The Marmot's Hole Blogger
7/01/2003
 
Steven De Beste on Kurtz, North Korea

A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from Robert, a reader who took issue with a number of conclusions drawn by Stanley Kurtz in his National Review articles that I posted here. Robert then asked Steven De Beste of USS Clueless to give his commentary on the Kurtz pieces, and commentary he did give. Check out both Mr. De Beste's analysis and Donald Sensing's comment towards the end - both give some pretty interesting opinions concerning North Korean intentions and capabilities. Just to give you a sampling:

Keep this in mind in what I write below. NK winning is a non-issue; no one on either side is thinking in those terms. Our ability to devastate NK in the war is also a non-issue; they know it and don't care. The question is whether they could cause damage to the South we would find intolerable. Think of it as an entire nation strapping on an explosive belt and trying to die in an attack against their enemies. You can't deter a suicide bomber by threatening to kill him after he makes his attack; he's already decided to die because he hopes to hurt you when he does. If they decide to go postal, and commit suicide while trying to hurt us as much as possible, would we consider the result acceptable? What are we willing to do to prevent that from happening?

Like I said, check it out - it's good. And thanks a lot, Robert! (Now, if only you can get Mr. De Beste to explain how to get XCONQ to run properly on Windows 98 :) )

PS: Concerning Mr. Kurtz, I got another e-mail from a reader who apparently knew the good Hoover Institute scholar before he made it big. Seems Kurtz had a thing for ska, which makes him OK in my book.

 
6/30/2003
 
More interesting stuff

  • Pogue (who's taking a bit of a break from blogging) sent me this article from the Telegraph reporting how a number of young Korean men are attempting to dodge military service by getting tattooed. Stop laughing, it's the truth - according to Telegraph piece, ROK military law states that men with "excessively large" tattoo are exempt from conscription, on the basis that the appearance of tattoos are "abominable" to their fellow soldiers. Recently, however, the government has been cracking down on those found to be "willfully tampering with their bodies to avoid military duty," arresting 170 young men so accused.

    Ordinarily, I'd make some sarcastic comment about the manhood of South Korea's younger generation (the men, anyway). However, in light of the absolutely disgraceful way in which the government chose to "honor" those sailors who not only served, but died for their country, I'll reserve my criticism for now. Why should anyone be willing to die for this country when the nation's leaders treat its fighting men like shit?

  • Seth Richardson sent me this piece of actually real news, courtesy the Yomiuri Shinbum of Japan, concerning the state of the KEDO project in North Korea. Seems the US and Japan want to halt work on the two light-water nuclear reactors being provided under the 1994 Agreed Framework, but South Korea is insisting that the project continue - go figure.
     
  • 6/27/2003
     
    The Marmot Has Moved On to a Better Place

    No, I'm not dead. However, if I have to keep putting up with Blogger's crap, the stress just might just do me in. So, for health's sake, I have MOVED. MOVED, I TELL 'YE!

    Checked out the Marmot's new hole at:

    http://marmot.blog-city.com

    My apologies go out to all those who have to change their bookmarks, and my thanks go out to those who do.

     
    6/26/2003
     
    Rail workers set to strike

    This is way past ridiculous now. Korea's railway workers union issued an ultimatum yesterday - nullify the railway reform bill to be presented to the National Assembly next week, or else we will - you guessed it - go on strike. The bill seeks to turn the Korean National Railway Corporation into a public corporation; it was initially premised on privatizing the industry, but that plan was changed by the Noh administration out of fear of the railway workers union.

    The only possible good I can see coming from all of this is that if labor groups (and their friends) keep this up, public revulsion may reach such a point that even Noh would be forced to read these people the riot act and / or launch a serious crack down. Korean leftists tend toward the self-destructive - they push it and push it until the inevitable (negative) reaction falls upon them. Even Noh's patience must have its limits.

     
     
    GNP elects new leader, shoots self in foot.

    Korea's conservative party got a whole lot more conservative yesterday when the Grand National Party elected Choe Byung-yul as its party chairman. Look, I'm a man of the right, and OK, at least Choe isn't a friggin' stiff, but come on, guys, can't you do better than this? This is a guy with connections to Noh T'ae-woo, for Christ's sake. Choe is called "Choetler" by his friends for a reason, and while I'll be the first to admit that the GNP needs leadership, what it doesn't need is a fascist. Despite being the majority party, the GNP is in need of serious reform - there's a lot of "dead wood" from a much less pleasant period of Korean history weighing that party down, and if it actually wants to remain relevant in the long-term, it needs to reinvent itself as a "liberal" party in the classical sense. That or get on the neo-conservative bandwagon - anything but what they're doing. With Choe at the helm, the GNP should be able to take next year's general election - with Comrade Noh heading the MDP (for now, anyway), the GNP could run a monkey in every legislative district in Korea and still probably take a majority of seats. Still, look forward to some nasty infighting, and a number of younger, reform-minded GNP assemblymen are looking to jump ship to join with Noh if the President is successful is establishing his own party.

    BTW, in case you're wondering, the man I feel most sorry for is Lee Hoi-ch'ang. Not that I thought he'd make a great president, but still, with the nation falling apart around him, he's the one who's got to wake up in the morning and ask himself, "I lost to Noh?" Noh's just an incompetent boob; Lee lost to an incompetent boob, and I can't imagine it's easy to live with that shame.

    Korean Politics Fun Fact: Both President Noh and Chaiman Choe Byung-yul come from South Kyungsang Province (around Pusan). The Dong-A Ilbo ran a political cartoon on this that gave even the Marmot a chuckle.

     
     
    Someone tell the President to lay off the pot

    Yet more compelling evidence that the Nohmeister is either incredibly dense or smoking some really good shit - President Noh said yesterday that the government will seek to increase foreign investment in Korea to 14% of GDP by 2010, according to the Korea Times. At a seminar entitled "The European Experience with Regional Cooperation and Business Hubs," sponsored by the EU Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Presidential Committee on North East Asia Business Hub, Noh said:

    "In order to emerge as the business hub in North East Asia, Korea needs more foreign investment, and our goal is to increase foreign investment to 14 percent of GDP by 2010."
    (Room breaks out into hysterical laughter)

    The President later vowed to double the government's efforts to turn Korea into the "hub of peace and prosperity in North East Asia," saying:

    "Korea will be able to inject fresh air into the economies in North East Asia and the world."
    (Room breaks out into hysterical laughter)

    Don't bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me....

     
     
    MORE reasons NOT to use Blogger/two posts from yesterday.

    Seriously, why the hell did I fork over the cash to upgrade to Blogger Pro? Two posts that I put up yesterday were not published, and to make matters worse, my commenting system provider picked today to do some maintanence work (it should be back up tonight for you guys in the States). Anyay, I've copied the missing posts below - enjoy!

    ---------------------------------------- Steven De Beste on Kurtz, North Korea

    A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from Robert, a reader who took issue with a number of conclusions drawn by Stanley Kurtz in his National Review articles that I posted here. Robert then asked Steven De Beste of USS Clueless to give his commentary on the Kurtz pieces, and commentary he did give. Check out both Mr. De Beste's analysis and Donald Sensing's comment towards the end - both give some pretty interesting opinions concerning North Korean intentions and capabilities. Just to give you a sampling:

    Keep this in mind in what I write below. NK winning is a non-issue; no one on either side is thinking in those terms. Our ability to devastate NK in the war is also a non-issue; they know it and don't care. The question is whether they could cause damage to the South we would find intolerable. Think of it as an entire nation strapping on an explosive belt and trying to die in an attack against their enemies. You can't deter a suicide bomber by threatening to kill him after he makes his attack; he's already decided to die because he hopes to hurt you when he does. If they decide to go postal, and commit suicide while trying to hurt us as much as possible, would we consider the result acceptable? What are we willing to do to prevent that from happening?

    Like I said, check it out - it's good. And thanks a lot, Robert! (Now, if only you can get Mr. De Beste to explain how to get XCONQ to run properly on Windows 98 :) )

    PS: Concerning Mr. Kurtz, I got another e-mail from a reader who apparently knew the good Hoover Institute scholar before he made it big. Seems Kurtz had a thing for ska, which makes him OK in my book.

