Wednesday, May 21, 2008


All good things come to an end. Such is the case with spring semester 2008. Members of this blog are, of course, free to continue to post but it is likely that the flood of postings will dry up.

However, if anyone's need to read what GW students are writing and thinking about Korea is still strong through the summer, please check out "GW North Korea," a blog for my undergrad North Korea summer course


Friday, May 16, 2008

Wikipedia Assignment-Korean Empire Page

So rather than post a new topic onto Wikipedia about Korean history, I decided to revise the main page off of the Korean History page entitled "Korean Empire". Here is what the page looked like before I started on it: click. What I noticed the most was that the links for Korean names are hampered by the fact that the names in English are not always posted in McCune-Reischauer. Thus most of my time was spent finding links throughout Wikipedia with the correct Korean name and then also determining what historical name to use for an event to find out is article exist already to explain those events. There were not many discussions about this page, but Wikipedia did list the page as a start-class for the quality scale so I hope my small alterations improved the page slightly. I was amazed at how many details right at the very end of the Korean Empire were not mentioned such as the Treaty of Portsmouth or the Taft-Katsura Memorandum. I also made sure to link Andy's new page with the previous mention on the Korean Empire page concerning the Tongnip Sinmun.

You may view the results here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Memory of 2008 Korean History Class!

Hello all!

It was a great opportunity to reflect on Korean history.
I was happy to study with Professor Larsen and all of you.
Lastly, I post these class photos, thinking of happy moments.

Wish you the best of luck!

At Chris's Birthday Party (1/16)

Dinner at Ewha after the last class (5/7 )

Professor Larsen's speech at the Philip Jaisohn Forum (5/12)

Photo with Park Jung-sook, who acted as the Munjeong Empress in Daejangkeum and Korean TV-show host after the Korean Wave Symposium at SAIS (5/15)

North Korea's Food Crisis

Following up on a previous blog poster earlier, the South Korean government has announced that it would help the North Korean state with food and aid if it was "asked". Following a tougher stance taken earlier in the year following the election of the new president, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan has stated that the state that the ROK would help if asked, but did not elaborate. Considering the famine 10 years ago killed hundreds of thousands, the U.N. has stated its concern over what could possibly be a horrifying humanitarian crisis. All that has to be seen is whether or not the DPRK's leadership will accept or not...
Once again, this is a situation that should be closely monitored by all...

South Korea and the European Union- Continued

Following my post the other day on the EU and South Korea's trade agreement, there apparently was progress made in Brussels. While there were still issues being talked about, there were committments on both sides to make sure things were "sped up" to make sure agreements were signed.
The reason why this is important is because the EU trades a lot with China and South Korea, and hopes to reach agreements similar to those made by the US with these states. This would greatly help both sides, as more freedom in trade would make it easier for South Korean companies to gain a stronger foothold in Europe, the largest market available. Considering bilateral trade last year alone amounted to close to $90 billion, everyone would gain from this.

Wikipedia Assignment

Hello all!

I selected the Tongnip Sinmun (독립신문) as my Wikipedia assignment topic.
The Tongnip Sinmun was the first privately-operated newspaper founded by Seo Jae-pil (later known as his English name, Philp Jaisohn) in 1896. Even though there was an official gazette titled Hansung Sunbo (한성순보) in Korea, arguably, it is historic in that it was an attempt to save the country via grassroots' enlightenment.
During the semester, we have covered a number of thought-provoking issues about Korean history. One of acute points that drew my attention was the period of declining Chosun Korea.
At first glance, there was no hope for the contemporary Korea.
Indeed, it was a very murky era. However, it is hard to say that Koreans sat idlely and waited for its fate passively. There was an progressive movement, as observed the Tongnip Sinmun, representing the hope of Korea.
Even though Korea had to fall into a colony of Japan, I am convinced that Korean civilized and educated Korean intellectuals including Seo Jae-pil sought for ways that Korea should direct and put their ideal into practice against the backdrop of imperialism and modernization.
I thus wanted to cover the Tongnip Sinmun, which considered a blueprint that Korean intelligentias aspired, thereby demonstrating the source of dynamics that led remarkable development.

Since there was nothing about this issue, I created a new page in regard to this historic newspaper. Although my work was not insufficient, I tried to cope with following several aspects of the Tongnip Sinmun.

- Background
- Development and Discontinuance
- Contents
- Contribution to Korean society

Wikipedia assignment

I chose to write and post information on the Korean revolutionary and leader of the Donghak Peasant movement, Jeon Bong Jun (전봉준). I actually got the idea to write about him while I was doing research for the second term paper. I was looking through information on the Donghak Peasant movement and I found his name. Dr. Larsen warned me that there was not a wealth of information on him in English and I did indeed find this to be absolutely true. Wikipedia had nothing except a short sentence on him under the Donghak Peasant revolution. I thought that his story deserved his own Post and so I made an entry just for him with hopes that others would add things as time passed.

Here is the Link to my work.

Everything on this page is of my doing save for the Name Morphology (I had attempted to type in the Hangul but was quickly corrected by someone) and also one sentence in the beginning which also was corrected by someone else.

Wikipedia Assignment

Hi everyone. I expanded on back ground part of Nuclear weapon of North Korea and Weapon of Mass destruction page.

Before it was
and now it is.
I added few paragraphs of the back ground of nuclear weapon of North Korea.

"According to newly declassified documents from the archives of former communist allies of North Korea, Pyongyang first began to pursue nuclear technology as early as 1956, though security concerns in the region and an apparent Soviet dismissal of these concerns in the early 1960s hastened the DPRK’s efforts to acquire the technology to produce nuclear weapons. In the wake of the student-led April 19 movement in 1960 that overthrew Rhee Syngman and the May 16, 1961 military coup d'état that brought General Park Jung-hee to power, North Korea sought an mutual defense treaty with the Soviet Union and China. Yet, Soviet leaders reportedly did not even consider such a pact necessary, despite the military posture of the anti-communist Park Jung-hee regime, as long as the Soviet’s improved relations with the United States.[2]

Perhaps the two most important factors in North Korea’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and become militarily self-reliant were the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the prospect of a US-Japan-ROK alliance following the 1965 establishment of diplomatic relations between the ROK and Japan. Kim Il Sung reportedly did not trust that the Soviets would live up to the conditions of the mutual defense pact and guarantee North Korea’s security since they betrayed Castro by withdrawing nuclear missiles in an effort improve relations with the United States. Indeed, as a North Korean official explained to Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin in 1965, “the Korean leaders were distrustful of the CPSU and the Soviet government, they could not count on that the Soviet government would keep the obligations related to the defense of Korea it assumed in the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, Kim Il said, and therefore they were compelled to keep an army of 700,000 and a police force of 200,000.” In explaining the cause of such mistrust, the official claimed that “the Soviet Union had betrayed Cuba at the time of the Caribbean crisis.”[3] The prospect of a US-Japan-ROK alliance in 1965 further compelled the North Korean leaders to obtain nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Yet, as recently declassified Russian, Hungarian, and East German materials confirm, no communist governments were willing to share the technology with the North Koreans, out of fear that they would share the technology with China.[4]

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korean leaders recognized the need for a new security relationship with a major power since Pyongyang could not afford to maintain its military posture. North Korean leaders therefore sought to forge a new relationship with the United States, the only power strong enough to step into the vacuum left by the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the early 1990s, throughout the first nuclear crisis, North Korea sought a non-aggression pact with the United States."

