I figured the Kim Yuna thread was going so well, we didn’t need a separate Open Thread. But just in case you need one, here it is.
If you’ve got something to say about Adelina Sotnikova stealing the gold, say it here.
The top Sports news list at Naver says it all:
UPDATE: The Facebook pages of the ISU and Russian President Vlad Putin are reportedly getting flooded with angry comments from Korean netizens. The comments at the ISU page are mostly in English, while the ones on Vlad’s page are largely in Korean… and a bit earthier. Or so the report says.
Meanwhile, SBS announcer Bae apparently left a couple of comments on Putin’s Facebook, too, namely, “If you’re going to hold a neighborhood sports day, why did you invite us?” and “Sochi is the suchi (shame) of the Olympics.” He later removed the comments.
Some netizens, though, worry about a repeat of what happened to the British skater Elise Christie, while others worry that Chinese and Japanese netizens and possibly North Korean cyber agents posing as (South) Koreans might post abuse just to make Koreans look bad.
Ordinarily, I’d say online abuse makes Korea look bad, but frankly, I can think of few world figures more deserving of salty online commentary than Vlad Putin.
Well, for those who accuse the Hani and its readers of being communists—and you know who you are—please know that in an editorial, the Hani warned Pyongyang that “the only way…to free itself of the stigma of being the world’s worst human rights abuser is by changing its flawed system and practices“:
This would involve following the report’s recommendations to close the political concentration camps, stop discriminating based on family ancestry, end surveillance of citizens, guarantee the freedom of movement, and protect refugees.
OK, that’s the good part. Now here’s the bad part:
The South Korean government must cooperate with North Korea so that it can adopt measures for actually improving human rights conditions. Considering that North Korea’s greatest concern is insecurity about its regime, the initial priority should be placed on expanding humanitarian aid, along with exchange and cooperation in the private sector.
After progress has been achieved in inter-Korean relations, it will be possible to set up a joint committee to discuss human rights issues. Needless to say, the most important thing of all is for North Korea to have a forward-looking attitude.
So, basically the best way to get North Korea to stop being the “world’s worst human rights abuser” (the Hani’s words) is to give them food and money.
I’m also guessing the North Koreans will perceive a contradiction between address their stability concerns and getting them to open up and be nice.
Sad news from the US that a former head of NSA in Korea is charged with brutal abuse and beating-to-death of his adopted Korean son. Hyunsu O’Callaghan was adopted in October last year only.
I am very much against Koreans adopting their children out internationally full stop, so I don’t think that protesting for a stricter “test” of the parents prior to the adoption is the way to solve such problems – what these people are calling for in their protest in front of Holt headquarters in Korea. In 2008, 4 Korean kids adopted out by Holt were killed by their adopted American father.
Here is the link to NBC news.
When it comes to the topic of plastic surgery, many people take a “good or bad” value position. The unofficial consensus is if a lot of it is done to a normal face then it’s “bad,” but if it’s done to restore looks lost due to an accident, then it is generally thought of as “good.”
When it comes to South Korea, much of the press is negative and borders on reporting mostly on the strange and/or weird such as the so-called “tower of jaw bones,” the proliferation of plastic surgery ads in Gangnam-gu, startling before and after shots, or the fact that South Korea undergoes the highest number of plastic surgery procedures per capita in the world.
Korean culture, particularly modern urban culture, puts an extraordinary amount of emphasis on outward appearance. Clearly, sociological pressures play a decisive role. Interestingly enough, there is pressure on the supply-side too. Korean doctors essentially have their incomes capped by price controls mandated by the National Health Insurance plan, so there is pressure to turn to plastic surgery to escape limits on their pay. All this has created a massive aesthetics-based business of cosmetics companies, skin care clinics and plastic surgeons.
All points well taken from a position that’s attracted a lot of attention, debate and discussion. IMHO, criticism of Korean sociological pressures and aesthetics culture is not without merit.
However, is it all bad? If we are to take perhaps subjective values out of the equation and just look at economic impact, then is this all “bad,” per se? From an economic and business perspective, Korea’s highly demanding aesthetics culture is creating an expertise, technology and infrastructure base that’s become the core of a highly developed cosmetics and plastic surgery industry. It’s an industry that’s so developed it is attracting considerable overseas demand, particularly in medical tourism and cosmetics. The big prize is China’s aesthetics market, for which Korea may be uniquely positioned to capture a greater share of than more established players in Japan (i.e. Shinseido), France (i.e. L’Oreal) and the U.S. (i.e. Procter & Gamble). From a plastic surgery standpoint, Chinese patients now make up the largest percentage of medical tourists visiting Korea.
