Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lee Seung Gi's comeback: King2Hearts

Some pictures of Lee Seung Gi and Ha Ji Won on the set have recently been released.
On February 27, MBC TV released some pictures taken on February 7 on the set of its new drama series King2Hearts. In the pictures, Ha and Lee are dressed in a North Korean officer’s uniform and a South Korean officer’s uniform, respectively.
Ha is playing the role of Kim Hang Ah, a female drill instructor of North Korean special forces, and Lee is playing the role of Lee Jae Ha, a spoiled, carefree South Korean man.
Lee and Ha have an awful first meeting as Lee doesn’t like Ha and provokes her into a quarrel in the drama series.
The officer’s uniforms make them look completely different from the previous images they’ve shown. It was their first meeting, but Lee and Ha worked in perfect harmony and were praised by the crew.
Especially, Ha attracted attention by perfectly portraying North Korean official Kim Hang Ah. As she burst into a laugh while acting in a North Korean accent, the atmosphere on the set was also loosened up.
With positive, bright Ha and polite, pleasant Lee, the set was full of laughs, according to reports.
Kim Jong Hak Production, which produces the drama series, says, “It was Lee Seung Gi and Ha Ji Won’s first meeting, but they worked in perfect harmony and got praised by producer Lee Jae Kyu and the crew. Please look forward to their story.”
King2Hearts will start airing on March 14 after The Moon Embracing the Sun goes off the air.

Source: '킹투허츠' 하지원·이승기..첫 만남부터 신경전 '팽팽'

Repatriation of North Korean Refugees

China is a member nation of both the "Convention relating to the status of refugees," and the "Protocol relating to the status of refugees." However, it refuses to recognize North Korean defectors as refugees.
By a series of secret contracts sgined in early 1960s, the "Mutual Transfer of Defectors and Criminals Treaty between North Korea and China," and the "1986 Mutual Cooperation Protocol for the Work of Maintaining National Security and Social Order in the Border Areas between China and North Korea," both countries mutually agreed to cooperate on the work of preventing illegal border crossing of residents, which primarily consists of repatriation from China to North Korea. China emphasizes that whether to recognize North Korean defectors as refugees is China's own right. They believe that it is not a matter international institutions or a third party nation, especially the US, should interfere.
Currently, there are about 80 North Korean defectors to be repatriated.
Let's hope we get some action at the US Congress CECC hearing (Congressional-Executive Commission on China).

S. Korea Develops Active Protection System for Armor

South Korea developed an indigenous active protection system for defending armored fighting vehicles from anti-tank weapons, the country’s arms procurement agency announced Feb. 28.
The Korean Active Protection System (KAPC), developed by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD), uses a three-dimensional detection/tracking radar and a thermal imager to detect incoming warheads, such as anti-tank guided missiles, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The system can detect incoming warheads at a range of 150 meters, a DAPA spokesman said, and upon detection, a defensive rocket is fired that explodes 10 to 15 meters from the inbound threat.
“This system demonstrates a new concept of active protection system that can neutralize incoming missiles and rockets,” the spokesman said. He added the system will be installed on the K2 Black Panther main battle tank, now in test runs.
Unveiled in 2007, the K2, jointly developed by the ADD and Hyundai Rotem, carries a three-person crew supported by an auto-loading system and a locally developed 120mm/55-caliber stabilized smoothbore gun. Hundreds of K2s are to be produced over the next few years.
The technology of the KAPC is scheduled to be used in developing other active systems to protect warships, helicopters and government facilities, he noted.
KAPC’s per-unit price is around 670 million won ($600,000), according to the spokesman.

