Extra! Korea

May 31, 2009

Even the Japanese love the tweeting Kim Yu-na, Mao Asada becomes second woman to score over 200 points

Filed under: celebrities, sports, technology — extrakorea @ 5:48 am

In a poll of Japan’s favorite sports stars, Kim Yu-na made the tenth spot, the highest-ranking non-Japanese on the list. Kim’s archrival, Mao Asada, came in second.

Kim has become Korea’s most famous user of Twitter, an instant messaging service that allows one to send and receive text messages via both cell-phones and computers.

Personally, I don’t see the use of Twitter, and I’m someone who loves blogging and discussion boards. Anything worthy of being said requires at least a paragraph. In my view, Twitter’s popularity can be accounted for by widespread attention deficit disorder and il-o-literacy (lol + illiteracy). By “il-o-literacy,” I mean the condition of knowing one’s way around computer, but being functionally illiterate. I mean, is it really so hard to write “That’s hilarious!” or “Ha, ha!” that we had to replace it with “lol” (hence, “il-o-literacy”). And how often do people actually laugh out loud? Not that often. “Lol” has become an insipid cliche. If you ever want to see examples of il-o-literacy, just to go daveseslcafe and cringe at the spelling and grammar of so-called “English teachers.”

Returning to the topic of Mao Asada, she became the second woman to score over 200 points in competition. Moreover, it seems that the scoring system has been slightly revised, and in a way that could be advantageous to Mao and disadvantageous to Kim.

Two items of Korean language news

Filed under: languages — extrakorea @ 4:53 am

The Chosun Ilbo has two news items on the Korean language. The first one describes how, after nearly sixty years of separation, the languages of North and South Korea have diverged to the point that dictionaries are sometimes necessary. (You can watch an interesting video on this topic here, in case you’ve ever wondered how to say “nice legs” in North Korea (“darimae.”).) Of course, there isn’t just one North Korean dialect, which touches on the topic of the second item. Seoul has been declared to be the South’s official dialect, but you already knew that.
If the Korean peninsula is ever reunited, Seoul dialect is sure to become official all over the country, and I wonder how the North Koreans will feel about that, seeing as they’d have to re-learn about their own mother tongue.

May 27, 2009

Police to reinvestigate Roh Moo-hyun’s death

Filed under: crime, hard to categorize, politics, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:18 am

According to the Chosun Ilbo, there are growing calls for the reinvestigation of ex-President Roh Moo-hyun’s death, after it was revealed that a bodyguard, Lee, who had claimed earlier to have been with Roh just before his final minutes, actually was not at the scene at the time of his death.

Based on the bodyguard’s initial testimony, a 94-man investigative team at South Gyeongsang Province police announced Sunday that Roh arrived at Owl Rock around 6:20 a.m., talked with Lee Byung-choon, the head of his security detail, for about 20 minutes, and jumped off the cliff at around 6:45 a.m.

But an official at a nearby temple where the memorial tablets of Roh’s parents are enshrined on Tuesday said someone who appeared to be Lee visited the temple at the time of Roh’s suicide. The temple is 200 m from Owl Rock.

Questioned again Monday, Lee reversed his initial testimony and said Roh told him to go to the temple. And under fresh questioning Tuesday night, Lee said he could not find Roh after sending away a mountain climber who approached the two.

From a high-profile suicide, to nuclear tests, to missile launches, to swine flu quarantines, to this, it’s never a dull moment here on the Korean Peninsula.


Yonhap News reports that there will, in fact, be a reinvestigation, seeing as how the bodyguard has changed his story at least twice (“I saw him jump,” “He sent me to the temple,” “I was escorting this other hiker away, and when I came back, he was gone.”).
This item caught my eye.

The security guard belatedly looked for the missing former president and spotted him at 6:45 a.m. The guard then carried Roh on his back to a car at the residence before rushing him to a nearby hospital,” said the commissioner.

Good Lord. When someone has fallen or been in a car wreck, you call 911 (or 119, in this case) and don’t move the person, or you might aggravate their injuries, especially neck injuries. Unfortunately, this kind of ignorance is the norm here. I’m very disappointed to see this lack of common sense even from a bodyguard to an ex-head-of-state. Such basic first aid should have been a required part of his training. And he carried him piggy-back, instead of with a fireman’s carry. Unbelievable. Actually, not really. This is Korea. T.I.K.

