Sunday, March 30, 2008

US and North Korea: The problem with hardliners

In an essay published in the Brookings website last month, Georgy Toloraya examines the shifting moods in the US and North Korea surrounding the nuclear crisis and how these shifts foster hardline policy prescriptions on both sides.

Toloraya first looks at the South Korea’s changing approach under the Lee Myung-bak Administration. He questions to what extent will Lee Myung-bak’s more aggressive policies towards the North lead to confrontation. As Toloraya asserts, the North Koreans interpret the “action for action” policy to not only apply to positive moves but for perceived hostile actions as well. In this view, if Washington takes a harder approach, North Korea will respond with a “super-hard” response in kind.

Toloraya also analyzes the reasons why the North refuses to acknowledge the existence of a uranium enrichment program, stating that Pyongyang is waiting for the US to pay the “right price” for this admittance. Tolaraya then examines the progress of economic reforms in the North and concludes that true reform will not occur until their security demands are met.

I admittedly used to be one of those North Korea hardliners.
But after studying this issue for a couple of years now, I am now more in favor of a more nuanced approach that calls for greater patience. However, I am still not above the application of a balanced and well-proportioned coercive diplomacy strategy (if that is what is required). But like Toloraya, I accept that the alternatives to “engagement and small-step tactics” don’t look too good.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wikipedia Edit Wars

Look! The Dokdo/Takeshima issue and the East Sea/Sea of Japan issue both made it onto Wikipedia's lamest edit wars page. Apparently Koreans also objected to the Tsushima Basin page because Korea is preparing to officially register the basin as Ulleung Basin. Article

Also, while doing a simple yahoo search, I came across the Takeshima definition in the Urban Dictionary online. I do not feel comfortable linking the page because of a certain definition (number 2), but this is definition 3.

3. takeshima
35 up, 99 down

The island of Tokdo, the Japanese people claim to be their territory. Takeshima, as the name suggest, is a mixture of TAKE (word that reflects their violent history of stealing, massmurdering past and their even more sad ancient past in a receiver's position of culture) and shima (a japanese word for island).

1.Takeshima is a wrong way to refer to the Liancourt Rocks. Dokdo is the proper way.
2.Only the incestous monkeys of archipelago refer to the Liancourt Rocks as Takeshima.

by James Ban Vancouver, B.C. May 22, 2006 email it

Thursday, March 27, 2008

South Koreans in North Korea

Hello. Today I saw this article in the English version of Chosun Ilbo online. It is calling for the South Korean government to find a way to bring the South Koreans abducted by North Korea and South Korean POWs back to South Korea. The article discusses how the problem was settled between East and West Germany and says that the situation in Korea is more complicated and the government is responsible for developing a Korean method to solve the problem. One sentence I found interesting was, "West Germany kept the deals a secret through several changes in administrations..." I think this is very important because much of the conflict in Korea persists because of changes in administrations in South Korea and America. America and North Korea were working on a deal to solve the nuclear issue, but then the Bush administration came in with a different viewpoint and the process had to start all over. Also, North Korea and South Korea were developing some common ground, and now there are reports that the new South Korean administration is going to take a tougher stand, as shown by Andy's recent post. I think there is truth in what this Chosen Ilbo article says. There does need to be a Korean method, and it is essential that administrations keep consistency. Otherwise any progress made may be set back.

North Korea expels South's officials from factory zone

The new, conservative South Korean government took a tougher line on North Korea, warning that it would speak out against human rights abuses in the Communist North and that it would not expand economic ties unless the North abandoned its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea furiously reacted to this policy by banishing 11 South Korean officials from Kaesong joint industrial complex.

It seems to me that North-South relations will be cooled down for the time being.
Such a strong reaction from DPRK can be understood as training and pressure against South Korea. That psychology was based on Lee's rigid standpoint toward North Korea. In other words, the tug of war between North Korea and South Korea government has started over the taming the other half of brothren.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'Alternative' History Textbook published in Korea

Even though Koreans claim about the flaws of some Japanese history textbooks, we are not sure about how accurate and objective the Korean history textbooks are, since there is only one kind of textbook for each elementary, middle, and high school which government's institution makes.

