Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kim Jong-Il Era over. Kim Jong-Un Era has arrived

So, after 10 days of mourning, today was Kim Jong-Il's funeral With the comically giant picture mounted on top of a car, hundreds of thousands of people stood in formation to cry as the face of the late dictator passed by. The question the rest of the world's been asking is : What is going to happen now? Well, I'm going to go ahead and just quote a Bloomberg article.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s new leader, stood on a balcony above Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square named for his grandfather, where tens of thousands of people gathered to hear eulogies that ended a period of national mourning for his father.
State television today broadcast Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, praising the achievements of Kim Jong Il, and images of a smiling portrait of the dictator erected in the square. Red banners adorned buildings with the words: “Let’s serve the idea and leadership of respected Kim Jong Un with steadfast loyalty!” (Source)
Well folks, I still hope for better changes in North Korea with the new leadership, but it seems to be starting out with the same ol' story. We're just gonna have to be careful and watch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

North Koreans are running out of fake tears

Source : RFA
According to Radio Free Asia(RFA), North Korean citizens are forced to come out to mourning events for Kim Jong-Il, and are forcefully pushed to cry and mourn under heavy surveillance.
Some sources in North Korea complained, "we only hope that these annoying days will pass as soon as possible." Another source said, "there are times set for each factory and office to go mourning. Twice a day, at appointed times, we have to go mourn at the statue. On the way back, we have to stop by at the 'research room' and mourn for another hour."

Everyone must go in their pre-appointed groups to mourn at the statue, then come back to the mourning room at the 'research room' - also known as Kim Il-Sung Revolutionary Activity Center - and mourn while listening to mourning music. Sources complained that hours and hours of mourning day after day is draining out the last drop of their tears. One source joked that North Korea might as well start importing tears.

There are always at least a dozen guards supervising every mourning scene. If they find somebody not crying, they'll take the person out to interrogate. These people will get their name, address, and workplace written down, causing fears for mass crackdown after the funeral.
Source : 북 주민들, 억지 통곡에 지쳐

Monday, December 26, 2011

7 Best Ski Resorts in Korea (CNN)

Pictured : Yongpyong Resort
Alright folks, you'd know this already if you're in Korea, but it's freezing cold as frozen hell and it's been snowing outside! Perfect time to go skiing! (or snowboard, whatever floats your boat)

CNNgo has featured an article named "7 Best Ski and Snowboard Resorts in Korea". The list contains : Yongpyong Resort, High1 Resort, Phoenix Park, Vivaldi Park, Konjiam Resort, Muju Deukyusan Resort, and Alpensia Resort. My personal favorite is Yongpyong Resort, 'cuz it's the one my family always went to every winter.

If you like Skiing/Snowboarding and you think you're gonna be around the town, check out the CNNgo article here : 7 best ski and snowboard resorts in Korea

North Korea says : the mother nature mourns for the leader

Ice suddenly cracked. Mountains started glowing. Glorious and mysterious sunset was witnessed. Entire lake trembled with noise. Legendary birds appeared...

According to North Korea, this is how 'the nature is mourning the death of Kim Jong-Il.'
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on its website that "peculiar natural wonders were observed on Mt Paektu, Jong Il Peak and Tonghung Hill in Hamhung City".
Ice covering Lake Chon was said to have cracked so loudly that the entire lake trembled with noise.
A nearby lake exploration group reported that a bitterly cold storm suddenly stopped and the clouds cleared across the lake.
Then "the sky began turning red with sunrise on the horizon" KCNA reported. "The peaks looked like a picture for wide and thick glow".
KCNA also noted that Kim's "autographic writings" were seen carved on the edge of a mountain, glowing in sorrow for the leader whose brutal 20-year dictatorship resulted in famine and economic catastrophe.
The state-controlled news service also reported how a crane flew around a statue of the president on Tonghung Hill and bowed its head before flying away.
"Even the crane seemed to mourn the demise of Kim Jong Il born of Heaven after flying down there at dead of cold night, unable to forget him," the news service said.
The list goes on and on...

Did you know that they have a whole government department devoted to making this kind of propaganda BS for North Koreans? It's basically like Orwell's '1984'...

Source : Huffington Post - 'Nature Mourning' North Korean Leader Reports State Media

Thursday, December 22, 2011

N. Korea blames South for showing condolence

Pictured : Kim Jong-Il's body on display for mourners
North Korea has harshly criticized South Korean government showing condolence to North Koreans for the death of their leader. This is North Korea's first move towards South Korea since Kim Jong-Il's death.

North Korea's propaganda website "Uriminjokkiri" commented on an editorial named "We are watching South Korean government."

The news media criticized South Korea for "showing 'condolence' to North Korean people with its "separation of the leader and people of North Korea policy'. They revealed their true evil intent through this act." Uriminjokkiri claimed that South Korean government's condolence is only a great insult to North Korea's dignity.

