Recent Blog Posts

All Recent Posts

Trump Post-Mortem: 5 Take-Aways from Trump’s Surprise Victory

Printer-friendly version




Thisis the English-language version of an article I just published with Newsweek Japan on Trump’s victory. I know there have been a million of these sorts of diagnostic analyses since he won, so this will be my only one. I will get back to East Asia politics next week.

I guess what worries me the most is how Trump toyed with proto-fascist themes, even if he himself doesn’t believe any of it. As I write in the main essay below: “He flirted heavily with race nationalism, illiberalism (attacking the media; winking to the alt-right), anti-democracy (refusal to recognize defeat; insisting the election system is ‘rigged’), and a cult of personality. That is awfully close to a fascist package.” Trump has now demonstrated that there is a constituency for hard-right strong man politics in the US. He ran as an openly misogynistic, racist, cultish candidate, and millions of Americans just didn’t care and voted for him anyway. This is the most important, and terrifying, revelation of the last 18 months. 

No, I am not in hysterics that America is about to collapse. We’ve survived a lot worse in 230 years. I am pretty sure we can survive the Trump administration. He and his family will be epically corrupt, but that won’t bring down the Constitution. There is far too much hyperventilating on the left right now.

But if Trump, or more likely Steven Bannon, can put his stamp on the GOP, the American political landscape will change forever. The Reaganite GOP is disappearing, and in its place will rise a National Front-like nationalist-populist party if Bannon has his way. The US has never seen a blood-and-soil European rightist party. We may look back on Trump as a right-wing turning point even greater than the Goldwater or Reagan presidential campaigns.

The full essay follows the jump.


Donald Trump’s victory is the greatest US presidential upset since Harry Truman won re-election in 1948 against similar predictions. This victory has acted as a lightning strike illuminating the American political landscape to issues traditional media and elites have missed. Here are five initial take-aways:

1. The dramatic outcome does not actually well reflect public opinion.

Trump won because of the unique American quirk of the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote by 1-2%, and the Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate too by an even larger margin. 49% of eligible Americans did not vote. Trump won only half of the rest, around 25% of all voters. The GOP has legally won power, but if it pushes the radical Ryan agenda, that will not reflect the preferences of many Americans.

Given that the same thing happened in 2000, it is probably time to abolish the Electoral College for a straight-up national vote. Were this election a national referendum, as in most democracies, we would be talking today about how poorly Clinton mobilized the Obama coalition, not the possible mainstreaming of Trumpian alt-right politics.

2. There is a potential for proto-fascist politics in the United States.

Trump is not Hitler, but he is closer to Mussolini than many want to admit. He flirted heavily with race nationalism, illiberalism, anti-democracy, and a cult of personality. That is awfully close to a fascist package. Trump traded on white racial paranoia as no major US political figure has ever done. He helped legitimize the alt-right by bringing Steve Bannon onto his campaign, appearing on Alex Jones’ TV show, re-tweeting white rightists, and so on. He promised to imprison his opponent, crack down on journalists, sue his critics, bring back torture, and so on.

Next, he questioned democratic procedure by reserving the right to reject the election outcome, insisting the process was ‘rigged,’ flirting with extra-parliamentary interference (Putin, Assange, rogue FBI agents), and even suggesting at one point that the election be cancelled and the presidency simply given to him. Finally, his campaign took on cultish characteristics, with Trump accurately asserting that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. No matter what he said, his voters stood by him; he referred to his campaign as a ‘movement’ (another semi-fascist reference); Ann Coulter’s hagiography was entitled In Trump We Trust.

3. Racial ‘political correctness’ has broken out of universities to become a national issue.

Trump got tremendous mileage out of the cultural contempt between social liberals clustered in America’s cities and campuses, and rural nationalists who are clearly unnerved by the left-wing identity politics of race. One obvious way to read Trump’s victory is the mobilization of white identity politics on the right after 40 years of such ethnic politicking on the left in the US, especially at universities. Multiculturalism has long been ‘asymmetric’ in the United States, limited to non-whites, with ‘white pride’ understood as racism. Trump has now breached that wall. Balkan-style ethnic-bloc competition is emerging in the United States.