However, the attempt to make an alternative history textbook was made in 3 years ago, by the Textbook Forum with the goal of making a history textbook without biased ideology and the first contemporary and modern history of Korea textbook was published on Sunday.

It is a good movement to examine Korean history in a right way and could be a good example for other countries such as Japan and China where Korea is experiencing history controversy.

Changes in South Korean Policy

South Korea is expected to vote in the UN on a resolution criticizing North Korea's human rights record. This is a change in policy for South Korea, as it had usually abstained from voting on such questions to avoid souring relations with its northern neighbor. This reflects a shift since the new president, Lee Myung-bak, took office last month. It will be interesting to see how this impacts relations between North and South Korea, as previous South Korean governments had usually followed a different position in the past.

Adding to this, the South Korean president also urged the North to scrap its nuclear program in order to better relations, another sign that a tougher stance is being established. Nonetheless, it has been stated that aid would continue despite these issues, which should help the North's constant food shortages. As the months go by, it will be important to notice how this new stance changes relations between the two states, and if it hopefully yields positive results.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Christianity in North Korea

A group of college students in Chungjin, Northern Hamgyung Province, North Korea got caught by the government and are under investigation for watching a Christian CD and reading bibles. According to the testimony from one refugee who was vice –director of the state-owned company Keum-reng Corp., this company was closely connected to smuggle, cooperating with secret Christian group in the region. He confessed that he tacitly acquiesced to this smuggling process. The authorities began to thoroughly investigate this matter as the bibles and CDs spread quickly throughout Chungjin and Najin. About two hundred bibles and CDs were smuggled from China to these regions by means of burlap sacks. He claimed that many people are charged with spreading illegal religious materials in this incident and severely tortured by authorities. He fled from North Korea, for fear of being put in a political prison.

Allegedly, some churches exist in North Korea. However, considering the characteristics of regime, this does not imply freedom of religion exists in North Korea because churches were used only as an official front for freedom of religion. North Korean communist leaders see religion as a challenge against their authoritative tyranny or the worship of their great leader. In this regard, this incident might be viewed as a serious warning sign to their rigid society.

New Japanese textbook and Dokdo (Takeshima)

South Korea and Japan have often experienced fierce clashes of national feelings over their perceptions of history and Dokdo Island (Takeshima).

As Hukuda cabinet embarked, subtle changes can be detected in Japan.
There have been growing voices in Japan calling for a type of education designed to instill a spirit of patriotism in young people. Textbook is in the center of this matter.
In this sense, the following news attracts my attention.

Japanese government recently decided to eliminate the contents about Dokdo (Takeshima) claim from newly published textbooks, according to Sankei Newspaper on 22 March. Dokdo (Takehsima) has been described as Japanese territory in the textbooks. In observation of teaching guideline for 2008 released from Ministry of Education in Japan on 21 March, issue of Dokdo and Senkaku islands, which are the territories in dispute with South Korea and China respectively, will be removed from the textbooks for Japanese students. Although it does not mean any progress or mutual agreement on this issue, this policy can be construed that PM Hukuda focus more on strenghthening (restoring) relations with its neighbors, South Korea and China.

I think it is desirable for Japan to solidify relations with South Korea and China. In that sense, it is definately a welcoming sign that Japan's recognition of its neighbors. However, if it is only to evade sensitive frictions, remaining their original standpoints without the efforts talking with relevant countries, this policy is likely to affect little in the long run.

