Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hawaiian Airlines' Cultural Insensitivity to Koreans

A Hawaiian Airlines passenger plane bound for Incheon International Airport, which last year won the title of World's Best Airport for the sixth year in a row, returned to Honolulu Airport shortly after takeoff Saturday, causing considerable inconvenience to Korean honeymooners and other passengers who had visited the U.S. resort island.

The flight had taken off at 1.45pm on Saturday, but it returned to Hawaii after an unspecified problem with the aircraft which one of the passengers said the pilot had announced as a "faulty fuel device".

Passengers were asked to transfer to another plane, which departed 9 hours later - despite the fact that many of the Koreans on the flight were busy and didn't have time to return to Honolulu just because of a fault with the aircraft. After it landed, 40 passengers protested at the airport for three hours, demanding compensation for having their time wasted and for Hawaiian Airlines extreme cultural insensitivity to Koreans.

"My car had a faulty fuel gauge for three years and I never had to return home because of it." said 34 year-old Kim, an engineer from Seoul. The protest dissipated when the protesting passengers were told the aircraft had to return because it had run out of kimchi.

Related Links
Hawaiian Airlines hit for delayed departure

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Koreans Live Longer Than People in Any Other Country

The envied superiority of Korean DNA, especially among residents of Seoul, has now resulted in Koreans living longer than any other people in the world, according to data from the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

Average life expectancy is now said to be 78.6 years in Korea, which officially ranks Koreans 28th against the World Health Organizaton's 2009 report on global longevity - based on a 2007 survey. However, Koreans sleep much less than people in other countries, and when this is factored in, the figures show that Koreans actually effectively live longer given that they spend many more hours during their lives conscious, or semi-conscious at least.

Similarly, a dubious popular global myth holds that Japanese people actually are the most long-lived in the world at 82.6 years. But there is overwhelming and undeniable evidence that they spend many hours every week dreaming that Dokdo is Japanese territory, meaning that they are effectively asleep far more than Koreans, and therefore have shorter lives. This is not surprising from a scientific perspective when Japanese and Korean DNA is compared.

Korean life expectancy figures would be even higher if Korean people living outside Seoul were excluded, which they normally are. Seoul citizens enjoy both the longest life expectancy of 80.4 years and the longest healthy lifespan of 73.9 years, meaning they only spend 7.5 years of their lives suffering from illness. Conversely, on Jeju Island – the popular Korean island paradise with its good environment, clean air and water, and absolutely no dangerous volcanic gas emissions – residents suffer an average of 9.72 years of illness, which is believed to be because many of them have never been to Seoul. The government is now trying to market holidays in Seoul to Jeju residents.

The Ministry also believes there is scope to improve the figures even further. The seventh most popular cause of death in Korea is suicide, which accounts for 5.1% of all fatalities versus 3.52% in Japan. The eighth is road traffic accidents, at 3.38% (Japan – 0.76%), and hypertension accounts for 2.91% of deaths in Korea versus 0.75% in Japan. Plans have been drawn up by the Ministry to place screen doors on all subway station platforms, make bridges cars-only, and to prevent roof access to tall buildings. More ambitiously, it has been suggested that Korea's second-class city of Busan could eventually mandate the use of electric vehicles, which are slower and make it much harder for drivers to speed up to run people over. It is thought such measures would help reduce hypertension among Busan's pedestrians, and people throughout the country walking beside tall buildings.

There is also evidence that in addition to enviably long lives, Koreans are also regularly reincarnated, unlike people in other countries.

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Tokyo Asked to Set Up Agency Handling Dokdo Issue
Korean Reality TV Program 'Too Depressing', Canceled

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cyworld to Build Version of Cyworld Where Cyworld is Popular

Cyworld, Korea's most widely known social networking service (SNS) has launched a plan to attract foreign users and become a global social networking site rivaling Facebook which will succeed this time after years of failure.

It is a little-known fact that Cyworld actually invented Facebook before Facebook. A favorite story for company officials is how they showed the ropes to a younger Mark Zuckerberg when he visited SK Communications' Seoul office earlier in the decade, obviously before Facebook became the global epidemic that it is today, although they are unable to present proof of the Facebook founder's visit.

