Tuesday, October 30, 2012

North Korea taxing rice from starving people

Because of serious economic crisis, North Korea price level is very unstable. On October in Pyeongyang, a kilo of apple costs 6000 North Korea won, an egg cost 800 won, and a kilo of rice rose to 6500-7000 won. North Korean public worker income ranges from 3000 to 10000 won. With this, they are unable to buy a kilo of rice. They have already hit the rock bottom of socialist economic system. They gave up ration system, but it seems very unlikely and difficult for North Korea to turn things around. Recently, because of food shortages, North Korea soldiers suffered from malnutrition and went back home. North Korean authorities are collecting rice from the people under the name of patriotic rice. How can they give rice when they don't have any. The economic crisis and food shortage is all caused by Kim Jong-un's greed.

In winter I want to go here

In winter, many think that one should ski or snowboard, but in winter, I like going to Jeju island. If you've ever been to Korea, you probably heard of Jeju island. Jeju island is a Korean island located in the South. Seasons in Jeju come a tempo slower than in the mainland. So if you go to Jeju island right now, you can enjoy autumn. Autumn leaves, and pearl white water rifts are very beautiful in Jeju island. Ivory flame grass wavering is extremely beautiful. If I ever get the time, I would like to go to Jeju island this winter vacation.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Even UK is critical about human rights violation in North Korea

North Korea is the worst human rights violation country in the world. The UK government has shown interest and anxiety about the human rights violation in North Korea. On September 28th, the British ambassador, James Hoare, expressed anxiety about the human rights issue to Kim Young-nam, the North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. Moreover, the UK government expressed anxiety when North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative visited London. Sayeeda Warsi, Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, also criticized the prison camps in North Korea. Britain's criticism toward North Korea implies that the international community can no longer look on with folded arms when it comes to human rights violation in North Korea. We can no longer leave the fate of the North Korean people at the mercy of brutal North Korean authorities.

I listen to K-pop because I like it. The recent Gangnam Style fever caused world wide interest in K-pop to soar. In several countries, many K-pop manias follow the K-pop dances and sing K-pop songs. In order to spread the K-pop fever and increase international awareness about K-pop, Korea is holding various events, such as the K-pop Festival, and Cover Dance Festival. On Sept 28th, K-pop World Festival was held. The festival was a competition of fans in deciding who can dance and sing K-pop songs well. The winner of vocals at this year's festival was Nadya & Marwah from Indonesia. O.M.G. from Czech Republic won the group awards. If you want to see the festival, go on youtube and check the videos out.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ROK US agree on creation of mini-CFC

Korea and the US have agreed to create a new joint command that will replace the Combined Forces Command when full operational control of Korean troops return to Seoul in 2015. The new body is expected to take over key wartime functions of the CFC. Korea and the US agreed to form a joint task force that will come up with ways to effectively combine the command structures of the Korean and US militaries at the annual security talks in Washington. The allies agreed to identify specific types of nuclear threats by North Korea and map out joint deterrence strategies tailored to each type of threat by 2014. Through the OPCON transfer, South Korean forces will play a leading role and their American counterparts will play a supporting role. The absence of a control tower will wreak havoc in combined operations in the event of contingencies. And South Korea still lacks in intelligence gathering and precision strike capabilities. Moreover, tensions in the Korean peninsula remain unchanged, making anxieties about the OPCON transfer plausible. The US has no reason to oppose the creation of the mini-CFC, considering China's strong emergence in Northeast Asia. Although South Korean military needs to gain the ability to stand on its own feet, a sudden independence could be disastrous to the national security of Korea. Therefore, I believe it is crucial that the two countries form a mini-CFC.

North Korea Brutal Prison Camps

Of the many prison camps in North Korea, the one in Hoeryong 22 political prison camp, located north-east of Hoeryong, Hamgyong province is the worst. 50,000 prisoners are contained and the age of youngest prisoner put to harsh work is 6. At the camp, prisoners are put to work until they die. Prisoners work 10 hours a day, but only 180g of rice is given per person. When prisoners make a tedious mistake, they are given severe punishment. Female prisoners are often sexually abused by the security guards. Recently it was reported that the Hoeryong 22 camp has closed down, but from recent satellite imagery by North Korean activist groups, the camp is still working.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who are the two most famous Koreans in the world?

I have traveled to Korea often and I have always had interest in Korean culture, but after Psy's Gangnam Style hit the Billboard charts, all my interests changed to Korea. If you think about Korea, the first thing that came up to your mind was probably either K-pop or Kimchi, but now it's probably changed to Psy's Gangnam Style. There is one more Korean that might come up to your mind. It's Ban Ki -moon, the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations. Recently, Psy and Ban met up and danced Gangnam Style. Even the two Koreans contribute differently to the world, they both have done a great job of promoting Korea. Koreans would surely be proud of the two.

Could you have lived in this conditions?