The first search for remains of Ahn Jung geun

I once mentioned Ahn Jung geun in class the other day.
Indeed, he is regarded as a prominent independence fighter and national hero in Korea.
Recently, South Korea govornment decided that they will launch its first-ever mission to locate the remains of Ahn Jung geun, who assasinated Ito Hirobumi, a ringleader of Japanese colonialization. This news drew my attention in that it will be the first attempt implementated by South Korea. After assasination, Ahn was executed by Japanese colonizers at Luishun prison in the port of Dalian, China, on March 26, 1910. Ahn's body is said to have been buried in the backyard of the Japanese colonial prison in the northeastern Chinese city, but the site has never been open to South Korean authorities until now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tearing Down the Walls of Confucianism

Hello. I found this article about a business person's view of how the "Korean way" ( or Confucian way) hinders efficiency in Korea. It was mainly focusing on how Korea needs to overcome the "Korean way" in order to successfully implement President Lee's reforms. But one point I found interesting was how he compared the Korean herd mentality to America's individualism by using the 2002 anti-American protests and the Cho Seung Hui incident at Virginia Tech. First he introduced herd mentality by mentioning the anti-American protests in 2002 that erupted after an American armored vehicle killed two Korean school girls Koreans, and then he said how Koreans expected an American backlash against Koreans in America after the Cho Seung Hui incident at Virginia Tech. Koreans were very concerned and sent diplomatic apologies to America, and they were surprised that Americans didn't act out how Koreans thought they would. Americans saw the Virginia Tech incident as an individual who went on a rampage and being completely separate from Koreans. This is a fundamental difference between the cultures. This is the article.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

S. Koreans Among Most Critical of China on Tibet: Poll

This is an interesting poll that was released on Tuesday that states that according to a poll conducted in six countries (US, France, UK, South Korea, India, Indonesia), South Koreans were the most critical of China's actions in Tibet with 84% disapproving of what the PRC was doing.
The respondents were given two points of view, that of China's official policy and that of its critics. While the Western countries had a rough average of 70-75% of disapproval, states like Indonesia and India were less critical. In India, for example, a third of respondents disapproved of the PRC's actions, a third approved, and the remaining third did not have a position.
On the other hand, North Korea was one of the strongest supporter of the PRC's actions: "The DPRK government strongly denounces the unsavory elements for their moves to seek 'independence of Tibet' and scuttle the upcoming Beijing Olympics." Considering the DPRK is one of China's closest ally, this stance is not too surprising...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tibet, 3.1. movement, Kwangju

We are witnessing Chinese government’s harsh crackdown in Tibet.

Chinese military invaded and took Tibet by force in 1951, and the region has been a source of tension ever since. There was strong uprising in 1959 against Chinese rule but it was brutally oppressed by Chinese military. ‘Hundred thousand’ of Tibet people were killed by Chinese military and Dalai Lama exiled to India. It was on March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising when this protests began.

As a Korean who remembers the brutal Japanese colonial rule during early 20th century, and Military government in 1970s and 80s, I feel really sorry for Tibet people. There is interesting essay written by some American teacher teaching in Korea which made comparison between Korea’s independence movement and Tibet’s demonstration.

Letter From Seoul: Tibet Protests Recall Korea’s Independence Movement

As Japanese rulers argued, Chinese officers claimed that they brought development and installed infrastructure in Tibet and saved Tibet from feudal system. They argue that Tibet people should be grateful to China.
However, Chinese government has been more concerned about natural resources in Tibet and its strategic importance in the military perspective. Tibet has 70 different kinds of rich mineral resources such as coal, diamond, magnesium and uranium, and its geographical trait as a plateau had advantage for military installation and buffer zone against India. Tibet’s illiteracy is highest in China, and marginalized in economic development. Chinese government adopted a policy to migrate Han Chinese to Tibet and opened a new railroad connecting Tibet, but Han Chinese monopolized most of economic benefits in Tibet and Tibet people experienced identity crisis.

