Extra! Korea

February 19, 2010

Defectors with cell phones key source of info on N. Korea

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:02 am

According to this article by Asahi Shimbun, North Korean defectors, and their cell-phones, are key sources of information about North Korea. For example, the story about the recent currency revaluation was broken and spread in this way.

More than half [of North Korean defectors] are thought to be in regular phone contact with relatives they left behind.

The spread of Chinese-made mobile phones from around 2001 in areas close to China’s border with North Korea proved vital.

North Koreans can connect their mobile phones to Chinese relay stations as long as they are within a few kilometers of the border.

Defectors living in South Korea are said to remit an average 500,000 won (about 39,000 yen, or $430) a year to relatives via brokers.

The mobile phones are necessary to confirm that the money was received.

“People living near the border contact relatives living farther inland,” said one defector. “If the relatives have no phones, someone arranges to bring them near the border.”

At Free North Korea Radio, 10 defectors phone “stringers” living near the Chinese border on a daily basis.

Ha Tae-keung, the president of Open Radio for North Korea, said, “By calling, it is possible to learn about incidents that happened only one or two hours beforehand.”

B. R. Myers: “Americans should shift … from trying to talk to the North Koreans which is pointless to talking to the Chinese.”

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 6:29 am

Author B. R. Myers (“The Cleanest Race – How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters”) had an interview with ABC News. To those familiar with him, there may not be too much new here, though this stood out for me:

I believe that the Americans should shift their energy and their diplomatic resources from trying to talk to the North Koreans which is pointless to talking to the Chinese. Now I don’t mean that we should try to get the Chinese to persuade the North Koreans to disarm because they’re not going to have any more success in that endeavour that we have had.

But I believe the Chinese can perhaps be persuaded into allowing North Korea to collapse. So I believe that America’s efforts should go towards assuaging China’s fears of a reunited Korean.

I think he’s basically said that before, but not so baldly. In any case, you should read the entire interview.

President Lee Myung-bak = bad guys from “Avatar”

Filed under: Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 4:54 am

The Hankyoreh brings us this political cartoon:

Robo Lee destroys S.Korean society

The Navi, representing the South Korean people, attempt to protect the Tree of Souls representing “an economy for the common people and freedom of press.” President Lee Myung-bak, however, rides in a mechanical destroyer on which the slogan reads “The second anniversary of Lee’s inauguration,” and finally destroys the tree.

Leaving the Navi with stricken expressions on their faces, President Lee says, “Now, we will ban your nighttime outdoor assemblies, too!”

I’m not a huge fan of Lee, but his political opponents would have more credibility with me if they didn’t turn the National Assembly into the Royal Rumble and didn’t engineer protests that caused 3.75 trillion won worth of damage.

Korean exchange student killed by group of Russian youths

Filed under: crime, expatriates, safety, xenophobia — extrakorea @ 4:02 am

A South Korean exchange student, surnamed Kang, has been killed by a group of Russian youths.

Kang, a sophomore at a university in Gwangju, had been taking part in an exchange program at a university in Barnaul near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan.

Local police said three suspects, aged between ten and 20, have been arrested and are being investigated for aggravated assault.

Russian news agencies are reporting that a knife was used during the attack.

Given that Kang was not robbed, investigators are looking into the possibility that the attack was motivated by racism.

Last year alone, 70 people died in Russia as part of racists attacks. In 2007, a South Korean student was killed in such an attack.

It looks like he may well have been the victim of extreme Russian nationalists. Very sad news about a young man who was trying to expand his horizons.

February 18, 2010

Oy vey! K-pop schmucks sing schlock called “Mazeltov”

Filed under: humor, languages, music — extrakorea @ 2:07 pm

After massacring the English language through Konglish, K-pop is evidently moving onto other languages, since a boy band named ZE:A (no, I don’t know how it’s pronounced either) sings a song called “Mazeltov.”

I just threw up my bagels and shmeer. Those schmucks have some chutzpah to sing schlock like that. Oy vey.

A marijuana-like drug that’s “Produced in Korea”

Filed under: crime, health — extrakorea @ 8:30 am

There’s a new drug on the market that imitates the effects of marijuana, and is, at least for now, legal in the United States (but –get this– is banned in most of Europe. I’m not sure about Canada, but given that we’re all a bunch of potheads …).

The users are buying a product known as K2 — or “Spice,” Genie” and “Zohai” — that is commonly sold in head shops as incense. Produced in China and Korea, the mixture of herbs and spices is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Users roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes, just like the real thing.

(emphasis mine)

“Made in Korea”? Which one? South Korea has strict drug laws (which many expatriate teachers find out the hard way). North Korea has a history of producing and trafficking illegal drugs to try to prop up its basket case of an economy. So, I’m guessing it’s the North.

The key ingredients are believed to be the unintended result of scientific research on marijuana’s effects.

Dr. John Huffman, a Clemson University organic chemistry professor, was researching the effects of cannabinoids on the brain when his work resulted in a 1995 paper that contained the method and ingredients used to make the compound. That recipe found its way to marijuana users, who replicated Huffman’s work and began spraying it onto dried flowers, herbs and tobacco.

“People who use it are idiots,” said Huffman, referring to K2 smokers.

[ snip ]

There is no data on the drug’s toxicity or how long it stays in the body. In mice, it can lead to a lower body temperature, partial paralysis and the temporary inability to feel pain, according to the DEA.

