Monday, April 19, 2010

The big list of things I haven't had time to blog but want to
(April 19, 2010 edition)

I may start doing this from time to time. This is a list of things I found interesting — most of them not exactly Korea-related — that may be of interest to some readers. The list is dozens of items long, and in no particular order, so I'm just going to include it after the jump. So CLICK HERE if you want to see it.

Mortgage Rate Falls Below 4% for 1st Time

Why Was Democracy Short-Lived After April 19 Students’ Uprising?

Computer games: What online addiction is doing to our children

Stupidity of U.S. Congress Is Keeping Me Awake: William Pesek -

How Not to Raise a Bully: The Early Roots of Empathy - TIME

Causes of chronic cough -

Limits, Even at Fox News, to Promoting Tea Parties -

Why Buying a Foreclosed House on the Cheap Is Harder Than You Think -

BBC News - A welcome slice of American pie

6 Questions and Answers About the Icelandic Volcanic Ash Cloud |

The Dogs of War: Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft | Epicenter |

This is not the KCNA you're looking for

Apple software more vulnerable than Microsoft, security expert says | Los Angeles Times

Microsoft pulls part of Kin campaign after 'sexting' complaints | Los Angeles Times

Best Television Series of 2009 - Video -

Best Television Episodes of 2009 - Video -

Tea Party shuns Obama birthplace lawyer: The Orange County Register

Nike Free Run+ | Product Reviews

How long has this been in the refrigerator?

Fear of science will kill us -

Stimulus money restoring crumbling fort off Florida -

Behind the Wheel - 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe - A Frisky Korean Colt in the Pony Car Corral -

AFP: Veterans return to Korea for 59th anniversary of key battle

Why South Korea hesitant to blame North Korea in Cheonan ship sinking / The Christian Science Monitor -

Why controlling nukes is good politics -

Sinking South Korea's ship wouldn't be North Korea's first provocative act / The Christian Science Monitor

English Realtor Service to Be Available in Seocho

'Korea Needs to Ease Rules on Citizenship'

Islanders Aim For Normalcy In North Korea's Shadow : NPR

KCNA: E-Library at Kim Il Sung University Completed

KCNA: Kim Jong Il Issues Order on Raising Military Ranks

Wildlife group targets Discovery with anti-Sarah Palin ad campaign | Los Angeles Times

Travellers' tales: covering the war in Korea

'Hagwon' in US Go Korean Style

USFK to become Korea Command | Stars and Stripes

Kraze Burgers, Mr. Pizza set to go overseas

Hallyu faces a turning point

'Don’t’ Accept Glass Ceiling in Business'

Living Like an Emperor in Desert

ECOFIN: INTERVIEW: Korea Pushes For Pact On Safety Net -

3,880 Capo students take part in sickout


  1. Good idea. I've been writing for so many blogs, magazines etc etc recently that I'm going insane. There are so many stories I want to comment on but don't.

  2. That's quite a varied list and I was very interested to check some of the articles out, but I only had time to read a few. I enjoyed what I did read though.

    I have to say, that I'm generally put off from reading your 'Loose Change' and 'Daily' news links. I prefer to read your summaries and opinions on articles than to click on all the links. There are just too many articles and, even when you do quote and comment on some, there often seems to be much more of the original article than your own response.

    I don't know if other readers feel like I do, but I prefer to come here for your opinion and analysis rather than a series of news links.

    While I'm commenting, I'd like your opinion on the articles relating to Hallyu, Kraze and Mr Pizza.

    I have read numerous comments by foreigners in Korea opining that in Korea there is little understanding (or attempt to understand) foreigners, a seemingly insecure need for international recognition, and a belief that Korean culture is superior and that foreigners need to be enlightened about this and have their thinking and behaviour 'corrected.' As a long-time Korea observer, do you think there is any truth to this? And if so, what do you think are the underlying causes?

  3. Korean Rum Diary, Blogspot has made it very easy to do something like this, because you can drag a link from Safari (or Firefox) and it appears just as the reader sees it: a hotlink and the original title. For things like KCNA or Korea Herald don't have a page title, so I have to go change it myself.

    Meanwhile, my dorm's ISP settings have necessitated this. In an effort to kick people off the Internet for using things like Bit Torrent, they kick off anyone who hits a threshold of simultaneous connections. That means that when I occasionally restart my computer (as I've been told is a good idea), I can no longer use the "Reopen all windows from last session" feature. So when I close Safari, I go through the windows and tabs and close them out one by one, I save them somewhere to go through later. Eventually, I realize this was a much better way to do deal with them, so expect this every few days.

    This will all be part of "The Making of Monster Island" on DVD this summer.

