Saturday, June 13, 2009

North Korea's Response...

Here's an article that discusses North Korea's response to the newly imposed UN sanctions which ban all weapons exports and imports. The North has threatened to now "weaponize" both the uranium and plutonium vowing to never give up its bombs. It also threatened to acknowledge any US "blockade" as an "act of war" and will respond accordingly. We'll see.

Friday, June 12, 2009

UN Sanctions and a "Brilliant Comrade"...

Just found this article that talks about the UN sanctions now imposed upon North Korea. The article says that North Korea's weapons exports and financial dealings will have a higher level of scrutiny, and to top the cake off the UN has decided to allow searches of suspect cargo ships. This last sanction is probably the most controversial as North Korea has previously threatened to retaliate if any of their ships are searched. It will be interesting to see what happens. Hopefully, they respond rationally.

In the same article it talks about how Kim Jong Il's youngest son has been given the title "Brilliant Comrade" as a means to help prepare the people for his succession. Interesting title, huh?!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Click here for link

Just further proof of how incredible, and innovative, Korean cellular phones are. When I first began serving my mission in Korea, people already had phones that would flip open and then you would turn the screen-portion sideways and could surf the web, watch TV, etc. I thought it was amazing! To think I had been secretly proud of my palm-sized phone, that I had before my mission, that could *gasp* take 2 megapixel pictures! Even the buses had TVs in them--I realize this might not be such a novel thing now, but I was amazed back then. You might wonder: wouldn't that get annoying, listening to TV if you just wanted to sleep on the ride home from work? Not at all, because if you really want to listen, you would dial a phone number and listen to the TV via your phone, thus none who do not want to listen have to suffer! I love Koreans...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

North Korean Holidays

I love holidays. I love the fact that we get Christmas Day, New Years Day, Memorial Day, etc. off in this country. I thought I would just take a look at the holidays in North Korea. I found this site that gives North and South Korean holidays. They get two days off for Kim Il Sung's birthday and also two days off to celebrate Kim Jong Il. They also celebrate "Victory Day" to mark the end of the Korean War. I find it funny they call it VICTORY day. Also, no Christmas for the North Koreans, sad.

South Korea snatches best airport title from Hong Kong

Here is the link to the article.
I found hard to believe, but I guess it's true! Crazy. Now I really want to check this airport out.
Most insane about this article? Zurich's airport emerged fourth in the airport top 10, followed by Munich and Japan's Kansai. Beating out Zurich? That is impressive.
Personally, I don't think airports always tend to give a true impression of the rest of country, but it certainly means something. Some poorer countries put a lot of money into their airports and train stations in hopes of attracting tourists. I'm not sure what the tourist numbers are like in S. Korea, but I imagine they didn't build-up their airport for the sake of tourism. It was sad not seeing the U.S. in the top 5. But that does make sense...our airports can be crazy. The best one I have ever been in the country is the John Wayne airport in Orange County. Simple and powerful. O'Hare was the most confusing and most unappealing for me.

UN Secretary General is Korean!

this might not come as a surprise to some of you, but the leader of the UN is a Korean. I have heard his name before but just realized that the bigshot is from none other than Choson. An accomplishment indeed. A milestone to S. Korea's progress in the last fifty years when at that time the UN was dictating the future of Korea without much Korean input. The question remains how much power the UN really has. Is it just a puppet of the US? Is Ban Ki-moon a figurehead that helps to feign diversity in the UN? Those questions can hold water when I read about how he is in Washington DC discussing the importance of public service while a crisis is ensuing in his home country. I am sure he would love to be involved in negotiations but will he be permitted? In the interest of this class and this post I think I am just going to leave the issue focused on the title. The General secretary of the UN is Korean! King Kojong would be proud. The Taewongun would be disgusted.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense...

