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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

North Korea's Craptastic Air Koryo

So, North Korea's national airline, Air Koryo, has been given a 1-star rating by leading airline revier SkyTrax. It is the lowest possible rating, and Air Koryo is the only one with a 1-star rating.

Monday, October 24, 2011

North Korean Action Film: Pyongyang Nalparam

Nalparam(날파람) is a word that describes a gust of wind caused by a fast-moving object or person. So you get the gist of the title.

Action films in North Korea are pretty rare, unless you count those blatantly propaganda-isque movies as action films. During the 80s, "Hong-Il Dong" and "Order 027" were the action movies of the decade in North Korea. Then the industry was pretty much dead until 2006, when this film appeared.

Here's the brief summary of the plot. North Korean Taekkyon(a traditional Korean martial arts) masters fight against Japanese invaders. I haven't been able to find the full movie yet, but I'd assume that it's all because of their glorious leader, or one of those lines. I've found a video highlighting the key scenes of the movie. Behold! It was 2006, and you shall experience the 21st century special effects and sound quality... North Korean style.


Korean Idols from SM Entertainment went all out in Madison Square Garden in New York last night. In Madison Square Garden - what Korean news media described as "the Mecca of pop culture" - popular K-Pop stars such as Dongbanshingi, Girl's Generation, SHINee, f(X), and BoA performed in SMTOWN LIVE NYC 2011.

This performance was part of a world tour that began in Seoul, then LA, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris and then finally NYC was the last destination. I included a fan video of Girl's Generation performing "The Boys", which was performed live for the first time.

Earthquake in Turkey

Just a side thought. A couple days ago, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit eastern Turkey. Thousands of buildings collapsed, and many more people were buried inside the debris. I was watching the morning news as they reported that more than 1,500 people were dead or injured. It is a total catastrophe.
Turkey has been diplomatically and militarily closely tied with South Korea for a long time. Koreans are taking this situation seriously. I really hope that Korean government will send some sort of aid group over to Turkey ASAP, and the aftermath will settle down soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How they mow grass in Pyongyang

Pyongyang is the city of nobles, it's the home of the aristocrats, it's where the rich live. Pyongyang is the center of the paradise North Korea advertises itself as, and what's left of it's materialistic prosperity in all of North Korea is all concentrated in this one city.

And now we know how they mow their grass to make the city look clean. Scissors, and poor people.

North Korean officials curse at journalists

Artist's interpretation of how angry they must've been?
Saw this on Choson Daily this morning. Translation below..

Officials from North Korea got angry at South Korean journalists, cursing at them and taking away their recorders at an academic conference.

At an academic conference on Korean peninsula's problems, taken place in the state of Georgia, a chief official from the North Korean party screamed "you bastard, get the hell away(이 자식아, 저리 꺼져)" and shoved away a South Korean journalist.

This official, Mang Gyung-Il, said in an informal tone (which is considered pretty rude, if you're talking to a stranger or at a formal event), "Who did it? You writing a fiction? We're gonna find out who did this" to a Yonhap(Korean equivalent of AP, AFP, or Reuters) journalist. 

The reason this happened was because Yonhap news reported on the 17th that when the South Korean party insisted that North Korea apologize for the sinking of Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong islands, North Korean side unexpectedly did not oppose and defy this notion angrily. When this news went out, North Korean party angrily insisted that the journalist who wrote this article release his sources immediately. In this process, they even confiscated the journalist's audio recorder and checked the content.

The reason for their angry response is probably because these officials don't want the Labor Party to know that they did not deny valiantly the involvement and responsibility of North Korean in the two incidents. If the Party found out, they would be punished gravely. They also filmed themselves protesting against the South Korean journalists, probably to have an evidence for their case when they go back to North Korea.

Reddit : Korean moneyface

Now I can't even remember what the face actually looks like on the bill...
Saw this on Reddit. Enough said.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The most haunted amusement park ever

Saw this on Vice Blog after a long day, and this article gave me a good laugh. This journalist went to a 'popular' amusement park next to Pyongyang, North Korea. The magical park is called Mangyongdae, and it's been repeatedly advertised by North Korean government and central news to be the hub of all that is fun and magical in North Korea. Well, I will just leave you with the first paragraph of the article for you.

No matter how many blogs I manage to write about North Korea before I die, I'll never be able to hammer home just how much fun it is. And I say that even though I was once held ransom there, and on another occasion blacklisted and threatened by the government after they caught me taking the piss out of them in The Guardian. How could anyone not love the land that's home to the Mangyongdae fun fair, the world's shittiest, most depressing quasi-theme park? Everything in the Western World is so disappointingly competent these days.