These are the 3 paragraphs that I added to the background but the next day, I realized the 3rd sentence was gone. I tried to add again, and I found out all the 3 paragraphs were gone.

The reason I chose this topic is because I did an internship at North Korean Interntational Documentation Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and had chance to read the declassified recent documents of North Korean intention of achiving nuclear power. Also, when I read articles for our class, I learned many new historical perspectives of North Korean intentions of persuing nuclear power other than the United States position on North Korea. Therefore, by adding North Korea's nuclear weapon background using the documents and books, I thought it could show people who want to know of the back ground of North Korean nuclear weapons why it first pursued nuclear weapon.

I added on May 14th and when I checked May 15th the last paragraph I added was gone. I did the screeshot on May 14th after adding so I have the page I edited, but I was suprised who people react so fast about this issue. When I went to the discussion board, it said this page is in dispute. I tried to discuss with people but I could not find the discussion board for the background. So, I could not discuss about my purpose.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wikipedia Assignment

Hello. I expanded on two articles, the Gwangju Democratization Movement and Park Chung Hee. I also edited the Busan National University page, but that isn't really connected to our class.

Under the Gwangju Democratization Movement, I added some information about the drivers for democracy, which was a parade of taxis, buses, trucks and cars that drove in support of the movement. Many of the drivers were beaten as a response. Then they started using the vehicles as weapons to protect the citizens and/or block/hurt troops.. it was a vicious cycle. When you see pictures of the movement, you often see the taxis and trucks. They seemed like a major part of the movement, but when I was doing research, no one really mentioned them. So I added some info about them on Wikipedia.

"On the night of May 20, hundreds of taxis led a large parade of buses, large trucks and cars toward the Provincial Office to meet the protest. As the drivers drove in the demonstration, the troops used tear gas, pulled them out of the cars and beat them. These “drivers of democracy” showed up to support the citizens and the demonstration because of troop brutality witnessed earlier in the day, as well as out of anger after many taxi drivers were assaulted when trying to assist the injured and while taking people to the hospital. Some were even shot after the drivers attempted to use the vehicles to block soldiers or as weapons. [2]"

I also added a small paragraph about the impact of the movement under Aftermath. I said it was assumed the US knew about the troop dispatch because I am trying to avoid being deleted. If I say they DID know, it will be deleted. If I say the Koreans insisted they knew though they did not, it would be deleted. I was trying to be more impartial. It WAS assumed right? Isn't that why there is an argument at all? If it was not assumed then no one would be talking about it. I will probably get deleted anyway. (I don't know why the font here is crazy. Sorry.)

The Gwangju Democratization Movement had a profound impact on South Korean politics and history. Chun Doo-hwan suffered popularity problems because he took power through a military coup, but after authorizing the dispatch of Special Forces upon citizens, his legitimacy was significantly damaged. The United States was previously seen as a liberator and protector, but the Gwangju Democratization Movement changed the image of the U.S. because it was assumed the United States knew ahead of time about the dispatch of special troops and sat idly as civilians were killed. The American image was further damaged when the U.S. continued to support Chun Doo-hwan through the 1980s. However, the movement also paved the way for later movements in the 1980s that eventually brought democracy to South Korea. The Gwangju Democratization Movement has become a symbol of South Koreans' struggle against authoritarian regimes and their fight for democracy."


Then I ended up modifying the Park Chung-hee article because I wanted to talk about some of the democratization movements that came before Gwangju. I took the information from Contentious Kwangju, which was one of our assigned readings for the Gwangju discussion week. I added the section
Unpopularity Stemming from Authoritarianism and the Yushin System.

The growth of the South Korean economy secured a level of support for the Park Chung-hee presidency in the 1960s, but that support started to fade after economic growth started slowing and because of the authoritarian measures taken by Park. By the late 1970s, demonstrations against the Yushin system erupted throughout the country indicating Park’s rising level of unpopularity.

One example of a demonstration that hurt Park’s popularity was the “YH Incident” in August 1979. At the YH Trading Company a group of young female textile workers held a sit-in strike at the headquarters of the main opposition party in protest of massive layoffs. The government responded by sending riot police to suppress the demonstration, leaving one female worker dead and others injured. This example of excessive force against the people contributed to Park’s unpopularity.

Another demonstration that hurt Park’s popularity was the “Pu-Ma struggle.” On October 16, 1979, student demonstrations calling for the end of dictatorship and the Yushin system began at Busan National University and moved into the streets of the city. Students and the riot police fought all day, and by the evening, 50,000 people had gathered in front of the city hall. After several public offices were attacked and around 400 protesters were arrested, the government declared martial law in Busan on October 18. On October 18, the protests spread to Masan. Students from Kyungnam University in Masan also participated in protests, which spread and resulted in 10,000 mostly students and workers joining the struggle against the Yushin System. They began attacking the police station and city offices of the ruling party, and a city-wide curfew was put into place[5].

The rising unrest in the public contributed to the sense of urgency in the government, and hence, to Park Chung-hee’s assassination."

ROK Government to Correct Biased History Textbooks

Koreans criticise Japanese history textbooks about its biasness.
However, Korean history textbooks has been an object of criticism due to its lopsideness, too.
In response to such criticism over the biased contents of modern history and social studies textbooks, the government has decided to overhaul their contents.

The Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Kim Do-yeon said,
“Korea’s modern history should be a source of pride. Therefore, it is not right to look down at our modern history. I think our history textbooks and education are a bit biased to the left.”

This statement shows that its direction will be to the right to certain degree. Korean history textbook issue is an epitome of ideologies differences. It was much more noticeable in the modern history than ancient ones. Perspectives about certain historic events including the Korean War, 4.19 movement, 5.16 coup and evaluation of each administration demonstrates such ideology discrepancy, in particular. Four history textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education in 2002, for example, describe Kim Young-sam administration negatively as corrupted, on the contrary, Kim Dae-jung administration positvely as progressive.
History education has readily been manipulated by political power or other factors, as observed in the Nazism and Facism durint the WWII. We all remember that Hitler's lopsided historic perception brought about huge tragedy to the world.
Thus, I surmise that nothing is more significant than educating impartial history to students, not only for students, but also for the future of the nation. In order to accomplish this goal, it is essential to seek for agreeable point of fair and just history through constant discussion. It is closer to a never-ending task given the whole society. We should acknowledge that history is not the process to get correct answer, but the consistent efforts to move toward the desirable interpretations.

