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The 4 Best Korean Beauty Products For Under $20

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If you’re planning on visiting Korea, you’re in luck — not only is Korea full of amazing cities, magnificent sightseeing, and delicious Korean food, it’s also home to some of the best makeup and beauty products that money can buy. In Korea, using makeup and making sure that you have the best makeup is a huge part of popular culture for both men and women (that’s right — it’s super normal for men to wear makeup in Korea!).

While Korean beauty products are considered the best of the best, they’re not particularly expensive. Most beauty products that you’ll find in stores can be purchased for less than $20, which means you can stock up before you return home. And there’s plenty of options for buying Korean makeup if you’re in Korea!

Thanks to the internet, you can also buy Korean beauty products from the comfort of your own couch without leaving your apartment. If you choose to go this route, however, you should be aware that there is a seemingly infinite number of Korean beauty products on the internet, and some of them are better than others.

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Let us help direct you to the best of the best — use this article as a guide to the best Korean beauty products on the market and your face will thank you later. Read on, and happy shopping!

VDL Lumilayer Primer 3D Volume Face 30ml, $15

best Korean beauty products

If you wear foundation, then you know how necessary primer is. Primer acts as a buffer between your skin and your foundation, and it gives your foundation an even surface to sit on top of. Without it, blemishes are visible and your skin texture can look uneven.

That being said, there are of course good primers and bad primers — bad primers will leave you oily or will cause your foundation to flake off, while good primers will have leave your makeup looking perfect all day. This VDL Lumilayer Primer is one of the best out there, and will ensure your foundation looks flawless even after a sweaty day.

Most comparable primers made in the United States like the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer retail for over $30, but this VDL primer is only $15. Order it today and you won’t look back!

Check out VDL Lumilayer Primer on Amazon!

Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Facial Mask Sheet, 16 Combo Pack, $7.90

best Korean beauty products

Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re familiar with sheet masks, you know that they’re all the rage and that they can cost a pretty penny. If you were to walk into Sephora and purchase an individually packaged sheet mask, it would run you $5-6 easy. Keeping that in mind, it’s an internet miracle that the Dermal Korea Collagen Essence sheet masks are fifty cents a mask!

The low price of these masks is not enough to get them on a list of best Korean beauty products on its own, however. Not only is the price of these masks super approachable, but they’re rated 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 2,000 reviewers weighing in. Clearly, this company is doing something right!

If you’re a lover of self-pampering after a long day or a long week, order this 16 pack of sheet masks and you’ll be all set for a while. You may even have to consider increasing your frequency of use with prices this low — why not?!

Check out Dermal Korea Collagen Essence on Amazon!

TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick, $12.00

best Korean beauty products

Have you ever put chilled cucumber over your eyes to reduce swelling redness? This cure for puffy eyes seems to be as old as time itself, and it can do wonders for helping you look less stressed and tired if you have a couple of minutes to lay down.

What if you don’t have time to lay down, or if you don’t have a cucumber on hand? Sometimes, you need the ability to fix your face on the go, and there are surprisingly few inexpensive beauty products out there that can help soothe puffy eyes.

This amazing eye stick by TONYMOLY will do exactly that for you. All you need to do is uncap, swipe under your eyes or on your eyelids, and you’ll instantly have a refreshing cooling sensation wash over your eye area. Not only is it one of the best Korean beauty products out there, but it’s also shaped like a panda — what could possibly be better than that?

Pick up one of these eye sticks if you want to carry something on you for puffy eye relief or if you’d just like to have a beauty product in your bag that will make you say “awww” every time you look at it. It’s currently Amazon’s #1 New Release, and will become available at the above link on August 30!

Check out TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick on Amazon!

MIZON Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule – Anti Wrinkle, $9.44

best Korean beauty products

If you haven’t used this anti-aging and anti-scarring serum by MIZON, don’t knock it before you try it just based on its description. Yes, this serum contains snail mucin as one of the main active ingredients. Yes, that may sound terrifying. But, truth be told, you can’t tell that there is anything that sets this serum apart from other serums while you’re using it — the consistency and smell are the same as most over-the-counter anti-aging serums.

