Tuesday, September 29, 2009

local festivals

BizarroBrian has a list of festivals that have been cancelled due to fears of the spread of swine flu by cowardly or intelligent organizers. You are welcome to pick which phrase does not apply to Gangwondo festival organizers as at least two festivals went on as scheduled.

In Yangyang, the Songi Mushroom Festival went on without problems, although antibacterial gel was offered.

The little guy was too small to roll the bowling ball but he could shuffle it down to the mushroom-shaped pins. I am not sure if he is now in all the papers and next year's promotional materials.
Here are some of the famous mushrooms. I like mushroom but cannot notice any special flavour in these, the most expensive ones to be found. This box is 550,000 won or around $500 US dollars.

ADDED LATER: As a commenter noticed, as the mushrooms ripen or become more valuable, they also become more phallic. Or maybe, as a dick, they are more highly valued in a society that really, really likes 'nighttime stamina' or phallic symbols.

On Sunday, we went to Sokcho's Expo Park where another festival took place. It had basically closed so KwandongAlex worked on his driving skills.
he drove well for the hour we rented the vehicle. However, on the way back to the rental office, he smashed me in the ankles.

We were both fascinated by this line of kites reaching to the clouds.

The Salmon festival seems to be a go and will be held on October 17, 18.

Blasphemy Day -September 30

As my reader(s) know, I am not a legal scholar and although I have thought about free speech and its limits, I have not done so to any great degree.

I certainly feel, though, that people have, or should have some protections that things or ideas do.

Ideas, like religious ideas, do not deserve whatever protection we might agree that people do. Blasphemy; making the insulting of someone's idea of God a crime, is a ridiculous law or concept.

My understanding is that people cannot libel the dead; they are not protected.

From the Facebook page "Blasphemy Day International":
Free speech is the foundation on which all other liberties rest. Without having the right to express our opinions, however unpopular, those willing to use political clout, violence, and threats will stifle dissent, and we must all suffer the consequences of this. As George Bernard Shaw quipped, "Every great truth begins as a blasphemy."

The UN, rather than standing up for free speech, has given in to pressure from Islamic nations and has proposed a resolution to essentially ban criticism of religion. In its pursuit of "tolerance" for religion, this resolution wants to strip everyone, everywhere, of their freedom, even their obligation, to criticize what they oppose. Unlike one’s political affiliation or favorite sports team, religion demands – and has been granted – unique immunity from criticism since its very inception. Labeling anything deemed critical "blasphemy", religions have effectively defined the boundaries for what can and can’t be said about them. We propose we knock down this barrier and break this spell. Religion is no more undeserving of criticism than anything else, and if people’s insecurities are upheld as a reason to stifle the expression of the equally sincere feelings of others, and indeed, the pursuit of truth itself, we will have forsaken our ideals in favor of one-sided and entirely undeserved sympathy. As Richard Dawkins noted,

"Society bends over backward to be accommodating to religious sensibilities but not to other kinds of sensibilities. If I say something offensive to religious people, I'll be universally censured, including by many atheists. But if I say something insulting about Democrats or Republicans or the Green Party, one is allowed to get away with that. Hiding behind the smoke screen of untouchability is something religions have been allowed to get away with for too long."

Blasphemy Day International is a day of protest against this UN Resolution, and against any attempt to stifle free speech. Please join this group. Whatever your beliefs – unless you're a raging, pro-censorship fundamentalist – the UN resolution, and laws against blasphemy, are an offense to humankind.

With that over with, allow me to repeat Jussi Halla-aho. The words below were judged by Finland's blasphemy laws to be illegal.

Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.

Are these statements illegal? They certainly insult muslim’s religious feelings. Let’s approach the issue logically:

As a 50 year-old man Muhammad was engaged to six or seven year old Aisha. Their marriage was “consummated” when Aisha was nine years old. It is possible to think that they were living in another age and Muhammad’s deeds must not be judged according to today’s standards, but as we have learned during the last few years, schoolbooks from the 50’s were racist when they spoke about ”negroes” (even if ”negro” was not a racist term at the time by anybody’s standards), it’s equally justified to call a child rapist who lived 1400 years ago a child rapist .´

What has to be done so that the bolded statements were not true? You must insist that

a) … Quran is not literally true (i.e Muhammad did not have sexual relations with a nine year old girl). This will not do, since according to Islamic doctrine and muslims’ opinion Quran is a literal word of Allah. Consummation and Aisha’s age cannot be denied without insulting muslims.

b) …Muhammad’s actions were not always acceptable. This will not do either, since according to muslims (and Tampere district court) criticizing Muhammad is the same as criticizing Allah and therefore blasphemy. The penalty is death. Muslim’s believe that Muhammad’s actions were the will of Allah. Because Muhammad had sexual relations with a child, that was Allah’s will as well.

