Extra! Korea

May 23, 2009

Former President Roh Moo-hyun dead, left suicide note

Filed under: politics, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:12 am

According to Yonhap News Agency, the former president of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun (Noh Moo-hyun), is dead.

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has died after falling down a mountain while hiking with an aide, police here said Saturday.
Police are trying to confirm whether the former president, recently involved in a corruption scandal, fell by accident or committed suicide.


The Korea Herald and Korea Times now have articles, but they don’t have much additional information.

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun died after falling down a mountain while hiking near his home with an aide, police in Gimhae, South Gyongsang Province said Saturday.

[ snip ]

The former president was immediately sent to Pusan National University Hospital at 7:05.
But he failed to recover from cerebral hemorrhage, Korea Broadcasting System said, quoting hospital sources.

Further Update:

According to Yonhap News, Roh left a suicide note.

Former President Roh Moo-hyun died after falling from a mountainside behind his residence early Saturday morning and left behind a brief suicide note, his lawyer said.

[ snip ]

“Roh left his home at 5:45 a.m. to go hiking. He appears to have jumped from a mountain rock at 6:40 a.m. He was accompanied by a bodyguard at that time,” said Moon Jae-in, who had served as presidential chief of staff during the Roh presidency.

“He left behind a brief suicide note,” Moon told reporters at the hospital.

South Korea’s birthrate remains lowest out of 193 countries for second straight year

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 12:05 am

According to the World Health Organization, South Korea has had the lowest birthrate out of 193 countries surveyed, for two years in a row. Korea shared the bottom spot with eight other countries, including Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, who had an average of 1.2 babies per woman of reproductive age.

May 22, 2009

Would you like to marry a 49-year-old worth $16 million?

Filed under: hard to categorize — extrakorea @ 10:23 am

A 49-year-old woman worth 20 billion won (approximately $16 million) has placed an online ad with the matchmaking company Sunoo in an attempt to find a husband.
Potential candidates should be single white-collar workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, between the ages of 39 and 49 years old. It’s preferable that they be living in Seoul or Gyeonggi Province.
As for her, she is “an elegant, slim, feminine and active woman who enjoys sports and traveling,” as well as “a genuine, considerate and open-minded person who has a heart of gold.”
Another woman, a 51-year-old who’s also worth 20 billion won, has also been searching for a husband through Sunoo, so far without success.
It’s time to pick up your game, boys.

Kim Jong-il gains more political power, yet recent actions may indicate coming power struggle

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 3:53 am

What is happening in the enigma that is North Korea? According to this article, North Korea has changed its constitution so that Kim Jong-il has, officially, even more power. This is mostly symbolic, since he already wields near-absolute power.

Since 1998, power in the North had been divided among the National Defense Commission, which Kim heads, the Supreme People’s Assembly, and standing committees. The constitutional revision heralds a new era in which Kim is officially recognized as supreme leader.

[ snip ]

The constitutional revision, however, is more a symbolic gesture that simply made powers already held by Kim. It means no fundamental changes in the North’s power structure.

After leader Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, North Korea revised its constitution in September 1998 to allow three bodies to share the governing of state affairs but gave real power to Kim Jong Il.

And yet, this article claims that recent actions, such as the launching of a missile and the arrests of two journalists, may be signs of a impending power struggle, due to the fact that Kim Jong-il may be physically ailing, and there is uncertainty about whether or not a chosen successor will be able to take the reigns of power.

In an interview with VOA on Wednesday, Scott Snyder, the director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, said the internal situation in North Korea is ominous and recent actions including the launch of a long-range rocket seem to have something to do with the succession question. There are opinions that for want of a properly prepared heir apparent, one of Kim’s sons will end up as a figurehead for one or the other power group in the North.

A senior South Korean government official on Thursday said, “We understand that recent acts by North Korea are not actually messages for the U.S., as we believed during the early days of the Obama administration.”

Korean life expectancy 29th out of 193 countries

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 2:38 am

The Korea Herald reports that, according to the World Health Organization, WHO, Korea’s life expectancy is 29th out of 193 countries surveyed, tied with Portugal and Costa Rica.
Korean men and women can expect to live for 76 and 82 years, respectively.

May 21, 2009

Supreme Court grants terminally ill patient the right to die

Filed under: legal issues — extrakorea @ 12:56 pm

The Korea Herald and Korea Times report that the Supreme Court has granted a terminally ill patient the right to die. Previous actions had made it clear that she would not have wanted to be kept artificially alive if she were in a vegetative state. Her children had previously made requests to remove life support in lower courts, and won. Now the Supreme Court has joined them, but added that only under “limited circumstances” would it grant this right.