One of most important part in Tibet problem is that Chinese government has been distorting Tibet’s history by the ‘Southwest Project’. By the Southeast Project, Chinese government argued that Tibet has been part of China. It is true that Tibet was subjugated by Won Dynasty and maintained tributary relation during Qing dynasty. However, Tibet maintained their sovereignty for much longer time, and proud of their culture, language, and religion.
Most of Tibet people say that they cannot forgive Chinese government who destroyed their temple and their culture. They don’t want Chinese army to protect Tibet.
I think Chinese policy toward Tibet which has been imperialistic and hypocritical backfiring now in Tibet.
I saw old Korean people's faces who lost their sovereignty by Japanese, who was oppressed by brutal military regime, in the sad face of Tibet monk in this picture. Tibet people should be allowed to choose their own destiny.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Brass in ROK Suggests Longer Tours of Duty

“In 55 years, the Republic of Korea has transformed from a war-ravaged country to one of the most modern, progressive and democratic countries in the world," Gen. Burwell B. Bell (Army),who is the commander of U.S. Force in South Korea, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 11March of this year. He went on to say: “Unfortunately, in a modern and vibrant Republic of Korea, the U.S. still rotates service-members on one-year, unaccompanied assignments as though this remained an active combat zone...” Which of course it no longer is. This reassessment of US military deployment has been a long time coming and follows the example of US military bases in Europe. This plan will extend tours to 3 years and allow family members to accompany soldiers to their bases. This plan generally, in my opinion just makes more sense because US service men and women stationed in South Korea may feel more comfortable and therefore be less likely to have conflicts with native Koreans (maybe). As, Gen. Bell goes on to point out that this kind of change sends a message that that US still has a serious commitment to a stable Korean peninsula. It also sends a message that the US does not "expect an imminent conflict" which in the long run may be a positive movement toward peace.
There is some confusion on how much it will cost and who is going to shoulder the responsibility (pay) for this extension and subsequent infrastructure expansion to follow. The Choson Ilbo reports that Gen Bell stated that the Koreans will bear the lion's share for this project. Bell denies this allegation and says that either he was misquoted or perhaps he misspoke.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sing-Song Diplomacy

Remember our discussion regarding the potential “lasting” effects of the New York Philharmonic’s visit to Pyongyang last month?

Well, Sung-Yoon Lee, an adjunct professor in international politics at the Fletcher School, has written a thought-provoking essay on that very subject in Asia Times Online.

Lee begins the article by recalling “one memorable night, (when) Pyongyang became a city of music and hospitality in place of ideology and hostility.”
But wait, Lee isn’t talking about the NY Philharmonic’s recent visit. She talking about South Korean pop star Cho Yong-pil’s concert in Pyongyang back in August 2005.

Lee captures the events that have transpired since then and up till the Philharmonic’s visit by contrasting the expectations of idealism with the cold truth of realism. In the end, Lee concludes the Philharmonic’s visit will do little for the ongoing negotiations surrounding the DPRK’s alleged nuclear program than “ping-pong” diplomacy did for Sino-US relations in 1971. Alternatively, Lee thinks the concert has the detrimental effect of casting a sympathetic light on the KJR.

A compelling read. Check it out.

Comfort Women: The Case of Taiwan

Following our discussion last week on the Second World War and comfort women, I found this interesting article that looks at the case of Taiwan. While it is estimated that 1,200 to 2,000 Taiwanese women were victims, only 58 have been registered with the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which supports the surviving victims. Unfortunately, Taiwanese women never were able to get the Japanese government to apologize for the atrocities the military committed during WWII. Despite these legal setbacks, they intend not to give up the fight and will continue until they receive an official apology.

The Foundation is also raising funds (they need about $160,000) to establish a "virtual museum of women's rights" that will not only expose the crimes committed, but also provide a forum for women to express themselves. The past two weeks have seen two former comfort women registered with the foundation pass away, leaving only 22 surviving victims. Hopefully, they will be given an apology one day as well.

Link to article:

From Koguryo, Dokdo, and beyond....

So I was trolling around and found an interesting press release that is germane to the subject matter we’ve studied so far.