Also, regarding South Korea's decision of prohibiting civilians from visiting North Korea for Kim Jong-Il's funeral, North Korea claimed, "it is a barbaric crime against humanity."

Source : [김정일 사망]南 조의 표시에 첫 반응…北 "참을 수 없는 모독"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pictures : North Korean Fisherman's Life

 Source : Free North Korea Radio (

These pictures were originally on a Chinese news website, then published on FNKradio. The title of the article is "How's the life of those with the most popular job in North Korea - fishermen?"
This decent-looking rural village was made for propaganda purposes, towards foreign visitors.
A fisherman's family dragging a boat engine to the shore. They're so afraid of the engine going bad overnight, they take it home every day. There is virtually no way of fixing this kind of mechanisms in a village like this.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Life in the streets of North Korea

From the video, a homeless child(Kotjebi) smoking
This rare video footage by N TV and JoongAng shows what's been really going on in the streets of North Korea. It's very hard to get a glimpse at what's going on outside of Pyongyang, since foreigners are rarely allowed outside of Pyongyang.

This video mostly shows the lives of homeless children (Kotjebi). With the recent collapse of economy and continuing famine, the number of Kotjebi is only increasing. This, is the legacy Kim Jong-Il is leaving to the history of world. Video below.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Interesting Things about North Korea

Kim Jong-Un, the new heir of North Korea... is hungry (Thanks, Reddit)
The whole world's going on and on about Kim Jong-Il's death, though nothing compares to how things are in South Korea right now. I'm sure you've heard and read enough about the dictator's death... so some interesting and hilarious things you might know about North Korea :

1. Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things : This is a photo-blog with photos of Kim Jong-Il... well, looking at things. All kinds of things.
2. 20 Ridiculous Things You Never Knew About Kim Jong-Il : Did you know that North Korea claims they invented... hamburger?
3. 9 Kim Jong Il Parodies: Was North Korean Dictator Known Best From 'Team America'? You know what's coming...
4. Kim Jong-Il, the master of the tubes
5. The True Cause of Kim Jong-Il's Death revealed?!
6. ESPN honors the death of the greatest sportsman

The Last Picture of Kim Jong-Il

Source : News1
Kim Jong-Il, shortly before his death, tours around a newly built supermarket. This supermarket was built by rebuilding one of North Korea's biggest shopping malls, after Kim Jong-Il toured around a Chinese shopping mall. This picture was released by North Korea on the 17th, the same day Kim Jong-Il died. Associated Press speculates that the timing of the release most likely signifies that this was the last picture of him.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim Jong-Il is Dead

Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), died. According to some of the breaking news coming out in South Korea right now, he died on the 17th during his visit to a government facility. More to come.
[EDIT] News Articles :
Huffington Post
Fox News

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Economist : The Hellgate to College and Beyond in Korea

Source : The Economist
Personally, I moved to the US before I finished middle school in South Korea. And I finished my Bachelor's degree in the US, without having to deal with the harshest part of the Korean education system - the infamous College Entrance Exam. So I haven't experienced it first-hand, and I'm not an expert in this to really enlighten you. But I have seen, heard, and read a lot about this. In fact, I used to tell my lazy college friends that an average elementary/middle school student in Korea probably studies more than an average (lazy) college student in the U.S..

The Economist featured an article about this. Quite extensive, more so than I first thought. Of course, there is so much more to this phenomenon, and I don't agree entirely with the points made in this article. Nevertheless, it is a good read. You better realize that you had it pretty easy, my American readers. (Sorry, just another thing I like to tell my friends...)
A poll by CLSA, a stockbroker, found that 100% of Korean parents want their children to go to university. Such expectations can be stressful. In one survey a fifth of Korean middle and high school students said they felt tempted to commit suicide. In 2009 a tragic 202 actually did so. The suicide rate among young Koreans is high: 15 per 100,000 15-24-year-olds, compared with ten Americans, seven Chinese and five Britons. Min-sung’s older sister, Kim Jieun, who took the exams a few years ago, recalls: “I thought of emigrating, I hated the education system so much.”
Read the article here. The Economist - The One-shot Society

Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial Opened

Korean War, or 6.25 War as it is known in Korea, has a new memorial, now online. Korean War Veteran Digital Memorial was opened on the 15th.

This online library has interviews, videos, audios, pictures, diaries, maps, and documents from 30-or so Korean War veterans surviving in the US currently. Professor from Syracuse University, Prof. Han Jong-Woo, and his team founded this online collection of rare information. According to the professor, there are approx. 1,800 pieces of information in their database, and they tried their best to show the true memories of the war as objectively as possible.

Visit the KWVDM website here. It's worth a look.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

North Korea's War on Christmas

South Korean Christians sing a hymn in front of a Christmas tree on top of the Aegibong Peak Observatory just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), Reuters.

