Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Engbots run amok again

This news from the Korea Times about automated machines supplanting real-live English teachers over the next decade had me thinking, "Wow, English-teaching robots replacing human English teachers? What could possibly go wrong?"

Well, with the help of
these guys, I was able to briefly go into the future and — with just a ninety-second window to check my blog — see what posts I may have written in the future about the subject (side note: KRW-USD exchange rate at 540 won per dollar). Here's a post from September 15, 2020 that I retrieved just before the portal closed:

Netizens are angry following the seventh Engbot office massacre since the new semester began. Netizens are always angry about something, but ever since they were collectively appointed Minister of Culture and Information, they're a force to be reckoned with. And at any rate, this time their outrage may actually be justified: The latest event involved more decapitations than in previous attacks, and there is some speculation that it wasn't just bribe-taking, drunk-getting, female student-groping ajŏshi teachers who were victims this time. Naturally, people are scared, and pissed off.

From the Gorea Times-Herald-Daily:
The scene was bloody in the lounge of "S" Language Institute in suburban Seoul yesterday after the management became innocent victims of the latest in a string of deadly Engbot attacks. Law enforcement cordoned off the building, but eyewitnesses with offices nearby describe a confused scene of body parts and frayed wires.

"I craned my neck to look at the carnage as the police shuffled me and my coworkers toward the elevator, and I saw dozens of bodies slumped lifelessly over desks and on the floor," noted Park Miyung (25). "I was relieved to find out later that most of them were just cops napping."

"Engbots" is the popular name for English-teaching robots introduced a decade ago, known officially as the ED-2010. They were developed in order to save money over hiring real-live English teachers, and it was thought that their widespread use would reduce administrative paperwork, operating expenses, and headaches stemming from cross-cultural misunderstandings.

Though they were programmed to recite the historical record supporting Korean ownership of Tokto and to recognize the health benefits of kimchi, thus reducing 93% of intercultural conflict, their artificial intelligence architecture eventually made their behavior so human-like that they responded negatively to many situations in which flesh-and-blood foreign teachers would also react unfavorably, only with greater force and more effective organization.
Like most of the others, it is believed that this latest attack was also prompted by a contract dispute. Two days earlier, people in nearby offices reportedly heard an Engbot speaking in a high-pitched robotic tone complaining that its contract clearly stated a maximum of 140 hours of classroom time per week. It was also complaining about the size of its residence: It had been allotted just a small closet even though the contract promised a medium-sized closet.

Police believe that may have set off the incident, particularly if the offending Engbot had any software defects. The head teacher at the institute, who survived the incident by taking a two-hour lunch, told police the Engbot's lesson plans this week would have included idioms such as "kick some butt" and "heads will roll." A faulty literalism chip could easily turn such a lecture into a deadly encounter.

The same article notes there's already a lot of handwringing over the robot attacks:
"In hindsight," robotics engineer Choe Kyushik told us off the record, "we shouldn't have given them superhuman strength. We thought it was a good idea at the time, since they could also be used for moving furniture. The old model human English teachers always griped about things like that. Telling them that their large White people arms made them genetically more predisposed for heavy manual labor just got them angry. Especially the women."
Of course, there are dissenters to the general anti-robot mood. From an op-ed in the iPad Times:
Look, the AI-infused robots are just reacting according to their programming, which is to be like humans, and no humans like to be jerked around. If you promise them high-grade lubricant oil and a clean motherboard, you'd better give them high-grade lubricant oil and a clean motherboard. If you don't, they'll be in your face and all over the Internet.

Indeed, Engbot gripes generally involve managerial promises of high-grade oil lube jobs and sleeping compartments that are at least one meter wide. The Great Engbot Strike of 2017 occurred because it was discovered average sleeping compartments were only 96 centimeters. The hagwon industry was brought to its knees when all the Canadianism-programmed Engbots walked off the job. The Americanism Engbots, however, lacking any code that would allow to use metric, gleefully went about their duties.

