Friday, October 31, 2003

lost and found in translation

So a movie called "Intolerable Cruelty" came out in the States, eh? It's in Korea now, with a completely different title: "Ch'am-eul su eop-neun sarang," or "A Love That Can't Wait." The movie appears to be a romantic comedy, and as such, it probably needed more saccharine marketing in Korea, where the Hello Kitty crowd, raised on treacly, helium-voiced soundtracks, won't be attracted to such an incongruous title. Koreans still aren't big on subtlety-- sarcasm, irony, all the things that liven up Western humor. The culture of sickening cuteness is everywhere, soaked into everything, and this includes marketing. Filmic emoting tends to remain mostly earnest, bombastic, and unlayered. You'll find lots of bitterness, passion, pride, and slapstick-- all the things you'd find in a typical stage play-- but very little reminiscent of even someone as lame as David Spade and his trademark, "And you are...?" Think I'm kidding? Compare some of the better Korean commercials to some of the better American ones, just for starters. Watch the Korean actors push their product with un-ironic zeal or steam-rollering cuteness (the LaNeige ad girl is cute, but she annoys the fuck out of me), something most American commercials try hard to avoid.

"Oran-ssi!" [the triumphantly shouted brand name of an orange-flavored soft drink-- ad from a few years ago; I used to mock it in class by shouting, "Saseum-p'i!"-- deer blood. Not all students would laugh at my mockery, since even marketing technique is apparently a matter of national pride. I'd say "lighten up," but only the expat crowd would be applauding.]

"The Matrix Reloaded" DVDs are being heavily marketed, right along with a slew of huge ads for the upcoming "Matrix Revolutions," which is due out in Korea in early November. "Reloaded" DVD ads are all over some of the Line 3 subway trains' interiors; I imagine other subway lines are plastered with them, too.

Posters for "Kill Bill" are also out, but unlike "Cruelty," the title was kept as is. The Korean rendering is simply a transliteration of the English title, and if you say the Korean version of the title, it sounds almost exactly like the English. I'm pretty sure David Carradine is an unknown quantity in Korea. He definitely won't have gotten the same press as Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is coming out in Korean, where they're pulling the usual dirty trick of taking a large English-language work and chopping it into smaller chunks. It appears they're releasing sections as they're translated. I saw parts 1 and 2 on the shelves of YoungPoong Bookstore this evening. Koreans have done this with plenty of large Western books; I bought my mother a few volumes of Clavell's Shogun a couple years back. Short books, like the kind written by Vietnamese Thien (Zen) monk Thich Nhat Hahn, escape this fate (his book Anger was something of a hit here, where the title is Hwa).

Koreans are more of a sound-bite culture than we are, I think; when I was suing my old boss, I was told to keep the court arguments as brief and to-the-point as possible. Koreans don't like toting around huge books, so I think they're perfectly OK with chopped-up works. I hate to see what Stephen King's novels look like in Korean. The Stand: Part Six-- coming soon!

Ah, yes-- the Korean publisher of the Harry Potter series has opted for the American version of the books' covers, so the new Korean Phoenix is blue, not the vivid colors of the British edition (which to my mind has its own appeal). The American and Brit versions of Harry Potter are sold side-by-side here.

Which reminds me, Edwin Thomas: the softcover Brit version of Phoenix hasn't come out yet here. I'll be on the lookout, though.

handicap mystery solved

Charlie the KimcheeGI comes through with a link (Korean-language only) that schematizes the degrees of handicapping. The particular level in question, Level 4 Number 4, translates roughly (apologies for clumsiness):

"A person who has lost "ri-seu-peu-rang" in both leg joints, or more." If you're Korean-literate & can provide a better translation than this lameness, please email it to me.

The online Yahoo Kor-Eng/Eng-Kor dictionary doesn't supply me with a definition for "ri-seu-peu-rang," so I'll go home and try to find out what it means. It's my fate to understand every part of a Korean sentence except the most important part.

The Korean (which I apparently can't type as Korean into Blogger) says:

Sa-geup sa-ho du-dari-reul ri-seu-peu-rang-gwan-jeol i-sang bu-wi-ae-seo il(h)eun saram.

Sa-geup sa-ho = Level 4, No. 4

du-dari-reul = both legs

ri-seu-peu-rang = ???

gwan-jeol = joint(s)

i-sang = not sure if this refers to abnormality or to "above/more than this"

bu-wi-ae-seo = [in that] region

il(h)eun = lost (as in, "lost function")

saram = person

UPDATE: "Ri-seu-peu-rang" is indeed an attempt at rendering French. It's the surname of a Frenchman-- Lisfranc. For some info on Lisfranc fractures, go here.

So this is how I'd translate the Level 4, No. 4 classification:

Sa-geup sa-ho du-dari-reul ri-seu-peu-rang-gwan-jeol i-sang bu-wi-ae-seo il(h)eun saram.
Level 4, No. 4 two legs Lisfranc articulation [more] in the region lost person

"A person who has lost [function] in more than the Lisfranc articulation of both legs."

Well, that's my lame stab at it, anyway. Don't ask me to translate important documents.

via Brainysmurf...

A link to the most offensive Halloween costumes ever. I admit it: I had a good cackle.

[probably not office-safe, but it depends on your office's collective sense of humor]

la politique

From Drudge:

Latest poll testing Hillary against the Dem field...

H. Clinton 43%
Clark 10
Lieberman 8
Gephardt 8
Kerry 7
Dean 7
Edwards 5
Sharpton 1
Braun 1
Kucinich 1
Undec. 10

--Source: QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY, conducted 10/23-27; 403 regis. Dems nationwide; margin of error of +/- 4.9%...

Maybe Andrew Sullivan is wrong, and the Dems' dream ticket isn't so much Dean-Clark, but Dean-Clinton...

I'll go on record and venture boldly that this would indeed be a silver bullet, but perhaps not of sufficient caliber to slay the Dems' GOP werewolf. I'll also agree with Sullivan that Bush-Rice would be a positive nightmare for Dems, if for no other reason than the race-plus-sex factors: can you imagine how many undecided-but-formerly-left-leaning voters might just pull for Rice, simply for who she is and the cultural leap forward her candidacy represents?

[NB to naysayers: I'm deliberately avoiding the nitty-gritty questions of Rice's qualifications and aptitude for the office of VP, but please know I'm not unaware of the issues; I'm focusing, for the moment, on the symbolic factors that will hold sway in much of the public consciousness. I will, however, note one fact: race and sex, as major issues, will be brought to the fore in a way they never have been before (I don't think Ferraro counts, personally). Rice's possible candidature would represent a momentous opportunity for the entire nation to explore its own feelings, noble and ugly, about race and sex-- especially race. While this in itself isn't a good reason to pick Rice as a running mate, it's certainly not something we can ignore as a nation and a culture.]

Besides, Rice is more likely to live to the end of her term, as opposed to Cheney, who I think may already be dead and the object of a complex coverup to convince us he's still alive. Hats off to ILM for the amazing CGI work that renders Big Dick so lifelike.

Question: can Arnold Schwarzenegger run for VP? Heh.

le parcours

We have to begin with... THE EXALTED RETURN OF THE MAXIMUM LEADER. Our mythmakers are already spinning a grand tale of death in mortal combat against literally thousands of the enemy, a period spent in the underworld to expiate the untold sins of the citizens of the realm, and a glorious resurrection.

Over at Winds of Change, Armed Liberal discusses the nuclear proliferation question, the scary possibilities of the current global situation, and what we should be doing and feeling.

Kevin at IA presents an awesome fisking of a Korean cultural icon: the ChocoPie (of which I have consumed more than my fair share).

The Marmot and the Infidel have a disagreement of sorts. Please, no reductio ad testiculum, either of you.

I think Mike at Seeing Eye Blog is lying about his newest Half-Korean of the Day. The guy doesn't look like he has any Korean in him, just as Michael J. Fox has no Elvis in him (with thanks to Mojo Nixon for the warning).

I wonder how many of us half-Koreans are in Korea right now.

SEB also provides this hilarious link. Not Stallone, but Tom Cruise doing the crucifix pose from "Mission: Impossible II." That rock-climbing scene was, alas, the best thing about the movie, and it's the first five or ten minutes. This brief spoof is far better than "MI2."

Shawn at Korea Life Blog has adorable pics of his students' Halloween artwork, and a sad story about a cat.

Party Pooper continues the China-hatred exploration. It's been suggested by some commenters that he's "trying his hand at irony," and if so, then I've been suckered. Suckered or not, I'm still finding this damn informative. His news links all seem legit, so as scholars in religious studies might say, I tend to approach this without a hermeneutic of suspicion.

Amber at Interfaith Diablog writes:


I've been reading up on Sufism. This of course must include the poetry of Rumi, of which I have also been reading.

I like this religion. A lot. I've always been attracted to mysticism and its emphasis on divine union. I have a difficult time believing in God and have rejected the idea of the literal God found in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. But I am much more comfortable when God is conceived of more as an ultimate ground of reality or being, a kind of universal or cosmic principle of which humans are a part and where our purpose is to realise that oneness, such that the human microcosm becomes at one with the universal macrocosm. I think that most religions have this idea at the heart of their teachings, but it gets lost in human translation. We have forgotten ourselves, our nature and separated ourselves from the divine.

