Archive for the ‘Korean media’ Category

What is the Korea Times for?

May 1, 2014

Updated:  This is how it should have been written!



Terrible editing casts doubts on the paper’s raison d’etre (The online version has this error corrected).

coast guard 1

It would be nice if the jerk at the Korea Times did some research before writing his editorial.

In this attack piece the author either has an ax to grind or has no critical thinking ability.  Let’s dig in:

They did save people ― the captain and the crew. It is an ABC of maritime rescue that the crew should be the last to leave the ship not only for moral but for realistic reasons too: they should help the relief squad, mainly by informing them of the structure of the vessel. The Coast Guard should have told the crew to go back to the ship, as was the case of Italian rescuers years ago. Again, the officers said they could not tell passengers from the crew, but the latter would have been recognizable due to their clothing.

Here is the captain.  Would you recognize him as such?  Image from Channel Asia News.  He is wearing a sweater and boxers.  To be fair, they are navy boxers.

We are lost for words after hearing that an officer reported that the Sewol was sinking to the Mokpo Coast Guard by means of a “ax”[sic] instead of using a telephone. More surprisingly, when the Mokpo office received an SOS call from a student, it asked him to provide the “latitude and longitude” of the location.

I’m pretty sure the print edition had the word “fax”.  At 8:00PM Thursday night, the online edition still had “ax”.  Why by fax?  I can’t say for certain, but numbers and letters are more easily sent in print than aloud.  People read faster than they speak.  I could only wish the editorial-writer were lost for words.

Why would the Coast Guard ask for latitude and longitude?  It doesn’t take much thought offer ideas. 1) There were fake calls after the disaster.  It doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine that there have been other false alarms.  2) The Sewol was way off course.  To be told the ship was near islands and might have hit one would reasonably be greeted with skepticism when there were no rocks on its intended route.

[A] Coast Guard executive stunned people by saying, “We did our best. Rescuing 80 people is no small feat.” The other 94 people were saved by fishermen on vessels smaller and older than those of the Coast Guard.

There was a lot of confusion during the initial stages of the rescue.  The Coast Guard is not blameless and there is always room for improvement.  Still, there were many fishing boats; it was not one vessel crewed by old sea-salts that somehow loaded 94 in their boat.

I approve of a free press and would not want to see it muzzled.  On the other hand, if the author really wants the Coast Guard to be the subject of” a vast and meticulous report on who did what (wrong) with respect to this tragic incident, not omitting even a single and minor mistake or misdeed”, perhaps the Times should suffer the same.  After all “What matters is not a lack of manuals or agencies but those of training and experts” and the Times appears to be lacking both.


Serious issues spoiled by incoherent ranting style

July 17, 2012

Child Abuse camp as advertised on the Democratic United Party blog and protected by corrupt police soon to be exposed

By [name redacted] and translated by Surprisesaplenty

My ‘translated by’ claim above is snarky, but I am starting from the man’s Facebook claims and following other links.  His writing is … challenging.

A sample from various locations (1,2) on Facebook (these are from large groups on Facebook so I don’t think they are private utterances.  The latter link is to “Every Expat inKorea” which sounds like it should be considered a public space):

“Korean Conman with no degree is touted as professor on the Korean Democratic United party blog, that also names his business that prior to that time had been in the papers (Korean Herald) for human smuggling US citizens with fake visas to work for free in his illegal unlicensed English camps the Jeju City Office of Education yet again has filed more changes against this week.

The full truth is not in the 1000s of newspaper report about this illegal business 제주국제영어마을 – that it includes pedophile activity and stupid foreigners who profit from job ads saying they get bonus money for working their kids, which should have been a know brainier that that is against the law.”

A “know brainier” indeed.  These 100+ words  in two sentences were separated in the ellipses by a citation.  Oh, alright, here it is: As seen On KBS News and 제주가 보인다 2012.2.1.

Still, [redacted] is passionate about his claims; so much so that I had to dig in and try to understand them.

Okay, I’ve looked into the claims and they are too hot – criminally hot – for me!

At 3 Wise Monkeys is a good description of the problem.  Giving real names and identifying businesses , even if the claims made are true, is considered libel.