Just read this article about how North Korea's threat of nuclear defense has recently been replaced by the threat of a "'merciless offensive' if provoked." Due to this increased threat a large South Korean company has said that it will be pulling out of the joint industrial complex at Kaesong, which seems like a clear indication that South Korea is starting to become a little unnerved by its northern neighbor. Hopefully whatever sanctions that the UN decides to place on North Korea for violating the nuclear proliferation treaty will not constitute a slight against "the country's dignity and sovereignty even a bit," or we have a real situation on our hands if the North's saber-rattling is to be taken seriously.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Whats up ladies and gentlemen, well I remember when I was in Korea, I worked for a month at a place called EOC which means Emergency Operations Center. It was nice cuz you worked one full day (24hrs) and got two days off, and EOC is a place where you work for high ranking people. So one day I was in the office and I was just looking around and I saw some pics of some bad things the NK army was doing. There were sacks and sacks of rice going to NK but the NKN army was taking the food for themselves, it showed NK soldiers loading up a truck with those sacks and the issue was that they were taking it for themselves, and there were closeups of these pictures. Now I don't knop the details maybe they were going to dispense it to the people but NK being NK, they probably kept it for themselves, well that's my opinion, and even after we talked about this in class. What a bunch of punks.

Terrorist List

Hillary Clinton recently said that the U.S. will consider putting North Korea back on the terrorist list for their missile tests. I think it is difficult though to want to put them on the list when as of yet they haven't done anything, but they have only been threatening. I do think that their threats should be taken seriously, but I think the government might be jumping the gun if they put North Korea back on the list. Unfortunately situations like this aren't black and white and its difficult to know what the future holds. I am not really worried about North Korea using nuclear weapons, but then again I didn't ever expect people to hijack planes and fly them into several buildings. You can find the article here.

North Korean Soccer

I liked this article because I thought it was funny the way it incorporated much of the news about Iran and North Korea into describing a soccer match. If you like soccer, you also might find it just interesting. North Korea might be on its way to the World Cup in 2010. That is pretty impressive considering they haven't been to one since 1966. If they do make it, it will be interesting to see how their team does in a year.

12 years of Hard Labor...

Just saw this article on MSN. The two American Journalists accused of trespassing and crimes against the state were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean Labor camp. Most suspect that the harsh sentence is a means to an end for North Korea. They essentially want to use the journalists as a bargaining chip due to their defiance of nuclear regulations.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


A group of amateurs have used Google Earth to map North Korea in amazing detail. See a short piece on this here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2nd Infantry Division Song

Hey what's up fellas and fellettes (ladies) well being that we're studying NKorea, I remember that while in Korea, everday (Monday-Friday) before PT (physical training) formation was at 0600 but if you weren't there at least 10 minutes prior you were late. Needless to say that has helped me not be late in the civilian world, but anyway, at 0600 the First Sergeant would fall everyone in and receive the accountability report, and then we would stand at attention for the raising of the flag and reveille and then we would all sing the "warrior March". Sometimes it was pretty nasty your buddy's dragon breath ot 0600 in the morning, on Monday's it smelled of bad breath and alcohol. I liked this song and we sung it to remind ourselves where we are and what we're doing there. A lot of the times, the KATUSAS (korean soldiers) sang much better than the US soldiers. So here it is

(Warrior March)
Arranged by Dwayne S. Milburn
Organized on foreign soil during WWI as the American Expeditionary Force, the Indian Head Division fought in many conflicts, and today is stationed along the DMZ in Korea.

5. 2nd Infantry Division (Warrior March)
Lyrics: Anonymous
We’re born in France in ‘17,
In the hell of the First World War.
With infantry and proud Marine,
We bravely fought amidst the cannon’s roar.
The warriors went across the Muese and river Marne,
Our names and our fame were won.
We marched home proudly with flags held on high,
And they called us second to none.
Today along the DMZ
Ever watchful the warriors stage,
To guard the rights of liberty,
Bravely writing hist’ry’s newest page.
Forward together with Korea sure and bold,
We fear not the enemy’s gun.
We hold our ground, our confidence sound,
For you know we’re second to none.

Just in case you're wondering I copied and pasted that I didn't type the whole thing in. Maybe i'll sing it in class if I get extra points or something. Ok take it easy, raul :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Proletariat of Mexico Speaks Out!!!

