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All the hubub on North Korea hacking Sony got me thinking about the impact this might have on the private sector. To date, most of the North Korea & hacking discussion has focused on cyber-attacks on big, predictable targets like the US Defense Department or South Korean Ministry of National Defense. But targeting a private sector firm, especially a big,well-known one like Sony strikes me as a major expansion. Now for-profit entities with far fewer resources, especially intelligence, have been put on notice. That’s gotta make a lot of foreign companies who are thinking of operating in Korea think twice. Who wants to accidentally anger the Norks for who knows what by opening a store in Daejon or something? Best to just steer away. At least that is what I would be thinking, or more correctly fearing, if I were South Korean commercial officials.
So if you are major foreign firm operating in the Korean space, you’ve been warned. The Sony hack is meant to put you on notice. Hopefully you do the right thing: pulling investment or chilling creativity because of totalitarian threats would be a terrible outcome.
This essay was first published at the Lowy Interpreter and then picked up by The National Interest. It starts after the jump:
The recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures by North Korea in response to the film ‘The Interview’ comes after a series of previous North Korean hacks of institutions in South Korea as well. It appears that North Korea is improving its cyber capabilities and widening its target list. The decision to strike the private sector outside of South Korea is a new development with disturbing ramifications for foreign firms that operate in the Korean space. The film itself is fairly ridiculous with mediocre reviews, but the likely cause of all the global attention to ‘The Interview’ case is Pyongyang’s new willingness to target high-profile, non-Korean private companies. All this raises major questions about Pyongyang’s asymmetric efforts against the South, and now for foreign firms in Korea.
There remains some disagreement over whether it was in fact North Korea that hacked Sony. Recently, the director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) felt compelled to come forward with greater evidence in support of the US government claim, and President Obama has repeatedly spoken with great confidence that North Korea was the perpetrator. Furthermore, it is scarcely disputed that hacks of South Korean institutions, such as the nuclear power industry, banks, and broadcasters, were performed by North Korea.
Cyber as a space for North Korea to contend with its opponents – South Korea, Japan, and the United States, and now perhaps, their firms – is a new development. For much of the internet age, North Korea has been so far behind South Korea and others technologically, that cyber was not an area in which North Korea was expected to thrive. Indeed, it may be that North Korea contracts out its hacking requests to specialist, third-party ‘hacktivist’ groups like the Lizard Squad or Anonymous. Yet Pyongyang has repeatedly surprised observers with its technological leaps. North Korea beat South Korea in drone development, and of course, it has developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. It therefore seems likely that cyber is an emerging arena, in which both governments and now business, as the Sony hack demonstrates, will be forced to defend themselves against North Korean action.
Indeed, cyber is an ideal arena for North Korea for many reasons. It is a twilight space with few agreed rules, and much room for plausible deniability. Predictably, Pyongyang immediately disavowed the Sony hack, and many have questioned the US evidence. But unlike easily recognizable traditional aggression in the physical world, it is hard for non-experts to grasp virtual ‘aggression.’ Laymen could see the sunken South Korean destroyer Cheonan in 2010 and make the reasonable conjecture that North Korea torpedoed it. But few have the ability to understand the nuances and details of cyber-hacking. It is not immediately evident, as with physical violence, that hacking is even ‘aggression.’ Are leaking private photos and emails, or knocking out a bank website for a few hours, an attack, which would suggest a defensive, perhaps military, response? Or is this industrial espionage?
Similarly, cyberspace attacks allow North Korea to wreak havoc, but virtually, with only oblique links between its action and real-world consequences such as injury or property damage. For example, if a person dies in a hospital whose power was cut in a hack, whose fault is that? Perhaps the hospital should have had stronger redundancy systems or better trained staff, because power failures do otherwise happen anyway.
There are no good answers yet to questions such as these, which also explains why Chinese hacking of US institutions has meet such a confused policy response. Traditional international law and organizations cover ‘real world’ conflict issues, such as rules of war, war crimes, or the treatment of prisoners of war. But given the sheer novelty of ‘net-war’ – if that is even the appropriate term of art – there are no clear norms for what constitutes aggression, defense, proportional response, and so on. In short, the vague, hard-to-attribute, poorly regulated, twilight character of cyber provocation is likely methodologically very attractive to Pyongyang.