    UPDATE: Since Mr. De Beste has linked back to this site, I should probably explain what my comments were. The only real problem I have with Mr. De Beste's analysis, and it's a big one, is that I can't really buy into the "suicide bomber" analogy. Suicide bombers usually do what they do for a point, that point usually being a cause of some sort that will live on even after the bomber has moved on to better things. For North Korea, no comparable points and / or causes exist - once the North Korean state is destroyed, that's it. It's not like their sacrificing themselves for something - the only thing the North Korean leadership cares about, at the end of the day, is maintaining their own grip on power. That the North Koreans would like Washington to think of them [the North Koreans] as suicidal lunatics goes without saying, but that's a common enough diplomatic tactic - heck, even the US has used it on occasion. But if the North Korean leadership has showed us anything, it's that they possess a rather disturbing sense of self-preservation, and the Kim Dynasty hasn't held on for all these years by being stupid. In the end, what this means is that even if the North Koreans are saying that they'll do something suicidally stupid (i.e. selling nukes to Al-Kaeda, invading the South, etc.), when push comes to regime change, my money says they back down in the end.

    More interesting stuff

  • Pogue (who's taking a bit of a break from blogging) sent me this article from the Telegraph reporting how a number of young Korean men are attempting to dodge military service by getting tattooed. Stop laughing, it's the truth - according to Telegraph piece, ROK military law states that men with "excessively large" tattoo are exempt from conscription, on the basis that the appearance of tattoos are "abominable" to their fellow soldiers. Recently, however, the government has been cracking down on those found to be "willfully tampering with their bodies to avoid military duty," arresting 170 young men so accused.

    Ordinarily, I'd make some sarcastic comment about the manhood of South Korea's younger generation (the men, anyway). However, in light of the absolutely disgraceful way in which the government chose to "honor" those sailors who not only served, but died for their country, I'll reserve my criticism for now. Why should anyone be willing to die for this country when the nation's leaders treat its fighting men like shit?

  • Seth Richardson sent me this piece of actually real news, courtesy the Yomiuri Shinbum of Japan, concerning the state of the KEDO project in North Korea. Seems the US and Japan want to halt work on the two light-water nuclear reactors being provided under the 1994 Agreed Framework, but South Korea is insisting that the project continue - go figure.
     
  •  
    Welcome in from Instapundit (again!)

    For those coming in from Instapundit, welcome to the Marmot's Hole. If you're looking for news and analysis concerning inter-Korean issues, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and domestic South Korean politics (heck, anything related to Korea), you've come to the right place. Much thanks go to Glenn Reynolds for the link, Plunge, and most of all, South Korean president Noh Mu-hyeon for providing us Korea-bloggers with so much choice blogging material to work with.

     
    6/25/2003
     
    Tell Me it ain't so!

    The independent council said yesterday that the government of former president Kim Dae-jung secretly paid $100 million to North Korea so that it would host the June 2000 North-South summit. Another $400 million was paid to Pyongyang right before the summit by the Hyundai Group for exclusive rights to slave labor business rights in the North, the council also explained. According to the Times:

    The government of then President Kim Dae-jung promised to add $100 million the sum promised by Hyundai during the secret contacts that were held to arrange for the summit in early 2000.

    Then Culture Minister Park Jie-won, who made the pledge as President Kim's envoy to the clandestine meetings, later asked Chung Mong-hun, the chairman of Hyundai Asan, to pay the $100 million on behalf of the government.

    Park later exercised his influence to push a state-run bank to extend loans to Hyundai affiliates after Chung said it would be difficult for them to raise sufficient funds for the deal, according to the counsel.

    "The $100 million underwritten by the government may have been characterized as a fund necessary for (the government's) North Korea policy," Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan told reporters.

    "But it cannot be denied the money was linked to the summit because all the cash was remitted to the North immediately before the summit without seeking the public's understanding."

    The council also said that Kim Dae-jung knew of the transfers, but did not investigate him because there was no clear evidence that he was involved in illegal acts.

    The council had requested an additional 30 days to investigate, but that request was denied by President Noh. The Grand National Party has responded to the denial by drawing up a bill to appoint a second independent council to continue the investigation.

     
     
    I'm shocked - American investment in South Korea nosedives.

    The Korea Times reports that American investment in South Korea during the first four months of this year is off 71.7% from last year's initial four month total. The United States accounted for 32.1% of all inbound investment during the first quarter, also down from 58.5% from the same period last year. What got me, however, was the explanation given in the Times:

    However, U.S. investors have been slow to invest in Korea owing to increased risks from the U.S.-led war against Iraq, North Korea's nuclear standoff and U.S. economic slowdown, according to MOCIE [Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy].
    Why, golly gee... I would have guessed that anti-Americanism, labor radicalism, inconsistent government policy, corruption, and an investment environment that's generally hostile to foreign ownership of anything had more to do with the slowdown in American investment than Iraq. Shows you how much I know - glad we have such sharp officials at the MOCIE to set me straight.

    Oh, in what is apparently a completely unrelated story, the Times is also reporting that 66,000 unionized workers walked off their jobs yesterday. Autoworkers, teachers, textile workers, and others launched one-day strikes, demanding pay hikes and basic labor rights for irregular workers - among other things. Also unrelated, Fitch Ratings warned yesterday that continued strikes, Seoul's woeful labor policy, financial and banking concerns, and geopolitical tensions may drive foreign investors away.

     
     
    Outstanding letter to the Chosun Ilbo

    Cho Su-ha of Virginia expresses his righteous indignation about South Korean silence concerning North Korea's human rights situation in a powerful letter to the Chosun Ilbo. You should read it in its entirety (it's a bit long), but I'll reprint its finale here; truer words have never been written:

    South Korea�s grain of moral redemption will be Durihana, Open Doors, and others like them. These brave ministers and missionaries are giving the North Korean people hope that the Sunshine Policy will never give them. These men and women have the moral clarity to see Sunshine for what it is - the bulk rental of North Korean slave labor by South Korean corporations. It is a policy that fattens the oppressors and keeps Korea divided in the name of "economic stability." The liberalization of North Korea will never happen until the glorious day Kim Jong Il kicks away his vile little existence at the end of a hangman's rope.

    The salvation of North Korea will be the peasant leaders and missionaries who will stop waiting for South Korea to awake from its self-delusion; they will seize freedom with brave hearts and bare hands. When the next Righteous Army liberates a camp arsenal at Yodok, barricades the mountain roads near the Chongjin Reservoir, or seizes a food warehouse in Wonsan, the North Korean people will thaw their frozen souls on the sparks that will ignite freedom in North Korea like a lake of gasoline. Then, when the smoke clears and KBS crews arrive at the concentration camps, the South Koreans will begin many generations of explaining why they let all this slaughter go on without raising a whimper of protest. Thankfully, Durihana and a few others will be remembered for fighting oppression, apathy and appeasement. Ten years from now, how many South Koreans will earnestly wish they had been a part of Durihana and its genuine liberation struggle back in 2003? To all those with courage and conscience, stand up now.

     
     
    Been a busy two days

    Been busy burning the midnight oil trying to get finals corrected, grades determined, etc. Haven't seen a newspaper in the last two days; the North may have invaded and I would have been none the wiser. They didn't, did they?

     
    6/22/2003
     
    Burning Old Glory is OK, but...

    Don't do this at home! Pre-edited photo ripped off from the Korea Timestoasting the North Korean flag apparently is not - at least in South Korea. Reports the Korea Times (thanks to "trice" for pointing this out):

    Controversy is growing after police Saturday blocked a move by anti-North Korea activists to burn the North's flag during a street rally in front of City Hall in central Seoul.

    Police put out a burning North Korean flag with an extinguisher set by the activists during a rally condemning Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and calling for strengthening the country's alliance with the United States.

    Many activists who participated in the rally criticized police for making an about-face from its stance during anti-U.S. rallies last year, where it didn't attempt to take any action when protestors burned American flags.

    The activists said it is an indication the police are becoming left-wing in their policies, and ignoring South Korea's ties with the United States, a long-time ally of South Korea.

    Burning a flag of a foreign country is in violation of the laws preventing the defamation of the symbols of foreign countries, but burning a North Korean flag is an exception because current laws define North Korea as non-foreign country.

    But the police claim burning anything during a rally is illegal, citing laws defining protests and demonstrations.

    "The problem is they are setting fire to something. Burning a North Korean flag is not the issue," a police officer said.