Click here for link

I still love how the DPRK newspeople will include facts and statements from what must be some of the most out-of-the-way organizations. The Socialist Party of Mexico, the Mexican National Coordinating Committee for the Study of the Juche Idea? Come on, how many people in Mexico know of these groups? How many are even members of these groups? Oh, and I have not even pasted the remaing six or seven groups--in Mexico alone, might I add--that support the nuclear weapons testing of DPRK. Also, a statement released by one of the aforementioned parties said something about "the Sword of Songun." I had never heard of this sword whilst I was in Korea, so, if anyone else knows what this sword is about, let me know.

North Korean Money...

I found this interesting article about where Kim Jong Il and North Korea get their money for "nukes". The article goes on to "disprove" many myths surrounding both North Korean poverty and its supposedly stagnant economy. It was interesting to see that the North Korean military gets up to 40% of the annual budget, and the country also makes money from investments in various stock exchanges (yes, this includes the NYSE), selling its gold reserves, and from a relatively small black market missile production/sales operation. Considering how we have recently been talking about South Korean economic growth it was interesting to see that North Korea "now aims to shift from recovery to growth, with a focus on steel production, mining and light-industrial manufacturing," or, it seems, at least partially, to be focusing on some similar aspects adopted earlier by South Korea. Interesting article...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chaebol in trouble again?

Recent news disclosed that 9 Chaebol including Daewoo were forced to sign contracts restructuring the behemoth companies. Creditors have received assurances from these Chaebol that they would not invest in new business ventures for the time being and urging them to divest from their non-core units. While some of the Chaebol like samsung, hyundai, and LG (Where did they get such a tacky name like Lucky Goldstar? I see clearly while they abbreviated it to LG) have seized sizable portions of their respective markets, what is the future for the rest of the chaebol who don't compete in an ever shrinking global market? While American conglomerates like GM are being broken up, it looks like the less competitive chaebol are destined for the same fate. It seems like nothing but bad news for the once mighty Daewoo. They will most likely have to sell some of their assets. One thing is for sure, Korean Mergers and acquisitions lawyers will see a huge spike in business.

Successor Named...

I just found this article that talks about who Kim Jong Il has named as his successor. I find it interesting that he chose his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, who is only 26 years old. However, I guess that ensures dynastic longevity to say the least.


Here is a cool website on NKorea and links. There is also a link to NKorean art which was pretty nice if you're into that. There are interesting links and pictures of happy NKoreans.

South Korean Bike Ninjas!

So another story about my friend Mr. Kim . . .
Two classes ago we mentioned the poor air quality of Seoul. Last summer Mr. Kim visited my house in Northern California. At the time he visited, Northern California was suffering from horrible forest fires. The air quality was so bad that I had trouble breathing. Anyway, we pick Mr. Kim up from the airport and when we get to our house, he does something kind of funny. He got out of the car, put his hands up in the air, spun in a circle and said, “The air here is amazing!” My parents were actually going to apologize to him at one point during his visit for the poor air quality, but they decided it probably was not necessary. I thought I would do a little research on South Korea’s air quality. I found that they do have something similar to our EPA: the Ministry of Environment Republic of Korea. I also found this interesting article on South Korean Bike Ninjas. Many of the bicyclists wear masks to protect them from car exhaust pollution and this kind of makes them look like ninjas. They bike to fight pollution – 3.9% of those who live in South Korea suffer from asthma and that percentage rises to 12% for young children and the elderly. Pollution seems to be a big problem for many South Koreans.

Monday, June 1, 2009

South Korea gets closer to South East Asia

I thought this article was interesting in light of the economic situation in much of the world. Some South East Asian countries have not been that effected by the recent downturn while other Western nations are suffering from it. As a result some countries in the West might pass more protectionist policies. South East Asia is an important market for South Korea and that is part of the reason they want better relations with that area. Japan and China are also forces to be reckoned with and they also have an interest in South East Asia.

Korean Enrollment in U.S. Army

I thought this article was interesting. I had read a while back that the U.S. government was offerring the fast track to citizenship for immigrants of other countries who spoke difficult languages. The way they could get citizenship was by enrolling in the U.S. military. When I first read the article, I did not realize that Korean was a language they were looking for, but apparently it is. Quite a few Koreans have applied and they make up the biggest language group of applicants.