South Koreans urge resignation of Park Geun-hye (Al Jazeera)
If verified, this is the largest protest in South Korean history. [more inside]
If verified, this is the largest protest in South Korean history. [more inside]
Entrepreneurs in China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seeks to create the Asia Super Grid. It will transmit electrical power from renewable sources from areas of the world that are best able to produce it to consumers in other parts of the world. The idea is dependent on development of an ultra-high voltage grid operating at more than 1,000 kilovolts AC and 800 kilovolts DC over thousands of kilometers. It envisions interconnecting grids across regions, nations, and even continents with a capacity of over 10 gigawatts. [more inside]
Society Game is a TV show similar to Survivor, but smarter, funnier and Korean. Twenty-two people are divided into two societies. One elects a leader by secret ballot, the other installs theirs via popular revolt. The two societies compete daily in a head-to-head challenge: the leader of the winning team gets to distribute prize money; the leader of the losing team must select a member to eliminate. From the same production team behind The Genius. Here are some preview clips, and here's an interview with the charismatic cast. [more inside]
Even assuming the unlikely possibility Park Geun-hye might not have had the discernment to know firsthand (unlikely because she grew up in the lap of luxury,) the obvious cheapness of Park's clothes and bags even made the news. Yet nothing came of it. Choi Soon-sil dressed Park Geun-hye liked an unwanted doll, and Park, the president of the country, did not care.Ask a Korean attempts to explain the current South Korean presidential corruption scandal and why it shocked the country more than previous such scandals.
Se Ri Pak recently retired from her astonishing 18 year LPGA career, after winning 25 LPGA Tour titles and five majors, two of them during a rookie season in 1998 that "gave women's golf its biggest boost since Nancy Lopez." She was the youngest player to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007, but she qualified two years earlier, when she was 28 and had to wait to meet the minimum career length rule. Pak won 14 times on the Korean LPGA and captained South Korea's Olympic team in Rio, where Inbee Park won the gold medal. Park is one of the Se Ri Kids, a generation of golfers, mostly South Korean women, many who were inspired by her 1998 performance in the US Women's Open. Parting video: players, friends and fans salute Se Ri Pak as she plays her last LPGA round.
Baseball's finest bat-flips are performed in South Korea. An in-depth article with animated illustrations. Flipping one's bat after hitting is taboo in MLB but celebrated by Korean fans and players. Each player has his own distinctive style. [more inside]
South Korean girl group Mamamoo has created what might be the catchiest mobile phone advert ever. [SLYT]
British body mod artist Grace Neutral heads to South Korea to compare and contrast their mainstream beauty standards with the (still illegal) underground tattoo scene.
The Company That Bribed The World - It was the company with jet-set style and dirty hands. From the tiny principality of Monaco, Unaoil reached across the globe to pay multi-million dollar bribes in oil rich states. The beneficiaries? Some of the biggest companies in England, Europe, America and Australia.
North Korea says it just tested a hydrogen bomb. Here's what we know. [Vox]
According to top experts, it's very plausible this was a test. "I think it is *probably* a test," Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, tweeted. "DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea] event epicenter close to test site and on 1/2 hour." Generally, earthquakes don't just happen on exactly the half hour.[more inside]
The Genius is a South Korean variety show that focuses on strategy and social politicking. [more inside]
Asha Leo of Refinery29 travels around the world to learn about international fashion subcultures and the way fashion affects society worldwide. So far she's met Gothic (and other) Lolitas in Amsterdam, Moroccan expat culture, hijra in India, Hasidic designers in Brooklyn, Korean matchy-matchy fashion for couples, and the highly colorful world of Japanese decora.
"Most stores in South Korea are "one size fits all," and that one size is small, as in designer sample size small. Finding clothes larger than a U.S. women’s size 6 is challenging, especially since the starting point for "plus-size," or extra-large, is a Korean size 66, the rough equivalent of a U.S. women’s 8."
In South Korea, 2 people have died of MERS, with 18 people becoming infected over the past 10 days, resulting in nearly 700 people being placed in quarantine. A man broke quarantine and traveled to China, subsequently testing positive for China's first confirmed case of MERS. Untill recently, all cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. Right now, there is no vaccine for MERS and no treatment.
