Thursday, October 30, 2008

US & Korea Discuss North Korean Regime Collapse Planning

» by GI Korea

It appears USFK is taking what RAND Corp. scholar Dr. Bruce Bennett had to say seriously considering the current announcement that USFK wants to develop joint contingency plans with South Korea in case of a North Korean regime collapse:

The United States has proposed setting up a detailed action plan in case of the collapse of the North Korean regime under Kim Jong-il, a move Seoul once rejected out of fear that it would provoke Pyongyang.

Yonhap News reported that the proposal came at a recent meeting between the heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea and the United States, known as the Military Committee Meeting (MCM), quoting anonymous sources.

The two allies tried to come up with a similar plan several years ago, but only ended up agreeing on a conceptual plan, known as Contingency Plan 5029, as Seoul expressed concern that U.S. involvement in such an event could infringe upon its sovereignty.

“The U.S. side proposed the countries develop CONPLAN 5029 into an operational plan at the MCM,” the source was quoted as saying. The annual meeting of military chiefs was held in Washington on Oct. 16.

The U.S. proposal was then reported to the countries’ top defense officials, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, during their annual ministerial talks, known as the Security Consultative Meeting, in Washington the following day, according to the source. [Korea Times via Robert Koehler]

CONPLAN 5029 last came up back in 2006 and the then South Korean Roh Moo-hyun government did not want to do any real planning for fear of angering North Korea. The South Korean reluctance to plan for the internal collapse of North Korea, something that is more likely to happen then a second Korean War, should be looked at as ideology compromising the national security of the nation. A collapse of North Korea with no contingency plan between South Korea and the US would make the occupation planning before Operation Iraqi Freedom look like the second coming of the Marshall Plan. So both sides compromised and came up with a plan that really didn’t plan for much of anything other then securing weapons of mass destruction and the handling of refugees if the regime collapsed.

Who will provide basic services for the people of North Korea?

Stopping nuclear weapons dissemination and the exodus of refugees is extremely important, but as the U.S. military’s experience in Iraq has taught us, providing for security, the rule of law, and government services immediately after a conflict is also essential. Who will stop the inevitable looting that will begin after a regime collapse? Who will prevent North Koreans from taking revenge against regime security forces and others who had oppressed them? The Koreans rely on government food rations. If the regime collapses, who will provide food for the country’s 23 million citizens? Several infectious diseases—scarlet fever, measles, typhoid, paratyphoid, and typhus—are reportedly spreading inside North Korea now. Who will enforce quarantines and treat the sick? Who will establish law and order in a country filled with small arms and explosives? Who will stand up a government that the citizens of North Korea will accept after a collapse?

These are just a few of the questions that need answers with any operational plan being constructed to deal with a North Korean regime collapse.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

Now with a new South Korean president in place US Defense Secretary Gates is pushing again for better contingency planning if the North Korean regime should collapse:

Gates reportedly said that the U.S. is ready to supply fighting power necessary for South Korea to implement such an operational plan.

It was the first time since the Lee Myung-bak administration took office that the top U.S. military leader has stressed the need to make the plan practicable and pledged support.

Seoul apparently agrees but feels it should tread carefully for fear of upsetting North Korean and some parts of South Korean society. [Chosun Ilbo]

Considering North Korea just threatened to turn Seoul into “debris”, I don’t think you can anger them anymore then that. Also I don’t think that creating an Operational Plan in case of a North Korean collapse will cause massive street protests like the mad cow issue, but you can be sure the usual suspects will be out protesting, which is nothing new. So I think this planning will get some traction in the coming months.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates

However, something that concerns me is Secretary Gates statement saying the US will, “supply fighting power” for South Korea to implement such a plan. Does that mean Secretary Gates advocates for US troops moving into North Korea if the regime collapses?

I have long maintained that no US troops should move into North Korea if the regime collapsed, which has put my views at odds with people I respect such as John Bolton and Nicholas Eberstadt.

I have said this repeatedly, but I will say it yet again, if US forces moved into North Korea if the regime collapsed, that would be an excuse for the Chinese to move in. The Chinese want to keep the North Korean buffer state along their border and will not willingly go along and give it up if they can help it. That is why I have always believed that if the ROK Army was prepared to execute an immediate occupation of North Korea if the regime collapsed, China would then have a harder time legitimizing any invasion of North Korea with their own forces if the ROK Army is already moving in to stabilize the situation.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army stands ready to intervene in North Korea

US forces moving into North Korea would only legitimize any Chinese action into North Korea plus cause a host of other issues such as causing the North Korean population to question the legitimacy of the South Korean government. North Koreans have been brought up since the day they were born on anti-US propaganda saying the South Koreans are just puppets of the Americans and any US occupation force into North Korea would only confirm this in the minds of North Koreans. It will be imperative after any regime collapse to establish the legitimacy of the South Korean government with the people of North Korea and any US or Chinese intervention force will greatly compromise this.

Any occupation of North Korea will not be easy even with detailed planning. The 60 years of indoctrination has brainwashed the population against the outside world and left the country with a shattered economy. However, detailed planning in the event of a North Korean regime collapse will at least contain an extremely dangerous situation from turning into an international crisis and a possible stand off between the United States and China.


When I first heard that Hollywood was going to remake “Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo” (My Sassy Girl), the only thing going through my mind was, “What a complete waste of an idea. It will not translate well into English” After seeing the film, It did not translate well at all and it went straight to video in the USA, where it deserves never to be seen ever again. Welcome to the failure of Yann Samuell’s, “My Sassy Girl”

If I have to state one reason why this film ultimately fails is that the Korean culture and the USA culture are so different that when you try and literally put the Korean into the American, the audience can not and will not respond to it as the Korean will. I have had 2 Canadian friends of mine both tell me that, “Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo” is one of their all-time favorite Korean films; mainly because it had the spark and that they believed the story. When they both saw the remake they both explained that Hollywood had failed to understand and grasp what make it work for them the first time.

For those of you who never saw “Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo” the plot’s simple enough. The film is based on a series of true stories posted on the internet by Ho-sik Kim describing his relationship with his girlfriend. His posting were later made into a book and then a movie about his girlfriend. It describes the meeting of Kyun-woo (Cha) and an unnamed girl. He’s shamed into assisting the girl because the other passengers mistakenly think she is his girlfriend. Once he helps her, he develops a deep sense of responsibility and honor and love towards her which enables him to somehow tolerate the girls’ abuses towards him.

Now in Korea, it’s so unusual for a girl to talk back and to actually strike a man, which the audience was in shock but they soon liked what they called, “The Sassy Girl”. The film occupied the top spot at the Korean box office for six weeks back in 2001, selling 4.8 million tickets and has been shown on VCD and DVD around the world. When Hollywood was looking at new ideas back in 2002, the remake rights were sold to DreamWorks for $750,000 plus 4 percent of the worldwide gross. I hope that the production company, Shin Cine, was not counting on a huge US box office because it ain’t happening. After testing horribly for the audiences, the film was released straight-to-DVD, For a film budgeted at around $30 Million (US) This will prove to be a huge money loser.

