Sunday, September 30, 2012

The sins of the father bearing down on the daughter

The New York Times has an article talking about how people's impression of Park Geunhye's father is affecting how they might feel about Park Geunhye and her own race for the presidency.

An excerpt:
That man was Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea with an iron hand for 18 years, until his assassination in 1979. Despite continuing ambivalence over his rule — he is credited with spearheading South Korea's extraordinary economic rise while harshly suppressing dissent — polls consistently show him to be the country's most popular former president. Now his daughter, Park Geun-hye, is seeking the presidency as the candidate of the conservative governing New Frontier Party, and she is not only riding on his residual popularity but also carrying the burden of his more negative legacy.

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Mitt Romney's Long, Dark Night

I enjoyed the following New York Times op-ed not just for the news analysis but also for this delicious quote, which sums up nicely what has happened to a once great party now controlled by loons:

"This is just an extension of the Republican war on facts. If you find a truth disagreeable, simply deny it. Call it corrupt. Suggest that it is little more than one side of a story — an opinionated, biased one — and insist that there is another explanation. The base will buy it."

I find it dismaying that as I get older and more conservative — or rather, she'd wide-eyed liberal views from my college days — the Republican Party keeps moving further and further to the right, away from me. 

And not just moving, but running. After having stripped off their clothes and screaming wildly in the vast dark of night. And here I am, left in the center, scratching my head and wondering, "Who the [bleep] was THAT?!"

Anyway, 2012 is becoming a clear choice between the community organizer and the company harvester.


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Korean rapper vows topless performance of megahit song

Lately I've decided that "Gangnam Style" is a North Korean plot to push negative stories about Pyongyang out of the news, by getting everybody to pay attention to this absolutely ridiculous, silly, mindless, and addictive – highly addictive – video from South Korea.

Essentially, my theory goes, people have a limit on how much news they can get from Korea – a quota, if you will – and Psy fills that. With daily news reports on the latest Gangnam Style happening, Psy easily fills it.

So the latest is that he will perform this song and dance topless if it becomes the number one song on Apple's iTunes. And apparently I guess people want that.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

ROK men are one-fifth of entire planet's market of make-up for men

ABC News has a piece on how South Korean men's purchases of cosmetics are responsible for a whopping 21 percent of the entire market across the globe. If you live in Seoul, this is hardly new or surprising, given the way that KoKo men have learned — often at the prodding of their girlfriends — to primp and preen and exfoliate. 

And that means, ladies and gentlemen, that make-up for men is the real "Gangnam style."

[Kushibo rides fake horse in order to drive point home.]

I know of this first hand, as my ex-fiancée used to clear my pores, powder my face when it was greasy, and other things I'm too ashamed to admit. After we broke up and I was dating a girl from America who was (literally) hands-off when it came to make-up, I almost felt like asking, "Don't you love me?" 

Sorry for taking you into the twisted world of KoKo-'Bo and no-KoKo-'Bo relationships, but it was relevant. 

Anyway, from ABC News:
Every morning Chung Yong-Hyen, 35, goes through a daily ritual of applying five skin care products.

"I wash with face cleanser, serum booster, toner, moisturizer, and sun screen," he says while being pampered at Amorepacific Spa in downtown Seoul.

The lean 6-foot tall marketer in public relations visits the spa once or twice a month and spends about $500 every season on various products "to maintain and take care of" himself.

Chung's lifestyle may seem at odds with conservative Korean culture in which macho men tend to have dominated the social scene. But the latest numbers show a surprising trend of Korean men striving to look beautiful. Nearly 21 percent of global sales of men's cosmetics, a total of $495.5 million, have been sold here last year, according to Euromonitor International, a global market research firm.

That makes Korea the largest market and by far the largest in terms of per capita – only 19 million men - as well.

Marketers make a point that the new consumers of cosmetics are straight men who are embracing a new version of handsome.

The whopping sales figures are expected to increase by 79 percent this year, reaching $885 million, according to South Korea's largest cosmetics company, Amorepacific.

North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel -

Global cities (formerly New York City, London, Tokyo, etc., but now including the likes of Seoul, Los Angeles, Osaka, Mumbai, etc.) are often in search of an iconic structure to symbolize the city. New York City, for example, has the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, while Los Angeles has the Hollywood sign and Sydney has the Opera House. Seoul has, well, Namdaemun or N-Tower, I guess. 

