Thursday, June 28, 2007
As we all know (from today's quiz) diplomatic normalization between North Korea and Japan could not be achieved due to this issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped to the North (probably to teach the North Korean intelligence agents to be sent to Japan - what would they feel!)
I hope DPRK to approach this problem with some sincerity (not like last time when they provided the Japanese government remains of the random people - proved that he/she was not Japanese.)
the World Almanac - http://www.oclc.org/languagesets/educational/languages/languageranking.htm
Geographic.org -The 50 Most Widely Spoken Languages -
The end of the lecture featured some lively give and take between the speaker and audience, the latter including representatives from some sort of Korean organization within the State Department.
I just put through an order for a Kim Il-sung pin like the ones Myers talks about in his book.
The article does not have much new information but the interesting thing is that it is a first hand account and primary resource about the incidents with North Korea.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
However, there is a more interesting aspect to Vinalon and that is its connection to North Korea's production of chemical weapons. Many North Korean defectors have linked Dr. Lee Seung-ki to the DPRK chemical and nuclear program.
This site ( http://www.nti.org/e_research/e3_23a.html ) lays out the connections to Vinalon and weapons.
"It is noteworthy that CW agent precursors for sulfur mustard could be readily supplied by North Korea’s ample carbide production capability. For the DPRK, having large deposits of anthracite coal and limestone, therefore, means ample supply of carbide. Furthermore, by mixing carbide with water, one can release and capture acetylene gas, the latter being only two hydrogen atoms away from ethylene. Ethylene is, of course, the starting point of many commercial products, such as plastics and detergents."
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
One of the most intellectually shallow things I ever read about North Korea came from a pro-regime American journalist named Selig Harrison (he is also the author of the book I read for my book report). Harrison had the audacity to justify his claim that North Korea and Kim Jung-il were liberalizing economically by citing additions to the 1998 (or should I say Juche 86) Constitution which relaxed the stranglehold the state had on economic affairs. The author specifically points to Articles 21, 22, 24, 33, and 37.
As is the North Korea government held the nation's constitution in any level of esteem.
This is the same constitution that guarantees freedom of expression, right to elect officials, right to a fair trial, and freedom of religion. Harrison, of course, does not concern himself with these details because what good are human rights if the basic economic system is unjust.
Apologists for socialism/communism need a better posterboy than Kim Jung-il and the Worker's Party. They should also stop pretending like the constitutions of countries like DPRK and PRC have any worth beyond the intrinsic value of a piece of paper.
Click to see The Top 20 Frequently Asked Question (and Answers!) of North Korea
At the bottom of the page I found this:
Copyright © Juche 94 Korean Friendship Association
Official Webpages of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Is this really the DPRK's official site???
This website seems to take itself seriosry. but I think its a crock. I don't think the regime cares enough to indulge itself in answering non-Koreans' questions, let along maintaining a website for non-Koreans.
In The Know: Kim Jong-Il's Approval Rating Plummets to 120%
UPDATE: Since it may not be entirely clear to everyone, the video above is a joke.
I wonder what differences made audiences act differently. I am not sure how correct my idea is but I think it is because North Koreans are not used to fast or techno-type of musics. Even dances that idol groups showed could have been new, so it looked wierd to them. However, Jo sang many songs including a kind of Arirang, representative Korean melody, and North Korean one.
I imagine what Korean society will be like after unification. When people react differetly even to music, Korean people will face a lot of ackward situation because of differences of language, culture, and way of thinking... etc... To have real unification among people will take longer than to have geographical one.
Cf] the name of stadium where Jo had concert is 'Jong Ju Young' gymnasium. It makes me think about how much Jong, former president of Hyundai, donated to the North.
Anyhow, while searching for the similar story about this new radio station, I actually found the translated version of the article written by Korean Herald that expalins not only about the radio station but also how it was created and about this political group formed by North Korean defectors, thought that it will be interesting read. The article mentioned that there are "various views of over 100,000 North Koreans who have defected to the South", I honestly didn't know that there were so many North Korean defectors in the South - my estimate was about 10,000 at most but guess not.
