Monday, October 28, 2013

In South Korea, a man-bites-dog story involves ROK citizens heading north

You know how we sometimes read about pro-Pyongyang dupes in South Korea (many of them chinboistas) and we shake our heads (or our fists) and say, "Why don't they go up and live in North Korea if they think it's so wonderful?!"

Well, reports AFP (via Business Insider), some of them actually do.


Is math ability genetic or something else?

Is one "born" a math person? Using Korea, Japan, and China as exemplars, these folks argue that math ability is more about culture than genetics. And, they suggest, Americans should follow that lead. (This is not a new idea, of course, but it popped up again today.)


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Economist on South Korea's test hell

The Economist has an article that addresses that perennial issue of what to do about the sunûng, South Korea's grueling college entrance exam.

With so much of their future riding on it, the test causes all sorts of distortions, not just its outsized academic influence but the gobs and gobs of money spent on prep and the opportunity costs of the time invested studying it (particularly among those who delay entrance for a year or two instead of opting for a "lesser" school). 

Its continued existence indicates its societal value (i.e., providing a reasonably objective equalizer) but also the failure of reform: for as long as I've lived in South Korea, "fixing" the test has involved mostly tweaking at the edges and not an effort to sit down and work out a new testing regimen that is fair and still holds onto those societal values without being such a huge juggernaut.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

What Asia leads the world in

I thought that this snarkily accurate graphic was fairly interesting (HT to Marc). I've blown up the East Asia portion for relevance.

Apparently Taiwan leads the world in being forced by a bigger China not to be recognized as a country.


Police and emergency workers not to be held responsible in death of girl following Asiana Airlines crash

Ye Meng-yuan [left] and Wang Linjia [right] were
two of the three killed following the Asiana Air crash.

Saying that the aftermath of a Asiana Airlines jet smashing its tail into the end of the runway and then spinning around and crashing was a "very chaotic scene," local prosecutors decided not to file charges against anyone for striking a 16-year-old Chinese girl who was killed by a rescue truck.

Ye Mengyuan's family's lawyers will still likely focus on whom they refer to as "the responsible parties," which will certainly include Asiana Airlines and the pilots for the death.

Frankly, this doesn't sit well with me. Emergency response personnel are supposed to be trained to handle "extraordinary circumstances." And it doesn't bode well that they have run over a passenger on the tarmac on a bright and clear day when they know there are hundreds of passengers escaping burning wreckage.

And then there's this response by San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, reported in the Los Angeles Times:
"If not for the professional recute, triage, treatment, and transport operations that were conducted by all involved agencies, it is likely that there would have been a greater loss of life," she said.
It seems almost calculated as if to say that having saved so many others makes it acceptable that they killed (not failed to save, mind you, but actually killed) this other one.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Hyundai zombie mobile

If you're a fan of The Walking Dead (as I have become), you may have noticed the frequently featured Hyundai Tucson, purchased by Maggie before the end of the world, and often driven by her boyfriend Glenn, another Korean person/place/thing prominently featured on the show (theirs is a relationship that could be the subject of its own post here at Monster Island).

Surely this is product placement, but given that TWD is proudly filmed in Georgia and Hyundais are proudly made in Georgia, it's an easy match.

Anyway, that's what I had in mind when I read about this defensive vehicle for the zombie apocalypse, a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, re-engineered (surely in violation of warranty) for driver survival when the dead start rising up and become walkers, biters, or what have you. Similar to the Veloster they revealed earlier this year.

Very cool. I want one, and maybe I'll get one. It could come in handy in Honolulu.


More North Korean photos to drive Elgin nuts

See what you will about North Korea and its leadership, but they certainly give Japanese otaku something to do:
Never shy about promoting the benevolence and power of president Kim Jong Un, North Korea's state media recently released this image of the young leader:

At first blush, it appears to be a fairly tame photo of Kim doing president-y things with his cadre of lieutenants. But as Kotaku suggests, upon closer look, the photo seems to have been manipulated with Photoshop. Note the strange shadows (or lack thereof)...
The title of this post, as you may be aware, is in reference to The Marmot's Hole guest blogger R. Elgin going nuts over Kim Jong-un's now-dead father also freakishly defying they physics of shadows (I was user-81 in the thread).


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dick Tracy-measuring contest

Apple is rumored to be coming out with one, but Samsung has beaten them to the punch: A computer on your wrist. Samsung's commercial is exquisite in its powerful simplicity that evokes an unstoppable evolution. The technological fantasy of past movies, television shows, and comics (hence this posts's title) is now a reality.

Now that the Samsung Galaxy smartwatch is out there before the iWrist, iWatch, iHand, or iWhatHaveYou, Apple will look like an also-ran when (and if) they ever come out with theirs. Of course, that isn't the worst thing in the world; after all, Samsung followed Apple into the world of smartphones and tablets, and they're doing just fine.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

The spy who wrote me

Choe Sanghun of the New York Times writes about a book penned by a former North Korean spy that lifts the veil on the inter-Korean spy game. The article, at least, makes an interesting read, but I haven't gotten hold of the actual book yet.

Some will say that this book is just part of President Park's anti-North propaganda campaign, but to me, the recruitment and utilization of chinboistas rings true — and goes a long way toward explaining the anti-US and anti-government moves of the left when they bring us things like the Mad Cow protests. (And I will not fault President Park for her intransigent stance against the DPRK since, after all, it was their operatives who killed her mother.)

An excerpt:
In May 1990, he and a colleague left the port of Nampo aboard a vessel disguised as a Japanese fishing boat, stopping in China to pick up supplies from a North Korean cargo ship before entering international waters. There, the agents set off in a submersible to the South Korean island of Jeju.
The pair operated in the South for the next five months, sending coded reports to Pyongyang, using radios hidden in a mountain by earlier agents. At midnight, an announcer on Pyongyang Radio would read their handlersf instructions in a series of five-digit numbers. Mr. Kim and his bosses used the text of a popular South Korean novel to decipher one anotherfs messages.

In October, the two agents returned to Pyongyang by submersible, carrying with them one of the two South Korean dissidents they had recruited as spies, whiskey and wristwatches as gifts for their bosses, and far more precious cargo, a North Korean woman who had operated as an agent in the South for 10 years.
Read the rest on your own.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

The secret to world peace is pistachios and Dennis Rodman

Who knew that a major US industry — in this case the pistachio growers of America — would have an entire publicity campaign surrounding What Americans Know About Korea™?

We already had Psy hawking pistachios during the Superbowl, with I guess some connection between his fluorescent suits and the color of the little nuts, and now Dennis Rodman and his buddy Kim Jong-un, most famous recently for his trips to North Korea to promote peace between the DPRK and the USA.

Fortunately for the Wonderful Pistachios campaign, K-pop has brought all kinds of Korea images to the American public. Maybe the next commercial will have the guy from oldboy cracking open a few of those nuts with his hammer.