You probably have heard of North Korean political prisoner camps. In North Korea there are as many labor camp prisons as political prisoner camps, and each number up to 70. Labor camps confine sentenced convicts, and force compulsory labor. It is managed by the Ministry of People's Security. The human rights violations carried out in the labor camps are worse than normal prison camps. Each labor camps confine 30~50 prisoners in 33. They force abortion on pregnant women, and the guards rape the female prisoners. The environment is extremely unsanitary without proper medical facilities. So patients with tuberculosis and other contagious and deadly disease are left untreated. It'd be better to die than to live under these conditions. There is no human rights in North Korea.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The one thing North Korea's dictator is afraid of...

Kim Jong-un is not afraid of isolation in the international community nor is he afraid of food shortages. The only thing he fears is the collapse of his dictatorship. When North Korean activists planned to launch balloons carrying 200,000 propaganda leaflets across the heavily militarized border, North Korea responded by threatening to launch a merciless military strike against the anti-North Korean activists. Many of you might think that the leaflets are mere paper, but at the moment, it is one of the most effective way to threaten the current rogue state of North Korea. The leaflet is made not to provoke a conflict but to convey the truth to the north Koreans, and South Korea should not succumb to North Korea's threats and continue with the effort.

South Korea Hopes for Naro Rocket Launch Success

South Korea aims to join the ranks of spacefaring nations this Friday by blasting a small experimental satellite to orbit. Despite its high economic status, Korea lags far behind other economies such as the US, Russia and japan in space technology investment. Korea hopes to conduct its first successful space rocket launch this week after two failed attempts in August 2009 and June 2010. The launch is drawing special attention as to whether the launch itself will be successful this time, though experts refused to call the first two launches failure or even half-successful. The successful launch of the KSLV-1 and successful deployment of the satellite this time will mean a tremendous success, as it will mark the beginning of a new era of space for South Korea, also making it part of an exclusive space club of only a dozen countries that have successfully sent locally manufactured rockets and satellites into space. I have seen the second launch fail. I hope the upcoming launch becomes a success.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The reason why North Korea does not reform its economy

Until recently, North Korea has been showing signs of new economic reforms by abolishing ration system in a few state-owned companies, and reinforcing the autonomy of foreign investment companies. However, most North Korean observers do not see this move as a true economic reform.
If North Korea really wanted a reform, the North Korean authorities must first solve the food shortage problem through agricultural reform. But there is no signs of agricultural reform. They are only beating around bush by emphasizing socialism to its people through the state-owned media, and propagandizing Kim Jong-il method of the rogue regime.

The remarkable activities of ROK Navy Cheonghae Unit

It was impressive to see the Cheonghae Unit of the ROk Navy rescued abducted ships and its sailors without any casualties in 2010. Rescue missions are risky because a single mistake or contingencies can cause human casualties. South Korea's contributions to global security are impressive. Since an early foray into Somalia in 1993, South Korea has expanded its involvement in UN peace operations and currently contributes troops to ongoing operations in Haiti and Lebanon. It sustains a continuous naval presence in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as part of multinational anti-piracy efforts, thanks to the construction of six modern destroyers over the past decade. Given Korea's security concerns in its immediate vicinity, its determination to contribute to global public goods is remarkable and points to a continuing rise in influence globally.

Monday, October 22, 2012

South Korea firms in Gaeseong complex hit by North Korean's hefty taxes

The inter-Korean relations is facing another threat of being put out because North Korea has arbitrarily and unilaterally slapped heavy taxes on South Korean firms operating there.
North Korea revised tax regulations in August for South Korean businesses operating in Kaesong to impose hefty fines on companies if caught dodging taxes.
As part of its effort to extract taxes, the rogue state is allegedly threatening to restrict the movement of goods and personnel in and out of the complex unless the taxes are paid. Moreover, North Korean employees at the complex also ask South korean firms to provide severance pay even if employees quit voluntarily. Under the current labor terms, South Korea firms are obliged to offer severance pay only when North Korean employees are forced to quit after serving at least one year.
According to the original regulations that were agreed in 2003 when both Koreas were working to open the complex, Pyongyang is required to negotiate with Seoul any changes to the relevant tax laws, but the North made the revisions arbitrarily without consulting the South.
The joint industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong is the only pipeline linking the two Koreas due to their strained relations.
The North has threatened to either block their exports or evict them from the complex if they fail to pay up. North Korea must be dreaming if it thinks foreign companies will simply submit to such an arbitrary regime, let alone pour fresh investment into the country.
At the moment, North Korea and China are developing a joint industrial complex in Hwanggumpyong Island and Wihwa Island. Even if North Korea provides cheap labor, no country will invest in such an unstable nation. Even if North Korea is desperate for foreign currency, this has gone way too far out of the line.