Read the article here : 


Thursday, October 20, 2011

ADEX : Seoul 2011 is here!

Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2011, also known as ADEX 2011, is taking place in Seoul right now! The event goes from Oct 18th till the 23rd for 6 days, so it's already half-way through.

I had the privilege to visit yesterday, and I must say, the event was huge! Every prominent defense contractor from all over the world, like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, EADS, and Boeing were there, and so many more! Boeing 787, Boeing's brand-new airliner set to come into service soon, was there for visitors, as well as Global Hawk, F-35 Lightning II, T-50, and so on. This wasn't just an exhibition, the whole show was coupled with a fantastic air-show of T-50s.

Check out the event website at Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2011, there is much information to be fascinated at.

Below are the pictures from the event... enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More pictures of starving North Koreans

Not much time to work on the blog today. But I'll leave you with these pictures.

These pictures were taken by a Chinese journalist between September 29th and October 1st of 2011. Most or all of the pictures were taken in Southern Hwang-hae providence, and I will list the captions below before the pictures (I suck at photo editing...: [ )

1. A little child in a corn field. Most of the crops are withered.
2. A bowl containing a family's lunch. That's all for an entire family.
3. Students, soldiers, and civilians are forced to work in a waterway construction. There are neither equipment nor rights for these people. They're only Kim Jong-Il's consumables.
4. A woman making porridge out of dried corn. They really have not much to eat.
5. Children hospitalized for severe malnutrition.
6. A child working in the field. A normal child might be collecting cards, or playing with other children, but he must work to survive.
7. We can't even tell what they're harvesting in the fields. All these people seem thin and poorly fed.
8. Park Soo-Dong, supposedly the supervisor of a collective farm. He's basically the chief of the village, but he's so thin that you don't need an X-ray to see the shape of his skull.
9. Hungry children. There is no smile left in them.
10. But pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are in every household.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Korea-Arab Friendship Caravan 2011

The 4th Korea-Arab Friendship Caravan is an event hosted by KAS(Korea-Arab Society) in 7 nations including UAE, Iraq, Oman and Bahrain. The event starts on Oct 17th and ends on Oct 24th. A lot of popular Korean performances like Taekwondo, B-Boy dancing, and Samulnori will be featured.

This kind of event shows that South Korea has gone beyond appealing only to major power nations in the world, especially the Western ones. It shows that Korean communities are truly trying to spread all over the world, regardless of religion, race, and region.

For more information, check out the Korea-Arab Society Website at (Korean) or (English)

Kim Jong-Il's Special Uber Train

Caption reads : A film portraying Kim Jong-Il's visit to China revealed the inside of Kim Jong Il's special train he used in 2004. This picture shows Kim Jong-Il having a conversation with other Party officials, with luxurious couches and wall-mounted TV.
North Korea's Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Il, has his own special uber train named "The Sun". Traveling by airplane always has the risk of becoming an easy target for terrorism or assassination, so Kim Jong-Il prefers traveling by train, this very train to be specific. When he made visits to China and Russia recently, he took this train for his safety.

According to a Russian news agency, Kim Jong-Il's "The Sun" train consists of 17 compartments. This is one more than 2002, when he visited the far eastern Russia.

Busan International Film Festival 2011 and cleavages!

These are the relatively SFW ones anyway...
Recently, the 16th Busan International Film Festival ended, with many exciting news and events. But guess what the hot issue of the entire event was?


Ahem. Well, seriously. A lot of beautiful Korean actresses wore beautiful, yet unprecedentedly revealing dresses, and that's what everybody's been talking about in the past couple weeks. Below is a video clip from the festival with actors and actresses in it, and another link, more NSFW.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More truth on Japan's Unit 731

This was the only picture that was not NSFW about Unit 731. This building is currently open to visitors.
I generally like to put a few photos with my blog posts, especially with long ones. But this one is just way too NSFW and grotesque you might need your eyes bleached out. So no pictures, but you're free to Google 'Unit 731' with safe search off. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Ever heard of Unit 731? Well, Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II (quoting Wikipedia).

You may have heard of human medical experimentation by the Nazi's during World War II : Angel of Death, dissecting twins, injecting chemicals into prisoners, and so on. However, the Japanese during the wartime took a big step further into hell : vivisection.

