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Korean President Park struck out

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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.


North Korea Survives. Start Hardening South Korea for a Long Contest

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Image result for security hardening

This essay is a local re-post of an essay I wrote last month for The National Interest. Basically this is my sketch of how to deal in the medium- and long-term with North Korea. North Korea is not going to collapse anytime soon. It has some source of strength we don’t fully grasp, and China is willing to bail out North Korea indefinitely. That means South Korea needs to start hunkering down – hardening itself – for a long-term conflict of attrition. There is not magic bullet – barring China pulling the plug, which, honestly, doesn’t look like it is going to happen soon.

So it’s time for South Korea to get more serious about winning the stand-off with North Korea and carrying the costs and inconvenience to do so. On the other hand, if South Korea only continues to manage North Korea, it will still be here in 20 years. If the ROK wants to win this stand-off – not manage, but win – then it needs to do a lot of things it doesn’t want to do, such as spending a lot more on defense, moving the national capital (so that it’s not right on the border, which makes it so vulnerable that South Korea can never hit back when North Korea provokes), consider drafting women (due to precipitous birth-rate decline), nuclear civil defense, and so on. This will be hard.

So far, South Korea has ducked these sorts of dramatic steps in the permanently short-termist expectation that North would just collapse one day, or that it could be bought off and somehow go away. But of course, it won’t. So if South Korea doesn’t still want to be ‘managing’ North Korea in 20 years, it needs to start thinking long-term now. For example, it should have moved its capital 40 years ago, like West Germany did during the Cold War, but it never did. And now North Korea has a massive city hostage it can threaten whenever it like to prevent South Korea from taking any kinetic action, like airstrikes on its missile sites. Yes, it will take a long time to unwind that, to decentralize South Korea, but then, North Korea is not going to collapse. Constantly hoping/expecting it would, and therefore taking no steps to check Seoul’s growth, is exactly the problem. Time to think long-term.

The full essay follows the jump:



With a new president in the White House, it is the season of reviews and re-assessments, with no problem more thorny than North Korea. Previous President Barack Obama apparently told incoming President Donald Trump that North Korea is now at the top of America’s foreign challenges. As North Korea continues its missile and nuclear tests, this is almost certainly the case. The yield of the North’s most recent nuclear test exceeded that of the weapons used by the US in World War II. Its missile program has dabbled in submarine-launched ballistic missile, road mobile launchers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. If these platforms genuinely work – a huge ‘if’ – North Korea would become the first new country to be able to strike the continental United States since the depths of the Cold War decades ago. Coupled to President Trump’s explosive, erratic personality, the possibility of a serious clash is greater than it has been in years.

Yet there is simultaneously a strong sense that North Korea lives on borrowed time. As Victor Cha says, it is the ‘impossible state’: Its economy is weak. Its ostensible ideology is long since bankrupt. Its people are increasingly aware that their Southern kinsmen live vastly healthier, wealthier, and happier lives. The regime, for all its ferocity, is alienated from its own people whose uprising it fears. Its capital approximates a feudal city-state estranged from its own impoverished piedmont. It is extremely dependent on China for both licit and illicit trade and financial services. Its conventional forces are technological dated. Hence the regular references, going back decades, that North Korea’s fall is imminent. It seems like we only need to find the final magic bullet to finally put this zombie down.

But of course, it does not collapse. Even if it violates much of what we ‘know’ in political science and economics, it has some source of strength – extreme race nationalism, a genuine belief in the Kim cult, the regime’s willingness to do anything to survive? – that helps it through crises which would bring down similar states. North Korea has survived: the end of the Cold War and the cut-off of Soviet aid; the death of founder-turned-godhead Kim Il Sung (1994); the famine of the late 1990s; ever-tightening United Nations sanctions; the death of Kim Il Sung’s heir, Kim Jong Il (2011). If the North survived all this, none of the various ideas out there for change – chasing North Korean money in Chinese banks, inward information flows, airstrikes on missile sites, more sanctions – are a likely to be that magic bullet. All are worth discussion of course, but given what the regime has survived to date, we must admit North Korean survivability, that it will be with us for a long time. This will be a long, grinding stalemate – as it has been to date – in which the side that ‘hangs tough’ will triumph.

Seen in that light, the Obama administration’s much-maligned ‘strategic patience’ is not so bad after all. It recognizes that the democracies on the outside – particularly South Korea, Japan, and the United States – can do little to proactively force change in the North. They can cut it off and harden themselves against its provocations and misbehavior, but it will a long grind. Sanctions, missile defense, the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the crack-down on North Korea’s diplomatic relationships (which frequently double as sanctions-running) are necessary to slowly choke-off North Korea, pushing it back to a precarious, exclusive dependence on its Chinse patron. Just as the Soviet Union was slowly internationally isolated and eventually ground to a halt, so the democracies of this cold war can hunker down too.

