Wednesday, July 29, 2009


North Korea Watch: Gone Fishing

Well, this certainly doesn't help.

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea asked North Korea to quickly release a fishing boat and its four crew members, hours after the vessel was seized after accidentally crossing the countries' eastern sea border, an official said Thursday.

Now North Korea has more bait to go along with the Current TV ladies. Perhaps those fishing in disputed waters have no choice but to continue doing so for the sake of their livelihoods.

That is one place where South Koreans could benefit from a military buildup, particularly naval, to protect its citizens.



The Third-String Parent Takes the Field

If asked to list the best things about being the father of a newborn son, I would probably list the occasional flashes of a smile, the times he has stopped crying after I’ve picked him up, and the fact that I can see a lot of both myself and his mother in him.

If asked what I’d want to list if I were sure that no mothers were listening, I’d probably say that the best thing is that I’m backup.

In the sport of parenting, I’m the quarterback who had a fine collegiate career but can’t expect much success in the pros because I’m only 5’10. Even so, I still get the Super Bowl ring because my wife is the Tom Brady of child care.

Actually, since I live in Korea, I’m actually the third-stringer, because Korean grandmothers often come to live with the family after the new baby is born, and my mother-in-law’s stature in this game could be compared to that of Peyton Manning’s in his arena.

Sometimes it’s unfulfilling not to get onto the playing field more frequently, but all too often the cries and occasional shrieks coming from his crib bring to mind a 300-pound linebacker with barbed wire tattooed around his bulging bicep. Therefore, I’m usually content to sit on the bench and cheer.

But what happens when the first and second strings are on the disabled list? That’s a question I had to answer on a recent Friday night after my mother came to visit. My mother-in-law took this as an opportunity to get out of the house and visit other family for a time, leaving her grandson’s care in more Caucasian, but still capable hands.

For much of that week very little changed; my son’s mother and American grandmother took care of him as I stood on the sidelines drinking Gatorade and studying the playbook. Then, we decided to take my mom out of the house for just a day to see the Korean countryside, just so she could say she’d seen something in this country besides the inside of our apartment and the interior of the baby’s diapers.

We got back around 9:30 p.m., and the still-jetlagged Caucasian Grandmother was on the DL shortly after that. My wife, having not slept much the previous night (I hear that’s common) and been out much of that day, began responding to his cries with decreasing urgency.

Sensing my opportunity to get some playing time, I picked up the ball and ran with it. Well, not run so much as walk back and forth while holding him and whispering “Shhh” and “It’s okay!” while he grabbed and pulled at the hair on my arms and chest. After a few minutes even this was no longer placating him, so I decided to sing him some of the lullabies I knew.

When I realized I didn’t know any, I considered singing all the ballads I knew.

When my ballad knowledge also proved deficient, I chose to sing any song on my iPod shuffle that was not built around power chords.

The serenity that he could attain from this was also short-lived, forcing me to try for the pacifier and the baby chair that rocks back and forth electronically. I honestly don’t know how I was able to make a whole hour pass this way, but somehow I did, constantly readjusting the angle of his electronically rocking seat and helping him to reinsert his pacifier five seconds before he would spit it out again.

One might call this the parenting equivalent of running out the clock.

Finally, after an hour had gone by, it was something of a relief to note that his diaper needed changing. After 60 minutes of fruitless guessing as to what might be contributing to his state of discontent, it was a blessing to see a tangible problem that could be seen, and certainly detected using other senses.

Unfortunately, his crib and extra diapers are located in the bedroom, making it impossible to address my wailing son’s needs without taking him within earshot of his mother. To my surprise, just one hour after her eyelids appeared leaden, she seemed rather refreshed and ready to give him the change of diaper and feeding he needed before falling asleep again.

“Thank you,” she said. “Because of you, I got to sleep for another hour.

“You are a good father.”

So, again, you may ask what the best part of being the father of a newborn son is. To the list of things I’ve already mentioned, I have a couple to add:

First of all, people don’t expect a lot from the third-stringer.

Second of all, the starter on this team is unbelievably resilient.

Here I am with my son and the electronic rocking chair, whatever it's called in actuality.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


A Day on Korea's Capitol Hill

This is the country I live in. My heart swells with pride.