You don’t notice a difference from other serums at first during the application, but you will almost immediately after you commit to using it consistently. MIZON has done an amazing job creating a lightweight, easy-application product that can help significantly reduce the appearance of even the most stubborn lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.

While it’s primarily advertised as an anti-aging serum, you should consider taking a leap of faith and trying this serum out if you have any facial scars that you’re uncomfortable with. Using this consistently will help fade their appearance in no time!

Check out MIZON Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule on Amazon!

Please note: some of the descriptions that Amazon uses for these products are hard to read because they’re roughly translated from Korean. Check out our 90 Minute Challenge and familiarize yourself with Hangul so you’re one step closer to reading the descriptions of beauty products in Korean instead of the rough translations!

 

What are some of your favorite Korean cosmetics and other products? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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The post The 4 Best Korean Beauty Products For Under $20 appeared first on 90 Day Korean.


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Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily

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Study Tips to Learn English Faster

What would it mean to your career or studies to be able to speak and write more easily and fluently in English? How about understanding more of what you read and hear? The 200+ tips and habits in Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily are designed to help you improve your English quickly and easily, and help you become fluent.

About the Authors

Jackie Bolen and Jennifer Booker Smith have nearly thirty years experience teaching English to students in South Korea and from around the world. In this book, they have organized the advice they have given students to help them reach their English goals from improving a test score, to getting a job, to giving business presentations in English, and much more!

Learning English doesn’t have to be terrible and boring. It doesn’t have to tedious and frustrating. It really is possible to have fun while become fluent with these more than 200 study tips. Check out the book, pick a few tips that will work for you, and then get started with improving your English.

Get Study Tips to Learn English Faster Today

Pick up Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily today and get started. Improved English skills are in your near future! Get a better job! Be able to study abroad. Find an English speaking boyfriend or girlfriend! Watch English movies or TV shows without subtitles.

Are you ready for some English speaking, reading, listening, and writing awesome? Are you excited about improving your communication skills, or improving your TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC score?

Then head over to Amazon and pick up your copy today. It’s available in both digital and print formats. The (cheaper) digital one can be read on any device. You just have to download the free Kindle reading app. It’s easy to do and will only take you a minute.

Check out the book for yourself today:

The post Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily appeared first on ESL Speaking.


Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea

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My Life! Teaching in a Korean University
eslteacherinkorea.blogspot.com

University Jobs Koreauniversityjobkorea.com

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Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily

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Study Tips to Help you Improve your English Skills There are many reasons why you might want to improve your English skills. Perhaps it’s to get the job of your dreams where being fluent in English is a necessity. Perhaps you want to travel abroad for a vacation, or to …

The post Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily appeared first on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.


Korea This Week: Stinko Gingkos, BIFF Liberation, & Solo CEO's

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Stinko Gingkos

Along with the changing foliage and increased incidence of the exclamation “Chueo!” (“[I’m] cold!”) in Korean discourse, one of the telltale signs of fall around the peninsula is a pervasive smell that has often been likened to a melange of rancid butter, vomit, and gym socks.

The annual olfactory assault is the product of the rotting fruit of gingko trees, which are a common sight in cities around Korea, particularly Seoul, where gingkos comprise some 40% of the trees planted in the city. When the fleshy coat surrounding the seed begins to rot, it produces butyric acid, which is not coincidentally also present in rancid butter, vomit, and body odor (and by extension, gym socks).

Many local governments combat the smell by sending crews to pick up the nuts, and they encourage citizens to do the same, as the seeds, once they are removed from the coat, roasted, and paired with a cold lager, are actually quite delicious.

Slate recently ran an interesting piece on how so many cities ended up with so many lovely but gag-inducing trees, and it’s very much worth reading if you find yourself, as I do, cursing city planners every October.

Gingko berries after laying around for a few days. Be grateful you can’t smell this photograph.

