Wednesday, March 31, 2010


"Japanese textbooks reinflame Dokdo feud"
In a 15-minute meeting, Yu expressed “deep disappointment,” saying Japan’s approval of the school textbooks could put a serious strain on Korea-Japan relations, according to Jang Won-sam, chief of the Northeast Asian bureau at the Foreign Ministry.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Kim Jong Il "has chronic kidney failure."

How do we know this?
"(The pale colour of) his nails"

and also this:
"At his most recent public appearance on the occasion of a public rally in (the northeastern city of) Hamhung on March 7, he was slamming down his right palm on his unmoving left palm."
All right then.

Monday, March 15, 2010


An interesting collection of Kim Jong Il sightings here.

Like his father (though probably not nearly as often as his father), Kim Jong Il has been known to visit the North Korean people as they work and study to offer pithy words of wisdom and encouragement and to improve their lives by his mere presence. Fascinating stuff. A few observations:

It usually looks cold!

Many of the venues are decidedly low-tech (who knew that North Korea is still producing vinalon?)

North Korean grocery stores don't display prices of their products?

North Korean computer users apparently don't need to use keyboards

The Potemkin Village aspect has to be obvious to everyone. And yet appears to be irresistible.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Is what the Ven. Pôpjông (Beop Jeong) has done.

I found this statement of Pôpjông's to be quite moving, a fitting ending to a well-lived life:
“You will absolutely not kill any precious trees for any great cremation ceremony, and don’t waste money on new cloth for new burial clothes. There’s leftover firewood that I already gathered at my mountain hut. Cremate me there by the rocks where I used to meditate. Scatter my ashes on the ground where the azaleas graciously bloomed each spring. That will be my final recompense.”


Sunday, March 7, 2010


is a homeless man in Ningbo? It doesn't take much to see the Zoolander parallels here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Long-time observers of Seoul will agree that then-Seoul-Mayor Lee Myung-bak's Ch'ônggaech'ôn restoration project transformed the neighborhood. Here's a picture I took last year of the "restored" stream in all its sedate and somewhat sterile glory.

What existed in the four decades before the "restoration" was an elevated highway and miles of concrete that had essentially eliminated the original stream entirely.

I recently stumbled across some interesting pictures of what came before. Here's the highway construction in 1967:

and here's what the stream and its environs looked like in the years immediately before the construction:

It is plain that "restoration," other than in the very narrow sense of once again having water flow through this part of Seoul, is perhaps not quite the right term. Favorites of modernist historians such as "re-invention" or "re-construction" are perhaps more apt.