Tremendous domestic demand and emphasis on quality is creating a “virtuous cycle” of sorts, that’s in turn supporting an industry that’s becoming increasingly more attractive to a lot of non-Koreans. The demand translates into sales and profits, which creates additional capital to be available to fund more product and service improvements and to keep comparative costs down due to efficient capacity utilization and expansion of economies of scale. This creates even more non-domestic demand, further expanding and accelerating the cycle and thus giving Korea, Inc. yet another industry to hang its hat on.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has refered the DPRK (North Korea) to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), this after a U.N. report was released that gives detailed evidence of Crimes against humanity in the DPRK. UN Investigators state that “North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities”. (link) Here are some media links to articles regarding the report (The Atlantic) (Business Insider). As per the UN Commission on Human Rights response to this report:
. . . Australian Michael Kirby, the commission’s chairman, penned a letter to Kim dated Jan. 21 warning that the report would call for a referral to the ICC “to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity,” as found in the yearlong investigation. When asked how many North Korean officials may have committed the crimes against humanity, Kirby told reporters in Geneva Monday that the number “would be running into hundreds,” without naming specific names. (link)
Despite this recommendation to prosecute DPRK leadership for crimes that are similar to what occured in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied territory during WWII, The PRC has come out as being opposed to such action:
. . . Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called the report “unreasonable criticism,” raising questions as to whether Beijing will use its United Nations Security Council veto power to block any action on the matter.
“We believe that politicizing human rights issues is not conducive toward improving a country’s human rights,” Ms. Hua said. “We believe that taking human rights issues to the International Criminal Court is not helpful to improving a country’s human rights situation.” (link)
Of course, the main long-term supporter for the DPRK is China and the PRC has had its own problems with human rights issues and has, in turn drawn justifiable criticism for its unwillingness to acknowledge the criminal acts against humanity that have occurred in the DPRK. As per the UN panel that was charged with reviewing the evidence against the DPRK, they find that China has been an enabler in this affair as well:
. . . Despite the gross human rights violations awaiting repatriated persons, China pursues a rigorous policy of forcibly repatriating citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who cross the border illegally. China does so in pursuance of its view that these persons are economic (and illegal) migrants, however, many such nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should be recognized as refugees fleeing persecution or refugees sur place. They are thereby entitled to international protection. In forcibly returning nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China also violates its obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement under international refugee and human rights law. In some cases, Chinese officials also appear to provide information on those apprehended to their counterparts in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. . . (link)
Naturally, since the PRC is a member of the UN’s Security Council, they can veto any attempt by the UN to take action against the documented crimes committed by DPRK leadership. Despite China’s rejection of the UN panel’s report and the recommendation to prosecute DPRK leadership, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) supports and welcomes the UN panel’s report, exemplifying the stark difference in politics and ethics that separates both China and North Korea from the rest of the world community.
A direct link to the UN panel’s report is here, complete with disturbing drawings made by a former North Korean prisoner. They do remind one of the Nazi Death camps.
From Busan Haps:
According to breaking news reports upwards of 50 college students from the Busan University of Foreign Studies are feared trapped in Gyeongju after half of the ceiling of a resort building collapsed Monday at 9:15 pm.
The Mauna Ocean Resort, which was being used as an auditorium to house a student orientation caved due to heavy snow, according to witnesses on the scene.
There were around 350 students in the building when it collapsed, and while about 300 were able to escape, the remainder are believed to be trapped in the snow and rubble.
Details still coming in, read the rest here.
Our hopes go out to those still trapped and the emergency workers fighting to get them out.
UPDATE: Three students have been confirmed killed.
Al-Qaeda-inspired nutjobs Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis are claiming responsibility for the bus bombing that killed four Koreans and one Egyptian and injured scores more at the Egyptian border crossing of Taba. From the Times of Israel:
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to various Arabic-language media outlets.
The group said on Twitter that it would continue to attack Egypt’s economy, tourism and its military commanders, Israel Radio reported.
Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) have been very busy since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since the fall of Mohammed Morsi, they’ve focused largely on attacking the Egyptian police and military.