In Korea, people can tune in on their laptops and cell phones any time, any day and watch people eat—and talk about eating. These "online eaters" are neither chefs nor restaurateurs, but the stars of the South Korean digital food phenomenon: Mukbang.[SLYT] [more inside]
무키무키만만수 (Mukimukimanmansu) is a South Korean indie band that's gone mildly viral thanks to a thirty second clip from a television performance of their song Andromeda. The acoustic guitar and janggu drum duo released their first album 2012 in the eponymous year, and they played other songs off that album on television, which have been gathered into a handy playlist by YouTube user HachikoTanuki. Here are a few other videos: Studio versions of 내가 고백을 하면 깜짝 놀랄거야, 2008년 석관동, 너의 선물; television performances of 방화범 (with guests) and 투쟁과 다이어트; music video maker Vio Kim has recorded them many times, including up close at a concert last year (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); here they are performing with a jazz band earlier this year. And finally, here are demos they made in 2011.
The Hanwha Eagles, a much beleaguered South Korean major league baseball team have introduced Fanbots, jersey-clad robots who lead cheers, display messages (and selfies where the robot would otherwise have a blank screen) sent in from fans at home, and generally stand in for fans who aren't there. [more inside]
Korean fashion and design is having a moment, but what is fueling it? It's complicated. Let's explore the K-wave. [more inside]
Meet Scarlett, North America's Top ranked Starcraft player. A complex, real-time strategy game with exquisitely balanced opposing forces, Starcraft is so popular that men can and do make a career out of playing the game. All but one of the top 20 ranked players in the world live and play in Korea. And all of them are men. So maybe it is not surprising that Scarlett, a 20 year-old transgender woman from Canada , is making huge waves in the gaming community.
"Here are some of the Korean dramas that I have watched and some were aired in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 or even older. Although some of them might be older than the others, they are still really good dramas which you will definitely enjoy watching. I am watching some of the newer ones which have just started airing a few weeks back and I will share my thoughts with you after I have finish watching them. :)"
This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org[more inside]
The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
South Korea has the one of the highest suicide rates in the world. An addition to the one of the more popular suicide bridges in Seoul has prevented many (SLYT).
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
North Korea has been called the world's most repressive state [previously], but every year, two to three thousand North Koreans manage to escape to South Korea. Recognizing the potential for disorientation among the refugees and disruption for South Korean society, in 1999 the government's Unification Ministry set up a mandatory resettlement program called Hanawon--"one people". (It also screens the newcomers carefully for spies.) Last year, due to growing need, the government opened another Hanawon centre. [more inside]
"Q: What kind of comparisons can be drawn between Asia’s underground railroad and the one in pre-Civil War America? A: The way it’s set up is similar. The safe houses and transit routes are kept secret and vary a lot. There is another similarity in that many of the people who operate on the underground railroad are ethnically Korean, just as many of the operators on the original underground railroad were free blacks." -- an interview with Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad
Soo Bin Park in Nature has reported that South Korean highschool textbook publishers will be removing examples of evolution due to demands of creationist groups [more inside]
A very special South Korean version of "The Miracle Worker" (Part 1, Part 2), featuring music purloined from the shows Bat Boy and Legally Blonde.
"Instead of poking the fish with a screwdriver to find out whether they are ready to spawn, farms now can use a biopsy or ultrasound. Mr. Han said that after years of trial and error, his team has found a way to make that determination by feeling various parts of a fish." An entrepreneur in South Korea gets closer to perfecting sturgeon aquaculture. (SLNYT)
South Korean MP Kim Sun-dong sets off a tear gas canister in parliament to try to block passage of a free trade agreement with the US. Another video here.
People in Korea now have a new vocation available to them: snitching on other civilians for cash payouts from the government.
Seoul mayor issues ultimatum in bid to limit free school lunches. 'Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon wants to limit free school lunches to poor children and take students from wealthy families out of the gratis cafeteria line. And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.' [more inside]
Welcome to Exam Village, a neighborhood in Seoul where people live while studying for various professional entrance exams.
Sung-bong Choi auditions for 코리아 갓 탤런트 (Korea's Got Talent.) (SLYT. The singing starts around 2:45. Video is unrestricted.)
The Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement is the United States' first Free Trade Agreement with a major Asian economy, and its largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. It has supporters and detractors.
