Friday, May 09, 2008

Off to Seoul

I’ll be in Seoul for a few days to check out the Lotus Lantern Festival for the coming of the Buddha celebration on May 12th. I’ll post photos and commentary from my days in the city.

I will probably find some American beef protesters as well, so that should be amusing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Problems in North Korea

North Korea is facing mass starvation, and reports are coming in that rationing is starting to take hold in the cities. Kim Jong-il’s regime is obviously blaming the crisis on the United States and South Korea, but there are reports that the propaganda is not being accepted like it used to. From the Daily NK:
“The source described an awkward atmosphere at the conference: When a chairperson of the People’s Unit of Hyehwa-dong in Hyesan asked outright, “We can understand that fact that Americans and Lee’s puppet factions are not aiding us with rice, but, why won’t China help us, as our closest ally?” The speaker’s face turned pale at the question and a sudden silence and tension filled the hall.

“At that moment, the lady next to the chairperson started chuckling, putting her head down, people began to chuckle here and there, and eventually, the entire hall was engulfed in laughter,” the source told DailyNK.

The speaker reportedly responded through his own laughter, “’You know the lecture material always reads like this. You can well understand the situation and know what I am saying, right?’” The source said that “his comment sent people rolling in the aisles,” and pointed out, “The situation showed how absurd the propaganda released by the authorities is."

He added that “Now, when the authorities blame America for the lack of food, people ask in turn, ‘Is it America’s and South Chosun (Korea)’s responsibility to feed us?’ People lately have grown to dislike China, which has not aided us sufficiently, and yet is always emphasizing the China-North Korea relationship.”

While it’s far too early to write the obituary for Kim’s government, this does remind me of a story one of my professors who spent years in the Soviet Union told me once. In the year before the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Eastern bloc had already left the fold, the Communist Party held one of its media conferences that was being broadcasted throughout the country. My professor was walking home from work, and could hear bellows of laughter from all the apartments on his way there. He stopped by a friends to see what it was that had produced so much laughter in a normally quiet part of time, and he saw that everyone was listening to the congress of communists talk about the glorious future of socialism and the leading roll the Soviet Union will play in it. All those watching recognized how inane the propaganda was, and that the end was coming for their old bloated ideology.

Your Daily dose of Kos

“Since when does everything need to be 100% documented with facts?”

The Daily Kos should rightfully adopt this as its mantra.

I also loved this comment:
“Now that slovenly standard of the truth is fine for those on the Right, whose perception of reality is shaped by their ideology. But on the Left, our ideology is shaped by our perception of reality.”

However, this commenter signs all his posts with “I will vote for whoever or whatever the Democrats nominate -- animal, vegetable or mineral.” The irony is almost too much for my mind to handle.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Silliness of Korean Protesters

Who the hell is the Korea Times fooling with this drivel?
“Politicians in the governing Grand National Party and conservative media outlets attack the ongoing Internet impeachment campaign and candlelit vigils as anti-American groups' instigation. It's true these moves are going a bit too far, but most ― if not all ― of their chants were not against the U.S. but against the Lee administration, which is a little more than two months into office. This has little to do with ideology or anti-Americanism, unless President's Lee's excessive compliance with the U.S. backfires.”

It most definitely has everything to do with anti-American sentiments from the Korean left and its comrades in the news media. As anyone with half a brain cell can see (including the Korean American Association), the threat of Mad Cow from American beef imports is incredibly low. Students and know-nothings are being swept up in yet another blame America charade that is all the rage in Korea. If all these folks were really worried about the quality of their food, they may want to turn an eye to the Bird flue problems Korean chicken stock has been experiencing lately. I doubt you will see a candlelight vigil of this size concerning Korean food quality. Heck, you won’t see a vigil this size over the humanitarian crises in North Korea and the looming starvation that is expected to hit its population, but as any good leftist knows, America is enemy number one. Protesting America is the world’s favorite pastime, regardless of its merits.