Anyways, here is the link to the article "N.K. defectors form new political group"
that discussed a campaign for men to get short haircuts - which fits socialists lifesytle. The campaign stressed that longer hair "consumed a great deal of nutrition" thus robing the brain from energy. the regime was considerate enough to allow men over 50 to keep seven centimeters of hair to cover balding- perhaps thats the reason Kim Il Sung was excluded from the new haircut recommendations.
Another show was created that followed people who did not react correctly to this new hairstyle. The TV show actually singled out individuals revealed their names, addresses and criticized them for their appearance. This was a major shift from usual TV reports which only portray and enhance individuals who are a positive example to the regime.
Monday, June 25, 2007
I found this video to be more disturbing that most of the ones we've seen. The constant memories from the past, are a tool to instill hate and anger towards the US. By maintaing the position of refusing to give N. Korea aid, realiotns seem hopeless. A resoltion is difficult to reach when each country lacks understanding, and mostly fears the other. The US fears N. korea's "irrationality," while N. Korea fears the loss of status and security against the US by giving up the one object that places them on equal planes.
Apparently, British American Tobacco (BAT), the second largest tobacco company in the world, had been operating a plant in North Korea for four years (as of October 2005, when the article was released) -- only two years after shutting down a factory in Burma (aka Myanmar) after intense pressure from human rights organizations and the United Kingdom. North Korea of course too has a terrible human rights record, but a spokeswoman from BAT said that it was "not for us to interfere with the way governments run countries"; that instead, the British company could "lead by example." I think they are indeed leading by example. Despite repeated condemnations of the DPRK by internationally respected human rights groups, BAT has still set up a factory in the center of North Korea. A change in North Korean attitudes in respect to workers' rights? Not likely.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Called "our Super Bowl" by one U.S. officer, Team Spirit began in 1976 after the Vietnam withdrawal to reassure South Korea and bolster deterrence against the North. The exercise often involved hundreds of thousands of troops and, some suspected, even nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, North Korea viewed Team Spirit as a dress rehearsal for an invasion
Team Spirit has been blamed for raising the hostility between the North and South especially during 1993-94 nuclear crisis. Below are some sites by U.S. soldiers and their experiences in participating in the exercise -
also an overview and history of the event http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/team-spirit.htm
For those who haven't yet seen the joint-press session by Christopher Hill about the progress he had made for the latest visit to North Korea. Although I'm sure many have already followed the story about the latest visit however I thought it would be good to actually hear the press briefing.
First part is in Korean, but I'm sure everybody can understand Chris Hill without a problem.
I would recommend checking out the website, it is actually fascinating, there are defectors' stories, news articles, cartoons, and anything and everything that has to do with North Korea. Though it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, it is coming straight from the people who hated their situation enough to leave, and it is possible that the site is full of assumptions of what is going on in North Korea, as they may not actually know.
The result varied according to the different age groups. Less than half of the 20s (46.8%) gave the right answer (53.2% answered wrong). On the other hand, 62.8% of the 30s, and 75.5% of the 40s answered correctly.
Question about the characteristic of Korean War:
52.3% answered “It was North Korean invasion to the South.” (21.2% higher than 2002 survey, which was only 31.2% - what a surprise!)
It was quite astonishing that only about half of the South Korean (even though the result does not necessarily represent the opinion of total SK population) believe that it was started by North’s attack.
Question about the likelihood of another North Korean invasion:
51.2% answered “there is possibility.” (in 2002, 32.8%) while
45% answered “it is not likely.” (in 2002, 57.9%)
“If the war brake out in Korea while you are abroad, would you go back to Korea?”
48.7% answered “Yes.”
45% answered “No.” (I think they are too honest.)
I think I mentioned couple of classes ago about the North Korean defectors wanting to go back to North Korea because they were having a hard time adjusting to the new life in South Korea. I was actually quite surprised when I heard this; however, I have to say that life in South Korea is quite hard for many defectors from North Korea, not just because of the differences that have grown between the North and South over the past 60 years but honestly even as South Korean I know the South Korean people and society as a whole really doesn’t have much room for forgiveness when it comes to things that are “foreign” or “different”. Perhaps this might be because of being such a homogeneous country or whatnot; however, unless you are totally different on the outlooks – such as looking like an Anglo-American – there is no “excuse” for not knowing what everybody else’ knows or not understanding something when everybody else’ understands. I guess the North Korean defector, Lee Chan probably felt that way when he came to South Korea, because he is Korean after all – one cannot differentiate him, by the way he looks, from other Koreans; he was probably expected to know it and understand it when he really couldn’t.