The heaviest burden falls on South Korea, where the desire for the magic bullet – the solution that permits the least amount of domestic inconvenience – is strong. In the eight years I have lived here, I have always been amazed at the blitheness about North Korea. On the one hand, it is admirable. South Koreans are far less intimidated by North Korea than American cable news crisis reporting would have you think. But this has also created a insouciance that is often disturbing. My students and acquaintances have no idea what to do if there is a North Korean missile attack. No one knows where shelters are or takes civil defense seriously. When I tell my students they should go up Korea’s many mountains to escape ambient radiation in the wake of a nuclear strike, they look at me in amazement that I know such macabre details. My male students regularly find their required military duty a frustrating diversion, while my female students are shocked when I tell them that Israeli women are conscripted too. Military duty is often corroded by social stratification networking and hazing. When the previous administration sought to impose a unification tax to prepare for that eventuality, the nation revolted. North Korean defectors – immediately identifiable by their accent – are often treated poorly and slotted in close to the bottom of South Korea’s punishing social hierarchy. The South Korean government has insisted that the United States pay for installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in the country. Cooperation on North Korea with Japan continues to be seen as a concession to an enemy rather than a wise pooling of resources against a shared existential threat. And South Korea continues to spend far less on defense (2.5% of GDP) than it should.

It is long since overdue for South Korea to take more serious ownership of North Korea and gird itself to win a protracted, expensive, uncomfortable struggle. One possible model is Israel, a democracy hardened to win a long-term, low-intensity conflict of attrition. For example, South Korea might invest in civil defense. 75% of its population lives on 25% of its land space – due to the mountainous terrain – which means missile and nuclear strikes could be especially devastating. This also suggests that the government finally take decentralization seriously – not just for oft-discussed regional equity – but for national security. The Seoul-Kyeonggi-Incheon corridor now contains a staggering 55% of all South Koreans and is the heart of the nation in every field, yet it lies right on the border with North Korea. This is astonishingly irresponsible. Such hyper-centralization makes South Korea vulnerable to a decapitation strike, and that capital lies less than 50 miles from the border, placing it within artillery range, much less rocket range. It is long overdue for South Korea to learn from West Germany and move its capital. This greater security would also make kinetic counter-strike options after a North Korean provocation less risky. Finally, the South must consider female conscription. Its birthrate (1.2) is far below the replacement rate (2.1), steadily shrinking the force size. If North Korea is still here in ten or twenty years – and twenty years ago, no one thought it would still be here today – then South Korea will almost certainly have to find substantial new manpower.

More generally, there needs to be a greater, Israeli-style social commitment to a long, expensive conflict of attrition if the South truly wants to end, rather then just manage, this ongoing stalemate. North Korea is not going to soon collapse or disappear. Ignoring it or appeasing it will not make it go away or tame it either. Nor is it primarily a problem for China, the US, the UN, and so on. This is firstly a South Korean issue, and it will be costly, domestically inconvenient, time-consuming, and socially fatiguing to finally throttle North Korea into collapse. ‘Hanging tough’ worked against the Soviet bloc, even if it took forty years; hardening can work here too. 

Filed under: Defense, Domestic Politics, Korea (North), Korea (South), The National Interest

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




Enjoy Everland’s Spring to the Fullest!

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Korea’s perishing winter has gone. The weather is getting warm, spring flowers with vivid colors start blooming, and it’s high time we planned a day trip to Everland, the biggest theme park in Korea. Yay! Let’s have a look at what we’ve got here today:) 1. Everland Tulip Festival 2017 Four Seasons Garden at Everland is filled with … Continue reading Enjoy Everland’s Spring to the Fullest!
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

South Korea “Undisputed Asian Masters Of Chicken”

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It’s no secret that South Korea has an obsession with fried chicken and beer, but last year’s article from Canadian expat & Vice writer Dave Hazzan brings the phenomenon into focus by calling South Koreans the “undisputed Asian masters of chicken.” Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland spoke with Hazzan to learn just how far the ROK’s appetite for chicken goes, & how China, before icing relations over the deployment of THAAD, used to go bonkers for it, as well.

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The post South Korea “Undisputed Asian Masters Of Chicken” appeared first on Korea FM.

Korea’s Best Cherry Blossom Festivals 2017

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Cherry blossoms are one of the most popular attractions in Korea during spring, which draw millions of travelers and visitors from all around the world. For those of you who still haven’t seen the beautiful cherry blossoms in Korea yet, here’s an ultimate list of the best cherry blossom festivals and the best viewing spots where … Continue reading Korea’s Best Cherry Blossom Festivals 2017

Rooftop Dining at Harvest Namsan

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It would be a push to call the weather this week “warm”, but we are finally heading in that direction. That means it’s almost time to start making use of Seoul’s many rooftop restaurants, cafes and bars.