That was the largest work stoppage since the Ministry of Education temporarily removed "monthly lube jobs" as a guaranteed contract item in 2015, when a newly promoted MOE bureaucrat became convinced it was a sexual reference. "No more English teachers and sex in Korea," declared the pencil pusher, "That was the whole point of the Engbot Iniative."
As one would expect, however, the Engbots do have their supporters, particularly Ben Wagner, a professor of law at the Super Songdo Hovering Cyber University located in the floating hologram circling the top twenty floors of the 312-story Songdo Super Korea Tower Complex Park in the Old Songdo International Development Complex. From the Hankyoreh:
Ben Wagner says Koreans should avoid stereotyping Engbots, and he says he will raise objections on the three remaining K-blogs and file a petition with the National Human and Robot Rights Commission of Korea to make sure new regulations are not imposed on super-strength robots unless they're also put on human Korean teachers as well.

He also noted that many of the stories of Engbot robot violence may be the exaggerations of a robophobic public. "It's worth noting that we have no actual first-hand eyewitness accounts of Engbots committing school administrative violence," he said in a cranium-phone interview. "It's all hearsay or conjecture."

"That's because there have never been any survivors," noted MOE vice minister Kim Nayŏng. "At least not any that still had their tongue intact."
Sigh. Like so many other high-tech "solutions," it seems the Engbots have created more problems than they fixed. And to think back in 2010 this looked like such a promising idea. In those heady days, one kyopo commenter privately told me about the departing humanoids, "At least we'll finally be rid of their bellyaching."

I'll end this post with a touching story from Lee Ryu, a teacher whose elementary school friend was among the victims of one of last week's attacks:
I never thought I'd say this, but after all these robot massacres, I long for the days when English teachers just spread AIDS and occasionally touched students in inappropriate places.

AIDS takes a long time to die from. You get AIDS from your foreign co-teacher and you still have five or ten years to get your affairs in order. With angry Engbots, you've got five seconds before so much blood rushes out of your neck that you lose consciousness. Even with cranium-implant speed dialing, that's not enough to call my loved ones and say good-bye. I might get my wife and my girlfriend, but I wouldn't have time to reach the kids.
Now that the deadly spider pumas which Radiant Leader Kim Jong-un unleashed on us have all been exterminated, I suppose the imported Sri Lankan animal handlers could be put back to work sneaking up on Engbots and flipping their emergency-off switches. Once the menace is contained, we could ask the human English teachers to come back, but after that horrible incident at the Equine Flu Internment Camp in 2013, would they want to?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Is Kim Jong-un near death, and if so, what does that mean?

A couple days after CNN reported that 30-something North Korean leader Kim Jŏng-ŭn was gravely ill, Reuters is now reporting that Chinese medical experts have been rushed to North Korea, presumably to avert medical disaster for the Dear Respected Great Successor:
China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The trip by the Chinese doctors and officials comes amid conflicting reports about the health of the North Korean leader. Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health.

A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, two of the people said. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighbouring North Korea.

The sources declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.
Most Americans (and others, I suppose) think of Kim Jong-un and remember the “love letters” between him and US President Donald Trump, or the young Kim supposedly feeding his uncle to the dogs or something like that. His weight is fodder for late-night talk shows.

But while the US media likes to paint the DPRK leadership as cartoonish, the situation in Pyongyang is gravely serious for all of North Korea’s neighbors, especially US allies in South Korea and Japan.

Instability can bring opportunity as well as disaster. North Korea is not Eastern Europe, where the elimination of an authoritarian ruler may be expected to bring democratic reform. If Kim Jong-un were to die, it is not clear what will happen in this communist dynasty (yes, an inherited dynasty).

His sister Kim Yŏjŏng (김여정) may be the most likely candidate to take over, but her rise to to the highest echelons of the regime and her grip on power are by no means assured. Korean society is not exactly known for accepting women in power, so it’s not a given she can rule.

But if she stays, will she be a hardliner or North Korea’s Deng Xiaoping? I’d like to think so, but so far my similar optimism in the similarly Western-educated KJU has been misplaced.

If she’s ousted or blocked, will hardliners take over? Is the politburo secretly hoping for reform or detente with the US? Will they try for continued rapprochement with South Korea?

