Thursday, July 28, 2011

Korean Government Proposes New Solution to China's Cyberwar

Up to 35 million South Korean citizens may have had their personal and financial information stolen today after China launched a coordinated attack on SK Comms, owners of the popular Nate and Cyworld sites. The massive assault is the latest and largest conducted by the belligerent emerging superpower, which declared cyberwar on South Korea two years ago, and plans to follow it with a land campaign in 2014 using its proxy state, North Korea.

After the unprovoked attack on Yeonpyeong Island last year, China was urged to return to the negotiating table, but while no more Chinese weapons have hit South Korean territory since then, experts say China has merely switched its efforts back to an online war designed to destabilize Korea's economy and infrastructure.

Historically, physical attacks on South Korea have been made from the semi-autonomous North Korea province of Greater China, which some say has given Beijing an element of deniability in planning them. Similarly, even though independent security researchers have traced recent online attacks against South Korea to Chinese military establishments, Beijing has angrily denied this, instead claiming the hacking may be the work of aliens.

Seoul's tradition response to military attacks is to promise to deal sternly with any future provocations, while paying tribute to the attacker in the form of food aid and economic development such as the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which provides Pyongyang with the foreign currency it needs to buy more weapons. But a plan to do the same in the online world failed when Beijing's hackers refused to accept a large donation of World of Warcraft items including armor and swords which were thought to be approximately the same value as previous payments of tribute to Pyongyang.

Now government ministers in Seoul are proposing to rethink the whole issue of Korea's online protection, with an innovative plan which calls for the removal of all forms of security on computers and servers across the country. Cybersecurity and Online Culture Minister, 72 year-old Kim, said that "the plan is admittedly radical, but if we accept the reality that China has full access to all our computers anyway, and we are not able to defend ourselves, it is better to remove all the layers of ineffective security we've built, because it won't make any difference to China's attacks against us, but it will make the lives of our citizens easier."

Transferring money from one account to another online typically takes the average South Korean 30 minutes, accounting for the need to use cryptographic security keys, passwords, pin number devices, and proprietary Korean-made anti-virus and anti-keylogging software at each stage of the process. Many South Koreans under 40 treat it as a game, although most say playing World of Warcraft is easier. Statistics show that most South Koreans over 40 usually fail to succeed in transferring money, or simply end up transferring it to the wrong bank by mistake. Controversially, a financial analyst last year claimed that many banks profits at any given time were approximately proportional to the number of people over 40 attempting to bank online.

Minister Kim says that the removal of Korea's ineffective online security systems may incur taking some additional losses to China, but this will be more than offset by the considerable boost to GDP - which will come from not having Korean people spending an estimated three weeks of their lives every year just trying to log on to their online account, and thinking up passwords longer than six characters which is very hard in the Korean language. "Personally, I would prefer it if China would end its war against us, but our attempts to open up an online dialog with Beijing have failed." the Minister said, although he accepted it may be a technical issue.

But a Government Minister in Beijing attempted to assure the international community that China's campaign of Internet attacks on South Korea are "peaceful in nature. However, the Korean government must understand that China is a rapidly growing country and it needs room to expand in both the physical and online world."

Some foreign Internet security researchers have called on the Korean government to replace its reliance on Chinese-made copies of the Windows operating system, and technologies such as ActiveX that even Microsoft no longer supports, but Minister Kim says he is confused by this advice. "I am fairly sure computers do not work without Windows" he explained.

In the wake of the attack and personal data theft, the 35 million victims of China's latest attack, who are easily identifiable due to South Korea's 'Real Name' system - which requires everyone to use their real names online rather than a nickname or alias - are being advised to change their passwords and real names to minimize the damage.

Related Links
SK Communications says 35 mln users' info hacked
Hackers attack South Korean sites; up to 35 mln users affected
Korea's Real Name System
China Urged to Return To Negotiating Table After Attack
Fearing Arrest, Chinese Foreign Minister Cancels South Korea Trip
Hackers in China swiped sensitive data from gov’t
Gmail hacking targeted Korean gov’t officials
Chinese hackers leaked classified gov't document: lawmaker
China stole South Korean secrets on drone: lawmaker
South Korea government websites targeted in cyber attack
Sea of Japan to Be Renamed Greater China Sea
N.K.’s cyber warfare unit in spotlight after attack on Nonghyup
Number of S. Koreans at Kaesong rebounds

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kim Jong-il May Win Next South Korean Presidential Election

Dear President?
Experts have warned a shocked South Korean government that the move to allow Korean citizens in foreign countries to vote in domestic elections may lead to Kim Jong-il winning next year's presidential election and therefore the accidental unification of North and South Korea under Pyongyang's control.

When the new law was introduced, the government hoped that the votes of Korean expatriates would help to cancel out the troubling number of people who have been voting for 'progressive' parties and ideas in recent years, since research shows that Korean citizens outside Korea tend to develop more nationalistic views. But it recently became apparent, according to the head of the National Assembly's Special Committee on Political Reform, that under the new law some 50,000 pro-Pyongyang Koreans living in Japan may be able to vote in the general and presidential elections next year.

Legal experts say that since South Korean laws pertaining to the post-war division of the country and the status of defectors essentially recognize North Koreans as Republic of Korean citizens, this opens the way for an estimated 18 million pro-Pyongyang Koreans living in the North to also vote in the Southern elections. Assuming they vote as a block, and given the increasingly poor and fractured turnout in support of the established South Korean parties, the political projection would point to a landslide win for current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, if he decided to stand for President.

