Monday, April 26, 2004

Monday Koreafarts: the blog that blogged itself

CORRECTION, 4/29: The captioned Kim Jong Il photo I attributed to Allahpundit is actually here, at Gweilo Diaries. Remind me to fact-check myself from now on.

Good thing I've got plenty of material from other sources today.

Jeff in Pusan sends me a gorgeous picture of one of South Korea's indigenous flowers, the ramyeon-ggot, or "ramen flower."

taste the rainbow

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Party Pooper has moved off Blog Shitty. Here's where you can find him now, living to poop another day.

Monday Koreafarts is normally about things Korean, but today we're stretching that a bit to include a short essay about the John Kerry flap-- the one over his service record. This essay was written at my request by the illustrious KimcheeGI of Budae Chigae. Some background: Charlie'd invited me on base for lunch on Sunday, and as we were talking over blogging and the blogosphere I mentioned that I didn't see what the big deal was about Kerry's service record. Charlie, who's unfailingly polite, had an "I beg to differ" expression on his face, and he set about explaining the contrary point of view. I asked him to lay it out in essay form because he convinced me that the point was important enough to bear repeating, especially to us civilians who might not understand how people in the military (most of them, anyway) think about such matters. Read and be enlightened.

I've been asked by the Big Hominid to give my opinion on the service record issue. I've been associated with the military all my life (I'm a Navy Brat) and having joined when I was 20, continued my service in the Army for 15 years now, both in an Active duty and reserve capacity, I'd like to say upfront this is my opinion and mine alone unless otherwise cited.

There is an underlying warrant with the service record issue and the military and veterans. Military professionals hate a charlatan. They abhor them, and will "out a PX-Ranger (person who buys their medals or ribbons in the post exchange) in a heartbeat," to use the lingo. Two inter-related examples come to mind. Admiral Boorda was considered by many to be the "Sailor's Sailor." He was a staunch advocate for the junior officers, enlisted, and women in the military when the drawdown of the early '90s began. He also falsified his wartime record by claiming that he received a Navy Commendation Medal for Valor by attaching the "V" device to the ribbon on his decorations, or "fruit salad," as it's called. Once found out he committed suicide due to the shame he'd have to face in front of the Navy and especially the Navy Aviation community. A Navy vet sums it up better than I can here:

Having served my country in uniform for the past 22 years, I can unequivocally state that to be displayed in front of my colleagues and shipmates as a fraud, or even worse, a "pretend hero," would be almost more than I could bear. Not to mention the humiliation of my family. I could never again face my father, or my grandfather, who both had to fight those nasty Germans (albeit 25 years apart), and were rewarded with a just a few paltry campaign ribbons for their years of sacrifice and the blood they shed.

The other example is the person who found out about the story, David Hackworth. He was a colorful character in the Army and now also claims to be an advocate for the soldier and professional warrior. He is also the highest decorated living combat vet, a veteran of post-World War II Communist insurgencies in Macedonia, the Korean War, and Vietnam. His personal career reads like a combat novel. After exposing the Boorda scandal, and-- to some-- hounding the man to suicide, he had his own ordeal due to a few awards and the highly coveted "Ranger Tab" that folks like PFC Pat Tillman, and many others, epitomize as the unit's motto states: "Rangers Lead the Way." Hackworth's rebuttal is here. He says an Army personnel record review clears him of any mis-doings.

The world is full of people who want to be something they aren't or want to inflate what they actually did. But there's a line between Uncle Charlie's maybe-embellished Gulf War I and Bosnia stories over a few beers at the family reunion, and defiling the memories and contributions of true heroes, many who go unrecognized, by mis-using a service record for career advancement, or worse, a campaign for public office.

I was dying to blog about the train crash in North Korea, but the Marmot's been all over this one. Start with this post and work your way upward.

Kevin at IA manages to top Allahpundit's Photoshopped captioning of Kim's meeting with China's Hu (I can't seem to find Allah's original anymore... anyone got a link? Maybe he realized he'd been beaten at his own game).

The Infidel digs around the sludge inside Kim Jong Il's skull.

KimcheeGI posts on the terrorism threat South Korea received at its embassy in Thailand-- maybe it's not a real threat.

The Yangban posts on what can happen in the confusing aftermath of something like the NK train disaster: photos can get mixed up.

Owen expresses amusement at NK's angry reaction to America's planned pullback from the JSA and DMZ.

Andi posts on "The Passion" and her kido, with which she is almost halfway done. She's also moving to a new apartment this coming weekend.

The Pythi Master offers a hilarious rat episode. Not recommended if you think rats shouldn't be killed in a creative manner. Episode II is pending.

Joel in Gunsan has some great temple pics up. Scroll upward and you'll see he's also written on "The Passion," which has come to his town.

While I was shopping for a lightbulb in Chongno on Sunday (my bathroom's lightbulb gave up the ghost earlier in the week), I saw a Korean dude wearing a white shirt that said:


I'll let you think about that one. Maybe they should make a shirt that says Ceci n'est pas une chemise.

UPDATE: Check out Brian's and Kevin's posts (in that order, please) on the irony of the South Korean response to NK's current disaster.


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