Nothing says “international feud” quite like Christmas lights. When relations between North Korea and South Korea fall on the friendly side, South Korea doesn’t light up towers on its border with Christmas lights. When things aren’t so lovely, they let the lights shine. This year marks a newfound effort to light towers with Christmas lights and North Korea is none too fond of it, warning of “unexpected consequences.”
The “psychological warfare” alleged by North Korea comes as South Korean officials have allowed Christian groups even broader freedom to decorate towers that line the border between the two nations.
South Korea held off on the traditional lighting in 2003 at the request of North Korea. But when the two sides fell back into their bickering, the towers were lit up once more last year.
As is tradition, the towers will shine for 15 days, starting this year on Dec. 23. Last year, thousands of lights on a nearly 100-foot tall tree-shaped tower about two miles from the border on the top of Aegibong Hill was reportedly seen from North Korea’s Kaesong city. The North Korean government feels a repeat performance amounts to an invasion of the Christian faith into their atheist borders.
Of course, South Korea hasn’t taken too lightly the invasion of space North Korea has shown by allegedly sinking one of its warships and killing 46 in March 2010 (North Korea denies involvement) and firing upon an island, killing four, in November 2010. South Korea must figure a few lights won’t do that much damage.
Source : Time - North Korea Threatens South Korea — Over Christmas Lights

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

UFC140 - The Korean Zombie Strike... fast.

Jung Chan-Sung, "the Korean Zombie" of UFC, has done it. UFC140, taken place a few days ago(Dec 11th, I believe), featured this Korean badass totally knocking out the opponent in.. like, literally 4 seconds. Watch and enjoy!

Now, two-month salary to ride a train in North Korea

Arirang Festival, part of North Korea's most popular tour program
Source : Radio Free Asia - 평양 지하철 요금, 외국인에 ‘바가지’

According to a Russian journalist that recently visited North Korea, subway fare for foreigners was 2 euros(approx. 260 N. Korean won), compared to 5 North Korean won for N. Korean nationals. 

Marc Bennetts from a Russian media outlet called Ria Novosti stated that he was very surprised at how expensive the subway fare had changed in the past few years. It wasn't just the subway; though the tour guide wouldn't tell him how much goods were priced for North Korean nationals, he noticed that "there [were] special prices and exchange rates in the country." 

In certain restaurants, they didn't even have the price chart for foreigners. They would first ask for their nationality, then write out the bill. 

This kind of rip-off move is thought to be another strategy to rack up on foreign currency, in preparation for their massive festivals and other events they are preparing for 2012, the year of becoming the greatest nation. 260 N. Korean won is about the two-month salary for average N. Korean workers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Clinics in N. Korea lacking the most basic medical equipments

Malnourished children in a children's clinic in North Korea (Source : JSH's North Korea RT)
According to International Federation of Red Cross(IFRC) has reported that only 70% of medical clinics in North Korea can afford the most basic medical equipment and medicines due to the severe financial failure of the government. North Koreans living in rural areas have even worse access to medical facilities, IFRC also reported.

In IFRC's recently released report (IFRC's website link here), it was revealed that the overall medical privilege North Koreans have access to is very limited. People in rural areas have even more limited access compared to people living in urban areas. Due to the lack of medical care budget of the government, 3 out of every 10 clinics do not even have the most basic medicines ready.

You don't have to pay a dime to get medical services in North Korea, but it is nearly impossible to get the service at all for most regular citizens. For rural citizens to go to a hospital or get medicine, they often have to travel hours to get to a city. Most rural areas do have a clinic, but all they can do is treat cold or very minor injuries.

IFRC added that the majority of the clinic visitors are women and children.

Source : Radio Free Asia - “북, 진료소 30% 기초 의약품도 없어”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

CFR picks North Korea as one of the main threats of 2012

Pink-colored nations signify the Tier-1 threats
Posted a few days ago, Council on Foreign Relations(CFR) published Preventive Priorities Survey 2012, outlining the following :
- The Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) is intended to help inform the U.S. policy community about the relative urgency and importance of competing conflict prevention demands. The Center for Preventive Action asked a targeted group of government officials, academics, and experts to comment confidentially on a list of contingencies that could plausibly occur in 2012.

