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The Mainichi Shimbun said it had obtained an official North Korean "internal document" which described a visit by the father and son to a provincial agricultural university earlier this year.I wonder if the 26-year-old Cherished Leader spent the whole time on the twisted photo op thinking to himself, "Oh, God! Forty years of this?!" If so, unification may be closer than we think.
The literature described itself as "the first official document regarding General Comrade Kim Jong-Un", the daily said. Information on the Kim family is tightly controlled by North Korea's official media.
Kim Jong-Il and his late father, North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, used "field guidance" trips to military units, factories, farms and other places to demonstrate their absolute leadership in the communist state.
The document, dated April 26, said that Kim Jong-Il visited Wonsan University of Agriculture in the eastern port city of Wonsan, telling activists there that he had brought Kim Jong-Un, the newspaper reported.
Just a few years ago, the number of pregnant women in this city had declined so much that the sparsely equipped two-room maternity ward at Yeonggwang General Hospital was close to shutting down. But these days it is busy again.I'd like to see a little more evidence that Kosian is typically used pejoratively or that it's even commonly used (the "English" term, that is) among native Korean speakers. Frankly, I'm not sure what the Korean equivalent would be, and right now the people I would ask are all asleep or hungover.
More surprising than the fact of this miniature baby-boom is its composition: children of mixed ethnic backgrounds, the offspring of Korean fathers and mothers from China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. These families have suddenly become so numerous that the nurses say they have had to learn how to say “push” in four languages.
It is a similar story across South Korea, where hundreds of thousands of foreign women have been immigrating in recent years, often in marriages arranged by brokers. They have been making up for a shortage of eligible Korean women, particularly in underdeveloped rural areas like this one in the nation’s southwest.
Now, these unions are bearing large numbers of mixed children, confronting this proudly homogeneous nation with the difficult challenge of smoothly absorbing them.
South Korea is generally more open to ethnic diversity than other Asian nations with relatively small minority populations, like neighboring Japan. Nevertheless, it is far from welcoming to these children, who are widely known here pejoratively as Kosians, a compound of Korean and Asian.
South Korea's president announced Friday he is willing to meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il in order to resolve the nuclear stand off on the divided peninsula and tackle other thorny issues.The only other South Korean leaders to hold a summit with either the Dear Leader or his father were leftist or left-leaning, but Lee is a right-wing conservative whose party has always loathed not just the North Korean leadership but also those who sought to embrace them. I wonder, then, if we will see a smile on his face, à la Roh Moohyun, Kim Daejung, or even Jimmy Carter, or will we see a somber look, à la Bill Clinton. When it comes to summits, Lee is a smiler, that's for sure, so he probably can't help but crack a smile. But still, it's Kim Jong-il... I'd want to deck the guy, and I'm not a violent person.
President Lee Myung-bak in a live television address late Friday suggested an inter-Korean summit could be held to try to improve relations, which have been strained since the conservative politician took office last year.
"I have no political reason to hold a summit (with Kim), but I can meet him at anytime if it will help convince North Korea to give up its nuclear programs and resolve humanitarian issues," Lee said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
North Korea's Kim has held summits with the South twice: the first in 2000 with then-President Kim Dae-jung and the other in 2007 with then-President Roh Moo-hyun.
"I think it does not have to be held within the territory of South Korea if such a summit will help resolve such issues," said Lee. "Because the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is such an important issue, I plan to meet (Kim) at anytime and anywhere, as long as our objective of such a summit will be achieved."
North Korea pulled out of six-party nuclear disarmament talks in April. The negotiations involve the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
North and South Korea fought the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving them still technically at war.
Possessing the power and speed to overwhelm an opponent and a ruthless streak in the ring, Choi is known as the "Defector Boxer Girl" in South Korea, where she is a new hope for a declining sport in the country that was known for producing scrappy and fearless fighters who steadily climbed the world rankings.We constantly hear stories of North Korean defectors having difficulties adapting to the hustle and bustle of South Korean life, and especially the prejudice many face, so it's nice to read about someone from the North who is being looked up to as a positive figure.
"I don't mind that nickname, but I want to be known for my boxing more than the fact that I defected from North Korea."
With a compelling story that includes a high-risk escape from North Korea, Choi's tough, girlish and endearing character has helped make her a budding media sensation in South Korea.