    Last year, police also blocked protesters from burning the North Korean flag and portraits of its leader Kim Jong-il during protests during the Pusan Asian Games where Pyongyang sent hundreds of its athletes.

    Now this... this makes no sense. In the nearly seven years I've been in this country, I've seen Old Glory desecrated in just about every way imaginable - check out the films over at Anti-USFK/US Newsletter to see just a couple of them (along with a whole lot more). Not once have I've ever seen the police intervene to save the Stars and Stripes. Let me make something clear first - I believe that laws that forbid flag-burning are wrong-headed, even though I also believe that flag-burning is a very ineffective (if not outrightly counterproductive) way to express one's political grievances. But if you're going to have the laws on the books, you have to apply them equally. It boggles the mind that the police would prevent protestors from burning the flag of a country that the nation is still technically at war with, while permitting the flag of South Korea's closest ally to be burned, torn apart, walked upon, and otherwise abused on an almost daily basis. You know the orders to intervene came on down from high, and at the risk of sounding too Chosun Ilbo-like here, it makes you wonder about the attitudes of the authorities here vis-a-vis the North and the United States.

    UPDATE: The Chosun Ilbo reports that 110,000 people attended last Sunday's anti-North / pro-US rally in front of Seoul City Hall. In attendance were parents of the six sailors who were killed last year in the Yellow (West Sea); Hwang Eun-tae, father of Hwang Do-hyun (one of the officers killed), had this to say at the rally:

    My father was killed in the war by a bullet from a North Korean soldier, and now my son has also been killed by the North. The public commemorates the death of the two middle-school girls killed by a U.S. Army vehicle, but they do not remember the people killed by the North.
    I was a bit curious about that myself. The Chosun also ran an editorial on the rally, which you can find here.
     
    6/21/2003
     
    God, I really hope the Chief of Staff didn't actually say this

    I don't know how the hell I missed this Chosun Ilbo editorial from June 14, but if it's true, I have no clue why Moon Hee-sang still has a job. According to the Chosun:

    Speaking before a seminar organized by the Journalists Association of Korea, the Cheong Wa Dae chief of staff, Moon Hee-sang said, "If the president should set out to kill [elements of the] news media, there are lots of methods available, and all have claws." People doubted their ears as he went on to say, "There could be a tax investigation as soon as right now."
    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph... but wait, it gets better. A little later:
    "I think they'll get hurt if they don't take seriously what the president symbolizes," he went on to say. Then he shocked everyone when he said, "When you kick your puppy, all your neighbors will kick your puppy, too - and this is the president we're dealing with."
    The Chosun had fun with that one:
    We wonder whom Moon should be giving this lesson to - he must know that the press has repeatedly stressed how the president is a symbol of the state and that he should act and speak accordingly. And you cannot say it's suitable for a top aide to the president to compare the president to a dog.
    Moon was apparently on a tear, however:
    Moon just kept going, saying that there needs to be "freedom for journalists to say 'no,'" and then asked "where has the Dong-a Free Press Committee gone to?" [Marmot's note: the Dong-A Free Press Committee was a group that protested press restrictions during the military dictatorships] It was at this point that he drifted as far as possible from what's appropriate for his position. You just can't figure out how the second self of the president, who is supposed to maintain order throughout the land, can tell journalists to resist the editorial policies of their news organizations and in doing so have them stop their criticism of the government. This is an open agitation of internal discord within the media.
    Unfortunately, I have not found reference to this incident in any of the other newspapers, but given the Noh Administration's well-known love for the media, I have no reason to doubt the Chosun's editorial (or its news piece on the incident here). I do know this, however - in a democratic society, elected officials (and their staff members) simply cannot be making statements like this. Yeah, the Chosun has an agenda. Big deal, so do the Hankyoreh and OhMyNews. God, I really hope the GNP (Grand National Party) succeeds in getting MBC and KBS-2 privatized, even if those bastards used the TV networks while they were in power just as much as the current government does.
     
     
    Frank Cossa on North Korea

    The Pacific Forum's Frank Cossa is often cited here at the Hole; I have always found his analysis well-reasoned and enjoyable to read. His June 19 column in the Korea Times ("US-DPRK: Isolation Strategy Working") is a case in point. Just to give you the intro:

    Washington's strategy of applying international pressure to further isolate North Korea appears to be working, thanks in large part to the actions of one country in particular.

    No, I am not talking about China, although China's willingness finally to get tough with the North and its hosting of the trilateral "talk about talks" in Beijing in April _ which put senior U.S. and North Korean officials at the same table (with Chinese interlocutors) for the first time since the crisis started last October _ have certainly been helpful. Nor am I talking about South Korea, although President Roh Moo-hyun's politically courageous decision to move closer to the U.S. position and warn of "further steps" has been instrumental to the process.

    The country that deserves the most credit for Washington's success has been North Korea itself, simply by being its typical belligerent, uncompromising, almost laughingly threatening self.

    Take a look at the rest yourself.
     
     
    Anti-North Rally Set

    An anti-North Korean / pro-American rally is set for today in front on Seoul City Hall, reports the Joongang Ilbo. According to the Joongang:

    About 100,000 people will rally in the City Hall plaza at 5 p.m. today to protest North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The demonstration will also protest Kim Jong-il's rule and call for a strengthened alliance between South Korea and United States.

    The protesters will include Kang Young-hoon, former prime minister, Chung Ki-seung, former justice of the Supreme Court, and Song Bok, a professor at Yonsei University. The Christian Council of Korea, the Korea Freedom League, and the Veterans Association are sponsors of the rally.

    A memorial service for the six South Korean naval officers killed in last year's clash with North Korean warships in the Yellow (West) Sea will also be held. Note to Noh Mu-hyeon and Kim Dae-jung: See that! Some people remember the fallen, even if you bastards don't.

    The Korea Times ran an interview with Pong Du-wan, chairman of the civic group Citizens United for Better Society and one of the organizers of the planned rally. Pong shares some of his views concerning engagement with North Korea and the alliance with the United States. On the latter issue, Pong says:

    The Korean youth today only remember the deaths of two Korean girls who were accidentally killed by a U.S. armored vehicle last year, but do not recognize the sacrifices of their grandfathers who shed their blood during the Korean War to safeguard this democracy.
     
     
    Strike, Strike, everywhere a strike strike...

    Jesus H. Christ, what is this place...France? Joining the striking Chohung Bank employees were 15,000 members of the Korean Teachers Union (KTU) who took collective leave yesterday to protest the government's new school online data system. Said Hwang Jin-woo, KTU chief official in charge of elementary school teachers:

    Our struggle against the NEIS [New Education Information System] stems from the idea that the system infringes on students' privacy. Therefore, the struggle will not end only with this strike.
    The government has threatened to file criminal complaints against the teachers. Prime Minister Goh Kun warned, "KTU's collective leave will be strictly dealt with in order to protect the students's right to education." In response, the KTU has threatened to take further action should the government attempt to punish any of its members for the strike. Said Hwang, "If the government tries to punish any of us, we will again start another struggle in protest against that. We are an organization of more than 90,000 members." [Marmot's note: do these Marxist bastards do anything else other than "struggle"?]

    Farmers also joined the fun, clogging the nation's highways with their vehicles to protest the recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile that currently awaits submission to the National Assembly for ratification. Reports the Dong-A Ilbo:

    Korea Farmers League and the Coalition of female farmers` association held a demonstration with 1000 farmers and members of National Agricultural Cooperative Federation and Livestock Cooperative in front of the headquarter of Kookmin Bank at Yeouido, Seoul. Friday. They were protesting against the passing of the bill on FTA between Korea and Chile. 10,000 farmers from 97 cities and counties at first planned to drive to Seoul to participate in the demonstration. But most of them failed to do so due to the strong measures from the police.

    200 farmers from Farmers` Association in Jinju held a demonstration by standing their 150 vehicles at Munsan InterChange on Namhae express way and around Jinju tunnel from 11 a.m. Friday, causing severe traffic congestion until the afternoon.

    The same traffic jam happened at about 20 ICs in Kyeongnam Province as police tried to block farmers from driving into expressway. 40 farmers from Kyeongnam Province were arrested. 50 farmers from Farmers` association in Naju si also struggled with the police for 3 hours with their 50 vehicles occupying Honam Expressway around Baegyangsa restaurant, paralyzing the traffic in the area. Farmers, then, drove into the expressway individually and drove at a slow speed of 50 km per hour.

