Monday, March 08, 2004

le parcours coréen

JOB UPDATE: No yang without yin. This morning I received a call from my agency contact telling me that the schedule isn't Monday through Friday but Monday through Thursday. However, the agency head is looking for English tutoring lessons, so this would give me another private class to go along with my already-in-place Friday evening class. Folks, you just have to roll with it. Here in Korea, schedules are subject to change without notice; items in your plan book may have to be scratched out, but other items might well have to be pencilled in. Because I have experience living in both Korea and Switzerland, I can confirm that Koreans and Swiss folks have a lot in common as fellow montagnards, but when it comes to their respective appreciations of the space-time continuum, well... the Koreans have, shall we say, a more fluid conception of space and time. This has its merits and demerits; you just have to be adaptable to the changing terrain, like a skier on a slope full of moguls.

[Note to concerned friends: TAKE NO ACTION, PLEASE. As with the previous job-related blog, this is merely me airing out thoughts-- not a frothing rant, and definitely not a call for mini-jihad. The dominant emotion here isn't anger-- just amusement and some therapeutic cynicism, as with last time. Because this job is going to be a large part of my existence as of March 24, I will be blogging about it regularly. I need to be free to blog about it without worrying about the adverse consequences of well-intentioned "corrective measures." Muchas gracias for your concern and friendship.]

Let's go through my Koreablogroll from the bottom up this time, shall we? Lots going on, as always.

One upshot of the recent 5th International Conference on NK Human Rights and Refugees in Poland was this joint statement, found at the Free North Korea! blog. Chris also wants to hear your opinion about whether Kerry would be tougher than Bush on NK, so leave comments. Chris's own stance seems to be that the hype against Kerry is unfair. I disagree. I don't think Kerry would have had the balls to make NK this nervous to begin with. NK now sweats because it's on a short list called the Axis of Evil-- a truly stupid label, but rhetorically useful, and one that a person like Kerry would be horrified to apply.

I'll grant that Bush's "actions" regarding NK haven't really been all that proactive (and as Kevin at IA recently showed, this administration isn't above coddling NK, either), but that inactivity in itself is a good thing: it's a hell of a lot better than extracting empty promises like the 1994 Agreed Framework, which allowed people to feel good about themselves without actually doing shit for either the NK people or our side. Who are the big losers at every "deal"? We are.

So I'm sorry, Chris-- love your blog, but I think you're dead wrong. Kerry's NK policy will be a massive limp dick, impressively hung but unable to fuck shit up. It'll just dangle there, flaccid, stinky, and veinless, with no more fuck-value than the meat from a can of Spam. The end result of Kerry's policies will be a slew of benefits for NK and nothing for us. John Kerry probably wouldn't allow a loudmouth critic like John Bolton to say, in public, that North Korea is a "hellhole." Kerry would be too worried about NK accusations that he's a "scumsucker." Come live here in SK a while and you'll see why so many of us expats, liberal, conservative, and otherwise, feel this way.

To us, the routinely Spam-fucked, I say: stop dealing with NK at all. Reduce the issue to its security elements and leave humanitarian responsibilities entirely in the hands of the people who claim brotherhood with the North: the South Koreans. Hold NK hostage with a once-and-forever pronouncement: a single NK warhead, a single load of WMDs, found anywhere outside NK will be cause for all-out war. The same policy applies should an American city be hit by a WMD attack, nuclear or otherwise. Then let's sit back and worry about all the other domestic and international problems we need to address.

The Party Pooper follows up his love letter to the Triply chocolate candy with a hilarious piece of "fan fiction" based, it seems, on Dungeons and Dragons and the Baldur's Gate 2 computer game. You might not get all the inside jokes if you never played D&D, but you'll nevertheless thrill to some of the pungent imagery of the Pooper's piece: "meat puppets," a Shocking Grasp spell applied to the balls, and then there's the standard "hobbit bedroom and bathroom invasion procedure," which deserves quoting here:

I do the standard "Hobbit Bedroom and Bathroom Invasion Procedure," which you should know very well if you've ever been burglarized by a halfling. Short-sheet the bed, shit in the slippers, pee in the shampoo bottle and masturbate into one of his clean socks and/or gloves. I’m not sure why we [hobbits] do this, and only this. It's just an ancient tradition that borders on the sacred for us.

The stuff Tolkien never told you...

It snowed rather heavily just before the previous weekend-- the first time in 100 years that Korea has had such weather at this time of year, from what I've heard. Thousands of cars were stuck on the road... and Polymath was in one of them.

At Overboard, we've got bath houses and the movie "T'aegeukgi." Maybe a better way to market this post is "NAKED WHITE CHICKS AND GUNS." G. Gordon Liddy would approve. Andi also has a short post on gay marriage in Korea. And she sports a tattoo... somewhere. Ahem.