The 170 cms (5 ft, 7 inches) tall Choi grew up in what would qualify for an affluent family in impoverished North Korea. Being taller than her peers she was attracted to sports and dabbled in boxing.
"I bought her a wonderful accordion to keep her out of trouble but she gave it up for boxing," said her father Choi Young-choon, who used to work for a trading company in North Korea that exported minerals such as zinc and copper.
His business took him to China and it was during one of those trips that he defected. He bribed border guards to allow his wife, daughter and son to cross into China too and join him in the escape to the South, local media said.
The family made its way to Vietnam and came to the South in 2004 with more than 400 other defectors in what was the single largest group of North Koreans to arrive in the country.
Anyway, good luck with your case, Mr. Hussein — I don’t think “any behavior and language looking down on foreigners” should be illegal, mind you, but people can’t be harassing other people on a public bus, either. Would be keen to know more about the charges being pressed, though. Would also be keen to know what the police have to say, so I hope the KT stays on the story.But on the other hand, I like the idea that the authorities have come down firmly against people in the "vocal fringe," at least in ethnic matters:
Since I'm also a strong believer in the idea that the vocal fringe is able to run roughshod over a more moderate majority that is afraid of being the sole voice speaking up against something they disagree with, I think it also emboldens those who see the behavior of a Mr Park to speak up and say something on behalf of people like the good professor, some dark-skinned 3D worker, or an English teacher just out enjoying the weekend with his girlfriend.Indeed, Mr Park's words and behavior may no longer be seen as okay or normative.
South Korea's Constitutional Court struck down on Thursday a half-century-old criminal code provision that made it illegal to promise to marry a woman in return for sex.I suppose this could be useful information for some people. Not necessarily me. I don't think I've ever lied about something like that in order to get a woman into bed. I might have exaggerated the value of my portfolio, but that's it. Anyway, this same court has been a little inconsistent, especially regarding another law on sex between consenting adults that many people also see as archaic or even demeaning to women:
The court said the code violated women's constitutional right to sexual freedom and the state must refrain from interfering in such personal matters.
The plaintiffs, two men who brought the appeal against criminal convictions, argued that premarital sex should be a personal and moral issue and not subject to prosecution.
The criminal code provides for up to two years in jail or 5 million won ($4,300) in fines for "anyone who engages in illicit intercourse with womenfolk who does not otherwise habitually engage in lewd conduct with the pretence of marrying her."
The same court upheld a provision in the criminal code last year that made extramarital sex illegal, saying it was not excessive punishment because the society still viewed such conduct as improper.Ironically, the ban on extramarital sex was intended to protect women by insuring that their husband's don't philander, but in fact it is often cheating wives that run afoul of this law. At any rate, beware of cougars.
The commission, set up in 2005 with a parliamentary mandate, has investigated and confirmed similar civilians massacres by the wartime South Korean authorities, who summarily executed thousands of leftist prison inmates or machine-gunned villagers during their mountain operations to exterminate communist guerrillas, dumping their bodies in the sea or mass graves.Indeed, it is a tragedy. How many of these thousands of people were truly supportive of the DPRK? How many were just doing what they had to in the crazy days following liberation and national division just to survive? Maybe some of them were indeed fifth columnists, but summary execution makes you know better than the enemy. [UPDATE: The Associated Press is also carrying the story, via WaPo.]
But its announcement on Thursday marked the first time a state investigative agency confirmed the nature and scale of what is known as "the National Guidance League Incident" _ one of the most horrific and controversial episodes of the 1950-53 war.
In the months before the war, the anti-communist and authoritarian regime of President Syngman Rhee forced an estimated 300,000 South Koreans to join the league, supposedly set up to re-educate people who had disavowed communism.
When the war broke out in June 1950 with the invasion from the North, the South Korean military and police hurried to round up unsuspecting league members and many of them vanished. Discussion of their fate had been taboo during the decades of postwar military rule.
He thought about the defectors under his care: For months, they had lived under the constant threat of being caught by Chinese officials and returned to North Korea. Now in Hanoi, the activists' goal was to find the right embassy -- one away from a busy street and out of the steely gaze of Vietnamese secret police -- and then shepherd the defectors inside.I have great admiration for the people willing to risk their own lives and freedom to help the refugees. And for all the Christian-bashing that goes on these days (some of it deserved), it's worth noting how many of the people involved in the efforts to get North Koreans to freedom are Christian missionaries or clergy.