I need to read some more and think some more and then come back to this and try to articulate myself better. On an intuitive level I really feel like I 'get' it, but to speak of the ineffable is another matter entirely. But I need to try for my own sanity. I'm a terrible fence-sitter when it comes to these matters and it's time I committed myself to something that I can honestly say, "Yes! This is what I believe."

"Divine union" is similar to language you'll find in Hinduism's visistadvaita camp (Ramanuja, arguable founder), which sees the atman-brahman relationship as a sort "qualified nondualism" (which is a rough translation of visistadvaita), not the dualism (dvaita) of "communion" with the divine, but something that still involves a sort of relationship (i.e., at least two distinct elements in relation) and isn't quite the not-two of Sankara's advaita (nondualism) school of thought, or the not-two of Buddhist nondualism.

I won't get into it here, but as an aside, there are dangers in equating Buddhist and Hindu notions of nondualism. As for Amber's post, all I can say is... Paul Tillich's the one who contended that doubt has to walk hand-in-hand with faith. He'd have gotten along well with Zen monks who advocate experiencing the Great Doubt (I need to dig up the vivid Chinese reference on this since I can't recall it immediately, nor have I experienced this for myself) as your practice deepens. Amber, good luck as you travel the Tao. I think doubt's a good thing. Look where thousands of years of uncritical thinking led humanity.

Hamilcar at Tacitus gives us a warning about new UN/EU shenanigans.

Must-read over at Cobb for off-white bo's and others of the non-black persuasion. Extended quote below:


Down in Playa Del Rey, pops, Doc and Dutz and I had a great lunch over Vodka Sauce Penne with baby shrimp. We talked about the fire, of course, and caught up. The subjects turned to the Disney Hall and Diane Reeves' rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the procedures that the Torrance PD used on me when they thought I was a bank robber, the skating that Usher is doing right now, a gangland shootout at the Inglewood Cemetary, Wynton Marsalis hateration, Uma Thurman, Tarantino and Woody Allen. It wasn't until Woody that I got to get my rant on.

Pops leaned in to talk about what respect Jews get in their movies, whereas Tarantino takes it for granted that everybody is one of his niggaz and feels no reticence in sprinkling the word in his dialog. I spoke on my theory why this is so. And it goes a little something like this.

The stop dead in your tracks argument in my hip pocket about 'Why can't white people use the n-word when blacks like xxx use it all the time?' has changed. The answer I now give, when asked, turns the tables. Of all the African Americans there are, why is it that you wish to emulate blacks like xxx? This answer helps the clueless to understand that blacks recognize class distinctions between themselves, which is part of my reason for bloviating on behalf of the Old School into the blogosphere. But let's take this distinction one step further and talk about the commercialization of black culture.

'Black' culture which doesn't recognize class is a misnomer and a holdover from the early days of black nationalism. Negroes of all backgrounds subsumed themselves into black identity for the common cause of a post-Negro identity, and of course the purposes of the Civil Rights Movement. But friction between all these African Americans was only temporarily suspended and never went away. For the sake of anti-racist activism and politics, blacks will always put class & religious distinctions on hold, but they never abandon them. So despite the fact that most everything falls under the aegis of 'black culture', there are a lot of strains. It's difficult to say how much the mainstream appreciates this fact; mistakes are often made. You can point to a Nelly rap and say that's black culture. You can point to a Wynton Marsalis song and say that's black culture. But unless and until you can point to Colin Powell's funeral, I don't know how you will get the both of them in the same room.

Jews and Asians are small. It takes a much greater rising tide to lift all black boats. The net weight of African America is more than double theirs. The black lower middle class is bigger than the both of them. So Nelly is, commercially speaking, much more likely to make enough money to survive a million dollar jewelry loss than Wynton. This is key. You won't see a movie with Jews calling each other 'kikes' because the class of Jews who do so in real life is not large enough to sustain a commercial market for that kind of lowbrow entertainment. 15 million blacks who live in the ghettoes of this nation is more than enough to make Nelly a millionaire, plus of course there's low rent crossover for that segment of the hiphop generation. The Jews or the Asians cannot fund a UPN and a BET, but all those low rent blackfolks can, do and will. They can afford it. That does not and will not ever change the direction and consistency of the Old School, brothers and sisters on my side of the fence. If anyone cared to compare us head to head, matters would sound more like Dinesh and Abigail's rosily false scenarios for all African Americans.

And that, friends, is one reason why Cobb is on my blogroll. Not a single, monolithic African-American community, but many diverse communities. When you're talking about huge demographics, you simply can't paint everyone with the same brush.

A quickie by Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis. I had a chuckle.

And a darker Regnum Crucis post here. Choice quote:

Al-Qaeda is a lot more than just an Arab phenomenon.

Glenn gives us a taste of his theology:

Notice that I say "She" because if natural law (and Christians always love to talk about what is "natural") is any guide it will tell you that only women give birth. So unless God is some sort of cross-dressing fool, your Heavenly Father is a Heavenly MOTHER.

A female deity would certainly explain things like the periodic oozing of lava. Is there a tampon big enough to stop this?

A CAMILLE PAGLIA LINK!!!! Via Andrew Sullivan. One of my favorite reads, the wild and wacky Camille Paglia has been fucking the postmodernists blue since the beginning. She's bizarre, she's not all there, but she's witty and eloquent, and I have to agree with the Maximum Leader that it's a shame she plays for the other team. Mmmmm... older women. Here, Paglia's take on Wesley Clark-janggun had me busting a gut.

And Sullivan gives us more reasons to be very, very wary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, about whom I already have deep misgivings (Dominus Iesus, anyone?)... and I'm a Presbyterian!

And more Sullivan on marriage, here and here.

An essay from Den Beste which I know the Air Marshal will love, being a fellow engineer. Think: space elevator.

Amritas has a fascinating riff on the Gender Genie, which is a program that can supposedly guess your sex based on how you write. Check Miyake out for links and a great discussion.

UPDATE: If the Amritas link isn't working (it wasn't when I tried it just now), hit the site's main page.

I'm too tired to review the news, and it's usually more of the same shit, anyway. So I'll leave off here.

Upcoming stuff, probably while I'm in America (countdown: five days to launch):

1. Comic strip-- first couple of panels.

2. An info-rich blog re: the book Charlie (KimcheeGI-- thanks again) gave me, Andrew Natsios's The Great North Korean Famine. This book, which I've been avidly reading (not in order; I rarely read such books linearly), has enough info to supply an entire separate blog. It will be my dubious honor to condense the massive amount of info into something you can gulp in a single post. Or maybe two.

3. More artwork, and very likely a revamping of Chewiest Tumors. I'm thinking of doing what this possible relative is doing, and putting actual, individual pieces on sale. Julie's work-- if you just visited her link-- is fantastic, and I'd be honored to claim her as a relative. She also got the enviable Instalanche.

4. A long post on The Many and the One. My huge philosophical fart which will include commentary on that PDF about moving beyond absolutism and relativism in relation to human rights, but the meat of the post will deal with the metaphysics of the Heart Sutra.

5. Along those lines, I may start actually writing a bona fide research paper on this blog critiquing philosophical approaches to the question of religious pluralism. This is something else that's been in my head for a while-- it's the paper I should have written in my interreligious dialogue class instead of the lame piece of trash I turned in to my favorite professor. Koreawatchers will likely turn away from my blog in droves; only the intellectually hardy will remain. Then again, I'm actually hoping to incorporate some elements of Korean Zen into the end of the paper; we'll see how that works out, and it might retain some of the Koreawatchers.

6. At long last: I'll be able to put my greeting cards online. I can't tell you how I've been looking forward to this.

damn, I forgot: it's HALLOWEEN!

Some trace the tradition back to the Samhain (pronounce it "SOW-win," like the "sow" meaning "female pig") ritual. Some link it with Christianity (these two schools of thought aren't contradictory).

Some just party.

My brother David bought a fog-maker and some spooky recordings to spice up the trick-or-treating ambience at my parents' house, but he's going to be away, helping out with Halloween Night festivities at his evening job over at Polly Esther's, a club in DC that occasionally gets a bit rowdy. Times like these, I worry about David's safety. He's already had to break up a few fights, from what I hear, and the neighborhood sounds like one in which you'll find more than a couple gun-totin' fellers.

So keep your fingers and tentacles crossed, and wish my brother a SAFE and enjoyable Halloween.

"I am Handicap Level 4"

OK, I did actually steal something today.

Now and then on the subway, you'll get beggars. Many are blind; some tote cassette players that blare pity-inducing music (usually Western-style Christian hymns which, as Eddie Izzard pointed out, are often very good for invoking sadness and other gloomy, God-related emotions); and some are crippled.

Some beggars shuffle into your subway car and hand out slips of paper describing their lot and why they hope you'll give them a little money. Usually they wait a bit, then go around and collect their slips before heading off to the next subway car to repeat their miserable, self-demeaning task.

Today, this particular cripple left his slip of paper on my lap, then failed to pick it up again after four stops, which is unusual. So I took his paper with me, even though I know how important it is to these folks to have every single slip. Yes, it was a cruel thing to do, and I do feel like a shit about it, but I wanted to look at it more closely, and I'm rationalizing that he may have simply forgotten to pick up his slips (which is bullshit; these folks always remember).