Wikipedia - Lee Myung-bak

Hello class-

I felt compelled to expand on Lee Myung-bak’s wikipedia page for a multiplicity of reasons. First, Lee’s promise to strengthen US-ROK relations and implement a tougher approach with North Korea left me with great optimism. However, recent events regarding the reactions of his policy choices made me less sanguine about his future, and I wanted to gain a better understanding of what factors and how these factors are contributing to his plummeting approval ratings. Second, I felt that keeping track of Lee throughout our course would provide me with valuable insight into the inner workings of the South Korean political system. Third, I wanted to delve deeper into his North Korean policy. I asked myself, "What are the specifics of his plan? What are his assumptions? Is it really on the wrong track, as critics suggest?"(still figuring that one out).  Fourth, his wiki page was relatively terse, and I felt significant changes needed to be made soon, considering his critical role in US-ROK and ROK-DPRK relations.

I chose to expand on the “Foreign Policy” and “Criticism” sections. Surprisingly, the additions that I made have not been deleted. Although, some of my sentences have changed, but the substance and meaning are still there at any rate.

Here are the links to my changes:
Lee Myung Bak Wiki (foreign policy)
Lee Myung Bak Wiki (criticism)

Just some final thoughts, the future does not look great for Lee. With a disastrous approval rating in the low 30's, he is also facing opposition from within his own party. He is certainly in a precarious position: Either he changes his policies and is considered a man with weak convictions. Or he becomes resolute or defiant but faces the prospect of being unable to push through any of his initiatives.

Wikipedia Project- Franco-Korean Relations

For my Wikipedia assignment, I thought it would be interesting to look at the development and evolution of the relations between France and Korea (later the ROK) from the earlier days to the present day. The reason why I chose this topic is because I have always had a strong interest in diplomatic history, therefore this seemed to be a very interesting one. More importantly, I wanted to learn more about a topic that I did not know anything about.
When I did research online, I found that someone had already created a page on the topic, originally in French but he had translated it into English later on. At first glance, it was pretty much a literal translation of his page from French to English, but the article was short.
What I first did was to restructure the way it was presented by adding bullets points (so it was easier to read and navigate, links, new history sections, and more references. It seemed the topic had many other related pages on Wikipedia, but many were not connected to it. Therefore, I just went around and looked for the possible links and added them when necessary. Afterwards, I looked for articles and reviews on the topic and just added several references to make the article page more academic.
I have been very lucky with this topic, because the person who contributed the most to it has decided to give up wikipedia for a while since he is also a graduate student (I checked his profile to message him). Also, this is not a controversial topic either, which means that the possibility that someone will change everything that I have done is fairly unlikely.

Here is the link:

The European Union and South Korea

South Korea's chief negotiator for free trade is in Brussels today for more talks concerning free trade agreements between the 27-nation economic bloc and South Korea. Indeed, the EU is looking to broker a deal that would be similar to the Free Trade Agreement signed by Korea with the United States last year. Unfortunately, the negotiations have been tough, as six rounds of meetings have not yielded as much as was expected.
The European Union has been strict on the "rules of origin" legislation which has been an issue in the talks. "South Korea has demanded the EU ease its rules of origin, under which a product is considered as manufactured by a trading partner only if at least 60 per cent of the finished item is made in that country."
After all, the EU is the largest foreign investor in South Korea, with investments that reached close to $45 billion last year alone. If tariffs are reduced, trading between the two entities would increase as well, which would benefit everyone. In the end, it is important to remember that trade with the EU is essential, as trade agreements not only ease commercial partnerships with a single state, but twenty-seven of them, including 4 of the G8 nations.

Korea and Cannes

The 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival started today with Sean Penn presiding the jury for the first time. Many countries have submitted their official entries, with most movies usually being from either the U.S or Europe. South Korea's Kim Jee Woon is presenting his new movie as well: "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", yet it is not in the official competition. Nonetheless, here is an interesting link concerning the festival and the Asian films presented there:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's Official: Famine is Forcasted for Future

A policy brief by the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC recently issued a grim forecast for the economic situation in North Korea. I have summarized the jest of it as follows:

Due to the lack of diplomatic relations with the international community because outstanding issues (nuclear being the top) and the effects of the world-wide food shortage are clearly resulting in surges in the domestic prices of food in North Korea. The report details about how food shortages listed by the DPRK's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) may be merely politicizing the losses to obtain more aid or may actually have losses do to with inefficiencies of production, the August floods of 2007, or diversion of grain and such to other markets unofficially. Data is even questioned concerning if the correct amount of grain needed for the North Korean diet because the WFP and FAO have overestimate the population of North Korea and thus the need for grain.

The self-reliance theory and policy of juche can never fully develop to a working situation as the percentage of arable land to people is low and food supply is severely dependant on favorable weather conditions. The brief points out an interesting analysis concerning China's aid/ food export involvement with DPRK. Aggregate food exports certainly increase with the deepening bilateral relations between the two countries but oveall grain exports were flat during 2006 and 2007 due to the nuclear crisis. Because of the sharp increase of food prices over the past three months it is difficult to tell whether China is increasing its imports of food, remaining steady, or trailing from previous quarter intervals over the past years.

Prices and speculations especially in Asia with so many countries curbing exports in order to prevent shortages at home have had a severe effect on the domestic DPRK food price index. Any external disruption of food supply or price is severely felt inside North Korea at the basic level. Data in the policy brief demonstrates how at this time regional and geographical advantages which may assuaged famine in the past bear no advantage currently as even prices and supply in Pyongyang are desperate.

In 2002, the DPRK attempted to allow more economic reforms creating an environment for co-ops and farmers markets, but now the government is trying to regain a hold of grain distribution and trade. An example of recent policies in an effort to exert control on the market and thus keep power includes a ban on all women under 50 from trading in the markets. These new efforts by the government are only spurring the growth of unregulated "alley markets" and influencing the manner of trade along the border with China.

Recommendations from the authors include highlighting how the regime of the DPRK needs to accept aid when presented by the WFP and South Korea in the short term and that other regional countries need to review their rice export bans in favor of diverting some stocks to the WPF for regional stability by feeding North Koreans. As the nuclear talks roll on, the humanitarian assistance recently promised by the US looks favorable.

Be sure to check out the brief if merely to see some of the charts and data.

Relics of colonization

There is an interesting article about a bunker in Seoul that was built by the Japanese in the early 1940s. The bunker itself doesn't seem to have been too important, but it is still a piece of history that people don't seem to notice. The article also talks about some other buildings built by the Japanese that were destroyed later. Article

NKorean nuke documents appear complete.

