Archive for the ‘Korea Kapers’ Category

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Norking To Worry About

June 5, 2013

Gadzooks and gosh-darn! A truly shameful 5-month gap in what was already a floundering blogging habit. I have a litany of excuses, I always do, but there’s no need to indulge in such tedious piffle here for it would bore all you hypersensitive internet kids to self-harm. The drought endeth now!

The plan here was to have written about the most recent crisis with the DPRK when it was actually at its peak, some two months ago, and myself and many people I knew living in the Republic of (South) Korea were having to deal with phone calls and other anxious enquiries from friends and loved ones in our respective home countries. However, I procrastinated like a slovenly fiend whilst the whole overblown affair quickly wilted and faded from the headlines. I had wanted to answer the concerns of my family and chums by pointing them in the direction of several North Korea analysts and experts whose views on the crisis showed a reassuring convergence, i.e. they all stressed that the outbreak of war, particularly one launched by the DPRK, was highly unlikely.

The North Korean regime is not suicidal, and has zero interest in initiating a full-on conflict that it could not possibly win and which would likely end in its complete destruction. They’re quite content with the status quo, but that status quo as it is requires regular bouts of nutty Nork brinkmanship on their part to, paradoxically, keep things running smoothly for them. The threats issued by the North Korean leadership in March and April, therefore, were simply the latest in a longstanding pattern of sabre-rattling bullshit that South Koreans in particular have become accustomed to and tend not to entertain as a serious menace. The only difference, as I saw it, was that the particular proclamations being delivered this time were of a significantly loud and colorful nature; declaring a state of war, threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes, etc. that they made for excellent copy and were thus widely and prominently reported in the western media. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Christmas Prez

December 19, 2012

Park Geun-hye & Moon Jae-in

The good people of the Republic of Korea will go to the polls later today* to elect themselves a new President. As well as being a national holiday to facilitate voter turnout, it will also be my birthday and my thoughts aren’t likely to be all that focused on the results of the two-horse race for high office but I offer a few thoughts here nonetheless.

I’m aiming for the polite neutrality that I feel is appropriate for a foreign guest worker. I have no vote, no say, and thus should have no dog in the fight, as it were. However, although I would welcome the election of Korea’s first female elected leader, in a country that could do with a few bold strides toward greater gender equality, I personally don’t believe the daughter of a dictator should be pursuing the highest office in what is after all a nascent democracy with a few too many lingering habits from its authoritarian past. For those unaware, Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the Korean army general who seized power in a coup d’état in 1961 and oversaw the miraculous economic growth and rapid industrialization of the time, ruling via widespread political repression and human rights abuses, before being assassinated in 1979. The man’s legacy now remains a profoundly ambiguous one in the collective Korean consciousness. Many older, more conservative, Koreans especially view Park as a great man who transformed South Korea from  the decimated ruins of the post-Korean War period into the rich, developed nation it is today. As one said to me recently with a smile, “when I was 14-years-old President Park said that in ten years time all Koreans would have a home, drive a car and own a refrigerator. I didn’t believe him.” On the other hand, younger Koreans, and middle-aged Koreans on the left who were involved in the political struggle for democracy in the 1980s, remain indignant at the memory of the dictatorships that afflicted Korea for decades and are, of course, hostile to the conservative political entities of today, including the current administration of President Lee Myung-bak and his “Saenuri” (“New Frontier”) Party, of which Park Geun-hye was herself formerly a leader. Read the rest of this entry ?

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CiF Sokaled?

September 5, 2012

Around six weeks ago, this preposterous article appeared on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free‘ online site.

South Korea good, North Korea bad? Not a very useful outlook

Some choice excerpts –

The lack of western sources in North Korea has allowed the media to conjure up fantastic stories that enthrall readers but aren’t grounded in hard fact. No attempt is made to see both sides of the Korean conflict: it is much easier and more palatable to a western audience to pigeonhole the DPRK as a dangerous maverick state ruled by a capricious dictator and South Korea as its long-suffering, patient neighbour.

Whatever your view on the actions of North and South Korea’s governments, the hypocrisy of using one-sided journalism to label North Korea a rogue, propaganda-led state is surely self-evident and fans the fire of intolerance and animosity.