As we see, all the argumentative ways to disprove the bolded statements have been theologically exhausted. The fact that Muhammad was a pedophile and Allah supported pedophilia can only be denied either by denying the literal truthfulness of Quran or Muhammad’s status as a messenger of Allah whose actions are according to the will of Allah.

Therefore I repeat my claim:

Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.

If Muhammad had sex with a nine year old, he was a pedophile. Apparently what I have just written is blasphemy. Happy Blasphemy Day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

So, Who's hosting next year's G20 summit?

One of these reports is not like the others.

From the Korea Times (Sept 25):
Incheon is emerging as the potential host city of the Group of 20 summit in 2010 with South Korea becoming the first Asian country to hold a gathering of the influential economic council next fall.

From the Herald (Sept 26):

Korea has been chosen as the venue for the next Group of 20 summit, which is to become the world's main economic forum, a Cheong Wa Dae official said yesterday.

Leaders of major developed and developing countries during the third financial summit in Pittsburgh agreed to Seoul's hosting of the next meeting in 2010, the official said.

From Yonhap (Sept 25):
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's hosting of the G20 summit next year will be a boon to its image as well as its economy, equivalent in prestige to the Seoul Olympics in 1988, a scholar said Friday.

From the Bracebridge Examiner (Ontario, Canada, K'Brian's hometown, Sept 25):
My bolding:

Muskoka will be welcoming more countries than expected this June.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially announced this morning that Canada and South Korea will be co-hosting a G20 Summit in Muskoka, the focus of which will be the economy.

The summit will take place either immediately before or after the scheduled G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville and may be held at the same location.

“This is a great honour for Muskoka and for Canada,” said Parry Sound-Muskoka member of Parliament Tony Clement, who hosted a press conference with Huntsville mayor Claude Doughty following the prime minister’s announcement. “The eyes of the world will be on Muskoka and mark my words we will be ready for that.”

According to Clement, plans to host the G20 have been in the works for some time but a decision came to a head during the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, held late this week.

The South Korean government was scheduled to host a G20 Summit in April but has rescheduled it to the fall in order to co-host it with Canada.

I suppose there could be more than one G 20 summit, but it sounds, from the Canadian report, that it will be a shared summit. {half amused, pseudo outrage}They don't care about Canada!{/}

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gangwon and the view north

This photo, from the Joongang Ilbo, was taken near Cheorwon and shows productive fields in South Korea and grim, brown ones in North Korea.

Save a blogger!

A fellow K-blogger might be becoming disillusioned with blogging. He needs comments on his blog, quick!

The EFL-Geek injured himself running:
About 10 days ago I hurt my leg exercising and now it’s really painful to walk. I went to see a doctor twice and got some pills and an injection each time. the injection did wonders, but only lasted one day. Basically I was told to do nothing for one week and everything will be fine. However, it’s pretty much impossible for me to do that unless I take a week off of work – good luck on me doing that...

He posted this information on both Facebook and his blog. On Facebook, he notes:
Interesting - I get more comments on facebook, then I do on my actual blog.

This is clearly a cry for help - both for the physical injury and for people not reading his blog (man, for some people it's all about the hits).

He currently is at 13 comments -including some of his own - on Facebook and only 3 on his blog (all mine, trying to save his blog).

This is a call to arms! Visit his blog and comment - and read a little, it's pretty good.

I like the look of this

I first noticed the Gyopo Wife mentioning a 'car-free day' in Seoul and now the Joongang Ilbo has photos. As it is currently so early in the morning, I think I am reading yesterday's news and today's on the same page: I can see the announcement and a photo (below) of the result next to each other.

The recent 'green party' in Sokcho also included a long section of street closed to automobiles but cars that did travel through town had to take a somewhat torturous detour. It may have been well-advertised but I didn't see much before the day itself.

Anyway, these events where people can walk on the road always seem so much fun. I don't know if it is the usually forbidden pleasure of dallying where once you had to scurry but I do know I like to walk up and down the middle of the street.