February 17, 2010

Updates on pop star’s epic FAIL at English

Filed under: celebrities, humor, languages, technology — extrakorea @ 1:15 pm

We have updates on a pop star’s recent epic FAIL at English.
First, you can see all four parts of the episode with English sub-titles (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four)
Second, we have a screen capture. Show it to your students who are overly dependent on their electronic dictionaries and who think that said dictionaries are infallible. Tell them, “Don’t become like this.”

And guess what? At the very end of Part Four, we learn that they’re going to go to register at an English hogwon (private education institute). The hilarity may have only begun.

Edit/Update:

I was right.

Filipino community leaders collect signatures to save “Little Manila”

Filed under: expatriates, multicultural society, xenophobia — extrakorea @ 12:36 pm

Zen Kimchi has a post with snippets about the latest measures to attempt to save “Little Manila” (as well as Filipino cooking).

You might recall that the “Little Manila” market is being threatened with closure, and the Filipino ambassador is getting involved in the efforts to save it. In the latest development, community leaders are starting a drive to collect signatures.

The Jongno District Office had cited complaints from residents and storeowners regarding the cleanliness, orderliness and traffic in the area, as reasons why the market should be closed.

Look at this video below. To those of you who live in South Korea, does this look especially dirty or disorderly, especially when compared to other outdoor markets? I see far worse at the little plastic tables outside my local convenience stores.

The petition also highlighted the Filipino market’s contribution to multiculturalism in Korea. While the majority of market-goers are Filipinos, there are also a number of Koreans and foreigners who are visiting the market to sample Philippine food such as barbecued meat, stir-fried noodles, fried banana and rice cakes.

“Even Koreans, who have been to the Philippines, come here to buy pancit (stir-fried noodles) or balut (duck egg),” said another Filipino vendor, who did not want to be identified.

Several vendors interviewed by The Korea Times expressed their willingness to cooperate and make improvements, in order to prevent the market’s closure or transfer.

[ snip ]

“We’re aware that there are some complaints because there are really a lot of people in the street, especially when the mass ends around 3 p.m. But it’s only a once a week market, and we’re more than willing to cooperate with any changes they want us to make,” said Wilbert, a Filipino vendor who lives in Bucheon.

Many Filipino workers from different parts of Korea travel to Seoul on Sundays just to go to church and shop at the market. The Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA) is one of the organizations trying to gather signatures for the petition to save the market.

FEWA President Marcy Serdena said the market has become an important part of Filipinos’ way of life in Korea.

“We go here every Sunday, even if it is far, just to go to church, buy food and meet other Filipinos. … I think they should first try to make sure the market is orderly and impose discipline among the vendors. This can be resolved through discussions, and not immediate closure,” Serdena said.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. The question is: Is the Filipino community going to be allowed to enjoy their culture to try to cope with homesickness and culture shock, or are they only good for doing dangerous labor in factories and being baby machines for unmarriageable Korean bachelors?

Under the Times’ article, I noticed this comment by “jsburgeson” (J. Scott Burgeson):

Mayor Oh Se-hoon, if you close down Little Manila, Seoul City will lose a big part of its soul. And if you do go ahead and close it, don’t you dare use the world “multiculturalism” in any more of your city slogans.

Movie director charged with attempted rape of 14-year-old

Filed under: crime, movies — extrakorea @ 11:55 am

A movie director has been charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl.

A chief officer of the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors Office revealed on the 17th, “The alleged movie director invited to his house a 14-year-old girl who ran away from home to sleep over night, via internet chatting. After leading her into his bed, he attempted to rape the victim.”

The only detail revealed about “A” is of his debut film in 2000, which apparently was about a serial killer. No other information has released, but stay tuned for more details.

Hmmm. I wonder if it could be Ahn Byeong-gi?

Edit/Update:

Even if he is convicted, there’s a good chance that he will receive a slap on the wrist. Look at what this guy did:

A man in his 20s hasbeen sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, making a videotape of the assault and then uploading it to the internet.

The 5th criminal division of the Busan District Court sentenced 25-year-old Mr. Yu to 30 months in prison for violating the law on the sexual protection of teenagers (청소년성보호).

He sexually assaulted a twelve-year-old, videotaped it, and uploaded it onto the Internet, essentially sharing it with all of the other violent pedophiles out there in Cyberland, and what punishment does he receive? Two-and-a-half years. The word “disgusting” doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings.

February 15, 2010

Kim Min-seon found not guilty of harming beef importer’s business

Filed under: hard to categorize, pseudoscience — extrakorea @ 10:39 am

Actress Kim Min-seon was being sued by an importer of American beef, A-Meat, for comments she made on her Cyworld,* that she would rather drink poison than eat American beef (because she thought that U.S. beef was all infested with mad cow disease.) Interestingly, shortly before writing these remarks, she ate a hamburger in the U.S. I guess she has a short memory –maybe she did contract the disease after all.
The Seoul Southern District Court has ruled that she is not liable for financial damage suffered by the company.

Judge Kim Sung-gon said in the ruling, “Her article revealed no specific information associated with the plaintiff. So it cannot be seen that her article interrupted its business.”

I guess that means: She didn’t name A-Meat specifically, so A-Meat is succotash out of luck. Kim isn’t guilty of harming their business, just of being stupid.

* sort of like Korea’s version of MySpace or Facebook

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