Politicians in the South Korean capital were initially said to be unconcerned by the possibility of Kim Jong-il running for President, with one senior minister describing it as being "highly unlikely he would take advantage of the South in this way". But with all access to North Korean media banned across South Korea, except for Dokdo which for historical reasons falls outside the scope of Seoul's tough censorship laws, it appears that most politicians in the capital have been unaware that the North Korean leader has already formed an exploratory committee, and begun political fundraising in South Korea - with many of those same politicians becoming unwitting donors.

Some political analysts say Kim Jong-il's landslide victory in South Korea's presidential election could be even larger than expected. In addition to the 18 million pro-Kim voters living in North Korea, the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper has an estimated core readership of 60,000, and as it is believed that one of Kim Jong-il's first policies as South Korea's president will be to increase the number of half-naked dancing teenage girls outside major electrical stores, he seems sure to win the endorsement of KASA - the Korean Association of Sex Attackers, bringing his potential support base up to 21 million.

Politicians and constitutional experts are said to be locked in emergency session in Seoul this week, trying to find a solution to the pro-Pyongyang block electing Kim Jong-il as South Korea’s next democratically-elected president. But the head of the National Assembly's Special Committee painted a bleak picture yesterday, telling reporters that there is no legal way to stop pro-Pyongyang expatriate Koreans from voting, because now that the law has been passed their political rights also have to be guaranteed.

Related Links
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Foreigners in Korea Try to Break Stereotypes with Pub-Crawl

The Association in Korea for English Teachers, AKET, is holding a pub crawl in the Itaewon district of Seoul tomorrow evening with the aim of breaking down some of the stereotypes they believe Koreans hold about foreign hagwon instructors.

In an email sent to The Dokdo Times the AKET Vice-President of External Media Communications (Dokdo Region) wrote that "many koreans peopel see foriegn english hakwan teechers as very hard working and stuff and never get out into korean sosiety to brake down culturel barriers and also we want to show that life in korea is not all that".

According to AKET's later press release “after carefull debate which herd motions for and against the proposed pub-crorl a quorate meating of the AKET Seoul Events and Cultural Liaison Sub-Comittee (Itaewon Division) elected via a secret ballot organized under the transferable vote system in acordence with the AKET Constitution Section 237(f) Electoral Rules 58-64 and 92 and Standing Order 44 a Vice-President for Itaewon-Based Pub Crorls (Occuring on 7/23/2010) a Deputy Vice-President for the same and a Planning Commitee Chair who will via a duly-comprized executive comittee aim to deliver a 'recreationally-theemed tour of local alcoholic bevarage retailers featuring more than two but not more than six establishments seperated by walks of not more than 509 yards (a-proximately 465 meters) on july 23th 2010 (saturday) starting at 7.14pm ad-verse weather permiting (to be determined by AKET Weather Comittee or Vice-President for Weather in the event a corate Weather Executive can not be conveened at short notise".

As well as hoping its members will use the opportunity to meet Koreans and create a more positive impression of foreign English teachers here, AKET says it is also keen to use the event to disprove a long standing accusation that it couldn't organize a drunken party in a brewery, by ensuring that while the pub-crawl is free, it requires registration in advance for a ticket.

Related Links
ATEK holds Busan pub crawl
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Rats", Not Earthquake, Caused TechnoMart Building to Shake

The mystery of the shaking TechnoMart shopping mall in Seoul earlier this month, which caused hundreds to evacuate the swaying building, may have been solved.

Initially the event was blamed on the latest in a series of highly-localized earthquakes which have plagued high-profile Korean buildings and infrastructure in recent years, challenging their excellent and robust construction. But despite the assurance of the owners, some questioned whether the mid-air quake, which left the lower floors of the building unaffected, could have an alternative cause.

According to building tenants, staff had originally suggested the building had been subject to a fire drill, but the fire department denied such a drill would have led to movement in the building since the alarms "are loud, but not so loud as to cause concrete displacement". Tests were run and the next morning the local District Office withdrew the evacuation order, saying it concluded that "there is no big problem with the structure of the building", though it declined to say what the small problems with the structure of the building might be.

Suspicions then fell on the building's new 4-D movie theater, with some questioning whether the fourth-dimensional nature of the area was causing dangerous temporal disturbances. Experts had warned of the dangers of creating 4-D theaters when so little was known about the technology and its possible quantum effects, but the entertainment industry denied the technology could cause space-time to be warped in a way that was likely to lead to structural failures. The government however, fearing an inter-dimensional fringe event may have occurred, ordered other 4-D theaters in Korea to be checked, though no problems were found.

The building owners now finally believe they have isolated the cause of TechnoMart's shaking. The reason, according to the owners, was 17 middle-aged people - so called 'gym rats' - in a 12th floor fitness center performing a mixture of boxing and taekwondo excercises known as 'Tae Bo', or 'Street Fighting', which became popular after the fall of Korea's benevolent dictatorship in the 1980s. This, they say, resulted in the building swaying for 10 minutes. In order to prove the theory, the situation was precisely recreated yesterday with 23 middle-aged people who performed two minutes of warm-up exercises, three minutes of light 'Tae Bo', followed by three minutes of vigorous 'Tae Bo' exercises. Exactly the same song, "The Power" by Snap was played, and people in the building above the gym said they were "all shook up" by the experience.