They are so much fun, in fact, and are intended to benefit the environment, so I don't know why they are not more frequent. Perhaps various cities should start 5-day markets, closing the street every fifth day, or make the event once a month. Its not like a joke -if once a year is good, many times a year should also be good.

I'm starting to get carried away - how about opening the roads to automobiles once every five days? This would be a good time for stores to be restocked and ready for the next four days without daytime deliveries.

H1N1 quarantine rules changing

"Why are we forbidden to leave the country during Chuseok? With 10,000 cases of swine flu in Korea, how is leaving the country putting us more at risk?"
LATER: BizarroBrian said: With roughly 10,000 cases in South Korea, and swine flu popping up in schools all over the place, seems you're at as great a risk in the country than out.
I hate to leave this quote (or paraphrase) unattributed but I cannot recall which blogger said it nor can I find it. If you think you're the original, tell me and I'll give you credit.

I can credit the DongA Ilbo, which has an article titled, "Gov't Bans School Closures due to H1N1 Flu".
I think the new guidelines are designed to reduce hysteria, to cut down on people being terrified of THE FLU. 'It's not so bad; take some precautions, but live your life.' I am concerned about the final paragraph quoted above: schools are busy places and hagwons work toward for the bottom line - giving them voluntary extra duties isn't the way to see them followed through.
These days I am concerned about the state of my son's daycare. It is well-run and as clean as any place with hygiene-ignorant four-year-olds can be. my son could catch the flu there which would be a serious and scary problem, but also, what do I do if someone else catches it. I suppose the little guy could play in a corner of the classroom for a week on campus.

It's three AM and I'm rambling a little:
The rumours at our school put the number of infected students at seven. I know of one class that was told to go home for a week as a classmate was infected, although I don't know how large that class was. We ESL teachers typically have classes of 20 students and several teachers work with the same major at any given time. It appears that the 20 students were sent home - but not the ESL teacher. in discussing the vaccine earlier, I wondered who should get it; the students who are at risk of being sick or the teachers who are at risk of (being sick and) carrying it widely. To leave the teacher in-place, capable of infecting a few hundred others, is strange

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

High praise in the Korea Herald

Of course the Herald would use this title. I wish my students would describe me this way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Korean wildlife seen this summer - mostly creepy-crawlies

If I see any other interesting wildlife in the next week or so, I may post it under the same title. I have seen deer near Seoraksan but haven't been close enough to shoot them.

To start, this is what I found after returning home from a month in Canada - my wife doesn't eat cheese and had no reason to notice. I think the colour and visual texture are beautiful - but I didn't save any more than the photo.

Click to bigify the photos.

Most of the insects below were old, I think, and in a bad way. This mantis and the later butterflies are still gorgeous, though.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

street fest and mermaid play

Blogger is so exciting when it comes to organizing photos in a blog post. They seem to be loaded in the opposite order to what you select them. Decide to have six and the sixth one is at the beginning.
The little one and I went to see a children's musical, The Mermaid Princess, today and found that the main street was closed to traffic for a clean air festival. I also found that, although mostly cheerful, the little guy was unwilling to smile in any photos.

Downtown Sokcho has these fountains on the sidewalk and they always turn off a few minutes after we get to them. Still, we enjoyed them while we could.
Here is my son with a mascot for something.
There are lots of new statues and this one is to the glory of fisher-people. Perhaps this is a good photo to precede mermaid photos.
Here is the cast. The octopus/woman was hot but I wasn't sure if the 'princess' was a guy or not.
We found a coffee shop that served fresh fruit juice and we stopped in as we were early for the play. The owner's husband is a wood carver.

Festivals Coming up: The Korea Festival next week at Expo Park. The ultramarathon, which I blogged about earlier, is called the Yangyang Song-i Ultramarathon so I think the Song-i mushroom festival is coming up soon. If you love mushrooms, come to the festival. If not, it's no big deal.

Anmok Beach

After work on Friday, I went to Anmok Beach in gangneung. When I left the university, the weather was fine, although I had received a text message that the beach was windy.

Dang! It was cool and very windy. And that means good body surfing.

My friend, who took the pictures, chose not to go in - he was afraid! He also picked a tough place to get out from.
I was rolling and being knocked around so much that he had trouble keeping me in the frame.