DPRK denuclearization seems to be moving forward to the next phase.
Please check this recent updated AP news article.
A preliminary review of nuclear documents turned over to the United States by North Korea shows they appear to be a complete accounting of their plutonium production, the Associated Press has learned.
"It looks like all the production records from the period," the official said. "The initial assessment is that it looks pretty good, that they have pretty much given us what they said they were going to give us."
Undoubtedly, it is a positive sign for all relevant countries.
Considering domestic situation, it is no surprising that both U.S. and DPRK try to reach the agreement within the George W. Bush term.
What really matters is trust between U.S. and North Korea, as President Reagan once succintly put the challenges against the USSR back in the Cold War period:
"Trust and verify."
They view each other as trustworthy partners? It still remains to be seen. Perhaps, the future verification is likely to become confidence-building process. However, a thorny and murky path awaits for them since this game has not yet finished.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kim Il Sung's life in Pictures

The Daily NK collected several photos of Kim Il Sung from youth to old age and released them with brief commentary last week. Have a look here:

The commentary is quite brief and there is nothing particularly insightful, but it is interesting to see these images since I have not seen many of them before. Kim Il Sung did in fact look like a nice man because his eyes smiled all the time. He seemed like a good leader to North Korean people and active leader that took care of North Korean people and domestic affairs by seeing these pictures.

Domestic adoptions of Koreans surpass overseas ones for first time

We all know that many Korean children have been adopted in other countries since the end of the Korean War. Korean people have been reluctant to adopt these children themselves because they care so much about blood ties. Korean people have recently become more ashamed by the fact that they were sending so many children abroad, and that these children rarely had the opportunity to learn their native language or understand their culture. It seems this shame has led to a wonderful change in Korean society. Korean people have for the first time adopted more Korean children than other countries.

Pyongyang waiting for positive gesture by Seoul: N.K. official

It seems that the threat of a famine as devastating as that of the arduous march of the 1990’s has forced the North Korean leadership to seek accommodation with the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration. Pyongyang is reportedly willing to move forward with North-South relations as long as Seoul promises to abide by all agreements made between the two countries under previous South Korean governments. Seoul has also agreed to send aid to North Korea. This is interesting since there is no clear sign of the North Korean leadership making changes or reciprocating in any way. I am glad that the North Korean people will be getting much needed aid, but I thought Lee Myung-bak did not want to continue the policy of unconditional aid without any reciprocation.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wikepedia assignment :

I expanded and added some more information regarding "Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" and especially in the section of "Final break down of the agreement"

You can also check the final page in the following link:'s_Republic_of_Korea#Final_break_down_of_the_agreement

Bold contents in the following text are what I added three days ago, and it is still untouched.

==Final break down of the agreement==

In October 2002, a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly visited North Korea to confront the North Koreans with the U.S. assessment that they had a uranium enrichment program [21]. Both parties' reports of the meeting differ. The U.S. delegation believed the North Koreans had admitted the existence of a highly enriched uranium program [22]. The North Koreans stated Kelly made his assertions in an arrogant manner, but failed to produce any evidence such as satellite photos, and they responded denying North Korea planned to produce nuclear weapons using enriched uranium. They went on to state that as an independent sovereign state North Korea was entitled to possess nuclear weapons for defense, although they did not possess such a weapon at that point in time [23] [24] [25]. Relations between the two countries, which had seemed hopeful two years earlier, quickly deteriorated into open hostility.

The HEU intelligence that James Kelly’s accusation is based on is still controversial: According to the CIA fact sheet to Congress on November 19, 2002, there was “clear evidence indicating the North has begun constructing a centrifuge facility” and this plant could produce annually enough HEU for two or more nuclear weapons per year when it is finished. However, some experts assessed that the equipment North Korea imported might have been enough for an experimental program or a laboratory, but not enough to be a weapons-grade program. [26]

KEDO members considered in November 2002 whether to halt the fuel oil shipments in response to the previous month's developments. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly warned Japanese officials that the U.S. Congress would not fund such shipments in the face of continued violations. The shipments were halted in December.

In December 2003, KEDO suspended work on the pressurized water reactor project. Subsequently KEDO shifted the focus of its efforts to ensuring that the LWR project assets at the construction site in North Korea and at manufacturers’ facilities around the world ($1.5 billion invested to date) are preserved and maintained.

On January 10, 2003, North Korea again announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [27] On February 10, 2005, North Korea finally declared that it had manufactured nuclear weapons as a "nuclear deterrent for self-defence" [28]. On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test. US intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has manufactured a handful of simple nuclear weapons.

Each side blamed the other for ending the Agreed Framework. The United States pointed out that a North Korean uranium enrichment facility would violate the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [29], which states "The South and the North shall not possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities." North Korea accused the United States of a "hostile policy" including deliberately delaying fuel supplies and progress on the KEDO project that "effectively nullified" the agreement, listing North Korea as part of the "Axis of evil" and a target of the U.S. preemptive nuclear strikes. [30] [31] [32]

Although the agreement has largely broken down, as of 2005 North Korea has not restarted work on the two production size nuclear power plants that were frozen under the agreement. These plants could potentially produce enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce several nuclear weapons per year. The Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years From 1994 to December, 2002. [33]

Discussions are taking place through the Six-party talks about a replacement agreement, reaching a preliminary accord on September 19, 2005. The accord makes no mention of the U.S. contention that North Korea has a secret, underground enriched uranium program. However the new accord would require North Korea to dismantle all nuclear facilities, not just specific plants as in the Agreed Framework. [34]. This has been followed up by the February 13, 2007 agreement which has largely adopted this Sep 19 statement. Its implementation has been successful so far, with only a slight delay being recorded due to an issue of funds being unfrozen by the US actually reaching North Korea.


<1> HEU intelligence

"The HEU intelligence that James Kelly’s accusation is based on is still controversial: According to the CIA fact sheet to Congress on November 19, 2002, there was “clear evidence indicating the North has begun constructing a centrifuge facility” and this plant could produce annually enough HEU for two or more nuclear weapons per year when it is finished. However, some experts assessed that the equipment North Korea imported might have been enough for an experimental program or a laboratory, but not enough to be a weapons-grade program."

=> I would like to mention the controversy over the HEU issue which was a key to the dismantlement of the Agreed Framework.
David Albright’s report that I added was very important source for assessing the degree of the HEU program in the North.

<2> North Korea’s blame against the U.S. for the dismantlement of the Agreed Framework

North Korea accused the United States of a "hostile policy" including deliberately delaying fuel supplies and progress on the KEDO project that "effectively nullified" the agreement, listing North Korea as part of the "Axis of evil" and a target of the U.S. preemptive nuclear strikes."

=> North Korea’s blame against the U.S. was not just the delay of the light water reactor construction. I think the top priority of North Korea is the security concern and regime survival. Therefore they are extremely sensitive about the remarks such as the Axis of Evil and NPR report which mentioned North Korea as a possible nuclear target. The statement of the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea “Conclusion of non-aggression treaty between DPRK and U.S. called for.” On Oct 25, 2002 <> clearly stated this problem.
I also added the source of W Bush’s state of the Union address and NPR report:

George W. Bush’s State of the Union address where he named North Korea as part of an “Axis of evil,” see “The President's State of the Union Address,” 29 January 2002,
U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, January 8, 2002.

<3> Effectiveness of the Agreed Framework

"The Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years From 1994 to December, 2002."

=> I would like to empathize that the Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years at least from 1994 to December, 2002, from the establishment of the Agreed Framework to the Second Nuclear Crisis.
We can find same argument in Selig Harrison’s speech in the Korean Ambassy.
I wanted to question if the decision to stop heavy oil shipment was realistic and effective decision.