With the American remake, I didn’t feel any sympathy for neither Charlie nor Jordan, the main characters in the film. The only people I really felt sorry for was the audience that had to waste good money of this. As I stated earlier, it tried to make Korea into the USA and it just did not work. For a love story gone wrong, the audience has to feel sorry for someone not the one watching this.

I usually joke in some of my reviews that, “I see the crap so you do not have to.” Well I have seen this crap and please, for the love of any money that you would like to save, please pass on this film at all cost.

Grade F-

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Today I had a talk with a fellow teacher about, "Critical Thinking" and how our students have no real concept of the idea at all. If you a usual reader of my blog, you know that once a semester, I try and do a critical thinking exercise. It has been a total failure each time that I have tried to do it. I will try and do something a little different this year with it and see if it works or Will I have the same results as prior.

I saw this from seoulsearcher's blog and it struck me that he was correct and that we are teaching wrong. We are teaching the students book English and we should be teaching them basic survival English.

I have always tried to teach my students normal words that we would use in the USA, so if, or when, they get their, they will have at least a basic chance of understanding the words that are being spoken to them. Please read the article below and feel free to leave any comment.

On Learning A Foreign Language

For a brief period in the late 1990s, I had a chance to work at Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s government-controlled newsgathering and disseminating organ. Like most other companies, Yonhap hired a group of new employees, just out of university, in the spring every year.

Since big news organizations, including television networks and mass-circulation dailies, had become the most popular employers among young Koreans, the newly hired reporters were selected from literally tens of thousands of applicants.

Those chosen were the cream of the crop, as they say. And understandably, 10 out of the dozen young men and women who were hired by Yonhap in that particular year were graduates of the nation’s top institute of higher learning—Seoul National University.

During their apprenticeship, they went around by turn from one department to another for one week to be introduced and learn, as it were, the tricks of the trade.

When they came to the foreign news department, I asked them what they had studied in the university. And to my surprise, quite a few of them replied that they had majored in English. I further learned that they had mainly read such works as Chaucer and Milton at school. “Wow,” I exclaimed in spite of myself, “that’s difficult stuff.”

Then, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who was impressed by their academic background; one of my colleagues, a British-born editor, overhearing our conversation, asked them some simple questions in English like what kind of journalists they eventually wanted to become.

However, none of them provide him with a reply longer than “yes” or “no.” Were they so shy or diffident by nature that they couldn’t respond to his questions in detail? Or were they actually unable to say anything in passable English?

“It’s amazing,” the British friend said afterwards. “They are supposed to be the smartest kids in this country, and they must have studied English at least ten years and yet none of them could converse with me in English.”

“Something is wrong with the foreign language education in this country,” he said, shaking his head.

I could readily see his point, but I must admit I couldn’t quite agree with him, because I was in their shoes myself when I was their age several decades earlier.

In 1957, when I decided to go to America to work my way through university at the relatively ripe old age of 25, I thought I had a rudimentary command of English. After all, I had taken language tests at the Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy and passed them without difficulty.

Prior to the tests, I studied the language for one year as an English major at a university. What’s more, I had had some opportunities to “converse” with American GIs off-and-on during the Korean War as our regiment had often been deployed on the frontline side by side with American units.

With some $30 in my pocket, I arrived in New York in June 1957 to work during the summer to earn some money before leaving for Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend the state university there. Fortunately, I had a friend who preceded me to the United States by two years, and thanks to his help, I got a job at a sheet metal company as an odd-jobs man at the factory.

But to my chagrin, I found myself utterly unable to communicate with my fellow workers. I could not understand what they were saying, and I could not make them understand what I was trying to say. For all practical purposes, I was almost deaf and dumb; I was barely able to understand the work orders the foreman gave me through gestures mixed with—believe it or not—some Japanese words (he had been stationed in Japan for several years after the Second World War).

Despite the language difficulty, my fellow workers and I soon became great friends. During the lunch break, for instance, we went out of the factory, sat against the factory wall on 48th Street and 11th Avenue in Manhattan and ate our sandwiches, while exchanging jokes and jeering at passing girls in mini-skirts.

At first, I couldn’t make out what they were saying among themselves and laughing at, but in time, I began to grab some of their meanings here and there. I also realized that the language they were using was quite different from what I had learned in my textbooks; they were speaking the real, “living” language steeped in the life and culture of ordinary Americans.

Another difficulty with the language—though of a somewhat different kind, but nonetheless serious and requiring an urgent resolution—was awaiting me at the university as well.

Before the first semester began, I was asked to write an essay (I wrote about my first job at the New York factory that summer). And it so happened that what I wrote somehow impressed the members of the board of admission and as a result, I was granted an unexpected scholarship. For me, they also waved the requirement for all foreign freshmen to take a special English language course.

These developments restored a bit of my confidence as far as language was concerned. But that was shattered once again in the first class I attended.

I was not only unable to understand the joke the professor cracked at the beginning of the lecture (most American professors do, don’t they?), but also to keep up with the professor’s lecture and jot down notes.

Feeling the attentive eyes of the students sitting next to me, and ashamed of my inability to write down what the professor was saying, I kept turning the pages of my notebook after writing a few words or sentences. Pretty soon, I was almost half way through my brand new notebook when the professor was only 10 minutes into his lecture.

Finally I gave up and decided to borrow the notebook from an American student. And this practice, I’m ashamed to admit, lasted a long time before I started managing to make legible notes of my own in most classes.

More embarrassing situations arouse when I watched television with American friends. The popular programs were usually late night talks shows, like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Whenever Carson said something funny during his famous monologue or told hilarious jokes, my friends roared with laughter while I remained stone-faced, not knowing what they were laughing about. Or I just smiled sheepishly in embarrassment. I was often infuriated at myself for not being able to understand what were apparently simple jokes.

Anyway, it took a long time before I realized that understanding and speaking a foreign language involved much more than anything that books and teachers in classrooms can teach you. A language is rooted deep in the culture of a people. And at the same time, language changes constantly as the life of the people who uses it changes all the time. Old words and expressions die while new ones are coined and come into vogue. That’s why you cannot really claim you can speak a foreign language unless you understand the culture and ways of thinking.

You cannot burst into laughter at their jokes unless you know what’s happening in their society or country. And this is the reason why it takes time and more than a superfluous knowledge of a people and their society in order to understand their language and speak it fluently like a native.

In that respect, I was fortunate to have been able to mingle with the workers at the sheet metal company in the first few months of my life in America. I was also fortunate to work in restaurants every summer during my university years, waiting tables, and talking with people while I was serving them. Indeed, it was in these places where I dare say I learned the “living,” or colloquial, English, if you will, more than in classrooms or from books.

Another fake letter in the Korea Times?


