Monday, October 31, 2005

Korean MP3 Players Get Cheaper After Apple Shock

The prices of Korean-made MP3 players have come down after the body-blow dealt them by Apple’s release of its new cheaper iPod Nano last month.

Consumer information website Danawa’s survey of online shopping malls published Tuesday shows the price of a NAND Flash memory players slipped by up to one-third. Cowon System’s iAUDIO G3 (2GB), fell 30 percent to W209,000 (about US$209) early this month. Reigncom’s iRiver T20 (1GB) dropped 10 percent from W240,000 in August to W215,000. Samsung Electronics’ YP-F1ZW (1GB) also went down 20 percent from W300,000 in April to W203,000.

The price of hard-disk type MP3 players is also falling. Reigncom’s H10 (6GB) is now 20 percent cheaper than on its release in July. Samsung Electronics’ YH-820MW (4GB) also lost 25 percent of its release price in March. Manufacturers deny they officially slashed prices. A Danawa spokesman said the company merely surveyed retail prices, but it was possible manufacturers had nothing to do with the reductions.

Industry insiders say distributors lowered prices as the iPod Nano sold for 30 percent less than rival products.


If you remember a while back I posted an article about Ipods In Korea

You can see what a manafacture said then and what they have done now.

I was currious so I took my IPOD to my school and showed my students, The majority loved the IPOD, some thought it was too big but when I showed them 20gb, they could imagine holding all of their favorite songs on their own IPOD. When I told them the price it was cheaper than their 512 mb ones.

Just thought I would update the story and show you another lie..

After Feeding the 5,000, Do We Now Clothe Them?
North Korea at a meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee on Friday asked the South to provide it with raw materials for 60 million pairs of shoes, 2 million formal suits (30,000 tons) and 200 million bars of soap (20,000 tons). That is enough to wash and dress the North’s entire population of 23 million. In return, Pyongyang proposes to let us mine its underground resources and take minerals -- not much of a deal, since Seoul has to supply all the mining and transport equipment.
So it really is a demand for aid, and a preposterous and potentially bottomless one. The rice and fertilizer the South supplied this year alone are worth over W1.4 trillion (US$1.4 billion), and like the rice, once you start giving the clothes and shoes, you have to keep giving them year after year. Having handed the responsibility of feeding its people to the South, North Korea now also wants us to clothe them, and if anything is to come of the nuclear arms negotiations, we have to supply their electricity. Maybe next time they will ask us to build their houses.

Given the plight of the North Koreans, we have no choice but to increase our aid. But this cycle of outrageous demands from Pyongyang and meek acquiescence from Seoul has to stop. The North presented the list of additional demands on the day the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Office opened in the border city of Kaesong. The office is there to improve the efficiency of inter-Korean economic cooperation, not as a letterbox where the North can leave demands for handouts.

By inter-Korean economic cooperation, meanwhile, we mean improved economic ties predicated on the North learning the rudiments of the market economy, with an element of economic aid thrown in. But if Pyongyang thinks it can get whatever it wants by leaning on Seoul, it would rip out the carpet from under the feet of the private sector.
The government is oddly reluctant to make details of the latest North Korean request public, citing “pending negotiations.” But this matter is too big for the government to try and sit out. It must disclose every detail of the negotiation so that a comprehensive debate can take place here at home on the scale, methods and effect of more aid to the North.


And they wonder why North Korea keeps asking for more and more....

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm Rick James, bitch. Enjoy yourself. Its A Celebration!

There are days in this crazy thing we call life that are worth forgetting and there are days that you will always want to remember. Friday October 14, 2005 was one of those days. It was a day that 2 of my friends got married.

