Thursday, March 31, 2011

Korean Kids "World Losers" in Social Skills

South Korean children are already the unhappiest kids in the developed world, apparently all the studying they have to do has not only made them hate their lives, but has made them socially inept and awkward.  It really can be a tough life here for a kid sometimes with all the pressure they are under.

Article in the Chosunilbo:
A highly competitive, regimented education system focusing on exam grades means Korean youngsters fail to acquire proper social skills, a study suggests. The National Youth Policy Institute on Sunday said Korea ranks 35th out of 36 countries when it comes to youngsters' capacity for social interaction.

Korea scored just 0.31 on a scale of 0 to 1 in an assessment of social skills taken from a comprehensive study by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, which covered some 140,000 eighth grade students around the world.

The score is an average of ratings in relationship orientation, social cooperation and conflict management. Korean students scored 0 in terms of relationship orientation and social cooperation, which measures how much they get involved in civic organizations and student unions. But they scored 0.94 in conflict management, which gauges how well they handle democratic processes, right after Denmark's perfect score of 1.

"Korean students performed well only in areas that involved written exams but very poorly in areas that involved extracurricular activities," said one researcher.

Thailand scored highest overall with 0.69 points, followed by Indonesia (0.64), Ireland (0.6), Guatemala (0.59), the U.K. (0.53) and Chile (0.52).

In other findings, only 20 percent of Korean students said they trust their government, just one-third of the average of 62 percent among participating countries. Indonesians had the most trust in their government with 96 percent, followed by Finland and Lichtenstein with 82 percent each and Austria with 77 percent. Only 45 percent of Korean students said they trust their own schools, far below the overall average of 75 percent.
I think it is a good thing that Koreans do not trust their government and are highly skeptical of their elected leaders.  It keeps the pressure on them and hopefully reduces corruption.

Arirang World TV Shits on "Healthy" Women

I want to thank The Grand Narrative for posting on this topic and raising awareness of it.  Since he posted, the video was taken down from Arirang's Youtube channel.  You can read TGN's posts here and here.  The segment is an outrage and I seriously want to find the editor who okay'd this segment and punch him in the face.

This segment actually had the audacity to tell these gorgeous women that they should take "more care" of themselves or do "some yoga" to fix their disgusting and "chubby" looking legs.  The photoshoped images of how much skinnier these "healthy" legs should be almost made me vomit on my keyboard.

Seriously, the left leg on the "after doing some yoga" picture is creepy.

One of the worst things about Korean culture is their obsession with physical beauty.  Unattractive people are openly discriminated against daily in every social situation and I have had coworkers deliberately go out of their way to make other less attractive coworkers feel like shit all the time.  It is also socially acceptable amongst my coworkers to talk about the physical attractiveness of other coworkers and even our students (sometimes in front of them).  I always refuse to participate and when Koreans comment about my physical appearance I put my foot down and let them know that is not in anyway appropriate or appreciated.

I can't believe in this segment actually targeted T-ara's Eun-Jung (함은정) and said she needed to slim down those "healthy" legs in order to become perfect.  This is one of the most attractive women on the planet and there is nothing about her that needs changing before I can declare her perfect.  Her legs look great.

Footage of Fukushima Plant Minutes After Quake

New footage found of the Fukushima plant minutes after the quake.  The plant sustained considerable damage from the quake alone before the water hit.

Six Million North Koreans In Urgent Need of Food

The news is never good when it comes to the poor or the children of North Korea.  What is ironic about this news is that next year is Kim Il Sung's 100 year birthday and it is being advertised as the "year of plenty" in North Korea.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United Nations says more than 6 million North Koreans are in urgent need of international food assistance. 
The world body reported Thursday that North Korea has suffered a series of shocks including summer floods and then a harsh winter, "leaving the country highly vulnerable to a food crisis."
Six million represents about a quarter of the country's population. 
The report said the worst affected include children, women and the elderly, and recommended providing 430,000 metric tons of aid. 
The study was based on an assessment conducted in February and March by agencies including the World Food Program at North Korea's request. 
The U.S. is considering resuming food aid to the North, which has continued to advance its nuclear programs despite its chronic problems feeding its people.
You have to wonder how it is possible this country has not collapsed yet.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

KPOP Korral - [Super Junior M] - Perfection

Every time I see a new video by Super Junior (슈퍼주니어), there appears to be less of them in the video.  At one point they had thirteen members and now I only see seven of them.  They have misplaced nearly half their members.  Maybe there is some KPOP reality TV show were these guys have to perform absurd tasks to be judged and each month a different member is kicked out of the band.  That'd be awesome...

Their latest video is Perfection (太完美).  These guys never disappoint in delivering a decent song with a slick video.  Even though none of my students even pretend like they remember "Sorry, Sorry", they're probably still my favorite guy group.

The folks at EatYourKimchi noticed a growing trend in male kpop stars wearing ridiculous furry hats.  Nice catch.  What is up with that?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Problems with the American Style of Voting

Having grown up in America, I just assumed that all countries in the world that were democratic had the same style of voting as we did.  In America, we have something called "First Past the Post Voting."  This style of voting has created the domination of a two-party system for our entire nation's history.  I did not learn of alternative voting methods and systems of government until I took a comparative world politics class in college.  I would love to see some innovation or change in America politics, but our federal system makes it nearly impossible to amend our Constitution.  Even so, because of the dominance of the two parties, neither support on the state or local level new ideas of voting that would challenge their dominance.

A guy named C. G. P. Grey made an awesome video explaining why so many people in America either do not care about politics or reluctantly vote but still resent only ever having two options to choose from.

On his blog he mentioned that if people liked or commented on his video, he would make more videos about politics in the animal kingdom.  So, check him out and bump his video.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

North Korea Sends $500,000 in Aid Relief to Japan

This makes for a strange headline.  First, where did North Korea get that money?  Isn't a significant percentage of their population starving right now?  Second, doesn't North Korea still hate Japan for that whole occupation period that started a hundred years ago?  Isn't Japan a strategic ally of the United States, their sworn enemy?

