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When the French Arrived–the 1866 French Punitive Expedition to Korea 150 years on

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The post When the French Arrived–the 1866 French Punitive Expedition to Korea 150 years on appeared first on the3WM.

By Hal Swindall

kfThe year 2016 is officially the “Annee France-Coree” to celebrate 130 years of diplomatic relations begun in 1886. Amidst the festivities, however, it is important to remember an earlier event in Franco-Korean history that went less well: the byeong-in yangyo, or French punitive expedition to Korea to avenge the execution of nine French Catholic missionaries and force the country to engage in global trade. Not much scholarship on this incident exists, but what has been done plus some primary material makes for a fascinating story. An early narrative was written by Park Byeong-Seon, who discovered from 1866 French loot at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France proved that Korea was the first country in the world to print a book using moveable metal type; alas, she has also been largely forgotten. More recently, Wikipedia has an article that subsumes many others. All the accounts together make for a fascinating glimpse of a Korea (and a France) gone by.

The historical context of the expedition was the efforts of Western imperial powers to convert non-Western countries to Christianity and integrate them into world trade. In this scheme, the “hermit kingdom” of Korea was the most recalcitrant of all. Unlike China, which had allowed foreign concessions, and Japan, which eagerly adopted Western technology, Korea shut itself off from foreign contact, despite continual overtures by Western governments to open up. In 1861, a Russian ship came to Wonsan to demand trade, but was rejected; Russians made repeated requests in 1864 and January 1866 with the same result. A major factor may have been Russia’s continual annexation of Manchurian territory, which by the 1860s had reached the Yalu River. Russia’s overtures may also have reminded the Koreans of what happened to China when it opened to trade with the West, especially the Second Opium War and Treaty of Tianjin in 1860.

King Gojong.

Korea was then ruled by a teenager named King Gojong; he was really controlled by his father, the regent Heungseon Daewongun, who was an isolationist. Court nobles were divided into the conservative byeokpa, who held power and did not want dealings with Europe, and the progressive shipa, who were sympathetic to the West and Christianity. When ferment at court over the Russians caused Christian nobles there to think the time was ripe for religious tolerance, they wrote a letter to Heungseon, who invited the French bishop secretly in Korea to an audience, but shortly later postponed it. Then a letter arrived from the Korean ambassador to China reporting Chinese executions of Christians; this was in January 1866, too. No one knows if Heungseon changed his mind or was forced by the byeokpa, who had been waiting to strike against foreign influence, but in the following weeks nine of the twelve French Catholic missionaries in-country and some 10,000 of their converts were executed.

Fr. Felix Ridel, one of the three surviving French missionaries, was smuggled in late June by Korean converts to the Chinese port of Yantai, then called Chefoo by Westerners, where he met Rear Admiral Gustave-Pierre Roze, commander of France’s Far Eastern fleet, and the French vice-consul. They informed Monsieur de Bellonet, the charge d’affaires in Peking, who telegraphed Paris that Roze was going to Korea, where he would probably meet no resistance. Bellonet also wrote Roze ordering him to remove King Gojong from his throne, which would be filled by the French ruler Napoleon III’s choice; confiscate the property of court officials, which would repay the relatives of the dead missionaries; and use the Korean royal treasury to pay the cost of the expedition.

Roze shared Bellonet’s outrage, and was aflame to attack Korea; however, he wanted to reconnoiter it first, since he did not know the location of the Han River’s mouth. Accordingly, he set sail on September 18 aboard the corvette Primauguet, accompanied by the escort vessel Deroulede and the gunboat Tardif. This was the first stage of the French invasion. The three ships entered Gyeonggi Bay two days later, but the Primauguet ran aground on a sand bank and was stuck; therefore, the Deroulede and the Tardif continued up the Han River taking soundings and charting its course. On the 26th, they arrived beside Seoul, which then covered what is now the downtown area north of Namsan. After spending the day moored there, they sailed back to drag the Primauguet off of the sand bank on the 30th; then all three vessels returned to Chefoo on October 3. During this stage of the byeong-in yangyo, no Korean resistance was encountered.

“Infanterie de la marine, 1860,” courtesy of the Musee de l’Armee Francaise.

The second stage of the expedition began on October 11, when a fleet of seven ships and 900 men sailed back to Ganghwa-do. On the 14th, French marines (fusiliers marins) disembarked and began to march inland to Ganghwa-eup, which was then just called Ganghwa, in the center of the island. The French force withdrew on November 14 with much loot, having sustained casualties of around 35 wounded and three dead in sundry skirmishing and capturing forts. Roze wrote the French consul-general in Shanghai that he had not enough numbers to invade Korea’s interior, but that with sufficient resources he could take Seoul in 1867; anyway, he considered his expedition a success, since it had shown the Koreans that they were not invulnerable. The consul-general and other residents in China were critical of Roze, however, as were Ridel and the British press. Inside Korea, there were worse repercussions: by 1870, some 8,000 more Catholics had been martyred, and the country was even more determined to live up to its name as the hermit kingdom. There were attacks on French in China in 1870, too, but France could not retaliate due to its war with Prussia.

Admiral Roze (center) with a quarter of his crew during a visit to Nagasaki in 1865.