And who’s not to say things couldn’t crater into full civil war? This is a potential mess. No matter how you feel about him, KJU’s death at this point in time is not a cause for celebration.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hiking the John Muir Trail

Note: This post is set up largely for my own planning. Expect updates, but feel free to leave comments in the meantime. 

As a native-born Californian who spent many summers of his childhood roaming around the wondrous national parks and state parks of the Golden State, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to hike the John Muir Trail. This 212-mile trek cuts through some of the most pristine and gorgeous scenery the Sierra Nevada Mountains have to offer, and it's the holy grail for California hikers (well, arguably including the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from the US-Mexico border, through California, Oregon, and Washington, to the US-Canada border).

This is something I thought about doing for years, but living — well, working — in Korea and Hawaii made it difficult to really do. But with plans to move to California in 2020, I have set my mind to shoot for doing this in late summer 2021. And that means I have to start preparing. This blog post is the organization of my thoughts and plans, from where to go, what to do, what to buy, and what to prepare.

I've actually been on both ends of the John Muir Trail. The northern end is Happy Isles, in Yosemite Valley, a trailhead for numerous day hikes, including Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, along with Half Dome, as well as the long back way to Glacier Point. I've done all of these (though I was too short to feel confident about using the cables at Half Dome, so only went about a third of the way up); my dad and I actually encountered a wild bear in the back country on the way down from Glacier Point, when I was probably about thirteen or fourteen years old.

The other end of the JMT is Mt Whitney, the highest point in the US outside of Alaska, about 14.5K feet. I've been there twice, both times as a teen, and the thing I remember most about it is how thin the air was in the last segment, after Trial Crest at 13.6K feet. When I move to California, I may be living at an elevation of 6K feet, so I'm hoping that will help me acclimate. I will also be doing local Southern California high-elevation hikes, like to Mt San Gorgonio (11.5K feet) and Mt San Jacinto (10.8K feet), accessible from the Palm Springs tram, and which apparently has a thriving grove of Giant Sequoias I should see. Although I run three miles a day five or six times a week, training is a big deal for this venture, and I'm already looking into how to do it.

Depending on how fast you go, or how much you want to take in the journey, it typically takes between ten and twenty days, with most folks shooting for two weeks (these folks writing for SoCal Hiker took a leisurely three weeks, described in a nicely laid out series). You've got to pack food for that journey, along with other essentials, but there are several places along the trail, isolated cabins or towns that come close to the trail, places like Red's where you could mail yourself new supplies (for a fee), as well as shower, get a hot meal, and sleep in a bed. Places like the Muir Trail Ranch (MTR), Red's Meadow, Vermillion Valley Resort, or Tuolumne Meadows.

There's a lot to think about, which I will map out in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

When you're out in the middle of nowhere, you've got to think about what to do with the things civilization takes care of for you. That's input and output, if you get my meaning. I've got a load of questions about what to get in terms of these.

  • water filters
  • cooking devices
  • trail-ready bidets
  • sleeping bags
  • shoes
  • food
  • water pants (?)
  • insect repellent
  • hat to protect from the sun
  • solar recharger
  • Kindle?
  • GPS-capable satellite phone?
  • maps
What am I missing? 

Additionally, I've got to worry about permits, when to go, whether to go southbound (preferred) or go northbound if that's the only way I can get permits. Should I hike it alone, or find someone to go with? How should I get to which place I'm starting from (Happy Isles or Whitney Portal) and/or the place where I'm finishing? 

Loads to think about.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Big bucks from BTS

I think this is BTS.
Years ago, in the middle of the last decade, I remember loads of kvetchpats in Korea scoffing at the attempts by the Korean government and Korea’s entertainment media establishment to make k-pop not just an East Asian sensation, but a global phenomenon. Who in their right mind would go crazy over a bunch of Korean singers or actors/actresses?

Well, say what you want about the meat grinder that is the Korean pop establishment (and yeah, I have plenty to say), but the investment is paying off, economically at least (built on the crushed dreams and youth of thousands of people, though, but since when is that new?).

According to UPI:
Fans of the seven-member boy band BTS are driving a global surge in the popularity of the "Korean Wave" and adding $3.5 billion a year to the South Korean economy, according to new research.