The Korea Herald has reported as much as it dares here.  Dare I say it, the reporting is as well done as it could be without risking exposure to libel.

A second problem with discussing [redacted]‘s problems are their variety.  3WM and the Herald discuss (1)immigration and contractual issues, but [redacted] also claims (2) sexual abuse of the students, corruption among the (3) police (The Herald article looks at this) and (4) a political party and (5) death threats he has received*.  They might all be true but if too many claims are stacked like this, why not add one more: “(6)And he cancelled Christmas!”

I feel there is something wrong here and that [redacted] has been mistreated, possibly criminally, but I am honestly afraid to write further.  Korea’s libel laws are clear.

This is a serious issue and I feel for [redacted] but at the same time I must retreat into snark again and say that if his writing is a good example of his English communication skills, I would not much want to hire him either.

* Search for information from 3WM… You can find this claim if you wish.

What obscene acts is this man doing to keep his job as a journalist?

April 4, 2012

Jake Nho has an article up at the Korea Times and it is a doozy, even for the Times.

Here is part of his bio: He has written numerous articles on various environmental issues for over 20 years.

It appears the article is one of a series (currently up to 16) on “Earth in Danger”.  Now I see I need to read more of these articles – for entertainment value if nothing else.

Now, lets look at a few excerpts from the article with my commentary added.  I have quoted Nho in Orange and my research in blue.  I hope it is not too garish and felt the variety of color would better differentiate the different voices.

His article is titled: “Does the Earth really need our protection?” and he starts by discussing the alarm over damage to the ozone layer:

It sounded as if everyone was going to die of skin cancer because the ozone layer was no longer going to be there to protect us. Do we talk about the ozone layer now? Did a majority of the Earth’s population get skin cancer? Not by a long shot.

This is just an opening analogy and not his main point, but lets dig into it. Australia has the highest skin cancer rate in the world and Ozone layer depletion is a key part of why.

Australia’s problems aside, the recovery from depletion of the ozone layer is one of the great (and few) success stories of the environmental movement.  Fridges no longer use freon or other CFCs as they cause so much damage to the ozone layer.  I learned this in school and confirmed it for this post.  Bloggers should not be doing more research than professional journalists.

Next paragraph:

There are streams of reports in the media (again) about yellow sand blowing into Korea from China. This is scientifically true. But when was the last time you had to go to hospital for exposure to the yellow sand? Hard to remember, isn’t it?

Yes, as a healthy man in my prime, I haven’t suffered too badly from the yellow dust.   Here is what the US military says about the dust.

Long-term health effects known are problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis in people who have lived for many years in areas with high particulate matter levels.  Also, increased heart attacks and arrhythmias have developed in persons with heart disease who have short-term exposure to high levels of particulate matter, and Asian dust events have been associated with an increase in deaths due to cardiovascular and respiratory causes in persons with advanced cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The Environmental New Network quotes the Korea Environment Institute:

The state-sponsored Korea Environment Institute said the dust kills up to 165 South Koreans a year, mostly the elderly or those with respiratory ailments, and makes as many as 1.8 million ill.

I guess Nho is thinking, “Screw you” to those 165 people who die from the dust (in Korea alone) per year.

But the fact of the matter is that while all this would indicate that the global population should be shrinking at an alarming rate and it is not. The last time I checked, the global population was increasing with absolutely no signs that we will head in the opposite direction.

In fact, many people are concerned that the world population is increasing too quickly. If the global environment is so terrible, why would this be happening?

I shall time myself. One minute, twenty-five seconds. From Life’s Little Mysteries:

Sex is a way of coping with stress, explained one Haitian journalist. “In those fragile situations, people are slowly trying to rebuild their lives,” Fredrick Jean Pierre said. “There are women who give themselves to a man to benefit from his protection inside the camp. Others sell themselves so they can get food and water. Sometimes it is their only means of access. This is happening quite often.”

This is not the most substantial of links or meatiest of content, but previous readings on the subject have suggested the same thing to me.  Humans have some control over their reproduction, but the evolutionary urges don’t plan for the future, they plan for now. Traditionally, tough times meant having more children as insurance for the future.  Wealthy people, confident of their future needs, don’t have large families.