So much for the basic narrative of events, which apparently delayed the formation of Franco-Korean diplomatic relations by 20 years. Although no Korean account of the byeong-in yangyo has been translated into English, considerable light can be thrown on the affair from first-hand narratives by French participants, which reveal a past Korea from their perspective. One is a letter to his parents written by a quartermaster mechanic aboard the Tardif named Eugene Masson in December of 1866. Masson’s narrative differs from later scholarship in claiming there was Korean resistance to the first stage of the expedition, when the Tardif and Deroulede charted the Han River up to Seoul, and in the number of Frenchmen participating in the second stage, the attack on Ganghwa-do, which he claims was 600; he also states that the number of French casualties was well over 50. Masson also describes the combat performance of Korean troops as very poor, with Ganghwa-do’s forts being easily captured. Like his admiral, he predicts that the French will return in 1867 with superior numbers if the Korean king does not submit to their demands in the meantime. All in all, Masson paints a sorry picture of Korea and a glowing one for France.

A totally different sketch of Korea is drawn by a naval officer named Henri Zuber, whose 1873 article on the expedition has been cited by the French scholar Jean-Francois Gossiaux. The term “drawn” is deliberate, since Zuber had artistic talents that caused him to resign his commission in 1868 and become a professional artist. He left behind a bunch of sketches of Ganghwa-do, and in his article states that his purpose is to “pass lightly over military actions to focus … on the geographic and picturesque parts [of Korea]” (all quotes by Zuber are my translations). Indeed, about the only mention he makes of the Koreans as soldiers contradicts Masson’s: he states that in battle the Koreans “carried themselves well, and showed skill and a certain bravery.” Gossiaux points out that in the 19th century the picturesque really meant ethnography, and credits Zuber as an honest ethnographer, at least of cultural materials.

Yet Gossiaux’s quotations from Zuber’s article reveal that the artist-officer saw both bad and good in Koreans. For example, Zuber writes that they show many gaps in their education, with their way of life being far from Japanese “exquisite politeness” and Chinese “obsequiousness.” “Their character,” he asserts, “is soft, and their mind little developed.” On the other hand, Zuber also admires how widespread is basic education throughout Korean society. Surprisingly, he admits, “A fact that one cannot stop oneself for admiring in all of East Asia, and which does not flatter our self-esteem, is the presence of books in the poorest abodes. Those who cannot read are quite rare, and attract contempt from their fellow citizens. We would do better in the world if in France opinion against illiterates were as severe.” However, Zuber’s anecdotes go back and forth overall, alternately praising and condemning Koreans.

The most poignant memoir of the byeong-in yangyo by a French participant is an article published by retired naval officer G. Pradier in 1905, i.e. 40 years afterward during the Russo-Japanese War. This article has been translated into English by Daniel C. Kane, and is available online in PDF (google “daniel c. kane translation g. pradier”). Pradier’s descriptions of Korea includes everything from their hairstyles, which French troops called “flytraps” because of the way the topknot stuck up within their horsehair hats, to the countryside, which he says resembles Japan’s without being as beautiful. His main issue is the Korean national character, of which he is wholly condemnatory. He relates how Korean troops always fled from the French or were easily overwhelmed. Pradier furthermore claims he was responsible for requisitioning supplies from Korean villagers, and that Admiral Roze ordered his men to take nothing from them “without reimbursement.” Koreans were also forced to carry these supplies to French camps, and “it was often necessary to resort to the bamboo to make them obey”; indeed, he describes the Koreans as refusing to work unless they were beaten, while at the same time insisting that “never in the course of our expedition did one of our men commit an inhumane act.”


Overall, Pradier describes Koreans as “tall, robust, agile as mountain goats, and timid as rabbits; they lack all initiative.” In one telling example, he narrates how his party was surrounded on night while bringing supplies back to camp, but the French refused to be intimidated and instead forced the Koreans accosting them to carry their loads: “we forced them, the burgled, to aid their own burglars.” This leads him to conclude that the Japanese takeover of the peninsula is inevitable: “[Koreans] share none of their neighbor’s military aptitude …. [they] are farmers and fishers, nothing else.” Pradier then mistakenly predicts a Russian victory in the Russo-Japanese war, but accurately foresees a Japanese attempt to conquer all of Asia, including France’s possessions there. The last sentence of his article reads: “We cannot shrink from any sacrifice to protect our magnificent colony from the belligerence of our neighbors, the yellow races that surround us.”

All these old accounts would be unpublishable in our politically correct times, but after allowing for the prejudices of their authors they do reveal the decrepitude of the late Joseon Dynasty, before Korea was put through its initial modernization by the Japanese, then hardened by the Korean War and rapid industrialization following it. This makes it a pity that the byeong-in yangyo is so forgotten. If you go to Ganghwa-do today, though, you can still see some exhibits in the Ganghwa History Museum. The Goryeo Palace (goryeogungji), which the French destroyed, has also been restored. Other than those, alas, this episode in colonial history has entirely fallen out of mind; in fact, there are more French websites on it than Korean ones (google “expedition francaise a coree 1866” and “byeong-in yangyo” in Hangeul). Still, in the Annee France-Coree we can commemorate France and Korea’s first real encounter, and be glad that some things at least have changed for the better.