Pyongyang may be years off from ever being a global city, but the Ryugyong Hotel seems to becoming an eerie icon unto itself. I must admit it does look rather cool, and if it is structurally sound (and if an Egyptian telecom company can't make a 100-story building structurally sound, who can?) it might be an interesting place to visit, if not stay. 

Anyhoo, the Wall Street Journal is featuring the recently renovated hotel in the photo essay below. Enjoy.

North Korea disbands Camp 22?

If Kim Jong-un really were the Gorbachev or Deng Xiaoping of North Korea, what would it look like? Would it include releasing pictures of the Young General riding modern-day roller coasters or sending economic missions off to far-flung areas of China and the rest of the world to learn how to enter the late 20th century? 

Would it include closing down a gulag or two? It's a pertinent question because this seems to have happened at Camp 22 in Hoeryong, according to Daily NK (link and excerpt below). Before we get ahead of ourselves, it appears that the inmates at this institution have been transferred rather than released, but could the closure itself be a sign of something? 

Why would it close? Is it too cruel even by the standards of the new North Korean leader? Are these standards changing? Is this change being pushed (or even forced) by China? Are there secret deals with Washington (or Seoul or Tokyo) whereby aid or diplomatic recognition or something of value is dangled like a carrot if certain benchmarks are met, such as the closing of x number of gulags? 

It's n interesting proposition. 

Daily NK - Camp 22 Disbanded on Defection Fear

▲ Location of former Camp 22 nr. Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province (©DailyNK)
Daily NK has belatedly confirmed that one of North Korea's infamous network of political prison camps has been closed down, while also obtaining information suggesting that the decision to close it was triggered by a high-level defection.

A source from North Hamkyung Province informed Daily NK on the 27th, "Camp 22 in Hoiryeong was totally shut down in June. It was decided that it should be closed down after the warden who ran it and another officer ran away to China."

The source said that all the camp inmates were transferred to other camps, and that as far as he is aware none were released.

ROK Foreign Minister tells AP that Japan should better educate its people on its past

There's always going to be a problem when one country cannot forget and the other cannot remember.

I think that what Prime Minister Kim says below is kind of important, but perhaps instead of drilling this point home all the time with government officials, maybe they should look into making some K-dramas that focus on this issue.

Perhaps a lot of people who love "Winter Sonata" will also start to understand why so many people in Korea are so upset about Japan's imperial past.

From the AP (via WaPo):

"When the Japanese government claims Dokdo is their territory, Korean people (take) it as another attempt to invade our country," Kim said. "So that's the Korean sentiment and I hope that Japanese government understands this."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Koreanization of America: SF, NYC, and LA discover officetels

Anyone who has lived in Seoul or any big city in Korea knows all about the "officetel" apartments, small units equipped with a private bathroom and kitchenette that could be used as either an office or a private residence for an individual (or an extremely cozy couple). Hence the neologism officetel (office + hotel). 

They're not for everybody, but if you want something close to the city center, often with a great view, and not too big and not too expensive either, then officetels are great. 

But in America, where cities tend to be more horizontal than vertical and where spacious living is seen as a God-given right, would this fly? I'm not so sure, if they think a 220-foot unit should run for $1200 to $1500, since that takes the "affordable" element out of the equation (I'm not too familiar with the San Francisco housing market, but it sounds comparable to uber-pricey Waikiki and much of the rest of Honolulu).

Hmm... Maybe I'm charging too little for my own place. 

San Francisco considers 220-square-foot micro-apartments -

SAN FRANCISCO — The tiny apartments are touted as "affordable by design."

New York City has launched a pilot project to test them out. Boston is doing it too. But here in San Francisco, where a growing number of residents are being priced out of the housing market by a revived tech economy, city leaders are considering the smallest micro-units of all.

At a minimum 150 square feet of living space — 220 when you add the bathroom, kitchen and closet — the proposed residences are being hailed as a pivotal option for singles. Opponents fear that a wave of "shoe box homes" would further marginalize families of modest means who are desperate for larger accommodations.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider tweaking the city's building code, which requires newly constructed units to be at least 290 square feet.

The number of micro-units that could be built under the proposal would not be capped, although critics are pushing for controls on the experiment. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, for instance, has signed off on just 60 apartments that would be 275 to 300 square feet small.