Finally, the meat of the article.  Global warming:

Let’s look at the facts. According to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, global temperatures have increased by 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 30 years. If this is true, temperatures have increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius in 30 years.

When you ask a meteorological center what the temperature is going to be tomorrow, it will say, for example, 10 degrees Celsius but it turns out that it is 15 degrees. That’s a difference of 5 degrees in a single day based on information from people who do that for a living. How does that compare with 0.6 degrees in 30 years, if in fact that is correct?

... Climate changes every day whether or not you do anything about it.

Is this guy really confusing climate with weather?  The weather changes everyday, but the climate?  Not so much as it is an average. I think Weather WizKids is the right level of difficulty for this guy.

Climate is the average weather usually taken over a 30-year time period for a particular region and time period. Climate is not the same as weather, but rather, it is the average pattern of weather for a particular region. Weather describes the short-term state of the atmosphere. 

Back to Nho and more misunderstanding of basic science:

Let’s assume that they are intelligent people and that their assumptions are true. That change of 1 degree will affect the sea level and exterminate species. So what? The animal kingdom has reigned on the Earth for millions, probably billions of years, and we are still here.

I do admit, the “Save the Planet” banners are misleading.  The planet Earth will not be destroyed by global warming.  No matter how extreme you imagine the temperatures could get, this Pale Blue Dot will continue to circle the Earth for a long time to come.

On the other hand, the extinction event of 65 million years ago destroyed the dinosaurs and allowed mammals to take over the planet.  Even if there is great change in temperature, the animal kingdom will remain, it will simply be very different.  We are not the animal kingdom, we are only one part of it.

After all this, he then discusses ways to protect the environment as is he had not just spent more than half his essay claiming there was no need.  This guy needs to be considered for the Brian in Jeollanamdo award, last given to Kang Shin Woo.

Libel in Korea and elsewhere

September 5, 2011
New Content here:
The Korea Herald recently looked into libel:
Truth does not offer absolute protection from prosecution, reflecting the Korean Constitution’s provision that “neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons.” The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove his statement to be true and “solely in the public interest.”

“The rationale here is that even true statements are fully capable of tarnishing a person’s reputation, and if such true statements serve no public purpose, they are defamatory in nature,” said Kang Ju-won, an attorney and member of the Seoul Bar Association. “The aim is to protect the reputation of the individual unless it is outweighed by the public’s need for disclosure.”

—————Original content here————–
Below is a somewhat lengthier version of an article I wrote for Busan Haps.  One of the Haps’ editors asked for it and told me I could also put it on my blog.  I handed it in just over a week ago and told him I would put it up on my blog on Sept 5.  Here we are but I don’t see it there.
The article was supposed to be around 800 words but, after vigorous cutting  came out at about a thousand.  One thing I did not include in the article was my opinion of what should or could be done.  I don’t like Korea’s libel laws – or the UKs, etc- but the article was mostly a review of problems without any solutions offered.
Let me discuss my conclusions first for people who came here from the Busan Haps article  Below that is the article itself.
Blacklists: Blogger McPherson tried to warn ESL job seekers about the school he worked at and was sued for his trouble.  I follow McPherson’s blog and have met the man; I trust what he says and if he told me to stay away from a position, I would do it.  I can’t say that for everyone though.  Blacklists can become a way for crappy teachers to get back at their schools.  Also, a way for crappy schools to punish teachers.
I think Dave’s ESL Cafe (does anyone still go there) had a blacklist but can’t find one now. I did find this exchange:
[Cazador 83 asked:] Is there a thread on this website or is there another website that lists all the hagwons that are blacklisted? I tried searching but the search function on that site isn’t so great. 
[And Provence replied:] The main problem with creating a thread that blacklist hagwons in Korea is that it is illegal. I would love to warn everyone about my hagwon but I am worried they will find out it is me since I am the only foreign this school has had in 3 years. It wouldn’t be hard for them to figure out who blacklisted them. Basically they can blacklist you but you can’t blacklist them, welcome to Korea.
The Marmot discusses blacklists by hagwons of teachers here:
Marmot’s Note: One wonders how long this is going to last before it runs into legal problems. I mean, I know teachers run their own blacklists of hagwons, so what’s fair is fair, but my understanding is that in Korea, printing names like that could be problematic even if the accusations are true. The other thing is that the list is being composed by hagwon recruiters based on claims made by hagwon owners, two groups not known for their business ethics….