Hal Swindall is a California native who received his doctorate in comparative literature from UC Riverside in 1994. Since then, he has worked as a vagabond English prof across East Asia. Presently he teaches at Woosong University in Daejeon. Other articles by him on Korea can be found here, here and here.

The post When the French Arrived–the 1866 French Punitive Expedition to Korea 150 years on appeared first on the3WM.

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    Korean War Stew - BUDAE JJIGAE (부대찌개)

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    BUDAE JJIGAE (부대찌개) originally means "army soup" and comes from the Korean War (1950-1953).

    It's the perfect fusion of American and Korean cuisine, made with food that was common after the Korean War.

    There are many ways to make it, but all of the recipes share most of the same common ingredients - tofu, canned ham, cabbage, rice cake, green onions, and even ramen.

    Watch me enjoy some 부대찌개 here~

    The post Korean War Stew - BUDAE JJIGAE (부대찌개) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

     Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





    The Top 10 Things You’ll Only Find in Korea

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    From soju to noraebangs to K-Pop blaring out on the streets, Korea is a fascinating country that’s always bustling with activity. Thousands of tourists visit every single year and expats settling down in Korea are on the rise.

    There are a lot of interesting customs, trends, products and facilities that may seem so normal to Koreans but are fascinating and new to those from abroad. Thus, we present you with ‘the top 10 things you’ll only find in Korea’!

    1. Coin Noraebangs

    If you love belting out songs, you must visit a noraebang (‘norae’ meaning song and ‘bang’ meaning room) at least once. People go there to sing while drunk (and almost blast other people’s eardrums thinking they can reach that high note), after a break-up (queue a whole round of depressing love songs) or simply to practice their singing!

    They’re all over the country on most street corners. Typical noraebangs usually accommodate over 4 people and cost at least 10,000 to 15,000 KRW per hour.

    Coin noraebangs, however, are different in that you pay according to the number of songs you sing rather than on an hourly basis. The booths are also smaller, kind of resembling a telephone box.

    There will be a microphone or two, a remote control to select songs, and a coin slot to pay for the number of songs you want to sing. Prices normally start at 500 KRW for one or two songs).

    Coin noraebangs are recommended for those of you who want to belt out some songs alone in a place other than your shower with a microphone that isn’t a hairbrush. These are absolutely ideal for that!

    Read more about the unique Korean room culture from our previous blog posthere!

    2. Dating Slang

    If you’re looking to meet your potential future girl or boyfriend, not to worry as there are many ways that you can! Blind dating and ‘meetings’ (and no, we don’t mean the kind you have at the office on a Monday morning) are quite common here. Here are some of the terms explained.

    So-Gae-Ting‘: A one-on-one blind date where two strangers are set up by a mutual friend. Sometimes the mutual friend will have shown the participants pictures of each other along with information about their school or job.

    “So….what’s your favorite color?”

    Meeting‘: Group hangouts where one mutual friend or even a few invite their friends to hang out together. They are usually very popular amongst university students as a way of meeting lots of new people. Since it is a large group, there is a lot less pressure. Drinking games are also played to make things more comfortable and fun.

    *Never have any high hopes for these. I’ve been on five so far but haven’t been able to meet anyone even close to what I would consider ‘boyfriend material'(sighs). Just focus on having fun!

    Hap-Seok‘: Hap-Seok usually happens when a boy or girl finds someone of interest in a bar (since alcohol can make someone more comfortable and confident). They will then go up to them and ask if they want to Hap-Seok (join seats). It’s essentially like a meeting but very spontaneous! marriage.pngMat-Seon‘ or ‘Seon‘: These are the most serious of all Korean dates, as they are a blind date arranged by parents or relatives with the potential of producing a marriage.

    3. Couple Culture

    I’m quite content with being single and enjoy the freedom, but sometimes I do get lonely and wish I had someone by my side- especially here. Why? Because couples are everywhere, and boy they sure like to make it clear to the whole world that they’re dating. 커플티.png

    Korean couples will wear matching outfits, accessories, rings, shoes….even underwear! Pretty much anything that shows that they’re dating. Don’t get me wrong- I think it looks cute most of the time. But there’s always those couples that go overboard or have matching things that just make you think ‘why.’ The worst was when I saw a couple with matching crocs. CROCS. I don’t care what anyone says. Crocs are hideous and need to be banned from this earth.

    Banish them!

    There’s also a bunch of holidays that are specifically for couples, some of which include:

    White Day (March 14): Known as the ‘second valentine’s day’, boys give gifts to the girls in return for the ones they received on Valentines Day. Yes, Valentines Day here is when the girls give gifts to the boys!


    Rose/Yellow Day (May 14): Couples dress in yellow and exchange roses. 12521270083_4fdd9590c5_k.jpgKiss Day (June 14): Confess your feelings to your crush and a new relationship may blossom. Lipstick brands and breathe mints will also have various promotions.

    Even Christmas is more of a couple’s night than a time spent with the whole family. You’ll most likely find me drinking the night away with my girlfriends that night. betweenAnd if you want to document your whole relationship, install an app called ‘between’ which allows you to share photos, messages, and generally chronicle the whole course of your relationship.