Lee’s “excessive compliance with the U.S”? Is that what market liberalization is being called nowadays? Maybe we should return to the policies of the Roh administration. You know, the ones that single handedly pushed investment away from Korea? Diminished respect, a weakened economy, and becoming a totalitarian government’s piggy bank: now that’s the kind of policy we need!

And don’t for a second try and tell me that the groups that put on these protest spectacles are not hard left anti-Americans. Groups like the Democratic Labor Party have long been controlled and run by North Korean agents, and they use any possible opportunity to turn South Korea’s scorn on the US, and not where it rightfully belongs: right on North Korea. So spare me the bullshit about this being an act by concerned Korean citizens.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Korean Left’s Problem

The Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activists, a far left Korean think-tank, has released the names of 4,776 people who apparently worked with the Japanese government (or gave some type of support to it) during the 45 year occupation of Korea prior to the second World War. It includes Ahn Aek-tai, who wrote the Korean national anthem. You can only imagine how that’s going to go over.

This institute claims that this list is not intended to “punish any individuals,” but based on this groups background, Kim Seong-kon from the Korean Hearld sees it for what it is:
Does the institute really think their ruthless disclosure will help "Korea move forward?" No, it will hopelessly drive the nation backward. Do they really think that by disclosing the names in public, they can create a "society free of nationalist oppression?" On the contrary, their unscrupulous action is obviously enflamed by unchecked nationalism and blind patriotism, which seriously threaten "the value of pacifism and democracy."

The director also used phrases such as "purge," "purify," and "demand in a more dignified way that Japan addresses its past wrongdoings." Perhaps he was not aware of the danger of using the words "purge" or "purify." History tells us that those who called for "purity" were invariably jingoists. As for mentioning "demand," the director should know that demanding too much will make us lose dignity. Instead of clinging onto an old grudge, we should seek reconciliation, cooperation and partnership. It has been 63 years since Korea was liberated. Isn't it about time we shed the past and move forward? How much longer do we need to whine about the past?

Well said. I will add that I have no problem having all the facts presented that pertain to the occupation of Korea by the Japanese. It was truly brutal and reprehensible. The Japanese authorities generally refuse to apologize in any substantial way for their actions in Asia, and continues to whitewash their imperialist past. Koreans have every right to push for them to recognize the toll the Japanese occupation had on their nation.

But living in Korea and studying Korean politics has allowed me to see how a tattered pride can produce truly foolish ideological decisions. The Korean left sees Korea as histories whipping boy; a position that can only be alleviated in their eyes through constant and nonsensical squabbles over past wrong doings. Even if the Japanese emperor came to Korea and personally apologized to every Korean citizen for his country's wrongdoings, the diminished pride the Korean left has in its own country and people would endure.

Other than the nationalist flavor that the left in Korea adopts, it shares many underpinnings that hold “the left” back in America. It has recognized that it has failed in its forward minded policies, and they have been rejected by the public at large. So rather than trying to make Korea stronger, more influential, and thus a more important country, they have resigned to complaining about the past in the vain attempt that this will correct their tattered egos. This strategy is backwards minded and it will never repair the frayed Korean psyche.

On the other hand, you have a president like Lee Myung-bak, who regardless of his faults, actually wants to make Korea important. This nation will be important not as the bickering younger sibling to other countries, but as an economic leader that cherishes and supports a free and democratic society. It will be respected when it no longer tolerates Kim Jong-ill’s humanitarian cruelty, and holds them accountable for the aid Korea gives them hand over fist.

But pride won’t be won by fighting last century’s wars. And because he brought this to my attention, I’ll let Lee Seong-kon have the last say (with my emphasis).
“The institute's blacklist includes even those who studied in Japan and briefly worked in the Japanese government before serving the nation after the liberation. But had not even Gandhi studied in Britain before he began working for his country's independence? Had not the leaders of Vietnam, including Ho Chi-minh, lived or studied in France before they fought for the freedom of Indochina? Even the Communist leaders in China, with the exception of Chairman Mao, studied in Europe before they took over the country through a socialist revolution.

Update: the Metropolitican has a look at the economic outcome from these foolish nationalist tendencies that manifest in Korea.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


...and some Amon Tobin thrown in for the heck of it.