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Open Thread: Feb. 1, 2015

Have a good Sunday, folks.

I’m gonna go pray against the Pats now.

Photo: Changsin-dong neighborhood.

Having the Intellegence to Know When to Slap the Right Hand

tricky handsThe Bible speaks of the “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing” and when applicable to a government, this is usually bad news since it could imply a “deep government” that exerts undue control over a democratic process.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina has announced plans to disband Argentina’s intelligence agency after the suicide (murder) of prosecutor Alberto Nisman – hours before he had been due to testify against senior government officials about the government cover-up of Iran’s role in a bombing that took place in 1994 (cite).

President Kirchner was quoted:

“I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service,” President Fernandez said, adding that she wanted the proposal to be discussed at an urgent session of Congress. “The plan is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat and create a Federal Intelligence Agency,” she said that a new leadership should be chosen by a president but would be subject to a Senate approval. (cite)
“Combating impunity has been a priority of my government,” she added. She further stated that the existing intellegence service “has not served the national interests”.

Considering the heavy-handed direct interference of the NIS (1, 2, 3)  and the CIA (torture instead of gathering actual information) in their respective governments, the undue political interference in the Prosecutor’s Office in Seoul, and the use of these intellegence services to further the political aims of a select group of politicians, it is past time to make a greater committment to our respective societies’s democracy and make these agencies anew.

Open Thread: Jan. 25, 2015

Sorry for posting this late: busy week.

Photo: P-road in Ihwa Mural Village

Sohn Sukhee 손석희 interviews Alain de Botton

In a JTBC interview that filled my little heart to the brim, 손석희 manages to interview Alain de Botton in English about de Botton’s new book on the subject of news, and cover several interesting topics (KAL/nut, Charlie Hebdo)
Apparently de Botton is one of the “favourite authors of Korea”, but it’s his comment on the KAL/nut incident (watch the clip to find out) that seems to be making him the No.1 search word in the news portal at the moment.
It’s just a pity that people like Sohn does not run for politics.

P.S. DL Barch :
Doesn’t de Botton comes across as a classic case of milquetoast you mentioned, telling other milquetoasts to be less of a milquetoast..

Here are the laws of ajossi-dynamics:
1. smart inv.proportional to aging/ajossification
2. opinionated prickfying proportional to aging/ajossification.
3. smart inv.proportional to opinionated prickfying independent of ajossification

I do think de Botton is suffering from a rash he developed from being subjected to the champagne-socialist-prominent-attitude of the British media when he pushes for media to have a stronger voice, because in places like Korea it’s a different story. 손석희 and the JTBC is like a long overdue aberration. One must learn to crawl before one walks.

A Round-up of some Korean news

1. Mystery deepens over the Korean teenager gone missing in Turkey

There is a possibility being raised that a 17 year old Korean boy who went missing from his hotel room in Turkey might have been interested in joining the terrorist group IS. At first the Korean news was simply reporting on the fact that he went missing, hinting at a possible kidnapping connection, but as more evidence mounts- including some picture of IS on the background of his twitter account, and his twitter messages which included :

I want to know how to go about joining ISIS, I would like to join ISIS.

Currently we live in the times when males are discriminated against, I abhor feminists therefore I like ISIS.

(emphasis mine. Disclaimer: I don’t like feminists either, but ffsake what a fool)
– this is now replaced by another scenario, at least for the first part of the story.

Besides this (possibly greatly misguided fool of a) person, who I hope (to the Lords of Kobol), doesn’t himself star in an ISIS video in an orange suit in a few weeks with a masked man demanding ransom from the Korean government, I have been also thinking about the “journalists” who go to places like Syria to report and get themselves captured and killed. My one more possibly controversial opinion/affront against the journalistic blah-di-blah integrity (I can’t help it) is that “I don’t want to know what is happening in that neck of the woods, I’d rather they didn’t go.” There! I said it!

2. Lee Minjung announces pregnancy

Almost straight after the guilty-of-blackmail verdict against the women who threatened her husband, the actress Lee Minjung has announced that she will give birth to a baby in April. She and Lee Byunghun were seen spending time in the US, supposedly away from all the palaver, to the tune of “stand-by-your-man” but now the reason becomes more clear. The timing of the pregnancy is seen as bad form on LBH’s part, as the punters who got A’s in maths did the sum and they say he was chatting up the other women while his wife was pregnant.