    4. Drink till you (almost) die

    It should come as no surprise to some of you that South Korea boasts the top alcohol consumption level on the planet.4520853196_ce78fd8fcd_bSoju. That green glass bottle filled with a devilish substance that’s caused some of my worst hangovers, cringe-worthy text messages, and other bad decisions is the main alcohol of choice in Korea. It’s under 2 dollars at convenience stores and comes in flavors such as grapefruit, peach, apple, and more! You can also mix it with everything from orange juice to energy drinks to beer. %ea%b3%bc%ec%9d%bc%ec%86%8c%ec%a3%bc_%ec%a7%84%ec%97%b4Drinking is a way of bonding with your friends, co-workers or family. For this reason, ‘hweshiks (company dinners)’ are very common. Hierarchy is very prevalent in the workplace, and respecting higher-ups is a huge deal. Drinking gives you the chance to open up and strengthen your relationship with them in a casual environment.신세대2.jpgYou’ll find people drinking at parks or playgrounds since drinking in public is legal. Additionally, no one is fazed when they see someone passed out on the street or subway either since it’s such a common sight.

    Hangover soup that will warm up your stomach

    If you need some hangover relief, head to the convenience store where you’ll find the shelves lined with hangover relief drinks (check out our top 5 here) ! There’s also soups to get nutrients back into your alcohol-filled system. If you love to drink, Korea will be like heaven for you. Bottom’s up, folks.

    5. Same Sex Touching

    Normally in many other parts of the world, two people of the same sex holding hands or linking arms would make people assume they are a gay couple. In Korea however, while public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, people won’t blink an eye even if you sit on your friend’s lap or walk down the street holding their hand.

    You’ll see lots of music videos or shows where celebrities of the same sex have their arms around each other cuddling or have their arms around their friend’s waist. It’s totally normal here and also probably the reason why so many international fans freak out and ‘ship’ members of their favorite idol group with each other.

    6. “What’s your Korean age?”

    In Korea, your age has nothing to do with your birthday. Instead, you calculate your age by the year you’re born, so it doesn’t matter whether your birthday has passed or not.

    So how old am I?

    The easiest way to calculate it is to subtract the current year from the year you were born and add one. So if you were born in 1992, then your age is 2016 – 1992 + 1 = 25. The reason why you add one is because you’re already considered to be a year old once you’re born.

    This system is fine when you’re young, but gets more and more depressing as you age. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of those in their late twenties approaching thirty crying as they say “I’m technically still in my twenties!”

    7. Offensive Comments

    “Why do you have so many pimples on your face?””You’ve gained so much weight!” These are some common comments you may hear from people, whether it be friends, relatives or co-workers.

    Me at every family gathering: “Here we go again….”

    Of course, there are people who say these things on purpose to offend you, but a lot of times in Korea, they’re simply said out of concern or even love (though I beg to differ). The best thing to do is just laugh it off and not let it get to you.

    My technique now is to just do the same thing back. Two can play the game. When one of my aunts recently told me I was getting fat and should get some exercise, I feigned concern and told her she had gotten more wrinkles and should probably get some botox. Needless to say, she shut up right away.

    Her-0 : Me-1  *flips hair*

    *Tread gently if the opposition is a superior at work or someone you don’t want to have a rocky relationship with. I’m not responsible for any fights that occur!

    8. Korean Beauty Products

    It’s no secret that Korea is the pioneer in the world of skincare and beauty. Even Western brands are beginning to release products that have formulations and finishes similar to Korean products.

    BB creams, lip tints, cushion foundations…. it all started in Korea. Recently, however, the products have become more, erm, interesting. But hey, no matter how strange and unusual they may be, the important thing is that they work! mizon-starfish-cream

    I previously mentioned some briefly in this post, and I’ve since discovered many more bizarre products. One of them includes this ‘Starfish All-in-One Cream’ with 70% starfish extract that promises to improve skin elasticity, moisturize, prevent wrinkles, and whiten the skin. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had great regenerating results as starfish  can regrow lost arms and even entire new limbs!

    Ugh, even looking at that snail is grossing me out

    The site even has placenta, bee and snake venom, and snail mucus cream. Not the usual products you would find on a skincare website. But hey, if it makes me look younger and gives me amazing skin, I’ll gladly try it.

    I’d probably eat these since I love anything with salmon

    I also found this cream that literally looks like the salmon eggs you find in sushi restaurants. Apparently, the enzymes help to regulate moisture and enhance your skin’s color, texture, and overall condition. The site recommends using 2 to 3 eggs at a time.

    9. Fortune-Telling

    Fortune-telling stalls and cafes can be seen all over Korea.  There are tents lining the streets and portable vans with little tables and chairs inside.

    Find out what life has in store for you through a variety of different methods. For example, ‘kwan-sang’ is where the psychic analyzes little details about your face such as the shape of your nose or how far apart your eyes are to determine your personality. Then they will use this information to figure out the rest of your life.

    ‘Saju’ is another popular form of fortune-telling. It means the four pillars of destiny, as the readings are based on the day, month, year, and time of your birth. The fortune-teller will consult a book of celestial significance to tell you about your character and how it can affect your future.

    Many mothers also consult fortune-tellers about their children before important events. These include things like the college entrance exam to find out whether or not their child can get into a top university or job interviews at a conglomerate company to predict the chances of getting hired.