The threats were categorized into tier 1, 2 and 3 in the descending order or urgency. North Korea was right up there in Tier 1, for the following reasons : 
- a severe North Korean crisis (e.g., armed provocations, internal political instability, advances in nuclear weapons/ICBM capability)

Read the rest of the survey here. It entails a lot of interesting factors, such as the Euro-zone dangers and domestic threats in the US.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

International Demonstration for Freedom and Human Rights in North Korea

December 9th is International Human Rights Day. Freedom and Human Rights in North Korea, an international organization fighting for the rights and liberty of North Korean people, are planning an international demonstration event across the globe for their very purpose. From the event website :

This is an international call to protest on December 9th, 2011, 63rd anniversary of the United Nations Genocide Convention which North Korea is violating in every possible way (For more information, please see “North Korea and the Genocide Convention”:
There are three main objectives of these international protests on December 9, 2011:
  1. To bring unprecedented pressure upon not only the NK regime but the international community to meaningfully address the horrific crimes being perpetuated systematically.
  2. To influence and awaken global public opinion to the real, genocidal nature of the NK regime.
  3. To create a watershed movement for the liberation of NK itself.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A cup of coffee for two months salary

Now it is not so hard to find western-style food in Pyongyang. Recently, a coffee shop specializing in European style 'Vienna Coffee' has opened in Pyongyang as well.

According to Germany's Frankfurt local news media, a Vienna coffee shop has opened in downtown Pyongyang recently. They featured a detailed article on the coffee shop.

I love coffee, but apparently this so-called Vienna coffee refers to the strong coffee topped with sweet whipped cream. This coffee is known for its smooth yet sweet taste. They named the article "Pyongyang's Whipped Cream Bubble".

The shop was opened by an Austrian investor, and is a relatively small coffee shop with eleven tables. North Korean employees have already been taught how to make coffee and bake bread.

According to a female employee, about 30~40 customers visit the shop every day, most of them foreigners and foreign diplomats. A cup of coffee costs about 2 euros, equivalent to about 5 thousand North Korean won (2 months salary). The newspaper reported that despite the high price of coffee, more North Koreans are visiting every day.

Even then, the newspaper reported that there were young soldiers and children practicing synchronized dances and parades, and they seemed rather malnourished. In the heart of this communist regime, where all are supposed to be equal, the gap between the rich and the poor seems to be widening endlessly.

Source : Radio Free Asia - 평양에 비엔나 커피 전문점 등장

Monday, December 5, 2011

7 ways to love winter in Korea (CNN)

Ice fishing, fun stuff!
It's wintertime in Korea. It's quite freezing early in the morning and night... soon it'll start to snow! If you're unfamiliar with Korean winter, this CNNgo article may be a good place to start.

CNNgo : 7 ways to love winter in Korea

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More pictures : Life in North Korea

Source : North Korea Real Talk by Joo Sung-ha
These pictures were posted on the North Korea RT blog, with commentaries by a defector from North Korea.

On top of the entrance to the building, it says : "Voting Booth"
1. Voting in North Korea is only a formality, as the results are predetermined before the election. Elections in North Korea takes place in schools and local offices, and they put together a dance festival and whatnot to create a joyous atmosphere for the event. Everybody must participate in voting. But nobody comes in for the sake of voting; instead, they come to enjoy the show like above. When voting begins, everyone is assigned a number and name. Then you walk in with the voting paper government agent gives you, and there are two agents guarding the door, and two more guarding the voting box. There is no real voting booth, because the paper has only one name - Kim Jong-Il - and all you have to do is put the paper in the box next to the agents. After the election, Kim Jong-Il takes the obvious winner with 100% support. Well, they used to say 100%, but now they have become more conscious of international criticism and started announcing 99% support instead.

North Korean Propaganda document

Source : Free North Korea Radio (

This is a propaganda lecture material from North Korea regarding South Korea. Considering this surfaced very recently, according to Free North Korea Radio, it is ironic how North Korea seeks to criticize South Korea's democratic economy and politics, with North Korea's own government and economy in crumbles. They also speak of political sovereignty. With international aids nearly cut off by various UN sanctions, isn't North Korea becoming another puppet nation of China? You decide.

Below is the translation of the image you see above :

Thursday, December 1, 2011

North Korea 'Worst' in corruption score

From Radio Free Asia(RFA) :

North Korea is the world’s most corrupt nation, according to a new report which ranked the pariah state for the first time. The country tied with Somalia for dead last among 183 nations and territories, the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, released Thursday. North Korea was given a score of 1.0—the lowest of all rated countries—on a scale where 0 indicates “highly corrupt” and 10 represents “very clean” based on perceived levels of public-sector corruption.

For more, read the original article here : North Korea ‘Worst’ In Corruption

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More pictures of life in Pyongyang

Source : North Korea RT by Joo Sung-ha

The original source of these pictures is David Guttenfelder from Associated Press. I couldn't find more information about these photos, but as you can probably tell, these pictures are for PR purposes. Virtually all these pictures are staged. Enjoy the pictures, as these are from the most isolated regime of the world.