Suh Kyung-deok, who calls himself a “public relations specialist on Korea”, has undertaken a campaign to bring awareness on the same issues we’ve been discussing in class. He’s taken out ads in high-profile newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

In his website, Suh highlights:
1. The Koguryo controversy
2. Dokdo and the East Sea
3. Comfort Women

I surfed the website for a while, read the press release, and wondered, among other things, 1) What was the actual size of the ad? Was it as depicted in the press release? 2) Where were they placed in the newspapers? The front section? 2) How long did they run for? 3) How much did they cost?
I certainly understand the need to call attention on these issues. But is the typical reader of the NYT, WSJ, and Washington Post “listening”? I applaud Suh’s efforts, and I like the layout of his website. But I’m not sure what his endgame is. Is it solely to bring attention to these controversies? Or compel people to action?

Let’s suppose the latter. But if you’re an activist – a historical activist, at that – and you’re trying to motivate others to act, wouldn’t you want to give your website visitors some options/courses of action they can undertake to support the cause? That brings me to my point…..Suh doesn’t.

Alternatively, this is what he want to do:
“Suh plans to buy 500 copies of the New York Times edition with the ad on it and send it to 500 influential media organizations, governments and non-governmental organizations in order to let them know that Goguryeo indeed is part of Korean history.”

OK if I received one of these New York Times. I guess I’d be thinking, “Cool. A free New York Times.”

Am I missing something here?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Remember Nanjing: December 1937 --Feburary 1938

I found the Chinese internet site about Nanking Massacre.

You will find shocking stories and horrifying pictures about what happened in Nanking between December 1937 -Feburary 1938.

Whenever I think about extreme atrocities by Japanese imperialism, I surprised how cruel human being can be. Sometimes I even ask if there are any characteristics in Japanese culture more atrocious and cruel than others. I know that it is very sensitive comment and also could be understood as racism. However, considering Japanese history of constant civil wars and the ‘Samurai’ tradition, I wonder if there are some traits insensitive about innocent death.

How should we understand these extreme atrocities? Who are persecutors and who are victims?
Are those atrocities done by Japan to China? Or Japanese people to Chinese people? Or by Japanese imperialists and Soldiers to the people of Nanking? Or is that crime against humanity?
You will find many comments about relation between China and Japan, and Japanese responsibility toward China, in the web site. Can we interpret it that nationalism is involved?

President Lee Myung-bak Proposes Shuttle Diplomacy With N. Korea

President Lee Myung-bak Proposes Shuttle Diplomacy With N. Korea

President Lee Myung-bak proposed shuttle diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il Tuesday expressing the hope that the leaders of the two Koreas will meet frequently whenever possible.He made the remark after getting a foreign policy briefing from Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hwan in Seoul.The President asked, ``Why can't leaders of the two Koreas meet as frequently as possible at a time when I meet U.S., Japanese and Chinese leaders through shuttle diplomacy?'' He said during his tenure, he wants to hold inter-Korean summits frequently.His remark is a delicate departure from the previous statement that he would consider meeting the North Korean leader only in Seoul. Lee also sought to tone down his emphasis on the improvement of human rights in North Korea. He said that his emphasis on North Korean human rights is in line with the universal standard of happiness, not part of a strategy on dealing with the communist country.``We're ready for sincere dialogue with North Korea,'' he said in a 90-minute talk with the foreign policymaker. But Lee pointed out that the two Koreas should change their attitudes toward each other as a prerequisite to continuation of inter-Korean dialogue.He also clarified his pragmatic policy directions Tuesday, stressing that the national interest should precede the alliance in Korea's relations with the United States."
See the whole article here


Apparently, President Lee is a conservative politician, and many people expected substantial change of North Korean policy with his presidency.
However, you can also find slight differences among conservatives. For example, Lee Hoechang, another conservative candidate of the last presidential election is more like a traditional conservative arguing more hostile approach toward North Korea. In comparison with him, President Lee is more like a neo-liberalist (conservative in economic sense) and his policy toward the North was not so rigid or hostile. (You may find that there are two standard deciding your political view in Korea: what do you think about 1. North Korea and 2. Neoliberalism ?)
Anyway, President Lee's comment was surprising. Is he going to be a Nixon in Korea? Or does he fundamentally misunderstand about North Korean motives and think too positive?