"Regardless of political stance, no one can deny the joy felt upon seeing your loved ones return home safely -- WelcomeHomeBlog.com is a site celebrating that amazing feeling. Visit daily for heartwarming stories, videos and pictures of members of our courageous armed forces returning home to their families and friends..."
Top-performing nations recruit 100% of their new teachers from the top third. In the US, it's 23% - and 14% of high poverty schools. A new study by McKinsey and Company examines what Finland, Singapore and South Korea do to attract top graduates to teaching, including selective admissions to teacher training, competitive compensation, a more professionalized work environment, cultural respect and greater opportunities for advancement. Doing the same in the US would cost roughly $180 billion a year. [more inside]
Shin Sang-ok (1926 - 2006) was a Korean movie writer, director and producer, who studied film in Japan and returned to South Korea, where he gained fame and became the uncontested leader of the film industry in the 1960s, in a time when regulations on the industry limited other studios. In the 1970s under the Fourth Republic of South Korea, the film industry was even further limited, which lead to Shin's studio being closed. Things went from bad to worse, when "the Orson Welles of South Korea" was kidnapped by request of Kim Jong Il, the son of North Korea's dictator, Kim Il Sung. The reason? Kim Jong Il wanted the nation's film industry to promote the virtues of the Korea Workers' Party to a world-wide audience. After being imprisoned for four years, Shin was reunited with his ex-wife (who was also a captive of North Korea) and the given relative freedom, producing seven films in North Korea. While setting up a distribution deal to share Kim Jong Il's vision with a broader audience for a Godzilla-like monster movie, Shin and his wife escaped and sought political asylum in the United States. Their freedom was possible because of that last film for Kim, entitled Pulgasari. But Shin's life in movies was not over yet. [more inside]
The Korean DMZ (pdf) / PLZ has been a hot tourist attraction for years, featuring must-see sites like the Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, the Dora Mountain Train Station, the Freedom Bridge and the Imjingak Tourist Site, complete with its statue of Harry Truman. And now, South Korea's border with North Korea -- the most heavily militarized border on Earth, -- will be patrolled by killer robots. [more inside]
Less than two weeks after a controversial paper came to light advocating the pre-natal treatment of some female fetuses with a hormone to make their behavior more stereotypically female (previously discussed here) comes news of actual animal research on causing the opposite inclination. By knocking out the fucose mutarotase gene, scientists in South Korea have apparently created "Lesbian mice" who prefer other female mice and who resist the attempts of male mice to mate with them. Article abstract, and coverage by The Telegraph.
'The younger Kim is only 27 years old and is apparently fond of shooting things, having majored artillery in Kim Il-Sung University.'
On March 26, 2010, the ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean navy ship, exploded and sunk, killing at least forty sailors. On May 19, an international investigation team concluded that a North Korean torpedo sunk the Cheonan. What does this mean for the Koreas and the world? It's not clear, but Ask a Korean provides a brief, yet historically contextualized dossier on this issue. [more inside]
Asaekkiga a comic by Yang Young Soon
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
Former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide on May 23. The former president jumped from a cliff in his hometown, where he had retired to. A country mourns (video and articles 1, 2), and clashes (more, WSJ), over the legacy of the former human rights attorney who fought for the rights of student protesters and against the corrupt presidencies of the 80s, had his presidency saved by protests and activism in the electronic age, and at the end of his life found himself being investigated for bribery. [more inside]
North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the ceasefire that ended the Korean war. Previously. [more inside]
South Korea has one of the world's highest suicide rates (previously). The phenomenon has been acute in the entertainment world. In the past two years, over ten Korean celebrities (mostly actors, actresses, and singers) have taken their own lives. Most of them were under 30. The latest death was that of 26 year-old actress Jang Ja-yeon, star of the popular comedy-drama "Boys Over Flowers." Initial reports stated that Jang's death was yet another in a tragic line of Korean celebrities succumbing to depression due to the pressures of stardom and (according to one foreign commenter) the inability to "admit that there is a lot of intense depression and mental illness in Korea." But there's also an emerging twist in Jang's death. Her suicide note has been found, and it turns out that her death wasn't due to relative intangibles of depression and mental illness. In fact, she was allegedly being beaten and raped by various higher-ups in the Korean entertainment business, and the names of the guilty are beginning to come out (one of whom has apparently fled to Japan).
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