I was initially tempted to post a detailed line-by-line rebuttal here in order to eviscerate the utter nonsense that this man has produced until it occurred to me, and several like-minded individuals I encountered in online comments discussing it, that the article was likely a hoax, quite possibly in the manner of the notable Sokal affair of 1996.

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K-Pop Korner: Hyuna – Bubble Pop!

June 27, 2012

Bubble Pop!‘ is well known, children. It has long since floated far and wide beyond the confines of these calm, Korean waters, to alight on western pop culture consciousness with 29 million Youtube views and counting. In attempting to explain how it has accomplished this I would cite its indomitable strength and purity as a pop product. It’s there in the title, it’s in every frame of the video, and it’s in the relentless madness of the song itself.

Sitting here, scrutinizing the video with quiet intensity, in the serious manner of Jean-Luc Picard in his captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise, I find myself pondering, “what is the bubble she’s referring to?” Is it her ass? Perhaps, for the callipygian Korean lass is given to emphatically shaking and swinging it around throughout her dance routine. Then, my internal inquiry proceeds, is she therefore demanding her derrière be popped in some fashion? Further, and more to the point, can I make it so? I extend a gentle, yet nonetheless phallocentric, index finger in the direction of the jubilant and gyrating buttocks of the young woman on my computer screen as Picard’s stentorian voice rumbles that famed authoritative phrase in my head. He would also quote Shakespeare of course, perhaps some Melville. “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee“, although that would suggest a dark and fiendish lust for ass quite unbecoming an officer of Starfleet.

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K-Pop Korner: Big Bang – Fantastic Baby (빅뱅 – 판타스틱 베이비)

May 3, 2012

Big Bang bounce back to babble barbaric beats into our battered brains.

Actually, they’ve been “back” for about two months now but that’s how long it has taken me to ensnare a passing flying fuck and get around to telling you all about it. Their latest mini-album, ‘Alive’, was released on February 29th and they appear to have thrown out three singles in quick succession thereafter. Of these songs, two are fairly simpering affairs that merit little further comment, but one of them, ‘Fantastic Baby’, has just the requisite amount of electro-pop charm and a ludicrous enough music video to warrant having the keen eye of the Korner cast upon it.

The song itself is Big Bang aiming for a club anthem and, as such, it’s an uncomplicated affair entreating everyone to dance, dance, dance. The lyrics veer from simplistic hip-hop self-aggrandizement to the abjectly nonsensical, although there is always the possibility that a great deal is being lost in translation.

From one to ten, everything is one level above/ Even if we crazily run on sand, we’re still so agile/ Because the sky is blue enough.

That’s their rather abstract way of saying that they’re hot shit and they follow it later with the insightful line, “Ice, ice, ice, hold up/ Na na na na”. That said, it’s a fairly catchy tune and it gets the job done, but where the K-Pop of YG Entertainment really excels is in the eyeball-fucking insanity of the more elaborate music videos. They’re not always as interesting or amusing as this one; the video for Big Bang’s song ‘Blue’ just has them fannying about in parts of New York, indulging in their favored fetish of chasing after white chicks (something I’ve already observed from G-Dragon and TOP but failed to adequately explore here).

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Hungry Hungry Jong-eun

March 27, 2012

As disappointed as I am that the porcine prince of Norks, Kim Jong-eun, came to prominence too late to have been immortalized as a Gerry Anderson-esque puppet at the hands of Trey Parker and Matt Stone à la his late father, I have discovered the next best thing. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of the very latest internet memes: Hungry Kim Jong-eun.

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K-Pop Korner: Trouble Maker

February 27, 2012

Blogger’s block is a vile beast, a debilitating succubus. Fortunately, one can always take refuge in the confines of the Korner.

Trouble Maker is the name of collaborative duo consisting of members taken from Cube Entertainment’s only two notable acts, the girl group 4Minute and the boy group BEAST. Possibly for ease of promotional simplicity, ‘Trouble Maker’ is also the name given to their EP and the name of the lead single from the project, released on December 1st 2011. The girl involved, 19-year-old Hyuna, was already an established solo artist, having released a number of successful singles since early 2010 whereas 22-year-old Hyun-seung was making his first foray outside of BEAST and was inexplicably landed with the new stage name Jay Stomp, mercifully shortened to simply JS later. In the typically brazen corporate jargon of K-Pop, Trouble Maker are officially referred to as a “co-ed subunit”.

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