He also expressed a strong pragmatism and realism in foreign policy, saying "I am neither pro-American nor pro-Chinese. Korea can become an ally either with the United States or China as long as the two countries can maximize their national interests. In this age, there is no alliance unless each country's national interests are maximized.''
However, he also belated the staffs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) that they were not discreet in policies toward the U.S. and Japan. In other words, he criticized MOFAT's policy during President Roh that it did not pay enough effort to strengthen and maintain Korea-US, and Korea-Japan relations.
I found some inconsistencies between these two comments. What is his understanding of pragmatism? Does he really have some guts to be pro-Chinese instead of pro-American for national interests?

South Korea Will Send Its First Astronaut into Space...

...And guess what? Its a woman! Yi So-Yeon will be just the second Asian female sent into outer space and the first Korean woman to make the journey. Just under a month until liftoff The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Seoul made a last minute switch from Ko San,a 31-year-old technology researcher to Yi So-Yeon, a 29-year-old biotechnology researcher. This was appearently at the request the Russian expert evaluators. Ko was somehow found to be in possesion of instructions meant for a spacecraft pilot that he was unauthorized to read. Although, this was all done "mistakenly" Mr. Ko lost his chance."Ko was aware of the rules and signed an agreement not to break them on entering the program", Lee Sang-mok, (the head of the ministry's Space Technology Bureau) stated.
I guess, one man's loss is another man's (or in this case woman's) gain.

Modern-day "Comfort Women"

North Korean Women in the "Sex-Slave Trade"

From Choson Ilbo online article:

"A 25-year-old daughter of a North Korean family, whose father had died of hunger and whose mother is blind was sold as a concubine for a Chinese man across the Duman or Tumen River to repay 50 percent of a debt worth 300 kg of grain. The price of the grain is just W46,000 (US$1=W947), which is less than the price of a dog in South Korea."

It is a terrible world we live in where a woman can be sold for the price of a dog. The sex trade isn't just a North Korean problem or even an Asian problem. Countries like Russia, Eastern European (really good story) countries like the Czech Republic to countries in Africa all suffer from this awful disease.
(Story)Apparently, Choson Ilbo actually caught some sad, desperate and hungry North Korean women on tape as they were taken across the Chinese/North Korean border by their, well, "buyers". This footage was used in a documentry called "on the border" about the thriving sex trade involving North Korean women raging now in China. The documentary was aired first in South Korea and Japan this past weekend and then again at the Woodrow Wilson Centre 10March(?).

When talking about Korean sexual slavery the first thing that may come to mind are the so called "comfort-women" who were coerced, tricked and in many cases kidnapped from their home country (or "
countries" since we know that comfort women were not only Korean) and shipped abroad to service Japanese soldiers during world war II, 60 years ago. However,the Korean sex trade is truly alive and well in China today. North Korean defectors, according to this article, are stuck with no way out because they are defectors and are therefore by their very presence violating the law; and even though they are in utter misery they find it better than being sent back to North Korea.
Choson Ilbo:

"In the North, where strong remnants of the feudal society have created pervasive discrimination against women, women who are captured defecting or deported by China are forced to learn in police custody that they are not human beings through a regime of verbal abuse. This is the uniform testimony of people who experienced such punishment."

Such "Punishing of the victim" was also seen after the return of the comfort women once they returned home to Korea after the close of world war II. At that time young women were shamed into keeping their mouths shut and in many cases could never find husbands and, generally, shunned by society.
Making some real effort to curb this sexual slavery may be too much to ask of Kim Jung- il who, himself, has what he calls the "Joy brigade" which are his group of 2000+(age ranges between 18-25 but maybe even as young 13) women used to provide "joy" to high ranking officials within the Workers Party. Perhaps NGO's can put pressure on China to do what it can to stop this horrible, most inhumane treatment of women.