SEOUL, March 24 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has sent half a million dollars to aid Korean expatriates in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Pyongyang's official news agency said on Thursday. 
Decades of tightly controlled economic policy that has seen North Korea channel much of its scarce resources to arms development has left the country acutely short of cash although its leaders continue to live lavishly, according to South Korean news reports. Food is also reportedly scarce. 
Japan, formerly Korea's colonial master, is frequently lambasted as a "war monger" in North Korea's state-controlled media along with South Korea and the United States. 
"Leader Kim Jong-il sent (a) relief fund of 500,000 U.S. dollars to Korean residents in Japan who suffered from the killer quake and tsunami happened there," KCNA news agency said.
Half a million U.S. dollars is equivalent to the annual average income earned by 520 North Koreans in all of 2009, according to Bank of Korea data. 
U.N. sanctions in 2009 imposed for its nuclear and missile tests that defied international warnings have further cut into North Korea's finances, choking off much of its lucrative arms trade. 
The North's Red Cross has separately sent $100,000 in disaster relief for its residents in Japan, KCNA said. (Reporting by Jack Kim, editing by Miral Fahmy)
The answer to why is that this money is going to the Korean Zainichi living in Japan.  They are the ethnic Koreans living in Japan who remain loyal to North Korea.  Their numbers are somewhere in the 600,000 range and they are mostly concentrated in the urban areas of Tokyo and Osaka.   More than one hundred years ago colonial Japan annexed the Korean peninsula.  Then, for more than fifty years they kidnapped and enslaved Koreans and forced them to relocate to Japan.  The Zainichi are the decedents of these former forced laborers, many of whom are third or fourth generation.  North Korea financially supports many of their schools and community centers and this relief money is meant for them.

If you do not know about the Korean Zainichi living in Japan, Al Jazeera English's 101 East did an episode about them last year that was quite fascinating.  It is worth the watch:

Japan Radiation Fear Sparks Korean Diaper Rush

There has been a panic on goods coming from the area surrounding the Fukushima power plant in Japan.  Many countries have halted imports or announced increased screening to ensure that the food and goods coming from Japan are safe to consume and use.

This has led to a rush by Korean parents to buy their favorite Japanese brands of diapers.

(Reuters Life!) - The risk of radiation contamination from Japan's damaged nuclear power stations has sparked food bans across the globe and more surprisingly, a buying frenzy from South Korean mothers who fear their favorite Japanese-made diapers may suddenly become unavailable.
Cho Myung-jin, who organizes online group-buying for Japanese diapers, saw her website collapse on Tuesday under the weight of traffic as panicked South Koreans chased brands they believe are better quality than locally-made products.
"The reaction was scary. Some mothers did not go to work to reserve diapers," the 31-year old mother told Reuters. 
According to Auction Corp (, the second-largest online shopping website in South Korea, sales of Japanese diapers have doubled since the quake. 
After her social commerce website collapsed, Cho opened a new message board selling 300 packs of diapers, limiting sales to one pack per person, and said she received 2,000 offers in a minute. 
She said the price of Japanese diapers available online has nearly doubled to 150,000 won ($133.30) a package. 
"I feel sorry that they sold out, upsetting parents who had waited for days," said Cho, whose 22-month old infant uses the Japanese product.
Why are Koreans spending twice as much for Japanese diapers ($133.30) instead of buying locally-made products?  Are Korean diapers just that bad?  Or are Korean parents operating under some silly cultural superstition that I do not understand?  Go buy some Huggies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ban Ki-moon Should Be Swearing

John Oliver of the Daily Show got his own special comedy hour on Comedy Central.  He seems to think that politicians who do not swear are not trustworthy.  He thinks Ban Ki-moon (반기문) should be swearing a lot with the stuff he has to deal with at his job everyday.  The UN has been dealing with a lot of disasters and conflicts recently.

John made the mistake of saying "Mrs. Ki-moon."  Ban is his family name, not Ki-moon, and Korean women do not change their names when they get married.  So, as a Korean, she has no Western equivalent of a "Mrs." title.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Seven Reasons Not To Use Nuclear Power

I drew some heat last week amongst friends and readers for my opinion on nuclear energy.  A reader was kind enough to leave a detailed comment and challenged me to explain my position.  It was a comment left by Hastey Words on a previous post:
Hey, just wanted to say first that I generally enjoy your blog quite a bit. That said, it seems that predictions of catastrophic fallout from the Fukushima plant are overreactions, and that despite a magnitute 9 earthquake and massive tsunami, the plant will not pose serious danger even to nearby residents in Japan, much less people further away []. 
As to the dangers of nuclear plants generally, it's true that people living within 50 miles of a plant are exposed to some radiation, but a nuclear plant produces less than a third of the background radiation produced by a coal plant. In fact, you are exposed to more radiation by eating a banana than by living 50 miles from a nuclear plant for a year. [].

Finally, nuclear power is linked to fewer deaths per terawatt hour than power from virtually any other source: coal, natural gas, solar, wind, you name it. []
Why then, should we be so concerned about nuclear energy instead of embracing it as a safe, clean energy?
Okay!  I choose to not embrace nuclear energy as a safe and clean energy because it is neither.  First, I concede that I am not an expert and nobody reading this should think of me as one, but here are my reasons for opposing nuclear energy based on the facts I think are important:

Reason #7 - Safety is a myth.  The Chernobyl incident was in 1986.  That accident caused (or in time directly contributed to) the deaths of anywhere from 4,000 to upwards of a half a million people depending on the estimate.  It has been 26 years since Chernobyl and there have been 22 significant nuclear power accidents since, 15 of which led to the release of radioactive substances into the world biosphere.  Not everything has been reported as widely as Fukushima, but this technology needs to be respected at all times and the potential danger can never be eliminated.  Nothing will ever make nuclear energy a 100% safe guarantee to the world community.

What Fukushima has accomplished is alerting the world to the potential of natural disasters on nuclear power plants.  Natural disasters must be factored in when discussing the safety of nuclear power.  This is true for not only Japan, but the rest of the world.  Anyone with the basic understandings of earth sciences could have anticipated that Japan was going to have a 9.0 magnitude (or greater) on their east coast sometime in the next 100 years.  Planning a country's energy policy should reflect the anticipation for several large and devastating natural disasters.  Japan knew this and even designed the facility to withstand a severe earthquake and tsunami.  The failure at the plant is proof you cannot guarantee safety no matter how good of a design or how many precautions you take.

