas and hairbands are all allowed in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“I think a long ponytail would probably cause more safety problems.”

From my side, I have enjoyed the games from my private box with full half-stocked refrigerator, luxury leather seats, private bath, HDTV monitors…. OK, one HDTV monitor.   My 술집여자, however, is a little too lippy, snippy, and hippy .  So yeah, cluster f@ck.

(Special thanks to bumfromkorea. All my work should be so easy. )

 

Open Thread: September 28, 2014

Out and about on amazing Autumn weekend.

Kim Jong-un’s “gravity” is starting to cause problems

Back when Kim Jong-un was just a kid in a foreign school in Switzerland, he was a skinny boy who liked to mercurially run around basketball courts.  Jong-un’s dad, the former Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, told his son that in order to rule he needed a “leader’s gravity.”  So, they fattened the boy up to be the round mound of rebound that he is today.

Unfortunately, this is evidently creating problems.  Health problems at the merry old age of 31?  The guy’s been out of public view for three weeks, even missing a session of parliament for the very first time.  The rumor is that Jong-un may have gout because he was walking with a pronounced limp the last time he was seen publicly.  Gout?  Isn’t that just for old people who eat too much rich food and drink too much beer?  In any case, even North Korean TV is admitting that the Dear Leader may be feeling a little under the weather as of late.

The dude is fat.  Probably far fatter than a healthy man his age should be.  One weird rumor says his weight is ballooning due to his addiction to Swiss Emmental cheese.

Well, Mr. Dear Leader I hope you eat shit and die get well soon.

 

Match the average Korean faces with the time periods!

Today’s WSJ discusses how Korean faces are changing over time.  With interracial marriage, plastic surgery and even nutrition factored in, the Korean face is changing.  Apparently, the Korea Face Institute has taken computer assisted calculations based on 20,000 photographs and skull measurements (when the time period didn’t have photography available).

Korea to sign on the F-35 dotted line and some KF-X news

It seems to take nations forever to figure out if they are going to buy into an expensive fighter jet procurement program, or not.  So, although Korea stated its intention to select Lockheed’s F-35 back in March of this year (40 jets for ~$7 billion USD), apparently today Korea stated its intention to actually sign on the dotted line.  What probably took six plus months was the negotiations for tech transfer for Korea’s native KF-X program.

It’s apparent that the Koreans wanted to negotiate all they could from Lockheed to get as much tech transfer as possible.  To get to this stage, the Koreans essentially has to say no to the Sweds and their Flygsystem 2020 stealth program and the Euros, who offered to throw in the kitchen sink, including full sharing of engine and avionics technology.

Despite all these promises from the Euros and the Swedes, the Koreans decided to go with the Americans for all three F-X phases, with one and two going to Boeing’s F-15K “Slam” Eagle and phase three going to Lockheed’s F-35A.  If the Koreans were okay with dissing other technology partners, pray do tell what did Boeing and/or Lockheed promise to the Koreans, regarding technology transfers?

According to the NYT:

The deal, which has yet to be signed, includes undisclosed terms for technological transfers from Lockheed to help South Korea’s $8.2 billion KF-X program to develop its own advanced fighter jet, the procurement agency said. The procurement agency said its negotiations had also involved the United States government, whose approval is often needed for technology transfers, suggesting that the deal had already received the government’s blessing.

So, what are these “… undisclosed terms for technological transfers from Lockheed…”?  What did the U.S. government agree to allow to be transferred?  It’s got to be more than what the Sweds and Euros were promising, right?  I’m damn curious.

Anyways, in other news, Japan is going forward with its own indigenous stealth jet designs (spearheaded by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) called the ATD-X Shinshin.

(Photo from The Aviationist)

Hummm, the technology demonstrator (above) looks like a stealthy version of a Super Hornet.

Regarding native Korean attempts at stealth, the wheels seem to be turning slowly but excruciatingly forward.  The Defense Ministry has finally decided on which basic design the KF-X will take, ultimately opting for the double-engine configuration.  The battle between the single and twin engines have been a battle between the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD).  ADD has always wanted to the two engine design and DAPA has always been more conservative.  The cost difference between the single engine is $6.2 billion USD vs. $8.3 billion USD in R&D costs alone.  Off-the-cuff, it has been know that the ADD prefers the C103 design (i.e. non-forward canard configuration), although no twin-engine design has yet been finalized.

(ADD’s C103 design, image from Chosun.com)

With this design, the estimated cost of R&D is $8.3 billion USD and procurement of 120 craft after 2020, the total budget is expected to be $19.7 billion USD, easily Korea’s largest single defense expenditure ever.  Given the shear size of this project, getting the National Assembly to approve the budget is going to be quite an experience, I’m sure.

Any ways, KAI will be building a special development center for the aircraft and GE has been eagerly requesting to be the main contractor for the engines.  More to come, I’m sure.

Might as well spit this out while I’m on here.  In T-50 news, an internal U.S. Air Force report (the air force’s air university division, I believe) has essentially endorsed the FA-50 as the ideal platform for  America’s T-X program (trainer).

Colonel Michael Pietrucha states:

The service should procure the F-X, envisioned as a T-38 replacement, in three variants.  The base airframe; T-X, essentially a modernized T-38 equivalent purchased off the shelf- would constitute the most numerous aircraft (400).  The AT-X would take the form of an all-weather, combat-capable, multirole T-X with air-to-ground capability including guns, rockets, and precision guided munitions.  The FT-X would be a fully capable light fighter with a modern air-intercept radar and air-to-air-missile capability comparable to that of the F-16C.  The FT-X is intended as a good fit for the Air National Guard’s ASA mission and for use as an aggressor.

A  “base airframe” that’s “off the shelf” and can be tailored into “three variants” like trainer,  ground attack and fighter, huh?  There’s only one product that fits that bill: the T-50.

Oh, and lastly thumbs-up Madame President!

Koreans now drink more coffee than eat white rice.

The headlines are saying that Koreans drink more coffee than eat rice, a statement that’s patently false.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.00.14 AM

(Graphic from I Am Koream)

White rice 7 + multigrain rice 9.5 = 16.5 total rice > 12.3 coffee, no?

However, there is very little doubt that total Korean intake of rice has been decreasing over the past few years, particularly among urban dwellers.

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