Source: 軍, 대전차미사일 자동추적ㆍ파괴체계 개발

Monday, February 27, 2012

Singer Rain takes a rain check on frontline soldiering

South Korean pop icon Rain will serve as an "entertainment soldier" for the remainder of his two years of compulsory military service, according to the defence ministry. Rain will appear in television and radio programmes of the Korean Forces Network, a broadcaster run by the ministry to boost morale, and take part in weekly concert tours to military units across the country. "As he is a singer and dancer, he will do well as an 'entertainment soldier'," a ministry official told AFP on Friday. Fans from across Asia wept last October when the 29-year-old entertainer entered boot camp to start his mandatory military service. He was said to be adjusting well to military life, being judged a top marksman and groomed to become an assistant instructor. Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon, is a major star in his home country and throughout much of the rest of Asia, where South Korean "K pop" commands a huge following. All eligible South Korean men must spend about two years in the military. The country has remained technically at war with North Korea since their 1950-1953 conflict ended without a peace treaty. Most start their spell around the age of 20. But Rain took advantage of a provision allowing famous entertainers to postpone their service.

North Korean Leader Threatens ‘Retaliatory Strike’ Against South

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the military to launch a “powerful retaliatory strike” if provoked by the South, the North’s state-run media reported on Sunday.

Mr. Kim’s statement, issued during a visit to military units on the country’s southern coast that faces a string of islands manned by South Korean marines, comes a day before the United States and South Korea are scheduled to begin a massive joint military exercise.

Source: New York Times

Naver, Korea's Internet Search Engine

One very interesting thing to note about Korea is that Koreans have their own search engine, Naver. Korea is one of the very few countries that Google was unable to gain market share.
Although Google is loved by most of internet users  for its simplicity, and accuracy, it just lacks contents compared to Naver. Apart from being a search engine, Naver also has its own contents, such as Naver Webtoons, and encourages users to actively post their ideas, blogs, etc. by publishing it in the front page if it gains enough attention...
I personally use Naver as 1. search engine, 2. Korean-English dictionary, 3. Webtoons...

FYI... Naver is owned by NHN Corporation.
Go to Naver : www.naver.com

And this is just one of the webtoons that I really enjoyed...
Bongcheon-dong Ghost Story is considered by many to be one of the most horrifying online comics of all time. The story references the real-life 2002 suicide of "Mrs. Cho", a woman who lived in the area. The reason behind her suicide was the loss of her child due to a divorce settlement. The comic tells of the mother's demon who terrifies a young schoolgirl while looking for her daughter.

Source: http://comic.naver.com/webtoon/detail.nhn?titleId=350217&no=20&weekday=tue

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Forbes Korea: K-POP

Forbes Korea: Top 20 Power Celebrities

1.) Girls’ Generation
2.) Big Bang
3.) IU
4.) KARA
5.) Kim Yuna (World Champion Figure Skater & Olympic Gold Medalist)
6.) Lee Seung Gi (Actor / Singer)
7.) Park Ji Sung (Midfielder for Manchester United & former Captain of Korean National Soccer Team)
8.) Kim Tae Hee (Actress / Model)
9.) B2ST
10.) Park Tae Hwan (Champion Swimmer & Olympic Gold Medalist)
11.) 2PM
12.) Kang Ho Dong (Comedian / MC)
13.) JYJ
14.) Shin Se Kyung (Actress)
15.) TVXQ
16.) Super Junior
17.) T-ARA
18.) Shin Soo Choo (Major League Baseball Player for Cleveland Indians, Silver at World Baseball Classic, Gold at Asian Games)
19.) Yoo Jae Suk (Comedian / MC)
20.) Lee Chung Yong (Footballer for Premier League club Bolton Wanderers)