Cyworld originally tried to attract foreigners to its service several years ago, but the global roll-out failed despite the many obvious advantages of building social networks with Koreans. Showing the depth of their ignorance on the subject, some foreigners said it was Cyworld's insistence on providing a Korean online cultural experience - right down to the name used for users' pages, "minihompy", which prevented it from succeeding. Eventually, Cyworld was forced to compromise by offering an English-language version, and reduce the amount of flashing graphics and interactive content on its pages – which while only taking twenty seconds to load in the land of ubiquitous 100Mb Internet connections, took around two hours in bandwidth-challenged third-world Internet countries like America.

As Facebook grew exponentially but cultural prejudice prevented Cyworld's rise, it adopted a multiple language strategy with a single platform supporting Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, German and Spanish, so that people could make global friends, but this failed when it transpired that for the most part people from these countries didn't want to be friends with each other.

Cyworld is now under brutal attack in Korea by the foreign invader Facebook, with the so called Cyworld Perimeter being pushed back last year, resulting in the loss of over one million people. At the same time, Facebook saw the size of its army of followers in Korea rise by 63 percent. Meanwhile the sharing of 35 million Cyworld users' personal information with Chinese hackers last year failed to generate an increase in Chinese friends for minihompy owners.

But Cyworld has advantages, according to Cyworld. A spokesman for Cyworld said that the service is "regarded as cute and more emotionally satisfying", because it allows users to build their own room in cyberspace - a "minihompy" - which can be decorated with pixelated furniture at very reasonable prices in 'dotori', the minihompy currency. The cuteness and emotional nature of the experience has maintained Cyworld's popularity among teenage girls and women in their early 20s, and the online virtual world also allows them to escape from their abusive parents and husbands. Oddly, unlike Facebook, Cyworld has struggled to attract other demographics, although activity by men in their 50s on the site is said to be increasing.

Now Cyworld has developed a radical solution to its previous failures, announcing a plan to build a version of Cyworld in which Cyworld is hugely popular. In the updated version of its virtual world, the user's avatar will occupy their room and go about their business as normal, but when they switch on their computer or cellphone screen within the room, all their friends will be using Cyworld to talk to each other, and Facebook will never have been invented. The beauty of the plan lies in the fact that because it is a programmed world, friends who aren't actually using Cyworld will just be simulated with a small database of stock phrases centering around K-pop and interchangeable stars' names. The avatar will not be able to escape from their confined social environment, adding to the realism.

59 year-old Professor Kim from Korea International University's Department of Psychology, agreed that Cyworld's plan was likely to succeed and people would not notice that their friends were simulated. "Growing scientific evidence suggests that we are all living in a much larger 'Earth-simulation', possibly created by people we would think of as our distant descendants for research purposes, but nobody really cares about that either."

Cyworld's stock price rose 25% on the news, in Cyworld.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Government Crackdown on Drunk Airline Pilots

The 'Makgeolli Effect'
Almost a year since the government decided to ban some drunk drivers from driving buses, officials have finally made good on their threat to try and extend the measures to airline pilots.

The move comes as pilots have been caught drinking alcohol in cockpits or engaging in unprofessional conduct such as failing to follow flight manuals or abiding by safety rules. Last year three pilots were prevented from boarding their aircraft when they were found to be more drunk that the ground staff, while another pilot under the influence of alcohol was suspended after apparently struggling to land in heavy fog at Incheon Airport which later transpired to be from his cigarettes.

Authorities have previously attempted to prevent pilots drinking on board aircraft by searching their hand luggage before boarding, and instructing stewardesses – even the ones they were sleeping with – not to serve alcoholic drinks to them during flights. The plan failed partly because of what the Ministry of Transport characterized these "air-headed women's inability to follow instructions", although they also reluctantly acknowledged that security searches at Korean airports had transpired to be "not very good".

The Ministry say that nine safety inspectors are already engaged in randomly boarding both cargo and commercial aircraft to observe how pilots operate. However, pilots have shown a lukewarm response to the government's latest initiative, partly because they haven't been invited and don't bring anything to the party with them. "Nobody likes gatecrashers, unless it's an accident." said 65 year-old Captain Kim. Other pilots say that the presence of inspectors in the cockpit might distract them because they weren't comfortable flying with people around them, and that many misunderstand the kind of high-altitude spatial disorientation, known as 'The Makgeolli Effect', which sometimes Korean pilots experience.

