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File under 'I' for irony - Korean movie makers upset about piracy

Source: Chosun Ilbo

From the Chosun Ilbo:
The Korean film industry is seething after a copy of the blockbuster "Haeundae" was found being illegally distributed over the internet last weekend, especially since the film had galvanized the industry by becoming the fifth Korean film ever to draw over 10 million viewers. Public calls for strong legal action against piracy are gaining support, but it might be too late to stop the spread of the bootleg overseas as it is already circulating on Chinese websites.

"Haeundae" was leaked online to a Korean file-sharing site on Saturday morning, according to CJ Entertainment, a major investor in the movie and its distributor. It spread quickly and by Saturday evening copies were available for download on most file-sharing sites, the company said. CJ had identified 24 sites where "Haeundae" was being circulated by Saturday, while police found over 160. It is estimated that the film has already been downloaded several hundred thousands times in Korea alone.

"Pirate DVDs of 'Haeundae' will be on the market in China by Tuesday, and you'll be able to find them on the streets of Bangkok sometime this week," said an official at CJ Entertainment. "Realistically, there is little we can do to fix the situation."

Illegal trading of content over the internet is a crime subject to a maximum of five years in jail or W50 million fine (US$1=W1,249).
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Here we are talking about Koreans not liking piracy when they themselves are one of the leaders in the industry? It's all too obvious in the Gangnam area, the Jongno area in downtown Seoul, and presumably other areas across the country. Consider that these places take a movie from the same online sources, download, burn, and sell in plain sight of untold thousands of passersby every day across the country. The movies are almost always American movies - heaven forbid Koreans pirate Korean movies! - and sold without fear of being caught or persecuted by the police. Still sound surprised at the irony? I'm not.

Until Korea cleans up its own act, there will be plenty of piracy, and plenty of people looking for the free download instead of paying to see it in theaters. Until the police actually start prosecuting people trying to sell what they don't own, they're 4 for 10,000 won along the main road in Gangnam.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2009


The Price is Right: COEX

Ladies and gentlemen, cue up the theme music - it's time to play that nostalgic game show from our youth - The Price is Right! Thanks to the power of the internet connecting the worlds of Korea to America, we have two fabulous Showcase Showdowns for you to bid on.

If the name of the American game show doesn't ring a bell, the rules are simple. Look at three photos, then try to guess their combined retail value (or the price you'd actually pay in the store as of today) without going over. Bidding 100,000 won for a package worth 101,000 won is superb; bidding 101,000 won for a package worth 100,000 won is a shame. In other words, bid just under what you think the actual prices are. It's better to guess low than high.

Today's items all come from the COEX Mall in Seoul - I'll have other locations for future games. Comments are open - bid on one or both showcases. Without further ado, your first showcase starts with a shirt:

Available at Zara but only in yellow, this unisex shirt invites other clubgoers (presumably those of the opposite gender) to see what's underneath. One thing you might find?

Found in the Day underwear, the matching set of underwear might help you score a trip around the world. Bid on both sets of underwear, but first, learn your geography for that round the world trip:

Available at Puzzle Zone, it's 28cm in diameter and lit up from the outside.

Bid or pass? Comment away!

The second showcase starts with a souvenir:

Available at a store called 'Miro Industrial Arts (aka a Korean souvenir store), this metal-and-glass case houses seven different coins and five different stamps. You'll need a lot more than these coins to buy some new luggage:

Bid on the one in front. Once you've packed your new luggage at elle, you'll need to brush up on your language skills, so why not pick up a language course:

Found at Bandi and Luni's, it claims to be the same course used by the U.S. government to train diplomats. So what will you bid for this second showcase? Write in the comments - I'll post a comment with the actual prices in a couple days.

Bid! Comment! Now!

No actual items are being offered as prizes. This is just a fun internet blog-thing. The only prize to be won is the satisfaction of being right.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2009


I don't think I ever really discover anything new... I am only abruptly reminded of something which I had already learned the hard way.

When I got on the elevator last night at 1:30 AM (I don't usually come home that early but I had to work the next day) I was assaulted by a horrible smell. "My god..." I said, waving my hands around my face to swat away invisible swarms, the kind which in my experience always attend such a stench. When the elevator opened on my floor my knees buckled. Now I live on the eleventh floor of a twelve story apartment complex and if I could smell it on the first floor...

As I approached my apartment (retching-eyeswatering-gags) I began to suspect the worst: yep, it was coming FROM MY APARTMENT. At that point I seriously debated going back downstairs, taking a cab to the airport, and catching the first plane to Bangkok. The only thing that stopped me was the knowledge that the poor cat was stuck in there with that. If she was still alive.

I turned the key and opened the door. I am a farm boy. I have seen and smelled and done things that most people cannot imagine. But this was another level of stink. I quickly opened the windows turned on the fan and the oven vent and the bathroom ventilator and the air conditioner (it was quite hot in there) and tried to find the source of the stench. It didn't take long.

Here in Korea recycling is compulsory and all organic household waste is put back into the system as well, collected in tiny sealed buckets that you put by the curb with a quarter ticket stuck in the lid. I could never be troubled with that of course so I was in the habit of sticking everything in the bags you have to buy for your non-recycleable garbage (about $.25 a liter). The smell was coming from my garbage can.