March 10th, 2011. Pyongyang subway
March 9th. A girl playing piano

CNNgo's 40 Essential Korean Food

Pajeon. I don't know what the official English name for this is, but I call it Korean pancake.
Another CNNgo article. CNNgo has featured "40 Korean foods we can't live without". It is a list of 40 popular Korean foods this writer picked. Certainly not the best list of good Korean food, but it is nevertheless a good read for anyone who wants to know more about Korean food. Take a look :

40 Korean foods we can't live without

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fake City of North Korea, Pyongyang

Also, the ultimate movie-set for any future-Utopia settings
Recently, Pyongyang's been busy with building new apartment buildings and other high-rise buildings.

According to a Japanese news media, there are 14 building projects in process for high rise buildings of 14~45 stories. "Approximately 20,000 people are mobilized to work in rotating shifts," and the buildings are adding a new floor every 2 days, to finish up the whole project by March.

Besides these high-rises, North Korea is also building theaters, department stores, and an aquarium. Quoting North Korea's Central News Media regarding an aquarium with dolphins : "The Dolphin Hall will have a thousand seats to show off the talents of our dolphins."

North Korean government is calling this building project "The New Pyongyang Speed Battle", referring to the reconstruction project that took place after the Korean War. However, American experts are calling this movement "a show-only project for their Great Nation project." (North Korea has picked the year of 2012 as their year to become a 'great nation' of prosperity and whatnot) Experts agree that this building project is similar to what the Soviet Union did back in the day, building fake propaganda villages for advertising purposes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Android game apps coming back to Korea

Remember how Apple re-opened the game market on its app store right before iPhone 4S was released in South Korea? Google has announced now, effective immediately, that Android app store will also re-open the game store in Korea as well. Cheers to all smartphone owners in Korea! You can now all go play Angry Birds.

Source : Games return to Android Market in South Korea


Steven Hawking would be jealous of.... whatever this is.
On the 26th, JKS (Jang Kun-suk) opened his solo concert 'THE CRI SHOW-BEGINNING' at the Tokyo Dome.

The concert, consisted mostly of his drama OSTs and his songs released in Japan, was filled up with all 45,000 seats of the concert hall. What a comparison considering that 3 years ago, he could not fill 2,000 seats at his first fan-meeting. After mere three years, he has impressed almost 50,000 people at his live concert.

For more information and fan accounts of the concert, check out this article : [Fan Account] THE CRI SHOW at Tokyo Dome

Thursday, November 10, 2011

North Korea, a presidential challenge

National Journal's World Map of Foreign Policy Challenge (Source : NJ)

National Journal, a non-partisan magazine on current affairs, wrote a list of "Ten Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next President." One of those ten presidential challenges is, not so surprisingly, North Korea. From National Journal :
~ ~ ~
North Korea remains the most reclusive and isolated nation on earth, and one of the most dangerous—thanks to its enigmatic leader Kim Jung-Il’s repressive regime, its dangerous military confrontations with South Korea, and its continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

Last year, North Korean forces torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel, killing 46 sailors; and shelled a South Korean island, killing two marines. Seoul was restrained last year but has promised to retaliate against any more provocations from Pyongyang, worrying officials in the U.S. and Japan. 

So far, 2011 has been quiet, and last month the North Korean regime resumed denuclearization talks with the United States; previous talks have resulted in food aid for the famished nation. But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in Asia at the time, said he was “skeptical” and warned Pyongyang “continues to engage in reckless and provocative behavior.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

North Korea cuts airways with Middle East

From Yonhap News
With many Middle Eastern nations revolutionizing themselves and removing their long-term dictators, North Korea has started shutting itself away. According to Yonhap News, North Korea has recently cancelled airline service with Kuwait, without any known reasons.

Kuwait has been the only Middle Eastern nation reachable by airplane from North Korea. The airline service started in last May, one flight a week.

In addition to this, North Korea has been doing its best to block all information/personnel flow between North Korea and Middle Eastern nations, such as banning all workers from Libya from returning to North Korea.
Source : 北고려항공, 중동노선 폐지…`재스민' 차단?

Google Planning K-Pop Exclusive Channel

Google CEO Eric Schmidt with President Lee Myung-Bak (Source : Wall Street Journal)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning an exclusive Youtube channel for K-Pop. And Girl's Generation(SNSD)'s Yuri made it on the Wall Street Journal! From the WSJ article :

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is in Seoul to meet with executives at several major IT companies over the next couple of days. One of the first stops was the Blue House, where he talked with President Lee Myung-bak about cooperation between Korean IT firms and Google, and Mr. Schmidt said Google intends to set up a YouTube channel for Korean pop music, or K-pop.

This is an exciting news, and it seem like Google's got a lot more plans for Korea in the future. For more, read the WSJ article : Google Plans K-Pop Channel, and More?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rain to be an Army Assistant Instructor

Korean Pop star Rain (real name : Jung Jee-Hoon), who enlisted in Korean military this October, has been selected as an Assistant Instructor for the 5th Division's Recruit Training Center(RTC). According to ROK's Army, "Rain has been selected as an Assistant Instructor for RTC on the 4th of November. When he is done with training, he will be placed in his position on the 9th of December."

