kim jong-il

The Significance of the 6.15 Declaration

By Dae Han Song

The morning of June 13, 2000 – with millions of Koreans watching on their televisions – marked a watershed moment in inter-Korean relations. What previous attempts to thaw inter-Korean relations had failed to do was instantly achieved, albeit momentarily, with the embrace between President Kim Dae Jung – the first South Korean to come to North Korea – and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il: a cathartic moment between two leaders and two peoples of a nation divided by war and years of anti-North and anti-South recrimination and political education.

Ex-NK Propagandist’s New Art Direction Against NK Regime

A Prominent South Korean Writer Expresses Her Sadness For The Death of Kim Jong Il

So Kim Jong Il was a weird guy—and how nice is it to refer to him in the past tense?—but hidden among his more famous quirks is the fact that there are prominent South Koreans who support him and have expressed genuine sadness at his death. One of them is a famous writer named Gong Ji Young, who in response to a photograph of South Korean protestors celebrating the death of the Heinously Dear Leader tweeted the following—”Shame on you!” (“정말 부끄럽구요 쫌!”). Various politicians aligned with the Democratic Party have also apparently expressed their condolences.

(news is over, opinion follows; the preceding paragraph would have been impossible to write without A.’s help)

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il Dies at 69

The Cold War In Miniature

At least one of us is prepared.

I was in quite a good mood early this afternoon as I went on a sprightly walk down the sunny street to get some lunch, stepping around SUVs jammed right up against the glass entrances of flower shops, cafes, and convenience stores. One karaoke place displays a giant, grainy image of young naked Nordic children playing in a band, with their little uncircumcised penises clearly visible. I remember a young woman tucking herself out of sight behind a rectangular pillar of cement. The world was finally looking up.

The Obvious News and My Opinions on the Future

Well first and foremost apologies for my blogging absence. Besides the baby news, the new Year is also bringing me a new job, a new city, and many other changes that will be discussed once I have my head wrapped around things.

That out of the way, time to repeat the big and obvious news I am sure you have heard before coming here…

From the CNN front page

Ban Ki-moon Makes Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People List

To Aid or not to Aid

That is the question. A belated Happy Chuseok to everyone in Korea, I hope the time was spent enjoying the holiday with friends and family rather than backed up in traffic. It seems to me that most everywhere in the world has some form or another of a “Thanksgiving” holiday and this tends to entail eating large quantities of food (which I most certainly did). One place this seems not to be the case (at least for most of the population) however, is North Korea.

Coming via CNN, with have this story and the accompanying video of the ever-present food problem in North Korea. Like almost all of the small amount of footage of lives outside of Pyongyang, it is saddening to watch:

What’s the Endgame? A Possible Future of North Korea

Sometimes when I stop and think about it, I realize how amazing it is that I live and go about my daily business undeterred and generally unaffected by living in a country within spitting distance of a neighbor who threatens relatively frequently to turn my adopted home into a “sea of fire” and whom it is (technically) still at war with. For those back in the States and others abroad in other countries, don’t worry about this fact as it’s nothing I am worried about, it’s all just something interesting to think about.

Is that an RPG launcher or are you just happy to see me?

Destination: Hwajinpo Castle, Syngman Rhee’s summer villa, and more (Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do)

No, I didn’t visit North Korea – but I went pretty close to it recently. After our recent trip to Sokcho Beach, we headed north along the Gangwon-do coast. The rural highway bent and curved somewhat, which kept the ride bumpier than expected. Don’t eat a full meal before getting on the bus unless you like feeling queasy. Even after getting off the bus, it’s a two-kilometer walk to the first villa, and some more walking to the second. The reward, however, is a beautiful rural countryside, replete with a calm lake, an interesting beach, a modern marine museum, and quite a bit of history.

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