Monday, April 30, 2012

Ethnic Koreans Face Mass Deportation

South Korea's largest minority ethnic population is the Chinese.  Not surprisingly, the largest foreign born, but still ethnically Korean population is also from China.

Also not surprising... the rules and regulations on these Korean-Chinese people are much stricter and less compassionate than ethnic Koreans who choose to come to Korea to work or immigrate to Korea from Japan or Western countries.

Eating Live Octopus

I had a friend from back in America post this video on my facebook wall and ask me if I have ever done this?  The answer is "no", but this is very common and I have watched Koreans eat live octopus before.

Seriously... I do not think I could ever do this.  Judging from the way she speaks, I am guessing she is Korean-American.

South Korean Youths Look Abroad for Jobs

It kind of blows right now to be young and looking for a job in most places in the world right now.  But South Korea has to have some of the most educated, trained, degree holding, and accredited youth in the world.  And there simply are not enough jobs to match their skill sets and career ambitions.

Al Jazzera English ran a newsclip this week.

Step 1 to saving money for young people... stop paying 5,000 won for a cup of gourmet, corporate coffee...

Incredible Video of the Anthropocene Earth

From Gizmodo:
Scientists are thinking about starting a new geological era: the Anthropocene, the period of geological, environmental and biological transformation of the planet by humans. Cities, towns, shipping routes, global roads and air networks are all changing Earth. This video shows the extent of this change. 
The new era's name (anthropo- means human and -cene means new) refers to the effect of humans on Earth ecosystems, including the transformation of terrain and life all around us. This visualization of Earth-made by anthropologist Felix Pharand-Deschenes-shows this effect. It's amazing and breathtaking, but also pretty scary. Enjoy it. Or not.
Cool stuff.

KPOP Korral - [EXO-K] - MAMA

I cannot honestly I understand this group yet.  Wikipedia is telling me that EXO is a 12 member boy band and they are subdivided into EXO-M and EXO-K and they are going to be promoting themselves and releasing songs and video in Korea and China simultaneously.

This video is pretty strange for a KPOP song, so I thought it needed to be shared.

Here is EYK's review:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Samsung Hires Flash Mob to Protest Apple Store

I like the idea, but this was kind of poorly executed and not very clever.  The man who shot this video has no idea what the purpose of this mob was.  But, he saw it and talked about it.  And now I am passing along the video and blogging about it.  So... well done Samsung.  I guess your viral marketing flash mob idea got people talking about how blindly obsessed the general public is with over-priced gadgets to help people waste time at work and at family events.

The Samsung Galaxy SIII phone comes out next month.

Talk about aggressive marketing. 
It looks like Samsung's jabs against Apple are now extending beyond cheeky advertisements and into real-life guerilla tactics. 
A flash mob, reportedly hired by Samsung, descended on an Apple store in Sydney on Sunday. A crowd of protesters dressed in black surrounded the store with signs, chanting "wake up, wake up!" 
An Australian blogger, Blunty, happened to be on the scene, and videotaped the protest.
Check out the video above. 
The South Korean electronics company is gearing up to the anticipated release of its newest Galaxy phone. In Australia, Samsung has even created a website with a count down clock.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asteroid Mining?

I saw this and got really excited!

But apparently there are skeptics that there is really progress being made by these billionaires... lol

'Avengers' Comes to Korea Early

I have already pre-purchased my tickets to see 'Avengers' this friday night.  The movie was released a week earlier in Korea than it will be in America next week.  I am a huge Joss Whedon fan and I love comic books.

The movie has come out in several other Pacific region nations and appears to be crushing the international box office.

"The Avengers" doesn't come out in America until May 4, but the Marvel blockbuster is already setting records overseas. 
The Joss Whedon film opened in some foreign markets on Wednesday and has already earned $12.5 million, according to THR. 
"Marvel's The Avengers" had the second biggest opening ever in Australia (behind only "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"), and earned the best-ever opening day in New Zealand. "The Avengers" also grabbed $3 million in France. 
Based on box-office tracking figures, "The Avengers" should be huge. Projections for the film's opening weekend top out near $150 million, but even that could be on the low-end. After all, the reviews for "The Avengers" have been stellar and audiences seem to have a pent-up anticipation to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk together onscreen. 
The aforementioned "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" owns the all-time record for opening weekend grosses with $169.1 million. "The Dark Knight" and recently-released "Hunger Games" follow in second and third, with $158.4 and $152.5 million, respectively. With its 3D-enhanced ticket prices and comfy summer kick-off release date, could "Marvel's The Avengers" beat even the Boy Who Lived? It's possible, but whatever record "The Avengers" set by assembling could be short lived: "The Dark Knight Rises," the sequel to "The Dark Knight," looms in July as another possible record breaker. 
"Marvel's The Avengers" hits theaters on May 4. The film will close out the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28.
Sweet, let's armor up, get mad, shoot some nazis, eat lighting and crap thunder!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US General Adopts Korean Name

Koreans always want to know if I have a Korean name.  I tell them my name is 한솔로.  They do not get the joke, and for those who cannot read Hangeul, that says Han Solo.  This, to me, is a very Korean sounding name with Han being a common family name and the total name being three syllables and three characters.  But, alas, it is not a real name in Korean.