4. Trade continues to be woefully misunderstood.

Trump capitalized on the decline of manufacturing employment in the US and the perception that trade deals hurt American workers. American politicians continue to find it easier to argue for a bean-counting, zero-sum approach to trade, in which factory jobs in developing countries are a gain at America’s expense. These jobs can be ‘brought back’ through mercantilism.

This, and Trump’s entire trade message, is grossly inaccurate of course. Trade is almost always positive sum; most US manufacturing jobs were eliminated by technology in the same way bank tellers were eliminated by ATMs, or rotary phone makers were eliminated by cell phones. Jobs outsourced by trade cannot realistically be identified one-by-one (the research expense would be gargantuan) and brought back. Most have long since diffused into the global supply chain. Next, manufacturing is actually quite productive in the US. It floats between 10 and 20% of output. Its percentage of working class employment though has collapsed, because those plants are heavily automated now and require engineers and degreed employees. Non-college, high-paying working class jobs are not just not coming back, they are gone forever.

5. The white working class is easily conned.

Trump misled, if not lied, to the many disgruntled downscale whites who voted for him. The Mexican wall will be enormously expensive, hugely controversial, and may not even work. The Muslim ban has already been dropped from his website. No amount of alt-right white nationalism can now prevent the slippage of whites into demographic sub-majority status around mid-century.

Tariffs will not bring back jobs. They will only drive up prices for imports, a burden which will fall most heavily on the poor who benefit most from cheap prices brought on by competition from trade. If Trump’s white working class is the ‘Walmart demographic,’ Trumpism will double the prices of all those cheap Asian imports like blu-ray players, baby-clothes and so on. Middle class voters have the income to absorb these price hikes; Trump’s downscale voters do not.

Trump will almost certainly not abandon his class. He will support the massive Ryan tax cut for the wealthy which will worsen the inequality that fires Trumpism, not reduce it. He will likely support welfare state reductions (Medicaid most obviously) which help downscale voters like his own. He will roll back the post-Great Recession financial regulation (Dodd-Frank, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the rule requiring financial advisors to follow their clients’ best interest) which protects people like Trump voters from the predatory practices that cost so many of them their homes in the Great Recession. Indeed, Trump already made clear what he thought of working class Americans by stiffing them for years as contractors on his worksites or scamming them at Trump University.

My big concern going forward is that the social cleavages Trump starkly revealed and widened, start to overlap into a Red and Blue America that neither understand nor empathize with each other: white, non-college, rural, nationalist, religious vs. diverse, college, urban, cosmopolitan, secular. That looks like Northern Ireland, where multiple cleavages broke the same way, exacerbating everything and raising the prospect of unrest. The future is bluer than Trump’s victory suggests, but in the near-term, we are frighteningly divided.

Filed under: Conservatism, Domestic Politics, Newsweek, Republican Party, Trump, United States

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


Korean Adoptee Adam Crapser Deported After 37 Years In United States

Printer-friendly version

Despite fighting for several years to be made a naturalized American citizen, Korean-born American adoptee Adam Crapser has been deported from the United States. The now 41 year old was adopted from a South Korean orphanage at the age of three, but after suffering severe child abuse & neglect from two different adoptive families, both sets of abusive parents & the State of Oregon also failed to move forward with the process of granting Crasper US citizenship. As a result, the Korean-born Adam Crapser is fighting to bring attention to his & other cases of children adopted to the US who never officially gained citizenship. Korea FM host Chance Dorland spoke with National Korean American Service & Education Consortium Advocacy Director Emily Kessel & “Adapted” podcast host Kaomi Goetz to learn more about what is being done to help Adam Crapser & other Korean adoptees who have faced hardship as a result of problems in the system.

This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit for more information. 

If audio player does not load, listen to this episode by clicking here.

Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

Rate & Review this podcast at

Subscribe to Korea FM Talk Radio & News Podcasts via:

iTunes 96x33   Subscribe On Android      Stitcher 96x33   Tune In Smaller   YouTube 79x33   RSS 83x33

Like us on Facebook  Patreon 728x90

Listen to Korea FM Talk Radio & News Podcasts online via:
Overcast –
Stitcher –
audioBoom –
Player FM –
Tunein –
Acast –
iTunes –

Korea FM banner-ad

The post Korean Adoptee Adam Crapser Deported After 37 Years In United States appeared first on Korea FM.