RTC Assistant Instructors are selected among the recruits with the best Basic Training results, if he agrees to do so. According to an Army official, "Rain was a good leader among his squad mates, finished his training with excellent results. He also wanted to become an Assistant Instructor, so he was selected."

Rain will continue his military service for the total duration of 21 months, and will be discharged in July, 2013.

North Korea Human Rights International Film Festival

NKnet is hosting the first-ever North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival in Seoul on November 10~11, 2011. This event will include documentaries, new film shorts, and commercial films.

The films featured are : North Korea VJ, Lonely Echo, The Daughter of Tonyeong, Winter Butterfly, Dooman River, Children of Ryanggangdo, Crossing, Elephant in the Room, Final Report, and Inside.

For more information, visit the event website here.
Below is their itinerary.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flowers for Kim Il-Sung Statue

Source : Free North Korea Radio
From Free North Korea Radio (
When there are major events going on in North Korea, such as birthday of Kim Jong-Il or Kim Il-Sung, every statue of Kim Il-Sung in every North Korean city gets surrounded by bouquets of flowers. These bouquets do not come from local citizens voluntarily; instead, local factory organizations split the cost, and the local government office buys the flowers and puts them around the statue.

But when there are no events going on, there are usually only one or two bouquets around the statue. This is because local citizens put them there to make the statue not look so desolate, but it doesn't seem to help much.

The Kim Il-Sung statues in Pyongyang and Shin-ui-joo are always full of bouquets because foreign tourists like Chinese tourists are forced to buy and leave a flower bouquet at the statue. This is known to be a moneymaking scheme by the government.

A Chinese tourist that recently visited North Korea posted on his blog( that the flowers that are offered at these statues get 'recycled' and sold again.

According to his blog, "I bought a 20 yuan bouquet to offer at the Kim Il-Sung statue. Before I even bought the bouquet, the flowers were already dead. After we offered the flowers and toured around the museum, the flowers around the statue were all gone."

The government forces their own citizens and tourists to buy and offer flowers to the statue every time, but where do they come up with the money? Just sell them again after use.

나는 가수다(I am a singer) in the US?

Saw this off The Korean's facebook page. Translation below.
Inviting professional musicians and singers and putting them through a survival-elimination style program, I am a Singer(나는 가수다) of MBC has become very popular in Korea. And this program is about to go international in the United States! MBC has now finished contracting with a US firm.

MBC's CEO announced this news at an event for MBC's 50th year. He said, "The format of I'm a Singer was sold for a million dollars for the US firm, and it was also sold to a Chinese firm." Previously, one of the PDs for the show has said that they were considering selling the format of the show to producers in the US and Japan.

Although I'm a Singer has brought up problems like spoilers and the fact that professional musicians are scored solely by the audience, without any professional reviews, the popularity of the show was beyond anybody's imagination. As soon as the news about an American version of the show came out, Korean internet users have already started speculating about the show.

Currently, I'm a Singer is in its 9th round, getting ready for the second performance of the round.
(Sorry for the poor translation today. I'm just not myself right now...@_@)
Source : ‘나는 가수다’ 미국 간다

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Korean Cars dominate Canada?

2012 Hyundai Elantra
We all know that Korean automobiles have come a very long way. Korean automobile brands like Hyundai and Kia have become very popular virtually everywhere in the world. Even if you're not a fan of these brands, you must admit that Korean cars are generally a very decent buy, especially if you're on a lower budget.

Well, according to AJAC(Automobile Journalist Association of Canada)'s Testfest event, Hyundai and Kia came up as big winners of the contest. 

2012 Hyundai Accent : Best New Small Car (under $21,000)
2012 Hyundai Elantra : Best New Small Car (over $21,000)
2012 Kia Optima LX : Best New Family Car (under $30,000)

Seoul Lantern Festival 2011

From CNNgo :

Cool Seoul photo-op alert -- the annual Seoul Lantern Festival kicks off today at Cheonggyecheon in Jongno-gu. 
30,000 colored lanterns will float on the water and in the air along the 1.3-kilometer stretch from Cheonggye Plaza to Jongno-3-ga. 
The theme of this year's festival? "Seoul of yore," as told through lanterns shaped like traditional landmarks and historical figures from past dynasties.
The theme seems to be a loose one, however, as robots and cartoon characters will also be on display, as well as works from Japan and the Philippines. 
The lights will be on from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Admission is free. 
Besides all these, you will find special and traditional Japanese lanterns, and Philippines' beautiful Christmas lanterns too. Grab a camera and get out there!