Maj. Gen. Edward Cardon, commander of the United States Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, adopted a Korean nickname as a gesture of friendship to Korea on April 20 
Cardon adopted the name Choi Min-ho at a reception in Seoul hosted by the Korean-American Friendship Association (KAFA), in which about 100 members of the American Taekwondo Association visited from Little Rock, Arkansas. 
In the reception attended by over a hundred U.S. service members, Suh Jin-sup, 81, chairman of KAFA presented a certificate to Cardon, which illustrated the special importance of his new name. 
The meaning of the name “Min-ho” carries symbolic significance of “protecting the peace and prosperity of the Korean people,” according to a press release by KAFA. 
Some 10,000 soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division are almost all based in a northern region between the capital of Seoul and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). 
U.S. President Barack Obama has adopted the name Oh Han-ma and U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been given the name Han Hee-sook.
Why do Koreans insist on doing this to everyone?  When Lee Myeung Bak or Ban Ki Moon visit Washington, we do not insist on giving them local names like David Johnson and Larry Smith.

Daily Show Demotes North Korea Out of the Axis of Evil

With North Korea's diastrously failed rocket launch this month, Western powers and the media have been quick to taunt and disqualify North Korea's threat level in the world.  (which is a mistake)

I love it when the photo shopping team at Comedy Central does bits about North Korea.  This guy deserves to be laughed at by the rest of the world.

KPOP Korral - [Girl's Day] - Oh! My God

Girl's Day had a hit song released last year called "Twinkle Twinkle" (반짝반짝) and it was just a cute song and video that had an unquantifiable appeal to it.

Their new song is called "Oh! My God" and this is funny because this is of my students favorite things to say in English.  Their latest music video looks like a sequel to Twinkle Twinkle because the Korean love interest in the old video makes a cameo in this one.  I am lost on the song's meaning.

The song is rather obnoxious, but the video is hysterical.

What is funny about the title of this song is that Seo In-Young released a song last year called "Oh My Gosh" and I figured she avoided saying "God" so as to not to offend anyone.  Girl's Day must be gangster like that and do not care what the religious prudes out there have to think, lol.

So, who did this obnoxious English expression more justice in a KPOP song?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lil' Kim's North Korea

Al Jazeera English's Listening Post did a feature this week on North Korea.  It is under nine minutes and does an excellent job summarizing the current situation with the succession of Kim Jung-eun.

Every time I watch news footage from within North Korea... I just cannot comprehend how this place continues to exist.  This place is Orwell's 1984.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Democrats Sour on Obama

I have tossed my hands up in the air concerning American politics.  I had "hope" for Obama, but he has done virtually nothing to reduce the corruption and the influence of money on politics from Wall Street and K-Street.

One in two people in America are living in or on the verge of falling into poverty.  In the richest nation in the history of the world, there are more than 1.6 million children in America who are homeless as of this night.  Where is the outrage?  Nothing is being done by Washington to reduce poverty.  The rich get richer, and ordinary people continue to fight each other over the purposely media-hyped culture wars.

I am not dumb enough to vote for Obama again.  I think I will chuck my vote away in protest to a third party from now on if I even bother to mail an absentee ballot this year.  But I am certain that enough of the country will re-elect Obama just to stop Mitt Romney from getting it.  The Onion captured the mood of Obama's base perfectly.

Here is a recent Colbert interview with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West talking about poverty in America.  More people should be talking about this...

New Laws Passed To Reduce Legislative Brawls

I love Korean democracy.  It is very entertaining to watch.  I also doubt bigger fines will do much to stop future brawls by assembly members.

The assemblyman who set off tear gas in the speaking chamber was just re-elected to another four year term... so voters seem to be approving of this behavior from their representatives if they keep voting for them.

Cool Marketing Idea

This video was posted online last week and went viral.  It really is a genius idea and now I am going to spend the rest of this week walking around in public places hoping to find a big red button to push.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cool Dad Posts Awesome Photos

I found this and had to share:

If you are tired of posed, stiff and cheesy family portraits, then take a look at these incredibly creative pictures taken by Jason Lee. 
Jason who is a wedding photographer started taking photos of his two little daughters back in 2006 when his mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The girls were constantly sick, with colds and coughs so he couldn’t always bring them to visit their grandmother. Jason wanted her to be able to see her granddaughters without catching their kid germs so he started a blog where his mom could see what was going on in their lives. 
Most of the ideas come from his daughters – eight-year-old Kristin and five-year-old Kayla. Jason says that they are never-ending source of ideas.
Check out his page for more photos! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Japanese Man Fastest on Four Legs

Kids love to pretend they are animals.  Some will walk or crawl around on all fours while pretending.  This Japanese guy got pretty serious about it and decided to make walking around on all fours his lifestyle choice... just add it to the insanely long list of weird Japanese subcultures and eccentric personalities.

