Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Daily Kor for December 8, 2009: Just lie back and think of Kim Jong-il

The big news in South Korea, I guess, is the trip to the Free Korea by the premier of Canada, Stephen Harper. That is, if the visit by the leader of a country with fewer people than one of the larger US states is that big a deal to begin with. I mean, come on, South Korea has 50% more people than Canada does, and South Korea's so small you could sprint across the country in an afternoon. I mean literal sprinting. Phht... When is America finally going to put that "country" out of its misery and just annex it give it statehood. Really, now that Obamacare is being passed, the only real obstacle to reunification of the former American colonies is about to be history.

But perhaps the big news for the Koreas in general is the smoky room grilling of North Korea's UN Ambassador Ri Tcheul, who had to answer for his country's abysmal human rights abuses. The guy was totally unprepared; at one point it appeared he thought crossing his legs to reveal he wasn't wearing underwear would be enough to distract from his country's murderous ways.

In all seriousness, at one point he said that the families of condemned prisoners were the ones requesting public execution. Scumbag.

[above: Though he also spent at least a minute or so inside DPRK territory, Canadian PM Stephen Harper was not kidnapped, was not forced to eat rice with small stones in it, did not bond with his captors, did not force world leaders to come to his rescue, and did not get $1 publishing deal to write book on tragedy of North Korean defectors whom he endangered by carrying tapes of their interviews with him. On re-entering the South, however, he was forcibly tested for HIV and THC.]
  1. ROK President Lee Myungbak and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper promise to work together to promote negotiations for FTA between their two countries (Xinhua, Yonhap)
  2. North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations describes three-hour grilling over human rights abuses "unpleasant," says serious malnutrition "is a thing of the past" (AP via Seattle Times); US pushes for more scrutiny over DPRK (Reuters)
  3. South Korean aid group says rice prices in North Korea have surged since currency revluation (Bloomberg)
  4. ROK National Assembly's finance committee gives blessing to bill allowing Bank of Korea to conduct its own probe into banks as part of new role aimed at maintaining financial stability (CNBC, Yonhap)
  5. Rodong Sinmun commentary blames United States for nuclearization of Korean Peninsula, calling South Korea "the biggest nuclear arsenal in the Far East" (People's Daily)
  6. South Korean officials say US envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth told ROK officials that Washington may be open to talks for peace treaty during Pyongyang trip (Yonhap, Joongang Daily); US State Department says Bosworth will focus on six-party talks (Yonhap)
  7. North Korea reportedly starts winter vacation early due to rapid spread of H1N1 "swine flu" (Yonhap)
  8. Hyundai Motors to expand manufacturing capacity in China by 60% over next three years (WSJ)
  9. South Korea's social security costs grow 13.8% from 1995 to 2008, fastest rate in OECD (Korea Times)
  10. Ministry of Education study reveals that majority of urban South Korean students don't understand how trees work (Yonhap)


  1. I liked what Mark Steyn said, about the difference between Canadians and Americans. The difference is, only Canadians care what the difference is.

  2. He should have said "Only Canadians know what the difference is".

  3. I said the above all in good fun, of course, but I have actually earned money off of Canadian disgruntlement toward Americans.

  4. Not only did those people assume you knew little about Canada, they knew little about Canada themselves. I'm glad you took their money. I hope you made them give you American dollars. My American friends know little about Canada in general, but when the subject is broached seem genuinely interested and try to name the 10 provinces.

  5. strayblog wrote:
    Not only did those people assume you knew little about Canada, they knew little about Canada themselves. I'm glad you took their money.

    Well, to be fair, Nunavut had been carved out of the Northwest Territories during the several years this gentleman had been in Korea, so he might not have been aware.

    "Nunavut?" he exclaimed, "I've never even heard of Old Navut." (No, I'm making this part up.)

    Also, he was well on his way to being shit-faced.

    I hope you made them give you American dollars.

    Damn straight! No way I'm collecting a bar bet in worthless Canadian dollars that bring only pennies on ... Oh, damn. I can't use that joke anymore.

    My American friends know little about Canada in general, but when the subject is broached seem genuinely interested and try to name the 10 provinces.

    It may help that some of my extended family either lives or owns property in two or three of the provinces. And they're all just sitting in a row, so how hard is it to memorize them?

    Anyway, the funniest example of Canadian outrage at alleged American hubris that I ever saw was back in the days of lists and newsgroups, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    Some academic conference was mentioned, with the location in "Ontario, CA." In the subsequent posts and replies, a couple people were talking about how expensive/difficult it would be to fly to the US and/or get visas, to which one regular commenter (a Canadian) let loose on a multi-paged screed about how geography-impaired "you Americans" are and how "you Americans" think the whole world revolves around you so you can't even be bothered to learn basic geography of neighboring countries and it's no wonder someone like George Bush could come to power, etc., etc.

    Pages. Many. All venting about American hubris.

    About an hour later, the original poster put up a note apologizing for using the abbreviation "CA" and clarifying that, indeed, she had meant (as others had deduced from the context) "Ontario, California" (a major satellite city of Los Angeles).

  6. Oh, and the bar bet was for KRW. Many, many man of KRW.

    I sort of felt bad, but this guy would have broken my arm trying to get me to pay up had I lost, so I didn't feel bad for long.

  7. Oh, and I'm not a big fan of Mark Steyn. The Orange County Register carries his column, and I have read it a few times, but he strikes me as more of the same as the others who also excel at demonizing and attack rather than talking about anything substantive (the last one I read was about Obama's bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito). I think he moved to America just to increase his potential audience (and paycheck) tenfold is all.

    We in America have enough pundits who don't understand our society's history without importing Canadians who are pretty much the same.

  8. I hadn't heard of this Mark Steyn character before now... but after a bit of reading I have decided that you guys can keep him.

  9. But what if we don't want him?!

    As far as gifts go, Mark Steyn is truly a white elephant.


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