Finally, cyber-hacking fits longstanding North Korean preferences for both the asymmetric harassment of South Korea and criminal activity. North Korea (probably) cannot win an open conflict with South Korea. This is well-known, even to Pyongyang elites, who have consistently stepped back from the abyss of their own rhetoric, such as in the 2013 spring war crisis. But North Korea is built around an enemy image of South Korea and anti-Americanism. These are central tenets of its post-communist, nationalist ideology. Regular tension with the South, and the US and Japan, helps justify why North Korea exists despite the end of the Cold War, and why unification – ostensibly the regime’s stated goal – never occurs.
The dilemma then for Pyongyang is how to gin up enough tension to justify North Korea’s existence as a separate, poorer Korean state, but not produce so much that war breaks out. Here again, cyber is a great fit. Its twilight nature allows regular action against the South and US, but without the clear-cut fallout which might provide a casus belli. ‘The Interview,’ which mocks the leadership that North Korean propaganda treats as semi-divine, is an ideal target for such action.
Finally, hacking is a congenial choice for a regime already steeped in criminal gangsterism. North Korea produces methamphetamines, counterfeits dollars and RMB, proliferates military technology, engages in insurance fraud, and so on. As a rogue state that already rejects the basic rules of the global economy, cyber-hacking is likely just another technique. Both the governments and businesses in the South Korea, Japan, and the West will have to prepare for North Korean cyber-harassment and debate the manner of response.
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The dragon’s head at Daewonsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Without a doubt, Daewonsa Temple in northern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do is one of the strangest and most unique temple’s you’ll visit in all of Korea. Located on the south side of Mt. Obongsan and just north of Chilpo Beach, you’ll find Daewonsa Temple.
You first approach the temple over the Chilpo Bridge and the stream that flows into the East Sea. Uniquely, Daewonsa Temple is divided into an upper and lower courtyard with the older portion of the temple in the lower courtyard. But it’s the snaking hundred metre long blue dragon that flows from the base of the temple up to its main hall heights that sets the temple apart. Approaching from the south, you can see the wide-open mouth of the dragon with a red exercise ball as the dragon’s tonsils. Across the bridge, and the pond that it spans, you’ll have to push your way past the dragon’s tonsils to enter the dragon. A little further ahead, you’ll find a door that gains you entrance to the temple’s lower main hall. As you enter the main hall, you’ll be welcomed by row upon row of various Buddhas. Next to these golden rows of Buddhas is a large shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Resting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And to the right of the main altar is a simplistic guardian mural.
There are a couple other shrine halls in the lower courtyard like the Chilseong-gak, the bell pavilion, as well as the Sanshin-gak. But it’s in the Sanshin-gak that you’re in for the greatest surprise. Housed inside the shaman shrine hall is one of the most original murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). With a winged helmet, a mix of Yongwang (The Dragon King) and Sanshin motifs, as well as Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal intermingling with donja (attendants), this style of painting is completely unheard of, so enjoy!
Back at the head of the dragon, and up a steep incline, is the temple’s upper main hall. Surrounded by beautifully manicured grounds, the upper main hall is adorned with the Zodiac generals around its exterior walls. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar inside the cavernous main hall, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined to the right and left by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And to the left and right of this triad, and resting on their own altar, are Daesaeji-bosal (The Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal. Adorning the remaining walls is a guardian mural and a Chilseong mural.
Just outside the upper courtyard’s main hall are a row of granite statues. Once more, the triad is centred by Birojana-bul. Interestingly, and at the base of the dragon’s tail, there’s a door with a Nathwi on it. It’s through this door that you can walk through the remainder of the dragon’s body. Housed inside the dragon’s body are various shamanic murals.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #510. After 34 stops, or about 50 minutes, you’ll need to get off at the Chilpo 1-ri stop. From the stop, you’ll need to walk 500 metres, or 8 minutes, towards Daewonsa Temple.
OVERALL RATING: 8/10. Just because it is so different than all the rest, and it has a slight amusement park feel to it, Daewonsa Temple rates as highly as it does. Not only can you see paintings throughout the entire length of the dragon’s body, but you can also gain entrance to the lower courtyard’s main hall. In addition to this outlandish, yet strangely appropriate dragon, is the highly original Sanshin mural located just to the north of the side-winding blue dragon. There are quite a few customary things to explore at Daewonsa Temple, but it’s these to oddities that make the temple stand out.
The welcoming dharma at Daewonsa Temple.
The unique dragon’s head at the temple.
A closer look at the blue dragon.
