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There are three screenings:
On Wednesday (2/26), you can see the films starting at 7 pm near Chungmuro Station at Oh! Zemidong Theater. (The theater is in the station).
On Friday (2/28), Chingusai is screening the film in their office at 7pm.
On Saturday (3/1) at 7pm, the Korean Film Archive has a screening.
Tickets are 5000 won, and can be reserved by e-mailing email@example.com and transferring the 5000 won to Citi Bank account number 437 13765 262 01 (Choi Young Jun).
If any of my readers need help with directions to the theater or with the process of getting tickets, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can try to help.
The films are in Korean (without subtitles).
That New Report on North Korean Human Rights: It won’t Change the North – but It will Pressure China
This is a re-up of a short piece I wrote for the Lowy Institute’s blog on that recent North Korea human rights report from the UN. The more I think about it, the more I think its big impact will be to raise the moral pressure on China to either rein in North Korea or start cutting it off. NK is an embarrassment to China. My Chinese grad students get flustered and sheepish whenever I mention this. I think this moral embarrassment is the best way to push China on this. And once China finally cuts off NK, then we’ll see real change at last. I also thought this analysis piece from Foreign Policy was pretty good.
“This month the United Nations (UN) told us what we all already knew – that North Korea is the world’s worst human rights abuser. Specifically, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the formal name of North Korea) of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a lengthy, well-documented report that North Korean repression, in the words of the Australian chair of the Commission, Michael Kirby, is “strikingly similar” to that of the Nazis. This is a landmark finding, not only for its willingness to call out North Korea explicitly, but for its origin in a multilateral body channeling global public opinion. I see four elements in the coming fall-out from this:
1. Because this comes from the UN, it carries the imprimatur of the international community in a way that reports from the western states and NGOs cannot.
This is probably the report’s greatest import. The findings themselves, however disturbing, are not really new. Even those who do not study Korea or Asia have known for a long time that North Korea is an orwellian hellhole. I had a (Korean) student who once wrote a paper claiming 1984 was the blueprint for North Korea. I recall reading once back in the 1990s, when the Taliban still governed Afghanistan, that human rights groups ranked North Korea even below them. (Here are the North Korea pages for both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.) More importantly, a robust North Korean defector/refugee literature has emerged in the last two decades. Barbara Demick’s book is probably the most famous, but the more North Koreans escape and tell their stories, the harder it has become to cover-up or deny the horrors.
Indeed, it is likely that this growing wave of defector literature helped push this investigation through from a major multilateral body with global credibility. Fairly or not, it is easier for reports from western or South Korean sources, whether governmental or non-profit, to be dismissed as ‘human rights imperialism’ or interventionist by those, such as China, who would rather not discuss North Korea’s gulags. But such claims from a UN body, complete with global membership, are far harder to dismiss. As such, I expect this report to be the new benchmark against which human rights critiques of the North are made.
2. The report’s origin with the UN will pressure China.
China is North Korea’s patron. Without the Chinese veto at the UN Security Council, North Korea would be even more isolated than it already is. China provides it with the fuel to keep factories running and the lights on. China also looks the other way on the massive smuggling taking place across the border. North Korea is technically under heavy sanction, but Chinese help – or at least, non-enforcement – reduces the bite of various embargoes. Certainly in my own experience, when I flew into Pyongyang from Beijing, there was no sanctions stop or check. Tourists loaded up on luxury goods like liquor and home appliances in duty-free and walked right onto the plane.
This is a pretty good deal for China. Chinese merchants and smugglers can charge cut-throat prices. The influx of various sanctioned goods keeps North Korea stumbling along and arguably helps forestall the country’s collapse. And all this interaction gives Chinese business privileged access to the North, particularly its prized natural resources. Chinese security experts openly refer to North Korea as a ‘buffer’ (I’ve heard this manipulative formulation at conferences repeatedly) between China and the democracies of South Korea, Japan and the United States.
But there are also a lot of ‘track II’ signals that China is uncomfortable with North Korea (again, I’m thinking of informal conversation on the conference circuit). The regime is so awful, that the alliance with China creates genuine reputation costs. The US ‘pivot to Asia’ is fuelled partially by China’s insistence on standing by North Korea, seemingly no matter what it does. This UN report is almost certain to be new ammunition in diplomatic efforts to pull China away from the North, and it guarantees another round of terrible press for China in both Asia and the West. This is good, as North Korea will probably not collapse until China finally pulls the plug. Normative pressure like this raises the ‘audience costs’ of Chinese support.
3. No sanctions relief will be forthcoming.
This report will also lock-in the extraordinarily tight sanctions regime around North Korea. As a report generated from within the UN, it will carry special weight in further UN deliberations on sanctions. The UN has a ‘Panel of Experts’ on the DPRK sanctions. They now have access to UN data without the politically controversial step of using information from member governments like South Korea with a vested interest in tougher sanctions. This will also raise pressure on China as the primary sanctions-buster.