The top court ruled in favor of a comatose patient’s family who last year filed a suit requesting the Yonsei Severance Hospital to remove the life support machines.

“A patient may be considered to be in his or her dying phase, when it is circumstantially evident that he or she may end up dying in a very short time,” said Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon in the verdict. “In such cases, the continuance of the painful and insignificant cure may result in violating the patient’s basic human dignity.”

The patient, surnamed Kim, fell comatose last February due to brain damage caused during a medical examination. Her children asked for the removal of life support, claiming that their mother was unwilling to be kept artificially alive.

Upon the hospital’s refusal, they filed a suit and won in both the lower court and appeal court last November and this February respectively.

The patient had refused, years ago, surgery that might have prolonged the life of her deceased husband, and had always made it clear that she too wished a natural death, said both courts in their original rulings.


According to this article, DNR (“Do Not Resuscitate”) documents are not legally binding, but this ruling will probably make them more respected by the hospitals, since Yonsei Severance Hospital is so well-respected in Korea. Seoul National University Hospital, another very prestigious hospital, has decided to accept DNR documents from patients suffering from terminal stage cancer.

May 20, 2009

Hire a Filipina housekeeper, get an English tutor for free

Filed under: economics, education, expatriates — extrakorea @ 1:32 pm

The Korea Times brings us the story of Kim Ji-ae, a working mother who killed two birds with one stone when she hired a Filipina housekeeper/nanny. Ms. Kim’s eight-year-old son has learned English from the Filipina.

“She speaks a little Korean, but I specifically asked her to speak in English to my son,” said the mom, who is starting to get worried that he would experience linguistic confusion from getting exposed to too much English before learning Korean fully.

Despite some concerns that may rise, education-frenzied mothers like Kim are becoming increasingly open to hiring foreign helpers to get the best of both worlds.

“The demand is enormous,” said Kim Seok, who runs an Internet site (www.nannyjob.co.kr) that helps connect parents and jobseekers. He explained that Filipinos are most favored because of their English fluency, but Chinese caregivers are also growing popular with moms wanting to teach their kids Chinese at an early age.

New 50,000-won note to debut in June, small face and all

Filed under: celebrities, gender equality, history — extrakorea @ 7:05 am

The Korea Times and Chosun Ilbo report that the new 50,000-won note is set to debut by the end of June.
It will feature Shin Saim-dang, a noted writer, calligrapher, and mother of Yulgok, a Yangban (Korean aristocrat) scholar of the Chosun dynasty. (He’s the guy on the 5,000-won note.)
She died over 450 years ago, and yet, like many Korean women, she has benefited from modern Korean plastic surgery technology, and will appear with a stylishly smaller face.

Korea’s global competitiveness rises from 31st to 27th

Filed under: economics — extrakorea @ 6:37 am

According to the Korea Herald, Korea’s global competitiveness was 27th from amongst 57 countries surveyed. This is a rise of four places, from 31st last year.
The report is based upon four factors: economic achievements, infrastructure, and government and corporate efficiency. Korea improved in all four.
However, Korea was one of the lowest-ranking Asia Pacific countries surveyed, 10th out of 13.

Have Koreans’ faces and bodies changed?

Filed under: pseudoscience, science — extrakorea @ 6:19 am

According to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, Koreans’ faces and bodies have changed in the past three decades since 1979.

Overall, heads have become rounder, chins narrower, the mid-facial area longer, and cheekbones less prominent.

Body shapes are also transformed. The average height of men in their 20s is now 173.2 cm, up 6 cm from 1979. As for women, the average height is 160 cm, up 4.5 cm from 30 years ago. In 1979, men were over 10 cm shorter than Westerners, but now Korean men are just 5.3 cm and Korean women are 5.5 cm shorter than Americans.

I’m not surprised that they’re taller, since they eat better. I wonder what could be causing their heads to change shape. And I’m surprised that there are people measuring Koreans’ heads. What could be the purpose of these kinds of studies?

According to the study, both Korean men and women are now about seven heads tall. The history of Korean fashion shows men during the ancient Three Kingdoms Period were 5.9 heads tall, during the Chosun Dynasty 6.4, in 1979 6.8, and now 7.4. Women were 5.8 heads tall during the Three Kingdoms Period and are now 7.2 heads tall.

The Three Kingdoms period?! They have actual records about these kinds of things? Were people from all three kingdoms 5.9/5.8 heads tall, or were people from Koguryeo proportioned differently from those from Shilla or Paekje?

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