    Similar traffic jams also occured in North Cholla Province, North Kyongsang Province, and North Chungchong Province. The protesting farmers are concerned that the lifting of import tariffs against Chilean agricultural imports will lead to the collapse of Korean agriculture.

    Well, at least they aren't protesting against the Americans...

     
    6/20/2003
     
    Great articles from the National Review

    Reader Kevin O'Brien sent me some links to a number of slightly dated, but nevertheless excellent (and still very relevant) articles by the Hoover Institute's Stanley Kurtz in the National Review. These should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in the current showdown here in Korea. Anyway, here are the links - be sure to click them.

    Part I
    Part II
    Part III

    Mr. O'Brien also requested some commentary on the articles - let's just say that, for the most part, I find Kurtz's analysis to be right on target. I'm not quite as fatalistic, however, as far as the inevidability of war on the Korean peninsula is concerned; even Kurtz admits that the US may very well be able to launch air strikes on the North without provoking the "unimaginable disaster" threatened by Pyongyang (not that I'm suggesting the US actually do it... right now, anyway). After all, I can't imagine that the North Korean leadership want to sign their own death warrants. Still, there's always the danger of miscalculation - if the North was really that smart, it probably wouldn't be in the position in which it currently finds itself. Anyway, I've written a couple of op-ed pieces for Command Post in which I explain ad nauseum why I think a negotiated settlement with the North is impossible, and if I recall correctly, I think I make a number of policy suggestions as well. You can find those op-ed pieces at the following links:

    Is a "Big Deal" with North Korea Really Possible?
    Is this the Way Out with North Korea?

    Oh, and Mr. O'Brien was kind enough to send a link to this excellent piece by the American Enterprise Institute's Joshua Muravchik in Commentary Magazine which does an outstanding job of explaining just how we managed to get ourselves into this mess.

     
     
    Korea Bloggers

    Joseph Steinberg over at A Layman's Opinion contributes some very interesting commentary on blogging and the threat that it poses to established media organizations (like those schmucks at the Joongang Ilbo!). He also challenges us Korea bloggers to elevate our work beyond descriptions of expat hedonism. Writes Mr. Steinberg:

    I've pledged myself not to talk about teaching on my site, and I try to sublimate my observations with news items and other personal experiences. I wish other expats would take the same pledge: no shop-talk, no bar drool, no skirt-chasing mini-epics! Its time to raise the bar, even if some of our students can't even ask in English for directions to it. Its time to have some pride, and show our guests what they need to find!
    In the main, Steinberg's call to bloggoristic integrity is well-taken, although there are a number of weblogs out there - the Hong Kong-based Gweilo Diaries comes immediately to mind - that manage to combine somewhat off-color content (i.e. gratuitous booby shots) with extremely high-quality news and analysis; the gutter might not always be such a terrible place to visit from time to time (that is, if you associate boobies with the gutter; I rather regard them as sublime). Regardless, A Layman's Opinion is a cornucopia of thought-provoking opinions and analysis on all things Korean (and even things non-Korean) - please pay the man's blog a visit.

    One other shout out: For more quality opinions (albeit quite different from mine) concerning events on da' peninsula from a knowledgeable expat, take a look at Kathreb. The Joongang might have snubbed you, but the Marmot certainly won't.

     
     
    If your coming in from Instapundit...

    The Marmot would like to express his gratitude to Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit for linking to my humble slice of the blogosphere. For first time visitors, we here at the Marmot's Hole focus on issues pertaining to the fascinating yet bewilderingly complex Korean peninsula. Pride of place is given to inter-Korean issues, the North Korean nuclear program, and the seemingly never-ending disaster that is South Korean politics under Comrade Noh Mu-hyeon. For the Korean-impaired, you can also find translations and occasional fiskings of the Hankyoreh Shinmun, South Korea's leading leftist rag. Other topics of conversation include expat life in South Korea, Korean cultural properties, Mongolian womanhood, and as the summer progresses, my passion for Korean dog meat soup.

    BTW, much thanks go to Plunge, not only for e-mailing Instapundit about the Condie Rice quote, but for also giving me a shout out over at Chief Wiggles. I really appreciate it. Kamsa-hamnida

    NOTE: this blog may occasionally format strangely on Mozilla browers. If it does, simply refresh your browser and the page should format properly - at least it does when I do it.

     
    6/19/2003
     
    The Hankyoreh's most recent dirge

    For your reading enjoyment, I translated and uploaded today's Hankyoreh editorial ("In the Framework of 6-Party Talks, US-North Korean Dialogue"). I'm curious as to when the Hankyoreh is going to realize that North Korea's nuclear program is their problem, too.

    BTW, if those readers with Korean skills notice any mistranslations, or think something could have been translated in a better way, by all means, let me know. Even the Marmot's translation service isn't 100% perfect, and I always appreciate linguistic pointers.

     
     
    Myopia in East Asia

    Mike over Interested-Participant (archives screwed on Blogspot, as usual) came across some very interesting research which seems to answer why it is that so many Asians wear glasses. According to Glass : A World History, by Alan Macfarlane and Gerry Martin (University of Chicago Press), the myopia rate for adult Europeans is between 20% and 30%, while the myopia rate for adult Chinese is between 65% and 80% and the one for Japanese is between 70% and 80%. The myopia rate for Koreans, on the other hand, is only between 30% to 35% (a brief survey of the patrons of this PC cafe, however, would suggest a significantly higher rate). The most important factor behind the differing rates appears to be linked to the national scripts. According to Mike:

    The authors found that all Chinese and Japanese children start at a very young age learning the language, committing to memory two to three thousand complex characters while practicing writing them in an accurate and artistic manner. It's estimated that these children spend fully half their time in school studying language. The result is severe and continuous eyestrain for many long years. Without exception, all the places that require children to learn and become proficient with Chinese/Japanese characters have high rates of myopia in the population. This includes Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and Taiwan, but, interestingly, not South Korea.
    Korean, unlike Chinese and Japanese, uses a phonetic script that is remarkably easy to master (an Indian friend of mine learned it in about two hour of intense study). As a result, Korean kids spend much less time learning how to read and write, and much more of their time ruining their eyesight playing Starcraft (rather than cool games like Empire Earth and CNC Generals). Hence, the relatively low myopia rates.
     
     
    South Korea gets on board - reluctantly

    The Korea Times reports:

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia _ South Korea said on Thursday that it wanted to give more time to North Korea before having the Stalinist country’s nuclear brinkmanship referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

    In a meeting with reporters, South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuk said, ``It is all about timing.’’

    No, it's all about appeasement, baby... appeasement. A little later:
    ``We are not in complete agreement with the U.S. about when the issue will be referred to the UNSC,’’ Deputy Foreign Minister Lee said.

    After bilateral and multilateral meetings of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) here, Seoul agreed with the U.S. to take the matter to the UNSC, in the event that the North failed to agree to a proposal for multilateral dialogue involving not only the U.S., China and the North but also South Korea and Japan.

    The day after China, the North’s only ally, welcomed the U.S.-proposed multilateral dialogue, Pyongyang said through its Foreign Ministry that it didn’t expect much to result from such a format, which was widely interpreted as a rejection. This is expected to leave China with little room to repeat its objections to the U.S.’ move to take the matter to the UNSC.

    If the Chinese are really on board, and that's an "if" as big as China itself, then I don't think this issue will ever see the UNSC - even Kim Jong-il, dense as he is, would be able to read the writing on the wall and agree to multilateral talks. But that's just my thinking.
     
     
    Thank God I bank at Kookmin

    Unionized workers at Chohung Bank began a walkout on Wednesday, closing or limiting operations at 400 out of the bank's 470 branches nationwide. Unionists are protesting the government's decision to sell off the bank to the Shinhan Financial Group; at one time, Big Brother owned an 80% stake in Chohung and the bank has been surviving on 2.7 trillion of the taxpayers hard-earned won since the '97 East Asian financial crisis. Due to the strike, customers have been withdrawing their money from the bank in droves, forcing the Bank of Korea to inject Chohung with a 2 trillion won ($1.69 billion) in order to forestall a liquidity crisis.

