At the end of the Korean War, James Veneris was an American POW awaiting repatriation. But when his time came, he—along with twenty other Americans and a Briton—declined to leave and chose to cast his lot with Mao and the Chinese Communist Party. Over time, almost all of these men became disillusioned with Marxism and eventually returned to their homelands. The Cold War that informed their decisions has become a chapter in the history books but the story of Western defectors to the Communist bloc is just now being written.
Take a cyber tour of the Nong Shim factory! Yay! Warning: Portions may require ActiveX control. Includes sound, especially music, voice, and a chime every few seconds. Discontinue use if you experience any of the following: overstimulation, understimulation, rage, anguish, nausea, seizure, uncontrollable craving for shrimp crackers, or an erection lasting more than four hours.
Pyongyang Rocks! If you are a band playing any kind of rock, including heavy metal, then you can participate in 'ROCK FOR PEACE' in North Korea. What a blast!
Newsfilter: North Korea's response to a toothless UN resolution may be a second nuclear test. With military solutions pretty much off the table, it may be up to rival factions within the DPRK to topple the regime. NK coups have been discussed here before, and the end result may not be as pretty as one would hope, but maybe this time the Chinese have had enough.
Air samples over North Korea show no radiation "It is possible there was no radiological data. That could be the case if: the North Koreans successfully sealed the site; it was such a small detonation and so deep underground there was no escape of nuclear debris; or the test was actually conventional explosives."
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives' Committee on International Relations adopted a bipartisan resolution to ask the Japanese government to formally apologize for sexually enslaving up to 200,000 "comfort women" in Imperial brothels during its colonial occupation of Asia from 1932 through the end of World War II. Many were tortured and raped, and only about 30% survived WWII. Japan has stated repeatedly that even though the brothels were established by military policy, the imperial government was not directly involved in operating them. Taking responsibility would be an admission that they committed war crimes -- slavery and trafficking in women and children -- and could give victims a legal basis to sue for reparations. H Res. 759 does not ask Japan to provide reparations, but it does push them to unambiguously acknowledge what happened and educate future generations, (full text) rather than continue the current practice of denying what really happened. Previously on MeFi.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi defies opposition, makes annual controversial trip to Yasukuni Shrine. Naturally, China and Korea are not amused. Adding to the drama and sparking debate amongst the Japanese is a recently discovered private journal of former Emperor Hirohito that reveals Hirohito stopped visiting the shrine in the 1970's when he learned that 14 class A war criminals had been secretly interred. Those 14 Class A war criminals are the focus of the controversy, and many Japanese are discussing having the remains of those men removed from Yasukuni.
I've long felt that the U.S. of A. "jumped the shark" as a country when we rejected the Metric System. The price of gasoline would still be under a dollar (per liter). Yet, we'd drive less because a short 20 mile trip would become a long 32 km trip. Then there's the most important measurement of all [maybe NSFW animated graph], providing us with the joy of 12.9(!) while we try to ignore that Japan is .1 ahead of us and France is .1 more than South Africa. (And is that Korean average North or South?)
OutsideIn Korea - brought to the world by our own stavrosthewonderchicken. He asked what you would like to see on the site here. Now sit back while he brings it to you. Or not. Probably not, now I think about it. In any case, the man writes like a demon on crack (except twice as interesting) and, whether or not you have the slightest interest in Korea, you will be entertained by the stories. If you follow his personal site, you know what to expect. If you have never read his writings before, strap in, you're in for a bumpy ride.
Art Under Control in North Korea. A slide show from Jane Portal's book by the same name (Reaktion Books, May 2005). You can find an essay by Portal here.
Newsfilter: North Korea tests at least two smaller missiles, and one long-range which was unsuccessful, failing in flight. Bush says last week: "Should they launch a missile, that will cause various -- we would apply various pressures. ... I believe it is best that I do not discuss what specific pressures we were talking about."
Wal-Mart fails in South Korea. As a student of business and a resident of Asia, I am fascinated by the examples of "foreign" businesses who either succeed or fail in Asian markets. Recently, Vodafone failed in Japan but in a strange twist has signed a J-V with Softbank to keep their presence in Japan. eBay failed in Japan as did Memoirs of a Geisha. I'd love to have a discussion on the successes AND failures of non-Asian businesses in Asian markets and what, if any, lessons can be taken away for those of us who are in Asian markets or wish to enter Asian markets. (Yes, I realize that "Asia" is too broad of a region but I don't want to limit the discussion to just one nation.)
