north korea

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.

the north.

My time is dwindling quickly here in South Korea and I am trying to do everything before I leave, a big one on my list being North Korea, or the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone). Some friends and I booked the tour with the USO specifically so we could go to the JSA (Joint Security Area, you know how the military love their acronyms) which is where South Korea, North Korean and American troops occupy and have been in a tense stand off for over 50 years. We got to see North Korea up close, stand in the room which is half in the South and half in the North and experience one side of the story (apparently when the North gives tours of the area, they have a different version, weird.) It was a day that words cannot do justice, something you must see for yourself to fully understand, so I won't try here..

There’s an app for that – Korean-related apps for your iDevice

It’s hard to ignore Apple’s presence in the smartphone / tablet world – or the apps available for them. I recently picked up an iPad to replace / upgrade from a first-gen iPod Touch, and decided to take a fresh look at the apps that cover Korea. (Note – all ratings out of 5 taeguks)

First up: Daegu Tour, anyone?

I haven’t been writing since my last post, so excuse me if...

I haven’t been writing since my last post, so excuse me if I’m a bit rusty. Anyway, I only have two classes today, so I took the opportunity to prepare lesson plans for tomorrow and next week. With so much time on my hands today I was able to organize another upcoming basketball tournament in Busan (So stay tuned for that ladies and gents!) and surf the wonderful world of Youtube. After browsing through the site for 10 minutes I happened to stumble across this very interesting video of my neighbors north of the border.

Reflections on M*A*S*H

Before I came to Korea, I worked at a place that I loved. At that place that I loved, the boss man referred to me as Radar. At the time, the humor (veiled  compliment?) was wasted on me. 

Not News, and No Analysis: Bloomberg Reports on N Korea-China Trade

Bloomberg Reports What Seoul Gyopo Guide's Readers Already Know
Today, Bloomberg, one of the world's most influential business news sources, reported that China has increased trade with North Korea. There is little doubt that increased trade between North Korea and China is a welcome development for North Korea.  Readers of the Seoul Gyopo Guide have known that not only is the news welcome, but has also pointed out that increasing trade poses challenges to other countries, including South Korea. 

Rare Earths Trade War is a Potential Korean Disaster

Rare Earths Are Important to Korea's Economy
Rare earths are a group of rare elements.  They are used in the manufacturing of technology products including smart phones and earphones.  In the article, this very interesting table was included, which points out the uses of rare earths in the production of products.

United States Usage
(2008 data)
Metallurgy & alloys
Chemical Catalysts
Phosphors for monitors, television, lighting
Catalytic converters
Glass polishing
Permanent magnets
Petroleum refining


If you look at the list, perhaps you will notice electronics, TVs/monitors, and catalytic converters.  Did you ever hear of Samsung Electronics or Hyundai-Kia Motors?  In other words, rare earths are important to some of the most important Korean industries.
Earlier, the Seoul Gyopo Guide pointed out that North Korean-Chinese cooperation on rare earths was a troubling development.   Today, on, it was revealed that Australia blocked the Chinese takeover of an Australian company because Australia was concerned over the Chinese gaining further control of rare earths.

This issue will require constant attention.  It is certainly on the radar screen of all of the largest Korean companies.  Korea must secure rare earths sources, and given that China controls approximately 95% of these, it will make the South Korean-Chinese economic relationship more complex than ever.  Already, China is challenging Korea in another important industry, shipbuilding.   
You can easily conclude that a rare earths trade war has already broken out between the U.S. and China.  Korea's economy is not as large nor as diverse as the U.S.', and as such, it must avoid the economic warfare and secure sources of rare earths critical to Korean industries.  Not addressing this issue would be shortsighted at best, and a disaster at worst.

North Korea, the World’s Gold Standard for Evil

Progressives need a policy clue about North Korea that doesn’t start with tedious talk about negotiations. Meetings are on again – boring, been there, done it to death! This isn’t news, it’s a sleeping aid.

Refugees aren’t all that exciting, either. 31 North Koreans got near Yeonpyong Island, or else no one would have cared. How many South Koreans care about the refugees already in South Korea?

North Korea-Chinese Agreement on Raw Materials is a Worrying Development

It's No Secret:  China's Economy's Growth Has Benefited South Korea
It is a well-known fact that the economic development of China has been very rapid, as it has grown at basically 8-10% per year for almost the past 30 years.  The impact on the global economy has been enormous. The largest Korean companies, Samsung Electronics, Hyunda-Kia Motor Corporation, LG Electronics, Hyundai Heavy, SK Energy, POSCO, to name a few, have benefited \during this time.  The revenues earned \by the largest Korean companies have funded research and development efforts which have yielded global market share gains versus its global competitors, including the Japanese.  Globally, Korean companies are at least on par with their global competitors as measured by almost any measure.  The Seoul Gyopo Guide has pointed out that the relatively weak Korean Won has also played a very strong role in this.

China's Growth Has Keep Global Inflation Down.  For Now.

영어 Slang of the Day #14: "Big ups" to @IAmNorthKorea on Twitter. What's "Big ups?"

Now, This is Funny and Instructive
I just saw this on Twitter, from a user called @IAmNorthKorea, who posts ironic tweets about North Korea.

North Korea

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