3. Kindergarten and Children’s Day-Care centre under scrutiny after several recent abuse scandals

This is just terrible. There have been several cases against children’s day-care centres in various parts of the country (I’ve actually lost the exact count, I know I am missing a few)

First there was a woman helper at day-care centre in Incheon who used her fist to hit the head of children (4 years old) because they could not do the colouring-in properly (amongst other things)

Then there is investigation launched against the Kimhae day-care centre where the cook is meant to have punished those who ate slowly by making them eat out in the cold corridor, or hitting them on the head or bum making them swallow the throw-up.

There is now a police investigation launched against the head of a Ulsan day care centre as she is accused of stuffing wet wipes in the mouth of a 22-month-old infant because the baby cried too much, or to use her leggings to tie 10-month-old twin babies onto a bed.

I have missed a couple of cases.

The politicians are scrambling over themselves to come up with various ways of fixing the system, from employing grandmothers at the day-care to watch over the kids, to making CCTV a compulsory requirement. Also under scrutiny are the way the centres are graded (like restaurants) and the relative ease with which the qualifications are doled out to the centre employees and carers.

Open Thread: Jan. 17, 2015

Beautiful day today.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

Cheating Ahjussi Destroys Pair of Blackmailing Agasshis

What do all these events have in common?

They were memorable lopsided victories.

First reported by Yuna last week, Mr. Lee Byung-hun looked like he was in a bit of a pickle with two young women trying to blackmail him over apparently “sexually suggestive” video content.  The married Lee Byung-hun (age 44) met model Lee Ji-yeon (age 24) earlier last year and in alleged text messages, it appeared that Byung-hun tried to seduce the younger woman into having sex with him through gifts and flirty text messages.  All this was apparently happening while Byung-hun was barely a year into his marriage with actress Lee Min-Jung (age 32).

Lee Ji Yeon's parents clarify and protest regarding their daughter actions against Lee Byung Hun.

From left to right- Kim Da-hee, Lee Byung-hun and Lee Ji-yeon.

So, as the story goes, Lee Byung-hun tries to shag up with Ji-yeon, is apparently unsuccessful, and after tiring of the blue balls inducing chase (other accounts says that Byung-hun dumped Ji-yeon only after she insisted on having sex with him), he dumps her.  Jilted, Ji-yeon plotted revenge with her friend, GLAM girl group member Kim Da-hee (age 20), to extort $5 million USD out of Byung-hun by threatening to release of video that allegedly has him making sexually suggestive (lewd?) comments to the girls in one of their evening outings.  $5 million USD?  Seriously?  These girls need to get their heads checked!

Presented with such a ludicrous request Byung-hun did what any sane man would do.  He said “hell no” and reported them to the police.  Wow, talk about backfire!  So, the police question Da-hee and Ji-yeon, they apparently confess to their attempts at blackmail and were formally charged.  Yesterday, the Seoul Central District Court convicted both Da-hee and Ji-yeon of attempted blackmail with a jail sentence of one year and one year and two months, respectively.

These girls certainly tried to go big.  They bet all their money and the keys to their car on a pair of twos, bluffed badly, and got royally shafted.  Spectacular fail, but deserved due to their gross stupidity and hubris.  Lee Byung-hun doesn’t come out smelling like roses either, with all kinds of evidence pointing to him being a pervy married ahjussi trying to seduce a girl 20 years his junior.

Photo from Kpopstarz.com via Twitter.

The Economist on Korea’s Changing Economic Nationalism, but Lee Hyori is Doing Her Part!

Don’t often get long articles on South Korea in The Economist, but apparently tomorrow (the article is strangely dated into the future: January 17th) they will publish an article about Korean economic nationalism.  Yes, good old fashion economic nationalism!  Everybody has it, but Korea’s version seems to be a bit more, how shall we say?  Focused, aggressive and pervasive?  Yeah, that will work.

When South Korean celebrities, eager to prove their patriotism, swapped their German BMW cars for home-grown Hyundais on television, during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, they rallied the whole nation behind domestic products. To wean South Koreans off their Coke and Pepsi, a local firm launched “815 cola”, commemorating Korean liberation from Japan on August 15th 1945.

[…]

However, such appeals to patriotism seem to have run their course, and South Koreans have rediscovered their fascination for all things foreign. What has prompted them to rethink is a growing awareness of how much more they pay for things than foreigners do—and not just because of high tariffs—and how easy it has become to import cheap stuff.