I had a great time swimming, but felt exhausted and sandblasted when I came out. I went to my friend's house to see his son and shower a kilo of sand off.
While there I saw the perfect bike for my wife. Look. It doesn't have a cross bar that would interfere with a skirt and even has pink accents on the, uh, handlebars bar. Oh, she would look so cute going to work on that bike. It would even be practical as the electric motor would give her a boost when needed.

Ultramarathon in Yangyang

60km and 100km ultramarathons start in Yangyang tonight at eight PM. It looks like contestants must finish by one PM on Sunday. If anyone is interested, it starts at the culture centre. Good luck to those poor bastards.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I don't see any strong story for the day, so here are a few things - Korea and Gangwon related, that caught my eye.

My most recent post was about swine flu and the need to constant care to prevent illness. Today, I have learned that the eighth victim of Swine Flu was from Gangwon Province. The 64-year old woman went to a hospital and:
The hospital treated her with anti-viral medicine for five days, after which she tested negative for the flu, but she finally died of secondary complications from bacterial pneumonia, the ministry said.

I wonder what the anti-virals were. As most people know, there is no cure for viral illness - no cure for the common cold, for example - but the symptoms can be treated. Anyway, it seems the flu weakened her immune system and allowed pneumonia to take hold. I am not Korea-bashing here, but I wonder if she caught pneumonia at the hospital itself. This happens all the time, around the world.
Anyway, there are now 10,000 Koreans sick with swine flu.

At my university, we no longer need to line up and have our temperature taken to enter the campus. I do need to continue asking each class if anyone is hot and sending them to the campus nurse. With Chuseok coming up, we were reminded that we could not leave the country due to infection fears. I presume going to Seoul and eating from the same dish with a dozen family members is still okay.
I find this funny and I don't even care if the elephant did it.

By Oct. 15, Pyeongchang will submit a proposal to host the 2018 games to the International Olympics Committee, which will narrow down its choices to three to four final candidates by June. IOC members will visit those finalists between February and March 2011, prior to making their decision at a general assembly in Durban, South Africa on July 6.
E-books in Korea
Major S. Korean publishers, bookstores create e-book firm

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- A group of major publishers and on- and off-line booksellers in South Korea founded an electric book firm on Wednesday, the new publishing body said in a release.
I've been watching NUUT, a Korean brand of E-book reader device, for the last few years. I would totally buy one if I could get content easily without DRM - I don't feel the need to share the books, but I would want to move the e-book from my computer to my reading device, to new computer.... I have a habit of reading a book several times and I frequently buy non-fiction specifically to access at different times in the future.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swine flu...forever

I think I'm a bright guy and am capable of thinking things through. Still, sometimes I need to hear or read or see something, as per my example below, dozens of times before it really sinks in.

My great epiphany last week was about swine flu, or rather contagious disease and our future.

Many K-bloggers have been describing the over-reaction to swine flu found in Korea. Roboseyo just blogged about the number of swine flu deaths compared to the number of suicides and asked why Koreans weren't investing more in suicide prevention.

At the same time, the ex-pat community has been discussing the lack of hygiene seen in Korea. I'm talking about people using bathrooms but not washing their hands, sneezing or coughing without covering their mouths and sharing food even to the point of all customers for an entire day sharing the same bowl of soy sauce. I'm going to point out here that I need to rub my eyes less and wash my own hands more as well.

Well, Korean officials have not been overreacting to swine flu; they may well be reacting exactly right, but they need to do this forever. This is what globalization is all about, this is what is meant by the cliche, "It's a small world." There will always be another disease on the horizon, people will always be in contact with international travelers and preventative measures will always need to be taken.

SARS, bird flu, swine flu, ... disinfectant gels and infra-red cameras and the rest will be with us til the end. The Asian bow will replace European greetings and even the North American handshake. Maybe online classes will come into their own.

I was told all this again and again since my university biology classes in the '80s but only now, standing in line to have my temperature taken and seeing disinfectant stations at doorways on campus, do I really understand.

One more thing. Matt Ridley wrote a book about the evolution of sex called "The Red Queen". The red queen that Alice in Wonderland met had to run as fast as she could to keep up with the others, to stay in place. One of the explanations for sex in Ridley's book was to shuffle our immunities and cell markers. This kind of evolution is not the sort to change Australopithecus to man but to change the locks on our cells so diseases couldn't get in. For this kind of evolution, our grandfather's locks would work just as well for our grandchildren - as diseases found keys to one set of locks, they lost the keys to the old locks. A newborn, with an entirely new (or very old) immunity suite would be in a better position than a clone, young in body but with a slightly older immunity suite.