For more : Seoul Lantern Festival

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CECC : 100,000 N. Korean Orphans in China

North Korean orphans. Source : Han-Schneider International Children's Foundation
You may have heard of human rights problems in China through the recently released US Congressional-Executive Commission on China. You can read more about the overall report in this Voice of America(VOA) article : US Congressional Report Notes Marked Drop in China Human Rights

But what you may have missed if you only read news articles is the part about North Korean refugees hiding in China. China has been forcefully sorting out North Korean defectors hiding in China, and deporting them back to North Korea. It is well known that those deported back are subject to death or labor camp. The biggest victims of this deportation policy, it was revealed, are women and their children. 

VOA Korea actually has an article focusing on this issue : 미 의회 중국위원회, `중국 내 무국적 탈북 고아 최대 10만 명’ Below is the translation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No more iphone game ban in Korea

Source : CNET
If you're an iphone user living in Korea, using Korean iOS, then rejoice! Same goes to game developers, because Korea is one of the biggest videogame markets in the world. Can you believe it? There was actually no 'games' tab if you went on itunes with your iphone in Korea. No Angry Birds! (though Angry Birds merchandises are everywhere in Korea... err)

As far as I know, the ban went on about 2 years ago. I was not in Korea at the time, I totally missed this news at the time (presumably too busy playing Angry Birds or something). According to my colleague, who is a software/game developer, this ban was placed primarily by the works of Ministry of Gender Equality (if you translate directly, it is Ministry of Women). Ministry of GE has been pushing a lot of regulations against video games, for developers and players alike. Android users have been suffering the same treatment, having to access international or US software markets/networks to access games.

Well, not anymore! Go enjoy some awesome games on your new iPhone 4S!

Dokdo Wine 799-805

Do you know what Dokdo is? Dokdo is a set of small islands located far off the east coast of the Korean peninsula. Dokdo also has been the center and symbol of the territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan. (I wrote an article about it before)

Well, to spread the awareness for Dokdo, a Korean American dentist in the US named Ahn Jae-Hyun has founded a winery called Dokdo Winery in the US, Napa Valley, and Dokdo winery will begin selling Dokdo wine in the coming weeks of November.

The wine brand is named 799-805, the postal code for Dokdo. The online store hasn't opened, but from what I can gather from the website and pictures, they'll be selling Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot, at least.

Check out the Dokdo Wine website here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Event : London Korean Film Festival 2011

WhatThe 6th annual event, showcasing the very best in Korean cinema, with a number of premieres and events. 
When : November 3rd until November 17th
Where : Various locations in London, refer to the website
List of films : War of the Arrow, Sunny, The Front Line, Detective K, Dance Town, Leafie a Hen into the Wild, Poongsan, and many, many more!

From the website...
Every year the festival looks to spotlight certain aspects of the Korean film industry whether it is the role of women in front of or behind the camera or how the country has dealt with war through the ages. This year is no different, shinning a light on the North and South divide which has been prevalent across many of Korea’s films since the ‘Forgotten War’. We shall examine how Korea has dealt with and utilised this in a wide variety of films including The Front Line, Dance Town and Poongsan. Also the festival will look to highlight a more lighter tone of film than the British public is used too with Korean films with a number of comedies and family friendly films.
This year we will continue to promote one of the principle aims of the festival which Is to showcase K-Culture with a number of films explore many different aspects of Korean culture. K-Pop is one of the most up and coming elements of Korean culture that is becoming more and more popular in the UK which the festival will be looking to help to increase the profile in this exciting and fresh musical wave. This will be shown with a lie performance from KPop sensation SHINee.
For more information, visit the official website here

Monday, October 31, 2011

Search for Korea's best climber called off

Park Young-Seok
Park Young-Seok, one of the most renowned climbers in South Korea, went missing 12 days ago while climbing Himalayas. Wallstreet Journal reported :

The search for three missing South Korean mountain climbers at Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, ended Saturday after 12 days without success.
Park Young-seok, one of the country’s most renowned summiteers, and two fellow climbers went missing on October 18. His last message via satellite phone said his team had a hard time climbing down due to heavy avalanche.
Park Young-Seok is the first mountain climber to achieve a true Adventure Grand Slam, climbing 14 Eight-thousanders, the Seven Summits, and both poles of the Earth. Holy crap. He also has set a lot of records and Guinness records, such as reaching the South Pole on foot in 44 days self-sufficiently. You can read all about Park's achievements here.
He was a great symbol of never giving up for many Koreans. He will be remembered and missed. Read more about the incident here.

N. Korean Govt squeezing the last dollar out of its people

Statue of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang
Next year, it will be Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday (if he was alive, that is). Since Kim Il-Sung is The Eternal President of the Republic, and the Father to all North Korean people, this is definitely going to be a huge, huge year for North Korea, at least symbolically. Not so surprisingly, North Korea has set next year as the milestone to become the greatest nation of all (강성대국의 해), despite the fact that the whole nation is crumbling down economically, socially, and structurally. Add the failure of currency fix, international sanctions, and the fact that they put most of their tax money buying expensive things and feeding military, this has become financially and practically impossible.