Korean Air unveils new delicious in-flight meal

Korean Air unveiled its new in-flight meal of dongchimi guksoo (cold noodle soup with radish water kimchi), and yeongyangbap (steamed grains and rice)
The meal will be offered from next month to first and prestige class passengers on long-haul flights to the US and Europe. Korean food due to its unique ingredients and scent, can be used in a limited manner for in-flight meals. But Korean Air is making efforts to develop new menu items to spread the popularity of Korean food throughout the world. Dongchimi receives the most attention. Korean Air has served just white kimchi (kimchi without red pepper powder) due to the sensitivity of foreign passengers to smell. Since demand is growing to increase the diversity of kimchi on the menu, Korean air chose white kimchi because it is a traditional food that is not eaten daily. Korean air offers bibimbap, samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), ox tail soup, steamed rice with Gondrae herb and crab marinated in soy sauce since 1997. Korean Air has received many awards for best quality in-flight meals since 1998. If you ever get a chance to fly Korean Air, I recommend that you try some in-flight Korean meals.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Korea, UN joins UN Security Council

Korea won a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security COuncil on Oct. 19for the second time after holding a similar position in 1996. South Korea was elected to a two-year term as a non-permanent member state between 2013 and 2014 at the UNSC elections held at UN headquarters in New York. Picking up this seat, South Korea is expected to have a stronger right to speak on North Korean issues that are subject to UNSC's sanctions. Now, Korea can participate in debates on North Korean issues as a member of the UN Security Council. This will give a significant deterrent power over the North. Korea will be able to position itself as a more dominant player in light of deepening comfort women issues, territorial and resources disputes in East Asia such as one between China and Japan ver remote islands in the East China Sea, and the US's relative economic and military decline. I hope Korea will use this seat to strengthen their roles and contributions fitting their national power in solidifying peace on the Korean peninsula and maintaining international peace and security. 

Nephew of Kim Jong-un, Kim Han-sol calls his uncle a dictator during interview

Kim Jong-il's teenage grandson said his uncle, new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is a dictator in a reare interview with a member of one of the world's most secretive ruling families. Kim Han-sol is the son of Kim Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam, who lost his sanding in the family after he was caught trying to sneak into Japan using a fake passport, wanting to visit Disneyland. The interview was done with Elisabeth Rehn, a former UN under-secretary general and special rapporteur for Human Rights in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Born in North Korea in 1995, he had a lonely childhood, spent mostly with his mother's family and was isolated from his grandfather and his uncle, both who he never met. Kim said of his uncle and his grandfather that he didn't know why they became dictators. Kim Han-sol says he visit North Korea about once a year, usually in the summer, and visits his relatives. However, the fact that he has never met his uncle or his grandfather implies there is structural issues in the Kim family. Moreover, when talking about his mother, he claimed that his mother was of a commoner by birth. A commoner? Although it hasn't been verified, yet, this implies that there is a social class system in North Korea. From Kim Han-sol's interview, we can learn how closed North Korea is.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Workers are means of earning foreign currency?

The North Korean authority, walking a path of international isolation, is desperately trying to earn foreign currency. North Korean diplomats openly earn foreign currency, and North Korea's resources are exported to China. Now, North Korea is exporting their labor. China is developing a large-scale distribution & manufacturing complex in Dandong Langtou, located near Amnok river. North Korea is sending its workers to Lantou to earn foreign currency. However, what the workers earn does not go to their pockets. The foreign currency that is earned is collected by North Korean authorities to be used for Kim Jong-un's personal purpose and war preparation. North Korean workers are forced to cross borders to earn foreign currency to fill Kim Jong-un's belly, while they are starving to death.

Africa should learn from Korea

Last December, The Economist published the article, ‘Africa Rising.’ Over the past decade, the average growth rate of African countries was 6.8~8.8%. However, the World Bank and other international institutions that support development in Africa reminded them that growth in Africa must continue and recommended that they follow the Korean economic growth model. Following the Korean War and the Japanese colonization, South Korea remained one of the poorest countries in the world for over a decade. The growth of the industrial sector was the principal stimulus to economic development. Now it ranks 15th in the world by nominal GDP and 12th by purchasing power parity. Now, Korea and Africa has formed inter-government consultative body to actively address the developments through effective coordination and creative organization of the relevant forums. I hope to see Africa's economic growth catch up with the developed countries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reality in North from the defection of North Korean soldier

Three North Korean soldiers have defected to South Korea across the heavily fortified border since August, in an apparent embarrassment to Pyongyang's new regime. On October 2, a North Korean soldier shot two superiors dead before crossing the heavy-militarized border. Military defections across the land border between the two KOreas are rare, with the last reported crossing by a North Korean soldeir in 2010, and previous instances in 2008 and 2002. However, worsening food shortage at military barracks in the impovershied North has fanned frustration among its soldiers, and the North's military appears to have serious lax discipline issues these days. North Korean soldiers stationed near the border are reportedly selected from families known to be the most loyal to the communist regime, to try to prevent military defections that may embarrass Pyonyang. Despite all these efforts, the fact that a North Korean soldier in the front line hints the nearing collapse of North Korea. North has fanned frustration among its soldiers from worsening food shortages.

What was the most impressive performance?