Patrick Kennedy — a Berkeley-based developer who in November will unveil a building with 300-square-foot units in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood — has said he hopes to build several thousand even smaller models.

The mini-apartments' schematics include window seats that convert to spare beds and beds that transform into tables. Bay windows offer sweeping views.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Korea and Kazakhstan sign a deal for an environmentally friendly power plant

The connection between Korea and Kazakhstan should come as a surprise to no one. The reason why this might be considered newsworthy is because of the size of the project.

Moreover, if Korea can be a major player in future-oriented technologies like environmentally friendly power production, it might be invincible.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Longer iPhone 5 screen means wider viewing area.

After bashing iOS 6's maps app a little bit, I thought I'd talk about things I like on the new iPhone 5, which is actually a lot.

I'll admit that when I first saw the leaked pictures of the iPhone 5's four-inch screen, I was a little disappointed. I wanted something a tad wider, not longer.

As it turns out, I think longer was a better choice. The phone still fits neatly in my smallish hands, and I can always flip it 90* for a truly wider viewing area. More to the point, the long screen is an ideal fit for watching programs without wasted black bar space. Note in the picture here the same show on Hulu on the iPhone 4 (top) and on the iPhone 5 (bottom). Forgive the picture quality; the iPad 2 is not exactly known for its photo-taking capabilities and my Nikon wasn't handy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

South Korea suspends bidding for US rice imports

Rice imports from United States has never been a popular idea in South Korea, and finding arsenic in American rice is certainly a good excuse to cut them off.

The truth is we're not really sure how much arsenic occurs naturally and whether or not these levels really detrimental to the human body when consumed as part if food. After all, it could be something that's completely natural and our bodies are accustomed to those trace amounts.

On the other hand, if this really is something that is no big deal at all, it might become something like Mad Cow where people are against it whether there really is justification for it or not.

Basically, if this can be used as a political tool against American imports, it will be. That is not to say there's nothing to this story; the fact is right now we really don't know.

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Sarah Silverman on voter ID laws

Having just registered a bunch of students to vote in Hawaii who might not be able to because of complicated rules on what ID will work, I sympathize with Sarah Silverman's message here. Would be funny if it weren't so serious.

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The Amazing iOS 6 Maps

Apparently not everybody is impressed with the maps from iOS 6.

I guess a lot of us miss thel Google maps app that used to come with the iPhone.

Click here for some of the more amusing ways in which iOS 6 has mucked up the world.

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iPhone 5 flaws

I kinda sorta expect perfection when I buy an Apple product. If there are to be dings, scuffs, and scratches, I'll be the one who puts them there, thank you very much.

So I was a bit dismayed when I took my iPhone out if the box today and saw the above imperfections where the aluminum back meets the glass part (toward the bottom, there are no such flaws). While aesthetically they are hardly noticeable, it makes me wonder if there's some other, less visible problem lurking below the surface. You know, the kind of problems that can pop up when you're trying to make five million units of something in a very short time, at a factory thousands of miles away in China.

This is not a worry without basis. Two years ago, about six weeks after purchasing my iPhone 4, it started buzzing ceaselessly. The Apple geniuses (boy, doesn't that sound sarcastic) had never seen the problem before, but they switched me out to a new unit as soon as they got one shipped (they were still in short supply). Since then I had no problems. Perhaps I'll consider the same. (In my lengthy experience, Apple is very good about adequately fixing or switching out things that seem to have something wrong with them, which is good because even Apple makes lemons.)

Anyway, this is my first time having Siri on my own phone. With my iPhone 4, I was used to squeezing the mic and saying things like, "Call David Park mobile," and I proceeded to do the same with Miyoung.

"Call Miyoung mobile," I told the phone.

To which Siri replied: "Fine. From now on I'll call you 'Young-mobile.'"

Big fat 5 phone FAIL.

UPDATE (December 7, 2012):
It took a while (no fault of Apple's) but I finally got a replacement. About three weeks ago, while studying at Starbucks in Kahala Mall, I walked into the Apple Store to ask a question about when my iPad's one-year warranty ends and I also pointed out the flaw in the back of the phone as well as its tendency to get hot when doing routine tasks. The genius there said the chips in the back may be an indication of mismatched parts, and who knows what else might be wrong with the device. He told me my phone would likely be "swappable" but I was unable to do it at that time because I hadn't done a recent backup.