In case you're wondering, the ruling party is attempting to unilaterally pass a bill on media reform, and the opposition party refuses to join the assembly. So, since the ruling party has enough seats to meet quorum on its own, the opposition is attempting to steal the gavel so they can't officially meet.

They failed, and the media bill passed.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century

Because, every now and then, I like to shame myself for how little of the "great" works I haven't actually read, I read lists like this one.

I've read literally 10 percent of these. But, at least, thanks to Fitzgerald, Huxley, Vonnegut, Heller and Orwell, my list is clustered near the top.



Ron Paul: The Federal Reserve is a Government Unto Itself

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North Korea Watch: A Wide Range of Options

The AFP reported today that: "The United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region are planning a 'wide range of options' for a possible leadership change in North Korea, a top US military commander said Wednesday."

The story quotes Admiral Timothy Keating, the top US commander in the Asia-Pacific region, as saying, "I don't think it is axiomatic that the departure of Kim Jong-Il means a national security crisis. We would hope it wouldn't. But we are going to be prepared if it does mean that."


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


North Korea Watch: Stark Choices

It doesn't seem consistent with her "unruly teenagers that should be ignored" rhetoric from the day before, but Hillary Clinton now intends to give North Korea a "stark choice."

The United States will consult regional players on Wednesday about giving North Korea a choice between tighter sanctions if it pursues its nuclear program and wider incentives if it abandons them, U.S. officials said.

You hate to say something isn't going to work before you've given it a chance but ... this isn't going to work. If North Korea's leaders cared about our sanctions, we wouldn't be having these meetings now.

Clinton will have separate meetings with the foreign ministers of China, Japan, Russia and South Korea during the meeting. As these five nations represent the other members of the six-party denuclearization talks, South Korea had wanted them to meet to discuss the issue, but China nixed the idea.



North Korea Watch: Congratulations, Jonah

After a backhanded admission of error for calling for regime change in Iraq and writing a book about the secret, totalitarian urge of Democrats, one might wonder if Jonah Golberg were still capable of clearly, capably identifying an actual dictatorship.

Well, fear not, he can spot the one in North Korea.

"But what of things figuratively happening under our noses and literally transpiring a click away on our computer screens? You can see the slave camps in North Korea -- not quite live via satellite, but close enough -- where the machinery of suffering chugs along 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

He goes on to say that the reason this has never been stopped is because of the nuclear weapons North Korea possesses, but this "is looking less compelling every day." Actually, Jonah, we aren't doing anything about because war, even of the non-nuclear variety, with North Korea would kill many, many more men that we lost in Iraq, as well as inflict immeasurable suffering on South Korea.

Even if that weren't the case, nuclear weapons are still pretty compelling, at least from where I'm sitting.

One would like to believe that we don't do anything about it because we respect the sovereignty of other nations, but that's clearly not the case.

He goes on to condemn Hillary Clinton's statement that the NK regime is acting like "unruly teenagers" and needs to be ignored.

"Seen through the window of nuclear diplomacy, Clinton's neo-Bushian stance is entirely defensible. Seen through a moral prism, it's at worse a horror and at best a profound failure to bear witness."

Clinton's statement does trivialize the seriousness of the situation, and the atrocities underway in the North. Coming from the right commentator, a rebuke of this nature would be well-taken.

Goldberg isn't the right pundit, though. This guy thinks that the Iraq conflict that killed thousands of Americans (and numbers of Iraqis that are hard to contemplate) while destabilizing the Middle East and soaking up billions of dollars we really could've used right now was "worthy."

So, when a guy like this makes such a comment, one really has to wonder what he means by "bear witness." Should we practice bad diplomacy, antagonizing the North about it's human rights abuses even though we have no plans to follow through as our military is overstretched? Such an approach would do nothing to bring North Korea back to the table.

Or should we abandon reason altogether and attack North Korea to punish them for their abuses?

That's not even worth contemplating.

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Monday, July 20, 2009


Audit the Fed Update

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A Korean Civil War

Today's recommended reading: How to avoid a civil war between racist Koreans and boorish foreigners.


North Korea Watch: Threat to U.S. "Infinitesimal"

The U.S. State Department's spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday that North Korea's threat to the United States was "infinitesimal."

The followed Secretary of State Clinton's statement that North Korea was acting like "a spoiled child" and that they would be ignored. Furthermore:

A senior U.S. official, who did not want to be identified, said there is a "theoretical" question of whether a North Korean missile could hit the United States. "There's nothing in their recent development," he said, "which would suggest that their technology is becoming more accurate."

This shouldn't even need to be said, but apparently it does. (Not that the folks at The American "Thinker" would ever listen to something that contradicts their chest-beating.)

Now, hopefully Clinton's statement will be followed through with action, or in this case, a lack of it.



Bilingual Babies

This story on the AP details how children can learn two languages easily when older people cannot.

Each language uses a unique set of sounds. Scientists now know babies are born with the ability to distinguish all of them, but that ability starts weakening even before they start talking, by the first birthday.

Kuhl offers an example: Japanese doesn't distinguish between the "L" and "R" sounds of English -- "rake" and "lake" would sound the same. Her team proved that a 7-month-old in Tokyo and a 7-month-old in Seattle respond equally well to those different sounds. But by 11 months, the Japanese infant had lost a lot of that ability.

The problem for those older is this:

Mastering your dominant language gets in the way of learning a second, less familiar one, Kuhl's research suggests. The brain tunes out sounds that don't fit.

"You're building a brain architecture that's a perfect fit for Japanese or English or French," whatever is native, Kuhl explains -- or, if you're a lucky baby, a brain with two sets of neural circuits dedicated to two languages.

It's remarkable that babies being raised bilingual -- by simply speaking to them in two languages -- can learn both in the time it takes most babies to learn one. On average, monolingual and bilingual babies start talking around age 1 and can say about 50 words by 18 months.

Technology is working to overcome that deficiency for those of us who missed that chance.

What might help people who missed their childhood window? Baby brains need personal interaction to soak in a new language -- TV or CDs alone don't work. So researchers are improving the technology that adults tend to use for language learning, to make it more social and possibly tap brain circuitry that tots would use.


Sunday, July 19, 2009


Cloned Dogs

What a shame that Koreans only seem to get attention when there are nuclear missiles involved. South Korea, the AP reports, has "put cloned dogs on patrol to sniff out drugs at customs."

I'll have to ask my mom if she sees any Labradors on her way out of Korea next week.

The picture at left is used courtesy of the AP.



Breaking Out the Carseat

Mom's arrival to Korea coincided with Daniel (and Catherine's) first trip to church. This meant using the carseat for the first time, which was an ordeal in and of itself.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009


North Korea Watch: Watching a Little Less Carefully

According to this piece on the Yonhap news agency, U.S. and South Korean officials are considering lowering the level of surveillance operations on North Korea, as its hostile actions have taken a downturn.

Officials at the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said it was considering lowering the "watch condition" by a notch from the current second-highest level, as the latest military intelligence suggests no sign of an immediate threat by the North.

The piece explains that the CFC's watchcon has five stages. It is currently at the second-highest level (which is where is was after the first atomic test in 2006). The third level they may lower it to calls for "attentive monitoring" of military activities in the North, the article states.

The official said that military officials from the two countries were consulting on the plan to lower watchcon. The plan is expected to be finalized early next week after Gen. Walter Sharp, head of the CFC, returns to South Korea from his trip to the U.S.

As Kim Jong-il may not have a lot of time left, it's entirely possible that more provocations will occur, as he needs to solidify the positioning of his son.

It remains doubtful, though, that it will progress beyond provocations. Even the cyber attacks are "fizzling out" and North Korea's involvement in them remains unproven.



If Babies Could Post Want Ads

June 17
Positions Available: A pair of personal assistants will be needed to perform the tasks of feeding me and watching me sleep. Each of the assistants must be willing to devote a period of time of up to 30 but no less than 10 minutes at a time, anywhere from three to five hours apart, to accomplish the effectuation of my eating.

Skills required: Ability to supply milk via the pectoral region will be required in at least one assistant. Three-to-five years experience is encouraged but not required.

Additional duties: Often between the periods of time in which I consume my nutrients and go into hibernation I will evacuate myself of the food supplied me. As I am not yet accustomed to performing this in private through special plumbing fixtures, it will be your responsibility to see to it that I am cleaned afterwards.

When I am ready to sleep for a few hours, you may resume the fragments of whatever existence you enjoyed before you were hired. However, just in case I wake up suddenly you ought to enjoy them somewhere within earshot.

Personal assistants will be summoned through cries that will vary in volume and/or pitch depending on the severity of the need at hand.

Hours: 18 per day
Payment: You get to take pictures of me, post them on Facebook and get lots of adoring feedback from people who remember you from college.

June 24
Positions Available: A pair of personal assistants will be needed who have all of the same duties as on June 17 and who will give me a bath.

Skills required: Since I don’t have an actual interest in receiving a bath, and am certainly not going to do it myself, this will require an assistant willing to take on the delicate task of using a safe amount of water to wash my hair and skin while I complain loudly and at a high pitch.

Additional duties: Drying me off and dressing me again would also be good.

Hours: 20 per day
Payment: Occasionally I will smile (by accident) and make funny faces for those pictures you’re taking and posting on Facebook. Now your friends you barely remember from high school should be in on the comments and congratulations.

July 1
Positions Available: A pair of personal assistants will be needed who understand that my needs go beyond eating, sleeping and evacuating. Sometimes, long after I’ve finished extracting nutrients through the pectoral area of one of my assistants, I just want to keep nibbling on something. Am seeking someone who knows of an object that I may continue chewing on long after I have had enough milk.

The object in question would preferably be small, round and plastic, with some sort of mouth shield attached.

Additional duties: You should rub my stomach and say “Shhhh” while I’m nibbling on the plastic thing.

Hours: 20 per day (pacifier will do at least some of your work for you)
Payment: If you’ll assist me in stationing myself upright I will belch for you after eating. For whatever reason, personal assistants seem to take great joy in this.

July 6
Positions Available: A pair of personal assistants will be needed to provide their services when I need to eat, sleep, evacuate, bathe and cry even after all those tasks have been accomplished. Sometimes I just want to cry, and it will be your job to take turns trying figure out why. This job’s duties will require great patience and a high tolerance for loud noises and emotional distress.

Additional duties: Keeping your fellow personal assistant from breaking down into tears.

Hours: All of them
Payment: A greater appreciation for the time in which I’m asleep. Plus, by now even the people you friended on Facebook just as a favor to your wife’s aunt are starting leave congratulatory comments on your pictures.

July 13
Positions Available: A pair of personal assistants will be needed to provide me with all of the services requested in previous weeks without feeling like a failure. Yes, there will be moments when you’ve fed me, cleaned me, waited patiently for me to evacuate and then cleaned up after me. On top of all of these essential services you’ve performed, I will insist that you hug me every hour than I am awake.

If you don’t hug me, I will probably complain in a manner that is most inhospitable to your eardrums. Your choice will be to: a) hold me until I stop crying, thus establishing a pattern in which I prove able to manipulate you into giving me what I want for your entire stay in that position, or b) come to accept the fact that sometime I’m just going to cry.

Just because I’m crying doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your duties as an assistant. I know you’ll feel down on yourself if you can’t satisfy me all the time, but hey, what boss is completely contented?

Additional duties: Thinking about meeting my future needs in between the ones I’m already complaining about.

Hours: Refer to previous advertisement
Payment: A philosophical epiphany. After all, if I can’t be satisfied at a time when I have just a few needs and an entire team of people working to ensure that I meet them, is it any wonder why so few people seem fulfilled later in life?

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Friday, July 17, 2009


Mom Comes to Korea to See Her Grandson

My mother arrived in Korea on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. after her 14 hour flight from Nashville. Today was her first full day with us, and of course most of it was spent with the little guy. It provided a good excuse for the taking of lots of pictures.

She's definitely taking her turn with him, after just seeing pictures of him for a month, and probably just seeing pictures of him for many months to come. However, she's allowed us our share of time with him too, so fear not.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


North Korea Watch: NK Attack Futile

Yesterday the Yonhap news agency published statements by U.S. Maj. Gen. Johnny Weida, which appeared in The Herald as "N.K. attack would be sudden but futile: U.S. general." You can read it all here, but I wanted to highlight a couple of parts which indicated what I had suspected: North Korea is capable of inflicting considerable harm and loss of life on the South, but not defeating them.

"It is our assessment that, because of their failing economy and limited support from traditional allies like Russia and China, they could not sustain a major offensive like they did in the first Korean War," Weida said.

The piece mentions the recent speculation that Kim Jong-il has pancreatic cancer, but Weida turns the burners down on the idea that this will push him into launching an attack.

"If he miscalculates and attacks South Korea, he and his regime are done," Weida said, calling such an offensive "extremely unlikely because this guy (Kim) wants to live."


Sunday, July 12, 2009


North Korea Watch: My Pancreas Hurts

It hurts just to look at a guy in this kind of state. One can only imagine how it feels to have to manage the world's last Stalinist regime while you have pancreatic cancer.

"The 67-year-old Kim was diagnosed with the cancer around the time he was felled by a stroke last summer, Seoul's YTN television reported, citing unidentified intelligence officials in South Korea and China.

"The report cited the officials saying the disease is "threatening" Kim's life.

"Pancreatic cancer is usually found in its final stage, and considering Kim's age, he is expected to live no more than five years, the report said."

If you're looking for cause for concern about the North Korean situation, this may be it. If he dies before Lil' Kim can win a sufficient amount of favor from the NK military establishment, there could be a breakdown.

That's an entirely different problem.



The Upside of Korean Mothers-in-Law

When his wife is carrying their first child, it’s not a good idea for a man to complain about certain things within earshot of those who are already mothers.

One thing he should never complain about is how tired he feels. Another is how busy he is. Other things he should definitely avoid talking about include minor bodily aches, not to mention how stressed he feels.

Okay, let’s start over: When his wife is carrying their first child, it’s not a good idea for a man to complain – within earshot of those who are already mothers – about anything. It doesn’t matter how petty, legitimate, unique or commonplace his complaint may be, the already-mothers demographic knows a simple truth that he isn’t aware of: The suffering hasn’t even begun.

He doesn’t know anything about being tired because his baby isn’t yet crying at 12, 2, 2:30, 3:45 and 6 in the morning, every morning. He can’t complain about pain because he isn’t the one who carried the baby to term, nor is he the one who had it force itself out of him.

And busyness … ha! He doesn’t know anything about busyness, nor will he until its time to change diapers, prepare and provide baby formula, not to mention bathe a baby multiple times daily while holding down a job.

Now that weeks have passed since my son was born, I can say definitively that, yes, all these mothers who have or have had newborns to care for were right about what they told me before: I didn’t know what it was like to feed, clean or bathe a baby on top of maintaining my regular work schedule.

In fact, I’m still behind the curve in that regard, and may never fully figure it out, because my mother-in-law does most of it for us.

Living in Korea, I can now see that this is one of the most different (in a good way!) variations between their style of parenting and what we do in America. After the birth of the baby, the grandmother typically comes to stay with the new parents and assist them with the things they don’t yet know (I’ve never stopped to wonder how my mother-in-law could know these things if her mother had to help her a generation ago; if I tried to figure it out I’d probably blow my own mind).

This saves a lot of confusion for the neophyte parents, adds an extra pair of hands around the house, and let’s new fathers who remember what it was like to have valid grievances dismissed and mocked respond to their dismissers/mockers with the following well-reasoned, well-thought out reply:

“Ha ha!”

That’s not to say there aren’t downsides to this arrangement, and most of them stem from cultural differences between my mother-in-law and I. A woman who has devoted the majority of her waking hours during the past few decades to cleaning things tends to view untidiness as a personal affront, and will attack the task at hand in the most vocal manner possible.

She also has a clear mandate to prepare at least two meals a day, and demands prompt attendance at the dinner table. These meals also tend to lack from a perspective of variety, in that practically all of them involved rice, green vegetables and some kind of hot pepper paste, with fish or beef serving as variables.

I’m unable to secure much in the way of variation as I get very little unimpeded access into my own kitchen. Of course, as I have 30 years experience being a guy I wouldn’t really know what to do in there anyway.

Child care also represents an area of compromise, as my exposure to my son is often limited to watching him and holding him after his needs have been met. Whenever he makes a vocal noise of a certain frequency, my mother-in-law springs into action, enquiring as to whether he needs feeding, a diaper change or a bath.

I usually stare back at her blankly, not because I don’t understand the Korean words she’s using, but because I can’t explain the problem in any language. All I usually know is that the baby was fine, now he isn’t, and my standard technique of patting him on the stomach, saying “It’s okay, it’s okay!” isn’t getting him anywhere closer to “okay” status again.

Soon, she’s upon him, and just by a glance at his expression and a quick listen to his pitch, she somehow knows the issue at hand and it’s solution. It’s a relief to know that somebody has some idea of how to address the problem, but also leaves this parent with the feeling of being a spectator in his own child’s rearing.

But these are, I suppose, the tradeoffs. She does the laundry and cooks, and I have to give up the right to cleaning my own clothes and the option of attempting to prepare my own meals. She offers her expertise in dealing with babies, and I lose out on the right to change diapers.

Ha ha!

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Daniel's First Injection

I remember being a child, maybe 6 years old, and getting the first shot I was old enough to remember. It hurt like all get out, and I remember feeling like my Mom had betrayed me by taking me to this place where people where going to stick sharp objects into my arm (twice). So I really wasn't looking forward to having Daniel immunized for the first time on Friday.

Much to my surprise, the nurse made nine very small holes in his arm, rubbed the solution onto it and then we waited for it to seep through. Otherwise, Daniel for the most part seemed to tired to care that his skin was being punctured.

Another cause for relief: Daniel has inherited my sense of indifference, and it ought to serve him well in life. You can see more photos at my Facebook profile here.


Thursday, July 09, 2009


North Korea Watch: When Geeks Attack

Suddenly I know why why Gmail has been acting up.

Forget what I said yesterday (and what this guy said weeks ago)! Kim Jong-il must be stopped!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Why Are Interracial Couplings So Common Here?

As published earlier on Korea Beat, the panel of the popular show “Chat With Beauties” had some particularly harsh things to say about foreign couplings here, particularly among Korean women and English-speakers who aren't so good at Korea.

Must say this part made this 6'3 Caucasian rather uncomfortable:

Kenya-born Euphracia said, “in Korea it seems that if you’re tall and just speak English well, you’re treated as the king… My other Kenyan friends were so surprised when they went out with they Korean girlfriends.” Germany-born Vera said, “if a German guy is tall then everybody thinks he’s handsome in Korea… They come to Korea and start acting like Casanova.”

There are many theories being tossed about as to how this subject came up (just check the Korea Beat posting's comments section), but it seems very few Korean males, much less foreign ladies brought onto Korean programming to make Korean audiences feel good, have asked why these couplings are so common.

At his blog, Chris Backe has started a list of such reasons, all of which are pretty good, if not the entire story. My wife likes to tell me that, before we met, she had dated a few Korean guys (who had much deeper pockets than I do) who were interested in marriage.

A big reason she turned them down had to do with alcohol. I don't blame them, though. If I had to go through the same school system they did, I might be tossing my cookies every weekend, too.



North Korea Watch: The Beginning

I started this blog site in September 2005, just after I started living in Korea. It began as, and has continued to serve as an anthology of sorts for my columns, letting people see them before they end up in The Paris Post-Intelligencer, The or, at times, The Herald.

There comes a time, though, when a guy feels the need to branch out a bit; in my case, I've wanted to start using a blog for it's most useful purpose, which is to offer rapid up-to-date news on something that will interest people. For the most part, the market for Korean bloggers is saturated, with many, many, MANY sites already catering to that market.

Besides, I feel I have too many interests to be contained to one subject. If only I were Roger Ebert or some other guy so famous that he can pretty well blog about whatever's ticking him off on that particular day and get dozens of comments.

Anyway, I've come to realize that one thing I can do is keep people at home up to date on the situation with North Korea. I have gotten queries about that oddity of a nation just to our north on many occasions, and most of the questions can be summed up in this way:

"Are you scared?"

To which I'd have to answer: No. At least, not at the moment. North Korea long ago was left behind to eat the South's dust in economic terms, and their repeated attempts to get attention are just that: attention seeking. The North wants more aid from the United States to keep their nation propped up, at least long enough for Kim Jong-il to pass his baton to his son, and Kim shows no desire to jeopardize that transition.

No matter what he says, he knows that attacking the U.S. (or nations allied with it, such as South Korea) would be suicidal, and the U.S. government knows that, after our Iraq misadventure and the economic bubble burst, that we can't afford another costly war (in terms of both money and members of the armed service we would lose). My limited faith in governments should be made clear by the links under "liberty" at the side of this page, but I think both the Kim regime and the Obama administration are intelligent enough to avoid a disaster of this sort (start on pg. 10 of this report to see the consequences of such a war from our perspective).

So, as news develops I will use this page to inform you of reasons why I don't worry, and why you shouldn't either.

(PS-I was planning this entry long before news of the cyber attack on U.S. and South Korean government sites broke. It doesn't change much, though, as a source near the end of the story says "no immediate reports of financial damage or leaking of confidential national information" emerged and "the alleged attacks appeared aimed only at paralyzing Web sites."


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Busan Haps

Click here to read my story about Busan Haps, the new publication aimed at Busan's foreign community, helmed by the inimitable Bobby McGill.


Sunday, July 05, 2009


Ideals Vs. Reality

No matter how hard you try, I’ll always be 30 years older than you. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in that time it’s that those older than you will assume they know more than you do, no matter what unique situation you find yourself in, or what newfangled technology is being used.

I could be the one to break the cycle and be less smug, but hey, after 30 years I think I’ve earned a turn at being smug with someone.

It’s good to have ideals that will push you to greater heights in all areas of life. Unfortunately, reality will probably be at odds with your ideals, constantly tempting you to aim lower. Therefore, you’ll find that the trick to maximizing your achievements is to delay your realization of reality as long as possible.

Here are a few examples:

* Work
The Ideal –
You want to perform a task that puts your talents to work performing tasks that make your community a better place and you a better person.
Reality – Your boss has connections to make and budgets to meet, and will have you spend much of your time performing tasks helping him/her meet those goals, rather than the ones we listed above. You may think that your employer is consistently selling out your collective integrity by making you work on things of no – what do you call it? Oh, right – value, just to help his/her reputation, and you’re probably right.

You’re probably wrong, though, in thinking that you can escape this by going to a bigger, better place to work. The bosses at those places just have bigger connections to make and more complicated budgets to meet. You’re also probably wrong in thinking that, if you were the boss, you’d do any differently when faced with those budgets.

The Benefits of Denial – The longer you can go without learning this the more valuable you’ll be to your employer/co-workers, because you’ll actually try your best at every task ahead of you.

Stay in Denial Until … your mid-30s. Make it that long and you’ll be doing great. Better than me, anyway.

* Education
The Ideal –
You want to study something that will enrich your mind and prepare you for your life’s work.
Reality – In order to get the degree you want from the university you want, you’ll probably have to go thousands of dollars in debt and lose a lot of sleep. At the end of those four … okay, four and a half years, you’ll look back and realize that only two, maybe three of the classes you took were really – how do you say? – valuable.

The Benefits of Denial –
The longer you can go without learning this the higher your grades will probably be. Low GPAs on résumés are hard to explain, unless you’re a member of Skull & Bones.

Stay in Denial Until …
at least your last semester. If you must go to graduate school you may need to find another means of avoiding acceptance of reality. Blunt force trauma has been known to work.

* Love
The Ideal –
You will almost certainly get to know more wealthy, athletic or charismatic males who have no trouble attracting female attention. They may act as though they don’t know how fortunate they are, which will motivate you to believe you’d never fail to show appreciation if you were in that position.

Reality – One day you will be married, and if your wife is nice, you will eventually come to expect the good things she does for you. This will probably cause you to fail to respond in kind at times. No matter how nice your wife is, eventually you will be criticized for failing to reciprocate.

The Benefits of Denial – Those aware of this reality too early in life tend to desire neither marriage nor wives who are “nice.” This, in turn, lowers their chances of leaving offspring they care enough to write letters of advice to.

Stay in Denial Until … Denial? Denial of what?

The Ideal –
Maybe you’ll get to experience all that life has to offer: seeing the world, meeting important people, and leaving behind a body of work that will be highly regarded by future generations in your field. Maybe you’ll be a modern-day Ernest Hemingway.

The Reality –
For all his experiences, the pre-modern-day Hemingway apparently didn’t encounter whatever it was that prevents a person from doing their own lobotomy with a shotgun.

The Benefits of Denial – The longer you can go without realizing that everyone has regrets later in life, the more empowered you’ll feel to address the ones you have now. You may actually succeed with some of them.

Stay in Denial Until …
your mid-60s. Make it that long and you’ll be doing great. Better than Hemingway, anyway.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009


North Korean Refugees

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mike Kim
Daily Show
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Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


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