  4. Schplook, thanks for your thoughts. I do realize that long lists can be off-putting, but I've been trying to find ways around that.

    I'm a news junkie, and the Daily Kor is my attempt to provide the top stories that I would present if I were doing a five-minute newscast (something I did in fact do at one time).

    And it keeps me honest because I do have a master's degree in Korean Studies — which I got so I could have some authority on the Korea-related public health studies I do, plus I then have a credential to teach Korean Studies as part of my overall work. It keeps me honest because it forces me to go through the news each day. It forces me to keep up with things, even when I'm busy. If you stay away from these things, after a month or so, you're really out of the loop of things changing so rapidly in Korea.

    So the Daily Kor is designed for someone to get the gist of what's happening in Korea even if they read nothing else that day. It's meant as a service, and the attempted humor for each gag headline at the end is supposed to be a hook. I realize they're very hit-or-miss, but sometimes they're funny (one of my favorites).

    The Loose Change series is basically the bastard child of Daily Kor, a list of (mostly) news links that are important but not core important, and maybe things I don't really have time to write more than a line or two about.

    I try to make it more manageable to readers by dividing it into categories, with the more important ones at the top of each category. And I do try to give a little comment for some of them, so it's not just a list of links.

  5. Schplook, I'm answering your comment in parts, and I just realized in the previous comment I forgot to add that the Daily Kor and Loose Change (as well as the Demography Reader, Public Health Reader, and now the Big List) don't actually prevent me from commenting on things I feel important. That is, they're not substitutes, and I still comment on things I have something to comment about. Often what started as a blurb on Loose Change becomes a full-blown post.

  6. Schplook wrote:
    While I'm commenting, I'd like your opinion on the articles relating to Hallyu, Kraze and Mr Pizza.

    Actually, I do have a little something I was going to write about this, but it's not ready just yet. In the meantime...

    I have read numerous comments by foreigners in Korea opining that in Korea there is little understanding (or attempt to understand) foreigners,

    I can't go into this in too much detail, but that just sounds whiney. Turn the tables on that and you would have immigrants in, say, America complaining that US society doesn't try to cater to them.

    It does, but so does Korean society. Not perfectly, but it tries. Oh, boy, does it try. I've made hundreds of thousands of dollars in Korea by people employing my services to try.

    And I think that's the problem: many of the foreigners are minorities for the first time in their life, unable to enjoy racial transparency in their new home, while also (usually) lacking fluency in the dominant language and even cultural knowledge. Naturally, these prevent people from living a perfectly smooth life doing whatever they did back home, and instead of recognizing it as such, there is a lashing out at the host culture.

    The notion that Koreans don't even try to understand foreigners is ludicrous and reflects badly on the accuser. I can't even begin to describe the myriad ways in which Korean society — from the government level to the individual (though not all individuals, of course) — tries to make sense of, tries to reach out to, and tries to accommodate the anglophone foreigners in their midst (and not just anglophones). But if there is any failure, it is highlighted and written about, and all the other 999 successful or passable attempts are forgotten.

    It stinks of a sense of privilege and an utter lack of understanding of what it's like to be a minority, as well as a cluelessness that they may have been a racially transparent majority back home.

    a seemingly insecure need for international recognition,

    Damn straight. South Korea was a basket case and worked its ass off to move up to the big boys club, only to be shunned by people who you'd think would be smart enough to recognize that it's not 1960 anymore. Or 1986.

    And there is tangible value in this form of soft power. People will feel comfortable plopping down tens of thousands of dollars for a car from a first-world nation, but not a third-world nation, for example.

  7. Schplook wrote:
    and a belief that Korean culture is superior

    I think that's more a foreigner narrative about the Korean narrative than it is the Korean narrative itself. I would say KoKos think their culture has something to offer the world, and maybe some aspects that are superior to what they see in the West, but I know few who would say the culture is superior overall. And the superiority about individual points, well I realize that this is by no means unique to Koreans, as almost every one of my Japanese friends holds similar views. Even the Chinese.

    Of course, maybe it's just human nature.

    It also doesn't help that Korean-language description tends toward superlatives (greatest, biggest, most ... ever, etc.), but that is applied to non-Korean things as well. For anyone who proofreads or translates things, it's a bear to have to go track these things down to see if it's really the biggest or just "one of the biggest" or just really big.

    and that foreigners need to be enlightened about this and have their thinking and behaviour 'corrected.'

    I'm not sure how much of that is the narrative of people who are tired of being bombarded with cultural information. The poor KoKos actually think foreigners who come to Korea might actually be interested in Korea and are not simply like this guy.

