Archive for July, 2011

odd and end

July 27, 2011

I’m travelling, so a long post is difficult.  Still, two newspaper articles caught my attention.

The Korea Times is telling us that astrologers don’t expect to find alien life in the next twenty years.  Really?  Astrologers?

The second article is from the Herald and describes Park Tae-hwan’s swimming results.  The article seems concerned that he is not winning golds in every event he swims in.  I understand that all involved want him to win gold every time but at his level the Olympic winner is often the one who seriously competes least.

By this I mean every time a swimmer completely prepares for a competition, he loses two or more months of endurance training.  I was never at his level, but in resting up for the meets my coach and I felt were important I reduced meters and intensity to the extent that after the meet, I was at the same fitness level I had been a month before the meet.  One month of high intensity work gone.

There were plenty of meets I swam tired at.  In early January, just before resting up for the provincial or national championships, I would attend up to three swim meets in a single weekend; each time swimming the gruelling two hundred breaststroke.  I practiced starts in a competitive setting, but the total meters made the weekend a swim practice, not a racing event.  My times were much slower than my best.

I don’t know what Mr Park”s plans are, but too much rest now might interfere with his Olympic training.


blogs and traditional media; In Korea, neither has legitimacy

July 15, 2011

The local English Newspapers are excitedly reporting on ‘babyrose’, a Korean blogger who turned out to be a shill for an ozone-producing sterilizing device.

The problem is, Korean libel laws prevent anyone from reporting on things in a way that negatively affects a person or company.  That negative effect is usually measured financially, but might be considered in other ways (IANAL*).

So, it is mostly legal to report or blog about something you like, but not to warn people away from it.

Now, I’ve told you generally what the issue is.  Let’s look at what the newspapers have to say:


The uproar over a popular blogger, Babyrose, who gushed about and peddled an unsafe product in exchange for money has sparked soul-searching within the country’s blogosphere….Unlike in other countries where bloggers have come to challenge the traditional media structure and have been legitimized as an alternate media outlet, few in Korea seem to consider its bloggers the same way.

“Blogging is neither journalism nor a form of media outlet,” said Professor Lee Gun-ho of Ewha Womans University. “Bloggers are not trained to report information objectively, and they are not trained to filter what’s trustworthy information and what’s not.”

The Herald:

They said 46-year-old Hyun Jin-heui, running one of the nation’s most visited blogs, had arranged sales of an electronic gadget that could harm people’s health and bagged a fortune in commission. The blog,, has more than 50 million accumulated hits under the ID babyrose. 

According to the “victims,” Hyun induced 3,300 people to purchase 360,000 won ($305)-ozone sterilizers through her web site over the past 10 months. But the device turned out to use an excessive amount of ozone, which could make people sick, according to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards. Nonetheless, the company refused to give refunds citing lack of scientific evidence. 

The Times:

The controversy was stirred by a blogger nicknamed Babyrose, who runs a popular blog about cooking on the country’s biggest portal Naver. The wife-turned-blogger was a superstar online,…

On top of recipes, she often held a group shopping event….

However, an ozone sterilizer sold through her blog turned out to leave an excessive amount of ozone, which could harm people’s health, according to the Korea Agency for Technology and Standards. …

Those who purchased it through the Babyrose blog sought a refund and it was revealed that she was paid 70,000 won in commission for each ozone sterilizer sold, priced at 360,000 won.

Again, the Joongang:

Ms. Hyeon, a 47-year-old housewife, is a famous homemaking blogger in Korea better known as “Babyrose,” her online ID. She was recently found to have recommended and sold a product after being promised hefty commissions by the manufacturer.

Hats off to the Herald, which printed the bloggers full name and blog address.  Few reports based on blogs report the URL.  Notice that no other report offers more than “Ms. Hyeon” and many less than that.

 Quick Quiz: what is the name of this dangerous ozone sterilizer?  That’s right.  No name is ever given.

Now, the reporters are onto a good story.  This blogger received 70,000 won, nearly 20% of the price, for each sterilizer sold.  I don’t know but that seems excessive.   The question now is, are these sterilizers sold at Hi-Mart?  At Home-Plus?  We don’t know; no name is given.

This blogger, at best made a mistake, at worst knowingly endangered people’s health.  The latter is a tough sell as there is no reason to believe she knew the dangers – I feel the huge commission is a bit of an indicator.

Is the solution to dismiss every blogger because one (even a famous and popular one) acted unethically?  If so, we need to visit Brian in Jeollanam-do’s Blog.  Not to dismiss him, but to look at his reports on Korean Journalism.

Two posts from Shoddy Journalism:


““Most of the native English speakers don’t have much affection toward our children because they came here to earn money and they often cause problems,” Park said.”

a quotation that was later revealed to be fabricated by the reporter.


