Saturday, June 29, 2013

President Park proposes memorial of anti-Japanese hero An Chunggun inChina

Don't expect to see worship of assassin An Chunggŭn (Siri wrote his name as "I'm chilling good") anytime soon, just because the daughter of South Korea's most pro-Japanese leader ever has been elected president herself.

From Japan's Asahi Shimbun:
South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked China to build a memorial of Korean activist An Jung-geun [editor: "Revised Romanization spelling of An Chunggŭn], who assassinated Japan’s first prime minister on Oct. 26, 1909.

Park’s request for the An memorial in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, was made over lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 28.

An killed Ito Hirobumi at Harbin station. He is considered a national hero in South Korea because he symbolizes the resistance to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

“I hope you will install such a memorial at Harbin station because he is a historical figure respected by the peoples of South Korea and China,” Park told Xi, according to a source in the South Korean president’s office.

Park also asked Xi to make China’s historical records available for viewing.

Xi reportedly said he would instruct the relevant agencies to consider the matter.

Park’s proposal came after criticism erupted in South Korea over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assertion that there is no clear definition of military aggression. The Japanese leader made that remark in the Diet during discussion on statements of apology for Japan’s military past.

In a May meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Park brought up the historical recognition issue and singled out Japan as a nation that had to face its past in the proper manner.

With the increase of anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea, Park may also be trying to distance herself from her father, the late former President Park Chung-hee, who was considered pro-Japanese.
I know that my crusade — to curtail the near deification of this assassin who provided Japanese Imperial expansionists the excuse to annex Korea — will probably never succeed, but the last thing I want to see is for it to be a cause for bringing Chinese and South Korea together. (You can read more about my admittedly controversial views here, herehere, or even here.)


Friday, June 28, 2013

The center of the world, now is the era of Yongsan

A bit full of ourselves, aren't we, Yongsan?

Maybe you should fire the former Workers Party guy who does your copy.

And while we're at it, the new district government office looks a bit like the Jawas' sandcrawler from Star Wars Episode IV.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kim Jong-un orders the creation of nation's first beach resort

North Koreans in bikinis on the East Coast [source]

According to the UK's Telegraph, Kim Jong-un has stepped up the construction of a world-class ski resort being built by North Korean military personnel that will eventually have 100 km of ski runs.

And at the same time, he has also decided that a good chunk of Wonsan should be redeveloped into a beach resort.

If I get a say in the matter, I propose they call it WaikiKim (though that sounds dangerously close to "wacky Kim").

No word yet on whether the swimwear worn by the women will be from the 19th or the 20th century.

Okay, when I Googled "North Korea+bikini," 
the above is the other video I found.


Statue honoring WWII-era sex slaves coming to Burbank

We've already had one in New Jersey, but now it looks like the West Coast is also going to get its own version of a memorial to the so-called "comfort women" of World War II.

A statue honoring these sex slaves, at least tens of thousands who were killed or brutalized when they were sent to Japanese frontline brothels, will go up in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles county famous for being the site of NBC studios.

Read more at The Los Angeles Times. I don't know what the California statue will look like, but below is a picture I took last year of the touching Comfort Women statue across the street from the Japanese embassy in Seoul.


A stroll back in time

While walking around the downtown area yesterday, I decided to take a look inside the old Bank of Korea building, across from Shinsegae Department Store and the Central Post Office. It now houses a museum focused on money, the entrance for which is free (kushibo is a starving grad student, so anything free=good). I was rather impressed at the ornate interior.

These Japanese-made bills (produced by Japan's semi-official Dai-Ichi Ginko Bank) were in circulation in the Taehan Empire (Korea) just prior to annexation. Note that they refer to Korea as "Corea." The significance of this official spelling used by Japanese officialdom can be found in this quite famous old post from 2005.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Many Asian Americans are as segregated by neighborhood as Latinos

The Los Angeles Times has an article highlighting how a lot of Asians in the United States, including many Korean-Americans, continue to live in segregated neighborhoods. Rather than discrimination, however, the flourishing of these neighborhoods — have you been to a Koreatown lately? — is what keeps people coming and staying.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Caption contest 2013-06

Fire away. I'll go first.


Mein Kimpf

We've heard Koreans described as the Irish of Asia, the Italians of Asia, the Jews of Asia, and now get ready for the Nazis of Asia. Well, actually more than a few K-bloggers have used that last one, but now they have something other than  "everybody's staring at me" and pictures of past presidents doing a "Heil Hitler" salute to justify that moniker.

Political analysts say Park Geunhye still needs
to work on her presidential Nazi salute.

Goose that stepper.
It seems, according to the Washington Post, that the Young Ceneral Kim Jong-ŭn has been handing out copies of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf to his senior leadership. Hopefully it's for the rambling thoughts on bringing your country up from the ashes and not about eliminating entire groups of people. If the little Cartman really does have a struggle, it's either with opposing factions within his government or his own weight.

Here at Monster Island, however, the phrase Mein Kampf brings something else to mind (ridiculousness alert and possibly slightly NSFW).