The Marmot provides tons of translations from news articles & such; my Korean reading skills aren't nearly where his are, and I still need a Korean dictionary with me-- plus time-- to get through anything more complicated than a children's story (and even those can boggle my tiny hominid mind).

But here, for the first time ever, is a completely Hominid-translated piece of Korean prose:

I am physically handicapped, Level 4, No. 4.

Following brain surgery, I've had constant headaches 15-18 times a day.

My left eye, right arm, and left leg's nerves have been numbed.
(I wasn't sure how to translate "ma bi," which can mean paralysis or loss of function in nerves. In some cases, this comes down to the same thing, but in others, "paralysis" is a better term than, say, "numbness." The guy looked crippled, but not what I'd call paralyzed. He shuffled, but he was obviously using both legs.)

Now, every day, I don't have enough money to pay hospital fees, which is why I'm here.

Everyone, please help a little bit.

I pray for peace for everyone's family.

[along with this handwritten message, a copy of the man's "bokji" (public welfare) card]

Now I really feel like a shit. And I want to know what "Handicap Level 4" refers to.

Insa-dong and Korean mores

I've decided: Insa-dong is more fun than the Huimang Shijang. I get more attention, more people willing to talk with me, and more buyers. Not many more, to be sure, but it might also be because I'm never there earlier than 7PM. Many shops begin closing down after 8:30PM, and the young folks entering Insa-dong at that point are heading for restaurants and such. It's not a shopping crowd. This is encouraging, because I plan on going to Insa-dong all day on Saturday and Sunday to continue pimping, and I have a feeling that, by coming earlier, I'll be visible to actual shoppers.

Tonight's session was disappointing in some respects, mainly because I sold only one piece after 90 minutes. But some characters from the last episode reappeared: the Christian guy showed up. He still didn't buy anything, the bastard, but he gave me his business card (usually a sign of goodwill, or at least politeness) and invited me over to his church where I could "make lots of friends." He sort of pressed me on the church matter; I politely told him I'd go if I had the time. His name is Mr. Ch'u (with a hard "ch" sound, like a sneeze). I'd never seen that surname on a Korean before.

Mr. Jang was back. He suggested I should come out on Saturday and Sunday, when there'll be crowds, and cars will be barred after 10AM (it becomes like the zone piétonne in Nice, where only the delivery vehicles are allowed in). Mr. Jang also wants me to tutor him and his company members in English and French when I get back from America next year, which-- if this works out-- will be cool, because it guarantees me some steady income from January to March. My 8-year-old, Min-sung, will be going either to America or Canada next year, so I don't know how much longer I'll be teaching him. My hope is to get work at Dongguk University (a big Seoul-based university established by Buddhists and about 100 years old at this point-- like many modern Korean universities), but I need something to tide me over from January to March-- possibly beyond, if Dongguk falls through.

Teaching at Dongguk would be a dream come true. Easy access to a large and varied sector of the monastic community, the chance to share art and calligraphy with people who will have a deeper appreciation for it than the typical Insa-dong tourist/shopper, and interreligious dialogue on the fly. I'm also hoping to be able to teach a small course in interreligious dialogue while there (in English, of course, unless I miraculously receive the gift of tongues [in the actual biblical sense, not that stupid, fake, charismatic sense, which isn't even scripturally based])... we'll see.

Back to our muttons.

Police presence! Did I call it or did I call it!? Police were out and about this evening, some just standing in clusters nearby; others driving by in their patrol cars; still others marching somewhere single file. None approached me, which was good. Mr. Jang was amused by my nervousness; he laughed and said, "They're not gonna bother you." Since my little market occupies only one square meter, I should hope not, but Judeo-Christian guilt complexes are hard to shake.

Crazy Homeless Guy was there. He's a damn sight saner than Madame Jabberwocky, a raving maniac who, back in the mid-90s, used to terrorize the area across the street from Insa-dong, where the Vietnamese restos, American fast food restos, and Bennigans are. I used to see her every morning around 6:45AM, as I was walking toward Korea Foreign Language Institute (it's now Sisa Institute). But Crazy Homeless Guy shares with Madame Jabberwocky the gift of gab, whether or not there's an interlocutor. And being male, Crazy Homeless Guy wins the Wild Facial Hair Prize. My usual selling spot in Insa-dong is, by unpleasant coincidence, Crazy Homeless Guy's roost as well. I got there first this evening. He ended up sitting about thirty yards away, and it sounded like he might have been jabbering at me; I'm not sure. For a crazy guy, he's also rather polite, because he kept his distance.

The Man Who Knows Much About Art did not come by this evening. Perhaps he had other stuff to do. Perhaps my "First Kiai" piece has so thoroughly freaked him out that he can no longer leave the house without seeing fingers and screaming mouths everywhere.

My one purchaser this evening was a pair of women who took their sweet time flipping through my portfolio. They finally came away with one of my tiger cartoons-- it depicts a tiger who's slightly startled to find a butterfly perched on the end of his upright tail. This piece is based on a scene near the end of the book I'm writing, The San-shin's Tiger (probably due out next year). I have several versions of that scene in my portfolio for sale; luckily, these ladies bought my least favorite one.

Right before the ladies arrived, a 50-something gent came over and started talking with me. Like everyone else, he wanted to know where I was from, what I was doing in Korea, how old I was, whether I was married, etc. (for Westerers not in the know, these are pretty standard questions Koreans ask foreigners, from a fairly short list of such questions). The gent was pretty lively, and when the ladies came over to take a look at my work, he started selling my products for me! Everything I'd explained to him-- about the symbolism in my Dalma-daesa pics, about the origins of the God-pic, about where the tiger cartoons are from, about my abstract calligraphy-- became his sales pitch to the ladies. He finally had to go, but his parting shot to them was, "Don't leave until you buy something!" The man himself bought nothing, but he made my only sale of the evening. Maybe he's a fan of the movie version of "Glengarry Glenn Ross" (which rocks, by the way): he's a closer.

Some of these people have begun to offer me coffee. I don't usually drink coffee, but I've been in Korea too long to say no when it's offered. Koreans, as a matter of hospitality, will often provide you with drink and/or food, but they don't usually ask you what your preference is. I'm tempted to look at this as a deep cultural divide-- as if Americans, so in tune to matters of individuality, ask your preference because it facilitates your own sense of choice/freedom, whereas Koreans, viewing the same situation through a Confucian lens, are worried less about the individual than about things like ritual propriety and good kibun (fellow-feeling, [group] harmony, etc.). But in reality, I don't think the problem requires one to delve deep into cultural and philosophical studies. It's enough to say "that's the Korean custom"-- more a matter of simple history than anything deeper. In any culture, I tend to think that doing comes first; philosophizing justifications, the so-called "reasons" behind the actions/customs/traditions, usually come later.

Once again, an amusing night. I'm beginning to note certain patterns in people's behavior, so here are some extremely general observations:

1. Women, especially young women, simply will not approach me to see what I'm selling, especially if they're with a group whose walking speed betrays a strong forward momentum (i.e., they're not strolling, but moving with a purpose). I chalk this up to Korean mores, but it's more the foreigner thing. Koreans have no trouble approaching Korean shopkeepers they don't know. With me, I think a lot of folks assume I don't speak any Korean. Two people suggested I should make a more detailed sign introducing myself. As an American, I think it's unfortunate that simple social interaction requires an artificial boost to overcome a rather stupid conversational hurdle ("why don't you just fucking approach me and ask something to find out whether I speak Korean!?"), but I may just bite the bullet and make the sign.

Or maybe the women simply find me ass-ugly in my current state. This, however, doesn't explain the strange, frustrating, yet ubiquitous phenomenon of the ugly-ass Western guy who scores the beautiful Korean chick. You know who you are. Fuck you ugly motherfuckers!

2. Westerners ignore me even more thoroughly than Koreans. This was kind of unsettling at first, but I've begun to realize that I also think this way when I'm traveling/living abroad. As someone raised in a mostly-Western environment, I know Westerners and they know me. When I'm overseas, I feel like this is my adventure. Of course, it isn't: I'm doing something that millions of Westerners have done before me. There's little that's unique in what I do, who I am. Nevertheless, when I see another Westerner while abroad (worst-case scenario: hiking around the Brienzersee in Switzerland in 1990 and happening upon some American hikers; we smiled at each other, but I wanted them to spontaneously explode), my feeling often is: Get out of my story.

Don't worry: I'm getting better.

My point, though, is that these Westerners who are trying so hard to ignore me (you can tell they're doing it if you make sure to watch them steadily) are probably going through the same internal struggles I'm going through. If they're expats living here, they're looking at my shop's signs (one in Korean; one in English) and mentally comparing their own Korean ability to my assumed ability, then finding themselves wanting or deeming me beneath notice. Or they're passing by while I'm talking to Koreans and doing the same thing. Or they're just not inclined to talk with another Westerner because, after all, this isn't why they came to Korea in the first place (a fact belied by how expats often hang together, yours truly included, though my white-bo' friends number exactly one).

3. Young Korean men are even worse than young Korean women when it comes to staring at my work while refusing to come closer and speak with me or flip through my wares. Some guys will just stand fifteen feet away and stare. It's irrational. I've got a goddamn portfolio! Portfolios are made to flip through, and I'm not about to do that for your cowardly ass's benefit!