If the process and technology of nuclear energy cannot withstand a 9.0+ earthquake, then it has to abandoned (at least for Japan).  The epicenter of this 9.0 earthquake was nearly 200 kilometers away from Fukushima.  What happens if next time it is only 20 kilometers from a nuclear power plant and the earthquake is a 9.2? (which is almost three times larger than a 9.0 on a the logarithmic scale and very possible)  No amount of safety planning and design can guarantee the facility can contain its radioactive materials.  If a plume goes up, hundreds of thousands could die as a result.  The workers at Fukushima are heroes and the worst case scenario may have been averted there, but is every country capable of averting such a disaster?

Reason #6 - If nuclear energy is the answer to the world's energy problems, then who gets to have it?  People make the argument that safety standards are always improving, and that we can trust energy companies to expand nuclear power.  That might be great for first world nations like the USA, Japan, and France, but who do we not trust to start or expand their civilian nuclear program?  Can Libya or Egypt have one?  How about Cuba?  What about Iran or North Korea?  When talking about the future of energy consumption needs, we are talking about a global society.  If the USA says nuclear is their long-term answer to sustainable energy, then every developing country is going to want it as well and they will not take no for an answer.  Japan, France, and the USA might have the best trained technicians, highest safety standards, and most-thorough government oversight to ensure nothing disastrous happens, but what about developing nations or nations with authoritarian leaders?  A catastrophic accident anywhere in the world will not respect our arbitrary political boundaries.  Nuclear power is dangerous, more so in the hands of less developed nations.  Its global expansion should be halted and reversed.  First world nations should serve as an example to follow.

Reason #5 - What about the glowing green waste?  Nuclear power is not a clean energy source.  It produces both low and high-level radioactive waste that remains dangerous for several hundred thousand years.  Currently, over 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and 12 million cubic feet of low level radioactive waste are produced annually by the 103 operating reactors in the United States alone.  No country in the world has found a final solution for their waste.  Building more nuclear plants world-wide would mean the production of much more of this dangerous waste with nowhere safe for it to go.  The hundreds of thousands of metric tons of high-level radioactive waste created from nuclear energy (and the unimaginable amount yet to be created by advocates of nuclear energy) have to be sealed and successfully kept separate from the entire world's biosphere.  If any of it is lost track of by incompetence or neglect over the next couple hundred thousands years, then people start dying.

Reason #4 - Who has got the time?  The world is already facing an energy crisis.  It is only going to get worse in the near future.  In the USA alone, no new nuclear power plants have been built in the last thirty years and it was not until the energy bill of 2005 that plans were set in motion for the design and development of new facilities.  Because nuclear power is so dangerous, costly, and complicated, the time frame needed for the formalities, planing, and building of a new nuclear power generation plant is in the range of 20 to 30 years.  It is impossible to build new nuclear power plants in the short run to meet our immediate power needs.  Our time would be better spent investing and furthering new and renewable, emerging technologies.

Reason # 3 - It is not a cheaper energy source.  Nuclear power cannot survive and compete on its own without the aid and use of government handouts and tax payer dollars.  The list of benefits the nuclear power industry gets from the United States Federal government goes on and on.  Limits on primary insurance, covering the costs of licensing applications, reimbursing up to half the costs of research and development programs, taxpayer-finance new plant constructions costs, production tax credits, loan guarantees and power purchase agreements, shutdown subsidies, and anti-trust exemptions.  The aggregate estimate of subsidization for the nuclear power industry in the United States is estimated at over $150 billion dollars over the last 50 years.  This is a subsidy intensity (government support per kWh output) normally exceeding 30% of the market value of the energy produced.  In the European Union, the rate is almost as bad approaching $45 billion over the last thirty years.  If all of this money had been put into developing and mass producing true renewable energies such as geothermal, wind, solar, and tidal, we might have already solved all of the world's energy problems.

Reason #2 - Uranium is a finite resource like coal and oil.  The world's future energy needs cannot be solved by investing in a finite resource.  Coal is finite.  Oil is finite.  Uranium is finite.  The true irony of advocating nuclear power as an alternative to the other two is that of those three, the world will run out of uranium first.  This is no joke, the world is running out of raw materials for everything.  At the current expected rate of consumption and demand, we will run out of Antimony in 15-20 years, Hafnium in 10 years, Indium in 5-10 years, Platinum in 15 years, Silver in 15-20 years, Tantalum in 20-30 years, Zinc in 20-30 years and Uranium in 30-40 years.  Unless you plan on dying in the next five years, this will happen in your lifetime.  The world must start investing in alternative energies right now that draw energy from infinite sources, such as the sun, the Earth's core, and the Earth's wind and waves.

Reason #1 - Terrorists are still trying to do their thing.  The world we live in is very dangerous.  Every power plant in the world is a vulnerable target.  The 9/11 Commission noted in June 2004 that al Qaeda's original plan for September 11 was to hijack 10 airplanes and crash two of them into nuclear plants.  A successful attack would release "large quantities of radioactive materials to the environment."  A September 2004 study by Dr. Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, using the NRC's own analysis method, found that a worst-case accident or attack at the Indian Point nuclear plant 35 miles north of New York City could cause up to 43,700 immediate fatalities and up to 518,000 long-term cancer deaths.  Such a release could cost up to $2.1 trillion and would force the permanent relocation of 11.1 million people.

Additionally, the proliferation of civilian nuclear technology can all too easily lead to the proliferation of military nuclear technology.  The more rogue and unstable nations with nuclear materials (Iran, Pakistan, North Korea) the greater the chance a terrorist organization can obtain enough nuclear materials to make a dirty bomb and detonate it in a heavily populated city.  The more that nuclear technology is expanded, the greater the inevitable risk this worst-case scenario will happen.  Instead, research and development should go into renewable energies and then that technology should be shared with developing nations to deter them from pursuing nuclear technology.

*** I want to let everyone know that I am deeply concerned for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  My thoughts and well wishes go out to the citizens of Japan.  Reading and watching daily about the response of search and rescue teams and humanitarian organizations has been very heart-warming and inspiring.