    President Noh is talking (quasi-)tough - yesterday, the Prez criticized the nation's labor movement, complaining:

    "It is deplorable that the labor movement has been losing morality and sense of responsibility recently, although in the past, it pursued justice and the democratization of society."
    I'm praying that Noh is finally getting tired of being treated like a bitch and grows a set of balls, but recent history leads me to predict otherwise.
     
     
    One scumbag behind bars, more to go

    Park Jie-won, Kim Dae-jung's former chief of staff, is resting comfortably in a South Korean prison after a detention warrant was issued for him in connection with a bribery scandal that has tarnished the reputation of former president Kim and called into question the June 2000 North-South summit that won him the Nobel Prize. The independent counsel, which is investigating Hyundai's $500 million payoff to the North right before the June 2000 meeting, accuse Park of requesting, and later accepting, a 15 billion won ($12.7 million dollar) bribe from Hyundai officials in order to facilitate the company's projects in North Korea's scenic Kumgang Mountains. Park, acting through a third party (a former arms dealer, of all people), allegedly told Chung Mong-hun, president of Hyundai Asan, that the money was to be used in preparation for the North-South summit, according to a report in the Joongang Ilbo (which I'll generously remove from the Marmot's shit-list). Where the money went has yet to be determined, although there's plenty of speculation; some believe that the money went into a special slush fund for Park and other politicians (Chun Doo Hwan would have been proud), while others suggest that the money was given as gifts to North Korean officials before the summit. It should be pointed out that Park denies all of this, and claims that Lee Ik-chi, former president of Hyundai Securities and the figure who is alleged to have delivered the money to Park, must have taken the money himself. Park is separately charged with helping Hyundai Merchant Marine in getting 400 billion won ($3.4 billion) in loans from Korea Development Bank. Park is accused of asking Lee Ki-ho, then- President Kim’s senior secretary for economic affairs [and currently Park's fellow sin-bin resident], to lean on the bank to approve the loans.

    Something is most definitely rotten in the state of Korea.

     
     
    Selective Memory

    Yuh Moon-hwan, a a senior research associate at the National Strategy Institute, contributed a rather thoughtful op-ed piece to the Korea Times ("History and Memory in June") that discusses the ways in which South Korean society seeks to "reinvent" the events of its recent past. June is, after all, a rather significant month for Koreans - the start of the Korean War, the pro-democracy demonstrations that brought down Chun Doo Hwan in 1987, the North-South Joint Declaration, and the tragic deaths of Shin Hyo-sun and Shim Mi-seon all took place during this tumultuous month. Writes Mr. Yuh:

    June in Korea is complex - how war and the past are remembered has changed with the change in the social and political context. Why do people reinvent the way they view the past? They would like to revive the meaning of events such as the Korean War and World Cup. It also provides lessons that can be used to prevent national tragedy or promote national honor. Furthermore, people get a sense of belonging within the nation through public rituals.

    During the Cold War, June in Korea was characterized by hatred toward North Korea. Why remember the start of the war? One Korean scholar argues that the final day of the Korean War, July 27, would be more meaningful for national peace discourse. Now that the Cold War is over, people remember the past century of war in a completely new way. South Korea is changing hatred into compassion towards North Korea. Peace movements and anti-war campaigns are rapidly expanding nationwide. These are good signs for creating ``new memories of the past and will contribute to diminishing cultural and social differences between South and North Korea. At the same time, however, South Koreans are ``forgetting the hundreds of thousands who were killed or wounded in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. They might even forget North Korea has not changed at all.

    History and memory have recreated the meaning of national events. People would not remember or forget the past voluntarily without the effects of political and social context, so the government should organize and lead official remembrance ceremonies. Many national holidays have come and gone, including UN Day, Armed Forces Day and Hangul Day. The complexity and contradictions in national identity surrounding June can be abated somewhat by reorganizing some of the events, especially Memorial Day. The government should seek national consensus on what the people wish to be remembered and forgotten in the month of June.

    I find something very disturbing about this all, however. As Yuh points out earlier in his piece, public Memorial Day ceremonies are on the decline in Korea because "hostility towards North Korea has shifted to a desire for peace and harmony between the two Koreas. This is evident in the changing attitude of students away from the Cold War view of North Korea as a monster." Yet one has to wonder why there has been this sudden shift in collective memory - why the events of June 25, 1950 have been transformed from a naked act of Communist aggression into the tragic consequence of America's unjust division of the Korean peninsula? It's because just as the hate generated against the North (not that the Northern regime isn't worthy of hate) was the product of a South Korean education system that bred it and a state-controlled media that perpetuated it, the current feelings of sympathy and compassion towards the people of the North (and the glossing over of the root causes of their suffering) are also state-generated. If school teachers now prefer to emphasize North Korea's ethnic and cultural purity rather than its politically-manufactured famine and its WMD programs, it's because the Blue House has "encouraged" them to do so (not that young teachers, straight out of the communes that are South Korea's universities, needed much encouragement). The Kim and Noh administrations have sought, quite successfully, to keep unsavory stories about the North out of the news, the NIS (National Intelligence Service) seems to be spending more time silencing North Korean defectors than it does protecting national security, and the state uses the media and NGOs to fan the flames of ethnic nationalism by playing to some of the basest passions of Korean society. Peace movements and anti-war demonstrations, in the contemporary Korean context, are not "good signs for creating 'new memories of the past and will contribute to diminishing cultural and social differences between South and North Korea' ." They are new manifestations of an old problem - the state's manipulation of history and public feeling to further its own political goals.
     
    6/18/2003
     
    This makes me sick

    Remember those six South Korean sailors who were killed in a bloody naval clash with the Norks in the Yellow (West) Sea during last year's World Cup? USFK remembers them. The US 7th Fleet remembers them. The Marmot's Hole sure as hell remembers them. Even Condoleezza Rice remembers them. The South Korean government, on the other hand, apparently does not. The Chosun Ilbo editorial staff writes:

    The resentment and fury felt by the families of the six naval officers killed in the West Sea clash a year ago make us wonder whether we live in a country that fulfills its basic duties for its people. The families say that the government has not kept one promise - and that it has failed to send even one letter or make even one telephone call of condolence. "But the commanders of the UN forces, the U.S. forces in Korea and the 7th U.S. squadron all sent letters," one father said. "Which country did my son die fighting for?" No one can answer him.
    Later in the same piece:
    In a telling anecdote, it is said that Condoleezza Rice, the White House's national security adviser, asked a Korean government official if he knew the names of the two middle school girls killed last year by a U.S. armored vehicle. He answered yes right away. Then she asked if he knew any of the names of the sailors killed in the West Sea battle. The official stuttered, unable to answer the question. This embarrassing incident shows us how ridiculous our country may seem to the world.

    No mass protests in front of Seoul City Hall. No NGOs screaming for justice. Not even a single fuckin' letter from the government to the families of those young men who paid with their lives the price of freedom. You can be sure as hell the North Korean government sent letters to the families of its sailors that died - shit, it probably sent them nice, shiny medals (which they can't eat). But the Noh Administration can't even send the families of those killed ONE SINGLE FUCKIN' LETTER! Given the current political climate, I wasn't expecting much - Heaven forbid Noh should ruin Kim Jong-il's kibun for the day. But Jesus, how can a government show such contempt for its own fighting men like this? As I've said before, I love this country. But today, I'm truly ashamed to be a resident of the Republic of Korea.

    Fucking bastards.

    UPDATE: That other Korean daily, which we shall not name in this blog for so shamelessly snubbing the Marmot, reports in its editorial that Lieutenant Lee Hi-wan, who lost a leg in the battle, has returned to active duty as a researcher at the Korean Naval Academy. Still no letter, however.

    Fucking bastards.

     
    6/17/2003
     
    Blogger Angst

    Seriously, I'm at a total loss for what to do. This all started a couple of days ago when I got a message from Randall Parker of Parapundit alerting me to the fact that my page was not showing up properly on Mozilla family browsers. Given that a) I'm no web designer by any stretch of the imagination and b) I had pretty much hand-crafted my old template, I figured that human error was to blame and switched back to a standard Blogger template. Has this solved the problem? No. In fact, I've gotten a couple of e-mails now telling me that the problem has actually gotten worse. One of my regular readers (and I don't have that many), who didn't have any problems with the old template, is now reporting that his Mac (Safari browser) isn't formatting the blog properly. I downloaded a copy of Mozilla Firebird v 0.6 Korean version (much thanks go to Mr. Parker) and immediately learned two things - 1) Firebird is a damn fine browser and 2) yep, my page is all fucked up. Actually, it's not formatting too badly, at least on my system, but there are a couple of problems, namely
    1) my blogroll (courtesy blogrolling.com) is not showing up
    2) my comments (Blogout) are not showing up
    3) my archives (and I didn't even touch those) are not showing up
    4) my site meter isn't there.
    I'm exasperated. Does anyone out there have any suggestions and/or is willing to give a young blogger a hand?