Now, I don't know for sure if the name attributed of the latest "Dokdo for pussy" piece in the Korea Times is fake, but I wouldn't put it past anyone over there. It's written by an Aziga Johnson; titled "Unite in the Spirit of Dokdo," here it is:
Recently it has come to my attention that Japan has claimed the Dokdo islets for herself. Dokdo is part of South Korea and this is indisputable, as it has been known to Koreans since 512.

Everyone knows that this bellicose and irresponsible claim made by Japan is nonsense. Plainly speaking it's too extraordinary and improbable to believe.

It is an outrage that Japan would make such an unbelievable, unfounded, inexplicable claim that is totally without merit, evidence or facts. It is beyond question or dispute who is the rightful and true owner of the ``lonely rocks.''

Hearing this extremely disturbing news caused me intense displeasure, disgust, and resentment toward Japan.

I call on one and all to unite in the spirit of Dokdo, and educate 10 friends on the true owner of Dokdo. Teach your friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers about Dokdo; its beauty and history. Together we can do it. Together we can accomplish real change!

Dokdo is closer to Korea than Japan, this itself should end all debate and discussion of such an absurd and irresponsible claim.

That's pretty awful, and I was going to comment on it, but I decided to check on the author first. Interestingly, if you switch his name around to Johnson Aziga, you'll learn that he is a Ugandan-born Canadian
notable as the first person to be charged with first-degree murder in Canada for spreading HIV, after two women whom he had infected without their knowledge died.

Certainly quite an unfortunate concidence if this author is legit. However, the KT has used fake letters slip through before. Most recently a piece by a "Hunter Davis," and last year a letter about English education from an "Atticus Finch," the main character in To Kill A Mockingbird. Moreover, there have been a number of truly awful Dokdo pieces in that paper since the latest diplomatic row, and just last week was practically the same letter on Korea's claim to the rocks written by a foreigner in Daejeon. Given the topic of this letter, that it is rather sparse and one-sided, and that it is purportedly written by someone overseas (hence giving legitimacy to the Korean side), I wouldn't be surprised if it were fake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Film The Express stretches the truth

By DAVID BARRON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Having played on film the likes of singer Jerry Lee Lewis, astronaut Gordon Cooper and gunslinger Doc Holliday, Dennis Quaid knows that the practice of melding reel life and real life is fraught with compromise.

"Sometimes if you get all the facts right," Quaid said, "you miss the truth."

Truth, however, is more than an artistic commodity. Quaid's latest film, The Express, which opens today, unfortunately settles for selective veracity amid an occasionally well-intentioned cartoon depiction of its subject, the late Syracuse running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis.

The basic facts survive generally unscathed. Davis, in life and on film, was a great running back for the Syracuse Orangemen, the first African-American winner of the Heisman and, by all accounts, an even greater young man, a continuing inspiration to those who knew him and played with him.

Davis endured hardship off the field, dying at 23 from leukemia as he prepared for his first season with the Cleveland Browns. He also was the subject of abuse and prejudice on the field; one of the more unfortunate examples occurred in Dallas, where Syracuse played the Texas Longhorns in a fight-marred Cotton Bowl game after winning college football's national championship in 1959.

In search of an allegedly greater truth, unfortunately, the facts are rearranged to a degree that disturbs John Brown, Davis' teammate, roommate and close friend at Syracuse and with the Browns.

Asked whether the film is a truthful portrayal of his friend, Brown, the model for the character J.B. in The Express, offered a less-than-glowing endorsement.

"It is a good Hollywood movie," Brown said. "And I'm happy that through the years of people trying to write something (about Davis) that something was produced. And, in short, no."

In attempting to make points that summarize the nature of Davis' life, character, accomplishments and example, director Gary Fleder and screenwriter Charles Leavitt succumbed to a common malady affecting sports films: They exaggerated sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes with hilarious overkill. And, on occasion, they flat-out lied.

Perhaps the most outrageous example is the ugly scene in which the Orangemen, with three African-American players, roll into West Virginia to play the Mountaineers and are greeted with boos, bottles, curses and racial epithets. The hatred and hostility will no doubt shock and outrage viewers; Variety has cited it, in fact, as portraying a "level of racist vitriol pouring out of the stands that is a topical reminder of America's racial heart of darkness."

One problem: The 1959 game between West Virginia and Syracuse was played in Syracuse, N.Y.

"I apologize to the people of West Virginia because that did not happen," Dick Easterly, 69, the quarterback of the 1959 Syracuse team, told the Charleston Daily Mail. "I don't blame people in West Virginia for being disturbed. The scene is completely fictitious."

There are elements of truth in the Cotton Bowl segment, which accounted for three pages in The Elmira Express, Robert C. Gallagher's biography of Davis that is the alleged basis for the film but accounts for probably 15 to 20 minutes of the two-hour movie.

The score is correct — Syracuse beat the Longhorns, 23-14, with Davis winning the most-valuable-player award, and there was a bench-clearing brawl at the end of the first half. Much of the rest, however, is fantasy.

"I know it's a movie," Brown said, "and when you see something that's about your life, it's hard to be objective. I had to keep telling myself, 'This is not a documentary, this is not a documentary.' "

Some of the inventions are comical. Brown chuckled at the scene in which the Syracuse Orangemen, all 80 or so of them, made the 1,300-mile trip from upstate New York to Dallas in a single bus rather than the airplane that actually took them to Texas.

The film also shows Syracuse checking into its Dallas hotel and Davis, Brown and teammate Art Baker assigned an unkempt room with three rumpled cots.

"That was fiction," Brown said. "(The filmmakers) had us living in a pigsty. We actually stayed in a suite that was located behind the kitchen that had a separate entrance. They did tell us to stay off the elevator, though."

Filmmakers took liberties with the game as well. To heighten the tension, they show Texas cutting the score to 15-14 before Syracuse scores a final touchdown. In fact, the Orangemen, who were two-touchdown favorites, led 23-6 before Texas' final fourth-quarter score in a 23-14 victory.

The official account of the game does not include anything matching the description of a play in the film in which a Texas player takes a running head start and slams into Davis from behind after the ball has been blown dead.

Another scene depicts Davis being visited in the Syracuse locker room by Jim Brown, his predecessor as Syracuse's top running back, and encouraged to return despite an injured leg. Davis, of course, returns and promptly reels off a long touchdown run.

Play sheets from the game, however, indicate that Davis remained in the game throughout the second half. While he did have an 87-yard touchdown play, it occurred on the second play of the game, not in the second half.

There was, however, a fight during the game that apparently had racial overtones. According to accounts compiled by the late Austin sportswriter Lou Maysel, author of Here Come the Texas Longhorns, the brawl erupted after Texas lineman Larry Stephens directed a racial slur at Brown. Stephens died in 1998, and Brown declines to discuss the incident in deference to Stephens' memory.

After the game, the on-screen Orangemen refuse to attend the postgame awards banquet because their African-American teammates will not be allowed to attend. They are shown accepting their trophies at a Dallas barbecue joint.

Once again, Brown said, there's an element of truth — but not much.