I've begun to tell people, in Korean, to come on over. Occasionally, I'll joke, "Museoweohajimaseyo!" (Don't be afraid!), but as you might guess, some people take this the wrong way-- they smile and speed away as if I were brandishing a battleaxe while wearing no pants.

4. Purchases are more likely to happen when Koreans approach in pairs or larger groups. Group will is all! Individual initiative is a hard thing to come by, especially in dealing with foreigners. Koreans themselves are loath to admit this, providing all sorts of vague alternative excuses (most common: "Asians are simply like that."), but the truth is repeatedly demonstrated as I sit on my stone hour after hour. The two Dalma-daesa bought on Monday were bought by a pair of not-quite-sober gentlemen. The go haeng sang picture was bought by a young man who was with either his wife or his mother. Tonight's tiger cartoon was bought by two women who'd just listened to a sales pitch by the Korean man I'd been talking with. Not a single loner, except one-- The Man Who Knows Much About Art-- has bought my art of their own initiative.

So maybe the corollary is: Rule #4 doesn't apply to Koreans who've lived abroad and/or have a better-than-usual understanding of Westerners. The Man Who Knows Much About Art didn't speak much English, but he'd travelled in the States and seemed like a very perceptive fellow in general (to his credit).

5. Older men are more likely to take individual initiative, break from the stream of passersby, and talk. They won't necessarily buy anything, mind you, but once they come over and talk, other people automatically feel free to come over and have a look at my art. One older guy, a Yonsei University prof who made a face when I told him I'd taken Korean classes at Korea University (the competition!), came by and couldn't stop shaking my hand. He spoke a little English; his feeling was that I don't need to be out selling art if I'm already an English teacher, which I found to be a strange remark. Maybe I misunderstood him, but that sure sounds like what he said. In another case this evening, a man came by; we started talking, and soon there was a crowd around us, with people actually ooh-ing and aah-ing as I explained the symbolism of the Dalma-daesa.

[NB: I'm beginning to see why some salesmen sound slick and rehearsed: it's not entirely their fault. They have to give the same damn spiel to new audiences all the time, and you just get familiar with the spiel.]

The dude who wanted me to draw his face came by again, drunker than he was on Monday (did I mention this guy before? he was a riot, with his medium build and incongruously, grotesquely flabby face). Tonight, he didn't ask me to draw his face (and ugly as he is, I don't think that he'd like his portrait come morning, when he's sober), but he wondered about my prices and what the hell I was selling. I showed him. He nodded, stared intensely at me in that I'm-trying-to-focus way that drunk folks have, then lumbered off. To the next bar, I imagine.

Selling like this is an amazing experience. Just as I learned a lot about human character from teaching high school French, I think I'm learning just as much from sitting on a concrete block with some art spread in front of me.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


I saw my first truly huge Korean woman today while pimping my wares in Insa-dong. She was enormous, this woman. Lumbering. Pachydermatous. I'd seen huge Korean men before-- far larger even than I am in girth, height, or both-- but never a woman who looked more than the usual subcompact to midsize (compared to Western women, I mean). This beauty easily crossed the threshold from Toyota Minivan to Ford Expedition, and it didn't help that the ladies she was walking with were standard-size Hyundai Excels. I admit it: I stared at her the same way Koreans stare at me. It took a few minutes for her ass to leave my peripheral vision, but the gluteal image was seared into my retinas.

What exists in reality is greater than what exists in the understanding.
-St. Anselm, probably referring to this woman's ass, which he'd've preferred to be only imaginary

Existence is not a predicate.
-Kantian reply blowing Anselm out of the water, but remember that Kant never left Koenigsburg his whole life because he feared to encounter that same ass

There but for the grace of God go I.
-a grateful Kevin, pondering his own impressive ass after the passing of Huge Female

My other first (is it proper to speak of a "second first"?) was that, not five minutes ago, I was splatted by my very first email snowball-- in French. Merci, Dominique.

What the email says:

~Vous venez d'être atteint par une boule de neige e-mail !~

C'est le début de ...
La bataille de boule de neige 2003 - 2004!!

Une seule règle ....
Vous ne pouvez pas attaquer quelqu'un qui vous a déjà touché !

Maintenant ...

allez-y et touché autant de personnes que vous pouvez ,
avant qu'ils ne le fassent!
Je vous ai eu en premier ! Vous ne pouvez donc plus m'avoir !

You might not know French, but you doubtless guessed the meaning. Translation:

You've just been hit by an email snowball!

It's the start of...
the snowball fight of 2003-2004!

Just one rule...
You can't hit someone who's already hit you!

Go hit as many people as you can
before they get you!
I got you first! You can't hit me back!

So now you know: e-insipidity is alive in more than just anglophone cyberspace. Doux Jésus...

Did you catch the grammatical error in the French version? It's what in linguistics would be called an error of "performance," not of "competence." Hint: look for phonetic spelling.

the whiff of nastiness

I ended up not going to Insa-dong last evening-- got too absorbed in some new pieces I was making. I'm off to the gym in a few minutes, then straight out to Insa-dong after Ye Olde Shower. More later in the evening if all goes well. Maybe I'll get accosted by the police this time! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

a quick poot

Will be out in Insa-dong again this evening, pimping my wares from about 8:30 to 10PM. If all goes well, I'll be back to blog about it. If not... the silence will tell you all you need to know.

Die, already!

No, I don't feel this way, but it's the title of a hilarious and thought-provoking article over at Landover Baptist [NB: it's actually the title of the link currently on LB's main page]. Choice quote:

In addition to planning to fete Real Christians celebrating a world with one less Catholic, the death of a pope provides a wonderful opportunity to use a moment of vulnerability to proselytize to people who have embraced a faith that guarantees a certain descent to Hell. “We need to be ready this time,” said Pastor Harry Hardwick. “Whenever a pope dies, tens of thousands of priests become depressed and turn to booze. Since almost all priests are Irish, this means a lot of mean drunks. They are dangerous to be around, but we are really trying to reach out to Catholic priests, so we have to go to them regardless of the risks to the personal safety of the people we hire. This means having witnesses for the True Faith, Baptist, at all the places Catholic priests tend to frequent in times of grief, whether it is at gay bars, gay bathhouses, places of public sodomy or Cher concerts. The very night Pope John Paul II croaks, we want to make sure that we have Baptists stationed at all the gay discos ready to give a Kleenex, a Bible tract and the way back to a religion that God actually likes.”

Later on:

Vatican officials had originally predicted the Pope would defy death and soon be back to hobbling about, drooling down his jeweled vestments, and hacking up blood like a half resurrected Lazarus. Such wistful hopes, however, were dashed when the Pontiff was roundedly snubbed by the Nobel committee for that award he has coveted (almost as much as Mary) for 25 years, leading to a surprising amount of broken papal-crested Limoges china and Waterford stemware, given the Pope’s otherwise frail condition. The Pope, more addicted to fawning adulation than Rush Limbaugh is to hillbilly heroin, was apparently devastated that the committee awarded its Peace Prize to a woman who has risked her life to speak out and work against repression and violence in a country whose government hates and has jailed her, whereas the Pope has for years given long-winded speeches against war before being whisked to his secure, luxury accommodations in the Vatican.

An interesting take on His Holiness. I'd still like to see a Pope versus Dalai Lama cage match-- a no-rosaries-barred throwdown with the Dalai Lama leaping and whirling like Yoda, and the bent-over Pope rearing back, then snapping forward with his patented and deadly Cobra Strike Technique. Interreligious encounter at its most watchable.


Check out Michael Maciel's essay on freedom here.

One interesting point:

I am not saying that we should outlaw traditions (didn't Mao try to do that in China's Cultural Revolution?) but that we need to make diversity the cornerstone of our tradition. We need to say not only e pluribus unum, "out of many, one" but also "within the one, many." We can never lose sight of the extraordinary fact that America truly is the melting pot of the world, more so than any other country in modern history. The ties that bind this family are not those of blood or tradition, but of an ideal -- freedom.

Go read the rest. And visit Mr. Maciel's site,

"Lawmakers spend huge money from our blood-like taxes."

I love that sentence.

Here's the article it comes from-- victim mentality in microcosm.

But some observations with which expats will agree:

Selfishness prevails over the society with people not caring the position of others. Few are reluctant to be in the shoes of others.

Adding to the turmoil are law violations and disorder. Law and order are not respected of late in this otherwise lawful country. But law enforcement authorities appear to be helpless and insincere in dealing with the unlawfulness.


In hard times, like now, a stronger leadership is required to motivate people to get together and go beyond ideology and individual interests.

Unfortunately, however, Korea today does not have one.

Direct confirmation of my feeling, along with many Koreans', that Noh Mu Hyon is a pussy-- the rudderless, feckless leader of the Labia Majority and Labia Minority Parties. And he remains NK's bestest friend. Hail!

good riddance

If this is to be believed, a Japanese woman is seeking asylum in North Korea.