In the jaws of the dragon with the red exercise ball as tonsils.
The entry to the lower courtyard’s main hall.
The welcoming rows of miniature Buddha statues.
The main altar inside the lower courtyard’s main hall.
A look from the exterior at the older main hall at Daewonsa Temple.
To the right of the older main hall is this amazing Sanshin mural.
The side-winding blue body of the dragon as you make your way up to the upper courtyard’s main hall.
A look at the newly built Daeung-jeon.
The main altar inside the newly built Daeung-jeon.
The Dragon Ship of Wisdom with Jijang-bosal at the helm.
The neighbouring statues with Birojana-bul to the far right.
And the entrance to the dragon’s body.
So, what exactly is AXA?
AXA is a global insurance brand, with 100 million customers in 56 countries worldwide. For the past 6 years, AXA has been chosen as the No. 1 global insurance brand by the reputable marketing institute Interbrand for their exceptional know-how and expertise. So, if you are a car owner and are required to get insurance, why not choose a reliable brand that is already recognized as the best?
How can I access the website?
Click on over to www.axa.co.kr and choose "English" from the language tab at the top of the page. It's as simple as that!
Will I understand everything?
While other insurance websites provide only limited information in English on their policies, AXA includes detailed information in English, from contracts to claims. Now you can choose your own insurance products and understand every single detail about it without asking for help from your Korean friends and co-workers.
Won't it be a lengthy process?
Nope! The best thing about the AXA English website is the little red button that allows you to get a quote in just 5 minutes. Through the AXA English Website, even expats can easily get quotes and sign up for their own car insurance policies.
All you have to do is enter your registration number, phone number, and car information. Select your driver type, and then you will see a list of recommended packages that you can immediately subscribe to. Also, if you have any questions, you can simply click “Request a Call.” They will connect you with an agent that works exclusively with international residents.
What if I get in an accident?!
Seeing as traffic accidents are fairly common in Korea, expat drivers may worry about the language barrier when making claims. With AXA Direct, however, such communication issues cease to exist. Drivers can feel at ease thanks to their thorough and reliable claim service provided in English.
They even have a hotline dedicated to English speakers, providing accident reports and emergency assistance. It's not always easy to remain calm during an accident, which is why AXA offers a quick and easy mobile service for accident reports. All you need to do is tap your location on the mobile map, which will immediately prompt an agent to report to your location to file a report for you.
Additionally, AXA provides care service for drivers in minor emergencies. If you’re locked inside your car, or if your car unexpectedly stops working due to fuel shortage, a flat tire or a dead battery, AXA will assist you with its easy and reliable care via its mobile service. Think of AXA as your insurance guardian angels!
AXA sounds too good to be true! Their coverage must be expensive!
Actually, AXA provides a variety of discounts on products such as its mileage option or black-box registration. With their mileage option, you pay as much as you drive and get an additional discount for driving less. (9% off for driving less than 5000km; 5% off for driving less than 7000km). Other incentives include a black-box registration discount offered to those who drive with black-boxes, and an accident-free discount offered for those who drive accident-free for 3 years. These three discount programs can be combined, saving you up to 21.5%! Why not visit AXA to find more about it right now?
This post was written by AXA Direct for Seoul Searching.
So, I left my nerves (and inhibitions) in Seoul and headed down to the southern coastal city to take a dive with Aquatic Frontier, a foreigner-owned and -operated diving company based just outside of Seoul.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the bubbly Sammy, my scuba instructor for the day, as well as a British couple who would also be participating in the dive. We were brought to a room where we were briefed in detail regarding the indemnity form we were all required to sign, which basically stated we wouldn’t (or couldn’t) sue, should we happen to lose an arm, end up with a collapsed lung, or find ourselves in some other similar situation.
This had the same effect on my nerves as hearing side effects of a medicine or a medical procedure from a doctor does. But, I did feel reassured learning that in the history of the program, there had been zero serious issues. Sammy was very confident in her instructing abilities, and assured us we would be fine.
We then changed into wet suits and donned our gear, which was ridiculously heavier than I imagined it to be. Fortunately, the buoyancy of the water made the weight bearable.
Sammy taught us the basics of scuba diving: how to deflate our BCD (scuba suit), how to empty our masks should they fill with water and most importantly, how to breathe. While this step seemed as if it would be the easiest, it was one of the more unnatural things I’ve ever had to do. The strange breathy noise the regulator produced, as well as having to practice breathing face to face with a giant sea turtle made me immediately uncomfortable; I all but gave up a few minutes into training. I’m really glad that I stuck with it, though, as I ended up getting it after a few more attempts.