Here is the link to article, “From a Lead Role in a Cage to Freedom and Anomie”, I recommend it for anyone who might be interested in stories about defectors
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The “Korea Institute for National Unification” (tong-il yunguso, Aka KINU) sends out regular emails to its members and couple of weeks ago it sent out the 2007 – White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea (it’s in Korean but I suspect that since they have an English version for the previous years, they will soon upload the English version on their website, here is the link to where you can see the previous years White Papers on Human Rights in North Korea - KINU ENGLISH)
I’ve read through a couple of chapters – the whole paper is about 350 pages long – and found things that were quite concerning to anyone who come across such information. We have perhaps read about it but I guess such reality never really sinks in, like this direct quote from the white paper, “In order to keep the control of social order, North Korea regularly holds public executions, even after the huge outcry from the global community, they only reduced the frequencies…” and evidently in 2004 the law was amended so that forced labor was legalized. One of the interesting things was since the post in 2000, there have been increasing numbers of people who have prosecuted for spreading/transferring South Korea’s video/other media-related (foreign information) materials. One has to wonder how North Koreans get a hold of South Korean videos; however it is interesting that after all North Koreans too seem to be interested in the “outside” world.
The report obviously covers a lot more, from human rights issues regarding minorities, women and children who have been subjected to more violence and sexually related crimes. In addition the number of women defectors has not only increased but those who actually defect by themselves have increased.
In conclusion, I think the overall quality of the white papers by KINU is actually quite high, although how much of the provided information that is true is anyone’s guess but they have been producing the papers since 2000. The changes throughout the past 7 years are actually much more interesting so by just reading one, it is hard to tell if the situation is getting better or worse in the DPRK.
One thing I didn't know was that the US-South Korea forces sometimes use loudspeakers to send messages across the DMZ. The documentary also shows some fascinating clips of Kim il-sung's funeral. Again, it is definitely not a scholarly documentary or anything, but any sort of footage inside of North Korea is interesting to see.
I have also included a clip of a North Korean cartoon. It shows little kids using pencils as missiles against Americans!
A New York Times article from 2002 published on freesrbia.net gives yet another disturbing account of infanticide in North Korean prisons. The article spoke about a human rights organization, Human Rights Without Borders, and their work on investigating infanticide and other human rights abuses in North Korean prisons by conducting interviews on survivors of the horrors of the prison camp system. I was interested in finding out more about the work done by the organizations I have mentioned in this piece. I was impressed by the homepage for Christian Solidarity Worldwide , because it is the first human rights organization website I have seen that actually does more than write the occasional report and hide it somewhere in their website 5,000 clicks and 4 search pages away. Christian Solidarity actually posted informationa about the North Korean situation and a link to their recently published report right on their homepage. The report has some really interesting information and factoids that would probably be a useful supplement for some of your papers...I know I'll consider including it in mine!
At the crux of the deal lay $25 million in assets frozen in Macao. The US had asked Russia to freeze the funds some years ago, but reports indicate that the money has been transferred to a North Korea bank account in Russia. The US also provided North Korea with some energy security.
The IAEA is due in North Korea next week to begin the disarmorment process and the six-party talks are due to recommence in the near future.
With a (potentially) meaningful resolution of the nuclear issue, the six-party talks hold much more promise for progress. Like all dealings with North Korea, I believe the North's cooperation is contingent upon the US' faithfulness to the agreement as well as the spirit of the agreement.
The nuclear/missiles crisis brings to light an interesting conundrum: The DPRK existence is predicated on the US (and Japan) as a perpetual hostile enemy. With the US making compromises and assurances for North Korean energy and practical security the US is acting more like an honest peace broker rather than a belligerent. In fact, the peace talks demonstrate that the US, ROK, and Japan are not looking to undermine the regime. With the undoing of one of the essential underpinnings of the North, how does the North legitimize itself? I say, it has to hold onto the past and anachronistic views of the US and Japan for its ideology to make sense.
From Wikitravel: "[U]nless you have the explicit authorization of your guides, you are not to wander anywhere on your own, not even outside of the hotel. If you are courteous to your guide and toe the line, a brief walk around the hotel grounds alone may be possible, but always ask first. Do not take pictures of anything without explicit approval of your guides. The best rule of thumb in North Korea is to always ask for permission from your guides before doing anything at all."
