Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Joongang Daily is a little confused.

The Joongang is normally my favourite news-source. The claims in this article obviously surprised me all the more concerning their source.

I can accept the title: In a rarity, malaria kills two people in Korea. Probably, death from malaria is uncommon here. This sentence is what surprised me: "No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease."

Further, after searching the Joongang's own archives, I found this article, "With bipartisan nod, Seoul to fund NGO flood aid" (August 4, 2006).
According to the article:

... the flood disaster in the North rang alarm bells in the South about the potential for an epidemic as the number of patients with malaria in the North reportedly increased after last month’s flooding. Earlier this month, a South Korean activist group, Good Friends, said that an increasing number of malaria patients have been found in Kaesong and Haeju in the North after the flood.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said mosquitoes could fly from North Korea to South Korean regions near the Demilitarized Zone. According to the center’s data from January to June, 333 patients with malaria were reported to the center, up 47 percent from 226 patients in the same period last year. The western parts of the DMZ, Gimpo and Paju in Gyeonggi province and Ganghwa in Incheon, are likely to be infested by malaria mosquitoes, flying up to 18 kilometers from Kaesong, Jangpyong, and Tosan in North Korea, the center said.

Other news of Malaria in South Korea:
  • -the Canadian Red Cross will not accept blood donations from visitors to areas near the DMZ for several months after return due to fears of malarial transmission.
  • - the July 2007 edition of National Geographic includes a world map that shows northern South Korea as having Plasmodium vivax, one form of Malaria.
  • -In the late '90s, military leaders described malarial mosquitoes at the DMZ as a hazard for their troops. Amusingly, I recall the article as almost reading that the North Koreans were sending the malaria across the DMZ deliberately.
  • -According the CDC: South Korea: Risk limited to Demilitarized Zone and to rural areas in the northern parts of Kyonggi and Kangwon Provinces.
  • -A student told me that during his military service, he contracted malaria.

These articles all focus on North Korea and northern South Korea but the original article specifically states, "...the peninsula...", not merely South Korea and do include parts of South Korea.

My best wishes go out to the families of the "57-year-old Korean patient and [the] 59-year-old Greek man" (both people were sick in the same hospital -how is only one a patient?). I also hope the family of the "Greek man" are not further demonized - the article suggests the Greek man infected the "Korean patient".

UPDATE: The Joongang has edited its online edition, adding the word tropical:
Original:No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease.
Current (July 3, 10:30pm):No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by tropical malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease.

There is also some discussion of "plasmodium falciparum" (incorrectly written: the genus name should be capitalized) that I don't recall in the original article. Aside from this nitpick, the article is now correct.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bike lanes - paint 'em yourself

The Toronto Star as an article about the Other Urban Repair Squad. This group of people are frustrated about waiting for the city to set up bike lanes so they paint them themselves.
What could we do here?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mr Soldier-man, tear down this fence! ...and more

From the Joongang Daily, comes this picture of a soldier removing fencing from Sacheon Beach, just north of Gangneung.

I have volunteered now and again for several years at Hyeonseong Elementary School in rural Yangyang District. The Joongang Daily tells me that 23 students were invited to the National Folk Museum to learn Taek Kyon. That would be the entire school population.

Jeju trip

I just spent four days and three nights in Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (On the island, you will never see a simple 'Jeju Province') with Kwandongmom and KwandongAlex.

We visited a few tourist sites and mostly just relaxed - the little guy hates carseats so every drive included almost constant wailing. I showed K'mom what I thought typified Jeju - a few craters, a cave, a village of traditional homes and a few beaches.

Everything revolved around the little guy. We rode a horse and camel - two things I would have avoided were it not for him. For other big-footed foreigners - bring narrow shoes if you plan to ride: I couldn't fit my water-sandals in the stirrups and rode with only my toes holding my weight.

The little guy was a babe magnet: well, a middle school girl magnet. They would surround him without care for how they overwhelmed and terrified him.

I will post more later.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A sandwich for members of a Chinese religious group?

I make plenty of spelling mistakes so I don't often mock the, um, interesting English I find in Korea.
However, I am curious if 'taost' is missing an 'i' or has the vowels reversed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A little bored

You scored as Scientific Atheist, These guys rule. I'm not one of them myself, although I play one online. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist




Apathetic Atheist


Spiritual Atheist


Angry Atheist


Militant Atheist




What kind of atheist are you?
created with

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wouldn't it be ironic if these people placed themselves on 'do not call' lists?

First, notice the ads at the bottom left of the picture. Three in one afternoon. I don't hate the people who do this to make money - I might have before one of my foreign students told me this was her job -although not at my location.

What I really want to talk about, however, is the circumstances than led me to making the poster middle-right.
Below, you can see it more clearly (click to enlarge).
Some Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on my door a few weeks ago but were put off by my inability to speak Korean.

Then on May 27th a Korean family of JWs from Yangyang and with at least one English speaker appeared at my door. I didn't talk to them long (although I wasn't rude -bringing children along is a great or cowardly way to avoid anger) but the man said something about knowing me. Yangyang isn't far off and I lived there for two years, so its certainly possible but was it a coincidence that brought him to my door?

Yesterday, June 3, two more JWs knocked on my door. This time there were two women, a native speaker of English and a Korean. I was less polite this time.

Today, Monday June 4th, two more people knocked on my door. They appeared unconnected to the JWs but soon revealed themselves to be missionaries for one faith or another.

I was furious -with myself. First, the poster I'd made was inside the door, waiting for next Sunday, and second, I may have been too specific in making my poster by naming JWs.

I slammed the door in their faces and cursed a few times alone in the apartment.

The next afternoon I'm home, I'll have the sign on the door and pot of water on the table in easy reach!

Friday, June 01, 2007

A surprising similarity found between my university and Korea's best

A coworker and I were complaining about smokers at our university and I repeated the explanation I had heard for the lax enforcement of the smoking areas here. Ours is private university and although the courses taught may be of acceptable quality (and I think they are), non-academic situations fall under the "The customer is always right" heading. We can't enforce campus rules on smoking for fear of losing students and their money.

My coworker asked, "Where would the students go?"

If they are at this university (a bottom tier university), the next step down is actually on to a scooter delivering Chinese food for the rest of their lives.

And I thought, hey, we are just like Seoul National or Korea University; we could set strict guidelines for entry and people would find themselves compelled to follow them. SNUs guidelines would be more scholastic while ours would be involving other areas of university life, but that's just quibbling.