4. Threatening prosecution at the International Criminal Court won’t help.
One unanticipated outcome of the report is the personal notification to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he may be held personally liable for the abuses and might be remanded, were it possible, to the ICC for criminal prosecution.
Human rights advocates often celebrate such threats as progress in human rights maintenance. They signal to potential future violators that there will be punishment and, hopefully, pre-emptively discourage violations. This ‘deterrence’ may work; the political science research on it is not clear as far as I know.
But there is a downside regarding despots already in power. To threaten them with prosecution almost certainly encourages to dig in deeper, to not give an inch. Bashar al-Assad is likely in such a situation. He has no exit, nowhere to go where he would be safe, so he fights all the harder to hang on. Kaddafi too signaled during the Libyan civil war that he was open to some kind of transition-for-escape deal. This never materialized, and he fought to the end. By contrast, Idi Amin was given refuge in Saudi Arabia.
In the North Korean case, it is often assumed the Kim family will run to Beijing when the regime starts to collapse. But if the Kims can find no refuge, because of efforts such as an ICC prosecution, or South Korean efforts to extradite them, then they are that much more likely to fight, possibly even launching an insurgency.
But all-in-all, this was a good day for human rights and tough one for China. That is progress.”
Gwangjang Market (광장시장) is one of my favorite traditional markets to visit in Korea. It’s in Seoul, close to Dongdaemun Shopping Center and Cheonggyecheon, so it’s a great place to take visitors as well.
People watch, eat traditional street food, and browse the blankets.
Directions: Jongno 5-ga Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 8 or Euljiro 4-ga Station (Subway Line 2, 5), Exit 4.
About the girl
Thank you so much for visiting and reading.
There's also a free PDF version of this lesson, with extra information and examples, on the YouTube PDFs page (link at top).
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I owe you the story of yesterday's dinner, we went out to have dinner with my sis' boss and his guest; a German girl who thought Korean things in German where better than in Korea, we went to have Vietnamese Shabu shabu, for me, it was my 1st Vietnamese style shabu shabu, luckily for us, they were playing a video with the instructions on how to eat it -lol-, the food was good, I liked Vietnamese style, they had 3 kinds on sauces and they were all spicy, my sis' boss was only focused on eating while the German girl was focused on how bad was I doing my summer rolls....I swear, she was also focused on how in Germany things are different, the kimchi is better, the korean everything is better.... to be honest, I can't deal with that kind of people, they annoy the F-out of me, you can't go to another country to learn about their culture and critize everything because in your town's K-town things are different, plus, she kept telling me "I know what you are doing wrong with your roll...want me to tell you?"....hmm... excuse me, DID I ask you??, ugh, I love food and I know sometims there's a way to eat it, but well.. as long as you enjoy it,,,, fuck everything else.... lol ---sorry!!!, just thinking about her upset me again-.
Today (or yesterday?...friday!), was a good day, I got to teach some classes, talk to my boss, sign up to Volunteer next week and then we (me and my sis) were supossed to meet some girl-friends for a night out, we wanted to go to a bar and just meet new people, our friend ditched us, but we decided to stick to the plan, we had a kebab in Itaewon and then moved to a bar, we decided to go to Seoul Pub because my sister wanted to mingle with other foreigners (that's a first), she thought it would be better to find another place but we've been to that bad before and we knew there were foreigner, plus, it's not very expensive and it's close to the subway lol... 3 minutes after walking to the bar and talking to the owner who wouldn't sell us some beer because my sis' didn't have an ID, she found a pic of her passport and we were allowed to drink, as soon as they brought the 1st pitcher, a guy came to us, he seemed nice and spoke spanish, then his 2 other friends came and we ended up having a nice chat and meeting new people, I like meeting new people because is always nice to make new friends, but I hate it when they tell you "I'm not trying to pick you up" when they clearly are doing so....
Aaaaaaaanyway, it was a crazy week, this weekend we have 2 weddings to attend, 1 of them is outside of Seoul so, we will be doing some traveling, next week we are volunteering and i'll try to sneak into 2NE1's afterpary -lol- and the 2nd week of march we are going back to Osaka, so, looks like we are having some crazy weeks ahead and I'll be blogging about it...
For now, I think that's it....
Did I mention last night I dreamed about G-dragon being my best friend???, I should stop listening to his music lmao.
Lets Speaking Engrish
I don’t quite know why I enjoy bad English written on important looking signs so much. Perhaps it’s the awkward placement of the words, the total disregard of grammatical structures, or maybe I’m just a thoroughly immature wanker. Hmm. Well, anyways… Plastered all over this page are a few badly taken shots of the Engrish I’ve encountered over the years. Please to enjoy:
A disclaimer for the humourless: I know, I know. For a common denominator, Engrish ranks pretty low. And my Chinese, Korean, and Japanese are absolutely nonexistent. I’m no more able to nail up a sign, let alone write a compressible sentence in any language other than English (and if you’ve ever read the site, you might question that ability!). Nevertheless, I can’t help but crack a smile whenever I encounter some Engrish. They’re almost like a play on words. And it’s the words themselves that are the joke, and obviously, not the people that wrote them.