For nearly a decade, the 29-year-old Ito, long a fan of simians, has been perfecting a running style based on the wiry Patas monkey of Africa, winning himself a Guinness World Record in the process. 
"You know, my face and body kind of look like a monkey, so from a young age everybody used to tease me, saying 'monkey, monkey,'" Ito said in his neat apartment, sitting in front of a large poster of a chimpanzee. 
"But I wasn't really bothered because I really liked them, and somewhere inside of me I had this ambition to adopt one of their traits. When I saw a monkey that could run fast, I knew I'd found it - and from that point on I practiced running like a monkey every day." 
For eight-and-a-half years the slender Ito has walked around his neighborhood on his hands and feet, wearing gloves and cleated shoes. He has turned his household chores into challenges on all fours and squats like a monkey while talking. 
Constantly honing his style, he looks for inspiration from across the animal world by using the Internet and a season ticket to the local zoo. 
So far he's developed six distinct forms of all-fours movement, from his top-speed "gallop" to a more leisurely walking pace. His speed at running 100 meters on all fours, just under 20 seconds, won him a Guinness record. 
Occasionally Ito, who survives on money earned through his running as well as part-time jobs, gets together with fellow four-legged running fanatics to race each other. Sometimes, they bring cats and dogs to join in the fun - though a well-trained dog will usually win. 
Ito believes so fervently in his form of "sport" that he is convinced athletes of the future will eventually come around to his point of view. 
"Certainly four-legged running isn't an Olympic sport yet, but my prediction is that in 500 years' time all track athletes will be running on all fours," he said. 
But his passion for simians has not been without setbacks. 
"In the streets around here I get stopped by the police, so I went up into the mountains for about a month for a kind of four-legged training camp," Ito said. 
"But on the first day, a hunter mistook me for a wild boar, and he tried to shoot me."
Just... simply... bizarre...

Gingrich Wants South Korea To Have a Second Amendment

I am an American.  I am from a large urban city from the Midwest.  My family home that I grew up in has been robbed before.  In the news growing up in my hometown there had to have been around one gun caused homocide every week.  I am always amazed that media and politicians view that as "to be expected" and "a normal rate."

A lot of people (good and bad) have guns in America.  There are two ways to look at the situation... either restrict or take away everyone's guns, or make sure even more people have guns.  One of these solutions makes sense to me... the other does not.

Here is Gingrich's quote:

"I believe the NRA has been too timid.  A Gingrich presidency will submit to the United Nations a treaty that extends the right to bare arms as a human right for every person on the planet because every person on the planet deserves the right to defend themselves from those who would oppress them."

I love that South Korea does not have guns.  I love that police officers that patrol the streets in South Korea do not carry guns.  I have lived in South Korea for three years and have never once felt unsafe or threatened.  This is because South Korea is serious about fighting poverty (which is the root cause of all street crime) and restricting the availability of weapons and firearms to the general population.

Maybe the Second Amendment is great for America.  But this is just more conservative, American hubris declaring that our way is the best way and the one true way (despite the overwhelming contradiction presented by all available evidence and facts).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III Coming Soon

I do not think I can go a day on the internet without someone wondering to themselves out loud when the launch date for the new iphone or latest Apple product will be.

But there is this other company... that has smart phones and tablet devices... and they launch stuff too apparently...

Can the sequel live up to its predecessor? 
Samsung has set an announcement date for the followup to the widely popular and critically acclaimed Galaxy S II smartphone. In an invitation sent out to journalists and posted on Facebook, Samsung announced that it would be unveiling "the next Galaxy" on Thursday, May 3, at 7 p.m. in London, England (that's 2 p.m. EST in New York City). 
The event will also be live-streamed on the Samsung Mobile Facebook page. 
Though Samsung didn't provide any details, we suspect that the device to be unveiled will be called the Galaxy S III, and we've heard rumors of what this device might offer. The tech site Boy Genius Report was tipped off about the GS3's 1.5GHz quad-core processor, a 4.8-inch HD screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, 4G LTE, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera, Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," and, curiously, a ceramic case. (Korean tech firm Pantech unveiled the world's first smartphone with a ceramic case earlier in April: You can check it out here). 
There have also been a couple of supposed image leaks of the Galaxy S III running Android 4.0 and sporting a wide, flat home button, though the authenticity of those photos has been challenged. One of the leaks claimed a worldwide release date of May 22, which doesn't seem totally unrealistic, given the May 4 announcement date. 
We'll know soon enough -- about two and a half weeks from publication, in fact -- whether or not those images, or that release date, were indeed legitimate. We'll also see if Samsung can continue its recent hot streak: The company has a surprise hit in its huge Galaxy Note "phablet," having already sold 5 million units worldwide; its Galaxy S II, meanwhile, is its most popular phone to date, has sold over 20 million units since its debut about a year ago. 
Given the imminent announcement of a followup phone, you should probably hold off if you were planning on buying a Galaxy S II in the next month. The GS3 is on its way, and we'll know what it has to offer on May 4th.
I really like Samsung products... but I will probably buy the iphone 5 when it comes out this summer.