This post was not intended to be insensitive towards the victims of the quake.  I have already been told it is inappropriate to be having this debate so recently after the tragedy, but I respectfully disagree.  This is the most important time to have the debate because the world is listening right now and I believe in my argument.  I believe that it can save lives in the future.  Thanks.

KPOP Korral - [Sistar] - How Dare You

Sistar (씨스타) is a four member girl group created by Starship Entertainment.  The group enjoyed much success after their debut last summer with their hits "Push Push" and "Shady Girl".  Their latest hit song and video is "How Dare You" (니까짓게).

In a recent radio interview, group member Bora was asked if the girls were contractually forbidden from dating.  She replied that restrictions on dating was not in writing, but was a promise the group members made when they were signed.  She was then told by Starship Entertainment that if any of the girls absolutely HAD TO date, it should only be with another top star.  lol

This video was banned because there was a brief period in which it looked like the girls would be pole dancing.  The whole video feels a little pornographic to begin with, so it is uncertain if their popularity took a hit or got a boost from this video.  Eat Your Kimchi had a fun review, check 'em out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Teacher! What is Difference Between England and UK?"

I frequently have been asked by students and coworkers to explain the difference between England, Great Britain, and the UK.  I already knew enough to answer that question in the basic form, but here is the complete answer to untangle the total remains of what was once the world's largest and most complicated empire.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Native English Teachers in Japan, "We Ran For Our Lives"

AP has a short clip of the stories of some native English speaking teachers in one of the hardest hit towns by the tsunami in Japan.  It is awesome that they have stayed this long to try and help comfort their students currently living in shelters.

They had to run into the hills and then just stand there all day and watch everything get destroyed.  Two-thirds of the residents of this town are still missing.

South Korea Faces Rescue Search Dog Shortage

I have no idea if South Korea actually has a rescue search dog shortage, but that is the conclusion I draw from this this article on The Korea Times titled "Why did Korea send only 2 rescue dogs to Japan?"  The article states they only sent two dogs to help with the coordinated search and rescue operation because they only had two trained dogs in the whole country... right, let's hope there is never an emergency (like a shelling?) or national disaster in this country.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Number of Billionaires in South Korea Increases

The global recession of the last three years has treated the richest 0.0000000001% of the world's population very well.  Forbe's list of the world's billionaires was released last week and the number of billionaires in the world increased to 1,210 from 937 last year.  The billionaire's club now has a combined net worth of $4.5 trillion.

The number of billionaires in South Korea jumped up as well.  Forbe's list of billionaires in 2010 only listed ten South Koreans as having a net worth of $1,000,000,000 US Dollars.  That number increased to sixteen this year.  The richest man in South Korea is Lee Kun-hee (이건희), Chairman of Samsung Electronics, with a respectable $8.6 billion.

Here they are:

Anyone else surprised by how many billionaires there are from online gaming?  I am, but maybe I shouldn't be.

My Blog is Killing Journalism

The Huffington Post was sold last month to AOL for $315 million.  People are debating if the site is a real news organization and if it is actually worth that amount.  The Huffington Post does a little of its original reporting, but most of the time it just links to other sources.  In so many ways it is just one of the world's biggest blogs.

Bill Keller of The New York Times wrote an editorial about the Huffington Post recently and said the site just aggregates.  It has made a fortune off of cute kitten videos, celebrity gossip, editorials from unpaid bloggers, and quoting and linking to hard news sources like The New York Times.  Blogs and aggregation websites like the Huffington Post are stealing advertisers and revenue streams from hard news sources and slowly killing them.

My blog is really the same thing.  I read hard news sites and the link and quote them on my blog.  Many other K-blogs do as well... I doubt the Korea Times or Herald cares about us...

Here is Stephen Colbert's take on the Huffington Post making money off linking his videos.

Japan Confirms Radioactive Leak

Japan has now confirmed to the world that the reactors at Fukushima have leaked enough radioactive material to harm human life.  Even more alarming is that the workers at the Fukushima plant trying to cool the reactors have just been evacuated because the level of radiation at the plant is enough to cause them immediate harm.

Here is the scary map that has been floating around on the internet showing where the radiation will blow.  This map in not verifiable, but it follows common sense.  Because of the gulf stream, ironically, most of Japan and all of Asia will be immediately spared from the most concentrated amounts of radiation.  The Pacific Ocean and the west coast of North America will eventually be where a lot of these radioactive particles will settle down.  Scary stuff.

KPOP Korral - [MBLAQ] - Cry

MBLAQ (엠블랙) stands for Music Boys Live in Absolute Quality... kind of a wordy name just to get a clever sounding acronym.  These guys were getting ready to release an album and tour in Japan this Spring, although that might be cancelled or delayed because of the natural disaster there.

There other recent release was Stay.

Here's a fun sketch of them I found.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tokyo - "The City Waiting to Die"

Last year I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.  It was a fantastic read of basically the history of modern scientific discovery.  I recommend it.

When I read it last year, there was a quote that caught my attention on page 138:
The most common types of earthquakes are those where two plates meet, as in California along the San Andreas Fault. As the plates push against each other, pressures build up until one or the other gives way. In general, the longer the interval between quakes, the greater the pent-up pressure and thus the greater the scope for a really big jolt. This is a particular worry for Tokyo, which Bill McGuire, a hazards specialist at University College London, describes as “the city waiting to die” (not a motto you will find on many tourism leaflets). Tokyo stands on the boundary of three tectonic plates in a country already well known for its seismic instability. In 1995, as you will remember, the city of Kobe, three hundred miles to the west, was struck by a magnitude 7.2 quake, which killed 6,394 people. The damage was estimated at $99 billion. But that was as nothing—well, as comparatively little—compared with what may await Tokyo. 
Tokyo has already suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes in modern times. On September 1, 1923, just before noon, the city was hit by what is known as the Great Kanto quake—an event more than ten times more powerful than Kobe’s earthquake. Two hundred thousand people were killed. Since that time, Tokyo has been eerily quiet, so the strain beneath the surface has been building for eighty years. Eventually it is bound to snap. In 1923, Tokyo had a population of about three million. Today it is approaching thirty million. Nobody cares to guess how many people might die, but the potential economic cost has been put as high as $7 trillion.
Japan endures 20 percent of the world's powerful earthquakes and the reason is obvious.  The country lies at the crossing of four tectonic plates - the Eurasian, North American, Philippine and Pacific plates.  A major fault line goes directly under the world's largest city, Tokyo.  Although this latest earthquake was horrific, it happened off the coast and not below a major metropolitan city.  Most of the totaled economic destruction from this earthquake will be a result of the tsunami that followed it.  Also, the tsunami took time to travel across the ocean and residents along the coastline had advanced warning to evacuate to higher ground.  Japan, thanks to their preparations and advanced warning systems, did a tremendous job to minimize the loss of human life.  Eventually, however, Tokyo is going to take a big one and there is nothing that they can do to prevent an even worse tragedy than the one that has taken place this week.