    Some do go a little too overboard and literally rely solely on these fortune-tellers to predict their whole life for them.

    10. Love Motels

    Sound seedy and sketchy? As the name suggests, love motels can be rented hourly and are for couples who want somewhere private to..erm…’do the deed.’ Since most youths live with their parents even in their twenties or thirties, they’re the ideal place to go for some uninterrupted time together.의정부모텔_추천_003.pngHowever, they’re not just for couples anymore. A lot of tourists on a budget or business people who need a place to crash for the night use them as they’re actually really nice and clean!%ec%9d%98%ec%a0%95%eb%b6%80%eb%aa%a8%ed%85%94_%ec%b6%94%ec%b2%9c_008Most will have a queen-sized bed, big screen tv, bathroom, and mini fridge. Some even have computers, jacuzzis, karaoke machines, and video games! Many will even be themed. Take the Spain room for example, which is decked out with Spanish football memorabilia such as Barcelona football uniforms and boots.1697526331_330ff6c561_b.jpgThe best part is that if you look around almost every bus terminal or train station you will find some, so you have lots of options! 160429_명_창원모텔_갤러리9_(3).jpg*Since it is a ‘love motel’, the bathroom may just be separated by a curtain or glass door that’s practically transparent (shown above) so take note if you’re going with someone you’re not too comfortable with (ie. that co-worker you’re not too close with yet).

    Which ones do you agree with? Do you have any more to add to the list? Let us know!

    If you want to check out more fun posts like this one as well as more fun things to do in Korea, don’t forget to check out, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop! 

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    Photo Credits

    Naver Blog@body4282
    Naver Cafe J.metis
    Naver Blog@mallnmall 
    “No crocs under any circumstances” By Yusuf C 
    Naver Blog@jcs203 
    “she loves me, she loves me not” By Robert Couse-Baker
    “Soju time!” By Graham Hills
    “Fruit soju” By Beatlehoon
    Naver Blog@jcs203
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    “Stanley hudson eye roll” By Giphy
    Mizon Creative Beauty Lab
    Naver Blog@happynchic
    Naver Blog@dukjokim
    “Korean Motel” By James Nash
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    We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

    If Trumpian Duterte Really Bandwagons with China, It won’t End Well

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    This is the English-language version of a story I just wrote for Newsweek Japan on Philippine President Duterte’s strange new flirtation with China.

    The big question I suppose is whether Duterte actually follows through. He has already shown himself to be a ‘trumpian’ nutball character, talking about killing millions of drug-dealers and users while praising Hitler. Previous associates have claimed him to be erratic and difficult. Sound familiar?

    And just as I figure Trump would not follow through on his outlandish promises, like stealing Iraq’s oil, or retrenching from Asia, because it would be too hard – fighting all the interest groups in Washington, Congress, DoD, and so on – so I figure Duterte may just be spouting off. When he collides with the reality that no one in Asia trusts China, that his own people don’t want to give up Scarborough Shoal, this his own military is terrified of cutting links with the US to line up with China, I imagine his ‘pivot’ to China will be hard to pull off.

    But let’s say he does take the Phils out of the US Asian alliance network. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he comes to rue that decision. China has no allies; it has purely transactional relationships with places like N Korea, Pakistan, or Myanmar. Beijing would screw them over in a heartbeat if it was in its strategic interests. So I have little doubt that Beijing will come knocking again in the future, asking Manila to surrender all claims to the Spratlys too, or to ‘permit’ China to operate in its airspace. If you think a state run as a nasty authoritarian oligarchy at home, is suddenly going to be a liberal abroad, disappointment is coming.

    The full essay follows the jump.


    Earlier this year, the Philippines elected a new president, Rodrigo Duterte. He quickly became notorious for his outlandish rhetoric and policy suggestions, earning himself the moniker, the Donald Trump of southeast Asia. Among others, he has likened himself to Adolf Hitler (yes, really) and talked of using extreme force, if not state-sanctioned murder, against drug users and dealers. On foreign policy, he has suggested radical new changes in traditional Philippine strategy. Most importantly, he has suggested that the Philippines would accept China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea.

    This would be revolution, as the Philippines has traditionally tilted toward the US and its alliance network in the Pacific. The Philippines is a democracy, with a partially American cultural heritage. (The other major cultural root is Spanish, as the islands were colonized by Spain before it was annexed by the United States after the Spanish-American War.) It would be extraordinary for a state with such political and cultural ties to the West to bolt for China, a state with which it has no such similarities. The Philippines is also the state that brought the first and only formal international law complaint against China regarding the South China Sea. Curiously enough, the Philippines won that case almost completely at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The ruling, which was returned earlier this year before Duterte ascended to the presidency, found China’s expansive claims to be almost totally unjustified. This emboldened the previous Philippine administration and the Americans with whom it was working. In the wake of the ruling, the US expanded freedom of navigation operations in the area.

    Bolting to China?