May 26, 2009

Seoul to open an English Cafe

Filed under: education, waste of money — extrakorea @ 11:26 pm

The Korea Times brings us the news that Seoul is planning to open an English Cafe, in which government workers will have to order their coffee in English, be able to listen to the morning news in English, and other things which are sure to lead to rapid, dramatic improvements in their all-important TOEIC scores. It’ll be called “Cafe Pine Tree,” which is already a bad sign. Clearly, like the much-ballyhooed English Villages, they refuse to listen to native speakers who are willing to edit their broken English. Let’s hope that they don’t end up like the English Villages, either ghost towns or film sets. Actually, on second thought, I don’t care. If the government wants to keep throwing money at a problem, instead of listening to the suggestion that allowing teachers to own their E-2 visas would be good for both attracting qualified English teachers and for improving English education through competition, then I don’t care if they keep flushing their own money down the toilet.

Only 23% of immigrant women married their Korean husbands for love

Filed under: economics, expatriates, gender equality — extrakorea @ 8:29 am

A Chosun Ilbo article describes how 65.2% of 4,060 immigrant women in Incheon married their Korean husbands after only one or two meetings.

Asked why they married Korean men, 23.6 percent said they wanted a new life away from their homeland. A similar number of respondents, or 23.3 percent, said they married their husbands because they loved them. Some 18.7 percent said they wanted to live in Korea due to its economic strength, while 17 percent said they wanted to support their families at home.

So only 23.3% of them married for love, and all of the others cited economic reasons. Here is a rough breakdown of the ethnic makeup of these women.

There are 7,074 foreign women married to Koreans in Incheon, 39.7 percent of whom are Korean Chinese, 34 percent Chinese, 9.8 percent Vietnamese, 4.5 percent Philippine, 2.1 percent Japanese, and 2 percent Thai.

So about 40% of these “foreign” women are ethnically Korean, and so they’re actually not so “foreign” after all.

By the way, I saw the Korean movie “Thirst” and was pleased to see that one of the major characters, and a sympathetic one at that, was a Filipina.

Soju accounts for 90% of Korean alcohol industry

Filed under: drinking — extrakorea @ 8:18 am

A Joongang Daily article describes the collective sigh of relief after sales of soju recovered after brief downturn at the end of last year. Why?

Considering that soju accounts for 90 percent of the nation’s alcohol industry, it was a sign of trouble for distillers and breweries overall.

And over 50% of that is made by Jinro.

In case you don’t know, soju is a kind of spirit with about 20% alcohol. Though various rumors say that rice and/or sweet potatoes are used to make it, no one knows for sure what it’s made from.

May 25, 2009

Roh Moo-hyun may inspire wave of copycat suicides

Filed under: celebrities, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:53 pm

The suicide of former president Roh Moo-hyun may inspire a wave of copycat suicides.

Early Sunday morning, a 38-year-old man surnamed Han tried to kill himself by slitting his wrist on the mountain path near Owl’s Rock on Mount Bongha, where the late president died, said police officials.

Once he started bleeding heavily, Han called for an ambulance and was transferred to a nearby hospital. He has now regained consciousness and is no longer in life-threatening condition, officials said.

Another 55-year-old man surnamed Shin called the police on Sunday morning to notify them of his plan to commit suicide over Roh’s death, according to the Gwangyang Police Station in South Jeolla Province.

The police tracked Shin’s mobile phone location and found him late that evening by a reservoir, attempting to end his life for the second time that day, after a first attempt that earlier ended in failure.

Others have committed suicide since, though they had not clearly cited him as the reason.

A 34-year-old man named Kim was found late Saturday night after hanging himself in his room, according to the Gwangju police.

Kim’s family said that he wrote a note on his computer just as Roh did soon after he saw the news on television, and left the house. Kim had been heavily in debt for some time.

Worst Photoshop Job Ever

Filed under: humor, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 1:46 pm

Did they really expect us to believe that this picture is real? (source)

“Thirst” wins jury prize at Cannes film festival

Filed under: movies — extrakorea @ 9:23 am

Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst” has won the jury prize at the Cannes international film festival.

“Thirst,” the first Korean film to be co-produced and distributed by major Hollywood studio Universal Pictures, has been sold to more than 10 countries, including France, Greece and Brazil, for screening worldwide later this year.

“Thirst” is about a priest who travels abroad, hoping to do good. However, he contracts a fatal disease, and things become even worse after a blood transfusion from an unknown donor.

N. Korea may have conducted nuclear test, children required to memorize song about Kim Jong-il’s son

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 3:47 am

According to the BBC and Yonhap News, North Korea may have conducted a second nuclear test.
In possibly-related news, North Korean elementary school children have to memorize a song glorifying Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Jong-un, or they aren’t allowed to go home.

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