Extra! Korea

February 19, 2010

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.

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January 22, 2010

Has BoA given up on her American debut?

Filed under: music, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 4:27 am

Recently, BoA has been releasing songs, such as BUMP BUMP!, Possibility, and This Is Who I Am, from an upcoming Japanese album, onto the Internet. Now the tracklist and release date (February 10th) for that album, Identity, have been released. Does this mean that BoA has given up on her American debut? Her twitter account has been inactive since early November, 2009, and even those tweets have been about SM Entertainment’s global auditions. I guess SM Ent. is looking for some fresh meat to throw to the wolves talented people who want to be performers.

January 17, 2010

Kang Ki-kap “not guilty” and Grand National Party is not happy

Filed under: idiots, politics, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 9:48 am

You might recall that five lawmakers were indicted for misconduct at the National Assembly during a brawl there (one of many, actually).

The court has reached its decision.

Rep. Moon Hak-jin of the Democratic Party and DLP Rep. Lee Jung-hee were slapped with fines – 2 million won ($1,779) and 500,000 won, respectively – after being indicted last year for damaging public property.

Moon broke the door of the Assembly’s trade committee chamber with a sledgehammer to block GNP lawmakers from introducing a motion to ratify the free trade accord with the United States in December 2008. Lee broke nameplates of the GNP lawmakers at the committee chamber on the same day.

However, Kang Ki-kap (Triple K, the King of Hardcore) was acquitted, and the ruling Grand National Party is not happy with this.

Kang burst into the office of Park Kye-dong, the National Assembly’s secretary general, and stormed through the office, flipping tables and chairs. Kang also tried to enter the office of Speaker Kim Hyung-o.

Here are pictures of the peace-loving Kang performing the actions described above.

So why did the judge excuse them?

The court yesterday ruled that while there may have been some violent acts, it didn’t qualify as obstruction because Park was only reading a newspaper at the time.

Yeah, you can see the paper in one of the pictures above. Doesn’t keeping up-to-date on the news count as some of the work that a lawmaker should be doing?

“The accused at the time was not in control of his emotions,” said the judge Lee Dong-yeon.[1] “It’s difficult to establish that the accused had the intention to inflict harm.[2] Also, his yelling and kicking at doors can be seen as his act to represent his party’s stance.”[3]

(Numbers are mine.)

1. If Kang can’t control his emotions, then he should be in a mental institution, or at least not be part of his country’s government.

2. With so many people holding him back, it would have been difficult for Kang to inflict harm even if he intended it. His actions were violent and destructive to public property. Someone who does that ought to be punished, especially if they’re supposed to be part of the government itself.

3. What the heck is this even supposed to mean?!

Here’s another picture of Kang destroying public property.

Here he is attacking riot police.

More violence from Kang

January 16, 2010

Stole someone’s technology? The government will help protect you from lawsuits

Filed under: intellectual property, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 1:48 pm

The Joongang Daily tells us that the Korean government intends to help small- and medium-sized businesses, SMEs, fight overseas patent lawsuits by giving legal advice and providing insurance.

Additionally, the government hopes to nurture “invention capital” aimed at helping local companies buy and commercialize patents from colleges and research institutes. This pre-emptive measure, the ministry said, will help local companies avoid patent lawsuits in the first place.

According to a recent report by the Federation of Korean Industries, the largest business lobby group in Korea, many local firms have been sued or have faced threats of a lawsuit by so-called “patent trolls.” Patent trolls are also called non-performing entities, as they don’t actually use patents in their manufacturing operations but instead look to make money by suing other companies for breach of patent.

The FKI said there are around 220 patent trolls across the world.

I would support SMEs being protected from patent trolls, who seem to be aggressive, nonproductive entities, and having the purchases and commercialization of patents from universities and research institutes facilitated. Korea’s only real resource is its people, who are well-known throughout the world for their hard work. But look at the example that they begin the article with.

A Busan-based business that makes semiconductor parts was embroiled in a lawsuit last year filed by a Japanese firm, which claimed the Korean company breached certain technology patents.

The local company fought the allegation in Japanese court, but it wound up losing the case and eventually withdrew from the Japanese market.

The decision was a solid blow to the company, as its Japan business generated around 10 billion won ($9 million) in annual sales. The company, offered as an example by the government, is just one of numerous small and midsize businesses in Korea that has run into serious issues involving legal disputes by patent holders overseas.

This company doesn’t seem to be a victim. It looks like they stole someone else’s technology, and were caught and punished. If this is their best example of a poster child, then that’s just sad and reminds me of past examples of shameless intellectual property theft (see here, here, and here). Even now, the prevailing idea seems to be: “It’s not stealing if we do it.”

And, of course, let’s not forget about G-Dragon.

MC Mong, I haven’t forgotten you, either.

January 14, 2010

North Korean kids become outcasts in the South

Filed under: North Korea, Uncategorized, xenophobia, youth — extrakorea @ 2:37 pm

While there is definitely discrimination against non-Koreans in Korea,* especially if you have dark skin, sometimes what looks like racism is actually discrimination based upon socioeconomic status or the fact that someone is simply not part of one’s “in group.” This is demonstrated by the way that North Koreans are looked down upon by their southern brethren, despite the fact that they share a language, history, culture, and genetics. North Korean kids have both academic and social difficulties at school, where they can be ostracized by their class mates. You might recall my previous post about Choi Hyun-mi, the World Boxing Association women’s featherweight champion. It’s estimated that 1,700 teenage North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the mid-1990s. Here’s more, from the Joongang Daily.