    And such enthusiastic cultural transmission to visitors/guests/newbies is hardly unique to Korea. I got two weeks of that when I came to Hawaii! (It was mandatory for my academic program, but I think it was worth it.)

    And I hate to say it, but yeah, some of the foreigners need to be corrected, or at least, some of what comes out of their mouth is wrong. With thousands of square kilometers of EEZ at stake, Tokto is not "just a worthless bunch of rocks," South Korean companies have improved in quality and innovation since the 1980s, the Comfort Women weren't a bunch of voluntary prostitutes, and not everything good in Korea is derivative of Japan, China, or the US. :)

  8. Thanks for the replies. I think I can see where you're coming from.

    I've been in Korea for a few years and (because my Korean is still pretty awful) get most of my information from Korea blogs (as well as news sites). I have had problems in the past (especially during that spate of articles about foreign English teachers a while back) from being overwhelmed with negative news and comments. As a result, sometimes it's a real struggle to maintain a balanced view. And, to be honest, your responses seem to be excessively harsh at times, so I think that tends to put people on the defensive. I can understand your frustration with many of the ignorant comments out there, but sometimes I feel that the discussion tends to get farily argumentative - from both sides, of course. This all worsens my frustration.

    Anyway, what I'm saying is, I'm looking for news and cultural analysis, and a forum for (more dispassionate) discussion about it.

    By the way, what happened to that blog you started with some other guys (I forget who) last year?

    P.S. I have some responses to your responses that I'll write in another message.

  9. Feel free to write anything you feel like in response to a particular post, even if you think it's off-topic. I think you write pretty good comments, so I welcome anything you'd like to add. And I do take criticism better than I may let on. I can learn a lot when people call me out on some things, and I can sharpen my own views and arguments when someone says something I disagree with.

    I do think the K-blogs tend toward cognitive distortion, in particular by highlighting some things (e.g., pot-smoking English teachers) in such a way that they seem to be more prominent in the KoKo mindset than they actually are. I think this also leads to a them-versus-us siege mentality that not only poisons one's experience in Korea, but may actually worsen it when people are running around expecting everyone in Korea to hate them (the old "chip on the shoulder"). Of course, that's a common function of being a visible minority, especially of a recent migrant group, and I occasionally call out a militant kyopo or two for doing the same.

    Anyway, what I'm saying is, I'm looking for news and cultural analysis, and a forum for (more dispassionate) discussion about it.

    I'll try to oblige.

    By the way, what happened to that blog you started with some other guys (I forget who) last year?

    It's The Sonagi Consortium and people still write things on occasion. When they do, I make a post here highlighting it.

    I was thinking of writing a piece on a racial attitudes in Hawaii that may be more suited for that blog than this.

  10. Response to your respone...


    When I wrote that some comments online bemoan a lack of understanding (or attempt to understand) foreigners, I meant it mainly in regard to overseas promotion of Korea (tourism and culture) and Korean products.


    (The seeking of international validation.) In what way do you believe Korea has been shunned?


    (Korean culture is superior.) I take your point, but this connects back to point #1: Does it seem that sometimes there is insufficient consideration (culturally and linguistically) of the target audience in some promotional materials about Korea and its products?


    (Cultural/behavioural correction.) I'm with you there. I think it's often a case of Kimchi and 'four seasons' fatigue among foreigners. And, yes, I see the economic and historical importance of the claim Dokdo. It does seem, however, that everything I read from Korean sources (in English) on the integration of foreigners is on how to change them to make them fit in. Now, I know they need to learn a lot and that's important, but I see very little (I can remember nothing at all right now) about any promotion to Koreans regarding understanding and appreciating (and tolerating) the culture differences of immigrants. Have you heard of any events or campaigns that address these issues?

  11. Kushibo - I use Google Chrome. I don't think it has the same capabilities. In fact, it's a brilliant browser but it doesn't cope brilliantly with Blogger. Or maybe it's just my computer. Or maybe it's my lack of computing skills.

  12. Schplook, I meant to add that you're welcome to post or cross-post at The Sonagi Consortium.

    Korean Rum Diary, are you using a Mac or a PC? It might just be a Mac thing that allows you to do it. I honestly don't use Google Chrome much — even though Google-owned Blogspot says it works faster in Chrome — so I don't know if these drag-and-drop functions work there. Chrome is on my desktop, not this laptop, so I'll try to see tomorrow.

  13. Thanks for the offer. Actually, I'm not much of a blogger. I started a blog but just didn't feel I could make it a regular thing, so I abandoned it.

    Irregular posting might work better for me. I'd be happy drop by at the Songai Consortium and contribute ow and then.

    Thanks again.


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