Friday, May 09, 2008

CNN special on DPRK this weekend

Just saw a preview this morning of a CNN special on North Korea that’ll be broadcast this weekend. Be sure to check it out or at least set your DVR’s for it.
The following is from the CNN website:

“In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. CNN's Christiane Amanpour gives a rare glimpse of the secret society in the "Notes from Korea" airing Saturday and Sunday, 8 and 11 p.m. ET.”


Christiane Amanpour was granted rare access by the North Korean government to cover the historic performance of the NY Philharmonic in Pyongyang. I found the primer on the website very interesting, and I’m definitely compelled to watch the show. Even on the plane ride to Pyongyang, passengers are given a small dose of the North Korean ideology

“We are informed over the speaker about our glass of water, ‘This drink is associated with the kind heart of the Great Leader Kim Jong Il.’”

Hmmm…sounds refreshing.

Amanpour’s first interactions with North Koreans immediately brought up our discussions on nationalism. From their view, the US is the source of all North Korean problems. This led me to think of Prof Larsen’s concept of Constructed, State-led nationalism. Essentially, the North Korean regime has been spreading this image of the US in order to draw nationalistic sentiments.

I do wonder how Amanpour will address the effects of the NYP’s performance. I remember from class that we agreed that it would have little effect, and I’m inclined to think that we were right.

At any rate, I’m sure it’ll be an informative show.

Those Darn English Teachers!

South Korea bans US pedophiles from entering country

This story covers the recent ban on some convicted pedophiles from entering South Korea.
As a former English teacher in South Korea, I am well aware of:

1) English teachers from all over the world hired with, dubious backgrounds and suspect motives for wanting to work in Asia.
2)Teachers working with fraudulent documents like working with tourist visas and fake teaching certificates and university degrees.

I believe that as long as there is a need for english education and as long as there are people willing to sell such a service then there will be the potential for unsavory individuals attempting to come to Korea. The biggest scoundrels are the Hakwon (Korean Academy) owners who are willing to for go the safety of their students just to say that they have a high number of native speaking instructors.Unfortunately, the Korean government and media seems to prefer to launch blame towards all foreign teachers (especially those from North America) when bad things happen rather than to reform (or maybe create) some uniformed standards for hiring teachers and then actively enforcing those standards. Finding that pedophiles are actively trying to enter Korean, Japanese, Thai and Taiwan school should not come as a surprise to Korean Government officials since teaching (or finding a job in any capacity in elementary schools) is the method of choice for child predators of any nationality.
I'm sure that this story will be used to further strengthen South Korean national disgust toward North American foreigners looking for work or currently working in South Korea.

North Koreas Nuclear records

(U.S. State department official Sung Kim effectively dodging microphones)


North Korea has turned over to the United States a significant amount of documentation on its nuclear program. The information is said to contain a large amount of information on the DPRK's Yongbyon reactor from all its major nuclear campaigns (1990's, 2003 and 2005). The question at hand is how complete will this information be? Personally, I think that it is part of North Korea's own "stick and carrot" (or maybe a I'll put away my stick,maybe, if you give me lots of carrots) approach. The Bush administration is pleased as punch with anything remotely resembling progress with North Korea. Phrases like: "an important step" are being used to describe this particular event. I think if "W" gets anything positive from Kim Jong Il it will be a victory for his so called legacy.
Of course its hard for me to get excited about this stuff because whenever there is an "important step" made in the right direction one of the parties usually mucks it up and we end up worse off then before.
As the documents make their way back stateside for scrutiny, I would keep the champagne bottles on ice.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lee's problem with "Beefgate"

As a follow-up to our discussions on Lee Myung-bak, I found this op-ed on
To be honest, I don’t know the political leanings of this news site. But it seems fairly balanced to me.

The author essentially says the recent netizen campaign over “Beefgate” (that’s my term, unless someone else has coined it first) is preposterous and part of an unfair and malicious strategy to uproot the government. To be sure, however, the Lee administration is certainly not without fault. In fact, it has a lot of them. His inability to legitimize the conservative government after years of being in the shadows coupled with his questionable appointments have served to significantly erode his approval ratings.

I've been trying to tie "Beefgate" into our discussions on nationalism but finding it difficult.  My tentative analysis leads me to view this issue through the lens of South Korea's shifting demographics and anti-Americanism.  While I'm sure many of these netizen activists truly oppose Lee and the GNP, my inclination is to think these problems are equally exacerbated by young Koreans' anxieties over the strengthening of the US-ROK alliance. 
This analysis may seem rudimentary or obvious to some. But we've seen -- in our literature and through our experiences here in the US -- the power of nationalism to affect state decisions. Lee would be wise to continue to listen and address the concerns of his citizens.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


The JoongAng Ilbo had a story about how prosecutors are trying to crack down on online sites that spread rumors about American beef. This concern over mad cow disease and the government's action to allow American beef into the country has really gone further than I expected. In this case, it is clear that society is controlling the national attitude on the government decision and the government is trying really hard to regain control. However, they are failing. This is the article about how the rumor webpages are being called cyberterrorism.

This is an article that talks about the rumors being spread online about Lee Myung Bak, including the rumor that he ceded Dokdo to Japan. Why would people even believe these things?! I think kids have a lot to do with it.

Dr. Suh Jae-pil Statue

Look, our professor is in the Korea Times online!

Park Kyng Ree

The novelist Park Kyng Ree passed away. With her famous historical epic Toji, she was beloved by many Koreans and considered as a possible Korean Nobel prize laureate in Literature.
Toji is regarded as a landmark in Korean literature and it covers turbulent phases of modern Korean history, from the Donghak peasant movement in 1894, which led to an anti-government uprising, leading to the country’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule in 1945. The story travels from Hadong, South Gyeongsang, the home of the novel’s heroine, Seo-hee through the mountains, fields and seas of Busan, Japan, Russia and Seoul. Over 700 characters star in this epic family drama, a story beautifully interwoven with vivid tales of lust and love across the generations.
The novel centers on Seo-hee, a property heiress in Pyeongsari, where the fictional heroine lives, and her quest to win back family land that a relative has stolen. She eventually reclaims her family land, but she learns that the land can never be the possession of man; man is possessed by the land. The first volume of the novel was published in 1969. The novel took 25 years, 16 volumes and five serials to complete.