The original 17 gym rats refused to participate in the reenactment, and the teacher, who had just started his or her job that day, has disappeared because he doesn't want any media attention. But some said that inexperience may have led to 28 year-old Kim turning up the gym's amplifier up to '11', which may have exacerbated the event.

While 'Tae Bo' is designed to counter any kind of street threat, including those of aggressive buildings, experts say that even 17 'Tae Bo' practitioners are not enough to bring down a building of TechnoMart's size, and what the event seems to demonstrate is the increasing problem of obesity in Korea, with Koreans' bodies becoming dangerously more 'Westernized' according to scientists. There are fears that as the trend worsens, more and more well-designed Korean buildings will be subject to this foreign threat.

In 1831 the Broughton Suspension Bridge in England collapsed due to mechanical resonance caused by British troops marching over it. After earlier problems the distinguished Manchester engineer Eaton Hodgkinson said the construction should be properly tested but it was not. In June 2000 the Millennium Bridge in London also shook when a large group of people used it. While the TechnoMart Building is not a bridge, British people are known to have entered the building before and it is possible some were inside at the time it began shaking.

Despite conclusively proving the gym rat theory, other experts have continued to question it, saying that people beneath TechnoMart's fitness center should have felt the shaking if this was the cause. In the original incident, tremors were felt above that floor. But a professor involved in the experiment has assured the public that there is "very little possibility" that the steel-framed building would collapse any time soon.

Individuals on Twitter have nevertheless been critical of the inspection outcome. "If the real cause of the tremor is the exercise, then aren't the people who built the shoddy building be held accountable?" a tweeter called Stefanet asked. Another tweeter, honeypooh37 said "It's really ridiculous that a building shook up due to an exercise at a gym."

The final results of the detailed safety inspection will be released in two months, but the building's owners would like to stress that it is open as usual in the meantime and is perfectly safe.

Related Links
Highly Localized Earthquakes Plague Korean Buildings
TechnoMart Building Moves Again, Runs Red Light
Tae Bo Shake Yo
Evacuated building reopens, but tremors remain mystery
Mysteriously Trembling Shopping Mall Open to Public Again
TechnoMart shaken by gym: Test
Gym rats shook TechnoMart: Owner
Fitness fanatics may have caused mall shaking
Aerobic exercise blamed for tremor at Techno-Mart
Tae Bo
4D film
Now it's 4D film: The high-tech cinemas which will make you feel sick, damp... and punched
'More Korean women to be obese'
Korean body types become more ‘Westernized’
Broughton Suspension Bridge

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Campaigners Against Tuition Costs Investigated for Treason

The Supreme Prosecutors' Office said it is investigating 13 people on suspicions they established an anti-state organization, probably on orders from North Korea, violating the National Insecurity Law. The individuals, representing a variety of questionable backgrounds including opposition party members, labor rights activists, and scholars, apparently overcame their individuality outside the Korean mainstream to set up an underground political party together to promote the North's propaganda.

The first policy of the party, which is believed to be called Miscreants Against South Korea (MASK), was to support a populist campaign against the rises in university tuition costs necessary to keep pace with inflation in South Korea - which is increasingly recognized as one of the leading inflationary economies in the world. The illegal movement calls for tuition costs to be halved, even though this would clearly destabilize South Korea's entire economic system. Investigators raided several homes and offices over the weekend, seizing equipment and copies of The Hankyoreh. One of the raids targeted a senior official at the Korea Education Research Institute after confessions of a MASK member were secured pointing to his involvement with the anti-state traitors' group.

Other 'progressives', populists and suspected populist-sympathizers have shown their true colors by even attempting to suggest that The Ministry of Public Manipulation and Insecurity deliberately targeted the traitors in the shadowy MASK organization purely for their opposition to Government policies, which is clearly wrongly speculative, individualistic and needlessly anti-state thinking. Ministry officials have been quick to correct this baseless accusation, confirming they did not know those under investigation were coincidentally involved in the anti-tuition rise movement, because their intelligence gathering only extended to anti-state activities, not other aspects of individuals' personal lives or political views. "We know what we know, but not anything about anything else." the Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, said in an official statement.

"It's not the tuition issue itself," added a Ministry spokesman who declined to give his name at a hastily convened press guidance meeting, "but a general problem with people protesting against government policies. Korea is a democratic state and clearly people who oppose democratically elected policies are anti-democratic and therefore anti-state, which is treason."

The Ministry says that it isn't certain the investigation against the traitors will result in arrests since the Government is prepared to let some small acts of treason go without punishment as part of its recently announced Pyeongchang Olympic Amnesty, and having been extensively questioned and publicly shamed it is unlikely that these populist individuals will be allowed to hold their positions in public life or work again. "But be in no doubt," added the Ministry spokesman, "there is a lesson to learn here... which is to back away from potentially treasonous activities. They can consider our investigation a warning shot for their arrests, but if they don't stop they might be."

Anyone in South Korea concerned they may be suffering from aberrant anti-government thoughts should type 'North Korean news agency' into Google and wait for the police to arrive to help them.

Related Links
13 under investigation for suspicion of treason
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Confessions of a Mask

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mars Colony "May Be Lost" Admits Govt. Minister

Sand-dust a 'huge problem'
In 1980 as a wave of civil unrest swept South Korea, the Government asked for volunteers to train for its Mars Colonization program. The program was steeped in secrecy due to its political sensitivity, and the volunteers were asked to leave their former lives behind and dedicate themselves exclusively to the goal of creating a 'New Seoul' on the Martian surface for the greater good of the Korean nation and people.