The Dark Side of Korea Exposed?

I have never heard of this website before seeing this article.  I think it is too soon to tell if this will become a controversial site.  I like the idea, but not necessarily the result.  The fact that it exists is something that the English-speakers-in-Korea-blogosphere should be aware of.

koreaBANG knows what Korea is talking about and apparently it is drunken women on the subway, tweeting politicians and how much they hate Japan. 
koreaBANG is a new website that translates the most discussed news stories in Korea and their highest rated comments into English. Stories range from a Korean politician's drunken tweets to a cafe owner who secretly filmed over 900 women in his toilets, as well as Korean reaction to international news, such as the Korean-American school shooter. 
As the Korean wave sweeps over Asia and the rest of the world, there is a growing audience for all things Korean. There are already dozens of K-pop sites, allkpop has 75 million views a month, but koreaBANG has a harder news edge.
Holy cow... that website is a gold mine.  I really should post more kpop gossip stories...
The site was founded by two British students of Korean. Cambridge University student James Pearson said koreaBANG's sister site, chinaSMACK, was his first port of call while a student in Beijing, but he was hard-pressed to find a Korean equivalent. He approached chinaSMACK with the idea of a Korean version and launched koreaBANG in January with his co-editor and Korea University student, Raphael Rashid. 
The site now has four regular contributors, half Korean and half non-Korean, and attracts just under 3500 daily visitors from 154 countries. Bang (방) means room in Korean and refers to the PC bangs (internet cafes) where millions of young Koreans while away their time. Some have even died of exhaustion in them and one woman even gave birth in one. 
I am guessing they will start attracting more daily visitors if English speaking blogs about Korea repost their translated stories... like I am doing now...
Raphael said Western media tends to focus on North Korea, not what the Korean man in the street, or on the internet, is talking about. For example, Western media gave extensive coverage to last week's Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul, but Koreans themselves were not that interested - it was not even in the top 10 stories that week. Instead, they were talking about beer woman, a drunken woman filmed drinking and smoking on the Seoul subway. Beer woman made it onto koreaBANG, the NSS did not. 
Raphael said Korea is trying to brand itself "under a flawless veneer". The government has even founded a Presidential Council on Nation Branding and pays bloggers to upload thousands of photos of the country. Korean dramas give a distorted image of the country to their fans around the world, an image doctored nearly as much as their stars' faces. 
What country in the world promotes an honest reflection of their nation?  Everything a government does is always pro-national propaganda.   I do not see why anyone has to pretend like there is a conspiracy going on here.
While well aware not all Koreans want their dirty laundry aired in public, Raphael said they were sincere in "presenting an otherwise unreported world in all its raw unedited glory".
Whether or not they have Korea's blessing, koreaBANG is making waves. Ripples compared to the Korean wave, which is now more a tsunami, but the site is blowing up. BANG! 
"If Koreans are talking about it, so are we," said James. "If it's popular, we choose it, regardless of how off-the-wall it may seem to a non-Korean audience. Same goes for many of the comments, we tend to take the top 20 or so rated comments from each article and translate those." 
"Korean dramas and celebrity culture convey a somewhat fairy tale-like image of Korea, where everyone is tall and handsome," said Raphael. "Disillusioned tourists come in their masses to live the Korean Dream, but find themselves confronted with a reality that is not too dissimilar to their own."
It really does not matter what website you go on.  If you read the comments, they are mostly vapid or vulgar dribble by simple minds.  There is a reason why mostly trained professionals do the writing/reporting and the ignorant masses do the reading.  This website is trying to flip that around and claim that what the loudest trolls on the internet have to spam comment sections about are the accurate or honest reflections of the people of Korea.

I will admit that Korean netizens do jump on absurd stories and are really quick to condemn others.  They are especially pious and judgmental and willing to go to war over anything seen as an attack on Korean cultural supremacy.  But are they much different than any other group of people in the world?  Maybe not, but they all have computers with high-speed internet connections and that gives them a big megaphone where I am sure they will continue to blast the internet on issues concerning the absurd and salacious.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Difference Between North and South Korea

I did not create these images.  These are the original works of  Please visit their site for additional, hilarious content.   

Monday, April 16, 2012

Korea Too Lenient on 119 Prank Callers?

At least once a semester, the fire alarm in my Korean elementary school will go off.  The alarm is very loud... and I am usually sitting in the subject teachers' office with my coworkers.  I will stand up from my desk and ask them, "Shouldn't we go outside?  Isn't that the fire alarm?"