I have known both of these 2 since Feburary 2005, when I was teaching at Yong-In city. Ben is in the US Army and Carrie is a teacher here in Korea, she is from Canada and Ben is from Florida, USA. (B and C THIS IS MY VERSION, One day I do look forward to telling your children, like the USA tv show on CBS, On how your Dad met your Mother)

This whole story started on my 39th birthday party. Me and Ben went to the Hilton in Seoul to meet Carrie and her friends their because it was "Ladies Night" and they could drink for free. We were trying to set up Ben with another female. It was about half way through and I was thinking, WTF, Why cant it be Ben and Carrie together? She had a BF at the time,(to be honest I don't like the guy but Im nice to him, just something about him always rubbed me the wrong way).

Ben and Carrie had always taled and always seemed to get along so I was hoping that somehow these 2 could connect. Fate then step in.

One night I saw that she was really upset (this is the part I will tell your kids in detail) she made a coment about Ben, "He just really inmature at times" I replied to her, "WHAT THE ONE THING THAT MAKES BOYS TURN INTO MEN AND BE MATURE, ITS THE LOVE OF A STRONG WOMAN, You could be that for him and he will grow up."

I later talked to Ben and said, So what she is 9 years older than you, what if this is the girl and you never took the chance? They soon got together. I told my co-worker at the time, "If Ben does not blow this, He has met his wife"

Me and a friend of his, Hoff, made a bet on when they would get engaged, I picked Dec 24 and he picked 1 Jan.(yes I know its wrong to bet but their was a reason that one day I will tell their children) So when the announcement came in sept that they were getting married. The date was selected for 14 October 2005.

I told Ben that I would get him a bottle of Booze for the wedding, Carrie said that she wanted a bottle, so stupid me said yes! She asked for a bottle of Don Perrion Champagne. Now realize I am a simple boy from Texas, Champagne JUST HAS NEVER BEN IN MY VOCABULARY. I went looking around for this bottle and I could not find one, finally I was in Costco, here in Daejeon, and they had a bottle for 132,000 won. I was like WTF! I made a promise and I get the bottle for her. My co worker was telling me all about the Don and how to drink it and all of that.

I did get him a bottle of Chevas Regal with him and her shot glasses.

It wasnt much of a bachelor party, by the time I got to Seoul, it was about 1030 pm and he was hammered allready. We had one drink and I left the post and checked into my hotel room. Now I had a nice party that night, it was next to a Country music place in iteawon and I stayed up till about 0130 hrs. Now for a strange but true story for that night, it was about 0015 in the moring and somebody decided to play the US national anthem, so I was singing along, at that time is when the MP's came by looking for soldiers past curfew, the look on their faces while were were singing "oh say can you see" was priceless.

I met Ben and Hoff at 0847 by Seoul Station. Carrie and her friend arrived at 0930 and we were off to get these 2 married.

To be honest it wasnt much of a ceremony, they went to an ofice by the US Embassy and filled out some paperwork, once the paperwork was sealed, the told us that they were married. Me,Carrie (differnt girl but same name) and Hoff were all suprised. (Hoff is the one in the cowboy hat, The other Carrie is next to him)

Then we went to the US Embassy, Ben and Carrie went in to get the paperwork stamped, so the rest of us just waited outside. We were talking about what was going on for the rest of the day and it sounded like it would be a fun time. 45 minutes later they emerge, he commented that it took 45 minutes to get a paper stamped.

I gave the bride a little hug and I told her(I told you so) She said how many times will you bring this up, I SAID JUST THIS TIME (and when I tell this story to your kids)

We went to have lunch at Benigans (its sad when I know the Benigans comercials and which Korean comedian stars in them) The girls wantd to do some shopping so the boys went to try and find a bar at 1400 hrs, their were none open, so we went and played pool for a few hours. We then took 2 Taxis to their honeymoon suite (their was 5 of us and I knew that the bride and groom should have the cab to themselves, I wish we could have had gooten them a nice limo ride but there own taxi was the best that we could do.

They stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Seoul, it was a awesome motel, great view. The champagne was then placed into the fridge where it chilled until needed. after that we went bar hopping for a while until 1900 when we caught 2 cabs once agin for the dinner.