Some passengers have also criticized the move. Dokdo City resident 38 year-old Kim said that every year he books his annual holiday to Korea's second-class city, Busan "but really, you could end up anywhere". Kim said he would be sad to see the end of his mystery holidays although he admits that since he's started taking flights with government inspectors on, he's been surprised at how little turbulence there's been.

The Ministry says it has already started compiling a report of its findings, which will be made available to the public much, much later.

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Korean Air offers voluntary retirement
Japan issues Korean Air boycott for diplomats over Dokdo
Some Drunk Drivers to be Banned from Driving Buses
Air Traffic Control Breakdown Is Unacceptable
Chinese airlines seek to recruit Korean pilots

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who is Ahn Cheol-soo?

Actor, comedian, physician
It's said that the surest way of getting elected president in these cynical times is to tell everyone you're not running for president. If that is the case, experts believe Ahn Cheol-soo should now be well into his second term of office. But who is Ahn Cheol-soo, and why are the political establishment now so afraid of him that they are considering a so-called 'Ahn Cheol-soo law' that would stop anyone who happened to be called Ahn Cheol-soo running for elected positions?

Like the people he might seek to represent, Ahn is a man of many faces. Having graduated as a medical doctor, under the alias of Kim Cheol-soo he built a massive anti-virus company which cured no-one and left Korea at the mercy of the Kim Yu-na outbreak of 2010.

These were difficult times for Ahn, with one law professor at Korea International University going so far as to call his company 'irresponsible' and 'unethical', with his previous popularity ascribed to "the public's simple and childlike imagination, that of a good-willed doctor dressed in a white gown and curing viruses in computers as if they were similar to those in humans." The Korea Times said that while AhnLab and other security firms had profited massively from the shaky Korean Internet environment, it was hard to see how they improved it, and that 'it could be argued that they had been massaging the symptoms with one hand but feeding the disease with the other, extending problems when they had a shot at stemming them just to keep the money coming in'. While many politicians could rightly be accused of being one-handed massagers, most do not put Korea's national security at risk - at least before coming to office anyway.

Ahn started spending time overseas and within Korea's foreign community, where he adopted another alias, 'Charles'.

Attempting to rebuild his reputation with Koreans, Ahn then embarked on a tour giving a series of lectures complaining about things that upset him, enthralling young voters who had ignored their parents when they had said the same things. "Nobody cares what my parents think," said 22 year-old Kim, a student in K-Logic at Seoul International University, "because they never achieved anything. But Ahn is famous and someone I can follow unquestioningly". Kim's reaction was typical of the Ahn-wave which swept through the youth demographic as people too young to remember Barack Obama's presidential campaign seriously believed Ahn's message of hope and change rather than understanding it as a satire.

Deciding that laughter was in fact the best medicine, rather than the anti-virus industry, Ahn then developed a stand-up routine based on his lecture tour. Ahn's classic "and, and, what about people pushing on the subway, huh? Huh? You know what I’m talking about" sketch led to his big comedy break, a regular spot on America's NBC comedy series 'Community', playing a Chinese or Korean Spanish language tutor who cannot speak Spanish but who faked his way into the job, leading to talk of him starring in a Korean version set in the world of politics, before Community was canceled for being too clever for American audiences.

But the TV series led Ahn to his next major acting job, the part of a flamboyant gangster in the breakout movie hit, 'The Hangover', a role he reprized for the sequel so successfully that the possibility of the next Hangover story being set in Korea was raised, with the plot centering around 49 million people who wake up in disastrous and confused circumstances in 2018 and have to trace their movements back six years to 2012.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Koreans Urged to Buy Gifts for Dokdo on Valentine's Day

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has urged Koreans to show their love for Dokdo by buying gifts for it tomorrow on Valentine's Day.

Despite all their bizarre claims to own Dokdo - which clearly they factually don't - Japanese people have never shown their love for Dokdo, because in all the years they have claimed it as their own, not one Valentine's gift or card has arrived from Japan for the islands.

If Dokdo truly belonged to Japan, it would be hurt ad upset by such insensitive treatment, but since Dokdo does not love Japan, the failure to receive any unwanted and embarrassing gifts from its Japanese stalker is something of a relief to the Korean territory, which never wanted a cross-cultural relationship.