UPDATE 2: In our comments section, a real live lawyer says:

The blacklist is quite unlawful. Not only is it a criminal defamation violation under the Criminal Code, but the Labor Standards Act forbids employers to share blacklists. These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.

Chris Backe in South Korea also warns against starting a blacklist here.
I’m on the fence.  A single blog post or newspaper article on a company or product, explaining why it is bad, a post with supporting evidence offered, seems appropriate. A wide-open list of products or companies that a similarly wide-open variety of authors dislike, for whatever reason offers less valuable information.  In short, blacklists are as useful as your knowledge of the person writing the information – caveat lectorem.
Another concern I have is with people charged-but-not-yet-convicted of various crimes.  At the Asian Correspondent, Nthan Schwartzman translated an article  about a (Korean) teacher molesting students.  At first, I wanted to know the name of the teacher especially as the parents wanted the teacher transferred.  If he is transferred, I really want to know his name.  Then, aware that even the suspicion of such a crime is poison, I realized that no one wants the name published until after a trial – at which point I hope they do publish it and not merely transfer the teacher.
I guess that although I do not like Korea’s libel laws, they certainly are defensible.  Play differently, lose differently.
——–Busan Haps article on Libel, by Surprises Aplenty——-
If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. -Thumper’s Mom
A commenter at KoreaBridge wrote: “if you have an understanding of the American Constitution, you will have heard of freedom of speech. He is quite free to write whatever he wants…”
Thinking you have the legal rights freedoms here you would have if you were elsewhere is a good way get in trouble.  Indeed those legal freedoms, as relate to libel, aren’t so broad as you may think, in Korea or elsewhere.  A friend who has recently returned to Canada after more than a decade here adapted quickly to local libel laws by taking a toy store to task.  It appears he has since taken his post down (I think this was routine, he typically removes personal content after a week or so) but in it, he named the store and its specific location -just outside of Toronto with the recommendation that people not shop there.  I believe his post contained useful information, was honest, the facts were correct and specific and was written to help other shoppers.  If he posted it here in Korea, he could have faced a fine and possible deportation.Generally, a written work is libellous if it defames someone identifiable and living, is given to people other than the victim and the victim reputation or income suffers. (Libel defined.  And here.)  Usually, if the material is true, it is protected.  Results of court cases can be described, for example. Satire can be protected…if it is blunt or obvious enough.  Pubic figures, like politicians are less protected so discussions about them can be as free as possible, but media personnel and celebrities are also in this group.  Opinions are protected, but as with satire, it had better be clear that you are stating an opinion.To avoid libeling someone you could use a pseudonym or avoid using a name altogether. This is NOT a free pass, however.  If the person can be identified by your description, you could still be charged with libel.Why did I begin to care so much about libel that BusanHaps mistook me for an expert?  Because of one apparent difference in the way libel works here: truth is not a defence in Korea.  Well, that point plus the strangeness of the exceptions or loopholes that the media seems to follow.As a moderator for KoreaBridge, I needed to judge a post about a recruiter that a new poster disliked.  “beware of [Korean city][district of that city][English nickname], aged XX.  …doesn’t care about the teacher…JOBS SUCK!!”   This post, with the raging ALL-CAPS ending, is clearly an opinion but far too descriptive of the recruiter.  The owner of KoreaBridge confirmed we couldn’t accept the post as it was too specific.

Joe McPherson is a blogging acquaintance of mine who had some trouble with a hagwon he worked at.  After considerable time and effort, he won a court case against them.  To assist others, he blogged about his experiences and named the hagwon.  Back to court for him, this time as the defendant. Read The Libel Trap at the Joongang for details.

These examples demonstrate the problem I have with Korean Libel laws.  Although the first example is a little overwrought, the first two are attempts at public service announcements.  These people are trying to help others avoid their mistakes.  Apparently, you can’t do that here.  No blacklists.  Also, be careful with satire:

Michael Breen was recently sued for libel by an organization that is too big and scary for me to name.  Let me throw The Marmot under the bus. Breen was also interviewed here at the Haps in April.