To which they reply, "A student probably just pulled the alarm for fun.  Just ignore it.  If there is a real fire, someone will come around and tell us."  My reacting thought to this statement is... if nobody goes outside when an alarm is pulled (and the fire department does not automatically respond when it is pulled), what is the point of having it?

I came across this opinion article in the Dong-A Ilbo and someone else apparently does not appreciate the casualness displayed towards people in Korea who 'cry wolf'.
Korea takes a lenient stance on those who make false emergency calls on crime, in contrast to the global practice of harsh civil and criminal penalties to such prank callers. 
This is because such prank calls threaten lives by hindering the emergency posture of law enforcement officials and waste taxpayers` money. So the fine in many countries for a prank caller can reach hundreds of dollars, and certain governments track those who cry wolf to claim damages. 
In the U.S., those who make false 911 calls face one to three years in prison or fines of 100 to 25,000 U.S. dollars depending on the number of police officers mobilized. The severity of punishment and fine amount vary according to state. 
In Tennessee, a 50-year-old woman was arrested for making two fake calls to 911, saying a hamburger "was not tasty," and detained for five days. 
In the U.K., those who make prank 999 calls face a fine up to 5,000 pounds (8,000 dollars) or six months in prison. If an emergency call proves to be a prank, police calculate the sum spent on the mobilization of personnel and equipment and bill the culprit for damages. 
All emergency calls are recorded automatically. If a call is suspected to false, the caller is traced by analyzing the place where the call is made and the caller`s voice in principle. 
In Australia, prank 000 callers can face up to three years in prison. In Singapore, they can be fined up to 20,000 dollars and five years behind bars. 
Argentina, where false emergency calls have caused a lot of damage, enhanced laws in 2006 to punish prank callers. It raised the punishment to 1,410 dollars in fines and 30 days in detention.
In Korea, the number of malicious false calls saying explosives have been planted is increasing. 
Authorities in 2007 thus began charging culprits with obstruction of justice, a charge that merits up to five years in prison. Just 0.5 percent of those who made prank calls was arrested, however, as most underwent summary proceedings and faced under 100,000 won (88 dollars) in fines. 
A police source said, "The number of 112 calls has increased around 60 percent over the past five years, but that of police officers grew just 1.6 percent over the same period, causing officers to suffer work overload," adding, "Those who receive emergency calls remain tense, but false calls undermine the attention and moral of emergency workers."
Wow, Korea really is lenient on people who make fake emergency calls if those statistics are true.  It also does not surprise me at all that Singapore appears to be the harshest place.

Sherry Turkle - "Alone Together"

I came across this TED talk and it gave me a lot of reflection on my own life and the lives of my Korean students.  When I was 14 and in high school, my father bought our first home computer (1999).  I lived alone with him, so I had plenty of free time and access to this computer.  Within six months I had developed a serious internet gaming addiction.  I suffered through it for almost a year.  I lost all social connections to the real world.  I was doing terrible in school.  And eventually with my dad's help, I had to give up the computer and playing video games and did so until I graduated from high school.

Since then I have been wary of technology and virtual socialization because I do believe it strongly erodes a person's ability to interact in the real world.  I did not get my first cell phone until 2007.  I resisted getting facebook for years.  I have never used Twitter.  And I still do not have a smart phone.

I see children growing up now who have smart phones in the first grade.  Internet addiction is a serious problem in developed nations (especially South Korea) and this idea of everyone being "alone together" is only going to get stronger as our technology continues to replace face-to-face real time interaction.

Here is her interview on the Colbert Report:

Fireworks Over Pyongyang

Their rockets might not work well, but they apparently can still pull off a decent fireworks show.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

North Korea Admits Rocket Launch Failure

In the past, when North Korea had failed rocket launch attempts, they always told their people that the launch was a success.  However, this time the DPRK's state media admitted to their people that the rocket failed.   Very interesting...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Federal Apostille Processing Change

I get a lot of internet search traffic to my blog because of my post on how to get a criminal background check for the purposes of an E-2 work visa for Americans.

Effective as of March 1st, 2012, the US Department of State has altered their paper work process in the Office of Authentications.  Before, there was just a regular PDF to download, print off, fill out, and then mail in.

That has changed and now "copies of the DS-4194 form are not permissible!"  The new instructions for filling out the form to get an Apostille Seal placed on your FBI background check are as follows:

1) - Download the form using this link (HERE)
2) - Install Cerenade Visual Reader Application (HERE)
3) - Open Cerenade Visual Reader Application
4) - From within Cerenade Visual Reader Application open DS-4194.FAR
5) - Complete the entire form for the finalized barcode to appear

A couple important things to know: The barcode generator in the program changes with every keystroke you make, so only when the form is completed and correct will the final printed off barcode matter.  Nothing can be written in with pen or changed after the form has been printed off.