However, bizarrely the poorly-circulated and outspoken left-wing newspaper The Hankyoreh claims that the colonists never reached Mars and were in fact executed by the Military Government, despite the fact that the Government only recruited volunteers. Many politicians, who were involved in politics at a more junior level when the Military Government fell 22 years ago, have dismissed the claims as 'baseless'. "I think if people were disappearing off the street and never being heard from again you would have heard about it by now." said a Government source.

There is a growing uneasiness in Government circles though, that the 'New Seoul' colony, last heard from in 1987, may have been lost. "It was always going to be difficult for them to establish themselves", admitted a senior security source who'd been involved in the original recruitment campaign, "but we had hoped it was merely communication difficulties which prevented them from sending messages home. Now, after all this silence, perhaps we have to prepare for the worst". Some scientists say the colony should never have been built in a location known to be susceptible to sand-dust storms, but allegedly many of the colonists said it reminded them of home.

It is not clear what the potential loss of the colony may do for Korea's territorial claim on the Utopia Planitia region of the planet, or the strategically important Elysium Mons volcano to the East which is also claimed by the Japanese.

The Government plans to send an investigative mission to Mars "as soon as is practicable".

Related Links
Korean Moon Landings Faked, Claims Fringe Group

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kim Yu-na Won Olympics for Korea with Perfect Oral Performance

Olympic Drama, Queen Yu-na
The strain of winning the 2018 Winter Olympics for Pyeongchang has taken its toll on figure skating queen and fashion icon Kim Yu-na, who apparently fell ill after feeling a heavy weight on her shoulders, "as if I was carrying the entire country on them", she told reporters. Korea is recognized by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures as being one of the heaviest countries by geographical area in the world, and certainly too much for a woman to carry, even superhuman Yu-na.

She initially felt unwell as her flight back from the vote in Durban got closer to Korea, beginning with a slight twitch in the nasal area, at approximately 1.12pm Korean time. Six minutes later she coughed twice within the space of thirty seconds, and then yawned shortly after at 1.20pm. By 1.24pm, her condition deteriorated significantly, requiring a trip to the bathroom which lasted seven minutes eighteen seconds. Back in her seat, slipping in and out of consciousness, cabin crew feared the young globally-famous Korean sensation had given too much of her life-energy in her heroic battle to win the Olympics for Korea. She then complained of feeling unwell at a brief stopover in Bangkok.

Fortunately, despite the drama Queen Yu-na was able to walk unaided off the plane when it landed at Incheon Airport, which recently won the title of World's Best Airport for the sixth year in a row. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery within a couple of days - just in time to continue shooting her emotional reality TV show “Kiss and Cry” - and they say she will suffer no damage to her shoulders despite the incredibly heavy burden she carried.

Earlier in Durban, amidst scenes of tension and high drama Queen Yu-na reportedly played a critical role in South Korea's successful bid, winning over International Olympics Committee members single-handedly with her appealing voice and correct pronunciation in a 170-second presentation. A professor at the Biological Signal Analysis Center of Chungbuk Provincial College, analyzed Kim's voice in the presentation, which is said to have been as perfect as her skating ability. According to scientific voice analyzer results, her pitch, or vibration of vocal cords per second, was 238 hertz in the first part, growing to 257 hertz in the latter part.

"As Kim naturally reflected changes in her emotions in her voice, her pitch changed." said the professor. Scientists have been amazed by the result, and are already speculating that others may try to copy this new 'emotion-pitch change' style of speaking, but they cautioned that it could be dangerous – even for native-English speakers - without proper training.

The fashion icon's share of unvoiced sounds was also a perfect 32 percent, and she showed high scores in two measurements that reflect accuracy in pronunciation: "The Jitter" - a variation of vocal cords, and "The Shimmer" - an amplitude of variation. The former was 2.1 percent and the latter 1 decibel, both significantly better scores than mundane people.

Kim Yu-na was one of two athletes to present the overwhelming case for Pyeongchang's bid in Durban. The other was said to have been a retired member of Korea's Taekwondo team whose name is not known. President Lee Myung-bak also appeared before the Committee to make Pyeongchang's case, but this was not enough to stop members voting in favor of the Korean city after Yu-na's mesmerizing oral performance.

Other members of the Korean delegation were said to be privately sickened at how close Korea could have come to disaster if Ice Queen Yu-na had fallen ill just a day earlier. A senior member of the bid team seemed to sum up the mood "I worked on the bid for seven years, then Kim Yu-na came to Durban and it seems she accomplished more in 170 seconds than I've done since I started working on this project full-time in 2004."

It is not certain if Kim Yu-na will participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics due to her advanced age in 2018. If she does not, the military have asked her to stand on the border for two weeks during the Games to prevent a North Korean invasion.

Related Links
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

K-pop Fans Fight Running Battles with Police in London

About 400 K-pop fans gathered in Trafalgar Square and marched across London at the weekend, demanding that Korean singers be allowed to perform in the U.K. Accompanied by the manufactured Korean girl band 2NE1's hit song "Fire", the protesters said they were angry about the lack of Korean culture in the culturally homogenous and insecure Western country, which was once called the birthplace of pop, before K-pop was born.