Professional media sources know this and tailor their articles accordingly.  Investigative journalism is toothless here.

Consider the ‘Babyrose’ scandal.  Babyrose, a Korean ‘power blogger’ raved about an air sterilizer  and many purchased the product.  Turns out, the sterilizer had some unhealthy flaws and Babyrose pocketed money from every sale.  Korean news outlets had a field day.  Hats off to the Korea Herald which alone of the three papers I read  included the blogger’s real name, but none of the papers named the unsafe sterilizer.  That would have been a good thing to know.

In June, I read a news article about three ‘bad’ universities.  Again, no names were given. The Joongang attempted good investigative journalism but the attempt is useless without the names.

So we know that at least one kind of sterilizer is unsafe and there are at least three bad universities in Korea.  One is in Gangwondo and another in Jeju.  The malfeasant institutions are relatively unharmed, but all in their niche are suspect.

Updated on Sept 7, 2011: Asiaone has news of 43 universities being blacklisted.  One Gangwon university is named:

Kwandong University expressed similar complaints.

“The whole school is shocked and confused,” said one official. The university is one of major four-year universities in Gangwon Province.

original article:

To further confuse the issue, or maybe out of fear, newspapers have at least once hidden the identity of a person I don’t feel was protected.
Back in 2007, during the problems with US beef being imported, a man, presumably a Korean cattle farmer, threw cow manure over American beef at a Lotte Mart (original here).  In the photo, you can see many photographers on hand: clearly this was a PR event and journalists had been invited.  Look at the man throwing the manure.  If he planned this event and invited the media, why is his face – and those of the other sash-wearers- pixellated?

Another complication is described by Chris Backe.  He wants to know why the Anti-English Spectrum group has not been charged with libel. The AES has stated in the past that “that foreigners engage in “sexual molestation,” and that they “target children.””  Backe wonders who and how to sue:

Who is the guilty party, though? The AES as a whole? Naver, for not shutting down a website that is against the law / their own principles? The person / people whose posts are allowed to promote a racist / xenophobic agenda? The lawmakers who go on record with the same racist / xenophobic agenda? And how has a foreigner’s reputation been damaged? Both of those things would have to be figured out before a libel case could go forward.
In politics and crime stories, everyone knows what is happening in the US – often better than they do in their own countries or in Korea.  I started this article with a comment from a person who seemed to think American freedoms are defended here.  That commenter should also be careful in other countries.In the UK, the reporter Simon Singh let slip the word ‘bogus’ in an article about chiropractic.  He lost his first court case but eventually won.
“Simon is likely to be out of pocket by about £20,000. This – and two years of lost earnings, which he can never recover, is the price he has paid for writing an article criticising the BCA for making claims the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled can no longer be made. In the game of libel, even winning is costly and stressful.”  
Indeed, the UK is known for libel tourism.“one of the favored venues for restrictive and chilling judgments is England, where libel laws are heavily weighted toward the plaintiff, placing on the defendant the entire burden of proving that a statement was not false and injurious.”In Canada, Dr Jeffery Shallit from the University of Waterloo, describes ‘libel chill’ in this article.  “…if the court finds you told the truth but your intent was malicious, you might lose anyway.”  At The New Republic, libel in China and Singapore is mentioned, mostly as a tool used by the government to control dissent.  In the US, it does seem you are well protected from libel; at least senators are.  Jon Kyl seems to be fine after claiming 90% of Planned Parenthood’s business comes from abortions.  The correct number is 3%.  The Colbert Report had fun with this one.

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.

Is what I know actually true?

November 29, 2010

This is a sort of ‘big-think’ post: big as in an overview of the way I think and what I think about, not as in international politics, although I will be discussing international politics.  There will be a scattering of links but this post is about my opinions.

I am writing it to learn what I think about certain things and to see if they seem rational.  For this reason, although I will engage in some revising before I post, I do not promise a rational train of thought. This could well be a Grand Canyon style set of curves and twists, although likely as shallow as the Grand Canyon is deep.