It should be noted that the attack coincided with the start of the third Morsi trial. No link has been demonstrated, though, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice Party has condemned the attack.
The motives of the attack are yet unclear, but The Times of Israel speculates that the attack served two purposes:
“It is very hard for them to penetrate into Israel,” said Maj. (res.) Aviv Oreg, formerly the head of Al Qaeda and Global Jihad desk at the IDF’s military intelligence directorate. But for jihadist organizations in the Sinai Peninsula, this sort of attack is ”very sufficient in order to pinpoint that Israel is their target in their aspirations.”
More concretely, it targeted tourists on Egyptian soil. Last year, in the wake of president Mohammed Morsi’s ouster and the ongoing attacks in Sinai and the Egyptian mainland, tourist revenue in Egypt dropped by 41 percent. The $10 billion earned in 2012 dwindled to $5.9 billion in 2013, Reuters reported in January. This, the first attack against tourists since Morsi was pried from power, will further cut into the foreign cash flow. It will also push Egypt, and certainly the Sinai Peninsula, one more step in the direction of anarchy, the ecosystem in which terror thrives.
Egypt’s Al-Ahram points out that this was the first attack on tourists in Egypt since 2008, and that this could mark the beginning of a new phase in the militant campaign against the Egyptian government:
For Iman Ragab, a researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Centre, the attack represents a “new phase” in Egypt’s ongoing battle against terrorism, which has spiked following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Until Sunday, however, all of the bomb attacks had targeted only security installations and personnel.
Rageb expressed her fear that Sunday’s attack might open the door for a wave of terrorism similar to the one that took place in the 1990s, when Egypt was rocked by recurrent militant attacks on tourist sites across the country, which severely crippled tourism and threatened security.
It’s still unclear how the bombing was carried out—some say it was a suicide bombing, others say a guy chucked a bomb into the bus, still others say it was a remote-controlled device. I’m sure we’ll get a clearer picture soon enough.
In addition to condemning the attack, the Korean government is advising Koreans travelling in five countries—Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia—to leave. Why those five countries, I don’t know.
The Koreans were mostly members of Jincheon Central Church in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, to whom we offer our deepest condolences. They were in Egypt as part of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land planned to mark the 60th anniversary of the church. It’s not an especially big church, but it is one of the larger ones in the Jincheon area, and it does conduct missionary work in Korea’s migrant worker community. To mark its 50th anniversary it also sent missionaries to “Northeast Asia”—I’ll let you speculate what that means. One of the dead was reportedly a missionary from Jincheon active in Egypt, but the church says he had nothing to do with them, and at any rate, nothing’s been confirmed.
The Korean Foreign Ministry had placed travel restrictions on the Sinai and Gulf of Aqaba due to the deteriorating security situation there since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, although the curate of the church says he was unaware of this. The ministry has now placed a total travel ban on the Sinai and Gulf of Aqaba.
Lovely Saturday morning in Seoul. Hope it holds.
Have a good weekends, folks.
Happy Valentines Day!
I would like to draw attention to two articles, one in Korean in DongA on Korea-Japan relationship for the last 1 year and 6 months and the other in English- another one by Mariko Oi on Japan-China relationship for seven decades.
I came across the first article in Korean a couple of days ago and thought, this is a rather excellent summary of what has been happening. Why 1 year and 6 months? Because the article pinpoints the start of the souring of the relationship as when LMB visited 독도, but says it will refrain from discussing whether it was the right move or not. Throughout the article it does an excellent job of refraining.
Then it goes onto summarize what has been happening in 5 points. Again this is such a good summary that I feel it’s a pity that somebody hasn’t done the translation already that I could just easily link to, and I need to do a rough-and-quick summary/translation.
First, it discusses the leaders at the helm of each country – Abe and Park. Abe’s strong historical stance is at the heart of the problem, and Koreans are having a harder type separating the Japanese politicians from the Japanese people as his popularity is very strong in Japan and unlikely to wane. Park of course, has drawn the line of her reply so very final by giving interviews and making speech home and abroad, and these two extreme stance give very little leeway for diplomatic channels to work under.
Second, it points out the change in the feelings of the ordinary Japanese people. Before when criticized or asked for an apology by Koreans, ordinary Japanese would not like it but have the attitude that they did do wrong in the past…now, the atmosphere is “Again, it’s the apology demand” and call this symptom of “being sick and tired of apologizing”. I especially like how the article then goes on to say this is how it is, that the Koreans should just accept this as reality and a phenomenon. It adds that the weakening of the Japanese opposition Minju party and its weakened role as a opposition is contributing to the overall shrinking of pro-Korean sentiment within Japan.
