Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Just a few unrelated notes I feel like commenting on.

The Joongang Ilbo has an article about economic competition with China and Japan. My favorite part: Companies should look at themselves before blaming others. Entrepreneurs must be brave and look for ways to defeat Japan and China.
Don't look for ways to grow or ways to improve; look for ways to defeat your enemies.

On the bus home today, a TV connected to a satellite dish, was playing a movie. The sound was off and I had my MP3 player on but I was watching idly. Suddenly, Boobs! Woo-hoo! I was riding with a co-worker and we shared a chuckle. I'm not disapproving, just incredulous that someone in the transportation industry wasn't more careful. I don't think it was an 'X' rated bus - and who'd want to touch the seats in such a bus!

Reviewing the IOC evaluation committee's visit.

I found two articles describing how Koreans feel the IOC evaluation committee visit went.

The first, from the Joongang Ilbo, is objective but positive. The second paragraph:.
Korea is too limited in its winter sports abilities and Pyeongchang should improve its access to the giant slalom ski venue, but other than that, inspectors gave the city a good review for its bid to host the 2014 Olympic Games.

I first took 'too limited' to mean not enough snow, not enough height, not enough inanimate resources in general. I think Nagano had problems with the ski hills not being long enough and had to cut into a national park to meet IOC criteria. I expect(ed) similar problems here. Perhaps this is what the 'access to the giant slalom' comment means.

In fact, the inspectors meant:
Korea should be more well-rounded across all of the winter sports, referring to the country’s reliance on a few sports, such as short track speed skating and speed skating, for most of its Winter Olympics medals.
Korean athletes need to shine more at Winter sports, is the real message.

I believe Koreans have the ability to organize an excellent winter olympics, I am not as enthusiastic as Gangwon Governor Kim Jin-sun. Nor do I agree with why Korea would do well.

From the Herald:
Tenacity and calmness are two leading characteristics of Koreans, who have held a long history steeped in tradition.
I'll give Koreans tenacity. Koreans are tough, no question. Calmness? Not so much.

It is said that, in an era of digital technology, the tradition of using chopsticks at the dinner table has gone a long way in developing their manual adroitness and places them at an advantageous position in the semiconductor industry.
F-ck! Not the chopstick story again! I'm glad that Koreans, for whatever reason, are doing well with semiconductors but I'm not sure how this fits. Will this be a new Olympic event? "New this year is the 'Make a semiconductor with chopsticks' event. The Koreans expect to do well but may be surprised by the North American jobseekers who would 'separate flyshit from pepper with gloves on just to say they have a job'. A true battle of East meets West."

Due to their unique dynamism, the world has come to view Koreans as people who can even make mountains or rivers if necessary.
I think Governor Kim is showing his support for Lee Myoung-bak's presidential bid, with the 'making rivers' remark.

All sarcasm aside, I hope Pyeongchang gets the olympics here.
To finish this post, I am happy to see no news of corruption in either article. Finally the triumvirate is broken.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pyeongchang Olympic Bid

I wish the best of luck to Pyeongchang in their bid to host the 2014 Olympics. I am sincere but also I fear that Koreans might be upset with Canadians because Vancouver stole the 2010 games away.

Earlier, I questioned Korea's bid. Here in Sokcho, we have seen only a brief dusting of snow this winter. In the mountains, I am sure there is more, but enough? Recently, I learned of Swiss ski resorts helicoptering in snow in the days just before an international competition, so Korea's situation doesn't seem so bad.

Two things still concern me. First the wording of the middle banner above (click to enlarge). "Welcome to Gangneung Happy, Peace Olympic"? Actually, there may be an opportunity for ESL teachers here. Despite the many spelling errors on this blog, I do a fair job of editting. Time to throw my hat in.