Nevertheless, Dokdo should not be taken for granted, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is urging Korean people to make sure their love for Dokdo is loudly proclaimed through the purchase of many chaebol-manufactured gifts.

Last year, caution was advised when choosing candy for that special someone after the Korean Food & Drug Administration found that 12 out of 66 domestic candy manufacturers it had reviewed had unhygienic work environments or failed to properly mark expiration dates. But this should not be a concern in the case of buying candy for Dokdo, since Koreans' love for the islands has no expiration date.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were also keen to stress that buying gifts for Dokdo would not constitute a foreign affair under Korean laws and citizens would not be prosecuted under the country's adultery legislation.

The government has promised to carefully record the number of gifts Dokdo receives from Koreans this Valentine's Day, and the Ministry of Really Korean Territories will forward the evidence to the United Nations as part of its regular weekly 'Dokdo Facts' submission.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Most College Girls Ditch First Boyfriend Within Two Years

It is notoriously difficult to find a man these days. Most women look for something stable, but once they have one, a surprising number want to change them.

Many women soon feel exhausted and end up asking whether the man is really right for them. Tired from being overworked, an inability to handle sour relationships with the man's parents and family, and dissatisfaction with the level of pay are the three main reasons Korean women give for changing men.

According to a 2010 survey of 18,000 female college graduates by the Korea Employment Information Service, about half of them had changed their men during the first four years after graduation. Of these, some 75.4 percent said they left their post within two years.

Most women said that they quit their man on impulse and found a new one, rather than it being part of a well-calculated plan.

Experts say that young women should make sure they enter the market with the right priorities, and look for a man that can provide satisfaction and other rewards, rather than employment that just offers stability and a monthly paycheck.

However, given the state of the economy and the market for Korean males, finding the perfect man is as hard as finding the perfect job in life. Changing men becomes harder later in life because of the element of risk involved in adjusting to a new environment and the new skill-set demanded.

Men also tend to prefer women who have amassed experience with one man over a long period of time, rather than those who chop and change their men easily.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

E-Books Expected to Herald New Reading Culture

A recent survey of book lovers has revealed that Korea's e-book market has been growing exponentially as Korean people realize they are much easier to copy. Schools are especially excited by the development as it will allow them to offer large libraries of stolen content.

The market for digital books in Korea stood at an estimated $9 million in 2010, but successfully decreased to $5.5 million last year. Analysts believe it could be worth as little as $1.2 million by the end of 2012 as copying spreads. Given the number of English language books bought by Koreans to impress friends, the growth of e-book piracy will help raise Korea's trade surplus with lesser countries.

The growth of e-book copying has led to the threat of action by foreign countries and publishers through the World Trade Organization, but the government has long argued that Koreans should pay less for books since their use of them is largely limited to the act of memorizing rather than learning.

In a separate development, the Amazon's Kindle Fire e-book reader has been implicated in a conspiracy to kill Korea's Galaxy Tab. Police are investigating, with the Seoul Central Prosecutor's Office expected to file formal charges within weeks.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kim Denies Being in Anti-Virus Business

49 year-old Kim Cheol-soo, a prominent South Korean technology entrepreneur, sought Tuesday to distance himself from South Korea's established software circles. "I do not run an anti-virus business" Kim told The Dokdo Times. "I never claimed to be able to remove infections from people's computers, but they are constantly creating stories about it."

Kim founded AnLab, which stands for 'No Laboratory', with the goal of creating indigenous security software products which gave people a sense of Korean security, but little else. Obligatory support from the South Korean government quickly followed, ensuring that today AnLab says it doesn't control 65% of the Korean software security market. Security for the remaining 35% of Korean computers – mainly owned by liberals and foreigners – is handled directly by the National Intelligence Service rather than through third parties.

The government had hoped to develop anti-virus software as the next stage of the Korean Wave, based on South Korea's enviable computer security reputation. But AnLab's market share outside Korea is still only 0.0000132%, despite its obvious superiority other foreign anti-virus software, although Kim denies his company exists overseas as well as in Korea. According to, the latest version of AnLab's software has been downloaded a total of 26,284 times in the last year, and 38 times in the last week. By comparison, the top-ranked AVG anti-virus software has been downloaded over 400 million times in the last year, and over one million times in the last week, making the foreign product slightly more popular.