When I was studying history, I became interested in different cultures and artifacts of different countries. I was especially intrigued by intangible cultural assets. So far I've seen Argentina's Tango. Recently I heard that ICCN Festival (World Intangible Culture Festival) was being held in Gangneung, Korea, which I really wanted to go to.
Indonesia's Wayang Kulit, Czech's Rid of Kings, Cambodia's Khmer Shadow Theater, Croatia's Becarac, Italy's Sicilian doll play is available at the festival.
Korean culture performances are also very interesting. Gangneung Farm Music and Gwanno Masque Drama seemed very exotic. What was the most impressive performance for you? I have so many that I cannot choose one over the other.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The oppressed desires of North Korean youths

Last September, university students at Wonsan were cuaght collectively watching Korean drama and using South Korean standard language. This led to the North Korean authorities to strengthen censorship of impure elements, and foreign medias in the China-North Korean border regions. Korea and US media contents are very appealing even to the brainwashed North Korean youths.
As computers and internet is spreading within North Korea, games, drama, and other media contents are being imported into North Korea. And many North Koreans have already indirectly experienced South Korean culture. On the 7th, Kim Jong-un has ordered to launch a crackdown on censoring Korean wave cultures at the State Security Department. Does Kim Jong-un really think that he can block off foreign media contents physically in the 21st century?

Walking as a healing process

A few years ago, I visited Jeju island. Jeju island is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and many Japanese. The island's mixture of volcanic rock, frequent rains, and temperate climate, make it very similar to the Hawaiian islands in the US. The island offers a wide range of activities, such as hiking on Halla mountain, catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, viewing majestic waterfalls, or just lying around on sandy beaches. My favorite place on Jeju island is the Olle trail. Olle is the Jeju dialect for a narrow pathway that is connected from the street to the front gate of a house. The scenic views attract many tourists. Recently, I heard that the second World Trail Conference would take place in Jeju island. Moreover, Ollivier Bernard, who wrote the book 'Longue Marche' will be participating at the conference. Ollivier Bernard walked to find meaning in life when he was depressed, which I can sympathize with. If you are interested in coming to Jeju, I recommend the Olle trail.

2012 F1 Korean Grand Prix Finals

The Korean Grand Prix Final held on the 14th in Yeongam was a spectacle. To give you the spoiler, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull handily capured his second straight Formula One (F1) Korean Grand Prix and overtook the lead in the driver's championship race. Another Red Bull duo, Mark Webber gave Red bull a tense 1-2 victory at the Korean Grand Prix, closely followed by Ferrari's Alonso. It was disappointing to see Lewis Hamilton finished a lowly tenth after a catalog of problems including a rear suspension failure and a freak piece of Astroturf getting lodged in his sidepod. Moreover, Psy appeared at the scene to wave the checkered flag and also performed his Gangnam Style pop hit after the race, attracting many to the ceremony performance. I'm already excited for the next year's Korean GP.

The Sinking of ROKS Cheonan

Recently, President Lee Myung-bak made a condolence speech at the funeral of servicemen killed in the 2010 sinking of the naval corvette Cheonan by North Korean attack. The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when Cheonan, a ROK navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen. A South Korean-led official investigation carried out by a team of international experts from South Korea, the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Sweden presented a summary of its investigation on 20 May 2010, concluding that the warship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired by a midget submarine. North Korea, however denied having had anything to do with the sinking, responding to what it referred to as the puppet military warmongers, right-wing conservative politicians and the group of traitors in South Korea. However, internal reports indicated Kim Jong-il had ordered the torpedo attack and is very proud of the success. How can a country call itself a proper nation when it is proud of the crimes and massacres they have commited? North Korea is none, but a rogue state.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tips on traveling in Korea during autumn (Gangwon-do)

I am a travelholic, and traveled all over Korea last year. After I got to see large metropolitans like Seoul, I became curious about other provinces, and went to Ganwon-do last summer. Hoengseong, Gangwon-do is a region famous for Korean beef. Koreans are very proud about the quality of Korean beef, claiming that Korean beef is second to none. Although I am not a beef quality specialist, Heongseong Korean beef is actually really good. Around this time of year, Hoengseong Korean beef festival is held, attracting many tourists to the Gangwon province. Moreover, not only is there delicious beef, but the natural scenery in Hoengseong is definitely a must-see attraction. In Hoengseong, there are 33,000 park filled with Mexican Aster flowers, Hoengseong Lake walk, and Cheongtaesan forest lodge is also beautiful. If you ever plan to come to Korea in autumn, I strongly recommend that you visit Hoengseong and taste delicious Korean beef and feel the beautiful scenery of Korea.

