Monday, December 28, 2009

TRAFFIC WOES




Anyone who has driven regularly on I-95 can attest that folks in many other parts of the country don't have much to complain about when it comes to traffic. But, as always, there is something worse, far worse, out there. In this case, it is the traffic in Delhi, India, which by virtue of being so unmanageable, has given rise to some interesting, individual-based solutions.

REALITY MIRRORS FICTION






Anyone who has watched the film, Joint Security Area (JSA) will remember the Choco Pie scene. When the ROK soldier Sgt. Lee tries to entice his DPRK counterpart Sgt. Oh south, he dangles the prospect of all the Choco Pies one could eat. Sgt. Oh was in the middle of eating and enjoying a Choco Pie (brought surreptitiously from the South) when the offer was made. He promptly spit the half-eaten pie out and declared that he looked forward to the day when his beloved DPRK would make the world's best Choco Pies. After making this patriotic declaration, he proceeded to put the half-eaten mess back into his mouth and swallow it.

Now, apparently, Choco Pies are flooding into North Korea via the Kaesông Industrial Zone.
“Choco Pie collectors have popped up [across North Korea],” said an official at the Unification Ministry in Seoul. “In Sinuiju, a northern city near the Chinese border, there is even a retail market.”


Perhaps this tantalizing confection will be more influential than the visits of orchestras or the dropping of propaganda leaflets. Perhaps not.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

JAPANESE AMBSASSADOR SPEAKS



Japan's Ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki addressed a packed conference hall at lunchtime today. He displayed some impressive public diplomacy skills, skills that are amazingly in all too short of supply among the ranks of the diplomatic corps. He was quick to insert comments about BYU beating Air Force (complete with a rueful worry that perhaps Japan's trust in the USAF is misplaced), Real Salt Lake's soccer victory, BYU's religious climate, Mormon missionaries, and on and on.

He also did an impressive job of conveying a much needed reminder of the benefits of a close U.S.-Japan relationship, for reasons both old and new. He also was deft and diplomatic (as well he should be given his choice of profession) about sticky issues such as U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

BYU students, all in all, acquitted themselves well, asking well-informed questions and even managing to sneak in a joke or two.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FOLLOW NORTH KOREA ON TWITTER

really. Well, not exactly. This appears to be run by an Austrian fan (?) of P'yôngyang. Still, if you can't get enough of KCNA headlines, this twitter feed is for you.

Example: Rodong Sinmun on U.S. Policy of Hegemony on Verge of Bankruptcy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MADE ME CHUCKLE

Nokia products say "Made in China" on the back. Chinese-made Nokia-knockoffs say "Made in Finland.

found it here

Friday, October 16, 2009

NORTH KOREA TRYING TO BAN JAPANESE CARS

Intensifying a campaign that began a couple of years ago.

Yonhap news agency reported in early 2007 that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il ordered the seizure of all Japanese cars after he spotted a broken-down model blocking a road.


Sounds like a reverse cash for clunkers program.

Monday, October 12, 2009

BEIJING AUTHORITIES BEAT KYODO JOURNALISTS

so reads the headline. Some details:
The authorities kicked one reporter and two cameramen and hit their heads to make them knee [sic] down at a room of Beijing Hotel, which faces Chang’an Avenue that runs east to west past the Tiananmen Square area where the National Day celebrations will be centered. The authorities, who stormed into the room around 8 p.m. without notice, destroyed two computers by throwing them out of the room to the corridor.


While non-authoritarian nations are far from perfect in the realm of free speech and free press, this is one aspect of contemporary Chinese politics and society that shouldn't be blithely ignored. The benefits of engaging with China may be so great that authoritarian excesses like these can be overlooked but perhaps at a long-term cost.

Monday, October 5, 2009

CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?



Wen Jiabao and Kim Jong-il share a hug in P'yôngyang.

Friday, October 2, 2009

MAO SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE?

Or rocking back and forth in his mausoleum as the case may be.

Whatever the case, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, Chinese citizens saw much of the usual military parades, fireworks, speeches etc. But in addition, they have been given a few days off:

The national day holiday and others were extended in recent years to afford people a chance to relax and spend money.


To make matters more interesting, capitalist behemoths have joined in the fun. A few examples (more here)

McDonald's celebrates the 60th National Founding Day by offering gift cards!


Celebrate 60 years of the PRC by buying a meal and getting a free Coke glass!



Wow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NORTH KOREA PICS

via an Italian journalist. Nothing terribly revelatory but it is useful to be reminded of material conditions in the DPRK from time to time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NEW PRIME MINISTER, NEW ERA

in Japan. Says Mr. Hatoyama:

“I am trembling with deep emotion over this moment of historical change, while at the same time I know I have taken on an immense responsibility...We are entering the realm of the unknown.”


Will change of party in government be enough to successfully grapple with Japan's enduring economic woes, looming demographic dilemmas, and security concerns? One can only hope.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

THE CAPITALIST WHO LOVES NORTH KOREA

Interesting article about one James Kim and his efforts to open a university in North Korea.

Things in the DPRK are seldom if ever as black and white as they seem.

Monday, September 14, 2009

THIS CAN'T BE GOOD

An interesting article about a "ghost fleet" off of Singapore.

Here, on a sleepy stretch of shoreline at the far end of Asia, is surely the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history. Their numbers are equivalent to the entire British and American navies combined; their tonnage is far greater. Container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers - all should be steaming fully laden between China, Britain, Europe and the US, stocking camera shops, PC Worlds and Argos depots ahead of the retail pandemonium of 2009. But their water has been stolen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WHEN IS A BURGER NOT A BURGER?

When it is served in North Korea, of course.

"Minced beef and bread" anyone?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MISCELLANY

A "stylish bar" designed, apparently, for armless women



"Confusion text": "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

Years ago I gave a talk at Duke University, the flyers for which advertised the title as "Confusion Imperialism." The sad thing is that the title probably attracted more attention than the intended original "Confucian Imperialism."


Is Korea's vaunted public order breaking down? Not really. This "graffiti" appears to be more of a college art project (or projects) than a sign of subversive expressions of an oppressed but vibrant underclass.

IN SEARCH OF NIRVANA

Always enjoy visiting a Buddhist temple or two.



Monday, July 13, 2009

GOOD EATS

I am spending most of my time in Korea in libraries, archives, and bookstores. But a guy's gotta eat. I decided to chronicle at least some of my meals with my camera. As will become immediately apparent, it is probably good that Kathy and the kids aren't with me. Not sure how much of this stuff they would want to eat.

Shrimp fried rice


Pibimpap (a.k.a bibimbap): rice with mixed veggies


Getting ready for some grilled meat


Rice and curry


The restaurant helpfully informs its patrons that it uses only beef from Australia (none of that mad cow-inducing American stuff)


Chapchae (Japjae)


Spicy squid and rice


Chinese-style noodles with axle-grease (Chajangmyon). I still can't figure out how Koreans can consume all of the sauce in the bowl with only chopsticks. I think it is in the slurping technique; I'm just not aggressive enough.


Like its American counterpart, Korean Pepsi has adopted the Obama Hope&Change logo


Mmmmm......


Cold noodles (Naengmyon)


Hey, it just sounded good. So sue me ....


Surprisingly palatable