"We all attended the banquet," he said. "Texas was on one side, and we were on the other side. They had the speeches, and we ate And they handed out the trophies, and then me, Art and Ernie were asked to leave. We were taken by a representative of the NAACP to another party in Dallas."

One of the Orangemen, Ger Schwedes, suggested that the entire team leave in support of their African-American teammates, Brown said. School officials, however, vetoed the suggestion.

Davis, unfortunately, was not unaffected by his treatment in Dallas. According to a relative interviewed for an ESPN SportsCentury documentary that aired in 2000, he resorted to his childhood habit of stuttering when he described the incident.

Brown, however, prefers to remember his return to Dallas in 2001, when he accompanied Davis' family for a ceremony enshrining Davis in the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.

"I ran into Darrell Royal (who in 1959 was in his third season as the Longhorns' coach), and he apologized to me," Brown said. "I will never forget that. He's Darrell Royal. Who am I?

"But he took the time to come up to me and apologize and say that he was trying to win a game and was not aware of what was going on to that extent on the field. He didn't have to come up to me, but he did, and I will always appreciate that."

There are other departures from fact in The Express. One scene depicts the ceremony in which Davis is announced from among three finalists as the winner of the Heisman Trophy. However, it was not until 1977 that the Heisman winner was announced in that fashion; prior to that, the winner was announced via a news release and then invited to an awards banquet in New York.

Another scene shows Davis, wearing his Cleveland Browns uniform, preparing to be introduced to the crowd at a Browns game. The introduction took place, but Davis was dressed in street clothes, unable to don his uniform because of a decree by Browns coach Paul Brown.

Brown, however, is most offended by a scene in which Davis was shown shouting at his coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, who is played by Quaid.

"Ernie didn't like to hurt people, and they had him being confrontational," Brown said. "He was too respectful of Ben to get into an argument with him in front of the team. That never would have happened."

He also disapproves of the manner in which Schwartzwalder is portrayed.

"Ben had been an Army trooper. He was gruff," Brown said. "He may have been a bigot. He was from West Virginia, and at that time people assimilated whatever their constituencies were. But he was never mean, in my opinion, and in the movie I think they made him too mean."

Despite his qualms about the film, Brown is grateful that moviegoers will have a chance to learn about his friend.

"Some fans today probably think that the Heisman was always won by a black guy. But that's not true," Brown said. "And so I'm glad that people can see this film to learn that there really was an Ernie Davis and that he was a really, really exceptional person."

He wishes, however, that the film had been closer to the Ernie Davis he knew.

"He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He really was," Brown said.

Korean Series Preview

October 26th, 2008 By Shinsano


Well, it’s been a very exciting year in Korean baseball, hasn’t it? After all, I ranked the team at #1 everytime I compiled KBO rankings this season. I said that if Kim Kwang-hyun pitched at a level anywhere close to his potential that the Wyvrens would repeat. That the team had no stars, and was without any major weaknesses. At times, SK’s story has gotten a little boring to write about.

And it’s not like I’m some genius Korean baseball analyst. Anyone who follows the league might have told you the same thing. They might have expected Kia, with its four players with MLB experience, to give SK a small run. Or they might have suggested that Samsung or Hanwha, with small ballparks and enough power to hit the ball out of them, might have flirted with the top spot.

But as predictable as SK is, the team is something to behold – if you like baseball played well, it’s fun to watch. They do everything at least pretty well. If I had to pick one outstanding strength I guess I’d say starting pitching, but that’s almost solely because of wunderkind Kim Kwang-hyun (16-4, 2.39 ERA). After him there’s Che Byung-ryong (10-2, 2.70 ERA), who would probably be a No. 1 starter on one or two KBO teams. Then there’s foreigner Kenny Rayborn, who is decent, but not by any means dominating (5-3, 3.30). After Rayborn things get a little patchwork.

Mostly, what makes SK arguably the best professional baseball team in Asia – even though the league itself is still weaker than the NPB – is that the management has somehow installed a winning consciousness top to bottom. Everyone, with the exception of Kim Kwang-hyun, who I think could win 15 games in the majors, ends up playing at a higher level than they might on another team. The Wyvrens don’t outspend the other teams, and while Koreans seem quick to give manager Kim Sung-keun a lot of the credit because he’s an elder statesman of the game, I don’t think that’s necessarily it either.

It’s got to be the organization itself. How boring is that?


There is a team opposing SK in the Korean Series, and the Doosan Bears supposedly have a chance to win as well. Doosan played SK pretty well (8-10) during the season, and swept SK in a series back in May. The Bears match up pretty well with SK in the sense that Seoul’s finest have a number of spray hitters, play pretty good defense and have a strong bullpen. In last year’s Korean Series Doosan had the magic arm of Daniel Rios (as it turns out, too magic), and rode him to a quick 1-0 series lead. As it would turn out, it was SK’s ability to topple Rios in Game 4 that would completely change the tone of the series, enable SK to tie the series, and then go on to win the next two games for the crown. Guess who started Game 4 for SK?

But in 2008 Doosan has no stopper. Kim Sun-woo started Game 1 versus Samsung, and was turned to again in Game 5, but pitched more like he did earlier in the season when he was demoted to the minors. Matt Randel will get the ball in Game 1 and is capable of putting together a good Game 1, but his numbers were down after three very good seasons in Korea that saw him win more than 10 games. This year Randel was 9-9 with a 4.46 ERA. His previous worst was 3.25. His peripherals, to the extent that such stats exist in Korea, aren’t bad, which makes me think he was somewhat unlucky this year. He was very good against SK this season, going 2-1 with a 1.27 ERA in 35 1/3 innings. There might be something to that, but Randel was pitched his worst baseball in August and September with a 7.36 (in 1 start) and then a 5.40 ERA.

SK has three batters who finished 2008 with OBPs over .400. Gee, that’s a bonus. If there’s a “best offensive player” on SK it’s Park Jae-hong, who is a minor MVP candidate, and put up a .318/.420/.538 slash line with 20 HRs and 72 RBIs. Choi Jung is also a good hitter from the right side and posted a .328/.410/.480, leading the team in runs scored with 77. Fourteen-year veteran Kim Jae-hyun, who had a poor 2007, but ended up winning the MVP of last year’s Korean Series, had a solid 2008 in 297 ABs (.310/.426/.488).

SK had two other players top 100 hits (there were four on the team and four others over 85), Jung Gun-woo, and Lee Jin-yeong. To put it simply, SK gets on base a lot and can score runs. A new wrinkle to the offense this season has been the running game, which, as I detailed in my Doosan/Samsung series preview, is the Bears strength. This season SK has made a conscious effort to run more and the team boosted its team total SBs to 170, up from 121 last season, and even comparable with Doosan’s league leading 189.