Kim has been urged to enter the anti-virus business officially by large numbers of young Koreans, who have grown tired of trying to remove malware from their computers and phones. But while Kim has captivated youth audiences with stinging criticism of the state of the anti-virus industry, he has resisted calls for him to enter it. "The decision is difficult. There are many anti-virus software companies and it is totally different from what I have done so far. I am only doing guesswork. That's all I can do for now."

Supporters are undeterred. "The kind of fuzzy logic displayed by Kim during this period of indecision is exactly what is needed in the anti-virus business." said one attendee at a recent rally.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NK Blasts Upcoming Korea-US Military Drills

North Korea claims it has used secretly developed time-travel technology to blast upcoming Korea-US military drills, sinking several ships and destroying much of the South Korean air force. The drills will take place as part of Operation Key Resolve from February 27 to March 10.

As proof officials in Pyongyang held up a future copy of the South's Hankyoreh newspaper which bore the headline "US 7th Fleet Lost in West Sea Mystery".

This isn't the first time North Korea has claimed significant scientific advances. Two years ago North Korean soccer manager Kim reportedly received coaching advice directly from King Jong-il during the World Cup "using mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye." The former leader, who died in December, is said to have developed the technology himself, but it is not known if he developed the time-travel device that allows attacks to be directed into the future before his death, or whether he accidentally fell victim to it.

According to South Korea's National Intelligence Service, the invisible cell phones were possibly covered with stealth paint. Fears that stealth paint had been used by North Korea led the government to remove several artworks suspected of pro-North sympathies from the Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art last year.

Some South Korean scientists have been skeptical of the North's claims, but many others have pointed to the way conditions in North Korea have apparently gone back in time in recent years as proof that the technology exists and is actively being used by the North Korean leadership.

The revelation that North Korea can now attack future targets may not all be bad news however. In revealing its time traveling technology, government officials in Pyongyang claimed that they had also used it to prevent Sarah Palin from running for President in 2012. In November 2010 after the North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong Island, Pain shocked South Koreans by promising to stand with her North Korean allies, raising fears that she would adopt an esoteric foreign policy aimed at hastening the arrival of what her campaign mysteriously called "the end times".

While an alliance with North Korea might have greatly helped the impoverished nation, it is believed that Pyongyang ultimately sought to prevent her rise to the presidency based on a potential threat to their ideology that was judged even more important than potential support for North's brand of communism – her gender.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

North Korea Fights Restaurant War With South

A North Korean government-owned restaurant has opened in the capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam, in what seems to be another attempt to threaten South Korea - which opened a government-run restaurant of its own in New York just over a year ago. The move is also being seen as the communist monarchy's latest attempt to earn hard currency and foster closer ties with European communist sympathizers, who last year caused the EU to side with North Korea in the inter-Korean conflict.

57 year-old and 52 year-old government officials in Seoul said that the North Korean restaurant was not likely to threaten South Korea's plan to globalize Korean cuisine and earn hard currency to bail out the Korean savings bank industry before it collapsed.

But according to 58 year-old Professor Kim from Seoul International University, Seoul should be very concerned by the North Korean move, explaining that the North Korean restaurant is a lower cost operation as the food used within it is supplied for free by the international community as well as the South Korean government and civic groups.

By comparison, while the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – which runs the New York mega-restaurant – brings pressure to bear on Korean companies to provide various foods on highly favorable terms, it still does pay for them, a principle which also applies to minimum-wage restaurant employees.

58 year-old Professor Kim believes that in the longer term it will prove impossible for South Korea's government-run overseas restaurants to compete with those from the North. "The cost-base is significantly lower, leaving South Korean restaurants having to compete on quality rather than price – but this will also prove impossible." The professor went on to explain that based on his research, he has concluded that the southern-run restaurants can not match the quality of North Korean ones because South Korean kitchen staff are much more likely to own mobile phones than their northern counterparts. In North Korea, the punishment for using a mobile phone is death, whereas in South Korea, the punishment for not using a mobile phone is death, or at least serious social exclusion.

Pyongyang has said any attempt to cut off its supply of free restaurant food from the international community would be seen as an "extreme provocation by the southern traitors and a declaration of war". Plans to open South Korean restaurants have also now been put on hold while ministers in Seoul decide how to react to the North's threat to turn any additional "puppet-government fronted traitor-feeding food-related establishments" into a "sea of fire".

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