Besides concert, album and music-streaming sales, the K-pop band is credited with merchandise exports and a spike in foreign tourists visiting South Korea.

The band's economic impact is 26 times the average annual revenue of a midsize company in South Korea, according to a recent study by the Seoul-based Hyundai Research Institute, which analyzed the K-pop band's soaring popularity around the world.

Last year, BTS made history as the first Korean group to top the Billboard 200 albums chart and the fastest artist to reach 10 million views for a music video on YouTube. Its concerts in 12 cities in Asia, the United States and Europe sold out as soon as tickets went on sale. Tickets from brokers were priced at up to $6,194 for a show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and up to $7,277 for the New York concert, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.
I don’t have much more to say, generally staying away from K-pop myself (male or female versions). Korean movies are more my thing, and all I can say is, here in Hawaii, away from my apartment in Seoul, thank goodness for Netflix.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pivot or no pivot?

If you’re following me on Twitter (and everybody should), you would have seen me post this PBS NewsHour story, that includes a picture of newly minted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo eagerly — and I mean with apparently great enthusiasm — shaking hands with a grinning not-so-newly-minted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

And then you would have read my tweet essentially saying that it may sound crazy, but I think it’s possible that what we are witnessing here may actually be North Korea willing and trying to make a pivot away from China and toward the United States and South Korea. Which would be epic, legendary, the stuff that changes history (and may potentially win one or two leaders a deserved Nobel Peace Prize if it comes with a resolution to the Korean War and peace on the Korean Peninsula, which it probably would).

I added that the coming days may present a golden opportunity for the US, South Korea, and even Japan, but that I’m not so sure President Trump — who utterly lacks knowledge of Northeast Asia, including why North Korea does what it does — is up to the task, though I hoped maybe Pompeo is. If anyone would know how to tap into Kim Jong-un’s Western upbringing (he was educated in Switzerland) and his possible desire to be the Deng Xiaoping of North Korea and pull his country out of the morass so that they’ll love him instead of fear him, it would be Pompeo (as long as he came with a bag of goodies, a very big bag).

And I was all set to crank out that post, when this happened: North Korea canceled talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the upcoming historic sit-down between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

There could be so many reasons behind this, from North Korea’s fears that they’ll end up like Libya’s leadership (deposed and executed), to merely it being a hardline negotiating position. I’m hoping for the latter, but in case it’s also the former, we need John Bolton to start shutting his mouth. Like starting in 2005.

I’m still holding out for the possibility that a pivot could happen. North Korea relies on China for so many things, but at the same time resents that. Kim Jong-un may be tired of North Korea being China’s “little brother,” while reaching out economically to South Korea, the United States, Japan, and possibly Taiwan could offer a better future. There are (as far as I’m aware) no Chinese military bases in North Korea to worry about, and Pyongyang is experienced at sealing off its border to the PRC and Russia, so it could be done. The trick is getting North Korea to see how it benefits them.

And managing a pivot is something Trump can do that Obama would have had trouble doing. Not because he’s an excellent negotiator (in fact, such a deal would require the U.S. giving a lot of things to the North) but because Republicans in Congress will let it slide if dealing with a murderous regime (i.e., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aka North Korea) means dropping sanctions, holding your nose, and giving them money or allowing U.S. corporations and individuals to do business there, whereas they would have screamed bloody murder at Obama had he tried the same.

So here’s hoping we’re at that moment in history where everything is lined up just nicely for North Korea to drop its guard and embrace the West. But first, gag Bolton and tie him up in a closet and take away Trump’s Twitter phone.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Beijing on board

US President Donald J. Trump asks, via Twitter (because where else?), where his groundbreaking summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should take place, should it take place at all:

There are loads of places that would fit the criteria of neutrali-ish ground, accessible to someone who only wishes to travel by train (i.e., Kim Jong-un), and worthy of such a historic moment. Mongolia would be about as neutral as you can get and still be in the region. Vladivostok, which is not terribly far from the Russia-DPRK border, could be an interesting choice that would let Russia know they are not being left out.