Anyway, I wonder how this affects my son. He was born relatively late in my life - I was thirty-eight while my father was in his twenties when I was born. Is he getting a better or worse immunity suite? Will the trend in developed nations of having children later in life make a difference in immunity?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Global Warming news -mostly about Gangwon

Blogger note: In the 'create a new post' window, the two quotes below are the same colour, although the fonts are different. I have this problem frequently now that I am on a Mac.

The joongang and the Chosun have articles about unusual crops in Gangwondo.
The Joongang has this to say:

Melons now grow in greenhouses in Yanggu County, Gangwon, and apples grow outdoors. Tangerines are being grown in Gangneung, Gangwon.

All of this shows that semitropical temperatures are moving north, leaving some to wonder what the temperature will be like in 100 years. The meteorological administration says that if the temperature continues its meteoric rise, the average temperature in Korea will be about 4 degrees higher. Ski resorts in Jeolla and Gangwon may have to shut down. Pine trees, which are symbolic of the Korean soul for many Koreans, could also disappear.

Apples growing outdoors is a sign of increased temperatures? I confess that I chiefly remember only wild apple trees rather than orchards in my part of Canada, but I have trouble thinking of apple trees as sub-tropical.

"Ski resorts may have to shut down"? Well, perhaps we can be done with Olympics bids, then.

From the Chosun, we learn that Gangneung has planted a field of sunflowers along the Namdae River:

The 8,000 sq. m field is made up of one million sunflowers and it is drawing people out of their cars to get a closer look. These sunflowers are different in that they only come up to a person’s waist, whereas ordinary sunflowers usually grow to the average person’s head.

Alright, maybe sunflowers aren't tropical either (and the article made no such connection) but they have the word 'sun' right in the name. Read critically, people!

I will work, next week, on finding and photographing one or both of these crops.

Roboseyo* has (re)posted a video about global warming that compares the costs and benefits of acting on global warming with whether or not such warming is taking place. The speaker in the video makes a fair point but I feel the worst-case-scenarios (while possible) aren't the way to convince fence-sitters.

On the other hand, I would have added that if we take action against global warming and it never does occur (and that Gore and the others, the many, many others, were wrong), we still come out ahead. I say this because most of the action needed to reduce or slow global warming have other great benefits - reducing fuel emissions is good for more than keeping us cool, it also prolongs how long we actually have fuel, reduces other forms of pollution, and walking and cycling rather than driving may make us healthier.

This is a point that GI Korea (link is to a search on his site for global warming) might not get. Either that, or he wants to argue the problem on it's own merits (is global warming happening or not) and not go off on tangents. Anyway, his blog is the best place for clear-headed anti-global warming information (not that I agree with it, mind you).
Added later:
the Korea Times also has an article, an editorial this time, about Korea becoming subtropical. The writer is concerned that Lee Myoung-bak isn't doing enough. I can't really say, but I do know that Canadians have/had trouble accepting their government's One Ton Challenge, and Canadians produce far more carbon as individuals than Koreans do. I'm not exactly blaming Canadians: citizens are fewer and spread further out than Koreans are, making automobiles far more necessary.

Roboseyo is also involved in KIVA, which is very cool. Follow the above link to his site. KIVA is sort of micro-loan bank. Instead of giving large groups piles of money, the micro-loans go to small-business people - to buy a sewing machine or a bike or, well, I don't know, but the loans are in the order of $20 to $50 or so. I don't think the loaner, Roboseyo in this case, makes money, but he has a wonderfully high likelihood of having the loan repaid and so is able to use it again. I have wanted to get involved but have always been too lazy.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Imjin river flood revisited

In looking for further information about the recent flash flood from North Korea, I see that I am not alone. At the Marmot's Hole, Oranckay stated that the North was testing a weapon, one that was deniable but capable of threatening Seoul itself. The Herald discussed the military angle but also reports that any explanation at this time is only speculation.

I would like to write about a different aspect of the flood - how the people died. As with the cause of the flood, I can only speculate, but I base my opinion on how the flood in Jirisan at the end of July, 1998 caused so many deaths.
First, the six Koreans (South Koreans, from the Herald article, I see a child presumed to be North Korean has also been found) were camping by the river.

