Extra! Korea

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 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.

May 10, 2009

China to intervene if North Korea collapses

Filed under: North Korea, politics — extrakorea @ 3:28 am

According to a recent report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, which is America’s most senior military school, China will attempt to prevent any collapse of North Korea, and will intervene if it does. Also, any military action against North Korea will be answered by China due to the fact that it “must observe” its formal bilateral security treaty with North Korea.

According to the report, Shen Dingli of the Institute for International Studies at Fudan University has told observers that policymakers in the PRC prefer a buffer in North Korea between South Korea and the U.S. forces there.

Dingli also said that rather than let North Korea collapse, China will provide basic subsistence.

The report also quoted China’s defense minister and high-ranking military officials as saying that “China will not let North Korea collapse.”

The reported also noted that Beijing has been the donor of last resort that kept North Korea in food and fuel through famine and energy crises for decades.

“In official statements, books and state-controlled media, the Chinese leadership provides support for the DPRK and takes no position advocating regime change,” the report said.

“Even in China’s closed forums, there is almost a taboo on discussing “regime change” in North Korea.”

Given that China has a formal commitment in its bilateral security treaty with North Korea that it “must observe” in the event of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, any military action against the North would inevitably face Chinese intervention, according to the report.

April 15, 2009

The Return of Mad-Cow Beef

Filed under: food, politics — extrakorea @ 8:01 am

American beef suspected of being unsafe is back in the news.

About 13 tons of American beef were falsely sold as Australian products five years ago in defiance of a disposal order issued after a case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was reported in the United States.

[ snip ]

In December 2003, when cows suspected of having the disease were found in the U.S. and Seon’s company was ordered to dispose of all American beef, he allegedly destroyed seven tons and falsely reported to the company that he had destroyed the entire 29 tons in the store.

Among the remaining 22 tons, Seon delivered 12.7 tons to discount stores and department stores between August and December 2004. The two fabricated expiration dates of the products and labeled them as “Australian beef,” raking in 280 million won in revenue. The products sold out.


As frustrating as it was to watch the Mad Cow Madness incite violent protests that caused 3.75 trillion won of damage (about 3.75 million dollars, before the current economic turbulence), I have to say that what these guys did was wrong, and that they do deserve to be punished.


Via the Marmot’s Hole, we learn that South Korea is, once again, the third-largest market of U.S. beef.

April 8, 2009

Singer Shin Hae-chul praises North Korea’s launch

Filed under: celebrities, douche of the week, North Korea, politics — extrakorea @ 1:20 pm

If I were to have a category called “Douche of the Week,” this guy might be the first candidate.

Shin congratulated the North, saying, “As a member of the same ethnic group, I congratulate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on its successful launch of a rocket (I wouldn’t call it an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile)) in line with its sovereignty and appropriate international laws.” He posted the statement on his official Web site (www.shinhaechul.com) Wednesday.

“I also hope the Republic of Korea will have nuclear and long distance missiles, as nuclear weapons are the most effective and only way to resist foreign powers,” he added.


What an idiot. Nuclear arms on the Korean peninsula might jolt Japan out of its over-60-year-old pacifist slumber. Japan has the best technology in the world, and could have nuclear missiles tomorrow if it wanted. It doesn’t because it feels safe.

I bet this guy is one of the 57% who don’t know when the Korean War broke out as well as one of the 51% who don’t know who started it. Like these students, he probably would have failed a test of his country’s own history. For example, does he know how many Korean soldiers and civilians were killed during the Korean War? The answer, which he surely doesn’t know (nor care about) is approximately 273,000 and two million, respectively. Being “of the same ethnic group” didn’t stop the North Koreans from killing scores of South Koreans with bombs, bullets, and bayonets.


I’ve decided to go ahead and make this ignoramus my inaugural Douche of the Week. Shin Hae-chul, do all of us a favor and go and live in North Korea, you washed-up old has-been/never-was. I’m sure that Kim Jong-il would love to have you, you ricetard.

March 29, 2009

Presidential Aides Caught in Brothel

Filed under: politics, prostitution — extrakorea @ 1:06 am

(from the Korea Times)

Two aides at Cheong wa dae, the presidential Blue House, were caught during a police crackdown on a brothel in Seoul and they subsequently submitted a letter of resignation, Hankyoreh Daily reported Saturday.

The belatedly known incident happened March 24 when the two presidential aides, identified by their last names Jang and Kim, went to a brothel after they got drunk. They were arrested while engaging in sex by the police officers who were on stakeout in the area.

March 23, 2009

Is frail-looking Kim Jong-il sicker than previously thought?

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea, politics, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 1:48 pm

Trying to imagine Kim Jong-il without his potbelly is like trying to picture Hitler without his cropped mustache or Osama Bin Laden without his beard, but recent photos of him, released by North Korea last Friday and appearing in a Chosun Ilbo gallery (courtesy of Korea Beat), have the world’s third-worst dictator looking gaunt within his Dr. Evil suit. Even though it’s widely believed that he recently suffered a stroke, he seems to be even sicker than previously thought.
This has raised the issue of what might happen in the event of his death. It has been reported that his youngest son, Jong-un, was being groomed to be the heir apparent. However, during recent North Korea’s recent “elections” he did not become part of the Supreme People’s Assembly, which would have been a logical first step. Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korea (read his articles here) had cautioned us not to jump to conclusions:

“[S]ome [past reports] have mentioned Kim Jong-il’s first son; they mentioned his second son; they also mentioned his brother-in-law; they mentioned his wife. There have been many rumors over the years, beginning probably in the mid-1990s. Every time, it was proven that these rumors were unfounded.”


If Jong-un has been deemed not ready to be take the reigns of power, either because he is too young or other reasons, then who would be likely to control North Korea in the event of Kim Jong-il’s death? There has been evidence that while he was recovering from his stroke, his brother-in-law, Jang Song-taek, would serve as regent and guardian of the younger Kim until he had reached sufficient maturity. Incidentally, the younger sister of Kim Jong-il to whom Jang is married to, Kim Kyong-hui, appears to be in critical condition.

March 14, 2009

“Minerva” Denied Bail

Filed under: censorship, politics — extrakorea @ 8:33 am

The blogger known as “Minerva” has been denied bail. The Korea Times writes:

A Court has refused to grant bail to arrested Internet commentator Park Dae-sung, better known as “Minerva,” citing the possibility that he could flee.

And so what if he did? What would he do? Write another blog entry? Oh no! We’re not talking about a rapist or a bank robber. Decisions like this are going to alienate what supporters the Lee Myung-bak administration has left.

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