Thursday, March 22, 2018

LTW: #MeToo all Over Korea

The Me Too wave from Hollywood has crossed the Pacific, hitting Korean peninsula hard. It started when Seo Ji-hyeon, a district attorney, appeared on TV on Jan 29, accusing her then boss Ahn Tae-geun groped her in a funeral home in 2010. That opened the gate, and a flurry of Me Too came out. Seoul city government removed a tribute to Ko Un, 84, a respected poet and perennial candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature, for multiple accusations of his sexual misconduct in the past. Police questioned Lee Youn-taik, a prominent playwright and a best friend to President Moon Jae-in over 50 years, on sexual allegations on a dozen women in his theater troupe. An Hee-jung, the governor of Choongcheong Province with high potential to be the next president, had to resign and face prosecutors when his own secretary accused him of raping her. Rep. Min Byung-doo of the ruling party announced his resignation at a news report that he made an unwanted sexual advances at a karaoke bar in 2008. A famous actor and a professor at a university committed suicide out of shame when media reported their sexual misconducts to would-be actresses and students. Can go on with 10 more stories. A big puzzle is why all this Me Too are taking place with those in the liberal, instead of conservatives.

Ann Taegeun/Ko Un/Lee Yountaik/An Heejung/Min Byung-doo  from left to right

Korean society had been generous about men jokes in the past, especially while in drinking. Not any more. The Minister of Defense was in trouble for his joke at a dinner speech last year. "What do speeches and skirts have in common? The shorter, the better." He meant good to have his hungry soldiers not wait too long for his speech to end, but it was not appropriate. "A good speech should be like a woman's skirt:long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest." Good thing Winston Churchill made this comment over 70 years ago. If now,

Monday, August 14, 2017

LTW: The Barking War

Good morning,

A series of bellicose rhetoric exchange between North Korea and Donald Trump keeps raising tension in Korean Peninsula. North Korean Foreign Minister threw the first punch on Aug 7, declaring his country will “teach the U.S. a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force.” Trump countered on Aug 8, saying “North Korea best not make any more threats to the U.S. They will be met with fire and fury the world has never seen.” The commander of North Korean Army responded on Aug 10, threatening they can fire four Hwasung-12 ICBMs over Japan to lfall 30km (19 miles) away from Guam with the final order from Kim Jung-un. Donald Trump then tweeted on Aug 11 that U.S. military plans are “locked and loaded” and ready to go “should North Korea act unwisely.” Gen.Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met with President Moon Jae-in Seoul on Aug 14.

 Guam:North Korea에 대한 이미지 검색결과Guam:North Korea에 대한 이미지 검색결과fire and fury에 대한 이미지 검색결과

While the rest of the world is watching Korean Peninsula in worries, South Koreans are not really feeling the tension. South Koreans have lived under Kim family’s verbal threats since Korean War ended in 1953. If South Koreans cannot sleep because of Kim Jung-un’s recent bad words from his mouth, neither can Japanese because of earthquakes. My wife can be more concerned about possible Louis Vuitton store pullout from Lotte Department Store than possible North Korean ICBMs flying over Japan to Guam. The recent exchange of menacing words between Kim Jung-un and Donald Trump fits below scenes to many South Koreans.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Korean Women Do It Again!

Good morning,

Rfreshing news came to Koreans under stress from THADD dilemma with Chinese Xi Jinping and ICBM fire works by Northern brother Kim Jong-Un. The 72nd U.S. Women's Open Championship held in N.J. on July 16 turned into a Korea Women's Open, with rookie SungHyun Park winning the title and $900K while 7 other Korean women ranking in top 10. It was Park's first LPGA win also.She was a star in Korean LPGA until last year with 7 tour wins in 2016. The club owner Donald Trump was at site to give thumbs-up to the players, becoming the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Open. This is the 9th U.S. Open victory by Koreans since Seri Pak's first in 1998. Koreans girls worked together to capture 9 wins from 19 tournaments so far this season.

The saga of Korean women in LPGA started with Seri Pak's dramatic U.S. Open win in 1998. In the playoff against Jenny Chuasiriporn(U.S.A), Pak's ball from 18th tee flew to land on a rough just a few inches away from a lake. As both were equal after 17th hole, everyone thought championship would go to Chuasiriporn with Pak's ball practically inside hazard zone. Pak then took off her shoes and socks, went into the water and made a nice trouble shot to tie her opponent. Both went into sudden death play off, and Pak won in the first hole with a birdie. The picture of Seri Pak in the lake making an unbelievable comeback from tough situation was a huge encouragement for Koreans who were then suffering from economic meltdown under Asian Crisis, and is regarded as one of the best photo shots in Korean sports history. This was also the beginning of poor Korean men getting compared and judged, unfortunately.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

President Moon

Good morning,
Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party was elected as Korea’s 19th president with 41.1% of the votes in a snap election following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in March, beating a conservative runner-up with 24.0%.  Moon’s election is expected to make a dramatic shift from government polices formed in the past 9 year under conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye leadership.  Born in 1953 to parents who had fled from North Korea to South Korea during the Korean War in 1950, Moon fought against dictatorship as a law student in the 70's, against Park’s own father, and worked as a human rights lawyer in Busan in the 80’s.   He served as a chief of staff under ex-president Roh Moo-hyun who killed himself in a scandal in retirement in 2009.  Moon ran for presidency in 2012, but was narrowly defeated by Park Geun-hye.  From his ideology and political path, it is likely Moon will show his warm heart to North Korea, and reveal sharp teeth towards the U.S. and Japan.