    UPDATE: I've noticed that when the browser encoding is set to English, the text wrap-around tends to be messed-up. This problem seems to go away when encoding is set to Korean. I'm not sure how to correct this problem automatically, but I'm working on it. Moreover, that still wouldn't explain the missing blogroll, comments, and archives when viewing from a Mozilla browser. The mind boggles...

     
     
    China Backs 5-Way Talks on N. Korean Nuclear Issue

    Korea Herald

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia _ China Tuesday welcomed the five-way multilateral talks pursued by South Korea, Japan and the United States to discuss the festering standoff over North Korean nuclear weapons program.

    Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, during talks with South Korean Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, said Beijing will provide full-fledged support in bids to resume the dialogue on the North Korean nuclear issue as soon as possible.

    ``Li said if the U.S. and North Korea concur on the matter, China would welcome it,’’ said Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Su-hyuk, briefing on the outcome of the three-way meeting at the Inter-Continental Hotel Tuesday morning. ``He said China will exert all efforts to resolve the (North Korean) nuclear issue through dialogue using peaceful means.’’

    Gee, thanks a lot, Beijing. By the way, let me just say it now - while I fully support the inclusion of South Korea in talks with the North Koreans, I would not be surprised in the very least if Noh tried to undercut the States during negotiations. I'm fairly confident about Japan being a team player, you know China's going to continue pretending like it's an honest broker, and North Korea's about as predictable as Islander's GM Mike Milbury on draft day. It's the South Koreans the Americans have got to watch out for - Noh's just as likely to ambush the Americans as he is to talk tough to Pyongyang. Just something to consider.
     
     
    Georgia - not the one with the peaches / the future Mrs. Marmot

    Sean-Paul's journey along the Silk Road continues from Turkey to Georgia - he has posted some very interesting travel commentary on Turkey, together with a couple of pics. Some cool stuff.

    Speaking of the Silk Road, the love of my life is returning to Korea from the steppes of Outer Mongolia next month.

     
     
    Let US Troops Stay? No thanks, Dong-A

    The Dong-A ran a rather bizarre editorial ("Let US troops stay") that deserves the Marmot's attention, even if it's for a brief period. Bang Hyung-nam, the editorial writer responsible for the piece, seems to be under the impression that American troops are in this country in order to funnel cash into local communities. Writes Bang;

    ...U.S. troops stationed in Germany and those stationed in Korea are emerging as core parts of Washington`s overseas force realignment strategy. As 37,000 troops here have played a role of deterring a war in the Korean Peninsula, 70,000 stationed in Germany have served as a key force in U.S. military presence in Europe. Recently both Koreans and Germans got the nerve of Washington with anti-American demonstrations and anti-war campaign respectively. Then, are there similarities or differences in the way the two countries react to realignment plans?

    Mayors from thirteen German cities visited Washington and met with U.S. officials and lawmakers. They lobbied not to close bases in their cities and reduce the least of forces. Mayor of Kaiserslautern [Marmot's Note: Don't they have a really good soccer team?] said at an interview with a German broadcaster, ˝If U.S. troops leave the city, it will lead to some $1 billion losses in revenue.˝ Given the figure, they must have lobbied hard in Washington, stressing the need for U.S. presence. The German mayors said at the end of their visit that they expected reductions, if any, would be small in scale. They are seeking to protect their interests against the reduction plan, taking an economic approach to the issue. Then, why can`t we plead not to remove the troops?

    There are community leaders organizations in those areas U.S. troops stationed. They are design to discuss issues related to U.S. presence. It seems, however, that they are not organized strongly enough to lobby to the U.S. government. Seeing the presence of U.S. troops only from military perspectives is short-sighted. U.S. troops in Korea spent $750 million last year alone on personnel and procurement. Even taking $480 million covered by the Korean government into consideration, the figure still reaches $270 million. Financial benefits that accrue from the presence of U.S. troops, indeed, are real and substantial. Do we really have to stick to street demonstrations against these benefits? Leaders of local governments must learn a lesson from the German mayors.

    Look, the US military is not here in South Korea to pump money into local shops and bars - it's here to deter North Korean aggression, a mission that it no longer needs to perform given South Korea's current capabilities. Truth be told, I have no idea why American forces are in Germany, either - if Europeans feel so strongly about peace-keeping missions in the Balkans, let them keep troops in Tuzla. What I have to wonder is how the "community leaders" to which Bang refers could expect to persuade American leaders to continue to spend vast sums of the taxpayer's coin in order to keep their young men and women (and not so young men and women) in an environment where they are a) immediately in harm's way, b) despised by large (and increasingly vocal/violent) segments of the host population and c) forced to make due with substandard living arrangements when there isn't a pressing American interest to do so. Seriously, does Bang think that the USFK is some sort of social welfare program? American soldiers should not be placed in a dangerous (and thankless!) situation simply because it's good for Korean businesses. If I were military, I'd be offended by the very thought of it.
     
     
    The Joongang disses the Marmot

    The Joongang Ilbo gave a shout out to four Korea-based blogs, and the Marmot's Hole was NOT among them. Damn, why the hell do I waste time on this thing if not even the Joongang will give me my props. Still, it's hard to argue with the four they did select - the Kyungnam to Kyunggi Journal, in particular, is an outstanding blog describing expat life in Korea, and well worth the clicked link.

    My bitterness at the Joongang aside, I'm curious how they left off Emptybottle.org - my disagreements with some of its politics not withstanding, it's one hell of a well-done blog and a highly entertaining read.

     
     
    Noh to get tough on strikers, criminals

    No, really - that's what he said. With the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions threatening massive walkouts by its members in the banking, auto, railway, and metal industries (together with unionized teachers) starting this Saturday, our fearless President instructed his cabinet yesterday to take no shit from special interests trying to disrupt the affairs of the nation. The Korea Herald quotes the Nohmeister as saying:

    "The government should respond to collective actions through dialogue and compromise. But we should firmly apply laws and principles when handling those who try to push their interests using a group force and ignoring the law."
    Oooo... I'm sure the KCTU are shaking in their boots now. These groups can smell blood in the water - in his first 100 days in office, Noh has been systematically used and abused by every special interest group in the country, so why shouldn't the KCTU have its turn? When Hanchongnyon (an illegal organization to start with) ambushed the President during his visit to Kwangju in May (a demonstration that would have been illegal even if Hanchongyon was legal, which it ain't), Noh also threatened to get tough. What happened to Hanchongnyon? Nothing. The KTU (Korean Teachers Union) has been threatening to walk out for months over plans to install a new school information system. Their willingness to bring the nation's schools to a halt when students are preparing for the university entrance exams was met by appeasement so sickening that the subsequent outcry (which included calls for the Minister of Education's head) forced the President to make an about-face. The government capitulated to striking truckers who brought the cities of Pusan and Kwangyang to a strandstill, and caved in to railway workers threatening to strike over privatization plans. This shouldn't really be surprising. After all, these groups got Comrade Noh elected in the first place. It's telling that Moon Jae-in, Noh's senior secretary for political affairs, was a legal advisor for the Pusan branch of the KTU (yes, the same KTU that was conducting the "hate America" indoctrination classes during the Iraq War) and was reported to be quite close to the striking trucker in Pusan. The Labor Minister has become, for all intents and purposes, a spokesman for the labor unions, and Noh seems intent on running the country like he's the head of an NGO rather than the elected head of state.

    This is not the way to conduct the affairs of a nation.

     
     
    Sorry about the mess, Winds of Change people.

    For all you coming in from Winds of Change (and judging from my site meter, there are quite a few of you), it's been a major overhaul day here at the Marmot's Hole - I redid my template in order to make the blog more readable, and to hopefully clear up some of the problems Netscape users were having viewing Da' Hole. If you are still having problems viewing this page, please drop me a line.