I'd like to recommend another account as contrast. It's a very funny article written by an American man who spent some time working in Beijing. He went for a walk, accidentally wandered into a top-secret aerospace complex, and was apprehended by police. It kind of made me want to go to China.
Here are some sites on Juche Realism
Art Under Control in North Korea - http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/3690/images/Jane_Portal.swf
North Korean Artists - http://koreaweb.ws/nkart/xz1.html
The Art of Propaganda: Nationalistic Themes in the Art of North Korea - http://www.dprkstudies.org/documents/dprk003.html
Friday, June 22, 2007
This video truly does reflect the command of the military by Kim, but I think a video about how the military influences Kim would be extremely interesting. As we have learned, there is obviously a great deal of influence, and I'm sure videos like this help show Kim's dedication to the military, to prevent a coup by it!
"No," I shrugged.
"Well, it's cause North Korea is making these crazy hundred dollar bills. Which I think is ridiculous. I mean, do they really think that fake money is going to make it here from North Korea?"
But thanks to class earlier that day, I could tell him he was mistaken. The counterfeit US hundred dollar bills (called Superdollars!) are indeed making it to the States, and have caused quite a ruckus. The New York Times put out an interesting article on the subject about a year ago . . . it's rather long, but the first couple of pages are helpful, if you're not interested in reading the whole deal.
The one man who had been in the Light water Reactor building site told a story of the sheer desertion on the site. He said there was basically maybe 12 trains per day going in and out of the area and they were always packed with people. And as the trains pulled in, people would simply be gawking at the train stop because it would be completely lit up by the flood lights at the construction site. Not only was there a display of a fair amount of electricity and technology being used, but there were also South Korean labels on everything...
Also a speaker was talking about his own (and referring to America's) incorrect assumptions that whenever something went wrong, the North Koreans were doing it intentionally. In one story he said that when he couldn't reach DC by phone or get inernet access as was agreed in their contracts, he assumed it was the North Koreans cutting their phone line access. In reality, 12 people were sharing the same line and he just couldn't get through. And then, one time he couldn't get through by phone because he had had the wrong number... I think this is a telling story because there is an obvious lack of trust between the DPRK and the US. If officials tried harder to find the real reasons behind setbacks in the future instead of jumping to accusations, I think that would help relations.
In fact, the discussion later in the night somehow got diverted to the cause of KEDO's failure. This ended up with the speaker and a attendee getting into a heated debate of who cheated first... This only solidifies the lesson that, the positive momentum of DPRK/ US relations can easily be cut off by back and forth blame.
I read this news from the website, “Good Friends” (goodfriends.or.kr) – it is a non-governmental humanitarian organization. It says there was a huge explosion in North Korea on June 9, in a pipeline that comes down to Pyongyang that was delivering nearly 200t of oil. Good friends say that the biggest reason for such huge number of deaths is due to the fact that the cost of oil is so expense in North Korea that when the pipeline broke the people in the neighbor brought buckets to get the oil that was leaking out and while doing so, due to an accident it caught on fire and killed so many.
Evidently Korean intelligence is looking into this; however there is very little credibility to this story. However, there was even a broadcast of Satellite News from YTN (they get the pictures from a satellite view of the alleged North Korean explosion site) which pretty much said there was an explosion; however, it was more likely the explosion was not from an old-pipe breaking but from a train that was transporting gas.
While watching Shinhwa’s solemn concert in North Korea I remembered an advertisement from Samsung Anycall (mobile phone brand line) CF that featured the very famous singer Hyoree Lee and North Korea’s famous dancer MyungAe Cho. Here is just a little background on how this was filmed. It was filmed at Shanghai – for obvious reasons - in April, 2005 and it was the most famous TV ad of the year. Samsung smartly produced “Sound of One I” and “Sound of One II” which aired from June 11 starting with “Sound of One – Hyoree”, “Sound of One – MyungAe” then the version “Sound of One II – We Meet”. Then later in July, “Sound of One II – Present”
There is also the full version which runs about 1 min. and 30 sec. that was only available through the website - anycall.com - “Sound of One II – FULL VERSION”)
The basic story line of this ad is as follows. In a “North-South Joint Concert” the two people walk pass with a crowd of reporters around them as they are the most famous singer/dancer representing each country; however they do not have any physical contact, they just walk pass each other. Then MyungAe finds this Satelite DMB phone in her waiting room and she does not know who gave it to her. Anyhow, they have a joint concert where MyungAe performs the traditional dances and Hyoree does her thing – later during the joint press conference they got to see each other and the first thing they say is, (Hyoree asks) “How old are you?” and MyungAe responds, “born in 83’” and immediately Hyoree goes on to say, “oh, then I’m unni (older sister)”
Then they spend a day together and they exchange gifts and surrounded by each country’s protection they leave the concert hall after making the promise “we will meet again”.
