Kim Jong-il’s Heir Attends Parade - NYTimes.com
"This has prompted the unthinkable: some restaurants are now charging extra for kimchi. Free kimchi along with one’s meal is practically a basic human right in Korea. So the advent of this new pricing, along with general kimchi shortages, has brought on a bout of national soul-searching, as well as the giving rise to the amusing notion that trench-coated men might soon stalk dark alleyways, whispering “Psst—want some cabbage?”" (via Kimchi: Dear cabbage | The Economist)

"This has prompted the unthinkable: some restaurants are now charging extra for kimchi. Free kimchi along with one’s meal is practically a basic human right in Korea. So the advent of this new pricing, along with general kimchi shortages, has brought on a bout of national soul-searching, as well as the giving rise to the amusing notion that trench-coated men might soon stalk dark alleyways, whispering “Psst—want some cabbage?”" (via Kimchi: Dear cabbage | The Economist)

South Korea’s parliament approved on Friday President Lee Myung-bak’s choice of prime minister, filling the post after a two-month wait that he had stalled reforms in Asia’s fourth largest economy.

That was not a quick practice. Read more about the new PM at Wikipedia.

South Korea gets new PM | World | News | Toronto Sun
So, preparing for the G20 by smashing beer bottles? Be on your best behavior in the pubs of Pusan. G20 summit: South Korea SWAT team prepare to protect world leaders | Mail Online Great photos.

So, preparing for the G20 by smashing beer bottles? Be on your best behavior in the pubs of Pusan. G20 summit: South Korea SWAT team prepare to protect world leaders | Mail Online Great photos.

I’m not expecting too much unrest during the G20 meeting, but I guess better safe than sorry.

I’m not expecting too much unrest during the G20 meeting, but I guess better safe than sorry.

I am now stepping down from the post of prime minister, taking all responsibility and fault.

Chung Un-chan, Prime Minister of South Korea, after his failure to have the Sejong City plan scrapped

One of the major considerations in choosing a new PM must be their avowed willingness to take the bullet for the president when major policy goes South. Incidentally, despite his failure, I think the PM (and the government he represents) was fully in the right to attempt to kill this goal ambiguous and expensive plan.

LG Optimus Z now available in South Korea

LG’s first answer to the Galaxy S, the Optimus Z’s specs are as follows:

3.5 inch WVGA display
5 megapixel camera
1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
Android 2.1, with 2.2 available later this year
LG has a few other unique and gimmicky features that they’ve baked in (for instance, the ability to interact with the screen from your PC), but otherwise this phone fits perfectly within the next generation of entirely generic, seen-one-seen-‘em-all Android phones that are beginning to flood the market. Pass.

LG Optimus Z now available in South Korea

LG’s first answer to the Galaxy S, the Optimus Z’s specs are as follows:

  • 3.5 inch WVGA display
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • Android 2.1, with 2.2 available later this year

LG has a few other unique and gimmicky features that they’ve baked in (for instance, the ability to interact with the screen from your PC), but otherwise this phone fits perfectly within the next generation of entirely generic, seen-one-seen-‘em-all Android phones that are beginning to flood the market. Pass.

BBC News - In pictures: US-South Korea war games

This really is a scary time. The North is predictable to an extent, but I’m always in fear that some rash act will push them past that and trigger a wild retaliation against a fictional slight. It’s impossible to trust something this irrational.

In any case, the war games were a blast, right?

BBC News - In pictures: US-South Korea war games

This really is a scary time. The North is predictable to an extent, but I’m always in fear that some rash act will push them past that and trigger a wild retaliation against a fictional slight. It’s impossible to trust something this irrational.

In any case, the war games were a blast, right?

The Actions of the Individual Weighed Against the National Image

Lee Chang-sup, chief editorial writer for The Korea Times, offers some scathing criticism of the behaviour of Koreans in light of the government’s espoused intention to improve the country’s international image. Some notable points of contention include:

  • GNO Rep. Kang Yong-seok’s sexually abusive remarks to journalism students in Seoul
  • Online crackdowns on criticism of Lee Myung-bak
  • Liberal celebrity Kim Mi-hwa’s blacklisting by KBS
  • The murder of the Vietnamese internet bride 8 days after her arrival
  • The “legally questionably background” of Lee Gwang-je, key campaigner for the 2018 Olympics

It seems unfair to project the unsavoury actions of these individuals onto the nation as a whole, but on the other hand I think Lee’s criticisms are justified given the homogenous quality of Korean society. It is inevitable that, given the degree to which Koreans express their solidarity on so many important issues, the group must in some degree take responsibility for each of its members.

Seoul in Debt

Seoul’s debt is climbing fast, rising a massive 75% in the course of a year (from 1.85 to 3.24 trillion won, or 1.5 to 2.7 billion USD). This is equivalent to over 300 thousand won per citizen. Two major factors seem to be at play here. The economic slowdown over the past two years has strongly impacted the real estate market, and thereby reduced tax revenues. And secondly, Mayor Oh Se-hoon’s expensive development projects, especially the Han River Renaissance project, have caused the government workforce and operating costs to significantly increase. The debt numbers come just one day after plans to ease mortgage lending rules were scrapped. Personal debt for all of Korea also rose to record highs last year, averaging about 17.5 million won, or 80% of the 21.9 million per capita income. All of this makes me somewhat skeptical about Korea’s supposed escape from the financial crisis.