I am in an email debate with a coworker about evolution and creationism.  I am convinced his views and claims have no merit.  There are a few points where I can see why is confused while still denying there is room for confusing.

I recently read a post on Facebook from a ‘friend of a friend’ (this is the literal term used) about how the North Koreans were provoked by the US and that the US and South Korea engineered the sinking of the Cheonan.

Last March, North Korea was falsely blamed for sinking a South Korean ship, a topic an earlier article addressed, accessed through the following link:

[link removed – find it in the original article]

Seoul said there’s “no other plausible explanation….The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that (a) torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine,” even though none was detected in the area.

At the time, evidence suggested a false flag, manufactured to blame the North. The incident occurred near Baengnyeong Island opposite North Korea. US Navy Seals and four US ships were conducting joint exercises in the area. The torpedo used was German, not North Korean as claimed. Germany sells none to Pyongyang. Yet it was blamed for what it didn’t do, what apparently was Pentagon-manufactured mischief.

I am convinced these claims have no merit.

Articles likethis have me confused:

I have found at least something to like about each Republican or Democrat I have met. I have close friends in both camps, in which I have observed the following: no matter the issue under discussion, both sides are equally convinced that the evidence overwhelmingly supports their position.

During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, while undergoing an fMRI bran scan, 30 men–half self-described as “strong” Republicans and half as “strong” Democrats–were tasked with assessing statements by both George W. Bush and John Kerry in which the candidates clearly contradicted themselves. Not surprisingly, in their assessments Republican subjects were as critical of Kerry as Democratic subjects were of Bush, yet both let their own candidate off the hook.

The neuroimaging results, however, revealed that the part of the brain most associated with reasoning–the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex–was quiescent. Most active were the orbital frontal cortex, which is involved in the processing of emotions; the anterior cingulate, which is associated with conflict resolution; the posterior cingulate, which is concerned with making judgments about moral accountability; and–once subjects had arrived at a conclusion that made them emotionally comfortable–the ventral striatum, which is related to reward and pleasure.

I am convinced that the US government has lied many times and consistently on several specific subjects.  I believe that they attacked Iraq simply because they could.  There was no evidence of recent use or creation of WMDs.  Just about everything we were told was a lie.  I am more accepting of claims made about Afghanistan but still distrust most everything I hear about US foreign policy.

And yet I accept almost everything I read about North Korea and see the Americans, and the South Koreans, as the good guys who don’t have any special reason to do wrong.  The North Korean government is evil and I can’t recall hearing of them doing anything that I approve of.

If I read or heard that sentence describing anything else, I would consider the writer or speaker to be simple or naive.

I do want to think of myself as rational and not overly set in my ways.  I like to think of myself as open to new ideas and have made an effort online to admit, on occasion, when I was wrong.

There was a blog in the old days called incestuous amplification.  The name referred to the way people with set viewpoints only read media that agreed with them so their own views were strengthened artificially.

The internet and other media all seem consistent in their vilifying of North Korea.  Defectors all tell stories varying only in how horrifying the conditions there are.  Still, people escaping a country can hardly be expected to describe it glowingly.

These same defectors are treated poorly here in South Korea.  They are watched with suspicion and can only find menial jobs.

North Korean pronouncements seem almost comical in their unrestrained attacks on South Korea and the US- so comical that I can easily imagine they have been doctored by translators.  And yet, I do see vicious verbal attacks followed by demands that the South give them more aid and reopen factories based on North Korean soil.  They seem crazy, but their demands are often met.

Is there anyway my reader(s) could imagine the North Koreans are not the total bad guys I believe them to be?

Feral Cats

October 7, 2010

A co-worker recently posted a notice in the office of a baby cat near his apartment and asked whether anyone would be interested in taking it home.

I love animals and grew up with there always being a dog or a cat and often both in the home.  Yet, I didn’t even bother to bring the subject up with my wife.

If we opened our apartment to cute little furry critter, we would do it again for the next and the next…

I honestly – and sadly and despairingly – wonder if poison or traps or other lethal tools should be used to clean out the feral cat populations in Korea.  I guess that in Busan they are doing no harm – I am sure I could think of some way they might be- but the constant sight of them just fills me with pity.