Behind the story of the making of the film is that prior to the shooting, which took place in Shanghai in April 2005, the project nearly fell apart due to North Korea’s view that since the South Korean Hyoree is a big star/actress but MyungAe is more of a traditional “art performer/dancer” that somehow South Korea tried to pick someone who will shadow his or her North Korean counterparts. Despite the 2-3 days required for the filming, except for the time when they were acting, it was strictly prohibited for Hyoree or any other staff member to talk to the North Korean, MyungAe Cho.
I actually recommend to anyone who has a spare 3-4 minutes to watch it. The bgm is rather emotional and how they depicted the two, like we discussed in our class, the cultural difference – one wearing a traditional hanbok and other wearing a tank top and jewelry just shows the difference between the two. Also it is interesting how they used an English song in I but in II they used the Korean song that is known as the “Reunification Song” in Korea, “One Day” that repeatedly says that “One day we will meet again, though no one knows how it will, but we will meet again”
Here is also the link to the Making Film I-view from Hyoree, Making Film II-view from MyungAe for those who might be interested
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Today, we talked about business in North Korea by South Korean conglomerateur with the hope of North Korea sustaining its regime. Personally, I don't want the collapse of North Korea, either. I wish South and North to keep the way they are now and to change the North a little by little toward the way of South Korea working. I don't know how much one small economic zone or tour to North Korea, which is under the North Korean control, can change or influence. However, there's a saying that "begining is same as half way done." For example, Mt.Keumgang tour could've made North Korean learn about Hyundai. According to this article, about 1,000 North Koreans work at the resort and receive a $50 monthly salary. Considering whole population(23,113,019), 1000 is like nothing but I hope this make Korean unification easier.
If any of you are interested in Hyundai's tour business in North Korea take a look at here.
Monday, June 18, 2007
When we learned about different class in North Korea, I got the curiosity about the marriage in North Korea. North Korean defectors say that "dating in Pyongyang is liberal" such as going out for movie or zoo. It is a kind of surprising that North Korean couples hold their hands or kiss each other in public. I never imagined about it. For some reason I am only able to imagine North Korean in a army uniform walking in a group with exactly same postures. I guess I was brainwashed about North Korea since I was pretty young but I still think that level of liberty is different not only for marriage but also for dating. I assume that meeting different sex accross the social class is very limited because people get different treatment according to the class.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
They claim that they have already apologized, using this 1993 statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary: “Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”
Maybe it's just me, but that sounds like a pretty legitimate apology to me. True, it is not very official and is a kind of wishy-washy way of apologizing, and apparently the Japanese have not gone as far as the US and South Korea would have liked as far as education and coverage within Japan is concerned. Still, while I think it is appropriate to make a judgment regarding a certain act or event, I am not sure Congress should try to force it upon Japan. I would not have a problem with a US official saying that using comfort women was wrong, but to actually tell Japan to apologize for it through a House resolution seems a bit strange. After all, aren't apologies supposed to be from the heart and sincere, not forced by others? (well, I guess my mother told me to apologize for things to others when I was younger when I didn't want to... does that then make the US the mother of Japan?...)
With the schoolyard analogy, it kind of simplifies the situation. How long is this going to last? what is the point? are the North and South really just acting like children that can't be mature enough to put aside their differences?
Although this is a happy time for this man, I imagine he is having very mixed feelings. On one hand he is able to see his South Korea relatives, but he will likely never again see his North Korean wife and children. It seems that North Korea has truly ruined some, if not all, parts of this man's life. Additionally, not only was he forced to live there for more than 30 years, but I am sure his family in the South was tormented every day by the thought of what might have happened to him.