Fast-forward to yesterday when I finally had the time to sit down and back up while waiting for a Genius Bar appointment at Ala Moana Shopping Center. The Apple Store genius there seemed a bit more skeptical, but she agreed that the weird chips in the back might be sufficient to swap it for a fresh one. I hardly had to convince her that I was paranoid that my first-day batch iPhone5 might have problems lurking within its hardware, like my first-day batch iPhone4.

The upshot is, I got a brand new device that is mark-free. It was nice of them to do this, considering that I had made a large ding in the corner of my iPhone5 prior to getting a proper case for it. This new one doesn't seem to have the heating problem of the first one, but we'll see.


CSM: How the quirky Gangnam Style hip-hop artist conquered the world

At some point the stories on Psy's 2010s answer to the Macarena will be too numerous for me to note them here.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent get high marks — for injuries

When the Hyundai Excel first hit the Korean market, it was known for being very affordable. The econobox's reputation floundered, however, when those early exports came to be known for breaking down and being just all around cheap. This hurt the Korean carmakers who failed to understand that even the lowest of income earners wanted value and not just cheap.

It was a painful lesson that later gave birth to Hyundai's and Kia's vaunted ten-year warranty, along with a matching reputation for reliability, economy, value, safety, and eventually even style. It has been an amazing turnaround for two companies that were the butt of all sorts of jokes (e.g., Hyun-die and "KIA = Killed in Accident").

So it is a bit of a step backward that two Korean models are on a list of cars with the greatest number of injuries in an accident.

From the Los Angeles Times:
“Injury claims data show something that crash test results can’t, and that’s the role that vehicle size plays,” said Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. “In most crash tests, the advantage of greater size and weight is masked by using a fixed barrier [in a test]. As a result, crash test results are comparable only among similar vehicles.”

These numbers demonstrate which vehicles' occupants are the most likely to be injured in when it comes to real crashes, the institute said.

“We know that in the real world, if all else is equal, a larger, heavier vehicle does a better job protecting occupants than a smaller, lighter one,” Hazelbaker said.

The Suzuki SX4, a small crossover, had the second-highest risk of injury to its occupants, posting 26.6 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years.

Other vehicles that scored poorly by the institute's measurement included the Chevrolet Aveo, Mitsubishi Galant, Kia Rio, Nissan’s Versa and Sentra, Hyundai Accent and the Dodge Avenger.
I should add that the Chevrolet Aveo would also count as a Korean car.

Anyway, it's for reasons like this that my mother buys things like the Chrysler Town & Country or Hyundai Santa Fe (or, back in the day, a Chevrolet Caprice). All that metal surrounding you can offer some protection (even if some larger cars are actually dangerous in an accident).

Frankly, though, a lot of the problem could be solved if there weren't so many people driving Chevy Suburbans, Ford F-150s, and Hummers. I'm so glad that that last company has met its demise.

Maybe they should call it the Hyundai Accident.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Associated Press is reporting that, whoever becomes Prime Minister in the near future, we should expect to see a rise in nationalism in Japan:
One is a former prime minister known for his nationalistic views. A second is a hawkish former defense chief. And a third is the son of Tokyo's outspoken governor whose proposal to buy and develop a cluster of uninhabited islands claimed by both China and Japan has set off a territorial furor between the two countries.

A look at the top candidates to lead Japan's main opposition party — and potentially to become Japan's next prime minister — suggests that Japan may soon get a more nationalist government. That could ratchet up already tense relations with China and South Korea over territorial disputes that have flared in recent weeks and brought anti-Japanese demonstrations to dozens of Chinese cities.

There is little sign that Japanese have grown more nationalistic, but the ruling Democratic Party of Japan is expected to get clobbered in elections that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he will call soon. Voters are angry over Noda's push to double the sales tax and his party's failure to bring promised change to Japan's stodgy politics.
Among the contenders is Monster Island favorite (um, that's sarcasm) Shinzo Abe, a former PM:
Abe riled Asian neighbors when he was prime minister in 2006-07 by saying there was no proof Japan's military had coerced Chinese, Korean and other women into prostitution in military brothels during World War II. He later apologized, but lately he has been suggesting that a landmark 1993 apology for sex slavery may need revising.

