Extra! Korea

August 26, 2010

Korean women in their 40s happiest; men in their 40s unhappiest

Filed under: economics, health, rapid cultural change, science, suicide — extrakorea @ 7:37 am

According to a study by the Korean Psychological Association, Korean women in their 40s are the happiest Koreans, while men in their 40s are the unhappiest.

Why are the men so unhappy?

“Korean men get stressed in work to survive in the competitive world and take responsibilities for families, but they lose interest in anything in their daily lives and just endure day by day,” Suh [Eun-kook, a psychology professor at Yonsei University] said.

And also …

[U]nlike the emotionally opened women, Korean men have suppressed emotion. In Korean custom, men are socialized not to reveal their sentiments to the public in any circumstances.

Why are the women so happy?

The housewives answered “satisfied” mostly when they are left alone at home during the daytime, when all family members are working outside.

“As kids are growing up to be independent from their mommies, women become more free from house chores and child-care, giving them more spare time,” Suh said.

The analysis indicated that the woman’s ability of expressing positive feelings can make a happier life.

In the world-at-large, Koreans are quite unhappy, as much so as people from much poorer, less-developed countries. In other news, the sun rises in the east in the morning.

Referring to the statistics of World Values Survey Association, Korea’s happiness ranked 58th out of 97 countries.

Korea has almost the same level of happiness as Peru, despite its developed scale of economy of $19,504 GDP per capita – about four times that of $4,452 in Peru.

Ed Diener, a psychologist visiting Seoul for a seminar, said Koreans have low satisfaction despite their high standard of living.

“When asked if they had a nice day or not, only 64 percent of Korean answered positive. Even the people of Zimbabwe scored 4 percent more than that,” said Diener.

The researchers said Koreans are concerned too much about what other people think of them, leading to unhappiness. Respondents who valued inner peace of mind were seen as having better relationships with others and stronger self-respect.

“However rich, educated, or hired by a famous company, a person who feels unhappy is living in misery,” said the researchers.

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July 14, 2010

Hopefully, these robots shoot better than Engkey teaches English

Filed under: North Korea, science, technology — extrakorea @ 7:09 am

According to the Chosun Ilbo, robot sentries are now manning the DMZ and other areas that border North Korea.

“We’re going to deploy such robots at all posts along the DMZ by year’s end if the trial operation is successful,” the officer said. The military authorities could also deploy them on the five islands near the maritime border in the West Sea.

Equipment consists of a camera, a K-4 high-speed machine gun, and a central control system. Each robot is said to cost about W400 million (US$1=W1,212). The surveillance camera sends images to the command and control room in real time. If it detects an approaching enemy, the robot is activated to fire 40 mm rounds at high speed.

Hopefully, they’ll be better at shooting North Korean invaders than Engkey is at teaching English.

Another Seoul National University scientist caught fabricating data

Filed under: science, technology — extrakorea @ 6:29 am

You might remember Hwang Woo-suk, who was caught fabricating data. Now Shin Kyu-soon, another scientist from his alma mater, Seoul National University, has been caught fabricating scientific evidence (Joongang Daily, Korea Times).

Seoul National University’s Research Integrity Committee said yesterday that Shin, who specializes in nanoscopic molecular engineering, was unable to provide proof to back a paper published in Nature Materials journal in October 2007. A school spokesperson said they are planning to inform the journal of the false information soon.

Shin’s paper, “Enhanced Mobility of Confined Polymers,” stated that polymers gyrate faster if confined in an area as small as a few nanometers. When first published, the paper drew attention as scientists previously believed that polymer mobility was enhanced in larger areas.

Polymers are a type of large molecules composed of repeating structural units. DNA, proteins and plastics are polymers.

[ snip ]

The school said it will soon officially inform Nature Materials, a U.K.-based monthly journal, of its finding that the professor’s paper used manipulated data.

The latest fabrication is expected to deal another blow to the credibility of papers written by South Korean scientists, which was tarnished in 2006 with the cancelation of two stem cell-related papers by Dr. Hwang Woo-seok.

[ snip ]

Shin has denied the charge and says the original experiment results were deleted from his computer by mistake.

What kind of an engineer doesn’t have a backup? He should have stuck with those old standby excuses of ajeosshis, “I was drunk … You have to understand my unique situation.”

March 9, 2010

Korea’s huge strides in the forensic sciences

Filed under: crime, science — extrakorea @ 11:30 am

The Korean movie “Memories of Murder” was based upon a real-life serial killer who committed his crimes in the late 1980s. In it, the police investigators had to send a DNA sample to the United States for analysis because Korea lacked the technology.

However, last year, Korean forensic scientists detected a nanogram (one billionth of a gram) of the DNA of one of the victims of serial killer Kang Ho-soon on his jacket, leading eventually to his conviction. The National Institute of Scientific Investigation (NISI) is well-respected enough internationally that scientists from other, developed nations are interested in learning from them.