There is no way to install this program on a Mac computer, therefore when you fill out this form, you must do so from a PC windows operating computer that is hooked up to a printer.  You cannot open a finished document on a Mac computer to print it off later.

Here is what the form looks like (page 1 or 2 screen shot) with the barcode generated at the bottom.  Good luck!

INDIE Korral - [SuperKidd] - Feeling Good

Eat Your Kimchi last month started showcasing Korean indie bands to diversify the exposure of Korean music beyond Korea's most corporate mainstream idol groups.

The first song they showed I really enjoy and I will most definitely be posting some more of these indie videos in the future as I am introduced to them.

This song is Feeling Good(슈퍼키드) by SuperKidd(기분 좋아) and features 정희주.  This song is very close to the style and feel of the garage rocks bands I listened to when I lived in America.

Thanks for the new segment, I love it!

Footage of North Korean Rocket Launch

I know the situation is very tense and serious, but if you lose your ability to laugh, then what hope can there be left?

I am actually impressed with the quality of this video and the actors they got for it.  Good work Team Coco!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Colbert - Rain Feud Video Chronology

I only knew who Rain was before moving to South Korea because Stephen Colbert declared him his arch nemesis in 2008.  Stephen is always looking to be honored and have his name on stuff, so he would each year chase after the online voters' choice for Time's 100 most influential people list.  Korean netizens proved to be more dedicated fans than the Colbert Nation, and themselves organized to spam Time's voting website to get Rain to the top of the list.  Rain has won the award for several years in a row and Korean netizens do it just to give KPOP more world exposure.

I have a couple new friends that have just arrived in Korea, and some of them do not know who Rain is.  Rain has focused more on movies (somewhat unsuccessfully) than music in the last couple years.  And recently he was finally called into active duty in the Korean armed forces and is serving his mandatory two year service.

This is just a post for them to view the chronology of Colbert's feud with Rain.  Funny stuff.

May 10th, 2007

June 5th, 2007

April 23rd, 2008

May 5th, 2008

May 5th, 2008

May 5th, 2008

June 14th, 2010

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chinese Kid Sells His Kidney For an iPad

 This is an incredibly sad and messed up story.  I also think this kid was totally ripped off.

BEIJING (AP) -- Authorities have indicted five people in central China for involvement in illegal organ trading after a teenager sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPhone and an iPad. 
The case has prompted an outpouring of concern that not enough is being done to guard against the negative impact of increasing consumerism in Chinese society, particularly among young people who have grown up with more creature comforts than the generations before them. 
Prosecutors in the city of Chenzhou charged the suspects with intentional injury for organizing the removal and transplant of a kidney from a 17-year-old high school student surnamed Wang, the official Xinhua News Agency said late Friday. 
A woman on duty Saturday at the Chenzhou Beihu District People's Procuratorate in Hunan province confirmed that prosecutors are handling the case and that the defendants are facing charges of intentional injury. 
She refused to give her name and referred further questions to the city-level procuratorate's media office, where phone calls rang unanswered. 
The defendants include a surgeon, a hospital contractor, and brokers who looked for donors online and leased an operating room to conduct the procedure, Xinhua said. 
It said about 1.5 million people in China need organ transplants, but that only about 10,000 transplants are performed each year, fueling the illegal trade in organs. 
Xinhua described one of the defendants named He Wei as being broke and frustrated over gambling debts. It said he asked another defendant to look for organ donors in online chat rooms and someone else to lease an operating room for the transplant, which took place in April last year. 
He received 220,000 yuan ($35,000) for the transplant, gave the student 22,000 yuan ($3,500) and shared the remaining money with the other defendants and several medical staff involved in the operation, Xinhua said. 
When the student returned home, he was asked how he could afford a new iPhone and an iPad and he told his mother that he sold one of his kidneys, the report said. 
The Southern Daily newspaper reported last month that other individuals have sold, or seriously considered selling, their kidneys to earn money for reasons that included paying off large debts, making a payment on a smartphone, or paying for an abortion for a girlfriend. 
``Without facing complete hardship, these young people born after the 1990s made rash decisions. In the choice between their bodies and materialism, they resolutely chose the latter,'' the official Communist Party newspaper Guangming Daily said in an editorial late last month about the Southern Daily report. 
``In today's society where desires are infinite and demands are boundless ... blindly competing with others in the pursuit of high-end 'technology' will gradually ruin lives,'' it said.
I have never visited mainland China or experienced first hand the degree of materialism and consumerism in Chinese culture, but if it is significantly worse than it is here in Korea, then it must be getting pretty bad.

T-ara Gets Expanded

I read this article... and then had to read it again to get the actual message I think I was supposed to take away from it.