Rathbone Press does its own riff on education in Korea: surprise, surprise, it appears that South Koreans don't acquire a love of learning. I think this is largely true, though I've been fortunate enough to meet Koreans who break the stereotype. The RP also registers annoyance at congratulatory Korean articles touting Korean achievements in other countries, the central problem summed up thus:

The final reason articles like those mentioned above annoy me is that the Korean media likes to bash the US and Japan, yet when a Korean does well in these countries it is viewed as a great triumph. If a Korean succeeds in the US or Japan, that is seen as real success. My question is "why"? If the US and Japan are so bad, why give so much attention to Koreans who succeed there?

Two words: subjugation mentality. One part of you wants to resent The Man. One part of you wants to be his friend. South Korea's been through hell, it's true, but it's not going through hell right now compared to the past, and the young folks seem to have forgotten most of that misery, anyway-- plumping up like Americans, listening to American-style rap, gorging themselves on fast food, skating by on the sweat of the previous generation. My older Korean relatives also shake their heads at this. For Korea to move ahead, it has to stop living the lie that it is any longer a helpless victim. A strong economy, a strong place in the field of technology, and a more-than-strong-enough military all give the lie to the notion that this is some third-world backwater. Sure, parts of Korea are still primitive by Seoul standards, but hell, parts of America are rather rusticated, too. SO?

Finally, RP is all over the recent incident in Iraq in which Korean journalists were "manhandled" by American troops during a security procedure. Yes, it's true that a broom handle up the ass isn't the best way to look for a nuclear warhead, but conditions in Iraq are delicate, so I think our troops can be forgiven their thoroughness.

[BTW, that was a JOKE. Please read the linked posts to learn the actual situation.]

The Yangban has the goods on the journalist/troops story, predicting that the Korean media will overreact. A subsequent post informs us that, yes, as predicted, people here are overreacting.

Budae Chigae covers the wrangling going on over some Korean real estate. But what's more important is that the KimcheeGI reveals what the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have really encountered on the Red Planet's surface.

The Infidel poo-poos South Korean pseudo-capitalism. On a non-Korea-related note, the Infidel also mentions a major blind spot in our current foreign policy. This is a valid concern: if we're going to argue that the countries surrounding North Korea need to be more mindful of what's going on in their back yard, then the same applies to us and our own back yard.

Over at Oranckay (which, if you can't figure it out from my sidebar, means "barbarian" according to Mr. Schroepfer): a note about the death threats now being received by Hwang Jang Yop, the octogenarian NK defector (and former NK ideologue) whom South Koreans resent for telling the truth about what a shithole NK is. Also not to be missed: this bizarre Noh Mu Hyon impeachment flap, which Mr. Schroepfer claims to be "too !@#%(% angry" to write about coherently right now.

Aside: I have no goddamn clue about the minutiae of Korean politics. As things stand, I'm a political ignoramus when it comes to American politics, despite our relatively easy-to-understand two-party polity. In Korea, the problem is compounded by the Protestant Impulse gone mad: mitotic splits, Frankensteinian fusions, and John-Kerryish realignments. Along with that, you've got deals and dealbreaking... and the whole sordid thing is buried under the fetid ass-dandruff of corruption. I suppose an expert on Korean politics must possess acute powers of discernment-- the same powers that allow crotch fanatics to collect and categorize dingleberries (hey, each one is unique like a snowflake!).

[BTW, the snowflake contention is empirically unprovable, goddammit. The things melt too fast, and you'd have to collect all the snowflakes from the beginning of time and run them through a machine to determine whether there have been any snowflake doppelgängers. Even then, there's always the chance that a future snowflake might match a past one. As Judy Tenuta, that prophetess of stochastic phenomena, knew so well: It could happen!]

Schroepfer also notes that some Koreans-- who claim to work on behalf of human rights-- aren't happy with our North Korean Freedom Act of 2003. Read the usinkorea comment to that post as well. Yep.

Mike Ferrin's granddad passed away recently. Please leave him your condolences, especially if you are, as I am, a devoted reader of his excellent blog.

Via the Marmot: you all know by now that North Korea's government, among other unsavory governments, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of John Kerry in the White House: Oh, goody! Another dupe! And he won't ever embarrass us in public like that Bush sonofabitch and his Bolton-dog!

And quite the flame war is being waged in the comments thread of this post about the plight of female NK refugees. You might want to just stick to the post. The flame war itself doesn't remain interesting for long.

And in just a week's time, on March 15, South Korea will yet again abstain from voting against its North Korean brother at the UN Commission on Human Rights Convention in Geneva. That's moral backbone for you.

On that lovely note, I bid you... fart well. Fart long. Fart accurately.


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