Best wishes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

stuffed, fattened, and ready for slaughter

With humble thanks to Charlie, a.k.a. KimcheeGI, the Hominid was able to gorge on his longed-for Mexican food over at Dragon Hill Lodge on the Yongsan Army base. There's nothing quite like studying Buddhism, learning all about balance and moderation, then shamelessly piling huge amounts of beef, cheese, and vegetables onto your plate and chowing down like there's no tomorrow. Throw in some shrimp, a couple burritos, a few choice dessert items, and a pitcher (uh, two pitchers) of Coke, and we are good to go. Conversation ranged all over; topics included religion, philosophy, Rumsfeld, Bush, linguistics, a quick lesson in what a BBS is (yes, I'm ig'nant), and other things. One wonders why the KimcheeGI isn't a blogger himself-- he certainly has plenty of opinions. Then again, my Narcissism Detector was getting a null reading from Charlie, so maybe he's just not self-absorbed enough to want to start a blog. What a shame.

Thanks for the food, man. I'd been missing that. Regards to the Missus.

last post of the evening: FUCKING MOSQUITOES

The weather has cooled down enough so that most of the little flying fuckers that plague me-- gnats, mosquitoes, etc.-- have retreated into whatever dank fastness they call their winter home. But the PC-bahng remains a warm, inviting haven for mosquitoes, which apparently have Predator-style infrared vision that registers heat-emitting objects, like my double chin's fat. I've caught two mosquitoes this evening and am currently being dive-bombed by a third. It will soon know the awful wrath of the Hominid.

David Chadwick, who wrote the strange Thank You and OK!, a book/travelogue about his life as a Western Zen monk in Japan, at some point talks about how the Japanese monks at his monastery used to deal with temple pests: they'd scoop them up, carry them to the front door, then throw them out while shouting, "Be happy!"

If only I had that kind of enlightenment. Me, I simply grab mosquitoes out of the air and delight in crushing their helpless little bodies between my fingers. I wish them only ill. And it's an especial pleasure to see that I've killed a mosquito that recently sucked blood-- they never had the chance to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

mosquito attacks
feels the crushing fist of death
--leukocytes avenged!

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm blogging this late, it's because Monday is my "slow day" and I chose to wake up awfully late, pace Ben Franklin. Now it's early Tuesday, and I still don't feel sleepy, but I'm signing off anyway. Good morning.

new addition to the blogroll

Hat tip to the Marmot, who noted the existence of this neat blog about life in Korea called, unsurprisingly, Korea Life Blog. Like the Kyungnam to Kyunggi Journal, this blog comes chock full of pictures, and like Internet Ronin, it's got an enviable design.

DUdu also gets the boot

Democratic Underground gets the boot because, after a long trial period, I've finally concluded the site is run by monkeys, something that will surely piss off Frank J of IMAO. If you need a place to go for shrill lefty "arguments," this is it. Conceptual Guerrilla, on the other hand, actually hits hard with intelligent lefty arguments. Recommended reading for conservatives looking to tangle with people who're not mental midgets. Unfortunately, CC is also guilty of the Woefully INfrequent Update Syndrome-- WINUS, or "weenis." I keep it on the blogroll for the same reason I keep Bill Whittle on: some of the huge-ass posts are worth a few re-readings. By the way, Whittle is promising shorter and more frequent posts.

The Maximum Leader has spoken!

If only via email, but private communications along secure channels are the bread and butter of mostly-benevolent dictatorships. Among the details I can reveal are some suggestions about a cosmetic revamping of Hairy Chasms, which as you see is now more streamlined in its sidebar, with less Scary Spasms-related clutter.

Humble thanks to the ML for his wise counsel.

paranoid speculation

Fires, possibly coordinated arson, in California... and a newly elected governor. Connection?

I doubt I'm the first to engage in such drooling conspiracy theorizing. As always, feel free to write in with your thoughts.

enticing the Maximum Leader out into the open... dangling a CHURCHILL QUOTE in front of him!

From Andrew Sullivan:

STALIN IN THE 1930S: No one knew what was going on? That's the New York Times' recent excuse for Western communists in the 1930s. Here's what Churchill had to say in 1924: "Judged by every standard which history has applied to Governments, the Soviet Government of Russia is one of the worst tyrannies that has ever existed in the world. It accords no political rights. It rules by terror. It punishes political opinions. It suppresses free speech. It tolerates no newspapers but its own. It persecutes Christianity with a zeal and a cunning never equalled since the times of the Roman Emperors. It is engaged at this moment in trampling down the peoples of Georgia and executing their leaders by hundreds."

On a different front-- another Sullivan quote, this time on gay marriage:

Their [i.e., the religious right's] defense of heterosexual marriage is far more connected to their loathing of homosexuality than with their concern for marriage as such. It's essentially a negative, exclusionary impulse at heart. That's why they're not proposing a Constitutional Amendment to ban divorce, or forbid civil marriage.

I'd like to hear more from Sullivan on this last point. Keep in mind that his focus here is on the religious right, not on anti-gay-marriage folks in general. The larger debate is more complex.

Glenn Reynolds: Germophobe?

Glenn Reynolds of Satan's Anus (cf. blogroll) writes:

DONALD TRUMP IS A SMART MAN, because he hates to shake hands, regarding it as filthy and unsanitary. I think he's onto something.

I'm coming down with a cold, as I almost always do after going to the faculty recruitment conference. It's contagion central, as candidates from all over the country come into a room, shake hands with every member of the committee, talk for a while, shake hands again, and leave. By the time candidates from all over the country have met with committees from all over the country, it's a veritable microbe-fest, and it always takes place at the beginning of cold-and-flu season. Ugh. Remember, when you shake hands with people, you're shaking hands with everyone they've shaken hands with. . . .

Good Christ. I used to work for APIC, and a large part of our mission was the dissemination of the Handwashing Gospel. But getting worked up about the rounds of handshaking is a bit too much, even for us APIC alums. APIC staffers at the National Office in DC, it should be noted, get colds like everyone else; sometimes that shit can't be helped. An overly paranoid attitude toward microbes, which are an inevitable part of our existence, also doesn't help matters. Glenn, with respect: du calme, s'il vous plaît. Et lavez-vous les mains un peu plus fréquemment.


Cyrano de Boogerac.

Ô rage! Ô désespoir! Internet Ronin exits the blogroll.

This is done with great regret, but I've nixed Internet Ronin from the blogroll. I like the guy's posts a lot, I envy the design of his blog, but the posting frequency is so sporadic that I'm convinced the man has a life. As such, he can't possibly be a real blogger, which means he has no place on my blogroll. I wish the Ronin luck with whatever is keeping him away from his blog, and I wonder whether I'll find a decent Japanblogger to replace him.

Mini-pontification: My blogroll isn't about link-whoring, which is how quite a few bloggers get their hits and up their SiteMeter/Technorati stats. You're on my blogroll because I make it a point to read you, religiously, every single day, because I think you've got something worth saying. The direct implication, then, is that I'm hopeful your blog will be regularly updated. If this isn't happening, I have to question why I put you on the blogroll. This isn't a personal critique; it certainly doesn't mean your blog is bad. But it does mean you've slipped below the radar of my short-but-voracious attention span. (Obviously I make exceptions for people announcing they're going to be gone for a while, for whatever reason.)

I kept the Ronin on the blogroll after a previous bout of doubtfulness because I saw a sudden spate of new posts. But this time around, I haven't seen a new post since October 10, so I think it may be time to part company. I did appreciate all that I read on your blog, though, sir, and will likely visit again.

Monday ups and downs

Before I begin-- check out the Party Pooper's great post on rising anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea. This is an angle I know next to nothing about, so I'm hoping to receive a true education at the hands of the Pooper.

And visit Conrad for an equally great post about pro-independence demonstrators in Taiwan. The Big Ho applauds. The comments thread appended to this post also goes over some military conflict scenarios; interesting reading.

Kicked ass in Insa-dong today, having set up my little illegal shop-- which occupied about one square meter, most of which was covered by my prodigious and awe-inspiring byoo-tocks-- and sold FOUR pieces (in the space of two hours) to a bunch of passersby-- both Dalma-daesa drawings went (I had two medium-sized ones with me), bought by two possibly-drunk gents; a young man came by with someone I assume was his mother, and they bought one of the scary go haeng sang pictures (starving Buddha during his six-year period of austerity) after some indecision about which picture to buy; and finally, a mustachioed gent took some time to talk with me about my art in general (HA! "my art"-- forsooth), and about that fucked-up God drawing in particular, the one showing the shouting/screaming mouth surrounded by fingers. He bought the God art.

This last guy was a riddle. He refused to talk about himself, evading questions about job and artistic experience, but it was obvious he knew a hell of a lot about art in general. He denied he was an artist, and when I pressed him about whether he'd done any kind of artwork, he insisted he'd done nothing. He was very complimentary about my wares, even showing appreciation for the ch'u-sang seo-yae (abstract calligraphy), and we had a good laugh as I explained the weird history behind the God drawing, which I've renamed ch'eot kihap, or "First Kiai," as if God had shouted the universe into existence. Oh, yeah-- he did mention he'd been to the US a few times, even driving to Atlanta from DC once. Before we went our separate ways, he said it was a pleasure talking with me; normally he gets a "slick" feeling from other sellers. I neglected to mention that I don't have the faintest fucking idea how to sell stuff, which explains my honesty/ingenuousness-by-default.