Psychological Warfare in Modern Times

In discussing modern warfare, the terminology, 4th generation warfare is often used.
The term was first used in 1989 by William S. Lind to describe warfare's return to a decentralized form, in terms of generational modern warfare, the fourth generation signifies the nation states' loss of their near-monopoly on combat forces, returning to modes of conflict common in pre-modern times. The 4th generation warfare uses classical tactics, deemed unacceptable by traditional modern thinking, to weaken the advantaged opponent's will to win. Highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through media manipulation and lawfare, is one of the main elements of conflict defining 4th generation warfare. Various techniques are used and aimed to influence a target audience's value systems, belief systems, emotion, motives, reasoning or behavior in order to induce an advantageous position in a asymmetrical war. One of the countries that is employing 4th generation warfare is North Korea. Through 4GW, North Korea is trying to create a favorable condition to communize the entire peninsula. They are spreading revolutionary indoctrination throughout South Korea populace, to instill anti-American and anti-government sentiment in the South and to instigate struggle against the South Korean government through indoctrination of South Korean workers, students, intellectuals, and the military. They are provoking struggles for anti-American independence and anti-dictatorship democratization among South Korean, thus linking anti-American and anti-government struggle with the communization of the entire peninsula. Moreover, they are trying to launch, consistently and aggressively, disguised peace offensives against South Korea, thus attempting to create a favorable atmosphere to communize the South by urging the USFK to withdraw from the peninsula, precipitating the disintegration of the South, and putting forward false peace offensives to dress up the regime's image.
The South Korean government must strive not to give in to North Korea's attempts to communize the peninsula. Recently, the ROK ministry of defense stated that pro-North Korean forces as the enemy of state. The ministry provided a 18-page long presentation about the pro-North Korean groups, in order to counteract North Korea's fourth generation warfare efforts.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tips on traveling in Korea during autumn

In Korea, there are many regional festivals. I recommend going to Hoengseong Korean beef festival held in Hoengseong, Gangwon province. Hoengseong Korean beef is renown for its delicious taste. At the festival you can buy Korean beef at a good price.
At Jinji, Gyeonsangnam-do, Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival is a great festival. At the festival you can see traditional lanterns on the beautiful Namgang river. Moreover, 1200 scenery and customs of 31 countries.
In Yeonggwang, Jeollanam-do, 2012 Forumla 1 Korean Grand Prix will be held, where you can watch F1 cars race. Korea, at the moment, is full of things to see and taste. In Korea, you can surely enjoy autumn.

North Korea's idolization

Recently on TV, I saw a documentary on North Korea. It was as if I was watching a documentary on pseudo-religion. Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il's portraits were hanged on every North Korean household and the people were worshiping the portraits. Recently Kim Jong-un visited North Korean households and held events taking pictures with families and giving the photograph as a present. This act of photo politics is considered a great honor for North Korean people. If I were to take a picture with Obama, I would be thrilled, but I wouldn't worship the photograph like a god. Sooner or later, Kim Jong-un's photo will be hanged on every wall of North Korea households. I hope that all the brainwashing in North Koreans can stop.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Missile range extension is a declaration of war"

This is a statement by North Korea's top military body, the National Defense Commission in reaction to South Korea-US agreement on extending Seoul's ballistic missile range to better counter threats from Pyongyang. This implies that Korea could hit the northeast corner of North Korea from launching sites in central South Korea. The upgrade reflects South's continued concerns about missile threats from the North,
North Korea has been claiming it promotes peace, but showed that they were lying by launching a rocket in April, which ended in humiliating failure shortly after liftoff. North has already deployed more than 640 scud missiles. It also has Rodong missile that has missile range of up to 1300km and Musudan missile that has range of 3~4000km. In other words, North Korea has been extending the missile range since 2001. Although critics say South Korea's extension plan runs counter to its commitment as a member of the global arms control agreement, known as the Missile Technology Control Regime, that aims at curtailing the spread of systems that could deliver weapons of mass destruction, this pact will only stand if there is a nation to protect. If South is evaporated from North's attacks, what use is the pact when countless number of people are already dead. This is a just act from the US-Korea alliance to maintain peace and deter North Korea's provocations.

Even Iran is mesmerized by K-food

I'm an avid fan of Korean foood. It is not only heathly, but also has a unique tasty feature. K-food is quite wide-spread in the US, but now it is being introduced to middle eastern countries like Iran. On the 8th Iran and South Korea celebrated the 50 year anniversary of Korea-Iran established diplomatic relations in Tehran. During the anniversary, Korea food festival 2012 was held, where more than 300 eminent Iranian persons from various circles gathered to try Korean food. The 100 kg worth of ingredients to the feast were all brought in from Korea, which made the food more delicious. Korean food now is becoming a culture trend in foreign coutnries. It's good to see that Korean culture, including K-pop and K-food is spreading around the world, making the world more diverse.