    It is therefore quite surprising that Duterte has suddenly spoken of accepting China’s claims. This month he said, “We cannot win that…even if we get angry, we’ll just be putting on airs. We can’t beat (China).” It is of course correct that the Philippines would lose a one-to-one conflict with China, but the United States and Japan have been quietly supporting Manila’s efforts to push China back in South China Sea, as have other relevant players like Vietnam and Australia. It is not clear that the Philippines needed to make this move. Indeed the United States warned China earlier this year that it might face retaliation if it built military facilities on Scarborough Shoal, an island formation very close to the Philippines and claimed by it, but nonetheless controlled by China.

    But Duterte is an erratic character and has openly spoken of breaking the alliance with the United States. And indeed, the US does have a checkered history with the Philippines. There has long been a justified strain of anti-American politics in the country. After the US defeated Spain in 1898, it picked up the Philippines as a colonial territory, despite America’s own anti-colonial heritage as break-away state from Great Britain. Naturally the Filipinos resented the new colonial power and sought independence, leading to the declaration of a Philippine Republic in 1899. This was defeated by the Americans in 1902 after a brutal US counter-insurgency campaign that seared itself into Philippine collective memory. Eventually the Philippines became independent after World War II, and its relationship with the US oscillated between anti-Americanism and fear of communism. When the latter collapsed, Manila quickly expelled US forces in 1991. But the relationship re-warmed in the wake of 9/11. Duterte is only the latest turn.

    Resistance to Duterte’s Shift

    Given this up-down history and Duterte’s own ‘Trumpian’ character, it is not yet clear just how much he means to tilt toward China. He may be channeling anti-Americanism for political support. He may be seeking to play a ‘China card’ against the Americans in order to play the US and China against each other in search of a better deal from both of them. Or Duterte may simply not hew to this course. A leader who speaks of killing millions of drug dealers and users and professes admiration for Hitler likely does not fully comprehend the consequences of his rhetoric. China may find that Duterte violates deals and is an unreliable partner, just as he seems now to the Americans.

    It is also likely that Duterte will meet internal resistance to ‘bandwagoning’ with China. This would be such a shift of decades-old western-leaning Philippine grand strategy, that it will almost certainly met huge resistance both in and outside government. Almost everyone in Philippine society will resent the concession of Scarborough Shoal to China. Territory excites nationalism, and ceding it to a foreign bully – China simply snatched the Shoal in 2012 and unilaterally blocked Philippine access – all but guarantees a social backlash. Indeed there have already been protests. Liberals and diplomats are likely aghast at abandoning the values of liberal democracy that the American alliance network represents. The Philippines may be a developing state, but it can take pride in being known as an open democracy. That international identity will now be threatened if Manila is perceived as a Chinese ally, or worse, lackey.

    Finally, defense officials almost certainly fear the consequences of US abandonment if Manila bolts to China. Duterte may indeed get a good deal now from China – trade pacts, development financing, Chinese investment, and so on – but in the future the Philippines will stand alone against Beijing should China make further demands (as it almost certainly will). The Philippine military must know that China has no allies (North Korea partially excepted) and no friends. China inspires fear and respect, but little empathy. China has relationships with states like North Korea and Pakistan, but these are not based on warm, fellow-feeling. They are completely strategic, and China would drop, or otherwise exploit, them immediately if that were in its interest. Respect for China does not mean anyone trusts it. This lack of strategic trust must be deeply unsettling to brass in Manila, and I anticipate massive bureaucratic resistance from the Philippine military should Duterte plunge ahead with this.

    Strategic Triangle

    While we wait for a formal proclamation from Presidents Duterte and Xi, it is worth noting the security implications of a Philippine cession of the Scarborough Shoal to Chinese control. The Shoal represents the eastern leg of what analysts are increasingly referring to as a ‘strategic triangle’ of Chinese control in the heart of the South China Sea. The northwestern leg of that triangle is the Paracel Islands, which lie southeast of Hainan Island. These are closest to China, making its maritime control claims the strongest, but Vietnam claims them as well. Vietnam and China have already tangled over unsolicited Chinese drilling in this area. The southern leg of this triangle is the Spratly Islands, off the west coast of Philippines.

    Both the Spratlys and Scarborough are just 500 kms away from the Philippines, while 2000 kms from China. Hence this strategic triangle, if China solidified control of it, would project Chinese power deep into the South China Sea. The Chinese navy and air force would be able to operate all along the western coast of the Philippines, most of Vietnam’s coast, and near Malaysia. Singapore, which frequently hosts the US navy, would suddenly be much closer to Chinese striking power, and  the Karimata Strait, through which the Australian Navy transits into the South China Sea, would be easier to block. This scenario, in which China’s island possessions give it a maritime choke-hold on the region, is America’s greatest apprehension, and the Americans have conducted freedom of navigation and air patrols to reinforce the norm that the South China Sea is international waters.

    China’s sharp denunciation of this year’s Hague ruling rejects the international character of the South China Sea. Its ‘Nine-Dash Line’ map claims control of the sea as far south as Malaysia. To deepen its claims, it has enlarged the islands, reefs, and shoals it controls in the strategic triangle. It has also built air and port facilities on these reclaimed spaces, with ground forces stationed on some of them too. Needless to say, China’s claims to these islands are not recognized by the surrounding littoral states, and in the case of the Scarborough Shoal, it is so close to the Philippines that the US threatened action against any Chinese facilities built on the reef. Hence the import of Duterte’s trip. If he concedes control of the Shoal to China, it would be all but impossible for the US to reject Chinese military construction there. This would allow Chinese power projection into the heart of the Philippines. Scarborough is only 355 kms from the Philippine capital.