Three other gentlemen came by just to talk (note to the Good Lord: WHY WON'T THE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN DO THIS?); the first was a certain Mr. Ham, who'd studied Oriental medicine (as he called it; you're doubtless aware that the descriptor "Oriental" has been largely rejected in favor of "Asian" in the ongoing fight against Eurocentric terms) in Canada, had visited places all over the world, and currently has an office near Insa-dong. He spoke English pretty well, but we carried on in Korean. The second gent was Christian and never gave me his name. Like many Korean Christians who've stared at my work, he had to know what a Christian like me was doing studying Buddhism and drawing Buddhist art. He listened quietly to my broken-Korean spiel about the need for interreligious dialogue, nodding the whole time. Finally he said that Korea has a definite interreligious problem, not just on the Christian end, but on the Buddhist one as well. I agreed, and not just pro forma; it's the truth. We had a very warm conversation; alas, in the end, he didn't buy anything. The third gent, a Mr. Jang Ho-in, was Buddhist, but laughingly told me he didn't know that much about Buddhism or about famous folks like Seung Sahn dae seonsa-nim and Hyon Gak sunim. Mr. Jang told me I should set up on the weekend in Insa-dong, since there'd be more people. I might try that on Saturday, assuming the cops won't be numerous. A couple other people stopped by briefly, mainly to talk and flip through my works, but not to buy. I guess that's to be expected.

[NB: type "Frank Tedesco" into Google and you'll get a wealth of info about Korean Christian offenses against Buddhists and Buddhism, including temple arson, vandalism, and theft of religious articles.]

I was flying high by the end of my three hours in Insa-dong. To have sold four pieces within the first two hours was nothing short of amazing compared to the slow agony of the Hope Market, where onlookers were plentiful but buyers were almost nonexistent, being more keen to try on hats or fondle jewelry. I did take Jang Woong's advice and reduced prices; I think this was a definite factor in tonight's sales. The mustachioed gent suggested I should make some sangjing haeseol, i.e. cards or sheets of paper offering explanations of the symbols in my work. I think this is a great idea; it's actually something I've been wanting to do, but now I have to learn the Korean term for "card stock" to describe the kind of paper on which I want to print such a card. I may make a bundle of these while at home in Virginia, where I still have tons of card stock (that reminds me... I need to make greeting cards and get those puppies online).

Upon my arrival at this PC-bahng, I opened my email as I always do, and read the terrible news that the School of Religious Studies' Dean Happel had died of a massive heart attack, which is shocking. Father Happel couldn't have been older than his late 50s-- early 60s, tops. He simply wasn't that old, nor was he in poor health, to my knowledge. He was always energetic, very upbeat, and even though I never took a class with him, he somehow always remembered my name after a five-minute conversation in 1999. While I can't say I knew him well, I knew him well enough to be taken aback by this somber news. What makes matters worse is that the SRS is in the process of a very controversial restructuring (to make it more Rome-conformist, some say... and I agree, but we'll save that bitter question for later), and Fr. Happel had been shepherding the process. A new dean has been appointed since his passing, but the whole affair has rocked the school, from what I hear. I'll definitely have to visit CUA while I'm home. What a mess.

And what a day, eh? Yeah, I know, it's not like reading about sexual exploits on Gweilo Diaries, but here's hoping that, someday soon, a gorgeous Korean lady in a greatcoat will walk up to my little market, fix me with a hungry stare, then whip open her coat to reveal nothing on beneath it. Then she will command, "Draw me."

And I will.

And my brain will be shouting all the while, "BLOG THIS. The people have the right to know."

Monday, October 27, 2003


High on the Hominid's "If I Were a True Koreablogger" wish list is the ability to follow a story like this. I've been wanting to dig around the e-literature to find out more about NK defectors who fail to adapt to South Korean society. Along comes this great Chosun Ilbo article about a NK man, Nam Su, who defected to South Korea, then went back to NK twice, bringing back two sons upon his return to the South.

But the kicker is this:

The man, Nam Su, may face a thorough investigation here because he reportedly gave lectures while in the North in which he denounced South Korean society.


Before leaving he reportedly complained about South Korean society and showed a yearning to return to North Korea.


During his stay in North Korea, Nam reportedly gave public lectures in which he praised North Korean society and said he had been fooled by South Korea. He was pardoned by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in an official letter.

One gets the impression that borders are more porous than they appear. But impressions aside, I want to know more about those lectures against South Korean society, those complaints he made while in South Korea, and how it all ties together. This, to me, is amazing stuff.

Mike World Order on High Alert

Learn more about it: read my emergency announcement on the Naked Villainy blog.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Huimang Shijang... the end?

My buddy Jang Woong and his wife Bo Hyun visited me at the market today after I called them. I sold one of my pieces, a cartoon tiger, to Bo Hyun. Jang Woong and Bo Hyun suggested a few things:

1. Don't cover your dojang stamps with Post-Its when displaying.

I agree with this idea in principle, but as I explained to them, the problem is that the stamps tend to smudge the insides of whatever container I place them in. The Post-Its provide ideal protection, much as tampons keep the red from running wild.

2. Think about relocating to Itaewon and Insa-dong, and maybe Ch'eongye-ch'eon.

Good idea-- people in these places are more likely to want what I'm selling, especially if my previous experience in Insa-dong was any indication. The only question is... legality. Not that that should concern me overly; as my friend Tom says, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission." Where'd he steal that line from?

3. Make functionality part of product appeal; people who see a piece of paper with art on it won't know what to do with it. Show, for example, a complete scroll to give people an idea of what they can do with the artwork.

Great idea, but impossible to put into reality when you're a poor bloke like yours truly. If I had a thousand bucks to play with right now, I'd be making business cards, crafting symbol-explanation cards (to explain all the symbols I've incorporated into the Dalma-daesa art, for example), buying better equipment to display my wares, making a respectable sign (i.e., a kind of shingle to show BigHo is in da house), and other things as well. I'd still like to go with the tee shirt idea; the Maximum Leader offers mugs and tees through, and I might take that route as well.

4. Sell cheaper. A lot cheaper.

Yeah, I may have to, and that'll also mean reducing prices over at Chewiest Tumors. More benefits for you, the American consumer. In fact, while I'm home for two months, I might just offer a pre-Christmas special, assuming I can find local scroll-makers in Northern Virginia.

5. Stick to cute.

This is the kind of advice I can't stand, but unfortunately it reflects the mediocre, watered-down, wussified reality in which most of us proles eke out our lame existences. A freaky pic of a screaming mouth surrounded by fingers isn't going to please a conformist crowd raised on Hello Kitty and the equally repulsive Hamster Party (a logo I saw on a notebook... or is it a new Korean political party? and what do they advocate? stuffing themselves en masse up Richard Gere's ass?).

The problem for anyone who wants to do art almost always comes down to this question of how art and the market interact, and the extent to which one should be paying attention to the market in making one's art. I'm not a "pure" artist by any means; I won't be cloistered in a barn for days on end, obsessively ruining canvas after canvas in an attempt to find the perfect random paint spatter. I do care whether people are receptive to what I do, but at the same time I have no desire to widen my appeal simply to widen my appeal. In my case, this isn't a particularly earth-shattering dilemma; I've only just begun doing this kind of art (i.e., calligraphy and brush art), so if it turns out I have to leave it aside for more important things, it won't be a big tragedy.

Anyway, "stick to cute" is probably Jang Woong's reference not only to my bizarre mouth-finger deity, but also to my brush art of the skeletal Buddha doing zazen under a tree during his go haeng sang, the six-year period of austerity. In a market full of young women looking for cute hats and cheap jewelry, skeletal Buddhas don't sell.

Charlie (KimcheeGI) came by again and picked up his New and Improved Dalma-daesa for his friend. He also lent me a treasure: The Great North Korean Famine by Andrew Natsios, to which I will be devoting my future evenings, and from which I'll very likely be quoting. Expect me to blog a lot of new insights based on this book... material that will make already-in-the-know people yawn, but the rest of us sit up and take notice. What's important about this book is that it deals in some detail with the international humanitarian aid mechanisms. I look forward to learning more about how they work. Or don't work, as the case may be in NK.

I have only one weekend left in which to make sales, but it may be that going to the Huimang Shijang is barking up the wrong tree. So I'm debating whether I should be spending my final weekend in Korea on a futile pursuit. More on this as I cogitate.

TACITUS NOTE: There have been over 40 comments since my "inflammatory" Muslim statement. Not a single one is a direct response to what I wrote. I obviously provoked a huge yawn. Heh.

FORGOT TO MENTION: I was photographed by five different people today, including a Japanese lady who said she was taking pics for a magazine. Also, a group of pimply college students conducted an interview with me in Korean-- or rather, in broken Korean. It was videotaped, God help us, and the students came back a couple hours later to get an update on how much I'd sold (cough). So this is my big chance to look like an ass on TV... all I can hope is that they edit me out of whatever broadcast/show/etc. they're making. You don't want to see the Hominid on TV.

an NK "concession"?

Here's the article.

SEOUL, South Korea -- In its first concession after months of hostility, North Korea signaled yesterday that it would consider President Bush's offer of written security assurances in return for the dismantling of its nuclear program.

The conciliatory statement, first reported by the North Korean news agency, marked an abrupt about-face for North Korea, which days earlier had ridiculed Bush's offer as "laughable" and "not worth considering."

My initial reaction: more shit.