My second concern is at the end of this quote from the Joongang daily.
Pyeongchang hopes its location in Asia, its experience from its bid in 2010 (when it fell second to Vancouver, Canada by three votes) and its strong infrastructure will outweigh any doubts about political instability or nature-related problems on the peninsula, as well as overcome the bids by the two other cities. An International Olympic Committee member from Korea, Park Yong-sung, was pardoned on corruption charges Monday, allowing him to get out of jail and participate in the bid activities this week.

People have complained on other blogs about Korea's system of pardoning white-collar criminals with political connections, so I'll hold off. Look here if you are interested. I can't really see how returning a convicted felon to the IOC committee can help Korea and Korea's image in the long term. I know that I have mentioned in at least one previous post that it would be nice to see an article in which the words "Korea", "Olympics" and "corruption" were not all present.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Will Korea become a Brave New World?

Huxley envisaged a world where people made to fit their professions before they were born. Alphas given great pre- and post- natal care, specifically including nutrition and education, while Epsilons were deliberately deprived of oxygen and nutrients while still in the fetal stage. Alphas were tall, strong and intelligent and Epsilons were small, possibly stooped (I can't remember) and brain damaged.

From today's Joongang Daily, describing the North Korean situation:

“When pregnant women and infants are malnourished, the physical development of not only themselves but their children and grandchildren are influenced,” said Chang Nam-soo, professor of food and nutritional sciences at Ewha Womans University. “Their stunted physiques will be handed down through generations.”
Experts warned about the dangers faced by babies born to malnourished mothers. Such children are highly likely to suffer from a low immune capability, weakened physical, intellectual and scholastic abilities, a low labor productivity and a higher risk of geriatric diseases, they said.

The average height difference for North and South Korean men is 6.6 cm. In an interesting contrast, East Germans were two centimeters shorter than West Germans at reunification.

"Oh Brave New World,
That has such people in't!"

Missing Coastie

Some sad news for the Sokcho Coast Guard. Three weeks ago, a group of coasties went out for a drink. Afterward, one left the group and has not been seen since. Foul play is suspected.
You can click on the picture to enlarge.

I don't really know police procedure but I've watched a lot of Law and Order. One thing I recall is fights over jurisdiction. You know, the feds withholding info from the cops and suchlike. Here, the Coast Guard are involved, which is mostly unsurprising when you consider the Korean name 'Sea Police'. More surprising is the involvement of Pohang police. I think the missing coastie, named Kwan, is from Pohang or he was out with a group from Pohang, but anyway, Sokcho seems like a reach to me.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gathering Chilk (칡) and stepping over corpses

Chilk is a very thick root; above ground it is a vine that chokes small trees. I'm told the root is good for your health. I find this likely because it tastes terrible.
One of Kwandongwife's coworkers asked if I would like to collect some, so, with some prodding, out I went.
Below, my friends clean some chilk in icy creek water. They will clean it again at home. I was waiting, reluctantly trying to volunteer to take my turn. Luckily, they did the cleaning and I stayed warm in the van.

Most of the day was warm for us as we were in a narrow valley and evaded the wind, which was terrible at the road and creek.

We collected the chilk in a low mountain valley near Wanggok village. Walking from the van, we found this snare. My friend told me it was intended for boar, which can be found in Gangwondo.

Higher in the valley and off the trail we found two dead animals. A deer, still entangled in a snare and another animal described as a 'go-ran-i' or small, wild cat (maybe similar to a lynx in size). Most distinguishing features were missing but I could certainly see one long canine. However a long canine is not diagnostic for carnivores in Korea. It could have been a water-deer as they have a pair of saber teeth instead of antlers. The fur on both animals was brown and russet so that was no help. Anyway, I have no reason to doubt the greater local knowledge of my guides so I guess it could have been a wild cat. I have photos but have chosen not to post them.

For related subjects, you could read my posts on two bears, recently re-introduced to Chilisan, being caught in farmer's traps. For Korea's saber-toothed deer, look here. Regarding wildlife in general in Korea, the Chosun has an article about the surprising number of road kill.