K-pop entertainers, who rarely venture outside the Korean capital, were nevertheless excited by the angry outpouring of support for their art form in the distant country. The lead singer of Korean boy band sensation 'IQ82' said "I am with the protesters... although not in person... because... it’s not here." He said that next time he hoped the protest could be held in Seoul, which would be more convenient for him. The CEO of one of Korea's largest talent management agencies SM Entertainment, welcomed the event, saying "I will make the K-pop business model the standard of the global music industry."

The organizer of the British protest, 18 year-old Kim, said it all began when he launched a Naver cafe page last month demanding a so-called 'flashmob' march across London. Before long, other users of Naver in Britain joined up to show their support, but he never imagined 500 people would turn out to protest. Another protester, 20 year-old Lee, said she hoped the angry outpouring of support for K-pop could help to create a bridge of cultural understand between Koreans and the British.

The demonstration was initially good-natured, with protesters carrying Korean flags and placards, practicing their Korean language and singing songs in support of famous K-pop stars who may have accidentally killed people and face charges. But the situation turned ugly when police tried to stop the diligent marchers. The brave protesters struggled to burst through the police line, but they were helpless in the face of water cannons, tear gas, and batons. Around 600 of the protesters then broke away from the main group and stayed until morning on one of London's main intersections protesting the police suppression and mass arrests.

The Ministry of Culture in Seoul said it condemned the arrest of the 700 K-pop fans, but it is still hopeful that the London K-pop March is the start of a British Korean Wave. Recently the Wave stormed across France leaving many K-pop fans there hopeful that they would no longer have to listen to dreary female French singers with their 'artistic' and largely depressing angst-ridden songs. British music is similarly bereft of the kind of relentlessly upbeat tunes which people need to get them through their 12-hour working days without thinking too much, which is probably why British people work less than Koreans. "We hope the British people embrace the Korean Wave and recognize the unique Korean culture they can benefit from" said a Ministry of Culture spokesman. The Ministry of Sound in London refused to comment at the impending replacement of British sound with Korean music, possibly due to the shock of British people's outpouring of support on Saturday.

After the success of the demonstration, which received widespread coverage in the Korean media even though the news of the K-pop riot was suppressed in Britain, members say they will continue to take action until the Korean Wave storms across Europe sweeping all before it.

Related Links
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Should the Olympics Always Be Held in Korea?

The Olympic Games have been homeless since it was relaunched in modern times, wandering around the rich countries of the world like a nomad. Obviously while the rich countries that have hosted the Olympics have been happy to have it as a guest, none of them have so far seen fit to offer it a permanent place to stay.

Korea is world famous around the world for its hospitality, leading many people to wonder if this country shouldn't extend this hospitality towards offering the Olympics a permanent home once it comes to Pyeongchang. As more and more people around the world learn Korean, watch K-dramas, listen to K-pop and buy K-auto parts, an Olympics permanently set in Korea could also become a cultural celebration of all things Korean which people around the world love so much. An Olympics permanently staged in Korea would allow those not fortunate to be born Korean to make a regular pilgrimage to this country.

There is precedent for always staging the Games in one location. During ancient times, only 3,000 years after the Korean civilization - the oldest in the world - was founded, the Olympics were always held in Greece. Greece today is too poor to permanently hold the Olympics, and while the rich nations of the world did allow Athens to host the games recently in 2004, this supposed act of charity helped bankrupt the country, forcing it further into the arms of the aggressive European Union's bureaucratic empire, as planned.

Many believe Korea should not allow the new-found respect and awe the world has for it in winning the Games to go to waste. They say Korea should start lobbying Olympic Committee members to accept Korea's manifest destiny in permanently hosting the Olympics, in recognition of Korea's increasing wealth and global cultural dominance.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

'Captain America' Movie Title a Problem in South Korea

The Toxic Avengers
Marvel Studios, the makers of Hollywood's latest blockbuster - Captain America - are planning on releasing the movie in the Korean market under the name "The First Avenger", to avoid a public backlash in the deeply anti-American country. Marvel knew it faced a marketing battle in Korea when it decided to make a movie about a Nazi-fighting supersoldier named 'Captain America', and not just because of the popularity of Nazi clothing and theme-bars in this country. Now the solution seems to be to rename the movie entirely.

It isn't the first time an American film has run into trouble in Korea. In 2006, a nervous Warner Brothers changed the well-known Superman line "truth, justice and the American way" to "truth, justice and all that stuff" to avoid offending Korean audiences. But aside from the name it is thought that the theme of the Captain America movie - featuring a sickly man who, after being rejected for enlistment, is eventually pressed into the army anyway, will resonate strongly with a Korean male audience who did their compulsory military service and are sick of draft-dodgers, and a government who are keen for even the mentally ill to be subject to conscription.

Anti-American sentiment has been rife in Korea ever since the aggressive superpower's cultural leaders in Hollywood claimed to have won the Korean War single-handedly, even though Korean school textbooks properly teach the fact that the War, which ended in a stalemate - not a victory - was fought by Korean soldiers with help from the United Nations, of which the United States was one member.

After the war, American military forces, which claimed to have been fighting against oppression, stayed in South Korea to support the oppressive military government. American support for the military dictatorship continued through to the 1980s, quietly providing logistical help in the brutal crackdown of Koreans involved in the Gwangju Democratization Movement, who were fighting for the same rights as citizens in America, which Americans did not want them to have.

