Saturday, January 12, 2008

South Korea to Further Military Buildup

From the Korea Times:
President-elect Lee Myung-bak pledged to enhance the nation's military strength against North Korea even though he will continue the peace and reconciliation policy toward the country.

``Reinforcing defense and strengthening security do not mean ignoring inter-Korean reconciliation,'' Lee said during a meeting with Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and other military leaders at the Defense Ministry in Seoul Friday.

It may not end the “peace process”, it does mean the end of the open-ended financial commitment the Sunshine Policy bestowed upon the North however. During Roh Moo-hyun’s administration, South Korea bent over backwards to avoid offending their Northern leftist counterparts, and even went as far as condemning their own soldiers who were killed by Kim’s military.

Kurdish Rap

No liberation is complete without a rap video. Perhaps if the liberation of Iraq had more “pop sensibilities” there would be more support for it amongst the young who are easily persuaded by entertainers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blog Roundup

Here are a few quality entries recently posted by some of the bloggers I read frequently:

- Marko Attila Hoare at the Great Surbiton writes about Barack Obama’s connection to the Greek lobby, and its bullying of Macedonia.

- More about anti-Israel boycotts at Bob from Brockley.

- Over at Modernity Blog, there is a bit about Hezbollah demanding veto power over the Lebanese government.

Insa-dong Photo Journey

I had planned to travel all over Seoul this last week, but since most of my time and energy was spent at Seoul National University Hospital, I was only able to walk about in the area around my hotel. Thankfully, I picked a pretty nice portion of town to park myself, a neighborhood in the north of the city called Insa-dong (인사동). This neighborhood has been the heart of the city for more than 600 years (or so the local tourist board claims), and is home to some of its more important structures. It has also developed into a rather trendy art center, allowing for modern themes and sensibilities to contrast with ancient temples and edifices.

A view of the main walkway.

A list of some of the galleries present. None of them would let me take pictures inside (oddly enough, a lot of the stores didn’t seem too happy to see me taking pictures either, but I am not sure why).

Korean traditional masks for sale. I can only imagine the nightmares and mental damage those things would have done to me as a child if my parents had decorated my room in such a way.

These are pictures of Jogyesa, located a block from my hotel. It is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and it continues to play a leading role in Seon (or Zen) Buddhist thought, and they have a very modern school and study center on the grounds of the temple. Here is a pic of the contemporary center:

Buddhist monks aren’t all about peace and love, and there are countless divisions within the movement. Jogyesa received international attention in 1988 when a group of dissident monks occupied the temple and police stormed the grounds to end the dispute. Where’s the love and enlightenment guys?

And of course, don’t forget to buy the latest in monk fashion next door.

Down the street you find Gyeongbok Palace, the largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Unfortunately, like many old buildings in Korea, the palace seen here is not an original. Korea has been attacked and occupied by Japan several times from 1592 all the way through WW2. The Japanese raids often resulted in the destruction of Korean monuments and works of art. Gyeongbok was destroyed in 1593 and then again in 1911.

I assume this is a ceremonial changing of the royal guard, but I don’t know for sure. It looked exciting however.

The basket mobile.

Hey look! Marxist chic is all the rage in Korea as well! Only 14.95 to be down with the struggle.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Myocarditis: Vacation Destroyer

I was supposed to be on vacation this week, and I had planned to write about the American Primaries and all that Jazz while in Seoul, but unfortunately, I spent the last few days in Seoul National Universities’ hospital. I was unfortunate enough to catch Myocarditis, and was experiencing some rather painful heart problems. Not only was this the first time I had any prolonged stay in a hospital, but it was also the first time I had been to one outside of my country of origin. When I consider what the last few days and operations would have cost me in the States, it boggles my mind a bit. To think: not all developed countries pay the same ridiculous prices for medical care that we do?