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Reflections on my time in Busan for weteachkorea.com

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A few weeks ago my friend Luke, who I travelled to Japan with a few years back and played football alongside while I was living in Korea, contacted me with regard to writing a lifestyle/opinion piece on my time in Busan for his new website; weteachkorea.com


NEW! Scramble for success

For many (myself included) a happier time were the carefree days of youth. A time when play spanned from getting up in the morning until the closing of one’s eyes at night. That blissful period of life is sadly missing from many children in Korea. From an early age, the youth of Korea are impelled into a highly competitive world.


The Changing Face of Korea

It’s early morning. As the sun creeps over the horizon I am dressed and walking as people around me sleep. The eerie stillness of dawn is broken by a 50-year-old woman clad in bright pink jogging around the nearby playground. As she makes her approach to the swings, feeling eyes upon her, she turns to stare at me. Ignoring the glare I walk onwards to the bus stop.

Koreans care for their image. Walking down a high street you will see brands plastered over the citizens who have opted to buy luxury brands with their hard-earned cash. 


Freedom in Korea Begins with Diseased Pigs

The Future of Korean DemocracyWhy just sell pork when there’s a more insidious opportunity beckoning? Good news is, South Korea’s live pig-culling orgy has helped US beef imports jump amid foot-and-mouth disease.

Market watchers attributed the rising popularity of U.S. meat in South Korea to the spread of animal diseases that forced the nation to cull over 3 million livestock in the last three months, due to the most severe FMD outbreak in the country’s history.

In December, imports of U.S. beef to South Korea spiked to nearly 2,500 tons a week, according to the federation.


Summitry for Politics’ Sake

It’s hard not to yawn.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold preliminary military talks on 8 February, in an attempt to defuse heightened tensions on the peninsula.

South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak urged the North to seize a “good chance” to improve relations.

The Koreas will discuss the two deadly attacks by Pyongyang against the South, which killed a total of 50 people, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

The talks may lead to a more senior meeting, possibly at ministerial level.


Korean Unification Only Looks Tidy In Print

The Economist applies the example of German unification to the Koreas‘ Sisyphean task. Drawing on the two courses open to it, massive handouts or immigration, the weekly recommends Seoul split the pain and the difference.

If the Koreas reunified, the government would face a stark choice. It could try to fill the gap in living standards between North and South, through handouts, public investment and subsidies. Or it could brace itself for heavy migration, as poor Northerners moved to the South in search of higher wages.


Ban Ki-moon Reveals His Sinister Plot

Colum Lynch fears the nauseating truth about U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: he’s old-school Korean, which means once he has a political job, he’ll never give it up without a bullet or a nudge from a superior.

The revelation was buried in an official U.N. readout of a New Year’s day exchange Ban had with South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak.


Muzzling the South Korean Dog

Not that I ignore the Korean angle to hostilities on the Korean peninsula, or think the road to unification runs through Beijing, but developments like a new Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) capability will keep me awake at nights. Especially, that is, when Chinese hacks write with this kind of bravado.


Serious Fun at the Brilliant Comrade’s Expense (Video)

Not everyone in North Korea likes Kim Jong-un. As a matter of fact, derision seems to permeate all levels of society, from official party publications (via OFK)…

According to the source, after seeing Kim Jeong-eun’s picture posted on Rodong Sinmun, a bulletin from the Workers’ Party displayed instances of open criticism. “Who is Kim Jeong-eun, the new general? And what great contribution has he made for the nation and people?” “This outrageous event is something that can only happen in a despotic nation like Chosun,”

…to satirical ditties.


Seoul and Beijing in a Pyongyang Cage Match

The North Koreans might be choosing a successor this week, but it’s the Chinese and South Koreans who are fighting each other. Amid the consensus that Kim Jong-un will be the next “fat, ruthless” Kim family member to rule the DPRK, Gordon Chang asks what Beijing wants.

But Jong-Un’s future is by no means assured. China probably wants him out of the way so that there can be a collective leadership. Moreover, ambitious generals and even-more-dangerous colonels could be scheming. Finally, Jang Sung-Taek may not want to relinquish power when Kim Jong-Il has passed from the scene, either naturally or otherwise.


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