    What Next?

    The South China Sea contention is important for east Asian democracies, including Japan. Five trillion dollars of cargo pass through the region every year. Nearly all of Japan’s (and South Korea and Taiwan’s) oil – purchases from the Persian Gulf – flow through that sea. Chinese control of this maritime space would allow it to hold east Asian democracies hostage over energy. This would obviously have a massive impact on Japan and others’ economies. And China need not shut down trade completely. It need only use its string of bases and ports to threaten Japan-bound shipping or perhaps halt such ships for a day or two on specious grounds like environmental or anti-terrorism concerns. The signal to Japan and others would be obvious: do not oppose China too much, or Beijing will threaten your energy and trade lifelines.

    Duterte’s threatened defection to China makes this threatening scenario now very clear, which I believe will increasingly pull Japan, however reluctantly, into the region. This will be controversial at home and abroad. Domestically, Japan has a robust, admirable pacifist tradition. Overseas, there are regional concerns, strongest in Korea, about Japanese power projection. The last time the Japanese navy sailed around the South China Sea was the imperial period, which is bound to make Japanese freedom of navigation patrols controversial at first.

    But I believe such patrols will ultimately be necessary and will occur, because the United States will not, nor should it, challenge China alone. America’s alliances with Japan, Korea, Australia, and others must ultimately be reciprocal: US partners must contribute on big issues, and no issue is bigger than the emergence of China as a possible Asian regional hegemon. If US allies hide behind the US instead, hoping Washington will deal with China, Americans will sour on the alliances and figures like Donald Trump will be more common. As the largest American ally in the region, this need to call to help will fall most heavily on Japan.

    Filed under: China, International Relations Theory, Newsweek, Philippines, South China Sea

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


    127.-130. Road 209, Espace Cafe, Cafe the Mansion, Unique Coffee (Busan)

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    Here are three more from the fun Jeonpo Cafe Street area, plus a bonus shop closer to the Seomyeon subway station that looks like it’s been around since before the coffee craze even began.


    127. Road 209 (Jeonpo Cafe Street). This one also sells beer, I think.


    128. Espace Cafe (Jeonpo Cafe Street). This one actually looked pretty cute inside. I might have to venture in for a cuppa.


    129. Cafe the Mansion (Jeonpo Cafe Street). Here’s what appears to be a fancy place for your coffee tastes.


    130. Unique Coffee (Seomyeon). The unique part of what appears to be an older coffee shop in Seomyeon is that it’s been around for at least a few years. Fun fact: I had a toast sandwich (the Korean styled ham, egg, cheese and strange ketchup-like fried sandwiches that were a phenomenon about 10 years ago here) with a good friend of mine at the connected toast shop on the right of this frame about three years ago after she’d just had her wisdom teeth pulled. Needless to say, she wasn’t able to finish hers.

    JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

    Every year I say that they’re the best fireworks I’ve ever seen...

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    Every year I say that they’re the best fireworks I’ve ever seen and the 2016 Busan International Fireworks Festival are no exception. We sat on the beach in the early afternoon and sat near the stairs to the portable toilets, which was the perfect spot for using the bathroom and viewing the fireworks. 

    This year they had a water jetpack show during the day and again at night. If you go next year, go early, bring a jacket and blanket, play card games, and have drinks and snacks aplenty. Another lovely Saturday in Busan.


    Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.


    ESL News Articles: A Few Resources

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    ESL News Articles: Stop Wasting your Time Searching Everywhere!

    I’m all about using news articles in my classes instead of readings from the textbook. The stuff from the textbook is often dry, and it’s certainly not related to the things happening around the world.

    But the problem with news articles is that they’re often too difficult, even for intermediate students. And that’s where ESL News Articles come in. They usually take the real newspaper articles, grade the language into different levels and the result is something you can easily use in your classes.

    Here are a few of my go-to sites for ESL news articles:

    Breaking News English

    This should be your first stop for ESL news articles. It’s an extremely comprehensive site with a ton of material on it. You could probably use Breaking News English solely for the rest of your teaching life in fact. My favourite thing is that there are different levels to each article, making it really easy to use the same lesson for different classes.

    News in Levels

    This website is kind of the much simpler version of Breaking News English. I sometimes find Breaking News English is a vortex that ends up sucking up way too much of my time. If you are in a time crunch and need something in a pinch, this site is probably a better choice.

    VOA Learning English

    This is a nice looking site with a ton of media, including some sweet videos. It’s great to send learners to for some extra practice outside of class. And there’s also lots of stuff you can use in your classes as well. It is USA focused so keep that in mind when using or recommending it.

    British Council-Teens + British Council-Adults

    The British Council does some great work in putting out excellent resources for ESL and EFL students. Thank you! The site is very useful but they often don’t have the most up to date ESL News Articles. But, they’re still worth a look.

    English Listening Rocks

    A new site from Rob Whyte, a friend of mine from Korea and a Lonely Planet author! It’s really user friendly and has lots of interesting ESL news articles in different levels. Check it out.