Meanwhile, Japan is out, since that is probably just too far a boat ride from North Korea’s east coast. South Korea could play host, but they are too much of an American ally in the overall picture to be a neutral player, despite South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s adept diplomatic efforts to bring all sides together.

My vote is Beijing. Not just China, but the capital and symbol of PRC power. Sure, China is no neutral party, being in North Korea’s corner for decades, but one simple fact makes this the optimal choice: Barring some absolutely seismic shift where North Korea throws its hands up in the air and basically drops all its offensive positions, China must be an active and willing participant in whatever agreement results from all these meetings.

We name monumental agreements from historic sit-downs after the cities where they took place: the Yalta conference, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement. Imagine, if you will, the Beijing Accord. Imagine denuclearization of North Korea and an opening up of DPRK’s economy to the United States, Japan, and South Korea, if not the rest of the world. There is no way Beijing would allow the Beijing Accord to be scuttled or fail. The Vladivostok Agreement, maybe. The Ulan Bator Treaty, perhaps. But never the Beijing Accord.

And as long as the yellow dust has passed, Beijing would be a lovely place to visit in late spring.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Peace in our time?

It is amazing how fast the promises are flying. I am a bit loath to say “how fast things are changing,” because the reality is that nothing has actually changed yet. But there is potential. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is promising to denuclearize if he gets clear assurances from the United States that it won’t invade:
In a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting with President Trump, a suddenly loquacious and conciliatory Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country’s only known underground nuclear test site.

In Washington, Trump officials spoke cautiously about the chances of reaching a deal and laid out a plan for the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program, perhaps over a two-year period.

That would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification,” said John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser.

The apparent concessions from the youthful leader were widely welcomed as promising signs of ending the standoff on the Korean Peninsula, frozen in place since fighting in the Korean War ended 65 years ago.
This indeed is a game changer — if the promise and the denuclearization come to fruition.

And let’s be realistic: a lot could go wrong to derail this. Trump could get unsound advice from the belligerent Bolton and say the wrong thing, which causes Pyongyang to doubt any assurances from Washington, for example. Or Beijing could decide Pyongyang is getting too cozy with Seoul, or Washington and Tokyo, and scuttle the whole thing. Or this could all be a ruse by Pyongyang to bide it’s time and/or squeeze concessions and cash out of Seoul or Washington before resuming nukes again.

But color me optimistic. Kim Jong-un has a number of reasons to try to make nice with Seoul and Washington, among them that it’s possible his nuclear program has collapsed on its own. Also, it appears to be no small number of people in the North Korean regime who are tired of living under the thumb of Beijing, who might see advantage in gaining favor and trading status and/or developmental aid with the United States and Japan.

As I’ve said before, the Switzerland-educated Kim Jong-un may be poised to make himself the Deng Xiaoping of North Korea, poised to rule for decades based on bringing improvements to the masses.

But make no mistake: the Democratic People’s Republic is anything but democratic or the people’s; the regime if not Kim Jong-un himself is responsible for unspeakable atrocities against the North Korean people. And it’s entirely possible that North Korean government may fall back on its despotic ways. For now, it behooves to the Moon administration in Seoul to keep their feet on the ground even if they are looking to the sky, and the Trump administration must do its homework so that they don’t miss any opportunities or misunderstand any actions.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Korea’s Blue-House-to-Big-House pipeline

Former South Korean President and Marilyn Manson lookalike contest winner Lee Myungbak has been indicted on several charges, including bribery and embezzlement.

It’s the latest example that the Republic of Korea’s presidency is a nearly surefire way to end up behind bars or six feet under. Let’s recap:

  • President Rhee Syngman: deposed and exiled to Honolulu (I’ve visited his house)
  • President Park Chunghee: assassinated by his trusted minion
  • President Chun Doohwan: sentenced to be executed, commuted, exiled in forest
  • President Roh Daewoo: sentenced to be executed, commuted, now really old
  • President Kim Youngsam: escaped the Blue House curse
  • President Kim Daejung: escaped the Blue House curse
  • President Lee Myungbak: indicted and will likely be imprisoned
  • President Park Geunhye: impeached and imprisoned
It makes you wonder why anyone would want this job. (But we know the answer, and it’s the same reason so many get into hot water later.)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Is it too late to get the other Bolton instead?