Yonhap News has an article describing feral cats and a man who has been photographing them for years.  Much of the article describes Korea’s changing relationship with it’s cats, but there is also discussion on what to do with them:

Controversy over treatment of cats often makes headlines. In 2006, residents of a Seoul apartment culled scores of stray cats by driving them into the basement of their building and cementing over all exit holes.

Last year, the local government of Geomun Island off the southwestern coast moved to cull hundreds of feral cats overpopulating the fishing region, a controversial decision that was changed at the last minute to neutering them.

Park Yong-choon, an animal management official at the Seoul Municipal Government, said there is a sharp divide in animal treatment between young and old.

From 2008 the city government adopted a new policy to control the number of stray cats in the long term by having them trapped, neutered and released instead of being culled. Nevertheless, some elderly residents have complained of their unwanted presence.

“Young people have a strong idea that street cats should be protected, but the elderly don’t want the cats roaming the streets. They ask us why we bother saving them,” Park said.

Man!  Some Seoulites trapped cats in the basement of their own apartment building, then cemented the windows closed?  That’s monstrous!  Those bastards.  And crazy bastards at that: it wouldn’t be any better, but slightly more sane, if they chased the cats into a distant building.  The basement of their own building; that’s messed up.

The officials at Geomun Island might be in the right, though.  Although Korea has it’s own small mammalian predators, the idea of an island being overrun by cats makes me think of The Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand:

our land reserves are still threatened: apart from some islands where pests like rats have been removed, our land reserves are still threatened by rats, cats, stoats, goats, deer, pigs and possums. Add to that the pest from wasps and other insects, and our wildlife is still threatened. Constant culling, hunting and trapping of introduced species is necessary inside our land reserves.

Neutering the cats may remove the problem as well.

So, culling cats in Busan may not be necessary or compassionate, but culls elsewhere may well be.

If you want to save a feral cat or two, Brian in Jeollanamdo has investigated the problem and has at least three (possibly dated) posts: 1, 2, 3.

Here’s another target for Dokdoisours.

September 14, 2010

Satirical blog Dokdoisours has had a lot of fun with the Korea Times.  The Times’ is infamous for it’s poor editing .

The Korea Herald is a little more professional but is trying a new advertising technique.  Oh, I wrote new, but I first noticed it a month ago or so.  They hyperlink more or less random words in their articles.  Let’s see if the links are visible -broken or not- after I paste:

Ubiquitous access to my email account has cut down a lot of unnecessary time spent looking for the Internet, and it also helps me take care of necessary business more promptly,” Lee said.

This is why the government also is pushing for the so-called “smarter way of working,” he pointed out.

Lee added that the developments were not just happening with phones, but also televisions and computers.

South Korea hopes to commercialize smart TVs by 2012 so that television viewers may have instant access to the Internet while they watch their favorite programs.

From Is it time to get phone smart?  None of these links are for translation or further information related to the article.  Further, in accidentally dragging the mouse over a link, I get a little box obscuring part of the text.  The box has an ‘x’ and will fade after a few seconds but is really annoying.

I am not sure which is worse, the money grubbing links in the Korea Herald or the lack of professionalism at the Korea Times.

An easy job, I think

March 13, 2010

The Korea Times needs a copy-editor.  I’m not sure what the requirements would be for that job.  Print Kang Shin-Who’s crap with editing, would seem to be part of it.

Returning to Brian in Jeolla, his ‘shoddy journalism’ reports seem focused on the Times as well.

UPDATED:  Kushibo shows why it would be an easy job.  Perez or Paris?  He or she?

Perez Hilton, operator of her blog,, which reports news on pop songs, movies and other U.S. entertainment last Friday put single music videos of Bing Bang and 2NE1 on her blog.

Perez Hilton showed her favor to Korean pop songs, saying, “I love Korean pop songs,” after introducing Big Bang’s single “Lolli Pop Part II under the title of “K-Pop Amusingness.”

He had another reason to show her love for the music video. T.O.P., one of the four-member group, held the idol of Hilton for one minutes and 17 second, as if he was conscious of Hilton. Hilton praised the scene “very creative.”

From this article.