Once within the embassy compound, the refugees could request sanctuary, taking another step toward freedom in South Korea.
The plan was all set. Then Kim and other activists learned about the capture of the five. The three activists -- Kim, another South Korean and an American missionary -- gathered to discuss their options. Should they press forward with the nine remaining defectors, or was the embassy gambit now too risky?
"We were all so tormented," Kim recalled. "At the same time we had to be reasonable. We had nine lives under our custody, people for whom we had assumed total responsibility."
The activists finally posed their dilemma to the defectors themselves. "We told them, 'This is our plan,' " Kim said. " 'Do you want to go forward? It's all up to you.' "
The Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon admires the oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino and readily acknowledges that "Kill Bill" influenced Kim's own recent film, the stylishly sanguine "A Bittersweet Life." Kim also cites Brian De Palma's gangster classic "Scarface" in shaping his film's frenzied final shoot-out.Indeed, they increasingly are. But I know I'm not the first to say that Hollywood should not necessarily be the entity that Chungmuro should be benchmarking, nor should it be success in America. Americans, for one, generally do not like to see movies with subtitles — not even good movies with subtitles. Sad, but true. Moreover, despite all the glitz and explosions, etc., a lot of what Hollywood produces is mindless claptrap. Is that really something to aspire to?
But like many contemporary Korean directors who came of age while ingesting Hollywood genre films, Kim strives to maintain a degree of independence from the L.A. dream factory. Although Hollywood has courted him since the breakout success of “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” his 2008 convention-tweaking "kimchi Western" set in 1930s Manchuria, the director shows a certain cautiousness toward the way the U.S. film industry does business.
"Hollywood films seem to solve every problem with money. That's why Hollywood is looking to international filmmakers for creativity," Kim said through an interpreter during an interview over the weekend at Chapman University’s inaugural Pusan West festival of Korean film.
"Korean people like to see their own stories," Kim continued. "But specifically I think Korean films are as good as Hollywood films, as well-made and commercially [viable]."
Who the Republican candidate is, and his or her qualifications and abilities, will matter only if Obama's approval rating is between 47 and 51 percent going into the fall of 2012. Interestingly, in the latest Gallup poll Obama's approval rating was at a precarious 49 percent.He then goes on to inform former Governor Palin what she could do to enhance her candidacy. Not her ability to govern, mind you, but her stature so that she can be elected. (I, too, have offered Governor Palin advice — as if she would actually listen to me — but it was of a more substantive kind.)
Second, America is still (unfortunately) politically divided and polarized, and Palin benefits from this dynamic. While Democrats love Obama, Republicans look on him with real disfavor. The gap between Obama's approval rating among Democrats and among Republicans is nearly 70 percentage points -- a higher partisan divide than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush experienced. Obama's agenda and actions this year, and some mistakes, have solidified this divide.
Polls show that Palin's favorability numbers are a mirror image of those of Obama. She is respected and loved by the Republican base, while Democrats despise her. Granted, independent voters have significant reservations about her capability to be president, and this would be a hurdle in the general election. But to win the Republican nomination, Palin needs only to get enough support from the base to win early key states. Already, in nearly every poll today, she has a level of support that makes her a viable primary candidate. Just look at the crowds and the buzz her book tour is drawing.
It is believed that the technique may now allow for the production of environmentally-friendly plastic that is biodegradable and low in toxicity.Mass production of plastic out of E. coli? Well, that's not a disaster movie plot waiting to happen.
The research focused on Polylactic Acid (PLA), a bio-based polymer which holds the key to producing plastics through natural and renewable resources. Polymers are molecules found in everyday life in the form of plastics and rubbers.
"The polyesters and other polymers we use everyday are mostly derived from fossil oils made through the refinery or chemical process," Professor Sang Yup Lee, who lead the research, said in a press statement.
"The idea of producing polymers from renewable biomass has attracted much attention due to the increasing concerns of environmental problems and the limited nature of fossil resources. PLA is considered a good alternative to petroleum-based plastics, as it is both biodegradable and has a low toxicity to humans."
Until now PLA has been produced in a two-step fermentation and chemical process of polymerization, which is both complex and expensive. The team used a metabolically engineered strain of E. coli and developed a one-stage process.