Kim Jong-un launches terror attaack on his own brother

South Korena government confirmed the spying charges against the unidentified man, saying he had arrived in South Korea in March posing as a refugee who had fled the North via China. The man had confessed to being part of a plot to stage a hit-and-run car accident in China in 2010 targeting Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong-nam. The indicted spy claims that he had spent 10 years as an undercover agent in China and was assigned to injure Kim Jong-nam and possibly bring him back to Pyongyang. At one point, he hired a taxi driver to carry out a hit-and-run, but the plot failed as Kim Jong-nam was away on an extended overseas visit. The spy was arrested after falsely defecting to South Korea with a mission to gather information on defectors from Korea. He was instructed to approach a North Korean defector heading an activist group for many other defectors in the South. His mission was to report on the large number of defectors already in the country and win them over to return to North Korea. Kim Jong-un has gone way too far to gain power. Only an insane person would kill his own brother for power.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The giant head of Christopher Columbus atop a float rolled down New York City's Fifth Avenue today as the parade named after the explorer attracted thousands of onlookers waving Italian flags on the 8th. On the 6th, I was lucky enough to see the Korea Times Parade. I was heading to Times Square to get some Wicked tickets, and happened to cross 38th street. Apparently around 10 parades representing different countries are held during the Columbus Day Weekend in New York, and of those countries Korea is the only Asian country that partcipates in the parade.
I was surprised by the number of tourists who gathered to view the Korea Times Parade. I am guessing people became more interested in Korea after Psy's song, Gangnam Style hit the Billboard charts. At the Korea Times Parade, around 140 teams of marching band, Korean traditional percussion music teams participated in the parade for 2 hours. Moreover, It was very interesting to see some hundred K-pop fans voluntarily participated in a Gangnam Style flashmob parade. 

Defection rush of North Korean soldiers in the frontline

Recently, a North Korean soldier crossed the military demarcation line to defect to South Korea after shooting dead two of his superiors. Although defection of North Korean soldiers is not uncommon, it was the first time for a soldier posted at the frontline to defect. Defections across the DMZ, a buffer zone dividing the two Koreas, are rare as the 250km long land border is heavily armed and tightly guarded. North Korean soldiers stationed near the border are reportedly selected from families known to be the most loyal to the communist regime, to try to prevent military defections that may embarrass Pyongyang. Despite all these efforts, the fact that a North Korean soldier in the front line hints the nearing collapse of North Korea. The North Korean military appears to have serious lax discipline issues these days. Worsening food shortages at military barracks in the impoverished North has fanned frustration among its soldiers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yesterday, a friend of my sent me a video of Seoul International Firewrks Festival. The sky above the Han River in Seoul lit up with spectacular fireworks for two hours on Saturday as the capital celebrated the opening of its annual fireworks festival. It's been told that more than a million people gathered to see the fireworks. The festival not only featured firework, but also concerts and other events. Artists from Korea, China, Italy and the US put on spectacular shows featuring around 120,000 fireworks at Han River in Yeouido. The Italian team coordinated its fireworks to a lyrical music that left a simple, but strong impression. The Chinese team their unique Chinese music with a fancy fireworks. The US used pop song and OST from the Phantom of the Opera. Next year, I would love to see it at the site.

A Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter flew close on Sept. 21 to Dokdo, South Korean island claimed by Japan, prompting South Korea to mobilize fighter jets. The chopper left the area after being warned away by the South Korean military. One of the Japanese helicopters entered the area while conducting a takeoff and landing drill on a destroyer positioned some 50 km east of Dokdo. Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said that he saw no problems with the drill under international law because the incident occurred on the high seas. All foreign airplanes and ships must get approval from the South Korean military before entering Korea Air Defense Identification Zone, which was designated by the commander of the US Pacific Air Force Command in 1951 to prevent air clashes between nations surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Even though the Japan claims that they did not intentionally select Dokdo as the area in which to conduct the exercise, the Japanese Self-Defense Force did not gain prior approval to conduct the drills from the ministry's internal bureaus, apparently disregarding the principle of civilian control. This makes the credibility of the statement very doubtful. This is proof that Japan is trying to test Korea and provoke Korea by showing its ignorant attitude believing that the drill would not cause any problems just because they have sovereignty claims over the islands. Dokdo has been under South Korea's jurisdiction since the 1950s, when Korea gained independence from Japan. Moreover, Dokdo has been Korean territory even before the Japanese occupation. I am taken back by Japan's actions because Japan had no interest in the island until recent times when they realized Dokdo may have valuable resources. Even Japanese scholars and specialists have admitted that Dokdo belongs to Korea. Japan's actions to steal Dokdo is no different from their past imperialistic crimes during WWII.

South Korean missile range increases with US pact

South Korea can now produce missiles that can reach all of North Korea as part of a new deal with Washington that's a response to the North's own growing weapons stockpile. The agreement will allow the South to deploy missiles with a range of 800km, up from the current limit of 300km. The extension will not only bring the whole of North Korea within reach of Seoul's rockets, but also parts of China and Japan. Chinese and Japanese media voiced unease over the extension claiming that the extension counters a global arms control agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime. However, in South Korea's point of view, this is perfectly sound because Seoul needs the ability to deter North Korean provocations. North Korea currently has already deployed more than 1000 scud missiles that can target all of South Korea. Pyongyang also has ICBMs that can reach even the States. In order to counter these advancements in North Korea, the missile extension was an inevitable decision. From this movement, I hope to see more effective deterrence against North Korea.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Recently, CNN and foreign major presses shed light on Dokdo after a rare trip by one of its reporters. The event was apparently designed to show Seoul's control of Dokdo the world in the face of Tokyo's territorial claims. Japan is trying to take the land by force. The land has been Korean since ancient times and Korea has effective control over it. Japan only wants the resources near Dokdo, not because it rightfully belongs to them.