I was convinced I wasn’t ready but followed Sammy into the tank. When my feet touched the bottom of the tank, I instantly felt in control, knowing going back up wasn’t an option. After checking our air gauges and exchanging “A-OK” hand gestures, Sammy proceeded in taking us for a stroll around the tank.
Blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks and sand tiger sharks gracefully glided through the turquoise water, inches away from our faces, obviously disinterested in who we were and what we were doing in their territory. I took comfort knowing that these species of sharks aren’t particularly attracted to mammalian blood, but the mere sight of their menacing jaws and powerful bodies sent a rush of adrenaline through me. Ginormous Queensland groupers, ancient sea turtles and other varieties of alien-like creatures only contributed to the rush I was experiencing, keeping me wide-eyed, seemingly unaware of the waving families on the other side of the glass.
Although our walk was approximately half an hour, it felt like minutes; I’m sure the adrenaline had something to do with that. As we made our way out of the tank, it felt strange to experience gravity once again. My lips were purple by this point and I had lost all feeling in my toes, so I thoroughly enjoyed the hot shower that followed.
After the shark encounter, I took a walk around the aquarium. It had a few exhibits worth checking out, like the touch tanks and rehabilitated porpoises but honestly, none of them could compare to what I had just experienced. And while it was nice to observe the animals from behind a sheet of glass, nothing can quite hold a candle to the strange and exhilarating experience of being a part of the underwater world, walking alongside nature’s most feared predators and majestic creatures.
More Information: Busan Shark Dive / Aquatic Frontier
Dates: The dive dates are pre-scheduled, but usually held on Saturdays and Sundays. You must make a reservation to participate in the dive. Check the schedule here.
Price: ₩150,000 (includes ₩70,000 deposit)
Website: Click Here
Facebook: Click Here
Map (Sea Life Aquarium):
Although this post was partially sponsored by Aquatic Frontier, the opinions above are, of course, my own.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
In fact, as soon as you arrive in Korea, you could be 1 or 2 years older instantly! (Don't have a mid-life crisis. It's perfectly normal.) Find out what "Korean age" is, as well as how to get yours, in the video below!
And if you have any questions of your own, feel free to send me a message either through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, or anywhere you can find me, and it might be featured in the next episode. Your question can be about anything - Korean or not.
Or if you've already started learning Korean and want to take your skills to the next level, check out my second book in the series, "Korean Made Simple 2: The next step in learning the Korean language." You can check out the sequel here, or find it directly through Amazon and most online retailers.
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Here’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that you can visit for just 1,000 won ($1). It’s called Seolleung-Jeongneung and is the final resting place of two kings and one queen from the Joseon dynasty.
The verdant green hill tombs and little red shrines are a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Gangnam financial district that surrounds the area. There are also some cool stone statues in the shape of zodiac animals that guard the tombs.
Don’t miss the giant gingko tree that has stood watch over the tombs ever since King Jungjong was buried here in the 16th century. Magnificent in summer, watch out for fallen gingko nuts that quickly turn smelly in autumn.
How to get there:
5-minute walk from Seolleung Station (Line 2) Exit 8. You can’t miss the fluttering flags on the wall.
After the history lesson, proceed to the nearby Mapo Mandu outlet for mouthwatering Korean dumplings and seafood noodles.
I maintain this site as a hobby and have personally verified or experienced most of the information posted here. However, prices and conditions may have changed since my last visit. Please double check with other sources such as official tourist hotlines to avoid disappointment. If you’d like to contribute an update or additional useful information for other travelers, please comment below!
Prices provided in Korean won or US dollars.
Obscurely tucked away on a side alley in Itaewon, Guilty Pleasure exudes the ambiance of a hip city hangout, with its sleek, backlit bar, fanciful lighting fixtures and neon wall hangings. Yet, nothing about it feels pretentious. Which is fitting, seeing that its menu places an emphasis on comfort food.
Although I had heard rave reviews about Guilty Pleasure's weekend brunch, I wanted to check out its weekday dinner menu, which looked as equally as impressive.