Third, it says now the Kyopos abroad are involved in this – highlighting the Glendale Comfort woman statue, French manga festival etc. and when things get played out on foreign turf, it exacerbates the situation as it gets the local media involved and subsequently each country’s pride is involved.
Fourth, it mentions that the rise of China, and Chinese heckling of power. It very clearly says that the current camaraderie felt by Korea towards China is a big illusion, and that China will make its decisions with no regards to Korea, that Korea should separate itself in its stance from China and make the relevant points against Japan it needs to make.
Finally, it says that the US has become ambiguous in its position between Japan and Korea. This is because there is a rise in US public figures voicing their opinion against the Japanese historical perception. However the article says that the US needs Japan very much so it will never go against Japan becoming a normalized country by defense arming, and Korea should just accept this with a cool head.
미국은 현재 일본을 매우 필요로 하고 있다는 사실이다. 따라서 미국은 일본이 ‘집단자위권 확대’ 등을 통해 소위 ‘보통국가’나 ‘정상국가’가 되는 것을 끝까지 지지할 것이며, 말리는 일은 없을 것이라는 사실이다. 한국은 이 점을 냉철히 받아들여야 한다
I like this article so much that I am looking forward to the next installment where the writer says he/she will come up with some suggestions to improve the relation.
The BBC article by Mariko Oi about Japan-China, you can read it yourselves in English. As I have said in the past, she is somebody I could very much identify with, having both a domestic/foreign education and probably friends across the globe including from the respective countries, trying to get her head around the situation.
I would like to say that there is a word in Korean/Japanese/Chinese called 애증・あいぞう。愛憎..from Korean point of view, I think this is something quite relevant towards the Japanese in the modern history. Constantly wanting apology/approval/comparison. It’s the inferiority complex, which should become irrelevant once the mentality of the people develop to match the rest. I used to worry what Aung Sang Suu Kyi would do with her life/emotion if she were released.
I would have thought that there is “apology demanding fatigue” phenomenon just as there is “apology giving fatigue” phenomenon. Maybe Koreans should eat less ginseng.
UPDATE: There is a video of BBC interview with Mariko Oi and Haining Liu. Interesting that Mariko says that she actually felt vulnerable as a Japanese in Nanjing that if anybody asked she would pretend to be Korean. Actually I also know that she visited Korea and felt comfortable at wondered how similar and nice it was to be Korea as a Japanese..
UPDATE 2 : There is another BBC Newsnight interview of the Japanese ambassador and the Chinese ambassador by Jeremy Paxman. IN DIFFERENT ROOMS! Paxman walked from one room to the next!!! I guess the two Voldemorts cannot be in the same room otherwise anti-matter-matter collision might occur. They should make the same video as they did here between the loop quantum gravitist and string theorist..with Jeremy Paxman in a cleavage-revealing skirt ..I know that Korea shouldn’t be the shrimp between two whales but it’s funny that in both the first Mariko Oi video and the Ambassador’s video Korea is mentioned even though there’s not a Korean in sight.
You may be happy to learn that the Africa Museum of Original Art in Pocheon has given into demands by its African artists for improvements in their working condition, which allegedly bordered on slavery.
The Dong-A Ilbo, however, reports that another form of modern slavery may be taking place—brokers are allegedly luring the homeless at Seoul Station to the salt and seaweed farms of Sinan, Jeollanam-do, where they are put to work under conditions approaching debt slavery.
Basically, brokers lure the homeless with promises of food, shelter, spending money and cigarettes in return for easy work, but when they get to Sinan, they find the work brutally difficult. To make matters worse, after the men are brought to the salt farms, brokers ply them with booze and women. This, in turn, becomes a massive debt, and the men are forced to work for years to pay it off.
Beating are reportedly common, too. One guy who claims to have suffered three years of abuse on a seaweed farm said he told the maritime police, but they called the boss and told him to take him back.
Anyway, the cops are now launching a crackdown.
When I first came here way back, I used to hear similar stories about people—usually young men—getting either tricked or dragged off to work on the shrimp boats.
Seoul Central District Court has indicted—and detained—a 29-year-old American on charges of producing a video of him having sex with an underage girl.
And yes, it’s Quincy Black.