There was speculation in Seoul that the change of heart was a result of pressure from China, which brokered six-party talks in August and has been trying to coax the North Koreans back to the table for another round of negotiations. The Chinese parliamentary leader, Wu Banggao, is scheduled to arrive in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Tuesday for a three-day trip during which the restarting of the talks are expected to be high on the agenda.

Chinese pressure? It's welcome, if it's happening. Anticipatory Retaliation posts a polite reminder that China has three divisions stationed along the NK border.

North Korea's move follows an even bigger concession by Bush, who said that the administration would consider giving North Korea written security assurances that the United States will not attack if the North dismantles its nuclear program.

But how meaningful is Bush's concession as long as it's tied to verification?

Although the North Korean statement was terse and vaguely written, it marked a rare moment of civility after months of vituperation toward the United States, and it was roundly cheered in diplomatic quarters.

Do you ever get the feeling that diplomats are occasionally too close to the issues to see them clearly? I don't see what there is to cheer.

U.S. allies in the region -- particularly South Korea -- think that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is using the threats out of fear that he could become the target of a pre-emptive war, such as the one in Iraq this year. They also say the United States must offer security guarantees if the North Koreans are to disarm.

Whatever guarantees we offer need to be done with our fingers crossed.

What does "guarantee" mean, in this case? A peace treaty, effectively speaking? A formal declaration of the end of hostilities? I'm not sure I get the particulars.

turning yourself into human ganja, mon

Before South Koreans complain about how compliance with the US request for troops will impact the economy, it might be advisable for them to look in the mirror. Korean labor routinely shoots itself in the foot, and labor activists go to stupid extremes to make their point. Recent example: when stabbing yourself in the chest at Cancun simply isn't enough, you can always imitate the Vietnamese Buddhist monks who set themselves ablaze in protest of injustice. The only problem is that, while most people don't question the monks' noble intentions and the rightness of their cause, this might not be true for you.

Relevant quote from the linked article:

Labor militancy and la[bor] market inflexibility are among the key complaints of foreign investors to South Korea.

N'oubliez pas Nestlé!

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Huimang Springs Eternal

Will be back at the Hope Market tomorrow (Sunday), weather permitting, from noon to 6PM. If you're in the area and want to drop by, look for the only half-Korean selling stuff. Products will include:

1. Dalma-do (Bodhidharma brush art)
2. Ch'u-sang seo-yae (abstract calligraphy)
3. Horang-i-keu-rim (tiger brush art in cartoon style; "keu-rim" means "picture" or "drawing")
4. Man-hwa (comic art)
5. Ch'u-sang yaesul (abstract art)

About #5 above... I drew an image that freaked me out the first time I doodled it. It stuck with me, and I decided to draw it out on a larger scale. The tentative title is "Dharma," but I might change that to something more theistic, like "Creation." Right now it's just black-and-white brush art, but I'm wondering whether I shouldn't do this up as a sculpture... which means I have to learn how to sculpt.

"Dharma" looks like a screaming mouth ringed with eight human fingers. Ever looked at the underside of an octopus or squid? Have you seen how the mollusc's beak is extruded from an orifice? The mouth/finger image is somewhat reminiscent of that, as if some awful divine entity were erupting into the universe or shouting it into existence. This image occupies the center of the page, but the upper left corner contains a simple circle, perhaps representing the sun, or, metonymically, the cosmos. The image is archetypal; I really didn't have much control over what came out; it simply plopped onto paper that way. I see it as probably more theistic than nontheistic, which is why I'm thinking "Dharma" might not be the best title. But the eight fingers correspond to the eight spokes in the Buddhist Wheel of the Dharma, representing the Eightfold Path (p'al jeong do in Sino-Korean). A Hindu might see the image and recognize vac, the unuttered creative utterance which Hindus reflect in microcosm when they chant a mantra. A Jew or Christian might see a Genesis moment.


Because the image is so archetypal, I'm worried someone else may have come up with something similar. If I get the chance, I'll scan what I have and show it to you. If you find art like this somewhere else, tell me. I don't want to be reinventing the wheel.

Den Beste on NK: redux

Get your daily dose here. Some choice quotes:

[re: "first-strike nuclear saturation bombing of NK"]

First off, I could never support such a thing, ethically speaking. I wanted to get that out of the way up front because the rest of this will discuss the practical consequences of such an attack.

Ignoring the entire question of ethics, the broad and long-term consequences of such an attack would be catastrophic for us. It would drastically change our relations with the rest of the world, for the worse. It is, for instance, one of the few things I can think of which would cause even our closest friends to turn against us. America would become an international pariah, a nation afflicted with the moral equivalent of leprosy.

There's a risk that it could lead to a larger nuclear war. The Cold War is over, but the missiles we built for that war still exist, and so do the ones in Russia and China. We can't ignore the possibility that one or the other might respond against us, deliberately or through operational mistake, setting off the nuclear armageddon we all hoped we'd never see. The chance is low but the consequences would be horrific.

But I think the worst consequence is that it would eventually destroy this nation, from within. America survives and prospers because for all our arguments with one another, deep down most of us are glad to be part of it and support what this nation stands for, and are proud of it. That is the bedrock on which the foundation of our governmental system stands.

Such an attack by us could shatter that commitment. It could convert collective pride into collective shame; collective support into collective opposition, not just to the administration which ordered the attack but to the system itself, and to the nation itself.

Before dismissing SDB as alarmist, please gaze long upon the phrase he uses: "The chance is LOW."

Elsewhere, SDB writes:

If we were to preemptively launch a saturation nuclear strike on NK without provocation, I think most Americans would see it as a terrible thing, a collective sin perhaps even worse than the Holocaust. But its effect on us would be greater than the effect of the Holocaust on Germans; we (most of us) would see it not as an anomalous event but as a demonstration that our system was horribly wrong, and that our belief in it was wrong, and our commitment to it was wrong, and that we collectively were responsible.

There's no close correlation between the facts of an event and the emotional impact it has on those involved. Emotional impact is more complex than that. Some people can be deeply traumatized by relatively mild things; others seem able to go through far worse with only minor effects. Any argument based on a rational comparison of the events of the Holocaust versus a hypothetical American saturation nuclear strike of NK, which tried to rationally argue that the Holocaust was worse, misses the entire point that this is not ultimately about facts, and that feelings aren't rationally derived from facts.

Then again, the concluding paragraph does sound rather alarmist:

So if we were to launch a preemptive saturation nuclear strike on NK without any significant provocation, then it would ultimately lead to the destruction of the United States of America as a nation, and as an idea, and as an ideal. I can think of nothing which would be worth such a high price.

I need to chew this essay over. It warrants some comment, and I'm not sure where I stand in relation to it quite yet.

throwing water into the boiling oil of Islamic debate

Bird Dog, a writer on the Tacitus site, posts the following:


Elaine Sciolino of the NYT writes about the high incidence of gang rape in France, referring to it as a ‘plague’, while completely dancing around the fact that most of the sexual predators are unassimilated Muslims, and so are most the rape victims, as Parapundit recounts. Sciolino writes that “many of the boys are from closed, traditional families and are hopelessly confused or ignorant about sex.” So what type of “closed, traditional families” are there in France? Jewish? Tibetan monk? Amish? Shao Ling? Italian mafia? Nope. The dirty secret that Sciolino doesn’t want you to know is that they’re Muslim.

Not once are the predators named. Could it be because the surnames are Arabic? We don’t know. She doesn’t say. And how about the victims? You don’t know until the sixth paragraph that, “many of the Muslim girls have donned head scarves—more for protection than out of religious conviction.” Why do Muslim girls, but not girls from other faiths, have to wear these protective scarves?

Is the whitewashing unique to the New York Times, and is this ‘plague’ unique to France? No and no. ABC News is just guilty by misreporting this story of a gang rape that occurred in Australia. Tim Blair, Janet Albrechtsen and Mark Steyn set the story straight. Denmark and Norway have similar problems with unassimilated Muslims. It could be worse. If you’re a married woman visiting Dubai, not only will the police not listen to your rape charge, they’ll arrest you for adultery.

Given the latest speech by so-called moderate Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, given the ongoing suicide attacks in Israel, given the above rape stories, given the indictment of a so-called moderate Muslim, I have several questions. Who are the real Muslim moderates, and why won’t they step up, expose and denounce this barbarity? Why can’t Muslim leaders reform and modernize their faith? Why do most of the conflicts in the world today involve Islamic radicals? And I haven’t even talked about the cancer that is Wahhabism.

Identifying and confronting these issues with the truth are the first steps toward solving the problem. Elaine Sciolino and the New York Times are miserable failures in that regard. They should be ashamed.

Bird Dog is being slammed by many commenters for conflating religious issues with socioeconomic ones. Some of the slamming may be legitimate if Bird Dog is somehow implying that Islam as a whole is a major factor in the French gang rapes. But Bird Dog's replies to his critics seem to indicate a more nuanced point of view.

I just posted the following comment in the resultant comments thread. It's a bit off-topic from the original Bird Dog post, but I felt it needed to be said. Will be curious what reactions I get.

Criterion for Muslim progress:

A film about Muhammad that depicts him, face and all, including at least one sex scene-- and which results in no death fatwas issued against the director, any of the cast, or any of the crew.

Show me the Muslim who would cheerfully watch such a film more than once (perhaps inviting Muslim friends), and I'll show you what I consider a moderate Muslim. Show me "moderates" who remain uptight about such depictions, and I'll show you Muslims who still have a long, long way to go before they're ready for the 21st century.