The Marmot's Post also mentions the story.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

North Korea calls for high-level talks with U.S.

Pyongyang is trying to do an end run around Seoul and drive a wedge between South Korea and its ally the United States. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Which is the title someone should use for a book on North Korea. 

From the Los Angeles Times:

North Korea calls for high-level talks with U.S.

SEOUL -- The North Korean regime Sunday suggested a high-level meeting with the United States "to ease the tension on the Korean peninsula," less than a week after its scheduled working-level talks with Seoul were called off.

The full story can be viewed at:,0,7975734.story?track=latiphoneapp

Monday, June 10, 2013

North Korea to build high-end ski resort - X Games

If they can get this done in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang, this could be a huge deal.

So, would you go skiing here? In other words, is participating in this venture helping a horrific regime, or is Pyongyang inadvertently committing suicide by death from a thousand Trojan horse-inflicted paper cuts?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The latest in the Apple-Samsung war

In the latest in the ill-advised no-holds-barred patents battle between Samsung and Apple, the Feds have decided this time that Apple infringed on Samsung, which effectively will block sales of the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2.

This succinct email was sent from my iPhone (possibly with the help of Siri voice recognition, so please excuse any weird typos).

Mundane Cheerios ad makes interracial couples an issue

I just can't believe that this type of story is actually in the news in the United States in the year 2013. 

Although I'd like to think the people who reacted negatively to seeing a biracial couple in a national television commercial represent a tiny sliver of a percentage, I fear there is enough evidence that a substantial amount of racial animosity exists just below the surface, and the anonymity of the Internet allows it to rear its ugly head. Scenarios involving a Black man and a White woman seem to particularly set people off.

A story from AP Mobile:

Cheerios stands by TV ad showing mixed-race family

thumbnailNEW YORK (AP) - A mom sits at her kitchen table writing something down when her grade schooler saunters up with a big box of Cheerios. "Mom," says the girl. "Yes, honey?" mom responds. "Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?" Mom glances at the box, noting that it says the whole-grain oats inside are "heart healthy." Cut to dad napping on the living room couch...

Read Full Story

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

South Korea and Japan react seriously to GMO wheat from US

This is a potentially big story coming from the United States that affects South Korean food supplies, US – ROK relations, and a whole bunch of other things.

The spark for the story comes from Oregon, where a farmer detected GMO wheat, engineered by Monsanto, growing on his field.

Inlike corn and soybeans, where GMO product is now commonplace, the United States FDA has never approved a strain of GMO wheat. Yet this strain that was tested but eventually dropped by Monsanto has ended up growing in the wild. This has a lot of people very concerned.

You see, much of the rest of the world is frightened or at least put off by GMO products. No matter what proponents of GMO foods may say, splicing genes from a very different species, maybe one that's not even from a plant, onto the original plants is very different from slow-going crop selection within naturally occurring species that has been done for centuries if not millennia.

And those countries are concerned enough about GMO product that they are willing to buy their wheat elsewhere if the United States were to go ahead and allow Monsanto to turn our wheat into Frankenfood. Thus, it was not worries about GMO food and what we don't know about its hort-term and long-term effects that's prompted the decision not to approve it, but good old-fashioned concern for the bottom line. In short, if Washington were to allow Monsanto to put GMO wheat into the food supply, American exports of wheat could dry up.

And that's exactly what we see happening now, following the discovery of GMO wheat in the wild in Oregon. Even though the Monsanto GMO product was not approved, it somehow got out. That has prompted Japan to cancel an order of some 25,000 tons of American wheat, and South Korea is now testing its imports of American wheat to make sure that no GMO wheat is detected.

Americans who have fallen for Monsanto's GMO spiel, hook, line, and sinker, may cry foul at what Tokyo, Seoul, and even the European Union are doing, but they are simply reflecting the demands of a skeptical public within their own borders that worries about the unforeseen consequences of drastic manipulation of the food supply.

I am not categorically against GMO foods, but I am also deeply concerned about what we don't really know about the GMO foods that we have already produced. Companies like Monsanto are driven not by science but by profit, and they have been injecting GMO foods into the public sector faster than public health and other scientific fields can keep up. Even with solid evidence that neonicotinoid-based herbicides, which they incorporate into some of the seeds they produce, may be a major factor in the global bee die-off, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), this agricultural juggernaut is pushing ahead, as if their shortsighted, profit-minded actions are not endangering the food supply of billions of people.

I'm glad South Korea is doing this. We need to put the brakes on this, and people should be alarmed that an experimental GMO products whose testing was abandoned has shown up in the food supply. It is good that countries like Japan, South Korea, and the European Union are looking at this the same way they would a biological pathogen. I just hope the folks in Washington will wake up to this problem, now that it has become an economic hazard as well. But when so many of our politicians – not just Republicans but also Democrats – are in the deep, deep pockets of companies like Monsanto, I'm not sure that will happen.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Parrot dances to "Gangnam Style"

Yeah, this is about a year too late, but to be fair, that's probably how long it took the old bird to learn it.