Abe also has recently said he regrets not visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including executed war criminals, during his time as prime minister. This issue is important: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni in the early 2000s put relations with China into a deep freeze.
It's really too bad, not only because the right wingers apparently fail to represent the real Japan, but also because it could mean a long-term souring of Seoul-Tokyo relations as the new government panders to the right.


AP on the social commentary behind PSY's 'Gangnam Style'

With the ridiculous popularity of Gangnam Style, I guess it was only a matter of time before someone sat down and explained this in the English-language press.

Henceforth I shall direct people to this AP article instead if explaining it myself, though it has the potential to ruin the goofy fun associated with the ironic dance.

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iPhone 5 preparing for shipment

I like getting new toys, and I'm happy to be getting the new iPhone 5 that will replace my iPhone 4 (I'm not such a fanboy that I get a new phone every year; in both Korea and Hawaii I've replaced my LG handsets and Apple iPhones about every two years since my first phone in 1998).
With my status still set at "preparing," I'm not sure if they can get it from China to here (Hawaii) in just three days, if it takes the same route as other Apple products I've purchased online. My engraved iPod Shuffle went from China to Alaska to California and finally here, taking four days.

But I have faith in Apple to meet their commitments. In fact, last year "M's" iPhone 4S arrived here in Hawaii the day BEFORE the release date, despite similarly sparse information.

This isn't Apple's or FedEx's first rodeo.

I just hope it gets here soon. M's iPhone 4S was stolen and she's using her three-year-old 3Gs until I get my new phone and temporarily (until she can upgrade) lend her my two-year-old iPhone 4, for which I waited in line for four hours one chilly June morning on the day if their release at the AT&T stores. I kinda miss the camaraderie of the waiting-in-line thing. A very cool guy brought us coffee and donuts at the Los Angeles County store in California.

One thing I learned, though, was to not buy iPhones and other subsidized smartphones in California, where you're taxed at nearly 10% for the UN-subsidized price, over $50 on a $649 device. Note that in Hawaii it was about nine bucks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

China-Japan Dispute Over Islands Risks $340 Billion Trade

At some point, someone in Japan has to start being an adult. That would entail a few things, including recognition that holding on to World War II-era territorial claims that carry the stench of Imperial Japan's murderous past is costing Japan loads and loads of money.

Not to mention loads and loads of good will. 

Tokyo needs to look soberly at its claims and see where it can strike a reasonable compromise and where it should simply give up. For the good of the country and the region.

With Diaoyu/Senkaku a shared arrangement may be possible, but with the Kurile Islands held by Russia, nothing like that is likely. I've long thought Tokyo could give up its claim to Tokto (Dokdo) in exchange for promises from Seoul that it won't seek to generate an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the barely inhabited islands (though a 12-nautical mile territorial zone is maintained) and it gives tacit support to Japan's claim of an EEZ around Okinotorishima way out in the Pacific. 

Get this stuff behind you, Japan. If you think China, South Korea, and Russia are living in the past, it's only because you keep inviting them there.

Bloomberg News, sent from my iPad.

China-Japan Dispute Over Islands Risks $340 Billion Trade

China and Japan's worst diplomatic crisis since 2005 is putting at risk a trade relationship that's tripled in the past decade to more than $340 billion.

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. (7267) and Panasonic Corp. (6752) reported damage to their operations in China as thousands marched in more than a dozen cities on Sept. 16 after Japan last week said it will purchase islands claimed by both countries. Protesters called for boycotts of Japanese goods and in some instances smashed store fronts and cars.

Tensions between China and Japan further complicate policy makers' efforts to fortify growth in Asia's biggest economies as the European debt crisis saps demand for exports. Panasonic and Canon Inc. (7751) yesterday said they're shutting some plants in China through today and the China Automobile Dealers Association said the protests will hurt sellers of Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor Co. cars in China more than Japan's March 2011 earthquake.

"The escalating dispute is adding one more layer of uncertainty," said Liu Li-Gang, a Hong Kong-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ), who previously worked at the World Bank. "Japan is now more reliant on China for economic growth than vice versa. Its already weak economic recovery may falter. China will suffer less."