Oh, by the way, today 11March 2008, The Central News Agency of DPRK (The most fair and balanced news agency on the planet) reported on a rally on 5March held by Women and Human Rights group in Seoul which, once again, urged Japan to make an official apology and reparation for sexual atrocities committed against Korean "Comfort Women".
I think from now on the government needs to encourage the Central News Agency to table such stories featuring any mention of "comfort women" until they get control of their own "comfort women" problem.

Here is a very good documentary on North Korean immigrants in China Sex-trafficking mentioned around 11.30. But try to watch this in its entirety

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Drive to Mount Geumgang

The Korea times reports that starting 17March of this year South Koreans and other foreigners will be allowed to drive across the demilitarized zone in their own vehicles to Mount Geumgang.
Hyundai Asan tours said that this new "private car tour" is in response to customer complains about the limitations of group tours in chartered buses. There are some limitations, which you can read about, but for the most part this new tour seems to be "no strings attached". So, any foreigner in his or her own car can drive to Mount Geumgang for roughly 340,000 won which translates to about 350 dollars US per person.

Take a look at Mt Geumgang, it really is quite beautiful.

Washington Rolls out the Red Carpet for Lee Myung Bak


President Bush Is anxious to welcome the re-entrance of a true conservative into the Blue House. To prove it he arranging for South Korea's new president Lee Myung-Bak and First lady, Kim Yoon-Ok to visit the Camp David presidential retreat. This has previously been an honor reserved for such heads of state as Junichiro Koizumi, and Zhang Zemin. Lee Myung-Bak has made it clear that he intends to improve the shaky relations with the United States. Bush, who is desperately looking for something positive that he can add to his legacy, surely sees an opportunity through the US/S.Korean Free Trade Agreement and quickly settling the North Korean nuclear issue.
If this visit is any indication of the importance that the Bush white house is putting on Lee Myung-Bak then, I think, the new President will enjoy a close relationship with Washington for at least 10 more months.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Park Chung-hee Reforms Greatest Historic Achievement: Gallup Poll

There was a very interesting poll by Gallup Korea by the request of Chosun Ilbo on its 88 years anniversary.

People picked Park Jung Hee's Semaeul movement the most successful achievement of 60 years of ROK's history (it was interesting to realize that South Korea's history is only 60 years old. Whenever I think about Korean history, more than 4000 years of history comes into my mind first.).

I agree that Korea achieved a great economic growth but because of the fast growth there are many problems coming out these days. Therefore, I want to say the greatest achievement of ROK is democracy.

Also, another interesting result is that more than 30 people chose Japan as the least favorite country followed by North Korea, Russia, China and U.S. Interestingly, Korean people are concern more about close countries to the peninsula and allied country, the U.S. (I have never thought about if I favor Russia or not since do not share similarities except the fact that we are close).

Since it is a very interesting article, please read:)

Source: Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea
Address :
Date Visited: Wed Mar 05 2008 06:37:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Ahn Jung Geun's buried site

Last class, we talked about different perspective of historical figure between countries. For example, Ahn Jung Geun who assassinated Ito Hirobumi who was Prime Minster of Japan during Japanese colonization, is a hero in Korea but terrorist in Japan.

Interestingly, China is developing the area where Ahn Jung Geun is buried presumably. Korea asked China by diplomatic channel to postpone the development of the area until the excavation work is done.

I hope China understands the Koreans request and wait the development until Korea finishes the planned excavation work.

Here is the link,

Address :
Date Visited: Fri Mar 07 2008 06:02:25 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Nasty Secret to the North

While looking at the State Department's website, I came upon a story where issues of North Korean sex trafficking were presented at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday. Citing the imense poverty in North Korea as the catalyst of the problem and the lack of transparency from China on the data and details concerning how they actually process trafficked persons is leading to a dire humanitarian situation. Tha article mentions that China recently took steps in December of 2007 to outline the China National Plan of Action on Combatting Trafficking of Women and Children. Time will tell if China will be a helpful partner in this awful situation of human trafficking of North Koreans.

The issues of how and why North Korean women are trafficked over the Chinese border are explained in this 1996 article entitled Brides, Bruises and the Border: The Trafficking of North Korean Women into China.