T-ara will soon be recruiting two new members, bringing its total number to nine. The big announcement was made yesterday by Core Contents Media CEO Kim Gwang-su, who had announced in March that the group would undergo a “transformation.” 
“The group will now have nine members, and the new members will join the girls in July, to coincide with the new album’s launch,” Kim said in a press release. 
The reason for the new additions, according to Kim, is to keep the girl group on its toes. 
“I’ve noticed that with a lot of bands I’ve managed, the members become arrogant and idle after three years,” Kim said. “Of course, T-ara is working hard at the moment, but I don’t want the girls to take what they have for granted and I want them to be better performers.” 
Not all reactions to the move have been positive, but in his defense, Kim said, “There are streams of new bands entering the K-pop market and they train for a minimum of 10 hours a day. T-ara can’t just sit back and relax if it wants to become a household name in Asia.”
Wow, could that guy sound like any more of a tool bag?  How many KPOP groups has he managed that have made it three years and then a group just devolved into a bunch of bitchy, ungrateful women?  That is basically what it sounds like he is saying.

KPOP stars are not paid very well.  They also have next to no control over their lives.  Their management and production teams work them around the clock every day of the year and I am sure there are days these people just want to walk away from it all (some actually do just kill themselves).

If I had to take a guess, I am assuming new girls are being added to the group just in case the management team feels like a couple of the existing members need to be dropped for being too "arrogant" and "idle".  The existing members presumably have no say in the matter concerning the addition of another two women (willing to work any hours with the group they are given for whatever compensation their management team decides).

Or maybe I am just reading way to much into this, the members are happy about this, and this guy is a wonderful manager... lol.

I like T-ara... they're so absurdly adorable.

Being Low-Income Stunts Growth

Oh, those poor low-income kids.  Not only are they falling behind in their academics, they are also apparently smaller than their Korean peers.  

Children in low-income households tend to be smaller than their contemporaries, and the risk that they are underweight or obese is also higher.

The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted a survey of 545 children in 25 local childcare facilities six and afterschool centers for adolescents in Seoul in June and July last year. The result showed a height distribution of 131.4 cm to 168.7 cm for boys in low-income households, and 132.2 cm to 154.8 cm for girls.

Comparing the data with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology's, boys from low-income households were up to 2.1 cm shorter than the national average, and girls 4.7 cm shorter.

"Considering that children in Seoul tend to be slightly taller than the average, the actual difference is probably even greater," an institute spokesman said. 
Children in poorer households were also more likely to be under- or overweight. Among boys from poorer families in Seoul, a greater proportion than their richer peers were underweight, and more girls were overweight. "Height and weight are important indicators of the health and nutritional state of children," the institute spokesman said. "Children from low-income families are more likely to experience socio-economic obstacles to growth."

North Korea's Defiant Rocket Launch

They are allowing foreign journalists to film its launch?  These guys are getting pretty confident in their abilities.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Soju Man

Okay, I just found this video today, and am shocked it has existed on youtube for more than a year now and I have never seen it before.  It looks like it has a really nice production value to it and it only has 12,000 on youtube at the moment.

I didn't really laugh when I watched it, but I still found it amusing.  This is a very strange video.

Magic on TED Talks

I have known about TED talks for years now.  Every once in a while a friend posts a video online and I will watch it.  I have probably seen a dozen or so since they first started appearing on youtube.  But this last week I have become enthralled with watching them.  I have probably watched close to thirty in the last week.

In the last year I have started giving public lectures to new teachers attending all of the EPIK orientations.  They are challenging and fun and public speaking is a valuable skill set that I am only just now taking serious and trying to be good/better at.  I have been watching the TED talks both because they cover fascinating issues and also because the presenters are master public speakers, and I like watching how they present their topics and relate to the audience.

I came across a bunch of magic talks and thought I would share them because they are just fun for everyone!  The first three are by Marco Tempest, a magician that specializes in combining magic and technology.  The fourth is a hilarious guy, Lennart Green, who do close-up card tricks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Norabong Spin Class Coming Soon?

I saw this news clip and thought... why haven't I seen or heard of Koreans already doing this?  I wouldn't be surprised if it already exists in Korea.

Monday, April 2, 2012

8-Bit Quest Map Korea

Google released a feature yesterday on google maps that allows users to turn any image or map into an old-school 8-bit Nintendo map.  I have no idea how long they will keep this function available for use, but I hope it the answer is as long as it takes for me to save the princess and restore harmony to the kingdom!

Here are some maps of Korea I quickly made and took screen shots of.  You can click on them to enlarge to full size.

South Korea:


Bullying Update

Now that we live in the age of every child having a smart phone with a video camera on them at all times, the entire world is connected and becoming collectively outraged by how terrible children treat each other.  I remember there being plenty of bullying when I was a kid, but parents (and everyone on the internet) never got to see it happen.

The issue of bullying continues to be a topic of national discussion in South Korea as every month one or two children take their own lives to make the agony of being constantly tormented by school bullies stop.

Last month I posted about Ellen's help in an internet campaign to get the rating changed on a new documentary about bullying in American schools.  The campaign to get the rating changed failed and the movie is going to be released without a rating now to avoid it being given an R rating, which would make it impossible for teachers to every show in high schools.