Kim Jong-un's visit

I hope Kim Jong-un knows why his request to visit China was turned down. China quietly deferred a request by North korea for its young leader to visit last month because Chinese leadership was preoccupied with its once-in-a-decade leadership change and a host of other distractions. The move also suggests that China may be seeking an assurance from North Korea that it drops nuclear ambitions after it ignored warnings from Beijing not to go ahead with a rocket launch in April.

Psy Keeps his promise

South Korean rapper Psy brought his hit "Gangnam Style" home on Thursday with a raucous free concert in Seoul, capping a month of global chart success that turned the rapper into a national hero.
Thursday's concert climaxed with the entire crowd horse dancing to "Gangnam Style," but it kicked off with a mass rendition of Korean national anthem.
Gangnam Style, a paean to the lush life in Korea's richest distrcit, is topping the charts in the US and Britain and is heard and seen on screens all over Korea. Psy had previously said that if Gangnam Style hits top of the Billboard chart, he would have a concert in front of a crowd in Seoul City Hall Plaza. However, Maroon 5 has denied Psy that privilege with their song One More Night keeping Psy at second place. Although he did not reach number 1, he kept his word anyway in order to thank his fans.
The Seoul Style performance was live-streamed to millions of others across the globe via YouTube. Psy told his adoring compatriots that he did not return and open a free concert because he was worthy of it, but he was there because of all of his fans. However, more than 20,000 fans overloaded the servers and as a result, I was unable to see the concert live.
Although I had to see it later on, I realized how popular Psy really was. The municipal government even closed off part of the city centre and extended subway operations for the estimated 80,000 fans who packed the open venue outside Seoul City hall and spilled out into the surrounding streets.

North Korea making a scapegoat out of South Korea

A senior North Korean diplomat on Monday warned of a nuclear war on the peninsula, saying it has become the most dangerous zone in the world. Addressing a UN General Assembly session under way here, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon put the blame on South Korea's conservative government of Lee Myung-bak for the worst inter-Korean ties.
Since taking office, the current South Korean government led to the worst situations in North-South relations by making all inter-Korean agreements null and void, including the June 15 Joint Declaration and Oct. 4 Declaration.
Pak was referring to two inter-Korean summit deals in 2000 and 2007, which called for measures toward reconciliation on the peninsula and expansion of economic cooperation between the two Koreas. I really thought that an unification was near. Inter-Korean relations are said to be at the nadir amid North Korea's repeated provocative acts, highlighted by a nuclear test in 2009 and a couple of deadly attacks on the South that killed a total of 50 soldiers and civilians, since the Lee administration was inaugurated in 2008. I cannot agree with the remarks made by Pak. North Korea has to abandon its nuclear ambition and shift its focus to improving the livelihoods of its people. South Korea still hopes to improve relations with North Korea through dialogue if Pyongyang drops its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Moreover, it was North Korea that broke the deal and back stabbed everybody else. Everything's on North Korea, not on South Korea or the US. I wonder how many nations will ever take North Korea seriously if they make these ridiculous remarks.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Proud Youths of Korea

In Korea, military service is stated as one of the Four Constitutional Duties along with taxes, education, and labor for all citizens. The current conscription law, however, applies only to males. According to the legislation, military service is a constitutional duty, but for people with foreign permanent residency may postpone the military service until the age of 37, and once they are over 37, they are exempt of military services. Basically, foreign permanent residents are exempt from military service. However, it has been reported that the cumulative number of Koreans that have foreign permanent residency enlisting in the army has exceeded 1000. This accounts for 1% of the 110 thousand foreign permanent residents. These foreign permanent residents enlist to the Korean army to find their lost Korean roots through military duties. This very contradictory to the situation in North Korea where soldiers and the people desert their own country. I believe this is all a result of the difference in regimes and national power. 

South Korea under volatile situation

According to RFA (Radio Free Asia) North Korea has ordered that even soldiers in the rear to sleep wearing military uniforms. North Korea is fostering a sense of war crisis within its military. I doubt that this is just a threat against South Korea. North Korea is got to be up to something. North Korea may be preparing for a physical attack like past Cheonam sinking incident. Or it may imply that is in dire circumstances in need to raise tensions even in its rear bases. Whatever the reason, South Korea must observe North Korea's behavior closely and make a full defensive preparations.