Last November, the institute trained three Vietnamese officers for a month. NISI also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in 2008 to share information on forensic methods. Chung [Hee-sun, director general of the NISI] says the NFI was particularly interested in how its Korean counterpart manages DNA analysis in two weeks while it takes them three months.

[ snip ]

Using CT and MRI scans in autopsies is of great interest to forensic scientists across Asia, says Chung. For more reliable results, Chung wants to implement preliminary autopsies using CT and MRI, so she has planned cooperative research with institutes from the Netherlands and Taiwan.

[ snip ]

For example in 1995, she says, a DNA sample could identify a suspect from a pool of about one million. This means a sample could lead to some 50 suspects in Korea, whose population is over 50 million. But now, a sample can pinpoint a perpetrator from among everybody on Earth.

That’s how they were able to determine that it was Kim Gil-tae who raped, and probably murdered, Lee Yu-ri, a thirteen-year-old middle school student. Hopefully, they’ll catch that human trash.

December 13, 2009

Genetics Study: All East Asians probably migrated from Southeast Asia upwards

Filed under: languages, science — extrakorea @ 11:26 pm

The Korea Herald has an article about a recent study, published in Science magazine on Dec 10, that indicates that all Asians migrated from Southeast Asia upwards. It contradicts theories that there had been multiple migration flows from both northern and southern routes.

The analyses proposed a model in which ancestors of today’s Asian populations arrived first in India before migrating to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. From there, it suggested groups traveled north, mixing with the populations already living in these regions.

This accordingly suggested the ancestors of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese to be the latest to settle in East Asia. The study also revealed no meaningful genetic differences between the three ethnic groups, which together make up 1.5 billion people.

The study’s conclusions are supported by linguistic studies.

Scientists also disclosed the corresponding relationship between genetic ancestry and language groups.

“Our results show that genetic ancestry is strongly correlated with linguistic affiliations as well as geography. Most populations show relatedness within ethnic/linguistic groups, despite prevalent gene flow among populations,” they wrote.

The study found that, as expected, individuals who were from the same region, or who shared a common language also had a great deal in common genetically.
(from the BBC)

This study has been described as “[T]he first comprehensive study of genetic diversity and history of Asian populations”.

Dr. [Edison] Liu [executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore and president of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO)] said that it was “good news” that populations throughout Asia are genetically similar.

This knowledge will aid future genetic studies in the continent and help in the design of medicines to treat diseases that Asian populations might be at a higher risk of.

And the discovery of this common genetic heritage, he added, was a “reassuring social message”, that “robbed racism of much biological support”.

August 25, 2009

Four-year jail term sought for Hwang Woo-suk

Filed under: crime, pseudoscience, science — extrakorea @ 2:06 pm

You might remember Hwang Woo-suk. Prosecutors are seeking a four-year jail sentence for alleged embezzlement and bioethics law violations.

August 4, 2009

Korean doctors claim to have cured a diabetic woman

Filed under: health, science — extrakorea @ 11:08 am

A group of South Korean doctors at Inha University Hospital claim to have cured a non-obese diabetic woman in her fifties by removing part of her small intestine, including her duodenum.
They plan to publish the results in medical journals.

June 8, 2009

Hwang Woo-suk given award, but couldn’t receive it because he was in court

Filed under: crime, idiots, pseudoscience, science — extrakorea @ 10:56 am

You can’t make this stuff up. Despite being disgraced for two fraudulent studies, Hwang Woo-suk was given an award. Even the Korea Times had to admit that this was an embarrassment that made zero sense.

Disgraced gene scientist Hwang Woo-suk has been a pariah in the science world since his landmark studies on cloned human stem cells were exposed as fraudulent.

So it’s hard to say what the organizers of the Jang Young Shil Award of Science, Technology and Culture were thinking when they decided that Hwang was the most deserving candidate for this year’s plaque.

But wait, it get even better. Hwang couldn’t pick up the award because he was due in court, to face charges of embezzling government money intended for research and for violating Korea’s bioethics law.

You just can’t make up things like this and this.

May 20, 2009

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?

May 15, 2009

This Week in Korean Research

Filed under: science — extrakorea @ 11:43 am

I saw two articles today in the Korea Times about Korean research. In an interesting juxtaposition, one may represent Korean science’s future, and the other, its past. The first one holds out hope for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study published by peer-review journal, Phytotherapy Research, Daegu Catholic University researcher Lee Jong-won and Daegu Haany University’s Jang Jung-hee claimed that water extract of wheat could possibly be used to develop treatments and prevent Alzheimer’s, as it suppresses the role of beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a protein that is considered the building block of Alzheimer’s.

The second one is about the disgraced Hwang Woo-suk. He’s claims to have cloned pig stem cells.

Unfortunately for Korean research and science, the Dr. Hwang debacle is a cloud that still hangs over it, and is likely to continue to do so for some time. Science is less forgiving of fraud than other fields. Scientists build upon each other’s work, so if somebody makes fraudulent claims of success, it hurts a lot of other people, far and wide.

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