SK’s bullpen is led by sidearmer Cheong Dae-hyun, who was more or less used as the closer for the Olympic team. Following the Olympics he wasn’t his usual self and was given the better part of a month off. He led the team in saves with 20, but he was one of nine SK relievers to get a save. No. 2 on that list is Estaban Yan, who was sent home after a series of poor outings late in the year. Instead, Kenny Ray will be the second foreign player for SK. Ray was ineffective through five appearances with SK, so I’m not sure what his role will be if any. But SK’s bullpen is loaded: Jeong Woo-lam, Yoon Kil-hyeon, Joh Woo-cheong, and even 17-year vet Ka Deok-yeom, who was bad early in the season, but didn’t allow a run in August or September.

Again, to refer to my Doosan/Samsung preview, the Bears bullpen is also a strength, but it got a ton of action during the Samsung series, and middle reliever/spot starter Lee Hae-cheon has become a focal point of the rotation, having started two games (in addition to appearing as a reliever in two others). I admire Lee’s rubber arm, but he’d have a hard time even cracking SK’s playoff roster.


Prediction:There’s no reason to think Doosan will win this series. Not one. That said, the Bears have played SK well during the regular season in both 2007 and 2008. The teams also had two bench clearing huff-and-puffs during the 2007 Korean Series, and I think Doosan will be up for this series. The fact that SK’s most dominant player is a pitcher who will likely throw in just one or two games, makes it hard for me to just say SK will sweep. If Matt Randel can continue his success against SK and somehow lead the Bears to a Game 1 win it will change the complexion of the series.

But I think in the end, the long layoff will help SK. There’s some logic in sports that suggests that sometimes teams that have long layoffs don’t come back sharp, but SK was the first team to start spring training this season (in January) and ended last season with the Asia Series Cup in Japan in mid November. In other words, the Wyvrens have never stopped playing, and I don’t suspect they’ll stop for several years to come. They’re a machine and something to behold. They’ll be ready for Doosan and will take care of business, winning their second straight KBO championship in five games.

Obama leading--heavy turbulence ahead

The latest polls show the Messiah pulling away from McCain. Which means we are only ten days away from the dawn of the reign of the new age of change, hope, love, peace, kindness, benevolence, transformation, optimism, serenity, wonderfulness, ocean rise slowing, the USSPR (The United States Socialist People's Republic), the Age Of Aquarius, the planet healing, "When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody", & other fine stuff. I can't wait!

Unfortunately for leftists, Democrats and other Obama voters, it's extremely likely (to say the least) that the enemies of the United States will still hate the US even after B. Hussein wins. It's also very likely that the thugs of the world are going to test the wherewithal of the Most Merciful Obama with some sort of international crisis soon after he enters the Oval Office.

But don't just take my word on it. Listen to Obama's VP pick, Joe Biden and his words from earlier this week:

It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking…Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate…

It doesn't require any kind of political genius to understand that ruthless bad actors out there who will want to test Barack Obama and will see his (probable) election win as an opportunity to take advantage of. Even Joe Biden has admitted as much.

Reality is a good teacher, although some never learn.

US Beef Accounts for Nearly Half of Beef Imports

Just three months after the restart of imports, US beef now accounts for almost half of total beef imports into Korea, reports Yonhap.

In terms of dollar amount, US beef accounted for 43% of total beef imports last month. In terms of tonnage, it accounted for 35%. And the numbers are rising quickly.

The primary victim — Aussie beef. Beef from Hojuland still accounted for 48% and 52% of total imported beef by dollar amount and tonnage, respectively, but this is way down from 77% and 72% in May.

Kiwi beef is also getting killed — it now places a distant third, at 8% and 11%.

In particular, the US beef’s impressive share by dollar is due to exporters focus on exporting high-value cuts like ribs
I have been saying this same thing for the past few years now. I've always wondered what will happen when the NK leader dies. I hope its peaceful.

RAND Scholar Warns South Korea of Chinese Military Threat

It appears more and more people are beginning to believe what I said over two years ago, if South Korea is not ready to occupy a collapsed North Korean state, the Chinese will:

A leading U.S. scholar warns South Korea should prepare for Chinese military intervention and occupation of North Korea or possible attacks against the South’s military in the event of a regime collapse in the North. Dr. Bruce Bennett of the defense-oriented RAND Corporation delivered an address at a seminar in Seoul on Tuesday hosted by the South Korean Army at the War Memorial of Korea, where he forecast Chinese occupation of a portion of North Korea or a threat of invasion to South.

The RAND Corporation is a research and development institution created in 1948 by civilian scientists and researchers who had been commissioned by the U.S. Air Force. Bennett is the North Korea expert there.

He said if China decides to intervene after a collapse, its armies will arrive in Pyongyang before South Korean troops get there, and if a battle breaks out, then Chinese forces would have two to three times the quality advantage. Technical assistance from the United States, based on a continued Korea-U.S. alliance would be crucial, he added. [Chosun Ilbo]

Dr. Bennett’s comments relate back to an article he wrote earlier this year that goes into greater detail of his views on North Korean regime collapse:

If Kim Jong-il suddenly found himself in very desperate, regime-threatening circumstances, might he decide to embrace conflict as a means for gaining the support of rebellious groups in the North? Or if Kim died, could the regime fail and lead to internal chaos into which South Korea and perhaps China would eventually be forced to intervene for humanitarian and security purposes? (…)

South Korea’s inability to carry out offensive operations could allow Kim Jong-il to survive failed attacks on South Korea and then repeat them, at very high cost to South Korea. Or South Korea might be forced to allow anarchy to rule North Korea on its border. In contrast, China is unlikely to accept such anarchy on its border and may feel compelled to intervene; a South with inadequate offensive capabilities might have to accept Chinese control of large parts of North Korea for some time. [Dr. Bruce Bennett - Rand Corp]

Something I didn’t see specified in Dr. Bennett’s article is what he envisions for the US’s role in a collapsed North Korean state. I have long maintained that no US troops should move into North Korea if the regime collapsed, which has put my views at odds with people I respect such as John Bolton and Nicholas Eberstadt.

If US forces moved into North Korea if the regime collapsed, that would be an excuse for the Chinese to move in. The Chinese want to keep the North Korean buffer state along their border and will not willingly go along and give it up if they can help it. That is why I have always believed that if the ROK Army was prepared to execute an immediate occupation of North Korea if the regime collapsed, China would then have a harder time legitimizing any invasion of North Korea with their own forces if the ROK Army is already moving in to stabilize the situation.

US forces moving into North Korea would only legitimize any Chinese action into North Korea plus cause a host of other issues.

Dr. Bennett’s article is more then just about regime collapse and Chinese intervention. Here is a good statement from Dr. Bennett’s article that greatly counters anyone’s argument that North Korea is serious about denuclearizing:

Many experts on North Korea are skeptical that North Korea will ever dismantle its entire nuclear weapon arsenal, because these capabilities have been so critical to North Korea. Consider this: How is it that a nearly bankrupt country of only about 20 million people can stand up to three members of the U.N. Security Council and Japan, four of the wealthiest countries in the world? And in doing so, North Korea often comes out the victor. Would North Korea have such leverage without nuclear weapons? Would the North Korean regime be able to survive without such appearances of empowerment?