According to the article, more than 480 South Koreans have been abducted by North Korea since its inception as a country, as well as 500 South Korean soldiers still held by the regime. While I assume North Korea says that these people probably defected voluntarily and they are being saved from the puppet state of the South, I don't think there is any excuse for this type of behavior and it is not the way in which to move towards peace on the peninsula.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Today, because a South Korean GNP leader sat down at a shrine dedicated to Kim Il Sung and terribly insulted North Korean leaders, he was banned from a unity gathering in the People's Palace of Culture. And now South Koreans are making statements and sticking by their official, setting off more complaints from both sides...
This is unfortunte to see, but I assume tiffs like this are pretty frequent in this tense relationship.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The next question is: with its money in hand, whether the North will carry out the items which were agreed in the February 13 accord.
Washingtonpost Article about fund transfer
I highly suggest that you all at least take a glimpse at the travel rules and tips...it really is a fascinating look into the one-step-forward, two-steps-back approach that North Korea is trying to take toward promoting tourism and a better world image.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
After reading the posts below on tourism in North Korea, I too am interested in it! And for a good reason- who wouldn't want to go visit a country that is surrounded by mystery. As noted in this article, not only does this South Korean resort offer tourists excellent vacation opportunities, but now it is taking it a step further by giving a glimpse of country life on the way to Diamond Mountain. For me, this is the type of adventure I like in all of the countries I visit- I like to see natrual, beautiful locations by driving through real villages to see the everyday lives of the people. But the fact that this is happening in North Korea makes me a little uneasy. Is it possible that the village life has been choreographed to look better than it actually is, as was suggested in our book? Maybe, but the fact that $1.6 billion in investments were made in North Korea by a South Korean company- once again, North Korea is raking in the investments, without having to do much more than allow a glimpse at the natural beauty of its country. Not a bad trade if I do say so myself! Could this be the start of even more tourism, in other places? One can only hope, I know I am dying to get a look inside the country at some point!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
So suppsedly Russia is willing lend its bank, the Far East Commercial bank, as a helping hand to the North Korean situation. Hopefully, the transfer will be smooth so that North Korea can go ahead with its promises to shut down the nuclear reactor.
Here is the full text to the draft of the Free Trade Agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United States
The FTA talks have huge implications for South Korea as it would open the economy up to full utilization by the U.S. and the deal has caused a huge wave of controversy in the country.
As reported in Wikipedia The US-Korea FTA is the second largest trade agreement ever made by the United States.
Many activists in South Korea have begun to rally together and protest. On Nov. 22, 2006 as many as 20,000 gathered at city hall in Seoul. The most vocal opposition has been South Korean farmers and labor unions.
The connection to North Korea, beyond the impact of the economic changes brought to the Rep. of Korea, is what many South Korean activists see as legislation that might allow or even encourage government surveillance and censorship. As Thomas Kim of the San Diego Union-Tribune puts it "South Korea has been a liberal democracy for less than two decades, and over the past year the trade agreement has become the latest chapter of the people's struggle to consolidate the practice of freedom. Democracy and development should not and need not be in opposition to each other, yet throughout the negotiations the administration of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun sacrificed democratic principles while embracing authoritarian trends." - http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070403/news_mz1e3kim.html
One such trend is the sections in the FTA involving IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) This site (http://www.bilaterals.org ) is a site that is dedicated against "bilateral trade and investment agreements that are opening countries to the deepest forms of penetration by transnational corporations" and their opionion of IPRs is very interesting - http://www.bilaterals.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=33
Monday, June 11, 2007
Pictures of a "Model" North Korean house which is shown to the foreigners
However, the majority of the sites that catered to Americans was focused on North Korea as a fascinating adventure back in time (thats how it seemed to me atleast). More of a focus on experiencing the different lifestyle, compared to the South's and gawking at Kim-centric monuments etc. Especially with the Mass Games being open to foriegn spectators since 2006, there is even more interest in North Korea.
There are also lots of "what not to do" things are mentioned so that silly Americans don't get themselves in trouble... Theres this older article I found, but its still interesting.
Here is the Lonely Planet guide's site which tends to be more neutral and informational. But theres ones like this... a bit of a different slant.