You can find the article about her here

The Korean Nationalism

The Korean Nationalism
(a short reading reaction posting by Inyeop in Seoul)

Much of the Korean national identity and sense of Korean nationalism was constructed during modernization by the state. Experience of the Japanese colonial rule and Korean resistance, the Korean War and the rebuilding of state, the military dictatorship and the economic development created fundamental elements of the Korean identity. And considering exchanges and wars in Korean history, Monolithic ethnicity can be seriously challenged, and it is now being more undermined by globalization.
However it is also true that the Korean identity cannot be reduced as a purely modern creature. Traditionally, factors like Culture, heritage, lineage, bloodline, genealogy, history has been much more important in Korean society than western states. For example, Koryo wanted to found their heritage from Koguryo, and Choson wanted to follow the Old-Choson by naming after these countries. And the ethnicity in the Korean society has been relatively monolithic in comparison with western societies. For example, the U.S. has been multiethnic society from its early history, and we cannot simply say that the degree of ethnic composition of both countries are same.
Therefore, I think the identity of Korea is a product of both a long-term and a short-term construction and it is still being constructed. State was a main player during the modernization period but the Korean civil society was developed with the democratization, and dynamically operating with diversity.
One of the problem in the Korean nationalism is it’s linkage with painful history of modern period. Korean national identity was developed during the resistance against Japanese colonial rule and there is strong feeling of being victimized in the Korean nationalism. And this tendency was maintained or amplified by explosive issues of historical and territorial conflicts with neighboring countries. As we saw in the Chinese reaction to the Tibetan incident and western criticism, the country or people obsessed with victimization complex tend to have difficulty in self-reflection while easily blaming others. It could strengthen the myth of monolithic ethnic and drive the country into a closed and exclusive nationalism.
Therefore the civil society of Korea should make effort to resolve historical problem by reconciliation and common understanding of history with the neighboring civil societies, and try to reflect and overcome negative elements of nationalism within our society. It is essential for the peace and prosperity of East Asia to build open national identities of coexistence and common identities among East Asian countries.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The propaganda leaflets as the debris of Cold War

Please check this intriguing article above linked.
The NY Times introduced a museum in South Korea which displays approximately 700 paper bombs. Have you heard anything about paper bombs? These propaganda-laden leaflets are better known as a Japanese borrowed word '삐라' (ビラ) that North and South Korea fired at each other from the Korean War to until the late 1990s.

Mr. Jin Yong-seon, who opened this novel museum said,
“When I was a kid, we found these leaflets falling like drizzle in the hills around here. If we found them, we were supposed to report them to the police station. We got comic books, pencils or sweets as a reward.”
Although I could not understand this item as a serious taboo in my childhood, I still remembered seeing some of those weird paper -mostly written in red violent phrase with the images of bellicose North Korean soldiers- near my elementary school.
This reminds me of one common quotation: 'the communism is all about propaganda.'
What really amazed me is that it was also conducted by South Korea and U.S. against DPRK.
Understandably, it must have been signficant, considering the contemporary confrontation over legitimacy of Korea. Since the reconciliation germinated through pro-North Korea policies enforced by South Korea, these childish attempts gradually vanished from our vision and memory. However, it is still dubious to me about whether its underying objective was utterly abrogated toward South Korea.

Anti-American Beef Rally

Hello. Today there is an article in the Korea Times about a candlelight rally in Seoul against importing US beef. The quotes in the article are very interesting. One person says that she will persuade parents from sending their children to school because the beef will be served at lunch, which makes no sense at all.... just send kimbap with the kids to school. They are also saying that Koreans are more susceptible to mad cow disease than Americans because we have grown up eating the nasty germ-filled meat. Actually, Americans are just as susceptible to mad cow disease. I think a more dangerous aspect of American beef are the hormones they use to fatten the cows, and I am surprised no one is talking about that. This will probably be a factor that will block the KORUS FTA on the Korean side.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Directory of Collaborators

On Tuesday in Korea, a private panel of historians released a list of 4,776 pro-Japanese collaborators.

As expected, heated debates are going on about how to deal with these people. The protesters such as bereaved family members are saying that there were many collaborators who had no choice but collaborate to Japanese. They have two months to appeal to the committee to solve the technical matters such as correctness of the details.

By this released list, dealing with the past is also an important debate. For the future relationships with Japan, Chairman of the governing Grand National Party says "picking at the past" will "confused our footsteps into the future." And also the president Lee will have the similar opinion as he is focusing on the better relationship with Japan.

This is a hard domestic issue that has to be solved for the memory of the past colonization and for the future relationship with Japan. Digging into the past might not be a meaningful task. However, to fully forget about the regretful past, the memories have to be reconciled. I think this is another history issue that Korea has to solve with other history issues with Japan such as comfort women and history textbook.

Secret Victims - North Korea

The videoclip that I posted this time is about South Korean abductees and its diverse perspectives in South Korea. As you are already well aware of it, the South Korea has adhered the Sunshine policy as an official approach toward North Korea for the past decade. The basic concept is understandably logical. However, South Korea's policy toward the North Korea perplexes me, raising a question: Is it way of helping destitute North Korean commoners or is it a deed of supporting for Kim Jung-il's regime?
It starkly demonstrates the current dilemma between a national reconciliation and a rational inter-Korean relationship. I surmise that this has been distinctively exposed through the chasm between two extremes: hawkish U.S. government and liberal ROK government, conservatives and liberals in South Korea.
In that sense, this abductee issue in the center of this dillema as an acute matter. Indeed, it is a very difficult to decide which is better than the other. Even assuming that we ought to maintain the frame of dialogue and avoid one-sided sentimentalism, such sensitive issues must be cautiously handled between two Koreas. Admittedly, it may bring about a cooling-off period of inter-Korean relations for the time being. Yet it is even worse to spoil North Korea, letting them think this is like their bestowing benevolence to South Koreans. Despite the criticism, I tend to view that Lee Myung-bak administration's dual stance, signaling between dialogues and priciples, may be a strategic choice for the South Korea to seek another momentum in this deadlock.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Principles vs Human Rights

This article was printed in the Washington Post today.

With all the drama surrounding the Beijing Olympics, the human rights issue is once again becoming a hot topic in the region. It seems like human rights become a hot topic every couple of years. This has coincided with South Korea's harder line on North Korea and North Korean human rights have once again become an issue. The article above is criticizing South Korea's moves because taking a hard line on North Korea just leads to more human suffering in the country. But what do you do? When dealing with North Korea, you are between a rock and a hard place. North Korea does not take the necessary measures to help ensure the survival of its people, and if others pressure them to do so, North Korea reacts negatively and the people suffer worse. So you either let North Korea let their people starve or deny them aid/cause them to reject aid.. and let the people starve. What is the point in regime survival and ideological triumph if there are no people left to rejoice?

What will always say Korea...Kimchi!!!

Due to the heavy nature of our recent postings, I decided to search the Internet for a comprehensive website about Kimchi in preparation for our class meal next week at the Korean restaurant. The website I found is managed by the Korean Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp and even has a kimchi character which has been trademarked in a variety of countries to highlight the true nature of Korean kimchi which greatly differs from Japanese kimuchi. The website also goes into detail about the evolution of kimchi during various historical periods in Korea. The evolution of kimchi and the ingredients used is attributed to the various patterns of trade in East Asia over the years and the pivotal introduction of the red chili to Korea from Japan in the early 17th century. The website also describes the fermentation process as well as the science and tricks of the trade behind delicious, fresh kimchi.