I know that I am a Redneck, when we arived at the La Scala Restaurant, I was like, Oh shit, this place was huge and the served a 7 course french meal. Now I have never had this in my life so to say I was a little worried would not be an understatment. The food was good I had the Spagetti meal and I found out that I liked escargo.

What was nice was that the place played instrumental music, a piano player and then classical duet music, I really was feeling out of place their. After the dinner was done I asked ok how much was my cost. Ben said I got this, Carrie then said, No honey we got this" Ben's look on his face was like oh shit, thats right. You are right Honey we got this, I was so happy that he said that, then I was like what do you mean we have this? They both had agreed that they were going to pay for this dinner as their gift to us for being their on this special day.(now I am a grown ass man but damn I felt like crying!)

We then went to a club I think was called UNCLE 29, but we couldn't get in until 2200 hrs. So we went to another club and had one drink, it was time and then we went to the Uncle 29, guess who is their, the Brides ex-bf. I was like oh shit and It went out that he does not know about todays events. So until he left I had one eye on him and one one the party that was going on around me.

I stuck with my favorite beer the whole time their, Coors Light, and what ever shots they wanted to drink. We talked about everything and anything, other people joined us throughout the night and it was great to share the night with them (my camers went to junk at this time so none of the photos turned out) The party ended at 0230 hrs and I took a taxi and went back to my hotel room and crashed and went to bed.

I received a text message that the don was awesome. I told them that it was for them so I hope that it tasted great.

It gave me hope that day, hopefully one day I will fall in love once again.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

This is from a party that I went to on 10/21/05. It was Troys Birthday. He is a foreign teacher who lives near me in Daejeon. Troy turned 25 on Friday. He is from Australia and works at a school near where I live. He has a fiance named Alwyn. She also works with Troy at his school.

We all met up and caught a cab to Outback and Troy, Derrick and myself were talking about Derrick's 25th birthday and he had his in Korea also, I then realized in 1991 I was 25 and I celebrated mine in Waegwan South Korea. All 3 of us celebrating our 25th in Korea at all diffent times. (A WEIRD BUT TRUE STORY FROM THAT NIGHT)

Now he was telling us what was from Australia and what wasn't from Australia at Outbacks. It is an american chain that plays like it an aussie restaurant. I told our waiter that Troy was 25 and they brough him and me funny hats to wear. I look like an older version of Harry Potter. We had a great time and then we went to the Cool Bar and I retired at 0100 hrs in the morning. I Quoted Dave Chappell at the party, "Drink and be Merry. I's Rick James, Enjoy yourself Bitch, its a celebration.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

welcome to "ICE CREAM AND CITY" here in Korea. (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP)

We have a tv channel here in korea called on style and alot of people think its "the Channel" "Sex and the City" is popular here in Korea and its played alot on this channel. Baskin Robbins Korea, got this crazy idea that we should incoporate the theme into our commercials. Here in Korea I have seen the commercial with Drew Barrymore as an "Sex in the City Girl" who loves here ice cream. There is even a flavor named "Drew Barrymores best flavor" The ex past here laugh at the commercials because she wasn't even on the tv show.

When I want Ice cream I do say baskin Robbins anymore its... lets go to Ice Cream and City..

Like I have always said the truth will be stranger than any fiction that I could possibly create.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Clint's Double Take
Eastwood directs two films on the battle of Iwo Jima: one from the U.S. side, the other from the Japanese.,9171,1118382,00.html

Sometime this month in Chicago, Clint Eastwood will complete principal photography on his latest movie, Flags of Our Fathers. It's the 26th feature film he has directed since he made Play Misty for Me in 1971. And just as he has done before (The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River), he is basing it on a best-selling book. But this movie is different from all the others that he or anyone else has directed, for Flags is only half the story he wants to tell.