Human vivisection refers to dissecting a live human without anesthesia. Japanese doctors in these facilities thought that dissecting human body after death would not give the best results due to decomposition. Anesthesia was also not used for similar reasons. Vivisection took place after various procedures, such as infecting prisoners with diseases, shooting them with new weapons, or injecting/cutting/sewing random things and body parts on and off their bodies. The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, pregnant women, and infants.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

North Korea's failed food policy

International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI) has picked North Korea as one of the three nations whose hunger rate has gotten the worst in the past 20 years. The other two nations picked were Congo and Burundi.

IFPRI conducted research to measure "2011 World Hunger Score" for 120 nations all over the world depending on people's nutritional health, proportion of children with low body weight, and death rate of children under 5.

To nobody's surprise, North Korea got 19 points. IFPRI interprets the scores like the following : 10~19(serious), 20~29(dangerous), 30+(extremely dangerous). So 19 points stands right in between serious hunger and dangerous hunger. North Korea's hunger score increased by 18% over the past two decades, becoming the "Loser" nation whose food policy had failed the worst in the world.

IFPRI's spokesperson said, "The possible reason behind these findings are, failed economic policy, high military spending, obscure agricultural technology, and government policies."

According to IFPRI, 33% of the entire North Korean population suffers from malnutrition.

Source: Radio Free Asia(Korean)

Korean Men : Murses

Personally, this is a huge no-no.
This post is entirely my opinion only. I don't mean to bash anybody, it's just for your information to know, because I think it's interesting.

In case you didn't know, I'm a man. As a male human who lived most of my teen years in the California, U.S., I must say that when I came back to Korea last year, I wasn't all too familiar with the fashion trend here.

Then it hit me in the face, MURSES! MURSES EVERYWHERE!

Alright so, murse = man purse. I'm not saying that I'm against men wearing murses or other metrosexual things. Having lived near West Hollywood I've seen plenty of that, and I'm quite comfortable with it too. It's just that... the population density of murses in any crowd in Seoul was too high for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CNNgo : 20 delish Korean drinks!

It's been a while since I posted a CNNgo article... so here it goes!

CNNgo has posted a list of 20 Korean drinks that you should know about. These range from alcoholic drinks like soju to banana milk - my personal favorite - and all the healthy drinks as well. Worth checking it out!

CNNgo - 20 delicious Korean drinks

K-Pop Star Rain Enlists in Army

I don't think he got the right memo. 1. his hand and his forearm should make a straight line, 2. his hair seems a wee too long for boot camp.
A wee late for this, but for those of you who don't know yet...

Rain(비 in Korean), a very popular K-Pop star described as "South Korea's modern-day Elvis" by Guardian, enlisted in Korean Army on the 11th of October. Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon, will go through approximately 5 weeks of boot-camp training. He should currently be in a prep battalion, before entering a training regiment. Rain will serve 21 months of military service. It hasn't been announced exactly where Rain will be serving, but most celebrities have a special military unit in Ministry of Defense for popular singers and actors, for advertising. Good luck to Private Jung Ji-Hoon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Make Korean food and win a free trip to S. Korea!

Do you like Korean food? Do you like making it? Do you have your own special recipe?, basically an official tour website for Seoul, is hosting this event called "Delicious SEOUL Story". You post your own Korean food recipe via Youtube, and the final 5 teams will be granted a free 4-day trip to Seoul. Last day to submit your recipe is Oct 31st, so get on it!

More information in English here : Delicious SEOUL Story

Monday, October 10, 2011

N. Korea's fake Red Ginseng

In East Asian nations (Koreas, China, Japan), Ginseng(인삼) is not only a popular and historical medicine, but also part of the diet. So, a good and well-grown ginseng can cost quite a lot of money.

According to RFA(Radio Free Asia), a lot of Chinese ginseng has been bought by North Korea in order to re-process it as authentic Korean Red Ginseng and sold it back to China and Hong Kong.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

American GI bodies in North Korea

Korean War Memorial in DC
RFA(Radio Free Asia)'s Korean section had this article on the current situation of unearthing American GIs' bodies from Korean War 60 years ago. According to the US Congressional report, many bodies are destroyed beyond the levels of DNA inspection, and many crates had several body remains mixed up so the process of identifying soldiers have become extremely difficult.

Below is a brief translation of the RFA article.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farewell, Steve Jobs

Quite late on this, but busy work and sickness (again?) came first.

I haven't posted in a few days, but next week I'll get back on track. Next post will be on Apple vs. Samsung, what you need to know about the conflict between the two mega-companies.

RIP, Steve! My Iphone 3G (that I still have) will miss you.