Raw Video of Japanese Natural Disaster

I don't have much to say.  This was a horrible global catastrophe and the full effects of this earthquake in terms of human life and economic value will be unknown for quite sometime.  The whole world is watching the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and hoping that the situation does not get any more worse than it already is.

Here is some raw video of the earthquake and the tsunami that follow.  I also learned this week that "tsunami" is a Japanese word and it simply means "harbor wave".  Pretty scary stuff.

Owl vs Korean Rat Snake!

Not sure how I got here, but I was goofing off watching bizarre animal fights online and came across this EPIC battle between an owl and a snake.  This is one of the strangest animal fights I have ever seen.  At one point it looks obvious that both animals think they are going to die and both are content to die as long as they take the other one out with them as they go.

Stuff Waygooks Like #9 - No Daylight Savings Time

Day Lights Savings is a waste of time (literally).  South Korea does not observe it.  Waygooks from the Western world arrive here and enjoy not having to remember to reset their clocks twice a year.  Of course it is not a huge inconvenience, but is it really something everyone in the world has to do?  Every opinion poll ever taken anywhere in the world suggests DST is generally unpopular and even the benefits to doing it in terms of energy conservation are disputed by various think tanks.

According to this source, Ben Franklin is the man to thank for the idea of Daylight Savings Time and the Germans were the first nation to adopt it:
According to the book, Seize the Daylight, by David Perau, Franklin was living in Paris when he was awakened by sunlight coming in through the windows.
"An accidental sudden noise waked me about 6 in the morning when I was surprised to find my room filled with light," Franklin wrote in a letter to the Journal de Paris, according Perau. "I imagined at first that a number of lamps had been brought into the room; but rubbing my eyes I perceived the light came in at the windows."
What followed was a plan to save Paris money by optimizing sunlight over candles.
The real father of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman, William Willett (1857-1915), a house builder who spent the last eight years of his life petitioning for the adoption of DST by the British Parliament, and did so at his own expense.

Willett produced a pamphlet, The Waste of Daylight. In it he proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in the summer. The evenings would then remain light longer, increasing daylight recreation time and also saving ₤2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time at 2am on successive Sundays in April and be turned back by the same amount on Sundays in September.
Robert Pearce, a member of Parliament, introduced the measure in a select committee of the legislature. A very young Winston Churchill heartily endorsed the proposal. Several times, the bill came to a vote, and each time, it met with defeat. Willett died in 1915, of influenza, never living to see his longed-for idea come to fruition.

Ironically, events elsewhere in Europe prompted its eventual adoption. In the summer of 1914, World War I broke out in Europe. Germany and its allies were the first European nations to adopt Willet's proposal. The measure went into effect on April 30, 1916, stemming from the need to conserve coal during wartime. Great Britain, Russia and several neutral European countries came on board in 1917. The United States formally adopted the law in 1918, athough some states and territories have exempted themselves from following Daylight Savings Time.
South Korea used to observe Daylight Savings Time for most of the years after World War II through 1960.  It also observed DST from 1987 to 1988 when South Korea hosted the Asian Games and the Olympic Games.

Recently, business interests and government officials have been pushing to reinstate DST as part of a wider green initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  There was much talk of bringing it back in 2009, but it appears nothing every materialized from it.

Source (Feb 16th, 2009):
The government will form a task force to introduce daylight saving time (DST) as early as possible to save energy and improve the quality of life, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday. 
It is also considering creating a fund to attract investment from the private sector in the development of energy-saving technologies under the ``Green New Deal'' project aimed at nurturing relative industries into a new economic growth engine. 
These measures were discussed at the first meeting of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, presided over by President Lee Myung-bak at Cheong Wa Dae. The 47-member council of economic ministers and experts from the private sector, which opened Monday, will play a leading role in forming the government's green growth policies. 
``South Korea has become one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of efforts to develop green technologies and fight climate change,'' President Lee said. ``I'm confident that green technologies will not only help us overcome the ongoing economic crisis, but enhance the country's long-term growth potential.'' 
As part of plans to promote green industries, the government will soon introduce DST, which has been adopted by 27 of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Only South Korea, Japan and Iceland have yet to put DST in motion. 
The measure is expected to draw a fierce backlash from unions, which have argued employers might abuse it to force employees to work longer. Union activists claim that it is still premature to launch DST because South Koreans work the longest hours in the world even though the country enforces a 40-hour workweek. [...]
The target was to have DST return to South Korea by spring of 2010, and that obviously never happened.  Hazaa!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Subway Becomes #1... So Where's My Sandwich?

Subway just overtook McDonald's as the number one franchise in the world by locations.

So... why are there three McDonald's in the Korean town I live in and zero Subways... come Korea, eat more sub sandwiches and fewer hamburgers.

Article Here:
McDonald's is no longer the world's largest restaurant chain. That honor now goes to Subway.
The sandwich giant just passed the golden arches in terms of number of locations, according to theWall Street Journal. Subway had 33,749 restaurants open worldwide at the end of 2010. 
McDonald's had just 32,737 locations open by the same point, the corporation disclosed in SEC filings. 
According to the WSJ, the chain just opened its 1000th location in Asia, and sees international growth as the future.The $5 dollar footlong did a lot to fuel Subway's recent growth, according to Bloomberg, and spending a large amount on advertising while rapidly opening shops using a franchise model similar to McDonald's has allowed them to grow quickly. 
But don't be surprised if McDonald's comes battling back. The fast-food giant also has a keen eyefor international growth, and expansion in Asia, including India.
Subway is just a cheap franchise location to maintain.  Fewer employees necessary and it is just a cleaner operation.  Prices and food are good, too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Subway Suicides Down, But Bridge Suicides Up

South Korea has a problem in that they have the regrettable title of the nation with the highest suicide rate in the developed world.  On average, about forty South Koreans commit suicide every day.  How do they do it?  Jumping from high places and jumping in front of trains and subways appear to be common choices.