My friend and I started with the Spinach Dip (₩9,000) and the Mac and Cheese (₩10,000). The almost curry-like dip was nice and smooth and tasted good on the accompanying baguette slices. Usually, I prefer my spinach dip to be a bit on the cheesier side, but considering the dishes that followed, it was probably a good thing it wasn't so rich.
The chef (who hails from New Jersey), killed it with the mac and cheese, which incorporated a cauliflower base, bacon lardons, chunks of tender pulled pork smoked in-house, truffle oil and fantastically gooey cheddar cheese. The top was browned and crispy, just as the dish should be. I was already feeling full and the mains hadn't even come out yet.
Next up was the Cuban Sandwich (₩15,000), one of a few sandwiches on the restaurant's varied menu. In addition to the classic ingredients of ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese and pickles, homemade duck prosciutto is added to give the sandwich a unique taste. The duck was fairly poignant but tied the sandwich together nicely. The pressed Italian roll was also great. Although it wasn't the best Cuban I've ever had, it's definitely one of the best in Seoul.
The star of the meal was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (₩17,000). Marinated in Guilty Pleasure's homemade buttermilk for three days, and then deep fried, succulent chunks of chicken are served over creamy sausage gravy alongside two buttermilk biscuits. The dish was wonderfully rich and the nice combination of textures, flavors and spices paired perfectly. I couldn't get enough of the crunchy and crispy batter shell. The biscuits were the real deal, bringing me back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood.
The bar has a great selection of beverages, and we settled on a hoppy Lost Coast IPA (beers start at ₩7,000) and a Fresh Limeade (₩7,000), which I'll definitely be going back for in the summer. Crisp, tangy and refreshing, it makes for a great thirst quencher.
To finish off the meal, we had the Beignets (₩5,000), an item that instantly made me ecstatic the moment I saw it on the menu. I doubted they could live up to those at Café du Monde in New Orleans, and while they were a bit different, they definitely exceeded my expectations. The sugary fried donuts were served a top of a warm blueberry sauce, making it cobbler-like, a great way to end an indulgent dinner.
I know I probably shouldn't visit Guilty Pleasure very often, especially if I plan on donning a bathing suit this summer, but I have a feeling I will be back fairly often. The ambiance, authentic dishes and value for money make Guilty Pleasure a must-visit for anyone craving tasty comfort food.
More Information: Guilty Pleasure
Address: 1F, 2-10 Itaewon-ro 20-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul / 서울특별시 용산구 이태원로20길 2-10
Hours: Tues - Thurs 6pm-12am; Fri 6pm-1am; Sat 12-3:30pm & 6pm-1am; Sun 12pm-3:30pm & 6pm-12am
Facebook: Click Here
Get There: From exit 4 of Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk straight until you reach Dillingers. Go down the adjacent stairs. At the bottom, turn right and walk straight for about one minute until you see the Guilty Pleasure sign on the right hand side. Walk up to the top of the stairs and go in the building on the left; the restaurant is on the 1st floor.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
Back home in Florida I would often volunteer at homeless outreaches that my church supported. There was a large one in Ft. Lauderdale that was jointly supported by the city and our church. Reaching out to those in need or even homeless is a rewarding and humbling experience. It helped me to reflect on the issues in my life and immediately see them in a different light. I think King Solomon put it best when he said,
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless (vanity), a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
I actually teamed up with a family from America and headed aimlessly into Busan streets looking for homeless people. It was a completely random effort as we had no familiarity with Busan and also no idea where to find the homeless. Common sense told us that a good place to start would be near bus or train stations and lower income districts. We were right and we eventually stumbled upon some folks sleeping out near Busan Station that told us of a large soup kitchen a couple subway stops down from us.
They were right in directing us to this facility as there were hundreds of people lining up to hear the Word and have their stomachs filled at this location. At Busanjin Station is a complex that is funded and supported by local churches and City Hall that provides multiple meals throughout the week, each week, all year for the thousands in need in Busan.
Ever since those days I’ve attended periodically to lend a hand with handing out food and even speaking at times (with a translator). It’s a great and blessed place. Even though we may not speak the language, just being there is a welcome gesture to the team as well as the people coming to dine.
It’s Lunar New Year in this part of the world and it’s a big holiday. Everything is shut down here in Busan at least for the first part of the day in celebration of the new year. At this soup kitchen was also a special effort. The meals served were great, and there were 7 served in total in recognition of the new year.
The post A Lunar New Year’s Feast for the Homeless in Busan appeared first on .
ESL, Travel, and Judo!