Christmas and New Years

Printer-friendly version
I've been busy studying over the last several months back here in Canada. I have also been writing brief zen poems in Chinese along with reading lots of haiku.  I do indeed enjoy the non-traditional haiku that are shorter than the standard 5-7-5. Often times those with the shortest closing lines are the ones that prove to be most striking in the impact of their imagery. I shall post some of my seasonal zen poems for autumn and winter later. Until then, here's a poem for the upcoming New Year :  

the great temple bell
sound surrounds the silent crowd
New Year. monk smiles

photo credit : J.Labrado

About the Author

Matthew William Thivierge has abandoned his PhD studies in Shakespeare and is now currently almost half-way through becoming a tea-master (Japanese,Korean & Chinese tea ceremony). He is a part time Ninjologist with some Jagaek studies (Korean 'ninja') and on occasion views the carrying on of pirates from his balcony mounted telescope.

About Tea Busan  *   Mr.T's Chanoyu てさん 茶の湯   *  East Sea Scrolls  *  East Orient Steampunk Society

The Entertainer Blogger Award

Printer-friendly version

Life has been busy these days, and of course I have been lazier. But finally I have some time to get back here properly. Anyways, my heartiest gratitude to TOUUFYBITS for nominating for The Entertainer Blogger Award, I can’t express how much happy I am that you chose me, dear!

The rules of the award are :

  1. Write a post  including the award picture
  2. Nominate twelve other bloggers
  3. Nominees should answer the same questions as the ones below
  4. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link their blog

So, here are the questions and my answers:-

Question 1:  What do you hope to gain from blogging?

Blogging is a way of expressing myself, the inner and deeper part of me. I want my blog to be that platform where I can raise my voice to the issues I love, or against the issues I hate.

Question 2: What genre of film entertains you the most?

Well I usually love every kinda movie except the dramatic, sad ones or the romantic ones.

Because I believe you are attracted to the things you are deprived of. By the grace of almighty, I have enough love in my life, also unfortunately there are too many parts of my life, where I couldn’t even hold my own sadness. So, I don’t want to watch that kinda movies. I would rather watch some adventurous, horror, fantasy, action movie, which I never experienced in my whole life.

Question 3: Do you consider yourself a writer, and what inspires you?

No, I don’t. I am someone who writes, but I’m no writer. Appreciation from my loved ones inspire me always.

Question 4: Why did you choose your particular WordPress username?

Well, I am girl who is a pure mess! So, “A messy world”, is actually my own messy world. Moreover, here I’ve already shared too many things. Sometimes I write my happy thoughts, sometimes I write about my travel experience, sometimes I write about makeup and reviews, sometimes even cooking recipes. That way, my blog is also kinda messy with different varieties of topics.

Question 5: What is your favourite book, and why does it speak to you?

My favourite book is The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. I have always been a good history student. And I like said before, things I’m deprived of, attracts me the most. Solving a mystery, solving with symbols, the adventures, the thrills, these are things I have always wanted, but I was too afraid to take any risk all my life. So, may be that’s why I try to find them, while reading books or watching movies.

Question 6: What is your favourite song, and why does it speak to you?

My favourite song is “La la la”, by Naughty boy ft. Sam Smith. And why does it speak to ME?

Well, each and every time I hear that song, I feel like someone is saying the things I’ve been trying to say for a long time! So, the lyrics says it all!

“I can’t find your silver lining
I don’t mean to judge
But when you read your speech, it’s tiring
Enough is enough
I’m covering my ears like a kid
When your words mean nothing, I go la la la
I’m turning up the volume when you speak
‘Cause if my heart can’t stop it,
I’ll find a way to block it, I go
La la, la la la la la na na na na na
La la na na, la la la la la na na na na na…”

Question 7: What is your favourite photograph and why does it speak to you?


We took this picture in last year august, 2months after I came here. After our wedding, we were together only for nine days. We had the shortest honeymoon any couple ever had. So, when I came to him, he tried to make it up, taking me to different places in Busan. That day, the sun was crazy, I was sweating like hell, and suddenly, he went on his knees and told me let’s take a picture like this! And that’s my favorite picture of all time.

I even wrote a poem describing this picture in my own language,

“যদি বলি, শুরু হোক তবে একসাথে পথ চলা, অনন্তের পথে, অসীমের দিকে,

তুমি কি আমায় ফিরিয়ে দেবে?