The book, by James Bradley and Ron Powers, recounts the ultimately tragic tale of six young U.S. Marines who happened to raise a huge American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the midst of the great battle for Iwo Jima during World War II, of how an Associated Press photographer squeezed off what he thought was a routine shot of them doing so that became an iconic image, of what happened to some of those kids (only three survived the next few days of battle) when they were hustled home to be heedlessly exploited by the U.S. government to raise civilian morale and, incidentally, sell billions of dollars' worth of war bonds. That story, rich in darkly ambiguous nuance, would have been more than enough to preoccupy Eastwood's attention for a couple of years.

But when Eastwood tried to buy the rights, he discovered that Steven Spielberg already had them, and so he moved on instead to Million Dollar Baby. Then, backstage at the 2004 Academy Awards (at which his Mystic River was a multiple nominee), Eastwood encountered Spielberg, and before the evening was out, they agreed to a Flags co-production, with Eastwood directing. Shortly thereafter, the project began to elicit an uncommon, almost obsessive, interest from its director. He has not often attempted fact-based movies, and he had never undertaken one that contained such huge combat scenes. He began to read more widely and deeply on the subject. And he began talking to both American and Japanese veterans of Iwo Jima, which remains the bloodiest engagement in Marine Corps history and the one for which the most Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded (27). As for the Japanese, only about 200 out of 22,000 defending soldiers survived. At some point in his research, Eastwood realized that he had to find a way to tell both sides of the story--"not in the Tora! Tora! Tora! way, where you cut back and forth between the two sides," he says, "but as separate films."

So, beginning next February, Eastwood will start shooting the companion movie, tentatively called Lamps Before the Wind, scheduled for simultaneous release with Flags next fall. Typically, Eastwood (who is an old friend of this writer's) is not able to articulate fully his rationale for this ambitious enterprise: "I don't know--sometimes you get a feeling about something. You have a premonition that you can get something decent out of it," he says. "You just have to trust your gut." He asked Paul Haggis, who wrote Flags, if he would like to write the Japanese version as well. The writer of Million Dollar Baby and director of Crash, Haggis was overbooked but thought an aspiring young Japanese-American screenwriter, Iris Yamashita, who had helped him research Flags, might be able to do it. She met with Eastwood, and once again his gut spoke; he gave her the job and liked her first draft so much that he bought it. It was she who insisted on giving him a few rewrites she thought her script still needed.

Taken together, the two screenplays show that the battle of Iwo Jima--and by implication, the whole war in the Pacific--was not just a clash of arms but a clash of cultures. The Japanese officer class, imbued with the quasi-religious fervor of their Bushido code, believed that surrender was dishonor, that they were all obliged to die in defense of their small island. That, of course, was not true of the attacking Americans. As Eastwood puts it, "They knew they were going into harm's way, but you can't tell an American he's absolutely fated to die. He will work hard to get the job done, but he'll also work hard to stay alive." And to protect his comrades-in-arms. As Haggis' script puts it, the Americans "may have fought for their country, but they died for their friends, for the man in front, for the man beside 'em."

Yamashita's script is much more relentlessly cruel. In essence, the Japanese officers compelled the bravery (and suicide) of their troops at gunpoint. Only the Japanese commander, Lieut. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (a mysterious historical figure who fascinates Eastwood), and a fictional conscript, Saigo, whose fate Yamashita intertwines with his commanding officer's, demonstrate anything like humanity as a Westerner might understand it. The lieutenant general, educated in part in the U.S., is respectful of its national spirit (and industrial might) and believes that a live soldier, capable of carrying on the fight, is infinitely more valuable than a dead one enjoying an honorable afterlife. Thanks to his preservationist tactics, a battle that was supposed to last five days consumed almost 40, though honor demanded his suicide in the end. Saigo, who, as Eastwood says, "wants what most human beings want" (a peaceful life with friends and family), meets an unexpected fate.