While many South Koreans are happy to see beaming Moon shine in dark nights, Korean business communities are not.  Moon is sympathetic to union, but hostile against conglomerates. Moon wants to lower unemployment rate by hiring more government workers, and  spend big money on social welfare programs, but plans to fund the money through raising corporate taxes and income tax.  Just hope Moon doesn't go too extreme, otherwise  South Koreans will be soon riding on Moon's bullet train to Venezuela. 


Friday, March 10, 2017

Korean President Park struck out

Good morning,

Breaking news. South Korean president Park Geun-hye got fired on Mar 10 when Constitutional Court has unanimously upheld a decision by the National Assembly to impeach her. Park became the first president to be impeached. Park's problem
 began on Oct 24 last year when local TV station revealed the unhealthy influence scandal Park's female confidante Choi Soon-sil had over the president. South Koreans have been deeply divided between those who were for the impeachment, and against. The downtown in Seoul near Park's Blue House was packed with tens of thousands of protesters every Saturday,holding candle lights (for impeachment) and Korean flags (against) in the past four months. 

An election will be held within 60 days to replace Park. If the election is held today, Moon Jae-in from opposition party is likely to be the next president with nearly 40% approval rating, far ahead of the runner-up with 15%. Despite the court decision, the Korean political theater is expected to be pretty noisy and chaotic until the next election.

My first son just joined the same company his father did exactly 30 years ago. Like father, like son. My son was sitting on the South Pole while his father was camping on the North Pole over Park's impeachment. Unlike father, unlike son.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

LTW: Choi Soon Sil Scandal

South Korea has fallen into unprecedented power vacuum as President Park Geun-hye had to make an apology on Oct 25 over the involvement of Choi Soon Sil, Park's personal friend of 40 years, in state affairs. Park’s apology came right after a media report that Choi has received drafts of presidential speeches and sometimes edited them, which was backed by confidential document files on Choi's tablet computer. Park admitted she sought help from Choi for her speeches during presidential elections in 2012, and continued do so even after she became the president. Choi is also at the epicenter of a corruption scandal in which Choi used her connection with the president to solicit 77.4 billion Korean won (U$69M) from Korea’s 62 large corporations for her cultural and a sports foundations. Despite Park's firing of 10 of her close aides involved in the scandal, and arrest of Choi over the weekend, the public is still very much outraged, suspecting Choi has been the real president of Korea and Park was only Choi's puppet. Political chaos seems unavoidable as Park still has 16 months to run the nation until Feb 2018 with both of her legs cut off.

 Protesters wearing masks of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and her confidante Choi Soon-Sil perform before a candlelit rally in central Seoul on Saturday.
South Korea and the U.S. have been a blood ally for many years, sharing glory and pain together in good or bad times. It was manifested once again as the soon-to-be U.S. President Hillary Clinton, feeling sorry for ally nation's president's agony over document files in an aide's computer, has done her share with her e-mails to Huma Abedin's computer.

Friday, March 11, 2016

LTW: NK Bombs and Key Resolve

With 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 American troops in the war game dubbed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, South Korea and the U.S. kicked of their largest-ever military exercise on Mar 7 to warn North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that any further provocation can lead to the demise of his regime. What's different from previous annual exercises is that this one is offensive, implementing a new military operation plan(Oplan 5015) for the first time which triggers preemptive strike if North Korea shows any sign of possible use of WMD. The joint drill is to last until the end of April.

Angered by Kim Jong-un’s H-Bomb test on Jan 6, and long-range missile fire disguised as a satellite launch on Feb 7, President Park Geun-hye has been lashing at Kim Jong-un, even taking this crisis as a good opportunity to “behead” Kim through Operation Gryphon Knife.  She shut down Kaeseong Industrial zone in North Korea where 50,000 North Koreans were working, asked Obama to fly a few F-22 stealth fighters to Korean peninsula, and threatened reluctant Chinese leader Xi Jinping to join U.N. sanctions or face THADD deployment in Korea that can neutralize Chinese ICBM capability against the U.S.  Kim Jong-un was still defiant,however, firing a few short range missiles last week, ordering “nuclear warheads to be ready for firing at any moment” and vowing “U.S. mainland can be devastated by nuke bombs.”   The tension in Korean peninsula keeps heating up at this time.

Donald Trump might become the next president of the U.S., and it is a concern to South Koreans because of his earlier interview that says “I order thousands of televisions, they’re all from South Korea. So we have 28,000 people on the border separating South Korea from this maniac in N.Korea. They are making a fortune. We get paid peanuts for deploying the troops to South Korea.”  Well, two things Mr. Trump should know. First, South Korea contributed $867M toward U.S. military costs in 2014, about 40% of the total.That ain't no peanuts.   Second, my two sons were among 600,000 young South Korean soldiers serving two draft years at $100 a month pay from the very government "making a fortune," fighting hard to take out the maniac desperate to fire a nuke bomb into Mr. Trump’s own backyard at any moment.