So where do they come up with the money for all the festivals and events? Easy! Squeeze the hell out of the already-starving North Koreans.

North Korea : 1960s and Now

Until 1972, the economic situation in the Korena peninsula was not quite like the way it is now. Now, South Korea's economic power overwhelmingly triumphs over North Korea in every aspect, that it is virtually incomparable. However, North Korea was economically well ahead of South Korea until 1972.

1972, when South Korea reached 10.6 billion dollars of total GDP, was the tipping point for both nations. North Korea began its decline, and South Korea advanced and prospered endlessly.  

These photos were taken from Chinese media and North Korea's Central News. Photos on the left are from 1972(or somewhere around then), and the ones on the right show recent photos. Let's see how much they have changed/developed in half a century!

More pictures below. 

Taken in June of 1972. This is a child care center for working couples. A large indoor facility can be seen, with many kids and large space for them to play in. The picture on the right shows a child care center used for propaganda. Children are monitored and controlled under instructors, and seem to have little freedom. Child care centers outside of Pyongyang are simply under reasonable expectations.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 minute lunch break

Standing-only bread store in North Korea
Recently in North Korea, the slogan of "Less time to eat, more time to spend in the field to build a great nation" has appeared everywhere in the streets. I guess that's a euphemism for "we don't wanna give you guys even enough time to eat lunch everyday."

Kim Jong-Il's ridiculous thirst for this 'great nation' can be seen in many other places these days. A while ago, a store in Pyongyang that used to sell beer has been forcefully transformed into a bakery, and removed all chairs from the restaurant so people would not stick around and eat for a long time. In a soap opera called "Baek-Geum-San", a wife tells her husband who is eating too fast, "you should eat slowly", to which the husband replies, "In order to achieve General Kim Jong-Il's dreams, one minute for a bowl of noodles, and three minutes for a meal is plenty long enough." 

North Korea has set the year of 2012 as the year to become "the greatest nation ever", but certainly that has not been achieved, though 2011 is almost over already. So Kim Jong-Il's government is pushing their citizens in every way possible to make them work even a minute longer. Can you imagine having only 3 minutes for your lunch break?

Source : Choson Daily : 北 '국수는 1분, 밥은 3분'안에 먹어라…왜?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Little Kim Jong-Il for Holloween

Saw this on Tumblr. Aww.

Box of Hope to North Korean refugees in the US

Couldn't find the actual poster, so I'm linking it from a Korean news website.
Source : 美 선교단체, "美 정착 탈북들에게 선물을 보냅시다"

According to Voice of America, PSALT is putting together a plan to send Christmas presents to North Korean refugees living in the United States. PSALT is "a 501c3 non-profit Christian ministry that works to educate others about North Korea and carrying out work to help the North Korean people – particularly the North Korean refugees." According to the exec. director of PSALT said on the 27th, "in order to share the pleasure of Christmas with North Korean refugees in the US, we have started a movement to send "Box of Hope" to North Koreans living in the US." PSALT will gather presents and donations from local organizations and churches and give the gifts to North Koreans on the 3rd of December. 

PSALT has been sending gifts to North Korean in the US already, but it has been unofficial, until now. Durihana church is also planning to send cards and small gifts to single-mother North Korean families in the US.

There are 124 North Korean refugees living in the US, trying to overcome many things as immigrants with extraordinary circumstances : language barrier, separation from their families, different ideologies, democracy, capitalism, and culture shock. They are largely spread out in 10 cities, living harsh lives. 

For more information, or to help out...
PSALT NK WebsiteDurihana
And to read more about PSALT, I've found an interview with their exec. director.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ROK's New Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

ROK Chairman of JCS with his American counterpart
General Jung Seung-jo, who has been the nominee for chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been officially seated in his position. During the ceremony, which was attended by high-profile military officers from not only Korea but other allied nations such as the USA, he gave a stern warning to North Korea.

"The army general said in a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Tuesday that if any enemy attacks the South, he would make sure they pay a heavy price. 
Jung said if he had been the chairman of JCS during North Korea's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island last year, he would have advised the president to use fighter planes in response. 
The general added the right to self-defense should apply not just to the location where the attack started but also against the regime that orders such provocations."

So, since the shelling of Yeonpyong islands, Republic of Korea has replaced its Minister of Defense and now the chairman of JCS(Joint Chiefs of staff). Both new officers have promised a much stronger response to North Korea's further provocations. Let us wish that this will stop North Korea from committing any more meaningless murders and atrocities.

Source : Choson Daily