Extra! Korea

November 30, 2009

First case of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 in Korea reported

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 8:43 am

According to Yonhap News and KBS World, the first case of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 influenza in Korea has been reported.

A five-year-old boy was diagnosed with H1N1, and then prescribed Tamiflu. After five days, he continued to have a fever and difficulty breathing. He was tested again, and found to still have the virus. However, his condition improved after he was given Relenza, another drug used to treat flu patients.

The World Health Organization said that there have been 75 cases of people developing tolerance for Tamiflu since the outbreak was first reported in North America in April.

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November 29, 2009

2PM vs. 2NE1: Battle for the Gayest Hat

Filed under: advertising, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 3:03 pm

As Brian in Jeollanam-do has informed us before, around Christmastime, Paris Baguette and Baskin Robbins hold an annual “Battle for the Gayest Hat” contest.
Last year, Paris Baguette had Kim Tae-hee modeling Smurf hats, and Baskin Robbins’ contestants were boy band Big Bang. As kumarakitty said, of the video:

I love how they chase down the terrified snowmen and basically shove their heads up the snowmens’ asses.

Actually, Korean children love to play a game called “dong-chim,” which translates as “poop-needle.” They make a “needle” by clasping their hands together, forefingers extended, and then try to sneak up behind someone and poke them right in the anus. So shoving part of your body into other people’s private parts is common to Koreans.

This year, Paris Baguette’s contenders are 2PM …

… while Baskin Robbins are being represented by 2NE1.

Awesome Site: Korea-Related News Feeds, Blogs, and Videos

Filed under: the Internet — extrakorea @ 4:57 am

Here is an awesome new site: http://koreannewsfeeds.com/
(You can find it on my Links Roll on the right-hand column.)

It carries news feeds from major English-language Korean newspapers, some blogs*, and even videos.
Hat Tip to Seoul Sucker.

* But not me.

Fatalities from Tamiflu? Vaccines carry some risk?

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 4:41 am

You might recall that around November 15, a teenager jumped from a window after taking Tamiflu, possibly after hallucinating. Via Korea Beat comes the story of another teenager who jumped after taking Tamiflu. Unfortunately, unlike the first teenager, he died from his injuries.

It seems that this is not the first fatality after taking Tamiflu. Back in August, a woman in her 30s took Tamiflu as a preventative measure (she was diagnosed with a common cold). She later died, and it is unclear how.

Experts warn against the abuse of Tamiflu. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom said the drug can have side effects. Another report showed that about 20 percent of children who take the drug suffer from neuropsychiatric side effects such as poor concentration, the inability to think clearly and problems in sleeping, among others.

Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the product can also cause serious skin and allergic reactions as well as mild cases of nausea and vomiting.

Personally, the news that I find more alarming is this:

Reports have surfaced that Tamiflu-resistant variants of the H1N1 virus are appearing.

[snip]

U.S. drug experts have called for the prudent use of the drug.

Drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses are something that should be taken seriously. Thanks to medicines like antibiotics, we have been winning the war against disease, but overuse of these medicines could turn the tide against us, and the results have the potential to be catastrophic.

The safety of vaccines against H1N1 have also been called into question.

Thirty-year-old pregnant woman Lee Eun-young visited her obstetrician to get advice on the vaccinations against influenza A (H1N1).

Surprisingly, her doctor did not encourage her inoculation, saying during a telephone interview, “I cannot guarantee your safety.”

[snip]

The government assures the public that the vaccines are safe.

[snip]

The clinical trial period for the vaccine was less than six months and the antibody formation rate is a shade over 50 percent.

Also, a teenage boy suffered symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, including paralysis, two days after being inoculated against H1N1.

The symptom, called the Guillain-Barre syndrome, is usually triggered by acute infection. But it is also known as a very rare side-effect of regular influenza vaccines, with an incidence of about one in 1 million.