Recently, Seoul has been installing screens in many of the subway stations in an effort from discouraging people from jumping in front of the tracks.  Article Link Here:
South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, but a sharp drop in the number of people that tried to kill themselves by jumping in front of subway trains in Seoul last year following prevention measures is stirring discussion about similar steps at other common suicide sites. 
According to a police report, the number of people attempting suicide by jumping from platforms of subway stations in Seoul declined 62% to 29 from 77 in 2009. The decline comes after the installation of screens along many subway platforms that ensure people are unable to get on to the tracks. Most of the deaths occurred at subway stations where screens hadn’t been installed. 
Despite that sharp decline, suicide attempts from bridges spanning the main Han River in Seoul rose 30% to 108 last year from 83, according to the report, which was submitted to Rep. Yoon Seok-yong of the ruling Grand National Party. 
Kim Sung-hoon, an aide to Rep. Yoon, said the lawmaker, who belongs to the National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee, is thinking of ways to reduce the number of suicide attempts at Han River bridges. 
“He believes the government should establish stumbling blocks or set up fences near the bridges that are notorious for suicide attempts,” Kim said. 
“Years of efforts to install screens at subway stations have made those trying to commit a suicide head towards no-screen stations or Han River bridges where safety checks are still lacking,” said Kim Sung-il, an official at the Korea Association for Suicide Prevention, a non-governmental organization. 
He said the government needs to take measures to prevent suicides at the bridges by, for example, setting up fences. 
According to the police report, the Hangang Bridge topped the list of attempted suicides at the Han River, at 17 cases, followed by Mapo Bridge with 16 attempts. 
In 2009, the latest year for which data are available, South Korea had the highest suicide rate among the 33 mostly wealthy nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at 28.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with the OECD average of 11.2 deaths. The rate was 24.3 for South Korea in 2008. 
OECD data showed the rate in South Korea has increased rapidly even as it has slowed in most other developed nations, with suicides among South Korean males, for instance, almost tripling between 1990 and 2006.
Koreans still have this wrong.  Having screens and safety rails in the subways is a good idea.  This could potentially save the life of someone who loses their balance or the life of a child that does not realize the danger.  However, if you want to stop Koreans from killing themselves as such an alarming rate, then the culture in this country has to change.  

Koreans who experience economic hardship or suffer from a mental disease or depression are encouraged by the culture to keep it hidden from their family and friends.  Too many people here would rather live a lie in public to save face than look vulnerable.  This causes people to eventually snap and if they want to kill themselves, they will find a way.  Fences and screens cannot save a determined suicide case.  Counseling and treatment programs can.  People who need help need to be able to publicly seek it out and not become pariahs amongst their family and friends.

North Korea Still Remains in the Dark

There is a recent article in the LA Times by Laura Ling about North Korea living up to its reputation as the Hermit Kingdom.  Oppressive regimes across the world have been doing all they can to contain their people and censor the media in order to suppress further attempts at protesting or open insurrection.  However, there is one dictator in the world that does not have to worry about social netoworking sites being used to organize protests because most of his people have never even used a computer before.

Around the world, authoritarian regimes have tried to keep their citizens from hearing news of the protests raging throughout the Middle East and in their own countries. Some have tried shutting down cellphone and Internet service, but that has only sparked new flames of anger and discontent. 
Even the Chinese government, which has unleashed the most sophisticated Internet blocking system in the world, can't contain all the information and chatter on countless websites, social networks and blogs. [...]
But there is one country that has actually managed to keep the vast majority of its population in the dark: North Korea. Unlike its neighbor China, which has more than 450 million Internet users, the Internet in North Korea is banned for the average citizen. There's no need for the government to block threatening websites, because most North Koreans have never used a computer, let alone understand what a URL is. 
In March 2009, while working on a story along the China-North Korean border, I was taken captive by North Korean soldiers and held inside that isolated country for nearly five months. Though I was confined to a room with two guards watching over me at all times, I was able to get an interesting glimpse of the country's propaganda machine. 
In the guards' area, a television would blare black-and-white films depicting evil South Korean and American soldiers being beaten back by the North's heroic forces. Elaborate rallies were broadcast with people shouting nationalistic slogans as soldiers marched in unison. And there was frequent coverage of the "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il, presiding over the opening of factories or schools. 
To this day, I can conjure up the tune to North Korea's national anthem, because every evening at 5, when television broadcasts began airing, I was subjected to the sounds of the men's military choir patriotically belting out the lyrics of the communist revolutionary anthem. Every Sunday night, a segment dedicated to international news would feature negative stories about the United States or natural disasters in other countries. It seemed that one responsibility of the government censors was to make the rest of the world appear worse off than North Korea. 
Fortunately, I was allowed to receive letters from family and friends, which kept me somewhat connected to what was happening in the outside world. My husband, Iain, scanned pages and photos from newspapers and magazines. In excerpts he sent from the Economist, I learned that hundreds of thousands of Iranians had taken to the streets of Tehran in June 2009 to protest President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection. 
On North Korean television, the picture of events taking place in Iran was very different. North Koreans saw only images of jubilant Iranians celebrating Ahmadinejad's victory. I tried to tell my guard that there was another reality from the one being presented on TV. In broken English, she said she didn't understand. It truly seemed that she couldn't comprehend the idea of a people rising up against their leadership and demanding change. 
Despite having a near-total lockdown on information that gets transmitted to its population, Kim's totalitarian regime has to be finding it harder and harder to keep the world at bay. North Korea shares borders with two of the most wired countries in the world, and information is seeping in from both sides. [...]
There is more to the editorial, follow the link to check it out if you are interested.

KPOP Korral - [Secret] - Shy Boy

Secret (시크릿) is a four member group under TS Entertainment. They debuted in late 2009 with the onslaught of identical looking girl groups and did fairly well with their hit releases "Magic" and "Madonna".