I have long maintained that North Korea is not going to denuclearize and I recommend everyone read the Strategic Disengagement Theory to find out why.

Also here is what Dr. Bennett thinks about the current state of the US-ROK alliance:

Today, the United States provides most defense and deterrence capabilities that South Korea cannot. The United States spends about 100 trillion won each year to man, equip, and prepare forces committed to assisting South Korea in a time of war. The United States has been willing to make such a large contribution to South Korean security for decades, effectively subsidizing the South Korean economy. But many in the United States feel that it is now time to let South Korea be more self-reliant. Every effort should be made to achieve this mutual interest in South Korean self-reliance.

In moving toward military self-reliance, South Korea wants to move from a junior partner to a full partner in the alliance relationship. To do so, it should be prepared to accept the responsibilities of full partnership. The United States has appreciated South Korean contributions in East Timor, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. Still, South Koreas efforts have not reached those of a full partner like the United Kingdom, which has an active duty military force one-third the size of South Koreas. South Korea needs to examine this issue more closely as it plans its role in the future of the alliance.

As seen recently with all the delay games that are preventing the USFK transformation plan, the current Korean government has no intention of stopping the current subsidizing of the South Korean economy with the US military presence in South Korea.

Make sure to read Dr. Bennett’s entire article because it is a pretty good run down on the current state of affairs on the Korean peninsula. Hopefully Dr. Bennett’s views will further motivate policy makers to continue to take the issue of Chinese intervention in a collapsed North Korean state seriously, which there has been some recent indications policy makers finally are.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Are you pissed? Don't take it out on someone you know, take it out on
someone you don't know!

I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I'd forgotten
to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered, saying


I politely said, "This is Chris. Could I please speak with Robyn

Suddenly a manic voice yelled out in my ear "Get the right f***ing
number!" and the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe
that anyone could be so rude. When I tracked down Robyn's correct
number to call her, I found that I had accidentally transposed the last two digits.

After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again. When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled "You're an ass hole!" and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word 'ass hole' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him up and yell, "You're an ass hole!" It always cheered me up.

When Caller, ID was introduced, I thought my therapeutic 'ass hole'
calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said, "Hi, this is John Smith from the telephone company. I'm calling to see if you're familiar with our Caller, ID Program?"

He yelled "NO!" and slammed down the phone. I quickly called him
back and said, "That's because you're an ass hole!" and hung up.

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I'd been waiting for that spot, but the idiot ignored me. I noticed a "For Sale " sign in his back window, so I wrote down his number.

A couple of days later, right after calling the first ass hole (I had his number on speed dial), I thought that I'd better call the BMW ass hole, too. I said, "Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?"

He said, "Yes, it is."

I asked, "Can you tell me where I can see it?"

He said, "Yes, I live at 34 Oak tree Blvd., in Fairfax . It's a yellow rambler, and the car's parked right out in front."

I asked, "What's your name?"

He said, "My name is Don Hansen,"

I asked, "When's a good time to catch you, Don?"

He said, "I'm home every evening after five."

I said, "Listen, Don, can I tell you something?"

He said, "Yes?"

I said, "Don, you're an ass hole!" and I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too. Now, when I had a problem, I had two ass holes to call.

Then I came up with an idea. I called ass hole #1. He said, "Hello."

I said, "You're an ass hole!" (But I didn't hang up.)
"Are you still there?" he said.

I said, "Yeah,"

He screamed, "Stop calling me,"

I said, "Make me,"

He asked, "Who are you?"

I said, "My name is Don Hansen."

He said, "Yeah? Where do you live?"

I said, "Ass hole, I live at 34 Oak tree Blvd, in Fairfax . I have yellow Rambler and a black Beamer parked in front."

He said, "I'm coming over right now, Don. And you had better start
saying your prayers."

I said, "Yeah, like I'm really scared, ass hole," and hung up.

Then I called Ass hole #2.

He said, "Hello?"

I said, "Hello, ass hole,"

He yelled, "If I ever find out who you are..."

I said, "You'll what?"

He exclaimed, "I'll kick your ass,"

I answered, "Well, ass hole, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now."

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at 34 Oak tree Blvd, in Fairfax , and that I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover.

Then I called Channel 9 News about the gang war going down in Oak
tree Blvd. in Fairfax .

I quickly got into my car and headed over to Fairfax . I got there just in time to watch two ass holes beating the crap out of each other in front of six cop cars, an overhead news helicopter and surrounded by a news crew.

NOW I feel much better. Anger management really does work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The guys that brought everyone the classic “Kickin It in Geumchon” are back with another hilarious video that spoofs dating between English teachers and Korean women:

And the 1 that started it all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The 25 Cheesiest Hits Of The 1970s

Posted Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:35pm PDT by Rob O'Connor in List Of The Day

The 1970s were an unusual time. We had a crisis in Presidential leadership, oil troubles, financial turmoil, an unpopular war, cultural disagreements, racial strife, a war on drugs and plenty of bad pop music to make it all seem so much longer. Not like today when everywhere is, how shall I say, GREAT.

Anyhow, we relive those glory days thanks to the invention of cable TV and its 200 channels that need to broadcast something. And Billy Mays can only endorse so many products! That ‘70s Show which doesn't strike me as being all that ‘70s, not when you have Happy Days to show us what the 1950s were NOT like, has more DVDs for sale so you can relive a decade that didn't happen that way all over again. And The Partridge Family, an actual show from the 1970s, also has a new DVD set for you to buy, buy buy!

Imagine what life is going to be like once they perfect cloning.

It was hard to find the 25 cheesiest songs of the 1970s. You'd think the entire decade was melted in Velveeta.

Now before you blow a gasket because one of your favorite songs is on this list, keep in mind, I often LIKE Velveeta. Cheese can be a good thing! Just because something is so nauseatingly corny doesn't mean it doesn't have value. It just has a different value than something that is "good" for you. And, believe me, there's something wrong with music that's considered "good" for you.

So shall we?

25) "Don't Cry Out Loud"--Melissa Manchester: One of those songs that makes you grab a hairbrush and start parading around the room in mock melodrama. Except when you hear it in a mall and you have to stand there and pretend everything's normal.

24) "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head"--B.J. Thomas: Am I the only person who thinks "just buy an umbrella already and get over it"?

23) "Thank God I'm A Country Boy"--John Denver: If this isn't one of the corniest songs to ever become a hit. Wow. With all the tough guy poses and songs about money and "ho's," this seems to come from another world entirely, one that existed when? During Little House On The Prairie?

22) "You Light Up My Life"--Debby Boone: Why is it that songs that are meant to inspire you to discover your inner greatness always leave me wondering where I put that knife? Do people really draw strength from these anthems? "You give me hope?" No, that's not hope you're giving me. It's called a migraine.

21) "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"--England Dan And John Ford Coley: Half the people I know think the line is "I'm not talking about the linen." And this is one of my favorite songs of all-time. I'm not defending it. I'm not making any great claims, except it always makes me chuckle and I always turn the radio up to hear it. But, boy is this cheesy.

