Archive for November, 2009


Death Row D.I.Y.

November 30, 2009

Chung Nam-kyu

On Saturday November 21st convicted Korean serial killer, Chung Nam-kyu, took his own life in his cell whilst awaiting execution on death row. He had been convicted of murdering 13 people and robbing, assaulting and raping a further 20 others. Chung was actually discovered hanging in his cell at the time but died in hospital the next day from injuries related to his suicide attempt. It seems he had fashioned a noose from plastic bags that he had used to form a makeshift rope.

If readers can permit a moment of grim humour here, it should be noted that Chung Nam-kyu is alleged to have killed himself (via hanging) over anxiety surrounding his impending execution. The method of execution employed by the South Korean authorities is hanging.

Owing to a lack of Korean language skill on my part, the seeming lack of interest in Koreans around me, and the scant information in western media, it has proven difficult to unearth more detailed information on this case. The BBC reports that Chung left a note that said simply: “Life is like a cloud”. Precise details concerning his crimes, such as a timeline, the identity of the victims, criminal methodology, etc. are not readily available. Read the rest of this entry ?


K-Pop Korner: Hot Issue

November 11, 2009

It’s easy to mock K-Pop, effortless. One can do it with one’s eyes closed, hands tied behind one’s back or in the manner of K-Pop being like fish collected in a barrel and one being handed a gun with which to shoot them. Easy shit, son, and therefore poor sport. A real challenge would be being enough of a man to admit to everyone that you occasionally like one or two K-Pop offerings here and there. It would take epic heroism and an abundance of sack, iron cojones no less, to discuss a K-Pop song that actually got your toe tapping with approval.

And with that…….

4 Minute

4 Minute have only been around since June this year when their debut single, “Hot Issue”, was released. I erroneously believed that this song had something to do with a Korean performer named Hari-su whose name was chosen to deliberately sound like the English phrase “hot issue”. Hari-su is actually Korea’s first celebrity transsexual but I’ll probably reserve any further discussion of her for a future blog entry. She has no connection to the girl group 4 Minute. 4 Minute are a fairly typical manufactured pop act coming out of the K-Pop stable of JYP Entertainment. Read the rest of this entry ?


Pepero Day

November 11, 2009


Well, it’s Pepero Day again. The last time the event rolled around in this blog I was unable to delve too deeply into precisely what it’s all about. This year I shall attempt to lift the lid on the perplexing esoteric rituals of this unusual day.

A pepero is a kind of cookie/bread type stick covered in (or filled with) chocolate that is popular with Korean kids. Like pretty much every snack or bit of confectionary produced in Korea, they are made by Lotte. Lotte makes all the sweeties, all the candy, all of it. They’re a chaebol, one of Korea’s mega-conglomerates, and although they might not have the international profile of Samsung or LG, they’re still a pretty big deal. Think of them as a cross between Willy Wonka and the OCP Corporation from Robocop.

There was once an episode of The Simpsons that featured a nefarious greeting card conglomerate inventing a new holiday called “Love Day” to offset a period of low sales and manipulate people into buying cards and other crap on a meaningless day. Korea’s Lotte Co Ltd seems to have viewed that episode at some time, promptly missed the intended satire therein and instead took the message at face-value, for Korean kids now celebrate “Pepero Day” on the 11th of November. This involves buying a fuck-ton of Pepero and giving them to just about everyone you know. It’s especially aimed at schoolkids who will more often than not spend the 11th of November in the company of hundreds of their peers. The pepero resembles the numerical figure 1 and the 11th of November, 11/11, is therefore the perfect day to honour the shape of that snack.

Due to their target consumers being children, Lotte has a low opinion of the intelligence of most people, hence their continued insistence that they did not in fact invent Pepero Day. It was schoolgirls in Busan, apparently, who started giving each other pepero on November 11th sometime in the mid 1990s. Lotte claim they just got in on the act once they noticed sales of their product spiking in late October, early November. So they didn’t start it, they just aggressively cultivated it and then spread the practice nationwide.


Yellow Sea Peril

November 11, 2009

There has been a “naval skirmish” in the Yellow Sea between South and North Korean warships recently. It seems the North Korean vessel crossed a disputed sea border known as the Northern Limit Line and was promptly met with warning shots fired across its bow from the South Korean ship. According to the South Korean government, the North Korean ship returned fire and the shit kicked off from there. In the ensuing exchange of fire between both vessels there were no reported casualties but the North Korean ship was said to have been set ablaze before returning across the border.

That’s according to the South Korean version of events anyway. The North Korean version is that their vessel was looking for an “unidentified object” in the Yellow Sea which brought it close to, but not beyond, a sea border they refuse to recognize anyway (hence it being “disputed”) when all of a sudden a South Korea ship came out of nowhere and fired upon them. The North Korean ship returned fire and managed to chase the cowardly capitalist pigdogs away.

Chamsuri boats patrolling the Yellow Sea

This event marked the first naval confrontation since the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002. The First (1999) and Second Battles of Yeonpyeong unfolded much like the events above. Those small naval battles were also the result of Northern vessels crossing the Northern Limit Line and ignoring South Korean warnings to turn around. The First battle is remembered as an indisputable embarrassment for North Korea. The Second battle was slightly more competitive but still ended with the North Korean boats retreating back across the sea border, 13 of their sailors dead and 6 South Koreans killed.

So it goes. Tensions are running a little higher than whatever passes for normal on the Korean peninsula currently but this event is not without the opportunity to feel proud of the valiant efforts of the South Korean navy.

Chalk up one for the home team. We lit those Norks the fuck up and sent ’em sailing back home. Daehan Minguk!


Antiquities of Logophilia

November 3, 2009

A few years ago I received a small desk calendar that featured old and obsolete English words, Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English. Being in the format of one of those page-a-day calendars that you tear off and discard, I’ve long since thrown out the little slips of paper displaying each daily example. I did, however, preserve some of my favourites. Some of these words are more than deserving of a renaissance.

Bobbersome: elated; in high spirits.

Awarpen: thrown or cast.

Neezled: a little drunk or intoxicated.

Crapulous: sick by intemperance connected or associated with drunkenness.

Callipygian: of, pertaining to, or having well-shaped or finely developed buttocks. The name of a famous statue of Venus. From Greek kallos, beauty, and pyg, buttocks.

Fletcherize: to chew thoroughly.

Forswart: exhausted by heat.

Womblety-crompt: the indisposition of a drunkard after a debauch.

Slocket: to commit a petty theft; to pilfer

: a generous, big-hearted, good-natured person, with also an implied sense of gaiety or flippancy.

Jeffrey Kacirk is a serious logophile and has published several different books on the subject of forgotten English. His website is here – Forgotten English.