Here is the trailer for the video again:

Korean Families Split Up For Earlier Childhood Education

The Associated Press ran another story today about education in South Korea and parents desperate to give their children a competitive edge in our global economy.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — As American teenagers go, Sally Kim is pretty typical. She's crazy about singer Bruno Mars and the Plain White T's rock band, spends way too much time on Facebook and can't wait to start college in the fall. 
Yet when it comes to that familiar bane of her fellow high school seniors — uncool parents — Kim has few worries. Hers are nearly 7,000 miles away in Seoul, South Korea. They sent their only child to live with relatives in Missouri a decade ago, when she was just 8. 
The three keep in touch over Skype, but Kim craves personal contact even more than when she first arrived. 
"As I get older, it definitely gets harder," said Kim, who lives with an aunt and uncle, a college professor, and returns to her native country in the summer. "I look back, and I think I've missed out on so many years of being with my mom and dad." 
Such relocations, known as early study abroad, have surged in popularity in South Korea, where a rigid, test-driven education system, combined with intense social pressure to succeed in an English-first global economy, often means breaking up families for the sake of school. 
Some children, like Kim, live with relatives or family friends. Others move with their mothers and siblings while the fathers remain alone in Asia to work. Among Koreans, the families are known as kirogi, or "wild geese," because they visit home briefly once or twice a year before returning to their overseas outposts. 
The Korean Educational Development Institute reports that the number of pre-college students who left the country solely to study abroad increased from just over 2,000 in 1995 to a peak of nearly 30,000 in 2006. And that number did not include students whose parents work or study overseas. 
I teach several classes of Korean elementary homeroom teachers each semester.  Once a semester we have a lesson discussion about the Korean education system and its hyper competitive nature.  I usually ask them all with a show of hands how many of them would be willing to send their children abroad to receive an education in America instead of here in Korea if money was not a problem and it cost nothing (a simple alternative to Korean schools), and usually more than half raise their hands.  Korean elementary school teachers do not want their own children going to the school systems they work in because they think it is too difficult (competitive) to be a child in the South Korean education system
The number has since declined to more than 18,000 in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. 
Unlike American students who usually wait until high school or college to study abroad — and generally limit the experience to a semester or two — 77 percent of Korean students in the U.S. in 2009 were in elementary or middle school, a time when they are seen as best able to learn English. 
Wild geese families are particularly common in college towns such as Columbia and Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where researchers are studying the effects on family life, culture and the economy in both countries. 
And status-conscious American parents who proudly display their children's college choices on bumper stickers have nothing on their Asian counterparts, Lee and others said. In South Korea, a prestigious college is seen as even more vital to prosperity, social standing and marital prospects. That message is driven home early. 
"If you are not a very good student, they treat you like you're nothing," Lee said. "That kind of pressure gives too much stress to children. They are not happy." 
Kim, a senior at Columbia Independent School who's been accepted to the University of Illinois' honors program but hopes to attend Brown, recounts a similar experience as a young student in Seoul, where her father is a marketing executive and her mother owns an Italian restaurant. 
In high school, she's been able to study martial arts, join the orchestra, work on the yearbook, play varsity tennis and participate in the model United Nations club. 
Back in Korea, she said, she would have far fewer extracurricular choices. 
Many American parents would struggle with sending away their children so young or leaving a spouse behind. But Rick Williams, a former dean of students at a private Christian school in Champaign, cautioned against making judgments based on U.S. attitudes. 
At Judah Christian School, the number of high school students from Korea increased tenfold from 2000 to 2007. 
"That was a hard call for us, as an evangelical school," Williams said. "I had my students and families take me to task for not being able to understand the fabric and structure of Korean families. We were often called to task for having too much of a Western perspective."
High schools are not fun places in South Korea.  Students go to school or have to study 12 to 16 hours a day usually six days a week.  There are no extra-curricular clubs, no school dances, no fun events.  anything outside of preparing for the college entrance exam is seen as a waste of time.

Here is an excellent news piece from Al Jazeera English last year.

Google's April Fools Joke - Google Tap

I saw this and laughed my ass off.  There are so many things in this video that are winning.  LL Cool J actually says "You can tap it in the bathroom."

They also released a video for "Google Fiber", but this one didn't hit me as funny.

KPOP Korral - [B.A.P] - Warrior

B.A.P (비에이피) is a new six member group just launched by TS Entertainment.  Their group name stands for "Best Absolute Perfect", so it makes sense that these guys do not seem shy coming out of the gate.  Their members names are, Yongguk (용국), Himchan (힘찬), Daehyun (대현), Youngjae (영재), Jongup (종업), and Zelo (젤로).  However, with those hair styles, I do not think I am going to be able to tell them apart anytime soon.

Eat Your Kimchi had a good review of their video.

I am liking that giant creepy bunny in the background.  Reminds me a lot of Donnie Darko.

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