During their unwelcome stay here, American soldiers have enjoyed terrorizing innocent Korean citizens despite always being treated with the utmost respect by friendly Koreans, who have never attacked an American soldier, ever. America has also recently reluctantly admitted to having been involved in a massive, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt, to poison Korea's water supply by using their military bases as international toxic waste dumps. Given the background of American criminality and repression in Korea, Korean audiences hardly want to pay to see Americans telling everyone how great they are, yet again.

In the light of the American military's agent orange dumping scandal in South Korea, distributors had briefly considered ironically calling the movie "The Toxic Avenger" here, but they discovered the title had already been used.

With his dark hair, light skin and generally non-Korean features, distributors then considered re-branding the Captain America movie, dubbing over the word 'America' with the word 'Korea' throughout the soundtrack, explaining "Captain Korea's" less-Asian look as the result of cosmetic surgery, which most Koreans undergo these days, in a brief preface to the movie. But this plan was also scuppered when major Korean movie studio Seoul Films announced their intention to make their own 'Captain Korea' movie, which will take the story and remake it for a Korean audience - replacing the Nazis with the Japanese.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

EU Sides With North Korea in Ongoing Korean Conflict

The European Union has shocked South Korea by siding with the North in the ongoing conflict on the peninsular. As part of its new alliance with the Pyongyang, the executive body of the Union, the European Commission, which much like delegates in the North's Workers' Party of Korea is not directly elected by the people, said it will provide its ally with emergency food aid to ensure its soldiers are ready to fight South Korea's isolated democracy.

The move comes only days after the free trade agreement between South Korea and the European Union came into effect. At the time this was seen as a positive step in relations between Seoul and the socialist bloc of countries, but the deal was signed in October last year and ministers admit that views in the EU, which is notoriously slow and secretive in making decisions, must have changed in the intervening period. The South Korean government, which believed it had pushed the North to the brink of collapse recently by refusing aid and economic development, has filed a strong protest with Brussels, which European political leaders have promised to consider in several months.

While South Koreans may feel betrayed by Europe's betrayal, some Commission members have privately said that the move is not yet a declaration of war against the puppet government in Seoul, and even though the food will strengthen the North's military, it is purely being provided for 'humanitarian purposes', because the North's soldiers 'are such good humanitarians'. While Europe's socialist tendencies make them the ideological soul-mates of Pyongyang, the EU's difficult relationship with the United States, which despite huge political differences remains an ally, will probably ensure that no military action is taken against South Korea by the socialist bloc.

Officially the EU says aid will be supplied, but only under a very strict monitoring process such as the one pioneered by European troops in Srebrenica during the conflict in Bosnia. And safeguards will be put in place: "We understand our North Korean comrades are very poor and only have one set of clothes - so we plan to only give food aid to people wearing civilian clothes, to ensure that no food gets into the hands of the military but instead goes straight to the people." said a Commission spokesperson.

The distance between Europe and the Korean Peninsula would make it difficult for the EU to launch a ground invasion against South Korea, but they are believed to have several hundred missiles capable of striking Seoul. However, of Europe's two nuclear powers, France has a poor record in military conflicts and is thought unlikely to want to launch a nuclear strike for fear of losing, and Britain only joined the European Union to sabotage the French, and the British are not thought to harbor any territorial ambitions. Furthermore, the British and French military, which are operating subsidiaries of oil companies BP and Total respectively, are currently engaged in Libya, where there are proven oil reserves. By comparison, South Korea lacks any significant oil fields - the largest known domestic deposits are in the President Lee Myung-bak's hair, but they are thought to be of limited commercial value.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pyeongchang Olympic Win Bad News for Dokdo

Pyeongchang, the sole remaining Korean bidder, has been correctly chosen to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, garnering an overwhelming - but still disappointingly non-unanimous - 63 votes out of 95 cast in the first round of voting by IOC committee members. The victory came despite a last-minute emotional appeal from the female head of the German bid. But international superstar Kim Yu-na had traveled to the vote, virtually guaranteeing victory for Korea.

A crowd, assembled at the base of Pyeongchang's giant ski jump - where the opening ceremony will take place in February 2018 - spontaneously reacted with screams of "Daehan Minjok!" - Korea's full official title and staple Korean sports chant. Many people burst into tears of joy at the world's endorsement of their nation. With the win, Korea has taken the unprecedented and historic step of becoming the first nation in the world to be chosen to host five major international sporting events: the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF Athletic Championships and the StarCraft E-Sports World Cup.

All scheduled television programming will be suspended today, to be replaced with news of Korea’s great victory, and analysis of the dubious circumstances surrounding the 32 Olympic Committee members who did not vote for the obviously superior winning bid. KBS said they will run the decision announcement on a loop today until midnight, when normal programming will resume.

It was third time lucky for Pyeongchang, which had bid twice for the Games twice before. In its first two bids, organizers dwelt on the theme that Korea is a divided nation still technically at war, and that hosting the Olympics would almost certainly mean that North Korea would not attack for two weeks during the event, a major bonus for world peace - a central tenet of the Olympics movement. Some Olympic Committee members had described the accompanying campaign videos, which featured horrific scenes from the Korean War as 'thought-provoking', but they ultimately failed to alleviate concerns over how the games would be organized.