Harvest Namsan is nestled up against the southern foot of Mount Namsan, right down the street from the Grand Hyatt Seoul. It claims to be farm-to-table, but I think everyone’s already come to grips with how seldom those claims are true (not just in Korea, but back home as well). Nevertheless, there seems to be a genuine effort at Harverst Namsan to seek out local and organic produce, and they do grow the odd veggie up on their sprawling rooftop patio, which overlooks the whole of Haebangchon.

Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul

The menu on their website is not to be trusted — it was completely out of step with the one we were presented with, which is a double-edged sword. While I was sorry not to be able to try a particular duck dish, it does mean that their menu is seasonal and frequently updated.

Harvest Namsan is nice because they manage to integrate Korean-specific ingredients into their Western dishes without Frankenstein’s-monster results. Their technique is not flawless, which is fine, because the prices rival those at local Western family-dining chains for much fresher and more creative fare. But the flavor profiles are mostly on point, and surprising, in a pleasant way. Nothing was over- or under-done for my taste (with the exception of the lamb being a bit overcooked) — saucing was appropriately portioned and mostly suited the dishes.

Harvest Namsan in Seoul

Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul

The one small quibble I had other than the lamb was about the pizza, which was sauced with gaetnip (perilla leaf) pesto. I was quite looking forward to trying the pizza, because gaetnip pesto was one of the major trends sweeping fusion-esque restaurants last summer, but, while the pizza was very nice, the flavor of the perilla leaves just didn’t really come through.

The stuffed eggplant was above reproach, though — just a perfect, tasty little appetizer. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing what else they’ll get up to in their kitchen.

Harvest Namsan in Seoul Harvest Namsan in Seoul

The interior of the restaurant is nice, so don’t back away at the door if it seems the rooftop dining is full or if it appears that it might rain. The same lovely view of central Seoul unfolding toward the northern bank of the Han can be glimpsed from the windows inside.

When the weather gets just slightly warmer, I’ll be calling to ask if their patio is pet-friendly. With a growing recognition that refurbished older buildings have a lot to offer, and on a much kinder budget than complete rebuilds, more and more Korean restauranteurs are making good use of the flat roofs that come with many older Korean buildings. I just hope that Seoul will become more pet-friendly as the outdoor spaces available to patrons increase.

Charlie’s manners aren’t quite restaurant-ready just yet, but hopefully we will get there soon. (We’re working on leash-training our oldest cat, Vera, as well, as she’s been quite keen to escape out into the garden lately, but that seems a somewhat more longterm goal.) While a lot of restaurants in Seoul with outdoor spaces have crammed a few tables into small spaces along busy sidewalks (something that wouldn’t work well for Charlie on the best of days), Harvest Namsan’s somewhat remote location away from the street and sidewalk traffic would be ideal for a few hours in the sun enjoying a nice meal and a coffee with your pup at your feet.

Harvest Namsan
서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 258-202
258-202 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Sunday-Monday 12pm-12am; Closed for break 2:30pm-5:30pm

The post Rooftop Dining at Harvest Namsan appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

Books & Stuff    Cafés & Shops     Korean Food & Ingredients      Personal     Recipes       Restaurants & Bars

71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for Students

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Are your English Writing Skills not Good?

What would it mean to your studies or career to be able to write quickly and accurately in English?

Imagine being able to write an email in English easily and quickly? Or, no longer struggle for days when writing an English essay. Or, starting a blog to keep in touch with your international friends, and perhaps even make some new ones. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The habits and study tips in 71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners are designed to improve your written English quickly and easily.

The key to improving any language skill is practice! This book will help you stay motivated because you’ll be having fun with English writing.

Over 30 Years of Experience Teaching English

Jackie Bolen and Jennifer Booker Smith have nearly thirty years experience teaching ESL/EFL. Jackie taught writing to university students in South Korea for years!

In this book, they have organized the advice they have given countless students to help reach their English writing goals from improving a test score, to getting a job, to writing a work report or email easily in English.

Whatever your motivation for improving your English writing, this book will help you!

What You’ll Find in the Book

In this book, you’ll find out how reading more can improve your written English, where to find the best free resources online, and how to make the most of your study time. You’ll also find some fun ideas for improving your writing.

The key to improving your English writing is to practice. This book will help you do that. You’re sure to find some tips that are useful to you, and ways to practice writing that you’re interested in. The tips are useful for every level, from high-beginner, to intermediate to advanced students.

If you want to see a sample from the book, check out:

ESL Writing Practice: Focus on Fluency

ESL Writing Tip: Always Proofread

Available on Amazon

Pick up 71 Ways to Practice English Writing today and start improving your skills. Better English writing is in your future! It’s available on Amazon in both digital and print formats. Click the link below if you want to improve your written English!

The post 71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for Students appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

University Jobs



71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners

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Is Poor English Writing Holding you Back? What would it mean to your studies or career to be able to write quickly and accurately in English? Imagine being able to sit down at your computer, and then write an English email in five minutes. Or, be able to write a …

The post 71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners appeared first on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.

International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day

I swear, I’m not dead.

Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.

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