Kim Jong-un's wife is South Korea Style

Chinese press reported Ri Sol-ju's fashion style as 'South Korean Style.' Ri Sol-ju took off the conventional long black skirts and white traditional clothes and chose a radically unconventional modern fashion. The opinions of foreign observers have so far been divided. For those oriented toward a darker view of the situation, Ri's imposing presence serves as yet another testimony of inadequacy of the country's new leadership. Nobody around the young dictator can point to the fact that the attire of his wife is highly inappropriate, showing off a designer handbag worth several annual salaries of a regular North Korean worker begs for dangerous parallels of Ri Sol-ju with Marie Antoinette. Some interpret Ri's sociability as a sign of progressiveness of the new North Korean leadership, but I doubt this. It is about time that North Korea show some real changes. Real changes where only the leaders have freedom, but where the ordinary North Korean have the equal opportunity be free.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My visit at Busan

I recently visited Busan. Busan is South Korea's second largest metropolis, and the largest port city in North Korea. It has Korea's largest beaches, such as Haeundae and Gwanganri, located at the south-eastern-most tip of the peninsula.
I got a chance to sightsee Busan with an acquaintance and tasted many unique foods. I loved Sundae with mak-jang (a fermented soybean paste) and wheat noodle called milmyeon. At night, we lit up fireworks at Gwanganri. It was nice to walk on quiet beaches after the end of vacation season.
Tomorrow, I'm planning to go a bit farther to Yangsan. I hear Tongdosa temple that houses holy relics of historical Buddha is famous. I'm already excited.

North Korea interested in South Korea's presidential election

The South Korean presidential election is coming up, and North Korea appears to be revving up efforts to influence South Korea's presidential election through propaganda and possibly provocations in anticipation of a new Seoul government more favorable to its interests.
Some experts say escalated inter-Korean tension could fan voter anxiety against a female candidate without military experience while others argue the North will no longer be a factor as voters are mature enough to discern its politicking.
Past Korean administration has received criticism for being too pro-North Korean, which later gave North Korea the idea that they could get aid by provoking South Korea. North Koreans are utilizing social networking services to focus its energy on regrouping pro-North Korean forces in the South and mobilize them to meticulously prepare for a North Korean propaganda blitz.
In recent reports and commentaries, North Korean media have frequently mentioned the South's up-coming elections and berated the current conservative government, headed by president Lee Myung-bak and his ruling Saenuri Party for what they call "confrontational policy."
Moreover, amid the North's state media increasingly covering South Korean politics, Pyongyang is attempting to influence young voters by highlighting that Kim Jong-un is different from his predecessors by showing coverages of Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju appearing at a kindergarten, amusement park and concert and reaching out to the grassroots to conjure up a positive image for y0oung voters in the South.
Everyday I get to know about North Korea, they are one of the world's disgraceful nation. They are trying to destroy what we've fought and stood up for centuries, democracy in the Korean peninsula. It is shameful to see that this democracy is being jeopardized by mere propaganda from North Korea.

Monday, October 1, 2012

In 1988, Ronald Reagan gave an official apology to Japanese-Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War II. The act granted each surviving internee about USD 20,000 in compensation, with payments beginning in 1990. The legislation stated that government actions were based on 'race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership' as opposed to genuine legitimacy. The US government apologized on behalf of the people of the United States for the evacuation, relocation, and internment of such citizens and permanent resident aliens. The US also made more credile and sincere any declaration of concern by the US over violations of human rights committed by their nations. Japan, too, has committed crimes against humanity. I hope to see Japan admit for their faults, and become a mature country fit for its title as an economic superpower. Japan's comfort women issue will not only put an end to the tension between Korea and Japan, but it will bring prosperity and cooperation between East Asian countries.

Ignorant Suzuki Nobuyuki

Japan's extreme rightist, Nobuyuki, is getting nastier. Nobuyuki had tied a stake with the slogan "Takeshima belongs to Japan" to the statue of a young comfort woman in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Now, he has tied another stake on the memorium of Yoon Bong-gil, Korean independent activist who worked against Japan during Japan's rule over Korea. It was another one of his ordinary blunt attack, "Takeshima belongs to Japan" stake. Nobuyuki once again exhibited his 'achievement' on his personal blog. Nobuyuki was summoned by the Korean Supreme Prosecutor's Office for his crime against humanity. Nobuyukim, instead of repenting for his ignorance, reacted by sending insulting stakes to the Korean Supreme court and the Blue House. It didn't stop from there. He put another stake on Korea's independence activist, Yoon Bong-gil. This is a reflection of how sick Japan's society is, and shows how devastating Japan's economic condition is. All the socio-economic problem is perturbing as a wave of extreme right. Japan is going backward. They are refusing to admit their past faults. Instead they are under the nostalgia of their past imperialistic glory.

The reason behind North Korea's economic reform

Recently North Korea under Kim Jong-un is believed to be reforming its economy. On the so-called 6-28 policy, North Korea has a clause allowing private property. This may seem like a move towards capitalism like their strongest ally, China, have done. However, this move is not for the North Korean people, but for the luxurious life of the North Korean leaders. The background to my statement comes from Kim Jong-un's actions. Kim Jong-un exploited 90% of the wages of workers at Kaesong Industrial Region and hid it in a flush fund. Moreover, the people close to Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-un, himself, lived a luxurious life buying luxury items while their people are in plight due to floods since late June.