This time Pyeongchang decided not to market itself as a potential war-zone, and instead emphasized it's "Dream Program", where young athletes from poor countries are briefly invited to visit Korea to experience its advanced infrastructure, before being sent home again. The city of 40,000 said it now intends to become a Winter Sports Hub for affluent people from Asia - which is home to 60 percent of the world's population. IOC members were also said to have been attracted by the close proximity of the city's two main venue clusters, which should mean that athletes and organizers can move from venue to venue in no more than 30 minutes, 20 if the local barber shops are closed.

69 year-old President Lee Myung-bak had traveled to the vote in person. "I guarantee you the full and unconditional support of the Korean government for every commitment in our 2018 Games bid." said Lee in a speech to the Committee before the decision was made. Under constitutional amendments, the Japanese-born President still intends to be in power when the Winter Olympics come to Korea. Pyeongchang had already promised that the bid would be the best that money could buy.

Despite recent corruption scandals that have severely damaged the Korean construction industry, work will now begin on building the infrastructure promised as part of the bid, including a network of love hotels to house athletes and journalists. The "Love Village" was seen as important aspect of Pyeongchang's successful bid, and organizers are making its construction their top priority.

Dokdo had originally campaigned for the 2018 Winter Games, but eventually withdrew to allow Pyeongchang to field a unified Korean bid. Dokdo Metropolitan Council then formed a joint bid with Busan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but after Pyeongchang's victory it is feared that the Busan-Dokdo bid is now unlikely to go ahead in the foreseeable future, as memories of Pyeongchang and Korea will still be fresh in people's minds for some time after the games.

The Pyeongchang bid had 87 percent support from the Korean public to host the Winter Games, with the remaining 13 percent - residents of Busan and Dokdo - hoping that an unsuccessful bid would guarantee their victory for 2020. While all Koreans - even the ones from Busan - were happy that the Games were coming to the country, the mood this morning in Dokdo City, home to over 21,000 Koreans, was subdued.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seoul Mayor Casting Himself as 'Antipopulism Warrior'

The 50 year-old conservative Mayor of Seoul has launched a fierce attack on those who re-elected him last year, accusing them of engaging in populist actions designed to see crowd-pleasing policies enacted, rather than legislation that would be good for the city and the country. The mayor claimed his supporters were secret left-wing sympathizers, possibly with links to North Korea, before suggesting that in future political leaders should be chosen on the basis of unpopularity, to ensure populism - which has been spreading like a cancer in Korea since 1988 - is kept in check.

Against the backdrop of a pile of boxes containing 800,000 signatures which he had solicited, the mayor promised a large crowd that he would put an end to the "flood of populist pledges" in politics. The signatures call for a referendum on free lunches for all elementary and middle school students. If the referendum is held, popular opinion will decide whether to stop providing food to children.

The mayor has criticized the existing food policy, which was enacted by the left-leaning Seoul Metropolitan Council in December last year, as 'pandering to populism'. Since then, he has demonstrated his antipopulist credentials by refusing to participate in the democratic process, boycotting council meetings for half-a-year, while still drawing his salary.

At a time when Seoul is struggling with revelations that most of its public buildings and infrastructure could not withstand even a minor earthquake, some have accused the mayor of turning a relatively minor but more easily solved educational issue into an invented headline conflict to further his presidential ambitions, but he angrily rejected this as a 'typical populist accusation' which assumed he had any interest in such progressive democratic ideas as running for elected office. However, one Democratic Party councilor appeared to be vying for the title of 'antipopulism warrior' himself, by suggesting his party and its supporters should boycott the referendum in order to ensure a low turnout, rendering it invalid. The referendum requires at least one third of eligible voters in Seoul cast ballots on the issue.

The 'antipopulism warrior' Mayor of Seoul has fought a long battle against the forces of populism. During his military service, he saw action on the front lines of RoK Military Headquarters' corridors as part of the Army Defense Security Command, the primary organization - under the then military government - charged with internal security, the preservation of loyalty to the regime, and the deterrence and investigation of subversion.

Unfortunately, the mayor's service record with all details of his actions during that period were lost during the Democratic Uprising, probably due to subversion by subversive and progressive forces. But former internal security colleagues - speaking on condition of anonymity - have spoken highly of his commitment to suppressing all forms of populism during the period. After his military service, the mayor further cemented his antipopulist credentials by becoming a lawyer. In 2000 he was elected to the National Assembly, but gave up his seat in 2004 in what he said was a bid to "clean up politics". He was elected Mayor of Seoul in 2006, and re-elected last year.

If the mayor wins the referendum he has promised to push forward with further anti-populist measures, including pursuing action against those who participated in it.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Highly Localized Earthquakes Plague Korean Buildings

Hundreds of people evacuated a high-rise shopping mall in Seoul today after it began shaking due to a highly localized earthquake, and definitely not poor construction. It is the latest in a series of highly localized earthquakes which have plagued high-profile Korean buildings and infrastructure in recent years. The tremor, which only affected the shopping mall's top floors, and no neighboring buildings, comes at a time when some ill-informed populists outside Korea's government and construction industry have suggested that the nation's buildings could be vulnerable in the event of more widespread seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula.

The Ministry of Land said that Korea generally does not suffer from earthquakes, unlike Japan, due to the stronger and superior nature of Korean soil. The Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources also initially said there was no need to worry about earthquakes because South Korea, which sits on the Eurasian tectonic plate, has no major fault lines running under it, apart from the undiscovered ones. However, the Institute later admitted that, having checked some historical data, in future tremors of 6.5 to 7 in magnitude cannot be ruled out.