কেবল হাতটাই তো চেয়েছি ভালোবেসে, পৃথিবীটা তো নয়!!”

I am not a very good translator, but if I am gonna give it a try! So here it is in English:

“If I say, let’s start the never-ending eternal  journey together,

Will you refuse me?

Not asking for the whole world, I only want your hands with love! “

So, now the nomination part! I nominates these people!


These bloggers are very talented and inspiring writers. Please do visit them, when you have time!

Have a good day people!❤

ESL Activities for Listening and Speaking

Printer-friendly version


Top 10 ESL Activities for Listening and Speaking

If you’re looking for some ESL activities for listening and speaking, you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to give a brief description of our 10 favourite ESL activities that focus on two very important skills-listening and speaking. We’ll also include a link to more details about how to set up the ESL activity and use it in your classes.

#1: ESL Surveys

ESL surveys are one of my all-time favourite ESL Activities for listening and speaking. I love them for the following reasons:

  • They get students up and out of their seats
  • ESL surveys encourage interaction with a wide variety of students
  • Surveys help students practice follow-up questions
  • They’re fun!

For more details about ESL Surveys and how I use them in my own classroom, you’ll need to check out this post:

ESL Surveys and Why I Love Them

#2: Agony Aunt Problem and Advice Activity

agony-aunt-esl-speaking-and-listeningEveryone has problems and everyone loves giving advice. Even lower-level ESL or EFL students can understand basic problems and then give some simple advice using the following structures:

“You/He/She should (n’t)….”

For more details, see this post:

Agony Aunt: An ESL Speaking and Listening Activity

#3: Dictogloss- A Classic ESL Activity

Dictogloss is a challening, yet easily adaptable ESL Speaking and Listening Activity that will quickly become one of your favourites. It can be used with just about any level, individually or in groups of up to four students. Listening is necessary, but then you can choose to focus on either writing or speaking. It really is an extremely flexible ESL activity that your students will enjoy.

For more details, check out:

Dictogloss ESL Speaking and Listening Activity

#4: Conversation Starters

Conversation starters for ESL students are a fun way to get the class started off on the right foot. They’re a great warm-up activity because they’ll get your students thinking, talking and enjoying using English. Here are some of my favourite conversation starters:

Top 10 ESL Conversation Starters for Adults

Top 10 ESL Discussion Starters for Kids

#5: ESL Trivia

If you want to level up your ESL teaching game, then you’ll need to get some ESL trivia in your life! You can use them to focus on listening by reading the questions, instead of posting them on the PowerPoint. Then, have your students tell you the answers to focus on speaking.

My absolute favourite ESL trivia for teenagers and adults can be found here. It’s the only ESL teaching resource besides my own that I use in my classes every single day:

The Monster Pack ESL Trivia for Teenagers and Adults

If you teach kids, you’ll need to check out this book on Amazon:

501 Riddles and Trivia Questions

#6: ESL Listening Lesson

How to teach listeningIf you want to focus on ESL speaking and listening, a great way to do this is through a listening lesson. Once you get the basics of it down with something like this ESL listening lesson plan template, then you can add in a bunch of other listening and speaking activities.

Check out how I expand this basic listening lesson plan into a full class that includes speaking activities as well:

ESL Listening: How to Teach It

#7: English Central Videos

English-CentralUsing videos in my classroom is one of my favourite ESL listening and speaking activities. While there are a ton of great resources on YouTube, you’ll have to wade through a ton of stuff to find exactly what you’re looking for. That’s why I like using English Central. There are so many good ones and not all of the junk. Plus, they’re organized by level and topic so it’ll be easy for you to find what you’re looking for. Saving time when lesson planning? Love it!

Check out: How I Use English Central Videos in my Classroom

#8: Running Dictation

Running dictation is another classic ESL Activity. This one is particularly good because it uses all 4 skills-speaking, listening, reading and writing. It’s challenging, easily adaptable to just about any age or level. It also gets students up and out of their seats and helps you get some energy back into your classroom.

Check out: Running Dictation- A Classic ESL 4-Skills Activity

#9: Role-Plays for ESL Students

One of my favourite ways to finish off a unit for lower-level students is with a role-play. They’re fun, encourage a bit of creativity and can be easily adapted by adding, or removing the amount of mandatory text that students must use. You can also use them for just about any topic you can imagine!