Film Festival Finding Its Old Groove

The Busan International Film Festival kicked off last Friday with it’s usual pomp, low cut dresses, and unofficial world records for camera flashes per second, as stars from the Korean and international movie firmament descended on Busan Cinema Center for the opening film, “Glass Garden”.

This year’s festival, the 22nd, marked a return to normal after three years of political struggle stemming from the 2014 decision by the festival organizers to screen the film “Diving Bell”, which leveled harsh criticism at President Park Guen-hye’s handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. The decision to screen the film, despite governmental efforts to block it, resulted in the blacklisting of many actors, filmmakers, and writers, the slashing of the BIFF budget, and other forms of official retribution.

The air of tension surrounding recent festivals seems to have largely lifted this year amid a much-changed political climate that has seen the impeachment of President Park and the jailing of several aides involved in the blacklisting of artists critical of her administration.

The Busan International Film Festival runs through October 21st. Check out the BIFF website for the program and other information.

The 20th BIFF opening night at Busan’s Cinema Center. Recent Festivals were marred by tension between BIFF organizers and the government.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

According to an OECD report on entrepreneurship cited by a recent Joongang Daily article, Korea has the 4th highest number of one-person businesses among the 38 countries surveyed. The article notes that the trend may be partly explained by Baby Boomers who open small shops as a form of retirement plan.

I also found myself wondering whether it was connected to the more general recent trend of Koreans eschewing the crowd and doing more things – including eating, drinking, and traveling – by themselves.

Interestingly, the article refers to anyone who runs their own business as a “CEO”, which thus would seem to refer to the head of any operation, from a multinational corporation down to a hot dog truck. This novel extension of the meaning of CEO also jibes with several years of anecdotal evidence gleaned from conversations with university students, a large number of whom have listed “CEO” as their desired occupation.

With all these CEO’s, I often wondered, who is left to man the shop? Apparently, the answer could very well be: they are.

Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-koo speaks to a group of Hyundai non-CEOs.

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‘Manwon’ Food Budget a Day

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Recently a blogger from the Philippines shared her expenses in touring Korea, and her post drew flak for claiming that in her 5-days-and-4-nights of stay here, she spent only 12,000 pesos (around 235 dollars). She was able to purchase a 3,000-peso roundtrip ticket (around 59 dollars) from Jeju Air, paid 3,120 (around 61 dollars) for her 5D4N stay at a guesthouse and survived with a ‘manwon’ budget on food everyday (That’s barely 450 pesos or 9 dollars!).

The price of the ticket may come as a shock to many of us who know how expensive it can be to travel overseas, but this extremely tight budget is possible for travelers who wait patiently for promo tickets from airlines such as Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air and Philippine Airlines and are lucky to get that most coveted ticket. A couple of years ago, I was able to buy an inexpensive roundtrip ticket in Cebu Pacific, but the cheapest I got was about 6,000 pesos (117 dollars).

Guesthouses, on the other hand, can be low-priced if the room is shared by a group.

What stupefied readers the most was the blogger’s budget on food. I feel kinda sorry for all the bashing she got from those who have lived in Korea for years and know how much the food really costs here, but I’m not siding with her either. Personally, I think she should have given more details of her budget or at least tried to explain what the ‘manwon’ lunch and dinner included since she was encouraging Filipino travelers to visit Korea with minimal budget. On the contrary, I think bashing someone for sharing a memorable experience is a bit out of hand.

Now, is it really possible to survive a day with that ‘manwon’ food budget? As someone who has lived in Korea for years and has eaten almost every Korean food there is (except poshintang or dog soup), I’m telling you it is possible… but only if you don’t eat like a horse!

If you’re on a ‘manwon’ budget in Korea, what can you eat for lunch and dinner?