Many question whether tourism in a dictatorial regime is morally right... Should we tour this country that is an "enemy to the free world" and support them with our money? Or should we stay out completely? I think that although the North Korean government suppresses its people, maybe tourism can atleast help in the humanitarian way of injecting money into their system- and hopefully raise citizen's quality of life by a little.
Not only would North Korea be fascinating as a cultural experience, but I've also seen it promoted as a part of "Touring the Axis of Evil." There is even a book about the Axis of Evil World Tour. I guess people are interested in seeing just how evil the axis is... It really would be interesting to see how regimes work from the inside and this is a main interest, but I'm sure travellers come to see that travel in the North is heavily regulated by the government... so most only see the finished product the Kims' rule without much contact with the citizens.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
While going through the news articles that were related to North Korea I actually found this rather surprising article about the "Trends of North Korea - Eye Plastic Surgery, Dica (shortened version for Digial Camera by Koreans), MP3 Players"
The article started saying that 南男北女 (character reads South-Male, North-Female) meaning that men are better off as well as wealthier/smarter in the South and women from the North are pretty or sort of like that. Anyhow, what came across quite surprisingly and shockingly to me was that there are many in North Korea who would get plastic surgery - mostly for their eyes, which costs 0.7 Euro or $0.94 US which would be just a little less than the monthly earning for the average North Korean. Some even have surgery on their nose which is considerably more expensive than the eyes.
The article then goes on to talk about how the article’s author was quite surprised to find workers at the gift shop were busy listening to their MP3 players - when asked by the author the 'worker' replied by asking, "why are you so surprised?" and that he had "downloaded" the famous OST for soaps, 'Love and Hate' from his computer. Also, he also said that "I use a smaller and slimmer version of the Canon Digital Camera than the one you've got on your neck" and goes on to say that "I bought a MP3 player for my son, 3 years ago".
The author, presumably a reporter, at the end said that words such as "hair conditioner" are very different in the South and North so an average South Korean wouldn't have a clue if a North Korean asked for it; however words such as "Dica" and "MP3" were easily converted.
Am I the only one who is surprised by this article’s contents? I mean surely North Korea too has evolved and developed over the years but we all know about their economic hardships, their problems with the BDA account and what seems like another million problems.
Since we all know how much North Koreans have to "act" to represent their "not-so-ordinary-daily lives" for foreigners from the book, the digital cameras and MP3 players I can understand but when it comes to plastic surgery for their eyes, I've seen few North Korean girls interviewed by the South Korean media when they come to cheer at the ASIAN Games or other sports related events - not surprisingly they've been very pretty (we all know that they are the best looking girls picked from the country) so I didn't really pay attention about their faces to see if they were fixed by plastic surgery or not.
It seems the more I hear, read and learn about North Korea the more confused I become - how far do they go to lie about their "real lives" just to look good for the rest of the world? Are they for real? Is what we learn about their economic burden not as severe as we've learned?
Click Here for the article
If the reports are true, I think it is very sad for the people of North Korea and very immoral on the part of the government. Does that mean that organizations should stop donating to North Korea? I have mixed feelings on that question. On one hand, we don't want the funds to go towards military or weapons programs. On the other hand, I am not sure what else could be done to help the North Korean people, at least as far as humanitarian efforts are concerned. Maybe it would be better for NGO's rather than governments try to establish relations with North Korea in a way that would allow for some sort of on-the-ground oversight. Either way, it appears to be a very sticky situation.
-Article were by Japan's weekly magazine, Shukangendai (週間現代)
Though I don't have any intention to ridicule someone's health but I guess Kim Jung-Il too like his father Kim Il-Sung, suffers from heart problems - I'd assume that North Koreans wouldn't be too happy with this article by a Japanese magazine which revealed not only that he had just had a major surgery but also that he suffers from constipation.