Their newest song is Shy Boy (샤이보이).  The concept for the song is a swing dance with outfits, hairstyles, and a set resembling 1950s America.  Apparently, the girls of Secret openly expressed their disappointment in the concept of Shy Boy and did not like its "cute" concept.  They wanted a stronger identity and concept to follow their other videos.  However, the success of the song and the video has exceeded their expectations and the song has been dominating the Korean pop charts for early 2010.

This is not the best video/song mash-up I have ever seen, but I appreciate the effort and thought in combining these two random KPOP songs.  Below is a mash-up for Shy Boy and Keep Your Head Down by TVXQ.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rock-Paper-Scissors: Can You Beat a Machine?

I came across this Rock-Paper-Scissors game and think it is kind of funny how we have developed an artificial intelligence program that just has to predict a one out of three outcome.  The key to winning long term is to be unpredictable... continuously...  If you play against the machine long enough, it does start to anticipate and know what you are going to do.  Click on analysis and it will even explain how it has been observing your patterns in choice.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oldest Prostitute in Brussels Retires

I do not know why I read the Korea Times.  More than half their articles are fluff news, celebrity drama, and pulp fiction.  I saw the headline for this article and chose to read it... then it made me think the rampant prostitution in South Korea.

There should be more public advocates for prostitutes in South Korea.  Legally, the entire industry is illegitimate and workers have no protections under law.  In 2007 there were more than 250,000 prostitutes working in South Korea and it is a 14 trillion Korean won annual industry.  Koreans need to stop living in denial about their sexuality and have a more mature and compassionate approach to sex workers in their country.

The Brussels regional news website reports that the capital's oldest and possibly most famous prostitute is to retire after a career spanning 37 years.

The 59 year-old Sonia Verstappen has worked in the red light district around Brussels’ North Railway Station since she was 22 and was a spokeswoman for women that have willingly chosen to work in the world’s oldest profession. 
In recent years, Ms Verstappen has given lectures at universities on male sexual desires. 
Sonia Verstappen stated to work as a prostitute of her own volition at the age of 22. She says that she did so as she was jealous of the women that were able to go upstairs with clients while she sat at the till of the brothel where she worked. 
She has never had a pimp and was able to choose her clients. Ms Verstappen’s door was always kept firmly shut for bedraggled, unkempt, dirty or drunken men. 
Over the years Sonia Verstappen has campaigned for prostitution to be given legal recognition as a profession as this would offer greater protection to the thousands of women in Belgium that work as prostitutes.

She has also slammed the lack of action by the authorities against the problems of forced prostitution and people trafficking that are all too prevalent in the red light district around Brussels North Railway station.
Wow... thirty years on the job...

Crystal Meth Use 'Rampant' in North Korea

Definitely was surprised by this headline.  You would have assumed a country full or starving people with no money that is cut off from the rest of the world would have trouble obtaining drugs... but then I guess Meth is not rocket science to make yourself and it is cheap.  Wherever there is sadness and misery in the world, drugs seems to find a way to take grip.

Article here:
North Korea's collapse will be brought about not by external pressure or the economic malaise but by widespread crystal methamphetamine abuse, say North Korean defectors who have recently arrived in the South. 
How serious the problem is can be gleaned from a special instruction issued by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un, who earlier this year ordered the security forces to round up drug users, "regardless of rank" -- implying that addiction is widespread in all strata of society. 
Defectors say that youngsters at an elite school in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province attended by the children of senior officials were caught by security officers having sex acts while watching a porn video under the influence of the drug. Widespread drug use has also been reported at major universities such as Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and Kim Chaek University of Technology. 
North Korean sources say many security officers are themselves in thrall to the highly addictive drug. 
Rumors say that at an officers' school under the North Korean Army near the border area, senior officers are enticing female soldiers under their command to use the drug and siphoning off the school's food to raise money for drugs. 
Many officials of the State Security Department, the key North Korean agency charged with protecting the regime, are drug abusers themselves, sources claim, and reportedly work themselves up into frenzies of violence under the influence. 
Instead of disposing of drugs they confiscate, officials either use them themselves or make money selling them on. 
Some North Koreans allegedly use drugs as currency, with high school students exchanging them as birthday gifts and people even giving them as wedding presents. 
The drugs in circulation are made in the North. The North reportedly began producing them in the early 1980s to earn the hard currency for the regime. 
But crackdowns abroad have made export more difficult, especially in China, so the drugs are now sold in the North itself. 
Once the taboo was broken, drugs became rampant. Even scientists at academies of sciences have begun secretly making drugs in their laboratories to earn money on the side as the economy goes from bad to worse. 
A former senior North Korean official who recently defected to South Korea said the number of drug addicts has soared since a botched currency reform in late 2009. 
A rumor among senior officials in Pyongyang in recent days is that Kim Jong-il's younger sister Kyong-hui is among the addicts, and Kim father and son too use the drug.
I do not necessarily doubt any of the facts in this article are true, but we cannot fully understand how severe the use is with nothing being officially reported.  Drug use might just be confined only to those with wealth and status in the regime.  If that were true, then drug use would not be widespread among the general population.

Do You Know South Korea?

This video has been catching on and gaining in popularity over facebook and the Korean blogosphere the last week.  It was created by David Dutton and he did a fantastic job.  I have lived in South Korea for more than two years now and he captured the feel of this place perfectly.  Check out his website to see what else he has made.

Do You Know South Korea? from David Dutton on Vimeo.

David Dutton recently won the Audience Choice Award in the Indie Category at the Los Angeles Music Video Festival for his video Internet Killed the Video Star by The Limousines.  This guy is pretty good.

Internet Killed the Video Star from David Dutton on Vimeo.

Friday, March 4, 2011

EatYourKimchi Debuts New Segment

I love the guys at Eat Your Kimchi.  They are beginning a new video segment featuring all the awesome and bizarre things you can find in Korea.  I declare this a win.

Stuff Waygooks Like #8 - The Korean Flag (태극기)

The Taegeukgi (태극기) is the national flag of South Korea.  The national flag of a country is sometimes its most recognizable and important symbol and South Korea has both a visually and spiritually attractive flag.