I’m going to name a few:

Street food ~ PRICE: from 500 to 3,000 won (23 to 137 pesos)

Everybody knows that street food is cheap anywhere in the world, but here in Korea, there are tons of mouth-watering and satiating street food to try. Some can be healthy, too. Two or three sticks of hot odeng or fish cake, for example, can squelch your hunger for more or less 3,000 won, like what my tourist friend did when he was starving from his walks around Seoul. There’s barbecue and sausage that you can buy for 2,000 – 2,500 won a stick. Pig-blood sausage may sound disgusting, but sunde is a must-try. An order will not cost you more than 3,000 won. Heck, there’s even tteokbokki you can enjoy for 500 won a cup!

Kimbop (rice rolls) and other bunsik food ~ PRICE: 1,500 – 5,500 won (68 – 250 pesos)

Inexpensive Korean food like kimbop, ramyon, tteokbokki, twigim, etc. can be bought in bunsik or bunsik jib (snack restaurants). Kimbop may be considered street food, but this is a common snack for Koreans when they go on a picnic or a meal for Koreans who are always on the go. The country is teeming with kimbop restaurants that sell various kinds of rice rolls: tuna, kimchi, cheese, bulgogi, even tonkatsu! Don’t waste your money on cheap kimbop from convenience stores though, because they’re nasty! If you go to a kimbop restaurant, you can have soup and side dish, usually yellow radish, for free. Some kimbop restaurants have kimbop and udon set for 5,000 to 5,500 won.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The two dishes I’m going to mention next can be found in the same restaurant.

Pyohejang guk (beef bone stew) ~ PRICE: 7,000 to 8,000 won (319 – 363 pesos)

This spicy version of nilagang baka, short ribs and vegetable stew in the Philippines, has everything you need in a meal: lots of meat, vegetables and steamed rice which is served separately. You will also get two or three side dishes which is a common thing in Korea when you order a meal.

sundae guk (blood sausage soup) ~ PRICE: 5,000 – 8,000 won (227 to 363 pesos)

In the Philippines, we have dinuguan (pork blood stew). In Korea, they have sundae guk (blood sausage soup). The first time my husband ordered sundae guk for me, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I ended up finishing the whole bowl! When you eat sundae kuk, you won’t even know you’re eating soup with blood sausage in it, unless someone tells you. The blood sausage is prepared so well that you won’t even smell anything out-of-the-ordinary and there’s no rancid aftertaste. Just like pyeohejang guk, sundae guk is served with steamed rice and side dishes. If you like exotic and spicy food, you will enjoy sundae guk.

Not-so-spicy sundae guk for 5,000 won

Spicy sundae guk for 7,000 won

Noodles are quite affordable, too, and they are delicious. Besides, ramyon and jjampong which are popular in the Philippines, you may want to try…

Jjajangmyeon (black noodles) ~ PRICE: 3,500 to 5,500 won (159 to 250 pesos)

This noodle is actually Chinese food, but since it is widely popular in Korea, you can find it anywhere. They even have a day called “Black noodles’ Day” for single men and women. Jjajangmyeon is tasty and filling. The sauce has got bits of pork and onion, and it’s topped with thinly-sliced cucumber. This one is served with yellow radish and some onions as side dishes.

Naengmyon (cold noodles) ~ PRICE: 5,000 to 7,000 won (227 to 319 pesos)

Another filling dish that is popular in Korea is naengmyeon. It’s basically thin, chewy noodles served with icy soup, sweet chilli pepper paste, a slice of egg and some radish or cucumber. There are two kinds of naengmyeon. If you’re not into spicy noodles, go for mul naengmyeon, the one that is served with icy broth. If you like it spicier, go for bibim naengmyeon, same ingredients but served with no broth.

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mul2

This is how you sip your neangmyeon broth. ^^

(Cheap) Hansik buffet PRICE: 5,000 (227 pesos)

Yup, you heard me right, buffet for 5,000 won… but this isn’t the kind of buffet that has it all. The food served in these kinds of buffet are Korean food that you can find in a typical Korean home. I’ve been to two cheap hansik buffets, one in my area in Namyangju and the other in Guri. I didn’t fancy the food, but for the price of 5,000 won, what can one expect? The food, however, was enough to sate my hunger. These types of buffet are frequented by workers and students.