Movie Screening

Apparently on Monday at the Library of Congress the North Korean Freedom Coalition organized a screening of "Crossing" directed by Kim Tae-kyun in celebration of North Korean Freedom Week. The article in English from Chosun Ilbo expressed that there was a whole lot of crying going on during the movie that continued to build with each traumatic scene depicting the struggle of a North Korean family torn apart by famine and poverty and then the hardship of life as a refugee outside of the DPRK. For the material of the film hundreds of interview were conducted with North Korean refugees in China and South Korea in order to gain a realist insight into the actual situations they faced. The article compares the film on a humanitarian level to the "Diary of Anne Frank" has this film exposes the horrors of governmental policy and folly upon ordinary people. Hopefully this film will be shown at other events soon so that momentum and interest on the humanitarian situation in the DPRK will be recognized by more citizens worldwide as the art of the moving image is certainly a great communicator.

The patriotic deed of Yoon Bong-gil in 1932

"The Japanese National Anthem was being played, when a youth was seen to step forward and place a cylinder on the front of the dais and then dart backwards. A dull explosion immediately followed, but it attracted so little attention that the music continued playing. ... others were seen to collapse wounded and bleeding, while soldiers seized the youth and battered him. Subsequently, another bomb of the same pattern was found near the dais unexploded. "

[May 28th London News]

On 29th April, 1932, there was a bombing attack at Japanese army celebration of Emperor Hirohito's birthday in Shanghai. It was conducted by 25-year old Korean young man, Yoon Bong-gil. This bombing was targeted at Japanese imperialists. It actually killed Yoshinori Shirakawa (a general of Imperial Japanese Army), and Kawabata Sadaji,(a Government Chancellor of Japaneses residents in Shanghai) and injured Kenkichi Ueda (Division 9 commander of Japanese Imperial Army), Kuramatsu Murai (Japanese Consul-General in Shanghai) and Shigemitsu Mamoru (Japanese Envoy in Shanghai).

Yoon Bong-gil was captured on the spot, sentenced to death by Japanese military court in Shanghai and transferred to Osaka prison in Novemeber. He was executed in Kanazawa on 18th December that year.

I respect for all his patriotic deeds and sacrifice himself for the liberation of Korea.
Through this historic event, on the other hand, I also contemplate the definition of history.
It can be seen as a terrorist attack in terms of Japan. However, he was regarded as an intrepid hero for other Japanese colonies in Asia, not to mention Korea. This clearly demonstrates how history can be differently interpreted by its own national context and sentiment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Very Rough Landing

Oh yeah, what ever happened to South Korea’s first astronaut Yi So-yeon, who launched into space on April 8? I asked myself that question yesterday, surfed around, and found these reports. Here. Here. And here.

Apparently, the 29 yr-old Ph.D graduate of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (so I guess she’s kind of smart) got a pretty good scare as the Soyuz TMA-12 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Sat Apr 19. Due to still-unknown complications, the spacecraft went out-of-control and landed well short of the intended landing site in Russia. We’re talking 260 miles off course!! And the Soyuz ended up in Kazakhstan!!

Fortunately, everyone was OK. And when the astronauts cracked open the capsule door, the they were greeted by Kazah locals, who were probably quite surprised that martians do in fact look like humans. At any rate, I’m sure Borat must’ve had fun with that.

Kidding aside, Yi So-yeon was hospitalized today for severe back pains as a result of the landing. One of the reports said she probably absorbed more shock b/c the capsule hit the ground near her seat.

Let’s hope and pray that this talented young woman quickly restores to full health and goes on to have a long and successful career.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Prolonged Stalemate

I found this op-ed in the Korea Times that advances an overall balanced perspective (in my opinion) on the recent US-ROK-DPRK dialogue.

The author appropriately places blame on all three nations for failing to build trust. While it’s no surprise that the North rejects President Lee Myung-bak new strategy, the manner in which it did made matters exponentially counterproductive and calls into question the North’s intentions to seriously work with the South’s new government. At the same time, Mr. Lee has a dilemma on his hands. He has committed to implementing a tougher North Korea policy. But is ready to weather the economic, political, and security implications in sticking to this policy should the KJR become more provocative?
Equally compelling is Lee’s stance at time when the US seems to be reversing course.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Olympic Torch Psses through Seoul...Chinese take the day

I just wanted to follow up now that the Olympic torch for the Beijing Olympics has successfully passed through Seoul on its way to North Korea. The torch was not extinguished nor stopped and there was a relatively small group of protesters which were overwhelmed by thousands of Patriotic flag waving Chinese students. Fist fights broke out as the Chinese students sought to cross the police line separating the two groups.

South Korea's Top Student

The education has always been a top issue in every country.
The South Korea is no exception.
This NY Times article is about top-notch Korean students who strive to get into U.S. universities. This story led me think of lots of things. (i.e., about Korean society, its cramming stytem of education, and even myself)

Indeed, it is a solemn reflection of Korean society.
It is a quite well-known fact that Korean students work so hard to get into prestigeous universities.
Korean students' absolute objective is to go on to prestigeous university.
Unless they achieve their goal, it is commonly observed that they retake the Korean SAT simply to get into specific university, based on the perception that it determines their life significantly.
As article described, going to American schools is a prevalent phenomenon or fad among top-notch students. This group of students are assuredly top students who hope to unfold their dreams by going to U.S. universities.
Their parents can also afford to get high education to their children.

I have mixed feelings about this matter since I am exactly inbetween.
I dislike its negativities for sure.
(Excessive competition, distrust, lack of morality, academic cliquishness)
However, it makes me feel somewhat sad to see this as an object of scorn, at the same time. Because it is natural for human to pursue such ambitions in order to live in better conditions, including myself. Besides, the enthusiasm about education undoubtedly served as a great impetus to move Korean economy forward.
One of the student's statement lingers my mind.
"I feel proud that I’ve endured another day."

What do you interpret this phenomenon?
Please check out the life of these highly motivated Korean students.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Dokdo/Takeshima..

A couple weeks ago Dr. Larsen circulated a new fancy document produced by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Takeshima. A couple days ago the Chosun Ilbo published a response to this document. I did not notice any new/unusual points. These are the type of things that keep the cycle of provocations going. One side does something, like publish a document or make a comment, the other responds.. etc. And both sides think they are completely 100% correct.. so what can you do to end it??

This is the Japanese document.

This is the response in Chosun Ilbo, which tends to be a more conservative paper that often publishes stories about "threats" and "insults" to Korea.

This is completely unrelated to our class, but I found a really good Korean radio station online. It plays different kinds of Korean music at different times of the day. Sometimes it has annoying English lessons, so just check it out at a different time if you tune in during that. You should listen to this station as you write your final paper.. for inspiration.