The Top 20 ‘Power Celebrities’ ranking released by Forbes Korea means a lot to readers.
Forbes, well known for its lists established in 1917. The Forbes 400 is an annual list that ranks the country’s richest Americans by their estimated net worth. Other lists include ‘400 Best Big Companies,’ ‘100 Best Mid-Cap Stocks,’ and ‘Americas Best Colleges.’
Then there is ‘The Celebrity 100’ an annual list of 100 most powerful people in the entertainment business. Forbes Korea has selected 40 out of 100 people based on income, influence, fame and expertise. The top 20 consisted of 10 idol groups. There were only 4 that were on the list last year. This is a reflection on the growth of K-Pop, especially the idol groups. They are influencing the economy and brand image of Korea and other countries culture and economy as well.
The Samsung Economic Research Institute released that the brand image of products ‘Made in Korea’ have increased 2.7 higher than 7 years ago. Korean government stated a 2000% increase of export in beverages to the Middle East, 303% of smart phones, 127% in automobile, 190% VTR, 90% clothing, and 32% refrigerator to South America.
Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange ranked Korea 15 that is 3 ranks higher than last year, Korea has been recognized for its attractiveness and refined culture.
This is all the same on the streets. In the street side of Shibuya station, the largest transfer, there is a poster of ‘Girls’ Generation’s entire body. It’s not uncommon to see Korea girl group’s music video being displayed on outside monitors.
The Koreans who are stepping outside to the world market is merely doing more than promoting their own music.

(I am surprised Kang Ho Dong and Lee Seung Gi is higher than Yoo Jae Suk..._

Source: Allkpop.comGrowth Korea K-Pop Stars Big Impact on Korea's 

N. Korea's per-capita GDP grows 4.7 pct in 2011

North Korea's per-capita gross domestic product probably expanded more than 4 percent in 2011 from a year earlier on an improved grain harvest and intensified state efforts, a report said Sunday.

The North's per-capita GDP for last year is estimated at US$720, up 4.7 percent from $688 a year earlier, Hyundai Research Institute said in the report based on the communist country's infant mortality rate and grain production.

Btw $720 is 3% of what an average South Korean gets in a year...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Korean Beer

For those of you who don't know yet, Koreans usually drink soju, but beer is also a popular drink in Korea, often a substitute to those who don't like soju, and a complement to soju when making so-maek (soju+beer).

As a freshman at uni studying economics, drinking soju is the cheapest and fastest way to get drunk, thereby making it the most efficient choice. However, that was when I wasn't working my ass off. When my wallet was no more deprived of money after starting various part-time jobs, I changed my alcohol consumption from soju to beer. What I found disturbing about beer is that  Korean beer all taste really bland. The other beer options are overpriced foreign beers, which goes over my usual budget. Some of my friends say that Korean beer is sparkling water with little bit of alcohol added to it...

Koreans have few choices in beer even though they drink more of it than any alcohol beverage year after year. At any supermarket, convenience store, restaurant, food stall or bar, virtually everywhere, consumers have just two options: cheap and mediocre-tasting local beers or pricey imports.

What makes it sad is that people have come to accept this dichotomy as unavoidable, and adjust their consumption patterns to either downing Korean beer served in over-sized pitchers or splurging on fancy bottled foreign alternatives on special occasions. But the situation could change if the relevant regulations were liberalized ― cracking the OB-Jinro Hite duopoly. Local beers suffer not from lack of imagination but from lack of competition.

N. Koreans' life expectancy ranks 151st in world

The average North Korean can expect to live 69.2 years, placing the nation 151st (out of 221 countries)  in the world in terms of life expectancy, recent U.S. government data showed. Meanwhile South Koreans live 79.3 years on average, placing the nation 41st in the world in terms of life expectancy. 

North Korea

total population: 69.2 years 

male: 65.34 years 
female: 73.24 years (2012 est.)

South Korea

total population: 79.3 years 

male: 76.12 years 
female: 82.7 years (2012 est.)

But I doubt that North Koreans actually live 69.2 years on average. Like China, the most statistical data on North Korea is unreliable...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Soccer: South Korea book seventh successive Olympic spot

South Korea reached their seventh successive Olympic Games with a game to spare on Wednesday when they cruised past Oman 3-0 in Muscat.

South Korea's Nam Tae-hee gave his team the perfect start when he scored after only one minute at their match in Oman. FC Seoul striker Kim Hyun-sung doubled the Koreans' advantage in the 68th minute before Kim Min-woo, who plays his club football in Japan's lower leagues with Sagan Tosu, adding the third just four minutes later.

Last time, back in '08, we failed to pass the first round...
Hope that we do better in London '12.

Source: South Korea book seventh successive Olympic spot