The problem is, what does "by the river" mean? For the deaths caused by the Jirisan floods it meant actually on dry sections of the riverbed itself. I was unable to find much online about the 1998 flood but Kushibo linked to a Sally Ann article. People had even parked their cars on the riverbed. I had hiked along the river at some time before the flood and know that signs existed warning people not to camp "by the river".

If the victims of the recent flood also camped on exposed portions of the riverbed, I don't want to directly compare them to the Jirisan victims. The flood in Jirisan was caused by a fairly major typhoon and the campers should have put a little thought into their choice of campsite considering the heavy rain. There was no such warning at Imjin: from the above-linked Herald article: Speculation rose over what was behind the unusual discharge which came without notice when the area saw almost no rainfall recently.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Surprise flood on Imjin River

About six months ago was International Trans-boundary Water Day. I contributed a post about using radar to track rain in North Korea to judge Imjin River water levels - most of the river is north of the DMZ.

Apparently, there was a surprise flood there this morning causing six missing on this side of the border.

The same content in English. I also see that six weeks ago, there was concern of flooding in North Korea because "Seasonal floods are common in North Korea where decades of deforestation have left the country without a natural protection of tree cover."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

More invasive species likely on the way for the Great Lakes

I don't know if Korea has any "great lakes" - no offense or anything, I'm just saying most lakes here are above dams. Anyway, this post is about the Great Lakes between Canada and the US.

One example of an invasive species is the Zebra Mussel.

Zebra Mussels
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are small, fingernail-sized mussels native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. They are believed to have been transported to the Great Lakes via ballast water from a transoceanic vessel. The ballast water, taken on in a freshwater European port was subsequently discharged into Lake St. Clair, near Detroit, where the mussel was discovered in 1988. Since that time, they have spread rapidly to all of the Great Lakes and waterways in many states, as well as Ontario and Quebec.

Diving ducks and freshwater drum eat zebra mussels, but will not significantly control them.

Likely means of spread: Microscopic larvae may be carried in livewells or bilgewater. Adults can attach
to boats or boating equipment that is in the water.

According to the blog Journal Watch Online, due to the recession, many ships are sitting at anchor longer than normal. This means more local critters are able to attach themselves to the hull to be carried to the next harbour.

...researchers have raised yet another possible downside of the economic crisis. Global merchant vessels are sitting idle at ports, potentially accumulating marine organisms that could be carried to other parts of the world when business picks up.

Ships that transport organisms on their hulls have likely helped non-native marine species invade new habitat around the globe, resulting in damage to both ecosystems and economies. Coating the hulls can prevent “biofouling,” but many of these treatments lose their effectiveness on inactive ships. For instance, a 200-meter ship could amass more than 20 tonnes of organisms if left unused for a long period of time, the authors write.

More on invasive species here (I think this is the site I got the zebra mussel info -there was a long, but necessary gap in the writing of this post - my son wanted to play outside).

come to Sokcho - any way you want.

It looks like another airline is going to try flying to our (well, Yangyang's) airport. I wish them well, but give them only a month or so (Click to enlarge the photo).

Earlier, I had heard about hopes for a high-speed train to Sokcho, via Chuncheon. I thought it unlikely but it appears Chuncheon is getting a fast train. Maybe they will extend it here after all.

I am surprised though, at how many transportation links Chuncheon is getting - In July an expressway was officially opened running between Seoul and Chuncheon -it seems to me that it will take passengers away from any rail service and/or that the rail service will take cars from the toll road. From the article:
The toll is 5,900 won for passenger cars for the entire route. Residents in Chuncheon and nearby counties will receive a discount of 700 won.

"We planned to open the highway in August but advanced the opening by one month, for the convenience of vacationers to Chuncheon and other destinations in Gangwon. We hope the road will ease traffic congestion between the two regions on weekends," a ministry official said.

By 2014, the expressway will be extended to reach Yangyang on the eastern coast.

Finally, a new ferry service overseas has started for China, Russia and Japan.
This is the second major ferry traveling from Sokcho; the first links Sokcho and Baekdu Mountain in North Korea....
The ferry can accommodate 750 people and is able to carry 180 containers. Travel starts each week on Monday at noon, when it leaves for Japan, and runs until its return on Sunday. However, it is a longer journey than air travel, taking almost one day to get to Japan and an additional 22 hours to Russia.

Sokcho is excited about the latest opportunity which is expected to boost the local economy as it becomes the first port on the Korean east coast to grab two exclusive international ferry links.