The "Axe Murder Incident" On Wednesday 18 August 1976 at 1040 hours in the morning, a United Nations Command (UNC) work force of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnel accompanied by and UNC security force...started to prune a large tree in the vicinity of UNC Check Point #3...Lieutenant Pak then shouted "MI KUN UL CHU KI GI CHA." Translated, it means, "Kill the U.S. Aggressors."; the UNC security force was attacked by a superior force of 30 KPA guards wielding pick handles, knives, clubs, and axes.
Crazy breakdancers from Korea - one minute of annoying lead in followed by two and a half minutes of cool moves.
"The Korean Saving Private Ryan," or Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004). Reviews. Plot synopsis (spoilers). Box Office: Over 20% of South Korea saw this film.
Nam June Paik passed away on Sunday. We'll read educated commentaries in the next few days, but what I most affectionately remember about him is how his work made me laugh happily during the 70s and 80s. A precursor of video art, he was the first to use plugged tv sets as building blocks in the most playful ways. His TV Buddha is arguably an unsurpassed classic (a motionless moving image, an outside observation of an inner meditation, even -why not?- a premonition of a blogger) (this last one is a joke: I told you Paik made me laugh). R.I.P.
Korea to unveil Police Robots in 5 years. This project is being spearheaded by KAIST. Whom the team at engadget visited early last year. Some of KAIST's earlier robots, Ahra and Maru.
KilroyWasHere.org -- Come for the kilroy, stay for the story upon story from a time when the U.S. really was fighting for democracy. (Links upon links too, if that's your thing.)
The atom bomb is 60. It's very popular now and becoming more so daily. The most recent nuclear nation to threaten to use theirs is China. The U.S, Europe, and the U.S.S.R. got through a half century Cold War without immolating themselves. Will South and East Asia be as successful and/or lucky in the near future?
Fan Death is death resulting from hypothermia or lack of oxygen, caused by the vortex that is created by an electric fan, or air conditioning in closed rooms. Strangely, it only occurs in South Korea.
Today, Bush met with Kang Chol Hwan, a survivor of the North Korean prison camps and author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang, a book Bush has read and given to his staffers.
Stories from a prison in South Korea, told by an English teacher imprisoned for teaching without a license. Punishment: deportation. But if a prisoner can't collect wages due, then the prisoner can't buy a plane ticket and stays jailed, where the prisoner can't make money, until such time as the prisoner can afford a plane ticket, ad infinitum. Part one. "The massive Mongolian sings beautifully. A sad falsetto—I imagine it to be about missing a faraway homeland of vast, green pastures, endless fertile grasslands, deserts and broad skies." Part two. "He should really go to a hospital outside of the detention center, but…he would have to pay for any medical treatment outside.…If he spends any money on medical bills he would have less money for buying his airplane ticket home. So he must go untreated."
Metropolis ex nihilo? Construction of New Songdo City, South Korea, is now underway. Within 10 years, a fully planned city of 100,000 people will spring up on a man-made island. It is intended to be a new, multi-national commercial hub for its booming Asian region. The developers say all the right things - cultural facilities, mixed use buildings, ample greenspace, etc. - but can a diverse, livable city really be so easily manufactured?
Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Database. Propaganda from WWI to Operation Iraqi Freedom, including many safe conduct passes. Also, leaflets from the Korean War & Vietnam, Sefton Delmer's "Black Propaganda Radio, and even some NSFW (work, not war) propaganda. Come On Boys, Himmler For President!
The beginning of the end for Dear Leader? This Times (of London) report is filled with telling details.
North Korea is the most secretive country in the world today, with its main railway lined with walls so high that its foreign passengers can't see the countryside.
Four Decades in North Korea: The Far Eastern Economic Review interviews Charles Robert Jenkins, who deserted the US Army in South Korea in 1965 and spent almost 40 years in North Korea. Enjoy a fascinating story that parallels the history of the Cold War and is still unfolding.