According to the World Health Organization, only 10 GBS cases have been reported worldwide among nearly 65 million people in 40 countries confirmed to have been inoculated with the flu vaccine.

November 23, 2009

Big Bang’s Tae-yang has some sick moves

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 2:18 pm

Tae-yang, of the boy band Big Bang, has some impressive dancing on the music video for his single, “Where U At.” Those are some crisp, precise moves.
And check out his performance at the recent MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) show. He does a forward somersault, his sunglasses fly off, he smoothly catches them, strikes a pose, and then starts performing. Craaazy.

Edit/Update:

The video from the MAMA awards was taken down by Mnet. F you, Mnet.

Here is a link to the same video. Enjoy.

November 18, 2009

“Short Losers” controversy causes Misuda production team to resign & retail boom

Filed under: rapid cultural change, television — extrakorea @ 2:45 pm

You may have heard about the “Short Losers” controversy, in which a guest on Misuda/Chat with Beauties said that men under 180 cm (about 5’11”) are “losers.” The young woman, Lee Do-kyoung, a student at Hongik University, immediately found herself in a lot of hot water. She tried to defend herself by claiming that the show is scripted, and that she was merely doing what was asked of her.
The show, and even its TV station, also were the targets of criticism, with one man suing KBS for causing him “emotional distress.” As a result, the entire production team of the show has resigned.
If you’re one of those who’ve suffered “emotional distress,” take heart in the fact that Hyun-ah, of the group 4Minute, likes losers. It would be so much better if she weren’t 17 and underage.
The controversy has been a boon to online retailers, who’ve received an unexpected but welcome windfall:

Interpark has set up an entirely new shopping category labeled, “escape being a loser!” The fresh line-up offers everything from height increasing shoe insoles to straight up men’s heels.

There is one condition prior to making the purchase: Shoppers can’t be taller than 180 centimeters, say Interpark officials.

[snip]

Another Internet shopping site, 11th Street, has also launched a special shopping section dubbed “don’t worry be happy” for shoppers who consider themselves “losers.” It sells a wide range of goods flattering for “vertically challenged” people at prices starting from 2,500 won.

[snip]

Sales of men’s shoes with inner heels climbed 20 percent over the past week, according to industry data, leaving some popular products out of stock.

Below are some of the designs that are finding their way onto tee-shirts:

Lastly, you can read this article about Korea’s recent preoccupation with height.
(Hat Tip to Kushibo)

November 15, 2009

Teenager falls (jumps?) from apartment window, possibly after hallucinations from Tamiflu

Filed under: health — extrakorea @ 7:33 am

On Saturday, a teenager reportedly jumped from a sixth-floor apartment window. He was found unconscious but alive after suffering serious fractures to his arms and legs. Now it’s suspected that he may have experienced hallucinations after taking the medication Tamiflu. In Japan, there were allegedly fifteen incidents of such from 2004 to 2007. The boy does not remember anything about the incident.
I hope that this leads to more caution regarding the use of antimicrobial medications. They’re not candy. They’re drugs and can have side effects, and can also lead to drug-resistant microbes, which is something that should be taken more seriously than it is. In Korea, people take medicine and come to work sick, instead of resting at home and letting the body’s own remarkable ability to heal itself take its natural course. (Remember that Koreans work the longest hours in the OECD.) If you recuperate at home, you’re “lazy.” Also, I think that, amongst the men, there’s some machismo involved; if you don’t come to work despite being ill, you’re “weak.”

Update:

According to police, the fourteen-year-old reported hallucinations about taking Tamiflu, and yet, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs claims that there is very little to link the teenager’s fall to the drug. It isn’t commonplace for teenagers to hallucinate in Korea, a country with very strict anti-drug laws. Jumping from buildings isn’t rare, as it’s a common suicide method, but the boy wasn’t trying to kill himself.

In slightly-related news, workers at Gaesong, the industrial park in North Korea operated jointly with South Korea, have been provided with Tamiflu as a precautionary measure, “to be used in emergency situations.”

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