NBC News on Friday had an interesting story related to the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred over a year ago.
It seems that significant pieces of debris that were washed out to sea during the tsunami have made their way across the Pacific Ocean. The largest and most notable — and the most hazardous — has been the "ghost ship" that had been drifting toward the North American coastline. The US Coast Guard decided to torpedo it and let it sink in waters 6000 feet (1800 meters) deep.
The ghost ship is fascinating enough (and it's too bad they couldn't sink it in a more favorable location so that it could become an artificial reef and perhaps a diving site), but what got me interested enough to post this was their discussion of the everyday items from Japan that they've noticed coming ashore.
One biologist in Sitka who routinely helps with cleaning up the beaches around Sitka, in the Alaska Panhandle, says they've noticed more and more debris. Quoting NBC's Miguel Almaguer, "These buoys and bottles are new... and suspicious."
Not to make light of their obvious plight, but here's an example of the suspicious stuff from Japan:
Yup. That's a Korean bottle of Minute Maid Fresh juice (looks to be apple). To be fair, they said that Japanese debris washes up on their shore all the time (something about the geography makes it prone to collecting floating garbage) and they would need to verify if this is from last year's tsunami. Hint to NBC News: The Korean bottle probably isn't, but go ahead with the geiger counter anyway.
Sure, it's not entirely implausible that the Korean bottle came from northern Japan. A realistic scenario would be that someone from Japan visited Korea and brought this bottle back on the plane as a beverage or even a souvenir, but my guess is that it actually floated over from Korea.
I've done beach cleanup along northern Oahu long before the tsunami, and it's easy to see Japanese, Korean, and even Chinese goods washed upon the shore and partly buried in the sand. Lest you think it's only East Asians dumping things in the ocean, we see lots of stuff from the US (much of it local, but some of it from the Mainland).
And except for the local stuff, I'm not so sure that these are examples of people carelessly dumping things into the ocean. I remember The Lost Nomad used to put up atrocious pictures of garbage dumped along rivers or reservoirs where he'd fish.
I had assumed that 100% of that had been left by some careless person, like the people who toss their cigarette butts into subway vents, but after experiencing some minor flooding due to torrential rains that are frequent during Korea's changma (rainy season), I've concluded that a large portion, perhaps even the vast majority, comes from garbage and other debris that had been secured being blown away or washed away by heavy rain.
Of course, that doesn't make it any healthier to wildlife or the environment, but at least it restores some of my faith in humanity. That is, until I see a smoker toss a cigarette butt into a subway vent again.
Nate is a former newscaster and sometime journalist, Korean Studies specialist, current doctoral grad student in public health, professional writer and editor, Yonsei alumnus, UCI alumnus, lover not a fighter, Gen-Xer, 1980s pop music aficionado, 5K-per-day runner, fast walker, hiker, temporary permanent resident of Hawaii, Seoul slumlord, California native straight out of Compton, Orange County "native" with a Seth Cohen personality but not a Seth Cohen trust fund, national parks visitor, former Disneyland employee, former UPS employee who still has the uniform and plots ways to abuse that fact, amateur photographer and cinematographer, Mac enthusiast, uncle of several and cousin of many, semi-professional blogger, contrarian scourge, lifelong "Orange Dog Democrat" (Dem from OC) who distrusts other Democrats, ordained minister, eater of oatmeal, onetime student of Japanese who can still put together sentences based on knowledge of Korean, world traveler, frequent flier, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf preferred customer, lover of all things Italian, filial son, frequent visitor of Japan and Hong Kong, and driver of an LPG Kia minivan. Email me.
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My sitemeter.com data shows that a lot of the 1000 or so people a week who land on my site are looking for cultural information on Korea (e.g., "When did Syngman Rhee die?" "What did the Indians bring to the first Chusok?" etc., etc.), as well as practical or historical stuff.
That got me thinking that, hey, I have a master's degree in Korean studies and a minor in Japanese studies, I've lived in Seoul far longer than most foreans my age (whether they're kyopo or non-kyopo), I teach introductory courses on Korea and its cultural trappings and history, so why not offer a free service where I attempt to answer people's questions, point them in the direction of where they can get them answered, and/or offer my regulars (that's you!) a chance to take a stab at some of this stuff, too.
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Explore Monster Island (um... search this site)
九十五大怪獣란? 쿠시보의 몬스터 아일랜드란?
Pearls of witticism from 'Bo the Blogger: Kushibo's Korea blog... Kushibo-e Kibun... Now with Less kimchi, more nunchi. Random thoughts and commentary (and indiscernibly opaque humor) about selected social, political, economic, and health-related issues of the day affecting "foreans" ("foreigners" in Korea be they kyopo or non-kyopo), Koreans, Korea and East Asia, along with the US, especially Hawaii, Orange County, and the rest of California, plus anything else that is deemed worthy of discussion. Forza Corea!
To read my many posts on Laura Ling, Euna Lee, or Mitch Koss, the two CurrentTV crew who were held in North Korea and their executive producer who could run faster than they could because he wasn't weighted down with incriminating videotapes, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Old photos of Jeollanam-do and Gwangju.
[image: 1941 Jeollanamdo Provincial Office]
*Taken in front of the Jeollanam-do Provincial Office, 1941.*
[image: Sajik Park]
*Sajik Park observatory in the...
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If you're one of dozens of people each week who stumble across this blog looking for quotes, information, or (nearly) full scripts of "The Simpsons," then go to snpp.com (for "Springfield Nuclear Power Plant"), the premier Simpsons resource that is not controlled by the evildoers at Fox.
Blog roll of blogs that list me in their blog roll (plus a few other blogs I like or check out)
Even before I went into into semi-retirement, I essentially stopped commenting on Marmot's Hole and other K-blogs altogether. But I still occasionally shoot off an editorial comment here and there or respond when someone calls my name. See the COMMENTS section here for some of these pearls of witticism.
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How did you find Monster Island?
* Monster Island (actually a peninsula)
The name of this blog comes from a line in "Lisa on Ice," a beloved episode of The Simpsons, perhaps my all-time favorite television show (even though for several seasons there, it really did suck). Lisa is imagining being sworn in as president, but at the last minute, it is discovered that she failed P.E. (physical education) and she is thus "sentenced to a lifetime of horror" on Monster Island. "Don't worry," the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court confides in her, "It's just a name."
Fast forward to Lisa and other prisoners running in panic through a tropical jungle, chased by Godzilla-like creatures, including a monster turtle and a monster firefly.
"He said it was just a name!" Lisa screams to the man next to her. While he, too, runs for his life, the unidentified man calmly says, "What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula."
Anyway, I thought in some ways that punchline summed up modern-day Korea in a nutshell. For many people—foreigners and Koreans—the ups and downs and everyday travails of the Republic of Korea make it as precarious as a Monster Island would be (and with the DMZ being the only land border, it really is like an island). But it actually is a peninsula. Okay, it made sense in my head.
So as you can see, despite the hits I get from people looking for Japanese tentacle porn, it has nothing to do with anything salacious as that.
Sarah Palin may not recall what papers she reads, but Kushibo knows what he checks out every day.