Convenience store doshirak or bento (lunchbox) PRICE: 4,000 to 6,000 won (182 to 272 pesos)

When my husband stayed at the hospital with me, he survived for three days on bento meals from the covenience store. I have also tried them. These bentos are not that bad. Most convenience stores in Korea have a microwave oven where you can heat up your bento.

bento

These are just some of the food you can budget your manwon with here in Korea. There are plenty of meals you can actually have for 450 pesos (9 dollars) or less, but you’ll be missing out on all the delectable dishes Korea has to offer if you will tour this country on a very tight budget. My advise, as a former tourist in Korea, is to save enough money to enjoy Korean cuisine. You don’t have to spend much. A 20 to 25 dollar food budget a day will be enough. With that kind of budget, you’ll get to enjoy grilled meat, drinks, authentic traditional Korean food and more.


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코스 3-3 | Course 3-3 from 갈맷길 365: A Year of Movement

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If you like trekking on rocky coasts, this course is the one for you. It’s a lot of up and down, but incredible views are around every turn and the natural beauty of Busan is abundant. I started at Yongdusan Park 용두산 공원 in the middle of Course 3-2 and did my best to follow all the cultural highlights in the Nampo area 남포동. It wasn’t marked almost at all and I did a half-hearted rectangle around Ggangtong Market 깡통시장 and Jagalchi Seafood Market 자갈치 before crossing the Yeongdo Bridge 영도대교 and entering the small town vibe on the island of horses. Although this is part of Busan, it has a unique history of being used strategically by the Silla kingdom 신라 and later the Japanese for cattle grazing and horse ranching.

It officially starts under the Namhang Bridge 남항대교, but don’t be confused by the stamp stand being a ways away at the start of the Jeolyeong Coastal Path 절영해안산책로. From Yeongdo Bridge to Namhang Bridge, the path is mostly city port streets and then city parks. The coastal path is a well-maintained walker’s paradise and generally quite busy with families and elderly couples. There is very little in the way of restaurants, cafes, and shops so pack a sandwich and enough water. I had to go off-course and up the steep stairs to forage for a mart. I ended up finding one open and ate some packaged ‘maple’ bread like it was a piece of heaven. Don’t make the same mistake!

At the end of the Jeolyeong Coastal Path, you have no choice but to hike a set of rainbow stairs and then wonder where to go. Galmaetgil, what galmaetgil? should be the subtitle of this course. I mostly threw out the map and just followed the coastline until the endpoint at Taejongdae 태종대. I’d been here before with a few groups of friends and knew the way well enough. It’s also my favorite kind of path – rocky coastline. It reminds me of my childhood in Maine looking for tiny creatures in tide pools and eating lobster rolls at Two Lights State Park.

It was unbelievably sunny and hot for an October day and I was pretty much done with trekking by the time I got to Taejongdae, but the path says to go around the park for about 45 minutes so I did. I faithfully got my final stamp at the Taejongdae Lighthouse and felt a moment of pride. There were a lot of families there for the Chuseok holiday and a man even asked me where I got my Galmaetgil Stampbook. I love when Koreans ask me for some information or directions in Korean as if that were the most natural thing. I look like I belong here and that I can give them the information they need. Like most everyone else, I just want to fit in.

Course 3-3, plus the Nampo bit that I had to complete, turned out to be about 17 kilometers and just over 4 hours. I found parts of it grueling in the hot sun and wish I had worn long sleeves to get more sun protection. Despite my ajumma hat and 2 sunscreen applications, I ended up quite like a Maine lobster.


Galmaetgil 365
A year of movement

 


Do You Need HANJA to Speak Korean? + Interview with Koreans

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HANJA (한자) are Chinese characters that are occasionally used today in the Korean language. Originally, over 60% of the Korean language comes from Chinese characters. You can find them in places such as signs and newspapers. But these days, the overwhelming majority of written Korean contains no Chinese characters, although the words themselves still originated from them. Chinese to Korean is like Latin to English, so knowing the meaning of root words can definitely be helpful when understanding new words and phrases.