[…]

Among the first signs that patriotic propaganda was losing its effectiveness came in 2009, when Apple launched the iPhone in South Korea. Samsung fought back by promoting its Omnia 2 mobile as “the pride of South Korea” and local media weighed in with negative reviews of its American rival. Yet Apple went on to seize a quarter of the country’s smartphone sales in one year. More recently, a petition by local grocers last March, calling for a boycott of popular Japanese-branded products, such as beer and cigarettes, flopped.

Yes, but economic nationalism is not dead!

The beautiful Lee Hyori (God bless her heart!) on Twitter said that if Ssangyong rehires all the workers they laid off in 2009, then she will star in a Ssangyong commercial promoting the Tivoli crossover, dancing in a bikini!

Lee Hyori- beautiful AND generous!

Unfortunately, Ssangyong showed their poor sense of aesthetic and business acumen by declining Hyori’s offer.

Personally?  I admire Hyori’s sense of community activism and civic virtue, whether or not it’s to promote Korean beef, or raise awareness for abandoned petsfeeding the poor or finding attractive mates for ugly Korean men.

Photo from Soompi.com.

 

General Cho Young-ja Wants A Picture with Meryl Streep

margaret-cho-golden-globes

General Cho is not amused and wants a picture with Meryl Streep. Naturally, some Rollos were not pleased with the general and called this presentation “racist”

Please click the photo for a sample of General Cho’s anger.

The bad Korean used in the movie The Interview

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

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

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

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

What the heck is “모든|,” huh?

According to Michael Han:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gibberish Korean of The Interview

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

Photos from Kotaku, via YTN or Wikimedia Commons.

News Flash: North Koreans Are Not Idiots

hope

Choe Sang-hun has written a rather obvious article that points out that the only thing worse than living in a murderous, despotic country is having a bad movie made about you while being resigned to live there.

As for good news, Sony is still offline.

Shhhhhhh . . .

gagConsidering the current concern with satire and free speech, Hyung-Jin Kim’s (AP) article on Shin Eun-mi, the Korean-American woman that has been accused of saying nice things about the DPRK, is a recent report concerning the National Security Act, free speech in South Korea and the politically inspired abuse of such in South Korea.

Shin Eun-mi is due to voluntarily leave today (?) after the Prosecutor’s Office issued a request to have her deported from South Korea today, due to her praise of the DPRK. The Prosecutor’s Office has also requested that she be barred from returning to South Korea for five years and that she be required to apply for a visa to return after that time, even though US citizens do not need a visa to visit South Korea (link). Shin Eun-mi’s “praise” has been construed as being a violation of the controversial National Security Act (an abbreviated translation of it is here). This has also not been the first time a foreign national has been expelled from South Korea for expressing pro-DPRK views – last year, a Chinese student was expelled for such for “suspicions of ‘aiding the enemy'”. (link) The National Security Act has long been a means by which critics of the ROK Government and DPRK supporters, both, have been prosecuted and imprisoned for up to seven years.

This issue illustrates the political intolerance that has characterized the current administration in squashing not only those that say good things about the DPRK but those that criticize the politicians in power and those that would expose the majority party’s incidences of violating the law though means of illegally manipulating government agencies, such as the NIS, or the use of media allies to help thwart investigation into their own violations of law.
Even the closest ally of South Korea thinks that the South Korean Government has gone too far in suppressing what most Americans would consider to be a freedom of speech issue:

. . . In a rare note of criticism of a key ally, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that despite South Korea’s generally strong record on human rights, the (South Korean) security law limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.

A fair description about the current state of South Korean politics and its effect upon free speech and political commentary, by Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo, describes how the security act and government have grown bolder in using the issue of state security to supress those that would indulge their opinions:

. . . In this essay, we argue that this rhetorical shift has been accompanied by an expansion of what South Korean intellectuals term ‘politics by public security,’ a phrase used to describe the use of public security as a ground for stifling dissent and criticism. What is unique about the present moment is not simply the evocation of a threat to national security but the extent to which state agencies have been actively involved in this process, whether it be in the form of direct electoral interference, the leaking of confidential state documents, or the initiation of probes into prominent critics of the government from across the liberal-progressive opposition. In what follows, we examine the recent sequence of events from NIS electoral interference to the more recent move to disband the United Progressive Party in order to better understand distorting effects to Korean democracy brought about by this recent rhetorical shift and its intricate relation to ‘politics by public security.’