Check out: How I Use ESL Role-Plays in my Classroom

#10: Infographic Presentations

If you have higher-level students and want to challenge them, try out this task-based learning activity. Students have to make an infographic presentation and then present it to the class. It involves all 4 skills and the results are always very interesting! I thoroughly enjoy the class where students present their findings.

Check out: Infographic Presentation for ESL/EFL Students

Did you enjoy our Top 10 ESL Listening and Speaking Activities? We hope so! Please leave a comment below and tell us your favourite listening and speaking activity for ESL or EFL students.

The post ESL Activities for Listening and Speaking appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

University Jobs



Top 10 Beauty Products Under 5,000 Won From Daiso Korea

Printer-friendly version

Daiso is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find stores all over in Korea in areas like HongdaeMyeongdongSinsa-dong and Coex Mall. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the store, it sells items for your home, bathroom, crafts, pets, makeup, hair…you name it!

Though it is originally a Japanese chain, Daiso Korea is no longer part of Daiso Japan due to political reasons and sells products completely different from them.

The prices range from 1,000 to 5,000 KRW so it’s the best place to stock up on necessities you may (or may not) need! I always find myself walking out with a lot more than I originally planned to buy because everything’s so inexpensive!

Today’s post is going to focus on their beauty products since that’s what I have a passion for! If you’re a fellow addict like me, these items are an absolute must in your collection!

1. Blending Puff: 2,000 KRW

This product was swept off the shelves the minute it was stocked when it first came out. It’s known in Korea as the “poop sponge” and went viral for its ability to provide a flawless makeup application with a glowy, dewy finish.

Simply wet the sponge until it’s completely saturated and squeeze out the excess water, which will double its size. Then bounce it along the skin with your foundation, blush or bb cream for an airbrushed finish. No more cakey or thick makeup!

You can even buy this adorable holder to store your sponge for 1,000 KRW.

2. Professional Powder Brush: 3,000 KRW

You may be skeptical since it’s so cheap, but this brush proves that you don’t need to shell out big bucks for high-quality brushes!

A lot of cheap brushes from drugstores or dollar stores that I’ve tried in the past have been super scratchy and shed like crazy, but this professional powder brush is amazing!

The bristles are insanely soft and it doesn’t shed no matter how many times I wash it. The best part is that I can easily buy another one even if I lose it since it’s so affordable!

3. Pore Cleansing Brush: 5,000 KRW

If you struggle with large pores, blackheads or dry skin, this item is a must-add to your skincare routine.

Pore cleansing brushes deeply cleanse the pores, helping to reduce the appearance of them and remove dead skin and blackheads that can easily still remain in the skin even after cleansing.

Though many stores sell them, Daiso’s one is much cheaper but of the same, if not better quality!

4. Shampoo Brush: 1,000 KRW

I’ve been using a shampoo brush for over 2 years now and let me tell you, it really makes a huge difference!

This bad boy helps detangle my bleached and damaged hair, soothes the scalp, evenly distributes the shampoo and helps improve overall hair health!

Simply massage the scalp in circular motions after lathering the hair to stimulate microcirculation, which is essential for healthy hair. If you have an itchy scalp, this will help with that!

5. Brush Cleaning Pad: 3,200 KRW

If you love makeup, you’ll know how much of a chore cleaning your brushes may be. It’s got to be done, though, and this tool makes the task easier and more fun! brush cleansing pad.jpgAll you need to do is add water and cleaner (shampoo or facial cleanser does the trick) and swirl the brushes on the pad to remove all the makeup residue on them! Voila, squeaky clean brushes! You can even slide it onto your finger like a ring for comfort.

6. Mascara Guard: 1,200 KRW

Say goodbye to messy mascara smudges and clumpy lashes with this innovative mascara guard! This nifty tool isolates your lashline, protecting your freshly applied eye makeup from smudges and allowing you to grab onto every single lash as you apply mascara. mascara guard.jpgIt has shields for both the top and bottom lashes as well as a comb to get rid of any clumps for the perfect finish.