    BTW, for those who aren't coming in from Winds of Change, I posted my monthly Korea Briefing over at Joe Katzman's outstanding weblog - check it out.

    UPDATE: It appears that my site is STILL screwed up when viewed from Netscape - AHHHHHH!!!!! I really need to move over to Movable Type ...

     
    6/14/2003
     
    The North remembers

    I heard it on the news this morning, but I just stopped by KNCA to confirm it - the North held remembrance ceremonies for the two middle school girls killed last year in a training accident in Yangju. During a photo exhibit on the incident, Kim Mi-hyang, a student at Pyongyang Kyonghung Middle School, ran up to the pictures and cried,

    "Hyosun! Miseon! Why did you have to die? You didn't do anything wrong... we know well... it's because of those beasts that can't live without the blood of others - those jackles, the Americans!"

    효순아,미선아! 너희들은 왜 이렇게 죽어야만 했니? 아무런 죄도 지은적 없는 너희들인데 우리는 똑똑히 알고 있어,남의 피를 보지 않고는 순간도 살지 못하는 야수,바로 미국승냥이놈들때문이란걸

    No dehumanization there. Yun Hak-ch'eol, a student at Yonsei Kim Ch'aek University, promising revenge against the American imperialists, said - and this is a good one -

    "Looking at the pictures of those American invaders and murders laughing at the deaths of those two girls who were torn apart, I shook my first... I can't stand it any longer. To release the resentment built up from the blood of Hyo-sun, Mi-seon... the blood of the entire race, I will pick up the gun when I graduate."

    갈기갈기 찢겨 져 쓰러 진 두 녀학생의 죽음에 도전이나 하듯 히물히물 웃고 있는 저 미제침략군,살인자들의 몰골을 담은 사진을 보니 주먹이 떨려 참을수 없습니다.나는 효순이와 미선이,아니 우리 온 민족의 피 맺힌 원한을 풀기 위해 대학을 졸업하면 총대를 잡겠습니다.

    To be fair to the North Koreans, we hear a lot of the same stuff south of the 38th, too. However, rather than picking up the gun, an increasing number of South Korean college grads are looking to avoid the gun and emigrate, the land of the Beasts and Jackels a favored destination, ironically enough. This is an option somewhat limited for their northern comrades - not counting refugee status in northern China, of course.

     
    6/13/2003
     
    Korean soldier killed in car accident involving USFK vehicle

    Courtesy the Korea Herald:

    A Korean Army officer was killed yesterday when his civilian vehicle ran into a U.S. Marine Corps' 7-ton truck in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, the U.S. Forces Korea said.

    The accident came on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of two Korean schoolgirls who were struck by a U.S. armored vehicle, which sparked massive anti-American protests.

    "Preliminary reports indicate the Korean soldier's vehicle was in the opposite lane of a two-lane road at the time of the collision. The Korean Army officer died at the scene," the USFK said in a statement.

    Opposite lane of a two-lane road? Does that, by any chance, mean "the wrong lane?" Not that this stopped OhMyNews from pointing figures at you know who; a poster at Korea Media Watch pointed to this report, which reads towards the end (and I'm using the poster's excellent translation here):

    Ohmynews: Were there any witnesses to the accident? Photographer: As far as I know, there were none.

    Ohmynews: The US military and the police are claiming that Captain Noh crossed the center line and caused the accident. Photographer: I think it is very possible that it was the other way around. The US military vehicle was stopped 2/3s over the center line into the opposing lane.

    Ohmynews: Do you think it was possible that Captain Noh was dozing off while he was driving? Photographer: Don't you find it hard to believe that a person on his way to work at the base in the morning would be dozing off?

    Ohmynews: What is the scene of the accident like right now? Photographer: Captain Noh's car was removed immediately after the accident, and the US military vehicle is just now being towed.

    Ohmynews: Were there any peculiarities found with the US military vehicle? Photographer: The US military vehicle has three wheels on each side for a total of six. Two wheels of each side will not move, so the towing process is proving difficult. I am wondering if the fact that the wheels not moving may have caused the US military vehnicle to cross the center line?

    Ohmynews: What have the people involved in the towing process said? Photographer: I was curious about that too and asked, but they are not saying much.

    I'm curious as to why OhMyNews would report something like that when even one of the Korean marines said that other car crossed into the wrong lane, and the USFK vehicle swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision? Another thing about which I'm curious - there have been several accidents lately in that area (including last year's tragic accident involving the two middle school girls), yet no one is putting two and two together and reaching the conclusion that anybody who has lived in northern Kyonggi Province (as I have) could tell you - the roads up there suck, and if you want to find Hyo-sun and Mi-seon's real "murders," they can be found at Korea's Ministry of Construction and Transportation !!!!
     
     
    Candle light demonstrations

    Rugby scrum, ripped off from OhMyNewsToday's the big anniversary, and all the usual hate groups are out in force, although if OhMyNews is anything to go by, things appear relatively well-behaved. As well they should - the Korean government has 10,000 riot police stationed all around the US Embassy. Shit, the US has successfully invaded countries with less men. Police buses seem to have all the access points to the Embassy cut off; again, I'm going by the OhMyNews reports. The processioners attempted several times to advance to the embassy, only to have those attempts rebuffed by riot police. Apparently, part of the remembrance ceremony called for the participants to use their candles to burn small paper American flags while shouting demands for SOFA revision and an end to the threat of war on the peninsula (as you know, that's us Yanks' fault). Police estimates say 20,000 people participated in the Seoul rally, although OhMyNews's reporters put the number at 30,000.

    Photos over at OhMyNews also suggests that a large number of children participated in the demonstrations; this would seem to be confirmed by the Korea Times:

    ``I am here to show my son how distorted the relations between Korea and the U.S. are,’’ said one of the participants, a Korean National Railroad employee who came with his eight-year-old son.
    Lovely. The Times also reports that:
    The crowd chanted slogans that called for the punishment of the U.S. soldiers responsible for the deaths of the two girls. They chanted; ``Let’s prevent war through candles,’’ and ``Go Home, U.S. soldiers.’’ They also demanded revisions of the Status of Forces Agreement that governs U.S. troops stationed here and a personal apology from U.S. President George W. Bush.
    I will report more on this as I get more information. I'll try to link you to film media when I get it.

    BTW, here are some editorials dealing with today's festivities:

  • Who's Insulting the One-Year Candle Light Vigils? - Hankyoreh (translated over at my other site). Just the intro:
    It's been one year since two middle school girls were run down from behind in broad daylight by a speeding American armored vehicle.

    But the facts behind the tragedy still remain unclear, no American soldiers have been punished, and the unfair status of forces agreement remains the same.

    Rather, everyday the US speaks of even "attacking the North's nuclear facilities", and the black cloud of war is descending upon both North and South.

  • Since the two girls' death - Korea Times. Like the Hankyoreh, a complete dirge.
    The profuse but reluctant apologies - from the two soldiers to the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea to Secretary of State Colin Powell and finally to Bush himself - only came in proportion with the public's anger. The uproar was an understandable response to the U.S. military's double standards on human rights and law enforcement. The dispute centered on the impartial SOFA, but it has yet to be revised to grant Korea sufficient jurisdiction on crimes committed by U.S. servicemen.
  • First Anniversary of Two Girls' Deaths - Korea Times. Can someone explain the following to me?
    The year-long protest brought about some improvement in the Status of Forces Agreement defining the legal status of U.S. troops stationed here, regarded by many Koreans as a most unfair treaty between the two countries.

    It also helped all of us become aware of our national pride and dignity, thanks to the patriotic zeal of young people who have now emerged as a powerful social element.

    Some other cool stuff - check out the Hankyoreh's photo collection for the one-year anniversary. Yep, those really are 1) middle school girls holding up a sign saying "Fucking USA," 2) letters from elementary school kids saying "Die, America!" 3) a bounty placed on the head of one the "murders" [I saw those posters plastered all over Uijeongbu when I lived in the area], 4) and a mass, synchronized flag desecration, among other interesting things. Also, I should point out that unlike last year, there is some debate, quite colorful at times, going on in the reader comments sections of the Hankyoreh and OhMyNews. There would appear, and this is only at first glance, that there are a lot of Koreans genuinely uncomfortable with this year's rallies - "commie bastard" is being thrown around quite a lot. Coincidentally, I was shocked to see someone write into OhMyNews saying, and I shit you not here, that if Korea wants to change its SOFA with the US, it [the ROK] first has to change its SOFA treaties with Kuwait and Afghanistan, which are even less generous to the host nation. The writer asks, "What if one of our soldiers in Kuwait got into an accident while on duty, and he went to a Kuwaiti jail? How would that affect morale?"