    The post ESL News Articles: A Few Resources appeared first on .

    Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


    My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

    University Jobs



    Registration for October 29th Meeting Open!!

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    Ever wondered what it might be like to be in Korea during the 90’s?  Well this Saturday we are time machining all the way back to comic books, power rangers….and of course, makgeolli!  There is a quirky bar near Konkuk University that is all decked out in memorabilia from Nintendo 64s to protractor stencil sets.


    But the best thing about it, this bar actually has quite a decent selection of makgeolli!  It can be tough to get all the boxes ticked, but so far from what we have seen, we have high hopes for this bar.


    So if you would like to join us for a trip down memory lane, email for a spot!


    Ever wondered what it might be like to be in Korea during the 90’s?  Well this Saturday we are time machining all the way back to comic books, power rangers….and of course, makgeolli!  There is a quirky bar near Konkuk University that is all decked out in memorabilia from Nintendo 64s to protractor stencil sets.


    But the best thing about it, this bar actually has quite a decent selection of makgeolli!  It can be tough to get all the boxes ticked, but so far from what we have seen, we have high hopes for this bar.


    So if you would like to join us for a trip down memory lane, email for a spot!

    Makgeolli Mamas & Papas

    Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels

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    students refusing to participate

    Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels is what you need if you teach a wide variety of students from beginner to advanced. All of these activities can be adapted to make them very easy, or quite difficult.

    If you want to save time when you’re planning your lessons, keep the framework of the lessons the same (same activities, games, etc.) but then adapt the material to suit the individual class. Keep reading for my top 10 ESL activities for all levels of students.

    #1: Agony Aunt: Problem + Advice ESL Activity

    Everyone knows how to solve each other’s problems! Even low-level students can read a simple problem and give some advice using the grammatical structure, “He should… He shouldn’t…” And of course you can adapt this activity to make it much more complicated by offering a difficult problem and then expecting more detailed advice with perhaps a short presentation to the class.

    Check out Agony Aunt.

    #2: English Central: YouTube for English Learners

    I love English Central! They have a ton of videos that make the perfect introduction to a lesson. Or, you could even get your creative juices flowing and centre and entire lesson around one of them. They have a nice range from beginner to advanced and you’ll definitely be able to find something suitable for each class.

    Check out how I use English Central in my classroom.

    #3: Story Timeline: An Excellent Reading Review

    If you want to get students to review what they’ve read, use this story timeline activity. You simply have to adapt the story to suit the level of your students, but the actual activity can stay the same. It really is one of my Top 10 ESL Activities for all levels.

    More details about Story Timeline.

    #4: Cosmo Quiz: Easily Adaptable for all Levels!

    If you teach adults who are quite high level, you can use the actual quizzes from Cosmo to spice things up in your classroom. However, if your students are children or lower-level adults, you can find a whole variety of quizzes to suit their needs. Even very low-level students can do quizzes with questions like, “What’s your favourite color?” or, “What do you do on the weekend?” If you can’t find a suitable quiz on the Internet, you can make your own. These quizzes are often great discussion starters for ESL students.

    Cosmo Quizzes for ESL Students.

    #5: Dialogue Substitution: Excellent Conversation Practice

    Dialogue Substitution works best with lower-level students, but I’ve used it with all levels up to advanced. The key is to give advanced students only a couple lines at the start of the conversation and then freedom to continue in their own way. It’s an excellent way to get higher-level students using some vocabulary or grammar that might not be too familiar to them.

    More details about Dialogue Substitution.

    #6: Dictogloss: A Classic ESL Activity

    Dictogloss belongs firmly on any list of the Top 10 ESL Activities because it’s a classic! You can easily adapt dictogloss for any level of ESL student by making the story shorter/longer or using simple or complicated grammar and vocab. Writing usually makes it harder than speaking. Alone is also harder than in a group of 2 or 3.

    Here’s how this classic ESL Activity works.

    #7: ESL Surveys: One of the Top 10 ESL Activities!

    Ask any of my students what my favourite ESL activity is and they’ll without a doubt answer, “Surveys!” They’re so, so, so useful in any language classroom. Try them out and I’m sure you’ll agree. The key is to make them easy or challenging enough for your students. But, this is easy to do with a bit of practice.

    More details about ESL Surveys here.

    #8: Is that Sentence Correct: An ESL Grammar Activity

    If you want to review English grammar, you’ve found your activity. It’s so easy to adapt this to just about any level or student or structure/vocabulary that you’re studying.

    Here’s how Is that Sentence Correct? works.

    #9: ESL Listening: How to Teach It

    While not strictly an ESL Activity, this does belong on my list of Top 10 ESL Activities because it’s so useful. Listening is a skill that all students need to practice and here is how to teach it well!

    An ESL Listening Lesson Template.

    #10: Odd One Out: An ESL Warm-Up

    Odd One Out is one of my favourite ESL warm-up activities. I’ve used it with beginners who could barely read and also with extremely high-level students who were basically fluent. Just adapt the words you use and also the explanation required.

    Check out Odd-One Out.

    That rounds out our list of Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels. I hope you enjoyed them. Comment below and tell me your favourite ESL activity that you use with a wide range of students from beginner to advanced.

    The post Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels appeared first on ESL Speaking.

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