As mentioned on Gusts of Popular Feeling earlier in the week, the Hankyoreh issued a correction and apology for their article “Over half of native English teachers quit job after six months,” …

As blogged on this site, it was one of several articles that spread false information regarding native speaker English teacher retention rates that claimed that many—and in the Hankyoreh‘s case two-thirds—of NSETs quit their contracts early. Dated October 13th, the correction titled “Less than 5 pct. of native English teachers quit job halfway” reads in part:


Korean television isn’t much (any) better.  Recently, Koreans learned that long-running restaurant tourism shows that visit local restaurants and rave about their food received kickbacks before visiting the establishments (here, 2nd article, about halfway down).

I would describe myself as a niche blogger -even though I really don’t know what my niche is.  I guess, because Korean reportage of issues that affect ex-pats is relatively weak – and incorrect, as described above – many foreigners depend on blogs to get real and useful news.

One does need to be careful and it helps to confirm news reports from a few sources before trusting it completely.  But that has always been always true, regardless of the media source.  I trust Korean newspapers somewhat with tourism articles (if only they could give more than one day’s notice when a festival is taking place) and with most news.  If I want international news, I go to international news websites.  And finally, if I want to know about issues that affect English speaking foreigners in Korea, I go to the blogs.  On the blogs, I know that GI Korea‘s reporting will be more or less completely accurate but with a right-wing slant.  The Marmot is the first place for news, although sometimes actual commentary on that news is lacking. If you want to visit Gangwondo, you must visit Gangwon Notes** first; even though it is not being well maintained these days, it is still the best source for Gangwon Info.  Once you know how a blogger thinks, you can determine his/her accuracy just fine.  I think people who consistently read newspapers or watch specific news programs use the same kind of discrimination as for needed with bloggers.


*I’ve never used the acronym before.  I think it means I Am Not A Lawyer and not that “I’M ANAL”!

** Yes, that’s me.

That was a lot of rain!

July 12, 2011

I spent Saturday, a day of hellacious rain, at a hospital in Kimhae visiting with my Father-in-law.  He is home now; I’m not sure how serious his health problems were and don’t intend to discuss them here.

Anyway, in the evening, we drove through much deep water to Chinyoung, spent the night with in-laws and went to the farm house on Sunday morning.

At the house, we found this guy, and three others loose.How much rain do you need to have your home infested with eels?  I never did learn the actual reason for the eels, but we thought perhaps the mother-in-law bought them to make Chueotang (eel soup) with and some escaped.

Everything was wet, but not quite as muddy as I had expected.  Off we went to collect hot peppers from the patches.  This little guy was one of perhaps a hundred I saw during the long day.

I also found this mushroom cap.  I don’t think it belonged in the garden.

It was a long day, around ten or more hours, and we picked many pecks of (non-pickled) peppers.

Today, in Busan, I visited Deokcheon and found Samnak Park was now Samnak Lake.  I think these pictures are from upstream of Samnak Park but are also parks.

Is my math so bad?

July 8, 2011

I looked at a textbook used by a hagwon in Busan and found this question.  It was one of ten using marine invertebrate zoology to teach math.My problem is, the math seems quite challenging; well, for elementary school students (good save, Surprises!).

This answer (12) is way off, isn’t it?

Seeing this very simple calculation made me lose confidence somewhat.  I had to draw a picture before being willing to throw the given answer away and work it out.

In case anyone is interested in working it out, the answer is some distance below.  Scroll down when ready.







I  compared the result of halving the numbers for the radius, squaring and multiplying by π.

That result being (45 squared *π)/(3.75 squared*π)= 6,361/44.175 = 144

If you’re curious, yes, I did leave in π in both locations instead of canceling them out.

Calculators do make you lazy, but I think I still know how to do some math.

Riverpark in Hwamyeong Dong

July 4, 2011



I visited North District, Busan last week and found a wonderful little river park. I particularly like the natural setting in this picture framed by the clear evidence of the city around it.

The water looked clear and clean and I guess it could come from the mountain in the background so maybe it is.  Hmm, by the reasoning I just used here, this river winding through a city may be cleaner than one going through farmland.

The bird below was very close to some middle school girls and I thought for a long time that it was a statue.  Then a girl threw stones at it and it flew away, only to return to the same spot.





Apparently successful ‘sharing bicycle system’ in Changwon

July 4, 2011

I was in Changwon on the weekend and noticed many people on similar bikes.  Changwon has its own ‘sharing bicycle system’ –my previous article article here– and it is doing well.

In my previous post on bike-sharing systems, I suggested that Busan would not be a good place for one due to its steep mountain slopes (I was corrected in the comments and learned that Haeundae, at least, has one).  Changwon is a lot flatter but almost too spread out to be a good place for bike-commuting.

Changwon is (locally) famous as a planned city and it is well-organized with a consistent gridwork of streets and great bike paths along the side of most major streets.  Those bike paths are even well-shaded under broadleaved trees.  However, in my visits, almost every street seems to be six-lanes wide + bike paths and nothing feels close.  Timmins, Ontario, Canada was famous as Canada’s largest city in geographical area even though its population is still under 50,000.  It was just very spread out.  Changwon has that feel for me.

Still, I am happy to see the program exists in Korea and hope I can find an opportunity to use it.