The term "Taegeuk" literally means the "state of chaos that existed before the creation of the sky and the earth".  The red portion of the Taegeuk symbol signifies yang (the positive) and the blue portion signifies yin (the negative).  The yin and yang can be expressed as the moon and sun, or earth and heaven.  Taegeuk is meant to represent a full circle in which yin and yang encounter one another in an unlimited universe and bring balance.

The white background symbolizes the "cleanliness of the people".  In each corner of the flag there is a black trigram.  The four trigrams are Geon (건), Ri (리), Gam (감 ), and Gon (곤 ).  Each represents many different things including the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, the four members of the nuclear family, and more.

In 1876 King Gojong (reign 1864-1907) of the Joseon Dynasty personally designed the flag.  It was then first officially used to represent Korea in 1882 when a royal envoy visiting Japan hung it from the roof of the building where his delegation was staying.

Originally known as the "Joseon Gukgi" (flag of Joseon), the Korean flag was first referred to as the Taegeukgi in the March 1st, 1919 Declaration of Korean Independence signed by 33 national representatives during the Japanese colonial era.  The flag had been banned by the Japanese during the colonial era and the Taegeukgi was used as a symbol of resistance and independence.  Ownership of a flag was punishable by execution if found by the Japanese.

In 1949, the newly established Korean government set clear norms in terms of the size and form which the Taegeukgi must have, standards which continue to apply to this day.  If you like mathematical precision, you will appreciate the dimensions and proportions present in the flag.

The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup had the effect of forever altering Koreans' perception of the Taegeukgi.  For the first time the Taegeukgi began to be seen as more than a sacred object that should be saluted on national holidays and special occasions.  Adorned on people's faces, t-shirts, towels and sports wear, it effectively became an item people used to express their support for their nation in any and every way.  The Taegeukgi has thus taken on a more intimate role in the daily lives of Koreans since then.


Ajumma, My Ajumma!

I recently attended a workshop where Joshua W. Davies was a presenter.  He is a faculty member at the College of English at Yonsei University.  I was just checking out his personal website and came across this humorous video he posted of himself doing a short four act play about his love for an ajumma.  Bravo!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We Have Hit Peak NEST

The ambitious plan of placing a native English speaking teacher in every public school in Korea looks like it will never happen.  At the rate the Korean Ministry of Education was hiring native speakers over the last three years it looked like they were going to reach this goal.  Unfortunately, the money never seems to last and it looks like MOE's and POE's are planning on reducing their numbers of native speakers to accommodate budget shortfalls.

We all new this was coming and it was already mentioned by Brian, but there was an article in the Times about the reduction of about 200 native teachers in G-EPIK:
The education authorities have set in motion a long-term plan to cut back on the number of foreign English teachers, trimming several hundreds of jobs at primary and secondary schools in Gyeonggi Province from this spring semester.

According to the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, the budget allocated to hire foreign English teachers fell to 22.7 billion won ($20 million) for this year from 30 billion won in 2010.
Cho Young-min, senior supervisor of the education office, said the budget cut is in line with the plan to reduce the number of foreign teachers in phases in the years to come. ``We plan to cut about 200 teachers in 2011 from this month. We will also gradually cut the overall number in the coming years,’’ the supervisor said.

But he did not specify how many jobs will be shed at its GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea.) Arranged as a three-year project, the English program by the provincial office had hired more teachers over the past three years. In 2010, the number of teachers increased to some 2,252 in Gyeonggi, a 110 percent jump from 2008 when they first started out with some 1,000.

However, after reaching its peak last year, the number of foreign teachers is expected to slide over the next three years in the province surrounding Seoul. Cho said the cut will be made upon requests from schools, with Korean English conversation teachers replacing them. [...]
There is nothing wrong with reducing the number of native teachers.  I have already made my case that Korean conversation teachers should not replace NESTs.  But I recognize and understand that they do more work for less pay, teach alone, and cost less to the schools because they do not receive housing or a flight reimbursement.  They are still an infinitely better option than expecting homeroom teachers (with little to no English training or language abilities) to cover the expanding number of English class hours in a week in the public school curriculum.

Unfortunately, like mentioned by Brian and Roboseyo, G-EPIK appears to be targeting more experienced teachers with higher salaries to be let go first.  It appears Korea's focus up until this point was quantity over quality of teachers and now they really want neither quantity or quality anymore.  It is not fair for Korean netizens to complain about the quality of teaching from NESTs when experienced teachers with real credentials are discriminated against during the hiring process and then are the first to be let go when the money comes up short.

I Stand With the Wisconsin 14

Hopefully by now you have read about the 14 state senators from the state of Wisconsin that have fled the state in a desperate attempt to protect the worker's rights of state employees.  The unions in Wisconsin have given the Governor everything he wants and needs to balance his budget in concessions for how much the state has to pay for pensions and health insurance.  However, Governor Walker and the GOP do not care about balancing budgets or creating jobs, they just want to bust unions and make collectively bargaining illegal (thus making the unions entirely powerless).

It is frightening hearing about how education and teachers across America are being targeted.  How can the Governor of Wisconsin pass hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts for Wisconsin's billionaires and millionaires the second he is elected to office and then immediately attack teachers and state employees as being too greedy?  Being a teacher now myself, I do not understand how you can justify cutting teachers' salaries while simultaneously handing out hundreds of millions in tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the state.

If you are an America you can sign one of the numerous petitions going around supporting the Wisconsin 14.  If by any chance you are rich (and not a Republican), the state's Democratic party is attempting to raise money to recall state senators so the Democrats can retake the majority in the state house.

The Daily Show always has the best analysis of the situation...

Part 2:

So?  What does a teacher make?  This is it...

Alien vs Ninja!

We have all heard of amazing crossovers in the past like Alien vs Predator and Pirate vs Ninja.  I present to you... Alien Vs Ninja.

I can't wait for Pirate vs Predator next!

KPOP Korral - [PSY] - Right Now

Park Jae-Sang (박재상) is a Korean hip-hop artist that goes by the name PSY (싸이).  He is not exactly a mainstream artist, but he has become quite popular for his sense of humor and willingness to make fun of other KPOP artists in his videos.  He received his education in the United States and attended both Boston University and Berklee College of Music.  This guy probably can speak English quite well.

His latest hit is "Right Now" and I have to compliment this guy on his amazing body.  2PM better log some more hours in the gym because they cannot compare with this guys's abs.

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