Olympic Torch To Pass Through Seoul

United States embassy in Seoul has warned Americans living in Seoul to avoid "unnecessary travel" on Sunday April 27. As the Olympic torch, set to pass through the streets of the capital city, will most likely meet resistance by anti-Chinese , human rights protesters. As you may know, (unless you have been living in a cave or Gelman library), the Olympic torch relay for the Beijing 2008 summer Olympics has been disrupted several times around the globe and Seoul now braces for similar protests. South Korean Polices vow to crack down on any and all planned disturbances.
"Those who attempt to stop the relay will surely be arrested on the site and given stern punishment," an NPA official said to Yonhap news. I sincerely hope that there will not be any violence but I also think that protesters need to be allowed to express their extreme anger toward China since there seems to be lack of any consistent substinative response on the part of world leaders. An outcry from the populous in Asia, especially in countries in China's back yard may carry more weight with Chinese people than those coming from the west.
In the meantime China is doing its best to encourage friend ship (and discourage hooliganism) during this historic time. Chinese Ambassador to S Korea: Share dream, promote friendship

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kill 'Em All (1-5) Freedom and Democracy

I post a documentary film that I wanted to share with you all during the class.
The title is "Kill'em all" (BBC), which attempts to disclose highly controversial incident in a objective manner. Please check thess all 5 pieces.

Korean National image

Korea’s national image has fallen. According to Germany’s brand agency Anholt-GMI, Korea ranked 25th in the national brand power category among 35 nations in 2005, but it fell to the 32nd place among 38 nations in the last quarter of 2007. It even trails China and Mexico. Korea’s national brand is far weaker than its economic power.

To me, strong nationalism and indominatable spirit come up to my mind first when I think of my home country, the Korea.
If we confine only to the South Korea, I have to admit that those factors are seen as negativity of Korea, meanwhile they surely served as a momentum of development.
How can you describe your image of the Korea? Is it close to positive or negative?

Al-Jazeera People Power North Korea

The documentary film that I mentioned after class this week was Peter Tetteroo's "Welcome to North Korea", which was posted by Axel already. Thanks, Axel!
Along with Peter'Tetteroo's in 2001,
I would like to recommend you to watch this. This was produced by another German journalist Pieter Fleury. It was aired in Al-Jazeera TV.
It interestingly demonstrated North Korea's anti-Americanism.
Indeed, three things that define NK are national pride, anti-Americanism and siege mentality. Particulary, some phrase which came out of from little child's mouth still lingers my mind after watching this video clip.
"The pathetic Americans kneel on the ground. They beg for mercy."

This remind me of Professor Kirk Larsen's anecdote about generational inheritance of anti-Japanism occurred in the subway, Seoul.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

NK diplomacy as an agenda of U.S. presidential race

While watching U.S. presidential preliminary race, I have the impression that the Iraq war is the only important agenda here. Undeniably, it was hard to hear about any DPRK-related foreign policies from potential candiadates. However, it appears that Demorcrat Barack Obama's recent appeasement nuanced toward DPRK is still a contentious issue, triggering criticism from opponents. According to the article, Republican presidential candidate John McCain challenged Democrat Barack Obama's approach to diplomacy on Thursday, saying U.S. charges that North Korea gave nuclear assistance to Syria showed the folly of unconditional talks with foreign adversaries. Specifically, MaCain said that:
"should explain to the American people how talking unconditionally to dictators like Kim Jong-il in the aftermath of recent disclosures advances American interests."
Apparently, it is quite widely accepted that engagement is inevitable appraoch for the U.S.
Even assuming so, it remains as a great unresolved dispute as to how the U.S. cope with such rebellious state as the DPRK between the appeasement and the hardline.
The U.S. possibly maintains its consistency toward DPRK in the next administration?
That must be the questions for many.
Check out this article.

Economy is Slow Going

Finally, some really good numbers on the South Korean economy thanks to first quarter reports. The news is not rosy as the economy is at its slowest expansion in 3 years. Factors of the economic slowdown include the rise in oil costs and consumer spending decreasing by the day. The second quarter is predicted to slow even more adding pressure to President Lee's new to-do-list. It appears that although raw input costs have risen which inevitably halts corporate spending and expansion, South Korea is simply reflecting the impact of the global recession caused by the US credit crisis. Time will tell if the Bank of Korea will also be reduced to cutting interest rates like in so many other countries have when faced with the dire need to stimulate the economy. For a complete article and the quips of senior South Korean economists, click here.

US to import North Korean...

US to import North Korean... soju?!

This soju will run $90-$100 a box and $10-$12 a bottle. I wonder if this will actually happen and if it will expand.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Sorry but I realized that I had forgotten to post references for the documentary I included in my blog post earlier. The title of the video is:

"Welcome to North Korea" by Peter Tetteroo for KRO Television, 2001

Length: 50 minutes

US to brief on alleged N.Korea-Syria nuclear link

The Bush Administration has decided that it would start briefing members of Congress today on alleged connections between Syria and North Korea in creating a nuclear powered reactor. This occurs months after an Israeli air raid in Syria on Sept. 6th, 2007 revealed suspicious structures in Syria. At first, only "appropriate" members of Congress had been informed, which is often the case when dealing with sensitive matters concerning international issues. Even though other lawmakers will be briefed today, they will only be the ones serving on military and intelligence committees.

The issue is that the United States wants to negotiate with North Korean officials, yet most of the work had been done behind closed doors. As more information is known about the Syrian issue, it can become problematic as Syria was never covered in previous negotiations/talks. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see what this can lead to in the future.

As we have seen in class throughout the semester, negotiations with the North Korean regime have always been complicated. As the Bush presidency comes to a close this year, it will be interesting to see what their last efforts in the field of foreign affairs yield. Soon, another Administration will have to start negotiating with them, which can only leave us to wonder what their strategy will be concerning North Korea.


Also, I found this interesting documentary that was shot in 2001 by a Dutch reporter crew. It is interesting to watch if you get the chance.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Samsung chairman, Lee Kun-hee, resigns over scandal

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who had been indicted on tax evasion and other charges, said Tuesday he was stepping down after 20 years as chief of South Korea's biggest conglomerate. There is some news article from the New York times.
Special prosecutors Thursday indicted Lee on charges of evading 112.8 billion won ($113 million) in taxes, ending a three-month probe in the family-run conglomerate prompted by allegations of wrongdoing by a former Samsung lawyer. However, the Prosecutors dismissed the most explosive claim -that Samsung used affiliates to raise a slush fund to bribe influential South Koreans for lack of evidence. They also decided to indict Lee without arrest, saying his apprehension was too big a risk for South Korea, citing ''the extremely competitive global economic situation.''
These results from the special prosecutors provoked widespread criticism from Korean public. However, it is not expected for Lee Kun-hee to step down.
Besides his stepping down, Samsung said that it would eliminate its Strategic Planning Office, long a lightning rod for critics of its management structure. Samsung also said Lee would pay the taxes he is accused of evading and that $4.5 trillion of won ($4.5 billion) of his assets special investigators discovered in stock and bank accounts would not be used by Lee personally. Addressing two key issues, Samsung said it would not move into the banking sector, nor would it set up a holding company.
Lee Kun-hee’s decision was surprising to most of Korean people, but it is still controversial because the family succession structure is still intact.
For example, Park Won-suk, a senior official with the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading shareholders' activist group said that "This cannot be considered a major reform measure even with Lee stepping down, because the management structure of Samsung is built up so that he can influence it as he wishes anyway."

Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo