Friday, October 29, 2010

G20 Meeting Failure 'Lucky Escape for Seoul and Korea'

It has been revealed that high-ranking financial regulators from 27 countries, who convened in Seoul earlier this month before the main G20 summit, failed to reach agreement on naming a tough new global banking regime the ‘Seoul Initiative’, instead retaining the original name, Basel III.

Regulators from Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service, which really exists despite a long-held view among many economic commentators that it is actually an urban myth, argued that since Basel III covered standards on banking liquidity and leverage, in addition to capital adequacy, a more encompassing and grander sounding name than Basel should be found. Basel is a small insignificant city in a small insignificant country, whereas Seoul is much bigger city in the most important country in the world, the regulators factually stated.

However, while attendees at the meeting in Seoul agreed that it was a very good idea, it was pointed out that the ‘Seoul Initiative’ is already the name of a ‘green growth’ program run by Korea’s Ministry of Environment, which also really exists and is not an urban myth. Furthermore, ‘Seoul Initiative’ is the name of an underground strip club frequented by perverted foreigners and never any Korean men in Seoul’s Itaewon district. It was felt this might cause additional problems for international bankers, for whom sex and money are often confused. At least one attendee also pointed out in closed sessions that Seoul had its own capital adequacy issues and so the proposed name might be seen as unintentionally ironic, but the Korean Government deny Seoul is an inadequate capital, despite the Sejong City project.

However, several prominent economists said that the failure to brand the new regulations as the ‘Seoul Initiative’ was actually a lucky escape for Seoul and South Korea. The tightened rules are expected to further constrain the ability of banks to lend to businesses and individuals, causing worldwide property crashes, business failures, mass unemployment, sovereign debt defaults, severe austerity programs and war between the U.S. and China, although the latter was scheduled anyway. They said that on reflection, Korean bureaucrats and politicians would probably see that having the name ‘Seoul’ associated with a double-dip recession followed by a catastrophic economic collapse was not the kind of image that Korea’s capital city wanted to promote as part of its tourism drive. Tourism Seoul denied this, saying that “Seoul – the end of the world began here” could be a good way of attracting overseas visitors. possibly in conjunction with an annual End of the World International Festival.

Senior Korean politicians have not been discouraged by the set-back, and are hoping to associate Korean place names with other disasters. It has been suggested that a deadly heatwave might be caused a ‘Daegu’, an industrial accident an ‘Ulsan’, and a worldwide cataclysm necessitating the survival of the rich while the poor are abandoned and left to die – such as the one depicted in the movie ‘2012’, could be called a ‘Gangnam’.

Related Links
'Seoul Initiative' offered for banking supervisory reform

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crowds Wait in Vain For Korean Formula One Driver to Lap Circuit

Korea International Circuit, Yeongam
Korean racing fans waited in vain on Sunday at the new Grand Prix track in Yeongam as a Korean racing driver apparently failed to make a lap of the circuit. “Maybe he’s so fast we just can’t see him”, offered a confused 30-year old Kim from Seoul. Later, when it became clear that there actually are no Korean Formula One drivers at the moment, angry members of the crowd demanded to know why the event had been held within the country. “What’s the point? Why should we be interested in this?” asked an irritated man who’d brought his girlfriend out for the day to flaunt his racing knowledge. Despite this, attendance was only significantly below estimates, as many local government and company employees were forced to buy tickets.

The circuit, which was designed in the shape of a sun hat and high heel shoe, reflecting the relentless heat of this country’s summers and Korean women’s obsessive shopping habits, runs along Yeongam’s coastal road where almost 80% of local traffic tickets were issued last year for speeds that were often in excess of those reached on Sunday by Formula 1’s top drivers. Many disappointed fans leaving after the race hoped that before next year’s Grand Prix one of the teams will consider employing a Korean taxi driver, who would surely win. However, the last up-and-coming Korean racing driver quit the sport before reaching the top after admitting that the smell of kimchi-breath in his helmet had finally become “unbearable”.

But there are doubts that the event will be held next year. The race was delayed for almost an hour in heavy rain when it was discovered that many drivers of the open-cockpit racers had left their umbrellas at home. The Korean organizers were also shocked to discover that the men who are supposedly best drivers in the world were apparently unable to drive in wet weather, despite the fact that even Korean women have no trouble driving during the monsoon season, although this is mainly to shopping districts so they may be more motivated. One senior figure told us that had they known this beforehand, they wouldn't have built the circuit in a coastal region well-known for its high rainfall, and they would have held the event in the summer when it is generally dry, rather than the much wetter fall. It's thought to be unlikely the Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, would sanction this however, as modern Grand Prix racing is so tedious the weather is often the most interesting part of a race.

It has also emerged that in the rush to complete the circuit on time after numerous delays, the track and supporting stadiums have been built to Korean construction standards, rather than the international ones originally stipulated under contract to the FIA, which means the track is expected to break apart and the buildings fall down before the Formula 1 circus in scheduled to return in twelve months. Several temporary audience stands were not completed in time for the event, but circuit owners say they hope they will be finished within the next week, after which they will be taken down.

Shortage of accommodation in Yeongam meant that some of the foreign team members had to turn to motels in Mokpo and Gwangju. Although there were some favorable reports about the facilities - staff from several F1 teams were given accommodation in "sex motels", which are called love hotels in Korea as a way of pretending that prostitution and extra-marital affairs don't exist within the country. However, some reported having to sleep on beds filled with used condoms, and the world championship leader, who crashed out of the race early on, was said to have been kept awake all night by the noise of the bed in the next room banging on his wall. Generally though, the sex motels were a big hit, and may encourage Government plans to develop the area as part of the proposed 'Asian WhoreHub' project.

A further potential issue also emerged when the teams arrived in the Korea. Korean Customs Chief Kim, who is 59 years old, explained that protectionist laws imposing a minimum 8% tax on imported vehicles had to be applied to all cars, irrespective of their intended use or duration in the country. The high value of Grand Prix cars made this extra cost prohibitive for many of the smaller teams, with the tiny Espania team failing to start the race after hitting their credit card limits, and failing to understand the mechanism for paying the cheaper bribe. However, Formula 1 fans failed to notice the team’s absence until the official results were posted the next day.

Related Links
Slip-ups, rain, mar Korean Grand Prix
Korea's 1st Grand Prix Roars Ahead Despite Rain
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone worries for Korean Grand Prix
What are these Korean non-tariff barriers to U.S. cars and trucks? Support Group

Friday, October 22, 2010

F1 Driver Denied Entry to Korea Under Tough New Visa Restrictions

Immigration officials yesterday denied an entry visa to a 'Formula 1' driver who had tried to enter Korea to compete in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix. Officials said they were dissatisfied with the explanation the man gave under questioning. "He claimed to be here for four days just to drive a car near Mokpo, but when we asked him to tell us where he would be going in the car, his answer's didn't make any sense." said 41-year-old Kim, an immigration officer at Cheongju International Airport, which is said to be in North Chungcheong Province, somewhere outside Seoul.

The contents of the driver's baggage were found to be equally questionable. While the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs does advise drivers in Korea to wear crash helmets while driving due to the 'exciting nature' of the country's roads, few Koreans actually follow that advice, so the discovery of a crash helmet in the man's luggage was viewed as a basic lack of research and "too obvious" according to Kim.

"While Mokpo is a very interesting city which surely foreign tourists would want to visit, we find the idea that someone would come here just to drive a car around the local roads for a couple of hours on a Sunday in a borrowed car rather suspect." a source at the Ministry of Justice told us.

The incident is the latest in the Ministry's crackdown. Earlier this year, a football team from Thailand was prevented from entering Korea when many of them failed to identify the South Korean team as the best in Asia. “Some of them knew nothing about soccer.” an immigration officer said.

The move to toughen up visa entries was sparked when The Korea Times, in an uncited article, revealed the fact that there may be as many as 200 million unregistered foreigners living in Korea. Government officials were said to be shocked by the figures, and the Ministry of Justice, which oversees immigration matters as part of its criminal remit, promised it would take steps to stop the flood of immigrants from overwhelming the small group of pure-blooded Koreans who have rightfully inhabited Korea since the nation was founded in the Paleolithic era.

"Now that we know there as many as 200 million unregistered immigrants in South Korea, we have to do something about it, but where are they? What are they doing?" a Ministry spokesman asked nervously.

Related Links
Tight security mars 'Visit Korea' drive

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Should Sex With Children Over 13 Be Illegal?

A 33-year-old female middle school teacher has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with one of her pupils. According to police in Gangseo, Seoul, the teacher allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old student in her car at an underground car park last week.

After discovering text messages between the teacher and pupil, the pupil’s mother reported the matter to the police, but they terminated the investigation because the two had sex under mutual consent and there was therefore no legal grounds to punish the teacher. since it is legal to have sex with children over the age of 13 in Korea, as long as the child agrees to it.

Many netizens are furious. While having sex with 13-year-old girls in Korea is a fundamental legal right for Korean men – some even say a responsibility – the idea that women might start having sex with children has offended Confucian sentiments, and once again raised fears that women are becoming more uncontrollable instead of knowing their place, probably due to foreign influences.

But The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology cautioned netizens against overreacting, stating it was an isolated incident. A spokesman told us “This was an isolated incident – teachers don’t usually get caught so easily.” But the Ministry is believed to be fearful that any change in the law banning sex with children could see the the number of male teachers in schools plummet, if one of the biggest fringe benefits of the job is removed. The Ministry of Justice added that it may also cause problems recruiting native-English speaking teachers, since many foreigners who teach English in Korea are convicted pedophiles or want to become pedophiles in future.

The Ministry of Gender and Family Affairs also commented that should the age of consensual sex with children be raised it could make having family affairs more difficult.