     
  • 6/11/2003
     
    The Marmot's Command Post Op-Ed Piece

    I know you guys are busy, but if you get a chance, check out my op-ed piece for Command Post ("Is This the Way Out with North Korea"), which concerns Kim Jong-il buttboy Selig Harrison's truly obnoxious (like I have the right to call anything obnoxious) June 6 interview with Pravda the New York Times. It might be worth reading :)

     
     
    Axis? What Axis?

    Well, this can't be good. Courtesy Reuters (via Yahoo! News):

    Report: Iran Nuke Experts Visited N.Korea This Year

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Iranian experts on nuclear issues secretly visited North Korea (news - web sites) this year, possibly to ask North Korean officials for advice on how to handle international inspectors, a Japanese newspaper said on Wednesday.

    The Iranian experts made three visits to North Korea between March and May, the conservative Sankei Shimbun said, quoting what it described as "a Korean peninsula source," who was not named.

    The visits "may have been intended to ask North Korea for know-how on how to act when accepting inspectors," Sankei quoted the source as saying. "Cooperation on nuclear development may also have been discussed," the source added.

    A spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization denied that any officials from the country's nuclear body had visited North Korea [Lies! All lies!]. Foreign Ministry officials did not return calls seeking comment on the report.

    Maybe the Sunshine people are right - North Korea really is striving to break out of its self-imposed isolation.
     
     
    The Marmot's Intestinal Fortitude Award

    Pic ripped off from 'sketch4u.com'This week's award goes to Kim Jong-p'il - veteran politician, president of the minor opposition United Liberal Democrats, father of the KCIA who tried to kill Kim Dae-jung twice only to become his Prime Minister in 1995, mastermind behind of the 1961 coup that brought Park Jong-hee to power, and all-around dodgy character - for having the balls to come out and say this concerning Japan's "war contingency legislation":

    "I understand Japan is to make the least reinforcement possible to its national defense as a sovereign country as North Korea continues to harass it with nuclear weapons and sending mystery vessels to its coast."
    My jaw dropped - not because I disagree with the elder politician, but because I thought it would be a cold day in Hell before I heard a Korean politician utter something so completely sensible about Japan, even if it is coming from a man I'd trust only as far as I could throw him. Perhaps they grow' em different up there in Taejon.
     
     
    Korea English News Highlights

  • "U.S. to Stop Suspicious Shipments from NK" - Korea Times. Well, this could get interesting. Give Spain another call, perhaps?
  • "USFK Apologizes for Tragic Accident for the 10,000th time" - Korea Times.
  • "Inconsistent, Unpredictable Gov’t Policies Confuse Foreign Investors" - Korea Times.
  • "Seoul Backpedals on Market-Opening" - Korea Times. A snippet:
    The Korean government is backpedaling from its major market-opening programs in the face of backlash from local interest groups.

    At stake are the four major market-opening programs _ the free trade agreements with Chile and Japan, the bilateral investment treaty with the U.S. and the establishment of a business hub in Northeast Asia.

    More than 50 interest groups have formed a coalition to scuttle these market-opening policies spearheaded by the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

  • "GNP Cautions Roh About `Leftist’ Tendencies" - Korea Times.
  • "Communist Activities Outlawed Here" - Korea Times Editorial.
  • "Man Ordered to Compensate Wife for Refusing Sex" - Korea Times. Sometimes I get tired, too, but this:
    A Seoul court ordered a man to pay compensation to his estranged wife yesterday after they split up because he refused to have sex.

    "The accused caused the collapse of their marriage by refusing to have sex with his wife without giving a justifiable reason," said presiding Judge Hong Jung-pyo of the Seoul Family Court.

    Hong ordered the 35-year-old husband to pay 50 million won (US$41,850) in compensation to his wife.

    "The accused is obligated to pay compensation for the psychological pain the plaintiff has suffered," Judge Hong said, adding that the husband was responsible for the couple's split as his refusal to have sex made his wife frustrated and prompted her to leave him.

    The 33-year-old plaintiff filed the suit in June 2001 after leaving her husband, citing his failure to have sex since they married in April that year.

    The suit also revealed the couple did not consummate their marriage on their wedding night because the husband was "tired" and that despite repeated requests, he rejected his wife's sexual advances, saying, "I'm not ready for that. Give me more time."

  • "Missile Defense Set to Take Off " - Chosun Ilbo. Missile threats? What missile threats?
  • "'Dialogue Only' Report Retracted" - Chosun Ilbo. Gotta love that Kyongsang-do dialect. I quote:
    The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Yoon Tae-young officially corrected the statement he made Tuesday that President Roh Moo-hyun had indicated at the summit in Japan that he would reject all measures beside dialogue in solving the North Korean nuclear issue. Yoon said the report was false, and that he had misunderstood the president's words because Roh talks fast."
  • "Misjudging the Nuke Crisis" - Chosun Ilbo Editorial. A goodie!
  • "Japan’s problem, not Korea’s" - Joongang Ilbo Viewpoint. Excellent commentary. Here's some of it:
    But one thing unchanged in the summit was that even though our government pursued a practical agreement, its citizens followed the old practice of trying to highlight Japan’s “original sin” against Koreans. If we continue to bind the future to the yoke of the past, we cannot easily achieve mature and constructive relations with Japan. In particular, some Korean media and people were busy criticizing Japan’s passage of the emergency military bills instead of focusing on what was discussed in the meeting. Japan’s process of normalization should not be condemned as a right-wing attempt. What Japan wants for a change is to be prepared with authority and readiness so that it can protect itself from external threats. Also, Japan wishes to display a political power matching its economic power in the international community. As long as Japan opposes nuclear armaments and has no intention of self-righteously managing Northeast Asia, we should have the wisdom to utilize Japan’s expanded role in security issues for our security interests.
  • "Seoul caught in corner" - Joongang Ilbo Editorial. Quote:
    What then happened to Mr. Roh’s promise to U.S. President George W. Bush that Seoul would consider “further steps” if threats from the North increase? What is Mr. Roh’s real intention? Is he as fickle as a reed? How does Washington view such an attitude? Mr. Roh is making the wrong move to regain his supporters.
  • "Anti-KTU Organization Set to Kick Off" - Dong-A Ilbo. It's about friggin' time! Snippet:
    The Civic Alliance of Education Community, an organization led by Lee Sang-joo, former minister of education and deputy prime minister who has categorically criticized the Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU), and who is joined by former government officials and opinion leaders will kick off on June 14.

    Marmot's Note: I've met Lee Sang-joo a number of times at Kyung Hee University. He's a true gentleman, and used to play basketball for Pitt.

  • "'Further steps doesn't mean force'" - Korea Herald. Does State perpetually have its head up its ass, or am I mistaken?
  • "Roh's remark on communists stirs ideological row" - Korea Herald. Just what the country needs - more commies. Funny thing is, I actually agree with Roh on this point, as much as I am loath to admit it.
  • "Don't rush into FTA with Japan" - Korea Herald. More stupidity courtesy Lee Kyong-hee and the Korea Herald editorial staff. Dumb bink.
  • "N.K. refugee homes promoted in Mongolia" - Korea Herald. Well, at least the Mongolians give a shit. Right, Honeymuffins?
     
  •  
    Pogue Warrior does the math

    The Korean Ministry of Defense is requesting a 22.3 trillion won increase in defense spending - check out Pogue Warrior's breakdown of the stats (1 / 2)

     
     
    American Imperialists and Japanese Militarists bringing ruin to the Korean Peninsula!!!

    The Rodong Shinmun? KCNA? Nope, the Hankyoreh, of course. Check out their latest cry for appeasement editorial ("Only if the US and Japan Put the Brakes on a Blockade...") over at my translations site. BTW, should I waste time fisking these, or just let their absurdity speak for itself?

     
    Robert Koehler's completely non-sensical and probably unread blog concerning ex-pat life in Korea, among other things.

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