The Japanese film derives much of its strength from its claustrophobic confinement to a horrendous time and place. Haggis' work gains its power from its confident range. The screenplay starts with the Americans on the beaches and the protagonists raising the flag. It follows them on their vulgar war-bond tour (they were obliged to re-enact the flag raising on a papier-mâché Suribachi at Soldier Field in Chicago) and then traces their postwar descent into dream-tossed anonymity. You could argue that the Japanese were the lucky ones: their government and religion foreordained their fate, and they had no choice but to endure it. Chance played more capriciously with the Americans, who liked to think they were in charge of their destinies. Yet Flag's protagonists end up knowing that they were blessed by nothing more than a photo op--and knowing that the true, unacknowledged heroes were the men left behind to fight and die on Iwo Jima's black sands. The film follows three survivors: Ira Hayes (played by Adam Beach), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) and John Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), the co-author's father. To put it mildly, their lives do not continue on a heroic trajectory. At one point Bradley, forever assailed by nightmares that he never discusses, wishes that "there hadn't been a flag on the end of that pole."

The inscrutability of fate has always been a major Eastwoodian subtext. But now, as he approaches his 76th birthday, he has begun to take it personally. "There are so many people who are as good or better than me who aren't working," he says of his career, "while I still am. I can't explain that, but luck has to play a part." Here's hoping his luck holds.

2 films together about Iwo Jima, where does the line form I am so their, I am currious, how will the second film play in Korea?

Monday, October 10, 2005

All I can say is wow.....

A President Reviled Means a Country Shamed by Kim Dae-joong

Perhaps no other country has seen its elected president become the object of so much ridicule among citizens as ours. Whatever meeting you go to and whatever taxi you take, you find the president caricatured. Sometimes he is subject to indescribable slander. In the past, people brought up the subject after giving their interlocutor a thorough once-over and lowering their voice; these days it is a way of starting up a conversation. The president’s prestige is at a low ebb, and the shame is the country’s.

On the contrary, some say, the fact that the president is being abused and ridiculed is proof that we live in a free country; they say complaining about power and men of power has long been a way for the public to relieve stress. They may have a point. It is a fact that in the past people kept mum even if they wanted to abuse the head of state for fear of being arrested. But while past attacks came from political resistance to authoritarianism, the current ones reflect a sort of contempt borne out of resentment of economic hardship and distrust of government policies.
The people’s lives are getting more difficult by the day. The problem is no longer how to eat and live better, but how to eat and live. Consequently, people abuse men in power and the chief executive not out of a frustrated sense of expectation, but from their indignation that the president and government are unable to understand their suffering and disappointment. When they cannot see a future for themselves, how can they respect the president and prime minister? So they turn to abuse and ridicule.

But incompetence and lack of policies on the part of the president and the ruling forces have their part to play, and so does the gap between the way they see the world and the way their rulers do. In other words, the world the president and his associates have made baffles people and makes them uneasy.

A country where one Prof. Kang Jeong -koo of Dongguk University -- man who has hailed the “spirit of Mangyongdae” (where Kim Il-sung lies embalmed) -- threatens to sue the Republic of Korea at the UN if he is prosecuted for his remarks; a government that doesn’t pay attention to the return of South Koreans abducted to the North and prisoners of war still languishing there, even while attempting to return North Korean spies who served long prison terms here home to the North; a government that does not utter a word of complaint when a long-term prisoner is publicly praised as a "patriotic fighter”; a country whose Human Rights Commission says restrictions on students' hairstyles breach their human rights but averts its eyes from the starvation and suffering of our brethren in North Korea; a country whose unification minister slanders a majority of the people as Cold War relics; a country where huge numbers of people flock to the North to watch the "Arirang" mass calisthenics, which North Koreans have been
forced to rehearse at the end of a club -- that is the sort of state the president has got us into, and the 70 percent whose views differ from the president’s have no reason to respect him. That is why he is being ridiculed and reviled.