Related Links
Female teacher accused of inappropriate relationship
Schools scrambling to prevent sex crimes
Sex Offenders, Victims Keep Getting Younger
Child rape cases in Korea outnumber those in US, UK, Japan, Germany
Female Consensual Sex Outbreak Worsening

Disclaimer: Please note the links above are generated automatically by our software and may not always be directly related to the news article.

Friday, October 15, 2010

English-Speakers in Korea Demand Right to Shop in English

Since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Koreans have increasingly taken to shopping online as a variety of popular shopping mall websites sprung up offering a huge number of products. As these sites only operated in Korea, they are only available in the Korean language, but recently this has been challenged by foreigners who have moved to this country.

“We are being unfairly excluded from online shopping malls” said Sue, a 26-year-old native-English teacher who has been in Korea for two years. Andrew, a 35-year-old from Columbus, Nebraska, who has lived in Korea for ten years but can’t read or speak Korean, complained that the lack of English on Korean Internet shopping sites was simply “un-American”. “I usually have to get a Korean friend to help me out”, he complained.

Kim, a 32-year-old business woman who sells jewelry through, says she occasionally has foreigners contacting her asking to describe some of the products she sells in English, but her English isn’t good and she worries about making a mistake. She says the margins in her business are very tight and she doesn’t have the money to pay a translator, especially when the products she sells regularly change.

Meanwhile, emboldened by the newly introduced anti-discrimination law, which for the first time seeks to establish limited legal rights for non-Koreans, some foreigners who have lived here several years are threatening to bring test cases against Korean retailers, who – “through the barrier of language seek to exclude English-speaking foreigners from their legal right to participate in online shopping in Korea.”

Professor Kim, a 58-year-old expert on human rights laws from Seoul International University, says it may be an interesting test case: “Do English speakers living in Korea have to learn Korean to buy from Korean businesses, or do Korean businesses operating in Korea have to learn English because English speakers are trying to buy from them?” Kim thinks that if a test case is successful, it may mean that in future when an English-speaking foreigner asks a Korean for directions in the street, the Korean will be legally obliged to provide the correct answer in English.

Related Links
Foreigners shut out from online shopping malls
Radical Eslamists Demand Korean Movie Theaters Switch to English
Language, visa rules and big school fees deter foreign talent

Friday, October 8, 2010

Outrage Follows Korean Translation of Philip K. Dick Novel

“The Man in the High Castle” may be considered to be a Western science fiction classic, but its recent translation into the Korean language has caused increasing consternation on many Internet forums.

The novel depicts an ‘alternate history’ where America lost the Second World War and is now partly occupied by the Japanese. While some posters have said that America “got what it deserved” in the book, most agree that the real omission is any reference to Korea within it. Kim, a 28-year-old company employee, is typical of the complaints: “The book is set in the 1960s and clearly by this time – even if America had been defeated - the strong resistance of the Korean people would have assured that Japan would have retreated from Korea many years before, yet there is no mention of this heroic act from the Korean people. I think that makes the story unrealistic.”

Some have even questioned whether there was a translation error and the constant references to “Japan” within the Korean text were actually meant to say “Korea”. Another anonymous poster, Kim, a 23-year-old politics and history postgraduate at Seoul International University, said that it was more likely that after Korea defeated Japan they would have sought to liberate repressed Asian people in the Western United States, and as such, Dick either made a mistake in attributing this action to the Japanese because of a lack of understanding about Korea, or deliberately used Japan instead of Korea “because Japanese book sales were likely to be higher”.

Members of VANK, a self-styled and secretly government-supported group which harasses foreign media organizations and conducts cyber-attacks against foreigners, have inundated Dick’s publisher in New York demanding that Dick make changes to the book, which is “highly insulting to the Korean people”. Although Dick died in 1982, VANK members say they they will not be put off by “pathetic excuses” from the author.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hankyoreh Claims North Korean Torpedo “Peace Offering”

Pyongyang's Seoul Peace Plan
South Korea’s outspoken left-wing newspaper, The Hankyoreh, has doggedly continued its denial of North Korea’s unprovoked sinking of the warship, Cheonan, by claiming that the torpedo used in the attack was actually intended as a peace offering by the North’s military regime. “This was clearly the first step in a program of arms reduction, and of course it’s important that – in the spirit of openness - this is verified by the South, so the North sent a torpedo into the south to prove their intent to gradually demilitarize. Unfortunately, a South Korean ship got in the way.” wrote the paper.

In August, says the newspaper, the North continued its attempt at reducing its cache of weapons by floating 150 mines down a flooded river which ran into the South, but this killed a Southern fisherman.

Despite the setbacks, the Hankyoreh expects the North to return to the disarmament process by delivering further military hardware to the South, possibly all at once in a so-called “grand peace gesture”.

Related Links
Pieces of the Cheonan puzzle
Military fails to propel a Cheonan lie
Kim Jong-Il Fan Club