So does that mean that Hanja is mostly useless for learning Korean? I'll give my personal opinions on the topic, as well as the opinions of some Koreans I asked.

 

The post Do You Need HANJA to Speak Korean? + Interview with Koreans appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.


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Video of Author Panel w/ Michael Breen, Jeffrey Miller, & John Bocskay

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A discussion of contemporary Korea with authors Michael Breen ("The New Koreans"), Jeffery Miller ("Bureau 39"), and John Bocskay ("Culture Shock! Korea"), moderated by Steve Feldman, and followed by audience Q&A and book signing. 


Trump, Naturally, is Making this the Weirdest North Korea Crisis Ever

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Image result for Trump north korea

This is a re-post of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute this month. In short, Trump is not only making this rolling semi-crisis more dangerous, but weirder too. US presidents don’t talk like vengeful Old Testament prophets, ratings-seeking reality TV stars, or children taunting their siblings, but I guess they do now. *sigh*

I spoke at the New Yorker Festival of Ideas last week on North Korea. I said then that if Trump would simply get off Twitter, there would be a noticeable step down in the tension our here. By extension, I mean he should stop ad-libbing scary, off-the-cuff remarks like the ‘calm before the storm.’ I did the best I could to explain these sorts of remarks here, but honestly, I wonder if he really even grasps the scale of his office. Today’s preposterous comment on the US nuclear stockpile suggests he doesn’t.

My full essay on how Trump is changing this NK crisis from the usual pattern is below the jump.

 

 

In the ten years I have lived in South Korea, I cannot remember a North Korea crisis like this. Usually these events stem from some obvious North Korean provocation, such as the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2010 or the landmine attack of 2015. There then follows a set of steps all but ritualized at this point: a UN Security Council meeting followed by sanctions; a declaration of alliance solidarity so well-trodden I could draft it myself; a demoralizingly head-in-the-sand call from China for ‘calm’ on all sides; outlandish counter-rhetoric from the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) about aggression its ‘sacred’ sovereignty; and South Korean (and Japanese) media frustration on how to hit back. And not to forget that requisite Western media hysteria about imminent war. Then everyone sorta forgets about it for awhile until the North throws another tantrum.

A lot of this is playing out again this time too. But US President Donald Trump, as is his wont, is upsetting yet another ‘establishment,’ although not obviously for the better. Here are five lessons to date from the weirdest ever North Korean crisis:

1. When US Presidential Leadership is Poor, it becomes the Defining Variable of North Korean Crises.

 

No one would have thought to say this a year ago, because usually US presidents have been admirably responsible in dealing with North Korea given how dangerous it is. But Trump, with his own KCNA-style rhetoric, is adding a whole new variable, or rather, activating one we never really thought to consider before. There seem to be at least five explanations floating around on cable and social media for his behavior: 1. He actually means what he is saying. 2. He is trying to divert attention away from domestic challenges like the Mueller investigation of his Russia activities. 3. He is pushing back against John Kelly and his own staff, because he instinctively resents direction. 4. He is is trying to bait North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into a casus belli-worthy provocation. 5. He is just mentally overwhelmed by the office and saying whatever comes tumbling through his head. Whatever your choice, the recklessness of Trump’s nuclear threats is astonishing. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that the biggest variable in this crisis going forward is Trump’s own psychology.

2. The North Koreans will Match Trump Insult for Insult.

This should not actually come as a big surprise. If you follow North Korea, you know they are prone to over-the-top commentary. This is the reason the Korea analyst community has encouraged Trump not engage KCNA round-for-round in this war of words. Most knew it would turn into an undignified food fight, and so it has. Trump cannot win. The North will say anything it has too. It is not constrained by typical diplomatic niceties. It referred to US President Barack Obama as a monkey, and previous female South Korean President Park Geun-Hye as a prostitute. It is only a matter of time before KCNA creates a nickname for Trump, starts mocking his hair, or picks up on the common left-wing critique that Trump is mentally ill. This would all be childish and irrelevant, except that psychology, like Trump or Kim’s own anger, paranoia, anxiety, and so on, is increasingly driving this contest.

