Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SK Opposition Likely to Achieve Sweeping Victories--NK Watches Closely

The Washington Post reports this morning that as South Koreans are casting their votes for local elections, the opposition party (GNP) seems to be leading in a majority of the races, according initial exit polls. The GNP was leading in 11 of the 16 major cities for the posts of mayor and provincial governor. The GNP leader, Park Geun-hye, is expected to be a candidate for the presidency in 2007 after Roh's term has expired.

According to the article, North Korea is avidly anticipating the outcome of the elections, as they may be indicative of future changes to South Korean policy, though no significant change is expected in the short-term. The GNP is known for their hard-line stance against North Korea, whereas Roh's government has taken a much more accomodating and concessionary approach.

It is my opinion (and somewhat obvious) that sweeping local victories for the GNP will greatly increase Park's chances of success in 2007. If these initial reports are correct and we have seen the GNP take control on a local level, is Park a shoe-in for the presidency, and/or will this have as great an impact on North/South relations as some of the GNP hardliners would like it to?

Monday, May 29, 2006

North Korean culture appreciated in the South

I recently read this article in the New York Times where it said that a North Korean restaurant was very popular despite its bad service. What was most surprising was the fact that this restaurant was in the South. Since when have South Koreans embraced North Korean culture? As far as I could remember (a few years ago, actually a couple of years ago when I last went to Korea) North Korea was supposed to be "BAD!"
It is weird how perspectives can change.

Check it out

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kim: Socialist or Opportunist

In my reading of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, I have been particularly interested in the role religion played in the early years of Kim Il sung’s life. Specifically, Kim’s relationship with the Reverend Sohn Jong-do raises some interesting questions.

Kim is said to have been an active participant in the activities of the church that the Reverend supervised. The Reverend’s son described Kim, as although influenced by his desire for independence, “he was not strongly opposed to the Christian faith.

Although I had long accepted Kim as a dictatorial leader, I still clung to the belief that he was fundamentally devoted to the tenants of socialism. After reading the accounts documented in Bradley Martin’s book I have come to pose the following questions: To what extent was Kim a socialist? To what extent was Kim a freedom fighter? Was Kim simply an opportunist who utilized the institutions of organized religion and later socialism to reach the ultimate goal of Korean independence?

Ultimately, there are no definitive answers to the questions listed above. Nevertheless, they reveal the complexity that continually defines Korean history.

International Cultural achievments

I found an article on KCNA earlier this week about a North Korean contralto who the Giuseppe di Stefano International Vocal Concours in Trapani, Italy earlier this month. KCNA often highlights things like that. I was having a difficult time verifying it and finding any information on it. I finally found an article on the pro-north site Korea is one which had some pictures and detail. I always find it interesting when North Korea highlights the achievements of its citizens in the international arena. The fact that they chose to highlight a cultural achievement in a relatively obscure area shows that North Korea's achievements in the international arena are limited. KCNA reminds me of a small local paper in the US where you might find similar stories of local interest than a national news service.

'beautiful' North Korean women

These days, South Koreans put a great 'emphasis' on appearence, many wanting to look like celebrities, undergoing many plastic surgeries, going on diet, working out etc. With these "booms" came along such creation of phrases like 'ul-zzhang' and 'mome-zzhang'. 'Zzhang' means 'super' and basically those phrases mean' beautiful face' and 'nice body'.
The use of these expressions have become rather ridiculous with people naming certain convicted female criminal as 'ul-zzhang gang do', where 'gang do' means 'burglar'. And now people have also named some North Korean female soldier, policewoman etc. as 'ul-zzhang', where pictures of these so-called 'ul-zzhang' North Korean women have spread through internet with people commenting on their looks, comparing them to South Korean women and so on. I think it's ludicrous and also disconcerting in that such prevalence reflects to a degree where some South Korean people's minds are on the issue of North-South Korean relations.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why not revolt? wouldnt Confuscious want that if he saw the state of North Korea today?

I find it amazing that the North Korean people it seems follow the Confuscion concept of unity, ie: do it for the group and not for the individual, which is what present day communism follows. Despite all this, their ruller Kim Jung Ill has inherited the presidency, and soon he will pass it on to his son. This is a dicatatorship in all shape or form: History is rewritten when it has to be, fear is used to keep the people in check, with immense punishment.
Maybe its becasue ive lived a life soley in the United States, but i simply can't see how the North Korean people have not yet revolted? It would just seem that they are almost androids, how can they not look to the south and see the amazing mircale that can come from caving to the western concepts of civilization...The Russians did....the French five times, the US did and yet still North Korea has taken it hand in hand for hte last 60 yrs, while everywhere else enormous economic strides have been made within the region, how much longer will this go on. Its simply insnase that so many people choose to follow the leader, for a lack of a better terminology....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

North and South train travel

North Korea seems to want no contact with South Korea or with any outside country. Even a small train journey bringing people from the South is a problem for the North Korean military. I think that even though they agree to some small contact, the North Korean leaders know that if they allow too much, it may cause problems for their government. See this article from the BBC:


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Peace treaty with North Korea, has the US lost its edge?

I suppose it comes as a bit of a suprise to most people focusing on the negotiations with North Korea, but the US has begun "working on a peace treaty to take place on a parallel track with six-nation talks on disarmament, it will signal another major change of tactics." This for me is shocking as i thought the US was not going to budge with North Korea. We have yet to do so with Cuba.... could this signal that perhaps their nuclear program(NK) is not the threat we all thought? or is it that the US has tied itself down in Iraq and faces a new threat in the axis of evil chain, IRAN who does pose an imediate threat to the middle east, both Isreal, Iraq, and large amotuns of oil. see link below to NYT. I myself have long suspected it would come to this, as the aritcle mentions as well.


as y'all begin to see what the internet can reveal about North Korea, you can do worse than taking a look at a few of the following sites:

NK News: a valuable collection of indexed material from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Find out who the DPRK has officially branded as "human scum!"

Updated news from the same KCNA can be accessed here.

A collection of nice photos of the DPRK canbe found here.

Happy exploring!