I could go on. A president still harping on a coalition government, apparently indifferent to people’s trepidation over taxes and unemployment; a president who dismisses calls for an economic recovery as "demagoguery"; a president who, referring to attempts to topple a statue of U.S. general Douglas MacArthur in Incheon comments, "History, bad or good, is history"; Cabinet ministers who slander citizens as "speculators" while they themselves speculate on real estate; ruling-party lawmakers who bash Seoul National University, the country's leading higher seat of learning; public broadcasting networks that do not cover live the opening of the reclaimed Cheonggye Stream in Seoul, one of the most remarkable achievements today, perhaps for fear of playing up the opposition Seoul mayor; a fearless administration that saw its national debt double in the two years since it assumed power; a society where citizens are chastised as collaborators just because they worked in public jobs during Japanese colonial rule, while
vicious stooges of Japanese imperialism who tortured patriotic citizens are let off the hook; and opposition parties who, despite such dire problems, get caught up in the nomination of candidates out of lust for future power -- In a sense, it may be a natural consequence that a desperate public resorts to ridicule and abuse.


I have no idea if this is a true story but if it is....

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet.

She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to
be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door
and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too busy at this moment.
Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most
disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged
it on the glass counter. That did it!

"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. I'm talking to my brother
from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he said without waiting for a reply to his question.

"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's
really, really sick... and I want to buy a miracle."

" I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.

" His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a
miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?" "We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm
sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.

"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how
much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind
of a miracle does your brother need?"

" I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he
needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money."

" How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago. "One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely
audibly. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some
more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents---the exact price of a
miracle for little brothers. "

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said "Take me to
where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The
operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well.

Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of
events that had led them to this place. That surgery," her Mom whispered. "was a real
miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?"

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle dollar and eleven cents .... plus the
faith of a little child..

Friday, October 07, 2005

The first picture from the new movie, "King Kong." All I can say is, "Awesome"
IMAX Signs Four Theatre Deal With Largest Exhibitor in Korea

CJ CGV to Open First Two Retrofitted IMAX(R) Theatres by End of 2005

TORONTO, April 13, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- IMAX Corporation IMAX IMX and CJ CGV Co., Ltd, the largest commercial exhibitor in Korea, today announced an agreement to install four IMAX(R) MPX(TM) theatre systems at multiplexes in Korea in the next two years. CJ CGV operates a total of 388 screens at 50 state-of-the-art multiplexes across Korea, with 233 screens at 29 sites under the CGV brand, and 155 screens at 21 sites under CJ CGV's affiliate company, Primus Cinema. CJ CGV is a subsidiary of CJ Entertainment Co., Ltd., the leading film distribution and production company in Korea, which is a significant stakeholder in DreamWorks SKG, and holds the distribution rights for Korea, China and Hong Kong for movies produced by DreamWorks. Under terms of the agreement, CJ CGV will open new and retrofitted IMAX(R) theatres at leading multiplexes in and around Seoul and Busan, the two largest cities in the country, with the first two locations scheduled to open in December 2005.

All four CJ CGV IMAX theatres will be capable of showing Hollywood event films converted into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience, as well as original 2D and IMAX(R) 3D films. The IMAX MPX theatre systems will be installed at multiplexes in the following locations: the Wangshipni area of Seoul; Incheon and Ilsan, suburbs of Seoul; and the Seomyun area of Busan, a city of 3.9 million on the southeastern coast of the country. The two IMAX theatres scheduled to open in December 2005 will be the first to exhibit IMAX DMR(R) (Digital Re-mastering) releases in Korea.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So the left blames the USA for not going to war to protect Korea, when Korea couldnt do it themselves?
They also blame the USA for a divided Korea. I just love their logic..

Good Editorial by the Chosun.