Ji-eun pictured a wonderful life in South Korea when she was on the plane. But after she arrived, she found that things were quite different than what she had imagined, recalled Ji-eun, who turned 15 this year.

“Why did you come to Korea, you beggar?” one person asked her. “Were you hungry?”

“Go back to your country because there’s nothing we can give you,” said another.

These were the first words Ji-eun heard when she transferred to a South Korean elementary school as a third-year student. The first thing she learned in the South Korean school was bullying by classmates.

Ji-eun tried hard to eliminate her North Korean accent because her classmates avoided playing with her after they realized she was an outsider. Even after trying hard, though, she found obtaining a South Korean accent to be very difficult. She sometimes had to simply stay silent for fear of embarrassing herself.

When she became a senior, the bullying became more complex.

There’s no one who verbally insulted her to her face. But she could hear her classmates whispering, “Isn’t she a bit North Korean in style?”

No one asked her to have lunch. Because she didn’t want to eat alone, she skipped lunch frequently.

“I regret coming to South Korea so much,” Ji-eun said. “I even thought about suicide.”

Below is an excerpt from a similar New York Times article (via One Free Korea).

One October evening, when the students had gone camping and stayed up late, Moon Sung-il, a 14-year-old North Korean, brought tears to the South Koreans’ eyes when he recounted his two-and-a-half-year flight with other defectors that took him through China, Myanmar and a refugee camp in Bangkok. But he stunned them when he said that none of this was as daunting as a South Korean classroom.

“I could hardly understand anything the teacher said,” he said. “My classmates, who were all a year or two younger than I was, taunted me as a ‘poor soup-eater from the North.’ I fought them with my fists.”

Their difficulties are also academic.

When they are placed in South Korean schools, these Northerners start nearly from scratch. In the North, they had spent as much time learning about the family of their leader, Kim Jong-il, as they did the rest of Korean history. Few learned English, a requirement in South Korean schools. Dropout rates among defectors are five times the South Korean average, according to the Education Ministry.

A group called the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights has North and South Korean teenagers doing extracurricular activities and making friends, which is all fine and good, but it should be kept in mind that making a scarecrow out of straw together is a start, not a solution.

Given the enormous potential cost of reunification, we are not likely to see a unified Korea for a while, and thus can expect North Korean refugees to be coming for years to come. Hopefully, it will be a manageable trickle, and not a flood caused by the straw that broke the camel’s back.

* One example is the fact that the entrance fee for NB (Noise Basement), a dance club in Hongdae, is (or at least used to be) double for foreigners. By the way, NB is owned by the CEO of YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun-suk. I like 2NE1, but their boss is a douche.

January 1, 2010

Kim Yu-na shouldn’t be pressured into competing at the Four Continents Championships

Filed under: sports, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 3:14 am

The president of the International Skating Union (ISU) has asked the president of the Korea Skating Union (KSU) to persuade Kim Yu-na to compete in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

The request places the KSU in a difficult position as Kim has already announced that she will not compete in the event, which is scheduled to be held in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, from Jan. 27 to 30. Kim has decided to stay at her training base in Toronto in order to focus on final preparations for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.

Kim’s management agency IB Sports confirmed her decision. “Participating in the Four Continents competition would cost a whole week, with flying back and forth, adjusting to time zones, and competing,” the agency said. “This would be very burdensome for a skater who is preparing for the Olympics coming up in a month.”

I think that Kim should resist being persuaded to go. Flying will take about a dozen hours each way, plus there will be several days of severe jet lag each time. At this point, the Olympics are the only competition that matter. Also, there’s the pressure of competing in Korea. She lost at the 2008 Grand Prix, and later said that competing in her home country was a factor. Even if she wins, she gains nothing, as she’s been so dominant this season that people are expecting her to win.

If she loses, she’s screwed, because she’s both lost a lot of valuable training time and lost momentum. Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki, who were in first and second place at the recent Japanese championships, will be competing there, and would love to score a victory over Kim so close to the Olympics. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a no-win situation for Kim to go there.

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.

October 4, 2009

Oh no! Even creepier Wonder Babies

Filed under: Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 10:50 am

Remember Wonder Baby? Think that was creepy? You haven’t seen anything yet.

On this Chuseok* special, we see a five-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy recreate scenes with Baek Ji-young and Taek-yeon from the music video for “Ear Candy.” Know the scene where Taek-yeon semi-gropes Baek Ji-young? They faithfully reproduce it.

(source)

* Chuseok, one of Korea’s two biggest holidays, celebrates the end of the harvest season.

September 24, 2009

Man videotaped sex with middle school student, then tried to blackmail her with it

Filed under: Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 6:53 am

A man has been arrested for having sex with a middle school student, videotaping it, and then trying to blackmail her with it. Worse, two other men had sex with the teenage student, and there are even allegations that he kidnapped and raped her. There was an earlier, similar case of a man videotaping his sexual intercourse with a teenage student.

September 3, 2009

High School Student in Custody for Selling Tamiflu

Filed under: Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 1:24 pm

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into custody for selling Tamiflu, a drug used to combat the H1N1 influenza virus.
After returning from an overseas trip, he made a precautionary trip to the pharmacist and got the medication. When he didn’t develop any symptoms, he decided to sell the remaining medication online so as to recoup the cost of his visit to the pharmacy.

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