20) "Macho Man"--Village People: At first I chose "Y.M.C.A." and then I thought "In The Navy," but then "Macho Man" came up and I realized these guys were single-handedly determined to ruin music as we knew it. And they succeeded. Except that nowadays this doesn't sound so bad because the stuff on the radio is actually quantifiably worse.

19) "The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA"--Donna Fargo: Another one of my personal faves. But probably because I haven't heard it in years. But in my memory it's a wonderful song that includes something about "Skippidity-Do-Dah-Day" and that's practically Flintstonian in its excitement.

18) "Baby I'm A Want You"-Bread: Who talks like this? I'd dump the jerk and tell him to work on his grammar. But then I'm not a woman. Maybe that's one of the great mysteries of women. They love men who abuse the English language with no regard for proper syntax. Next thing you know I'll learn that spelling doesn't count either. Sheesh.

17) "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo"--Lobo: If this song doesn't make you want to lay down and take a crap in the grass nothing will.

16) "Squeeze Box"--"The Who/"My Ding A Ling"--Chuck Berry: I'm doubling up here because they fit together. Both Chuck Berry and The Who were formidable rockers. Both had their share of hits along the way but these are two of the dumbest, inexcusably cute double entendre songs around. Then again the Who did eventually name an album It's Hard, which I'm not sure but might qualify as a single entendre.

15) "Sweet City Woman"--The Stampeders: Not only does this song and it's insane "Sweet-eet-eet, Sweet City Woman" chorus makes me crazy, but now I learn they're from Canada!

14) "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast"--Wayne Newton: Songs written about parenting are so hokey as to be beyond contempt. How's about something like "Daddy, Can I Have My Inheritance Now While the Money is Still Worth Something?" No wonder parents drink.

13) "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me"--Mac Davis: "I ain't ready for no Family Ties." Is this anti Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter Birney? Michael J. Fox? Justine Bateman? Oh, I realize it's about a man who doesn't want to settle down and he's just warning his woman because he's so cool like that. It's the "Baby" at the beginning of the title that makes me squirm.

12) "Have You Never Been Mellow"--Olivia Newton John: OK, I know the 1970s were the Quaalude era but this is taking things too far. Enforcing mellowness? Making people feel bad because they like to be active and get things done? On second thought, this might be a philosophy I could rally behind. I need to get mellow. Can I still have my check, please?

11) "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree"--Tony Orlando And Dawn: All you have to do is look into the eyes of Tony Orlando and you'll know you've seen the apocalypse, the Rapture, whatever you want to call it. The world will not end with a whimper or a bang; it will end with this song.

10) "After The Lovin'"--Englebert Humperdinck: Do I have to explain this one? Somehow I prefer the euphemism of "sleeping together" over anything that calls it "lovin'." And to be making plans for afterwards seems a bit crass. Shall I sing you to sleep so once you're out like a light I can take off and hit the bowling alley for the league championship?

9) "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing"--The New Seekers: I admit I'm not one of those optimists who believes everyone has talent. I don't think it's a good idea to teach the world to sing. I think singing should come naturally to those who can do it. The rest of us should hum.

8) "Brand New Key"-Melanie: I love Melanie but she always had a reputation for seeming a little airheaded. I don't know if she really was. But this song doesn't help in her defense.

7) "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)"--Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons: I know Frankie Valli was created purely to torture me. That he continued to do so for several decades only makes it more menacing. This song remembers the past so fondly, why couldn't he just stay there and leave us alone?

6) "Your Mama Don't Dance"--Loggins And Messina: Hokeyness just screams from this concept. All kids think their parents are lame but it's not because they don't dance or rock n' roll, that would be embarrassing. In fact, I'd say no matter how "hip" today's parents think they are, their kids can tell them better. Girls, if your mom is borrowing your clothes, stop her. I don't care how much healthy cereal she's eating. It's still gross.

5) "The Candy Man"--Sammy Davis Jr.: One of the first records I ever owned and that's fine. But it's a song meant for six-year-olds and it shouldn't be played in adult company. Or appreciated in adult company. Unless you're a functional idiot.

4) "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy"--Rod Stewart: He rhymes "apartment" with "heart meant." John Ashbery is a hack compared to this. And this falls under the category of "Songs My Father Sang Very Loud In Public In Order to Embarrass Me." You don't want to see a 50 year old man singing "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy" in a hardware store. Most people don't even want to hear Rod sing it anymore. Me? Despite the mental scars, I still like it.

3) "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"--Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond: Putting these two in a room together and without even singing a note the earth will start to implode. Neither one can resist pulling out every stop they know. Show-biz isn't just in their blood, it's in their urine.

2) "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"--Rupert Holmes: I love this song. And it took me years--as in decades--to listen to the story that's actually going on. I won't spoil it for you. But you don't even have to know the whole story to know all the corniest parts. "If you like making love at midnight?" Actually, people prefer, what, making love at 10:30 pm so they can still catch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart?

1) "(You're) Having My Baby"--Paul Anka: I admit my father used to sing this song out loud in public just to embarrass me. It worked. I'm permanently scarred for life. I won't have children just out of spite.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No way to treat a Marine widow

Let me introduce you to Michael and Hotaru Ferschke.

Hotaru, 24, who works on Kadena Air Base, met Michael, 22, a radio operator with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, at a friend’s party on Camp Schwab in March 2007. She said he asked her out that night, but she was wary about dating an American, concerned that cultural differences would be too much of a barrier.

But he was persistent, Hotaru said during an interview Wednesday in her parents’ home in Ginoza, near the base.

“We discussed the different environments and cultures we grew up with and the difficulties we may face,” she said. “After a good talk, we both were convinced that we would be able to overcome any differences.”

Their first date was a drive to the aquarium at Expo Park in nearby Nago. They found they liked each other’s company.

“But we didn’t have as much time together as we wanted because he was busy with training and a trip back to the States to attend a wedding,” she said.

By December they both knew there was a future together, and she spent Christmas with Ferschke at his home in Maryville, Tenn.{Stars and Stripes}

Like Michael Ferschke, I met my wife Leonita while serving in the military. I was in the Navy and stationed at Subic Bay Naval Base in the late 1980’s, Michael met Hotaru while stationed he was stationed on Okinawa. Leonita and I remain married 19 years later.

As you can tell from the title of this post, there was no happy ending for Michael and Hotaru.

She found out she was pregnant in mid-May and the couple decided to process the paperwork needed to be wed.

“He called the baby a miracle,” she said. “He said he would ask his boss to start the process immediately. I thought it would be almost impossible, being so far away from each other.”

But Michael told her to look inside a suitcase he left with her.

“There was a file inside the suitcase with all necessary documents for marriage,” she said. “He had already signed a marriage registration, and there was a copy of his passport among other documents.”

They were married by proxy on July 10.