A link to this essay can be found here

Open Thread: Jan. 10, 2015

Lovely day today. Hope you’ve all enjoyed it!

Photo: Mt. Samgaksan at sunrise this morning, seen from the Gongneungcheon Stream.

A Discussion on Political Satire

Tina Fey was asked about the killing at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and her answers made headline news.

What resonated with me in particular (and not for the reasons you might think) was:

But … we’re Americans. … Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview, we have the right to make them.

So ronery with my views

So Ronery with my views

My disclaimer is:

1) I have not seen The Interview the film, but only the youtube clip where Kim’s head gets blown up.

2) I have skimmed through maybe a dozen Charlie Hebdo covers (Maybe 6 or so of the so-called anti-Muslim ones, and another 6 or so about Animal Rights) & I speak enough French to understand them.

OK, with that disclaimer, let me add another large one, I don’t condone the violence or the illegal hacking nor threatening (of the movie-goers)..however, I do find the tactics of the North Koreans (if they were responsible for the Sony hacking) much more palatable and laudable in some twisted sense, but that is another story.

When the Charlie Hebdo incident happened, and I skimmed through the covers, I found myself saying: “But it’s not very good, nor funny”.

My first question is: should political satire not be funny ( i.e. good)?

It’s heresy, I know, to ask this (all my friends in and out of France and in and out of the media business are changing their FB profile to “Je suis Charlie”) but why risk so much for such mediocre material? I found it offensive – the cartoons (a couple of them) and I am not even Muslim. And from what little I know, The Interview also looks to be a terrible film. So when Tina Fey made that remark “Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview,” that bit resonated with me.

For example, my brand of humor is:

Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and Sacha Baron Cohen. Clarkson, in particular, has not lost any support on his home turf, because he is always offending some country or some people. I still find the British “rah-rah” insensitivity a good antidote to the politically-correct-gone-overboard antics of other countries.

A skew-related subject is a film I recently watched at the cinema called Interstellar. I absolutely hated it, but virtually everybody I knew liked it, and kept saying “it’s a film, it doesn’t have to be all scientifically feasible”…they were missing the point, I wasn’t objecting to the science, I was just objecting to how crap it was – the story line and the actors.

My second question is when is it OK to make fun of people and what is free speech really?

For example, in South Korea, back during the election campaign various “street-artists” were being questioned for putting up posters depicting (President) Park as Snow White eating an apple which had her father on it. They were detained and “investigated” for breaching various rules including breaking into a building (to spray the pictures onto the street from the rooftop?) I also vaguely remember the authorities not happy with mice pictures of LMB. However, South Korea is spraying propaganda leaflets still in North Korea and the North are unhappy about that. I object to spraying any material that might litter (as anybody who lived in Seoul will know) Also, on the South Korean television we hardly have *any* political comedy nowadays. I really doubt that Japan and Korea (and definitely not China) have the same notion of “true freedom of speech and expression” as in the West. Their comedy is still shite. Why can we not have our own John Stewart or John Oliver in Asia? I swear, if we did, all our conflicts would disappear, because it’s just laugha-away-able – the problems we have between the neighbors.

Back to the topic, leading up to the Second World War, there were a lot of propaganda material against the Jewish people, depicting them as large-nosed money grabbing monsters. How is that much different from what Charlie Hebdo was doing in that it is targeting a minority in a country, and not the people in political power in their own country?

In a sense, Tina Fey hit another point when she mentions, how with the way we consume media, it’s not confined to the country anymore. I think political satire flourishes when the true freedom of expression is exercised, i.e. it is against the status quo, or the faction-in-control. When it starts to border on foreign policy, or minorities with less power, then is it still all-that? Or If we can classify some groups of people as violent, dangerous, but lacking in brain cells, what use is it to taunt them under the context of free speech? And not very well at that?

P.S. I also enjoyed Team America tremendously, why? because it was funny, and good.

P.P.S. Another Disclaimer: The views expressed on this post is a sketchy one in more than one sense of the word, and does not in any way reflect the views of the blog owner who is a very coherent and reasonable person.

Photo from morethings.com.

The DPRK Is Sloppy Says the FBI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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