Currently, nuclear power stations in Korea - which are perfectly safe - are required to withstand quakes up to 6.5 in magnitude, although in future the government says new plants will be built to withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 7, just to be "extra careful". In the event of a 6.5 or greater the government admit that - apart from the nuclear plants - a 'small amount' of buildings and infrastructure will be vulnerable to collapse, including schools, all houses, most military buildings, public buildings, dams, bridges, overpasses, subway tunnels, airports, and hospitals. However, this would probably only result in the complete destruction of around 27,000 buildings and partial destruction of 550,000 buildings, in Seoul.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that while the risks of damage may be limited, it will urgently address any misplaced safety concerns, by making subway tunnels earthquake resistant by 2014, and public buildings by 2026. Outside Seoul, according to reports from Korea's second-class city Busan, only 5 of the city's 22 earthquake shelters have actually been built using an earthquake-resistant design. Officials in the city said they would reject a populist approach and deal with the question of whether to make the earthquake shelters earthquake proof quietly.

The relatively low number of damaged buildings projected in the event of a 6.5 earthquake comes despite the fact that 80% of Korean buildings were not constructed with quake-proof designs since under the current law, only buildings or structures taller than three stories with floor space of more than 1,000 square meters are required to follow "seismic designs to better withstand strong tremors".

The general safety of most buildings, whether they have been built to resist earthquakes or not, is said to be a testimony to the quality of the local construction industry, which has continued to produce perfectly safe buildings despite extensive corruption coupled with the 16-hour work-days and alcohol consumption of many of its employees. Some construction bosses have said though that this year's Japanese earthquake, which moved Korea 5 centimeters east, may have weakened some of their buildings, and compensation should be sought from Tokyo if buildings have been weakened because of it.

As a result of the initial earthquake survey in the capital, "Trauma House 5" in Seoul's Seocho-dong has been identified as the the capital's most earthquake-proof building. The apartment block, home to many of the nation's construction bosses, features a 200-person underground bunker capable of resisting tremors of 7 or higher on the Richter Scale.

While "Trauma House 5" may provide a model for all Koreans to follow, The National Emergency Management Agency cautioned people to be aware of the possibility of further highly localized tremors hitting individual buildings, as well as more extensive earthquakes, in the future.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Do Koreans Look Good in Nazi Uniforms?

The Nazi fashion wave sweeping Korea is causing some controversy among foreign criminals and Korean liberals who say that the clothing, which is synonymous with war and repression and the death of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is inappropriate in a country that suffered terribly from war itself and a brutal occupation by Nazi Germany's largely unrepentant allies, the Japanese.

With China increasingly describing itself as 'the Nazi Germany of the 21st Century', some also say that far from being a dull historical European footnote that should not detract from the seductive authoritarian cut of the uniforms, wearing clothing from the Third Reich is pandering to an enemy that is working hard to build a Fourth.

But fashion experts agree that Koreans look good in Nazi uniforms. "It is often said that clothes make the man," said 49 year-old Professor Kim from Seoul International University, "but the man must also make the clothes. Successful fashion is the fusion of both, and one must be a reflection of the other." In a militarized nation with an overt sense of xenophobia and pure-blooded racial purity, coupled with male-only conscription, subjugation of women and repressed homosexuality, many say the critics should look beyond the bad things the Nazis did and consider the positive things the clothing stands for that reflect Korea today.

In 1988 South Korea finally shook off its authoritarian past after a long struggle for democracy, but this is now widely regarded as a mistake, with the attempt to impose a Western political system on a naturally authoritarian culture typical of the kind of jackbooted cultural imperialism which Korea has fallen victim to before. "We should celebrate Korea's unique pure-blooded culture and desire to crush those in society we consider inferior to us, and dress accordingly." says Professor Kim. In fact many academics argue that North Korea - far from being a totalitarian dictatorship - is merely Koreanism in its purest form, undiluted by foreign influences.

Even before uniforms and swastikas began flooding Seoul's most fashionable clothing stores this season, Nazi imagery had been used to advertise a variety of products including a Korean cosmetic range which evoked memories of Nazi attempts to manufacture soap from the fat of murdered Jews. But the company concerned said that no migrant workers, who many consider to be the Jews of Korea, had been harmed in the production of its cosmetics.

At Nazi-themed bars across Seoul, customers said the criticism of their 'Nazi-chic' fashion was typical of 'foreign criminals' and 'communist elements' who are trying to destabilize Korea and attack Koreans' pure-blooded racial purity.

When asked about why he was wearing an SS uniform and whether he identified with Nazi ideals, English Literature graduate 25 year-old Kim's response was typical "I don't hate them, I don't like them," he told us, "but at least they dressed well."

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Foreign Criminals to be Required to Register Fingerprints

Foreign criminals will be required to register their fingerprints with South Korean immigration authorities upon arrival if they're planning for a long term stay.

The requirement is in accordance with a revised immigration law, which passed the National Assembly in April last year.

Starting Friday, the revision makes it mandatory for foreign criminals to have their photos taken and provide their fingerprints upon their arrival if they want to stay in the nation for more than 91 days.

The Justice Ministry will require foreign criminals who have been already staying in South Korea on a long-term basis to register their fingerprints starting January next year.

It predicts that some 200,000 foreign criminals will register their fingerprints from next month to the end of this year.

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Long-term Foreign Visitors to be Required to Register Fingerprints

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