He’s accused of taking a teenage girl he met on Korean Cupid back to his room, plying her with booze and filming them having sex with four pre-positioned cameras.
According to BreakNews, Mr. “Black” spent 20 hours a week teaching English to elementary kids and the rest of his time looking for girls. He edited and uploaded on to an overseas porn site the video he took of having sex with some of the girls. The videos then made their way back to Korea, and you know the rest.
I do find it interesting that the media took interest in this case but nobody’s mentioned this case yet.
So, Uncle Marmot, what did you learn from the John and Ken Show today?
How about this?
A horribly racist and sexist flier denouncing Asian women as “cunts” and “only dating honkie white boy” has sparked outrage at UCLA and USC.
The flier, which was sent anonymously on Feb. 1 to UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center and USC’s Asian Pacific American Student Services Department, appears to condemn Asian women for dating white men, according to the Daily Bruin. The crude and grammatically poor language in the flier includes lines like “Asian cunt sluts have low self-esteem up xi ass” and “Mexican womyn don’t worship honkie white boy like Asian cunts do!”
I just want to say this would never have happened at Georgetown.
Anyway, the Daily Bruin has posted the actual flyer. Classy stuff.
I do find the way it’s being reported to be mildly interesting. Naturally, it’s being painted as an attack on Asian-Americans. Which I guess it is, in the same way that threats against white women dating black men are an attack on white people.*
* Judging from the content, I’m guessing the flyer was distributed by either a) angry Asian men or b) jackass white dudes pretending to be angry Asian men. Judging from the over-the-top language, it could very well be the latter, but what the hell do I know.
- Geoffrey of Jeollamite wrote a very good post about the surprising—well, given how this disgraceful affair has transpired, perhaps not too surprising—acquittal of the former Seoul police commissioner on charges of obstructing the investigation into the NIS.
- The Economist calls Korea an Internet dinosaur (HT to Gregory). As I’ve said before, it really is frustrating to read stuff like this given the kind of IT infrastructure we have here. As I said when Korea made Reporters Without Borders’ Enemies of the Internet list:
It’s kind of like reading news that Iran is suffering oil shortages — you scratch your head wondering how that’s even possible, and yet here we are.
And the Economist was being kind—they could have added to the list a ton of antiquated website design practices that can be quite frustrating.
- Clearly, these people have never seen Westworld.
- As a guy who likes to snap photos of pretty buildings, I suppose I should be excited that PGH wants to rebuild Gyeongju. And yet, a Korean acquaintance of mine said yesterday, “We’re just no good at doing these things,” pointing to this. I suppose you could easily suspect this to be a politically motivated white elephant… it it happens at all. First up is the old Silla palace—if you want to know what that’s supposed to look like when it’s done, see here.
- African slavery in Pocheon? That there’s foreign laborer exploitation going on in a place like Pocheon should be as surprising as a French president having an affair. What’s IS interesting, though, is that the director of the museum just happens to be the Saenuri Party’s general secretary. How much he was actually involved, I don’t know.
- More photos at Ye Olde Photoblog.
The very recent election of a mayor for Tokyo is such a many-layered example of bad.
The Pro-nuclear candidate Yoichi Masuzoe won an election, based on one of the lowest turnouts ever, to become mayor of Tokyo. This is a candidate that was backed by Abe’s ruling party, a candidate whose candidacy was considered a test for the public support for resuming of nuclear power plants in Japan, not to mention his sparkling commentary back in 1989 about women:
“Women are not normal when they are having a period … You can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country [during their period] such as whether or not to go to war,”
Yes, he is a special candidate that represents the current leadership of Japan and their interests all too well. Naturally, some Japanese women have reacted by declaring a Lysistrata-style strike, declaring that any man that votes for Masu-man gets no sex. Just take a good look at what kills all the fun nowadays:
The opposition, aided by former PM Koizumi, split, thus losing the election:
Mr Masuzoe’s closest rivals were lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya, 67, who came second, and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, who was backed by popular fellow former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
(Shades of Roh Dae-woo). The most fitting summary of all this, I think is from the Japansubculture guys who think:
Once again, Japan has shown us that with enough voter apathy, a compliant media, and the connections and funding of the nuclear industry, that any middle-aged asshole guy can be the leader of one of Japan’s largest city-states.
Considering the Right-wing, historically myopic, PR-impaired leadership that is Japan today, I guess this guy will fit right in.