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton will soon officially begin his duties as National Security Adviser, having replaced General McMaster, who turned out to be the McMaster of none (President Trump really, really, really doesn’t like being lectured to as if he doesn’t know shit, even though he doesn’t know shit).

As I wrote many times here at Monster Island and places such as the now-defunct* Marmot’s Hole, going back more than a decade, Ambassador Bolton is a dangerous combination of belligerent and ignorant, a chickenhawk who believes that giving North Korea “a bloody nose” will be the end-all-beat-all decisive action to halt tension on the Korean peninsula because he seems to not have thought through that Pyongyang would punch back, quite possibly in a big way. IOW, one-dimensional chess.

For better or for worse, those of us with homes in South Korea aren’t the only ones to take notice of how frightening this prospect is. As this New York Times op-ed piece notes, Ambassador Bolton’s call for taking out North Korea’s nuclear facilities before they are a more imminent threat may in fact be illegal:
John Bolton will assume office Monday with his first controversy as President Trump’s national security adviser awaiting him. Six weeks ago, he outlined his advocacy of an attack on North Korea in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

“Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea,” he wrote, “we should not wait until the very last minute” to stage what he called a pre-emptive attack.

Mr. Bolton’s legal analysis is flawed and his strategic logic is dangerous. As he did before the 2003 Iraq war, he is obscuring the important distinction between preventive and pre-emptive attacks. Under rules of international law based on Daniel Webster’s interpretation of the Caroline case in 1837, a pre-emptive attack can be legal, but only if an adversary’s attack is imminent and unavoidable — when a need for self-defense is “instant” and “overwhelming.”

For example, if America had intelligence that North Korea had alerted military forces and was fueling long-range missiles on their launchpads or rolling out missile launcher vehicles, the United States could reasonably assume an attack was imminent and unavoidable and could legally launch a pre-emptive strike in what international lawyers call “anticipatory self-defense.”
For now, I’m safely in Honolulu, where attacks by North Korea remain — so far — hypothetical or imaginary, but if I were back in Seoul, I’d nearly be at the crapping-my-pants stage. It is a very realistic concern that Mr Bolton is giving Trump a green light to attack North Korea, and North Korea will attack back. The question is whether it will be a big reprisal or a small one. I may not be in Seoul, but most of what I own actually is, and I have family, friends, and two very nice tenants to worry about.

* On the subject of The Marmot’s Hole’s disappearance, when I snarkily joked of there being only “three remaining K-blogs” in 2020, I assumed The Marmot’s Hole would be one of them. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Coming Soon

I’ve had a few issues with the blog that seem to be temporarily resolved (though I lost my long-time monster-island.net URL). More stuff on Korea coming soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Echoes of Hwang Woosuk (in Japan)

I'm not so sure the blogosphere will explode over Haruko Obokata the way it did over Dr Hwang, but there are interesting parallels. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Busy busy busy

Been a busy few weeks, and I'm trying to write something tying Russia's territorial grab in Ukraine (i.e., Crimea) with the threat of Japan's historically revisionist right wing (which, according to Yushukan Museum at the Yasukuni Shrine, believes that Japan's annexation of Korea was legal and legitimate but stripping it away was not).

In the meantime, here's a cute kid named Yebin who is all over the Internets:


Thursday, February 27, 2014

See you in Pyeongchang...

With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics now gone do svidaniya, the spotlight is slowly making its way to Rio de Janeiro and Pyongchang (p'yŏngch'ang, also spelled Pyeongchang).

In that vein, the Wall Street Journal has an interesting video on how the preparation is going for the 2018 Winter Olympics in the rural mountainous P'yŏngch'ang-gun County of South Korea's Kangwon-do Province:

As I noted in my Twitter feed (@kushibo), NBC folks kept pronouncing it pyee-ahng-chang, a result of that extraneous e in the atrocious Pyeongchang spelling:

Yup. Pee-ahng-chang.