3. The Western Media Risks Complicity in a Panicked March to War.

 

Last month I argue for Lowy that the disjuncture between Western, especially American, media, and South Korean media on North Korea was inexplicably large, with the Westerners far more alarmed than South Koreans. This continues to be the case. Most recently, the North Korean earthquake that turned out to just be an earthquake got far too much speculative attention that it might be yet another nuclear test before it was disproved. I also continue to notice the large gap between Korea experts brought onto the networks and the networks’ own in-house panels of generalist journalists and commentators. The latter are almost always more alarmist and hawkish than the former, who almost uniformly seem to think this crisis need not tip into a conflict. I find Fox, especially “The Five” show, to be the most egregious on this.

Reaching to established contributors is cheap and convenient, but this is such a serious topic that TV producers should think twice about defaulting to Washington generalists. The run-up to the Iraq War similarly failed to tap the expert community deeply enough, and the crisis this involves nuclear weapons. There are a lot of very good Korea experts out there, and they do not get nearly the airtime they should compared to generalist journalists and pundits.

4. China is Still the Key

 

There is growing acceptance that the China track has failed, but it is still the most realistic way achieve some cap on the North’s programs which does not involve the huge risks of air-strikes, or the huge concessions required by talks. Probably the smartest thing Trump has done on North Korea to date is push China hard. Yes, it has not worked out well, but the alternatives are all so poor, I find all the criticism of this track curious. China’s economic leverage is established – critical oil exports, recipient of 92% of North Korean exports, banking access, and so on. That leverage is vastly preferable to the other two options – conflict or talks. Airstrikes have well-established risks and should only be an absolute last, preemptive resort if Northern missiles are actually fueling. Airstrikes could easily ignite a spiraling regional conflict. Talks are similarly a weak vehicle. The North Koreans will demand huge concessions now. They have nuclear weapons and have endured months of Trump’s taunts. They will ask for so much, that the South and the US will almost certainly demur. So if hawkish military alternatives are too risky, and dovish negotiations sure to flim-flammed by the North, what is left? Sanctions, missile defense, and other unilateral actions will buy us time, but they will not cease or cap the programs. Only China has the economic weight to really punish the North. China’s tolerance for NK shenanigans – up to and including a fusion weapons on an ICBM – is much higher than almost anyone expected. But I see little alternative but going back to them yet again.

5. South Korea is being Sidelined.

 

This may be inevitable given the character of the US president. Trump cannot help but make events about himself, but his shenanigans are nonetheless pushing South Korea out of the loop. When I discuss this crisis with my students, the questions mostly circle around Trump and his Twitter feed, not their own government. The Korean media even has a term for this – ‘Korea passing.’ This is obviously bad all around. It is South Korea who will bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation, as well as the massive burden of unification, plus the catastrophic costs of any American nuclear strike against North Korea – because North Korea would almost certainly collapse in the wake of that, and South Korea would then inherit the blast zone(s). South Korean President Moon Jae In may be a dove, but Trump the hawk is dominating the debate. Secretly though, I imagine, a fair number of South Koreans do not really mind. Support for unification has declined over the years, and anxiety over its costs is high. North Korea’s weirdness and backwardness is deeply off-putting for a country that wants to join the modern world. Unfortunately, the South cannot escape the North’s shadow. When it falls apart, the world will look to South Korea to clean up the mess whether its wants that burden or not. If Trump obscures the South’s primary responsibility for the North by seemingly taking over the issue from them, he is only making things worse when the North Korea burden inevitably returns where it belongs.


Filed under: China, Korea (North), Korea (South), Trump, United States


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

@Robert_E_Kelly

 

 


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