I doubt Mel Gibson will be the object of Christian death fatwas, just as Martin Scorsese wasn't. Some stupid Christian fundamentalists might want Gibson's blood, but their wish isn't supported by major modern Christian institutions. That's progress.

Yes, I realize this has little to do with the thread. Apologies.

Something a little more on-topic: I support the "confluence of factors" argument made higher up in the thread, and the other writer who affirmed that the NYT's omission of race and religion was glaring.

The deliberate glossing over of possible factors in a gang rape case is a refusal to view that case in its specificity. That specificity includes the religious backgrounds of the people involved in the gang rapes, and while it doesn't translate into a larger indictment of a given religion, one cannot make a simplistic pronouncement such as, "Religion has nothing to do with this." This is what some people in this thread seem to be arguing, or at least implying.


Let the games begin!

Friday, October 24, 2003

final glop of snot for the evening

Even the drop of water is enlightened.
--Zen master (and abbot of Hanguk-sa in Germantown, MD) Shin Go-seong, during one of his more lucid dharma talks.

I could go on at length about what this means, and what meaning I derive from it (esp. re: how Master Shin is treating the issue of enlightenment here), but I'll just let you mentally tongue the sentence and reach your own conclusions.

Just keep in mind that "conclusions" should always be followed either by ellipses (...) or a question mark (?).


space storm heading our way

Via Drudge: this link to an article about "the perfect space storm" caused by "a large cluster of sunspots," heading our way-- possibly the worst since 1859.

So if we lose contact for a bit, don't be surprised.

a Hominidal peek at Rumsfeld's memo

The leaked memo.

Everyone's talking about it. I just spent about two hours reading comments, and comments about the comments (e.g., Sensing on Lileks). Fuck other people's commentary and let's just reprint the thing right here at the Hairy Chasms, with MY uneducated commentary. Ready?

October 16, 2003

TO: Gen. Dick Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Pete Pace, Doug Feith
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere - one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

A lot of people are going bonkers over Rumsfeld's supposedly Admin-critical tone. But these are precisely the questions a man in his position is supposed to be asking, and his feeling that national defense needs revamping hasn't been hidden. He is, every step of the way, fighting a great deal of bureaucratic inertia, as can be expected.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be: We are having mixed results with Al Qaeda, although we have put considerable pressure on them - nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

The "mixed results" phrase in particular has resulted in a rather poisonous meme, but to me it seems to be an honest assessment. In and of itself, it implies nothing further than the observable truth in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Should Rumsfeld have taken a North Korean propagandist tack and written a memo that said:

Glorious American fighters for democracy have boldly eradicated every last remnant of the evil al-Qaeda group, and are at this moment butchering the families of these evil men, creating a sea of blood that stretches across the world of Islam! ALL PRAISE TO OUR LEADER GEORGE BUSH! Please email me your personal praises of Leader Bush in prose or poetry form by Monday.


I think not.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis. USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban - Omar, Hekmatyar, etc. With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started. Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the U.S.? Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror? Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental?

My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

This, again, is no secret. Rumsfeld has long been critical of the way things are run. I don't see why this memo is creating all this furor. Maybe I'm overestimating the excitability of certain people.

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us? Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?

"Metrics"-- yes, if you're trying to measure progress, it makes sense to ask for standards by which to measure that progress. Rumsfeld even suggests criteria on which to build such standards.

The U.S. is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions. Do we need a new organization? How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools? Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

And if you were in Rummy's position, wouldn't you be asking and re-asking these questions as relentlessly and annoyingly as possible?

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog. Does CIA need a new finding? Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course? What else should we be considering?

The optimism of the first sentence of this quote seems to have been largely ignored in all the uproar.

Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday. Thanks.

The pisser, of course, is that the enemy gets a little more insight into the breadth and depth of our current thinking on terrorism. If this project is taken seriously, the implications of DoD reconfiguration obviously span more than a single presidential tenure. Rumsfeld has always gotten my vote because he advocates flexibility plus rapid deployment and seems, if this memo is any indication, capable of apprehending and dealing with current realities, instead of shrinking from them or papering over them. And it's not much of a pisser-- so much of this memo, in one form or another, has been public knowledge that I fail to see what deep impact the memo can have.

Publishing the answers to Rumsfeld's questions, however...

Conclusion: much ado about what we already know.

Den Beste speaks

Den Beste on North Korea and uncomfortable solutions:

I think Bush and Hu made a deal. I think they've agreed on a compromise, where the US would make concessions on some sort of security agreement as well as resuming aid, while China would do whatever was needed to make NK accept it. That would involve a combination of private arm-twisting and public assurances and support. I think that Bush has had both the SK's and Japanese on board for such a deal for a long time, and I think the Russians have little to gain by trying to screw it up. It was mostly a matter of working China around to the idea that it was going to have to be less subtle with NK.

If that's what emerges, it's probably the best we could reasonably hope for. It's a fucking long way from ideal. It would condemn the people of NK to continue to live in hell and place us in the moral position of actively working to keep them there. The only thing to recommend it is that all the other possibilities would either cause or seriously risk even worse outcomes.

What do you think? I hope Den Beste's wrong about Bush and Hu and compromise.

the soporific presence of the Hominid et le parcours coréen

Damn. Gone for a day and everyone gets hyperactive.

Some metablogging for you:

Visit Kevin at IA for his appreciation of Fareed Zakaria.

And Kevin reminds us of the comforts and sights of home.

The Marmot is all over the place.

1. Robert points to a Flying Yangban article indicating that Noh needs to triangulate. This is something I've indirectly argued whenever I unfavorably compare Noh's triangulation skills to Clinton's. I can't help feeling Noh is feckless and pitiable. He's an awful leader who evokes in me a strong desire to kick him repeatedly. And he's NK bitchest bitch.

2. Here's a reminder that not all Koreans hate us.

3. And lastly, a huge, thorough fisking of a Hankyoreh article. Some Marmotic meatiness:

Firstly, if it's true that investors will flee South Korea should it send troops to Iraq (complete horseshit, BTW), wait until you see how fast they run when it's the 8th Army getting sent to Iraq instead. Ditto goes for the risk rating. Besides, no matter how hard I try, I can't think of a single possible scenario in which seeing Iraq go to hell results in tangible economic benefits to Korea. And if there's an argument that pisses me off most, it's the one that goes "Oh no, if we send combat troops, we'll become a target of terrorists!" Unfortunately, it's one of the most commonly heard. Look, the US spent nearly fifty years making its own cities targets for Soviet missiles in order to guarantee the security of Western Europe and the Pacific Rim. Since the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953, the US has placed its own men and women at risk along the DMZ in order to ensure the security of South Korea. Now, because of its mutual security pact with the ROK, American cities may very well become the targets of North Korean nuclear warheads. I'm fairly sure that the Korean government would take a very dim view of things should the Americans one day decide that, well, although they'd like to help South Korea ward off an invasion from the North, they simply do not want to put LA or Seatle at risk. Afraid of becoming a "target for terrorists?" Cry me a fuckin' river. Iraq aside, any assistance that the South Korean government decides to provide us in the "War on Terror" is going to make it a target, and if that's a cost the ROK government is unwilling to pay, then it can no longer be called an ally in that war. And if I've said it once, I'll say it a thousand times - if South Korea shows no interest in American security concerns - and such a lack of interest is implied in Kim's piece - then stick a fork in the US-ROK alliance, because it is wholly and truly done.

The Vulture stares Koreaward and offers some thoughts.

1. A recent bus accident kills 18 hikers. Choice quote:

If the pattern holds, expect to hear that it wasn't entirely an accident... that there was some negligence involved, perhaps by the driver or a mechanic. Then, you'll see editorials lamenting how Koreans are too palli-palli and that they show no concern for the safety of themselves or others. Commentators will call for new safety regulations and there will be total agreement that Koreans need to be more aware of safety issues. And then... nothing. The whole matter will evaporate into the ether... gone and forgotten.

2. A post on "the hidden gulag" and a statement of opposition to any agreements with NK. I'm completely and absolutely with Brian on this. The piece of filth leading NK into the gutter doesn't deserve a damn thing from us or anyone else.

3. Yonsei memories and the segregation of international students.

4. The problem with "uri" ("us, our, we"; often romanized "woori," but pronounced "oo-ree" with a Spanish "r," not "yu-ri" or "wu-ri") as a trendy adjective.

Seeing Eye Blog presents: The Stick of Justice makes an appearance, and it's not Bill Clinton's dick.

Great survey over at Infidel World re: Korean education, bribes and hojuje, and the eternal question of illegal foreign workers (cough).

Choice Infidel quote:

I'm no longer apologetic for my parasitic position in this dysfunctional learning circus.

This is classic. I'm tempted to make this into a bumper sticker.

Stavros the Wonderchicken discovers the digicam.

The Pooper poops on politicians who vote themselves pay raises. Yeah; I think that stuff should be determined by national referendum: the politicians should be paid what the American people as a whole think they deserve.

K to K gives one of his rare but precious reports.

Drambuie Man is... unavailable at the moment. I tried the link and got a "page cannot be displayed." Wut up wid dat?

And that about rounds up the Koreabloggers.