Before reading the article, I thought it was too early to ask about the next leader for North Korea but I guess after the heart-bypass, it would be fair to ask the question: "What happens after Kim Jong-Il?" Is it going to be one of his three sons or one of the top party leaders? One thing I don't think will happen is that Kim Jong-Il’s death will collapse the North Korean regime, like people predicted about Kim Il-Sung and his death. I guess being a dictator isn't easy after all - if he is suffering from all those health problems and planning the frequent missile test launches as well as showing up for photo ops. He might just live fine for another ten years but it is interesting to predict North Korea’s future without Kim Jong-Il.
link to original article (it's in Korean) Kim Jong-Il's Health Issues
Friday, June 08, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Interesting that despite the fact the Korean people could benefit greatly from a unified Korea, still many oppose this action. The article discusses that the military in the North may reduce in power as a result of this occurence. I found it interesting that North Korea's Chief delegate, Kwon Ho ung stressed the need for the powers to work together, while he criticized the outside powers refering to the US as a force that has been nothing but an obstacle to this process.
Does he see the US as an obstacle becuase of the different ideologies of the North and South? Or could this actually be a tactic that he uses to create a common enemy (The Western world- US), hence unifing the North and the South?
I know I'm being bad for not making a fancy shortcut, but my internet keeps shutting off and I can't figure it out! =( Sorry, kids.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Title of the movie/#of total audiences
3. TaeGukGi: Brotherhood Of War / 11,746,235 (2004)
4. Silmido / 11,081,000 (2003)
6. Welcome To Dongmakgol / 8,008,622 (2005)
9. Swiri / 6,209,898 (1999)
11. Joint Security Area / 5,830,228 (2000)
Apparently, when the U.S. froze North Korea's funds in the first part of the year to speed up the nuclear disarmament process, it ran into a speed bump because the US was unable to figure out how to unfreeze the funds, and therefore asked Russia for help in finding a solution. Is this even possible? One would think that if you could freeze someone's accounts, you could just lift the ban, or at least know how to! My question is, why would the Russians be scared of sanctions if the US had asked them for help? Something seems a bit shady to me! Of course, the idea that Russia was the first to be able to help is a little humorous too, seeing how they started the communist revolution in the first place in NK! And what will these funds be used for? Will it help the people at all? One would hope so!
Monday, June 04, 2007
The issue concerning Japan and defectors is serious because of its implication on the relationship between the two countries. Because of the shaky past, Prime Minister Abe must be careful not to push Pyongyang too far, especially with their latest missile tests. Abe has stated that a "humanitarian approach" would be taken. This could be viewed as an attempt to take the moral highground, and I'm sure that the North Korean government is outraged. It has been ecided that the family will be allowed to travel to South Korea with a "temporal protection landing permit" from Japan.
It is also interesting to note the differences between China and Japan's defector policies, because as Christina mentioned, the Chinese have sent defectors back, recognizing them as criminals.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
I found the article extremely compelling and informative. It was a great read, I thought, because it told a story. It is always helpful for me to read articles about people who actually lived through an event such as Japanese annexation and the March 1st movement. This makes the event real to me and I am more willing to read other subject matter even if it is a bit dry.
These are just a few examples of the everyday occurrences that happen in North Korea. I can not imagine what it would be like to like in a society like this. Would I like it in my blind ignorance and find it to be a serene environment? or would I question the existence and the extremely unfair division of elite and poor? One woman is quoted as saying "Why do the Americans hate us so much?" Is this the case, I don't think so but what if that is all you ever knew? What would it be like?
According to the above article, North Korea is supposedly transitioning from a "Army First" year to a year of helping average people. The idea is that now since North Korea has been successful in creating it's nuclear weapon program, it can focus on the economy and raising the living standards of the people. The article states that many people live on monthly wages of just $3-$6, and participate in small markets buying surplus from farmers that the Government turns a blind eye towards, allowing some people to make $25/month.
However, the government has not stated how they are going to accomplish this goal, apart from starting to build a few apartment buildings that will only house a few hundred people. In fact, the only response to how this goal will be met is "More Discipline!" I may not be an economist, but one thing I know that controlling people does not automatically lead to economic prosperity. The socialist system is obviously not working for the benefit of the poor. I think the government should take a hint from the mini capitalist version of the small markets. I think that the whole idea of the government switching from a military first position to a people position is unvalidated. I wouldn't be surprised if the propaganda for the nuclear weapons in the country included how these developments will help the people, but I highly doubt this will become a reality.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
On my end, it seems likethe same old tune doesn't it and isn't it a shame that the people's of the north will be manipulated to think that the evil capitalists want them to starve and have no electricity. Anyway, if anybody wants to post on the psychology of dictaors or this topic feel free.