Korean Psych And Acid Folk • An introduction to the late-60s/early-70s experimental music of Korea. Bonus: be among the few Westerners to hear these ultra-rare tracks by the Pearl Sisters with songwriting contributions from a man known as the "godfather of Korean rock and roll", Shin Joong-Hyun, who is credited with influencing Korea's heavier rock scene of the last two decades.
34 new sites have been inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List including the Iranian city of Bam recently devastated by earthquake and a site in North Korea. Some new sites in pictures.
South Korean government bans Kim Sun-Il execution video. Activates government emergency internet monitoring system. Orders web sites and ISPs to comply. "Web sites that fail to follow through the instructions will be subject to shut-down or police investigation". Several South Korean web sites have already been shut down, while other sites, such as Yahoo! Korea, are assisting the government by blocking and censoring their user's email. Meanwhile, a general strike, massive antiwar protests, and a refusal by airline unions may prevent the deployment and supply of 3,000 South Korean soldiers to Iraq, as well as the rule of the current South Korean government. Numerous U.S. websites are being blocked, and one of the sites, Ogrish.com, is under attack from hackers for carrying the execution video. (warning: tragic and traumatic. Windows Media.)
Korean Slavery - Mark A. Peterson [pdf]
Pre- and post- explosion satellite images of the Ryongchon train station in North Korea.
The joys of being free from constipation. Cartoon maggots singing and dancing around yummy piles of human excrement. [In Korean. Flash.]
Queen of Suffering: A Spiritual History of Korea, by Ham Sok Hon
New York Subway Musicians go to Korea (from ArtsJournal.com)... And they can stay there, as far as I’m concerned. When you’re an out-of-towner, or just use the subway once a year, buskers are so quaint and picturesque. But if you’re a commuter who rides the subway every day of your life, they are stupendous annoyance, preventing you from concentrating on your reading, and generally adding to irritating cacaphony of an already inhuman environment. The subway is not some cute audition club for aspiring mimes. As Serious Danger points out, "approximately one in seven people waiting on your train platform is a face-slasher or a gut-stabber who will cut you with scant provocation, and less warning."
Bankrollers of ideology. George Soros vs. Rev. Moon.
Cunnilingus In North Korea - Young-Hae Chang. [flash]
superhandz is billed as an an x-treme hand sportz site. But impressive as some of these displays are, when it comes to flourish, can anyone even begin to compete with three-year old Mo Kin?(quicktime clip)
Northern Exposure: A North Korean Travelogue
Former N. Korean Nuclear Contractors are "pretty sure that at some point Don was involved," since it was not unusual to seek help from board members "when we needed contacts with the U.S. government." An article in yesterday's Fortune mentions and quotes a number of former employees/contractors for a Swiss engineering firm -- headed by Donald Rumsfeld at the time that Pyongyang began getting its nuke on. Nevertheless, Today Rumsfeld, riding high after the Iraq war, is reportedly discussing a plan for "regime change" in North Korea. But his silence about the nuclear reactors raises questions about what he did--or didn't do--as an ABB director. unsurprisingly, the media is not exactly all over this.
Miguk - A film documentary on the life of an expat English teacher in Korea. If you've done it, this will bring back memories. If you're thinking of doing it, this is worth watching. If, like me, you're in Korea now, watching it on 'film' somehow dignifies the experience. Two thumbs up. [.wmv format, 16 segments]
Young-hae Chang's latest, Operation Nukorea, is shattering, unflinching, and beautifully executed. It's a little tale about consequences, and what happens downstream from decisions not sufficiently considered.
It probably would have brought tears to my eyes even if I did not have family in Seoul. Watch it through to the end.
It probably would have brought tears to my eyes even if I did not have family in Seoul. Watch it through to the end.
Just how crazy is Kim Jong-Il? The North Korean dictator is also an uncompromising movie producer whose casting tactics make Bowfinger look tame. In In 1978, the North Korean dictator kidnapped his favorite director from South Korea, and forced him to make a terrible, Communist-themed monster movie called "Pulgasari." Keep in mind, the Bush administration considers this guy saner and more level-headed than Saddam Hussein.(registration req'd)