“It could have been done earlier, but I was putting off working on the process because I was suffering from bad morning sickness,” she said. “But he hurried me, saying that he wanted to make sure everything was done before he went out for a scheduled mission.”

The last she heard from her new husband was on July 31.

“He called me shortly before he was leaving,” she said. “I e-mailed him an ultrasound of our baby. He was so excited.”

On Aug. 11, Hotaru had unexpected visitors to her office in the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area. A first sergeant, a captain, a chaplain, an interpreter and one of her husband’s close friends arrived with the news that her husband was dead.

“At first, I could not believe what was being said,” Hotaru said, brushing a lock of hair from her teary eyes. “But when I saw our friend crying, it brought me back to reality.”

“I felt lightheaded and vomited in the bathroom,” she said.

Hotaru is lucky she didn’t go into pre-term labor or lose the baby. She then travelled to Tennessee for her husband’s funeral. Hotaru, shortly after returning to Japan, came to an important decision.

“Before flying back for the funeral, I was totally at a loss, not knowing what to do in the future,” Hotaru said. “But my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude to all the people who offered us such warm support. The funeral service was attended by so many people.

“I want our son to know how much his father was loved by so many people,” she said. “I realized that it was best to raise him in the environment where his father grew up, so that he would feel his father’s presence and be proud of him.”

She said she told the Ferschkes of her plan and they were bowled over by her decision.

Hotaru decided she wants to have Michael Ferschke III aka Mikey in the United States. Think she would have no problem getting a visa? Think again.

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The phone call devastated Robin Ferschke, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq.Michael+Ferschke.jpg

Her Okinawan daughter-in-law, six months pregnant with the couple’s child, tearfully called earlier this week and said she was having problems getting a residency visa to live in the United States.

“She was crying so hard, it was hard to understand what she was saying,” Robin said in a telephone interview Thursday from her home in Maryville, Tenn. “She said she was told she could not get a visa because of something called the two-year rule.”{Stars and Stripes}

The two-year applies to spouses who come to the United States as a result of a marriage to a legal resident alien or US citizen. If the marriage isn’t five years long at the time of the petition, the immigrant spouse is considered a conditional resident alien. After two years, the couple applies for the conditional status to be removed.

Leonita and I went through this. She entered the US in December 1989, in December 1991 we filed the I-751 petition to have become permanent in the US. It was approved in less than a year. On January 25, 1994 Leonita became a US citizen.

What happens to spouses whose US citizen spouse dies. There’s a trap they fall into, called ‘The Widow Penalty‘. It dates back to a 1970 administrative ruling. Immigration no longer treats the spouse as the relative of a US citizen, because the petitioner has died. The usual result is the surviving widow is deported, even if they have children born in the US as result of their marriage.

Attorneys for Immigration recently argued in court that this is necessary to prevent sham marriages. However immigration blanketly begins deportation proceedings in all instances of legal immigrants who fall into The Widow Penalty trap.

Back to Hotaru

Hotaru has declined any interviews concerning the visa problem.

“This was all so unexpected, it made her very nervous,” Robin (Ferschke) said. “She’s still grieving for Michael and worried about the baby and doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

“Michael’s unit has rallied around her and is keeping the press away while they are trying to get everything ironed out. They are protecting her, taking her to places she needs to go and collecting the right information.”

“The Marine Corps on Okinawa is working very closely with Mrs. Hota Ferschke and the U.S. Consulate in Okinawa to assist Mrs. Ferschke in the Visa application process,” 1st Lt. Judd Wilson, media relations officer for Marine Corps Bases Japan, said in an e-mail response to a Stripes query.

“Mrs. Ferschke has not been denied any visa to the United States,” he said. “This is a misunderstanding.”

Added Wilson: “Marines take care of their own, and Mrs. Ferschke and her child are a part of the Marine Corps family,”

Hotaru was quite fortunate to have the Marine Corps, her mother-in-law, plus three members of Congress willing to fight for her. If not, a widow of a Marine would have been railroaded.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate on Okinawa said Hotaru had an appointment there Thursday afternoon.

“After we check out her application, we will try to help her in whatever way we can,” said Fuji Takayasu, a public affairs assistant for the consulate.

“There is a two-year rule,” she acknowledged. “But if she cannot meet that qualification, there should be a way to get her visa. There are other ways of doing things.”

Why does the US government employ ignorant people to make life altering decisions? Didn’t anyone on Okinawa know of the 2003 Armed Forces Naturalization Act? Which in part reads-





16 “(i) IN GENERAL.–The benefits
17 under this paragraph shall apply only to a
18 surviving spouse, child, or parent of a per-
19 son who, while a citizen of the United
20 States, died on or after September 11,
21 2001, during a period of honorable service
22 in the Armed Forces as a result of injury
23 or disease incurred in or aggravated by
24 such service.

·HR 1954 RS
1 “(ii) DETERMINATIONS.–The execu-
2 tive department under which the citizen so
3 served shall determine whether the citizen
4 satisfied the requirements of clause (i).
5 “(B) SPOUSES.–Notwithstanding the sec-
6 ond sentence of subsection (b)(2)(A)(i), a per-
7 son who is a surviving spouse described in sub-
8 paragraph (A), and who was living in marital
9 union with the citizen described in such sub-
10 paragraph at the time of death, shall be consid-
11 ered, for purposes of subsection (b), to remain
12 an immediate relative after the date of the citi-
13 zen’s death, but only until the date on which
14 the surviving spouse remarries.

In a private email, Brent Renison of Surviving Spouses Against Deportation confirmed to me that the above law applies to Hotaru. He says “Embassy people don’t know all the rules sometimes”. I think there is no excuse for the despicable way Hotaru Ferschke was treated by US consulate officials. Fire them, for they don’t know US immigration law.

The people fighting for Hotaru won the war.

MARYVILLE - Hotaru Ferschke, the 24-year-old Japanese widow of a U.S. Marine sergeant killed in Iraq, has been granted a temporary visa to come to America and have her baby.ferschke.jpg
The granting of the visa was announced today by the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., which had been working closely with the family of Sgt. Michael Ferschke to get permission for Hotaru Ferschke to come back to the U.S. to have her baby, as the sergeant had wished.

The Ferschke saga has touched the residents of Blount and surrounding counties deeply ever since it was announced that he had been shot to death while on a door-to-door search in Iraq Aug. 10.

There was an outpouring of sympathy and grief when the death was announced and an avalanche of outrage when Hotaru’s plight was revealed in published reports this week.

Robin Ferschke, mother of the dead Marine, says Hotaru is “sweet and shy” and will be treated “just like a daughter” when she comes to Maryville.{Knoxville News-Sentinel}

Anyone think Hotaru looks like a Japanese version of Liv Tyler?

Hotaru has decided to give birth in Japan and come to the United States afterwards. In the meantime, Robin Ferschke is turning her son’s room into a nursery for Michael Ferschke III.

Citizens in the US, with some justification, are up in arms about illegal immigrants. Most of these same people, don’t know how to tell legal from illegal immigrants. That goes the same for the US government employees.