In 2011, China was the largest market for Japanese exports, while Japan was the fourth-largest market for Chinese exports. China's shipments to Japan totaled $148.3 billion last year as it imported $194.6 billion of Japanese goods, according to Chinese customs data.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Gangnam SNL-style

First it was The Today Show, and now it's Saturday Night Live. The preposterously silly Gangnam Style dance has infected the stalwart hit-and-miss comedy show of our time, SNL.










If Psy is flying all the way to New York City for NBC's Friday morning concert series, it is hardly a surprise that he would make a surprise guest appearance on their evening show the next day.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Korea-Japan Standoff: Why Americans Should Care

In various K-blogs, we've frequently been told the falsehood that only Koreans care about Tokto, but this writer in the Huffington Post says America should care about this issue affecting relations between two major allies.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old color photos of post-war Korea

I meant to post this a while ago, when I first saw it at ROK Drop, but here are some cool pictures snapped by a USFK soldier in Korea shortly after the war (some are also of Japan, presumably when the photographer was on R&R).

What I think is particularly interesting is those soldiers waving the Republic of China (today's Taiwan) flag. It appears they are soldiers of the People's Republic of China who asked to be repatriated the ROC, but at first I thought it might be evidence that the Nationalists had sent troops to fight for the South.

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South Korean rapper Psy to perform concert on NBC's Today Show

It's official: Gangnam Style is the Macarena of our times.

To get a feel for how much this moves forward the South Korea's national image, can you tell new for sure which Spanish-speaking country produced that 1994 super phenomenon?

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Suicide Rate Climbs in South Korea

On the occasion of International Suicide Prevention Day, the WSJ points out that Siuth Korea's suicide rate -- already the world's highest -- has shot up further.

It's a significant increase in double-digit percentages, and one wonders whether it represents new methodology for reporting and/or determining suicides rather than a real increase in the actual act itself. But there's no getting around that it remains a serious problem (something I've addressed many times here).

I am a little disappointed in WSJ reporter Evan Ramstad's suggestion that Siuth Koreans wouldn't pay attention to the suicide problem were it not for this international day of recognition. Suicide is something that weighs heavily on all sectors of society, prompting the government, for example, to spend tens of millions if dollars to retrofit every subway station in Seoul with a barricade to prevent suicides or accidents when people on the platforms end up on the tracks.

My point is that much more should be done, but they certainly aren't ignoring the issue.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Korea Plans $5 Billion of Growth Measures as Export Cool

Largely thanks to how the Korean government restructured and reformed itself in the wake of the 1997-98 economic crisis, the ROK has done better than many other countries at riding out THIS economic downturn.

But even if Korea Inc's fundamentals are strong, any country that relies on exports to countries in recovery (e.g., the US) or panic mode (e.g., the EU) is going to be hurting.

So it seems natural that Seoul would have to employ a stimulus like this one. And I, for one, will not complain about my mortgage ticking down 25 points.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Clinton urges cool heads in Japan-South Korea island dispute

US Secretary of State Hillary Ridham Clinton has warned Japan and Korea that if they keep fighting over Tokto she's gonna turn this car around right now.

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Violent Korean film Pieta wins prestigious Venice award

If I were a South Korean film maker, I'd fill my movie with stylized violence and/or gratuitous sex (also stylized), because it is those Korean films that seem to earn so much praise and so many statues from Western critics and audiences.

I mean, "Old Boy" was as much responsible for making the Hallyu Korean Wave a thing as Ihyori or "Winter Sonata."

It also doesn't hurt to pander to the Italian judges by giving it an Italian title. My movie, regardless of its content, will be the Italian translation of, "We're Americans, Do You Have Any Butter?"

Anyhoo, I'm not so sure how much time the Venezianos should be spending watching movies when they're city is slowly sinking into the Adriatic. But that's me.

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Hawaii Finder #2012-17

I'm actually not sure what number this is, but the question involves where I took this picture earlier today. The only hint is that I'm on a hike.

North Korea May Be Preparing Economic Changes

The NYT seems to agree with me that the upcoming rubber-stamp congress in North Korea is set to announce major economic reforms.

If this is true, it could mean that Kim Jong-un and his handlers' faction have their ducks in a row and are about to stick it to the military, despite expressions if support by KJU for his father's Son'gun ("military first") policy.

Surely even the generals can see the writing on the wall in the Middle East and back rooms of power in Beijing, and they might actually grudgingly continue to support The Young General.

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