I went to a palace themed coffee shop in Hongdae, Seoul, Korea called 공주가 사는 궁전같은 카페 (“Where a princess should live”). The coffee shop has individual tables sort of hidden away, mostly meant for couples, but I saw a few groups of females there as well. Drinks are a bit expensive (e.g. lattes 8,000₩ and cocktails 9,000₩) but aesthetically pleasing.
I like themed cafes. I think they’re fun when meeting people. It serves as a conversation starter, and it’s also a good place to explore (or take selcas, as the Koreans often do). This isn’t the sort of place you go to by yourself. There is a smoking section, but it doesn’t smell bad in the non-smoking area.
Address: 364-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone number: 02-3143-1536
I know it doesn’t help in making this article any more credible, but I would like to start by pointing out one fact: I am a finicky person! I am hard to please in certain arenas, and as a result, I have flipped from one work place to the next in a scatter-gun fashion. This kind of behaviour is commonplace in the context of ESL teaching in South Korea, and I find that the “business” of education that I feel so passionate about is in a desperate state of affairs. Maintaining my zeal and passion is difficult at times, and this is the most feasible excuse I can muster, for someone who has stuck with her feeble career in the same industry for a couple of years now…
In Korea, we have long surpassed the moment in which teaching and learning itself was manipulated into a business model, as with anything else in this capitalist society. I wonder sometimes where I can find those teachers with untainted enthusiasm and in turn, a willingness to feed the curiosity of students. In the same fashion: how on earth can we find the students who are eager to learn for the sake of learning? This is extremely difficult in this Korean age, an age in which people believe wholeheartedly that proficiency test scores and certification degrees somehow equate to knowledge. Quite frankly, they do not!
Education. I know it sounds cheesy, but some of the lectures I have seen over the internet or been to in person (with regards to education), have made my heart flutter, my eyes tear up, and my head nauseous. All of a sudden I have been enthused with a sense of passion and determination. The sheer realization that education has so much to offer the underprivileged, to those less fortunate, to the miserable, and yet, the helping hand remains tightly cramped into a very dirty pocket.
I was not cut out for the teaching profession, I can say this for sure, and even now I am skeptical as to whether my classroom techniques are good enough. Nevertheless, my decision to take up this trade, in this educational setting, has got me this far down the road in terms of financial security and personal interest in linguistics.
So here I am, still having faith in the power of learning, rather naively. I have to say though, that the career I have built so far has proven to be quite contradictory to my ideals. Let me be blunt: English teaching in Korea in general, is not teaching. It should be categorized separately and thus dealt with in a cautious and precise manner. If real teaching were to take place in this country, from my experience, it would be met with antagonistic complaints from mums and the students. These people are the ultimate customers after all. In this arena, three types of teaching exist:
a. Teaching English in Korean (focusing primarily on school grammar – drilling the test skills and instilling them into a student’s brain, and hence guaranteeing the attainment of high marks on the exam. This means that he or she can apply to a better school than his or her neighbour. That folks, is the meaning of life here in South Korea.
b. Teaching English in English by a Native Speaker or by a so-called gyopo.
c. Teaching English in both languages (which can wind up being somewhat haphazard when misguided by the principal of the school).
At first, the English teaching industry sprung out of a need to boost the students’ exam grades. Later on, this was combined with a national desire to shorten global communication barriers, and therefore resulting in a hatchet job of trials and errors. Whatever the case may be, one ambiguous question prevails: why can Koreans still not speak English!
Why can’t they, when they pour an infinite amount of dollars into this business and draw in tremendous amounts of English speakers into the market? Why can’t they, when they pump the vocabulary books for days and days on end and attain high test scores? ESL in Korea is a genuinely lucrative business and that cannot be disputed. In actual fact: it is one of the most popular business platforms in the land, a land in which you can pretty much get paid as much as you want depending on your qualifications. It’s time to face the facts, education in Korea has been raped of its original purpose and spirit. I have to ask the question, where is the customer satisfaction and where is the end result? I am sure that any native teacher who has taught in my country could not have helped but notice the amount of youngsters suffering at the hands of this system. So, all in all, the customers are facing severe psychological pain for a particularly expensive service. What the hell is this, masochism?
I have seen students pushed to the brink of insanity, literally, writhing in class, shaking their feet or hands uncontrollably at times. There is a mental disorder that is airborne here in Korea, and the root cause is English language acquisition. It would be classified as a psychological disorder, but then again: my country does not even recognize those does it?
The only hope is for those investors in this industry to relinquish their privileges and take a time out in the corner to think deeply about the future of this next generation. We can only hope.