7. Manicure Holder Ring: 3,900 KRW

This is a ring made out of silicon that holds your bottle of nail polish securely so you can comfortably do your nails! manicure holder 1.jpgIt also helps to prevent instances where you accidently knock over your bottle of nail polish, making a mess everywhere. No worries even if you turn it upside down either as it won’t fall out! manicure-holder-2

8. Metal Eyelash Tweezer: 1,700 KRW

Eyelashes can make your eyes look bigger and more inviting, but unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with long, luxurious lashes.

Applying them can be a difficult task especially for beginners, but this tool will make it a little easier. The center is curved for an easy grip, and all you have to do is grab the lashes by the center and line them up on your lashline. Then use the tip of the tweezers to gently press and secure them in place!

9. Silicon Face Mask: 2,000 KRW

At first glance, it may just look like a regular sheet mask. Well, prepare to be amazed because it’s much more than that.

With regular sheet masks, they tend to just sit on top of the skin which means it’s hard to move around a lot since the mask would come off.

This mask is one that you wear on top of your sheet mask to hold it in place so you can actively do other things as you wait instead of just sitting or lying around. It even has loops to put around your ears so you can even jump around and your mask won’t fall off!

10. Ponytail Hair Pack: 1,000 KRW

If you’ve got dry and damaged hair that’s in desperate need of some tender loving care, stock up on this product!

We all know that moisture is the key to maintaining smooth, glossy locks and hair treatments are the best for helping with that.

This hair treatment is different to other ones in that you don’t need to wash it out afterward, making it perfect to use on the go or right before you leave the house!

Simply wrap your hair in a ponytail and put it into the pack which resembles a pouch, leave it in for 15 to 30 minutes and you will notice your hair is smooth and soft. Every day will be a good hair day!

Don’t forget to stop by, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more fun and informative posts like this one! 


Continue reading Top 10 Beauty Products Under 5,000 Won From Daiso Korea
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. 

The Different Dialects of Korean

Printer-friendly version

Find out all about the six different dialects in South Korea~ 경기, 경상, 강원, 전라, 충청, and 제주.

The post The Different Dialects of Korean appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





The South Korean Presidential Scandal Unique for its Sheer Weirdness

Printer-friendly version



This post is a local re-post of an article I wrote for The Diplomat earlier this month on the the Korean presidential scandal.


Honestly, the whole thing is so bizarre that I am at a loss for words. And the more information comes out, the weird it becomes. The only analogy I can think of for the extraordinary influence Choi Soon-Sil had over Park Geun Hye is Rasputin. I know that seems pretty extreme, but the more you read about it, the more that’s what it sounds like. Choi may have influenced areas as wide as Park’s North Korea policy and her wardrobe. There are even rumors that Choi’s gigilo was on the gravy train too. Yes, really; it’s that weird.

Anyway, Park’s presidency is now over, even if she manages to hang onto the office. She will get nothing ever again from the legislature. She will retain some authority of foreign and defense policy, but even that will be hemmed in. If she does anything controversial, she’ll be hammered for it. So good thing THAAD went through before this all exploded.

Can’t say I have a lot of sympathy for PGH. She ruled as an aloof aristocrat, and she treated the Korean media terribly. I think that’s why there is so little sympathy out there. If she had remembered she was a democratic president instead of a monarch, she might have had a reservoir of public good will to draw on. Alas, a lot Koreans think this is her come-uppance.

My full treatment of the scandal comes after the jump.



Park Geun Hye, the president of South Korea, has lately been engulfed by a scandal that may bring down her administration. Choi Soon Sil, a long-time friend and mentor of the president, allegedly used her relationship with Park to extort money from South Korea’s largest corporations (chaebol). Corruption scandals, abuse of power, kickbacks, embezzlement, and so on, are, unfortunately, established problems in South Korea, as they are in many democracies. ‘Choi-gate,’ as it has inevitably become named, attracts so much attention, however, because of the sheer oddity of Choi’s relationship to the president.

A Korean Rasputin?