Damned If They Did, Damned If They Didn't

A ruling-party lawmaker, Kim Won-wung, last week asserted that all the nation's misfortune was planted in a secret 1905 agreement between the U.S. and Japan, the so-called Taft-Katsura Agreement, in which Washington acknowledged Japan's colonial control of Korea. "We have to protest to the U.S. against this secret agreement, which was a serious criminal act under international law, and demand an apology for it," the lawmaker demanded during a parliamentary audit of our embassy in Washington. "We must seek a redress of past wrongs in Korea-U.S. relations."
In the secret accord, signed in Tokyo in 1905, the U.S. and Japan acknowledged the latter's control of the Korean Peninsula and the former's control of the Philippines. Korea was at the time already in Japanese hands as a result of Japanese victories in wars with both Russia and China. Calling for the U.S. to be held to account for the agreement is tantamount to asserting that it should have intervened on the Korean Peninsula even if that meant risking a war with Japan. By the same token, one might contend that any colonies should demand a redress of injustices not merely from their former colonial master but from any country that acknowledged their control. That logic is not going to wash in the international community.

It is not difficult to find voices in and around the ruling camp that will portray the Taft-Katsura agreement as the source of all our ills. Some even argue that the nation's division into North and South can be traced back to the accord. A group of legislators from both the ruling and opposition parties that included Kim in July submitted a draft resolution to the National Assembly calling for a formal repeal of the Taft-Katsura Agreement and for apologies from Washington and Tokyo.

But the purveyors of this historical view also grumble about the U.S. intervention in the Korean War and want to topple a statue of U.S. general Douglas MacArthur in Incheon. It must be based on such views that Rep. Kim alone did not go along with the other lawmakers when they paid their respects at the Korean War memorial after the audit in Washington.

To blast the U.S. for failing to intervene in one instance and for intervening in another, for not seeing one attack on our sovereignty (by Japan) but seeing another (by North Korea) is tantamount to damning the U.S. if it does and damning it if it doesn’t. While anti-American acts may seem profitable gimmicks for our politicians and America-bashing is rewarded with popular applause, we should also think how such careless accusations make us look in the eyes of the international community. (sad to say like howling fools.)


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Seoul revives buried stream in a bid to turn green

By Jon HerskovitzSat Oct 1, 6:05 AM ET

As a top executive at Hyundai Construction, Lee Myung-bak helped pour the concrete that turned the South Korean capital Seoul into a massive gray city in its headlong rush to development in the 1960s and 1970s. Now Seoul's mayor, Lee has overseen the launch of a project which tore down an elevated highway in the heart of the city and on Saturday restored a stream buried underneath it for almost 50 years.

Environmental experts and urban planners say what is happening in Seoul with the restoration of the stream will provide an interesting case study to see if a city that rushed to become a major urban center without proper planning can replace concrete jungles with green spaces.

"Since I participated in the construction, I am well aware of the mistakes I made back then and I am trying to undo those mistakes and transform Seoul into a greener and more culturally rich city," Lee said in a recent interview with Reuters. The Chonggyechon stream once flowed for about 10 km (6 miles) through the center of Seoul, home to about 10 million people, from mountains behind the presidential Blue House and was central to life in the city.

Work to restore about 6 km of the stream began in July 2003 at a cost of around $350 million. The stream flows through a narrow park that celebrates the history of Seoul. There are 22 bridges across the waterway.


Kim Jin-ai, a leading urban planner, said it remains to be seen if places such as Seoul, which quickly became modern urban hubs can develop comprehensive plans that lead to greener cities. "Development in these types of cities focused on quick and effective means to create urbanization and environmental concerns were often placed on the back burner," Kim said.

"A project like Chonggyechon stream is a good start which shows the country just realized the importance of preserving the environment, but it needs to be integrated into a well-developed, long-term and comprehensive plan," she said. Critics have called the project short-sighted and say Lee is using it to boost his bid to become the country's president. According to the U.N. Environment Programme, it is imperative that major urban centers use resources efficiently because of the enormous strain they put on the environment.

"Cities demand huge amounts of energy to run their infrastructure and fuel their transport, they suck in vast quantities of water, they demand large amounts of food," said Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman. By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world's population will live in cities, up from almost half now, and just a third in 1950, according to the UNEP.

Lee thinks a good place to look for an environmentally friendly future may be in Seoul's past. He is planning a green belt around Seoul to link the city's ancient gates, palaces and parks with the Chonggyechon stream flowing through its heart.