Choi’s relationship with Park goes back to the 1970s, when Choi’s father befriended Park’s family in the wake of Park’s mother’s assassination. Choi the elder claimed he could speak to Park’s mother’s spirit, and he seems to have lead some kind of shamanistic cult leader. It is unclear how much Park was taken in by all this, but a US diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks noted long-standing rumors that the Choi family had ‘complete control over Park’s body and soul.’ The Chois’ influence on Park has repeatedly been likened to Rasputin’s influence over Russian Czar Nicholas II. Choi the younger was given all sorts of curious access to the Blue House (the South Korean equivalent of the White House) including oversight of the presidential wardrobe, staffing decisions (having Choi’s personal trainer hired, e.g.), and editorial input on Park’s speeches.

It is unclear at the moment if that relationship involved criminal activity. Park Geun Hye, like any politician, is entitled to personal friendships, and democratic office-holders have long sought the counsel of old friends who do not necessarily have rich topical expertise but whom are nonetheless deeply trusted. On assuming the American presidency, Harry Truman is rumored to have said ‘I need some Missouri around me,’ by which he meant long-time friends from his home state whom he trusted more than the experts around him from the Roosevelt administration. Nevertheless, the sheer oddness, utter lack of credentials, and wide influence Choi had is bizarre and disturbing; as one AFP journalist put it: “Why so much fury over Choi in Korea? Imagine if your head of state had a Gypsy palm reader as a key aide and let her handle cabinet formation/policy.”

Korean Presidential Scandals


Park’s defenders note that South Korean presidents regularly get in trouble for corruption and cronyism. Indeed, this is true. Every South Korean president since democratization has been investigated after he left office; some have gone to jail, and one even killed himself over the allegations. More generally, South Korea’s Transparency International score for corruption is a mediocre 56 out of 100 possible points. Corruption is so widespread that South Korea recently enacted an extremely tough anti-graft law. It is also true that Korean presidents routinely suffer crashing approval ratings.

In this sense Park is in good (bad) company. Just over the previous three presidencies:

Lee Myung Bak (POTROK, 2008-13) got entangled in a corruption scandal involving his family and political associates, mostly involving bribery. Lee, like Park, was forced to make a public apology. Lee was also questioned regarding stock manipulation, and his signature Four Rivers project was dogged by allegations that it was far too elaborate and olympian to reasonably succeed and really about kickbacks to cronies in the construction industry.

Roh Moo Hyun (POTROK, 2003-2008) was also pulled into a family corruption scandal involving bribery. He too felt compelled to apologize and committed suicide over the issue.

Kim Dae Jung (POTROK, 1998-2003), we now know, effectively bribed Kim Jong Il to participate in the ‘Sunshine’ process with a cash payment of $500 million. He too got sucked into a family bribery scandal.

What makes Park’s trouble unique in this otherwise depressing history of pay-to-play is the oddity of her scandal. This is not a typical or ‘understandable’ scandal. Scandals over money, political power, sex, or helping friends and family are comprehensible, if still deplorable, because we all suffer from those weaknesses. What sets Park’s troubles apart is that she went to such great lengths to help someone whom most of us would immediately have tagged as a grifter and a charlatan. When Richard Nixon paid off Howard Hunt during Watergate, both were sharp characters looking for a serious pay-off over a major issue. It was illegal but deadly serious.

By contrast, Park looks like a dilettante. What she ever saw in an obvious con-artist like Choi; what serious benefit Park ever got from the relationship; and why she allowed Choi to manipulate her so easily for so long baffles the entire country. Park comes out of this looking, not like a nixonian schemer, but a lightweight mark conned by a snake oil salesman. How does one ascend to the presidency of a major country while simultaneously being a marionette to some weirdo Rasputin character? South Koreans strike me as more mystified and unnerved, rather than dismayed, at their president. As one K-blogger put it, what is so strange is how utterly irrational Park’s downfall is compared to other Korean presidents’ ‘normal’ corruption.

The Future of Corruption in Korea


Park Geun Hye’s case is so bizarre that I doubt it will have lasting impact on the corruption debate here. Her presidency is probably fatally wounded, but Choi-gate does not touch on the sources of more normal corruption in Korea:

– A deeply rooted gift-giving culture: The giving of gifts is an important social bonding mechanism in Korea, which, when transferred to professional environments, can appear like bribery. Successive governments have struggled with this; it would be a shame if the healthy instinct of communitarian generosity inherent in gift-giving were criminalized. Nevertheless, the government is now taking a hardline with the new anti-graft law.

– A large, intrusive state: The South Korean developmentalist state is very active in the economy. It routinely directs resources toward favored sectors and companies (‘picking winners’), opening ample space for business and political elites to interact regarding money. The opportunities for graft are as obvious as they are extensive. These are the sorts of relationships that have repeatedly done in Korean political and chaebol elites. Until the state steps back from the economy, such scandals will continue.

The good news however is that corruption in South Korea is often uncovered and subject to scrutiny. Prosecutors pursue it, and the public gets incensed. All this sunlight should eventually improve the situation as future grifters and cheaters must reckon with the likelihood that they will be caught and punished. South Korea, for all its corruption, is not like Russia or many other states far down on the Transparency International index. Corruption is routinely revealed, and even top officials are punished for it. Cleaning out the dirt may ugly, but it is happening. It is not swept under the rug, as in so many other places.

As for Park, my own sense is that this is a friendship run badly amok. Park’s parents were both assassinated; she is estranged from her siblings; she never married; and she has few personal friends and a distant demeanor. It sounds a lot like she was lonely and lost sight of proper boundaries. Choi’s influence was likely inappropriate and unethical, but it is not obviously criminal. Barring some bombshell revelation, I doubt Park Geun Hye will step down.

Filed under: Corruption, Korea (South), Park Geun Hye, The Diplomat

How to Say ‘Cat’ in Korean

Printer-friendly version

Much like our other little furry friend the dog, cats are also popular among Koreans. Therefore, knowing how to say ‘cat’ in Korean is a splendid little addition to anyone’s basic vocabulary. As such, in this post, you’ll find out how to say ‘cat’ in Korean!

 *Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!


‘Cat’ in Korean

cat in korean

In comparison to the word for ‘dog’ in Korean, the word for ‘cat’ might be considered slightly more difficult to remember and pronounce. But what is the actual word? The word for ‘cat’ is 고양이 (goyangi) in Korean! It’s three syllables, but it’s actually quite simple to pronounce. Bonus good news: The word for ‘cat’, 고양이 (goyangi), can also be used to mean kittens!


To best enhance your learning and memorization, below are some sample sentences through which you can see and remember how the word for ‘cat’ is used in practice.


Sample Sentences

우리 고양이가 보통 개를 안좋아해요 (uri goyangiga botong gaereul anjohahaeyo)

Our cat doesn’t usually like dogs


너는 고양이와 개 중에서 어느 쪽을 더 좋아해? (neoneun goyangiwa gae jungeseo eoneu jjogeul deo johahae?)

Do you prefer cats or dogs?


오늘 같이 고양이카페로 놀려 갈래? (oneul kachi goyangikapero nolleo gallae?)

Do you want to go to a cat café together today?


Other Related Vocabulary


Although there officially isn’t another word for ‘kitten’ in Korean, if you want to make a clear distinction between a ‘cat’ and a ‘kitten’, you can use the words below.


고양이 (goyangi) = cat

새끼 고양이 (goyangi saeggi) = kitten


Also, here is the word for the sound that cats in Korea make.

야옹 (yaong) = meow


Here’s a sample sentence on how to use it:


고양이가 야옹야옹 울고 있어요 (goyangiga yaong yaong ulgo isseoyo)

The cat is meowing

A Word of Caution About Romanization

Even though we provide the romanized version of the Korean words we teach, you’ll do much better if you learn Hangul (the Korean alphabet). Romanization is done by taking the Korean word and using similar sounding letter combinations in English. Since it’s much less precise than Hangul, it’s easy to mispronounce words, or to not understand what the other person is saying.

It’s much simpler to learn the Korean alphabet, especially since it only takes 60 – 90 minutes. It’s very motivating to be able to read the Korean characters. Once you do, you’ll find yourself reading Korean letters all the time!


The word고양이 (goyangi) specifically means cat – and the other equivalent words for ‘cat’ in English – so every time you see the word around, there should be very little confusion over the meaning of the word! Now that you know how to say ‘cat’ in Korean, it’s time to go use it in the real world; perhaps by visiting your nearest cat café?

 *Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!


Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


Please share, help Korean spread! 



Syndicate content

Koreabridge - RSS Feeds
Features @koreabridge     Blogs  @koreablogs
Jobs @koreabridgejobs  Classifieds @kb_classifieds

Koreabridge - Facebook Group

Koreabridge - Googe+ Group