I didn't take the time to do a complete autopsy but but when I pulled the bag I realized that something horrible had happened. In the bottom of the bag was another bag filled with the contents of my kitty's litter box. Around and in that was the contents of a bag of live clams that died in my refrigerator(dead clams and clam juice). In addition there was some rotten garlic and broccoli, cigarette butts, moldy yoghurt, and used toilet paper. (I had cleaned the refrigerator, bathroom, and litter box the previous night in a fit of domestic energy resulting from relationship issues).

When I got back from the dumpster and cleaned up the cat vomit I reflected on the lessons learned and fondly recalled the other times I forgot to take out the trash.

Kim Daul in the Nude: An Unlikely Feminist Icon (NSFW)

( Source ) No, I’d never heard of her before tonight either. But the following statement from Korean supermodel Kim Daul (김다을), posted on her blog the day after she posted a picture from a recent nude photoshoot for British fashion magazine i-D, is making big waves at the moment: seriously korean ppl stop bullying me because u know what i [...]


Hate at First Sight

Every month, I walk into my new classes and I hate them on sight. It's not personal. I just hate everybody that I don't know; those in the classroom are no exception.The feeling usually passes once I share a few words with them and am forced to accept them as people, but up until that point? Hate.

Okay, hate is a bit strong. I'm exaggerating, as I do. Hate indicates a degree of caring, which doesn't exist in this case. Apathy or, at worst, distrust would be more appropriate. Whatever it is, while I follow something resembling the social code which I was taught (holding open doors for people, not cutting in line, and other such blah), people that I don't know don't really register as real people.

Midway through the second day of class, once I've attached names to faces and seen a glimpse of personality, I come around to the idea that my students are real people. By the end of the first week, we're all pretty tight, such that I can cater my lesson plans to each of their individual learning styles and personalities. By the end of the month, I can even imagine that some of them exist outside of the classroom; this is in part because they insist that I have a drink with them, an invite which I rarely decline.

When classes come to a close each month, all the names, which went with faces, most of which had personalities, move on. A new sea of nameless faces, which I hate on sight, then grow to see as people, and finally like, maybe just a little bit, replace the old.

It's an exhausting process.

Bun Cha

It's our second day in Hanoi, and Sarah and I just stumbled on what I've since found out to be one of Northern Vietnam's most famous street dishes: Bun Cha.

Bun Cha is a lunchtime favourite that marries rice noodles, grilled pork meatballs and a fish sauce infused broth in a fantastic dish that screams our arrival in South East Asia.

In classic street food style we didn't even have to order this one - our lunch was brought to us while we were still fiddling about in the Lonely Planet food section and looking around us awkwardly.

We each recieved a plate of lukewarm, slightly sticky rice noodles and a bowl of broth. We also got a large plate of leaves to share and some chopped chili and garlic by way of condiments.

It was all pretty intuitive - take a small bunch of noodles, drop it in the broth along with some leaves, chili and garlic and then gather up as much as you can with your chopsticks, making sure to grab some of that pork along the way.

What happened next was outstanding; the pork meatballs were charred on the outside and medium rare in the middle, containing subtle hints of a spice mix I was having too much fun to even think about. The broth, meanwhile, was in turns sweet, savory and spicy, the unmistakable tang of fish sauce acting as a prelude to the slow chili burn that followed. Apart from the lettuce, I have no idea what the other leaves were. Suffice to say that they were good, with a nippy little purple number making a particular impression.

So good was lunch in fact, that I barely registered the three mice that scurried past our table during the course of our meal.

Now thats what I call food.

The Meaning of 2080 Toothpaste

Here at grad school, the passing of time is often marked by whimsical events unwillingly overanalysed by a fun-starved mind. One such event is when I run out of toothpaste and need to buy another money saving 3-pack. The excitement is sometimes overwhelming. Three tubes of toothpaste last a moderately hygienic bachelor a fair amount of time, so one must be careful to peruse the flavours with caution. If you're not careful, you can be stuck with 3 tubes of Green Tea flavour, or even worse, Sea Salt.

Although they don't sell my kindergarten favourite Colgate Bubblicious, there is a brand called 2080 here, which isn't bad. It comes in spearmint and peppermint flavours. As an amateur toothpaste connoisseur, I give it a 7 out of 10. The main problem is that it foams up too quickly in the mouth, which is inconvenient for me because I like to leave the basin while brushing and walk around the house so I can stare at the walls/ceiling etc.

But as I'm sure you're all wondering, what on earth does 2080 mean?


The meaning of 2080 perplexed me for an eternity before I chanced upon the answer right there on the tube. It means that it will maintain 20 of your teeth until you are 80 years of age. Therefore, should I continue to use 2080, I am due to lose around 8 of mine sometime before then.

Preferably not my molars.

South Korea Trip - Pohang 포항

Alright you can check out the video of my trip from Busan to Pohang in South Korea. The trip in total was 358 kms. I rode the #7 highway from Busan to Pohang and the #14 highway back.. On the trip I checked out a lighthouse museum, Homigot Sunrise Plaza, Bogyeongsa temple and Mt. Naeyeonsan.. Each video is a one day trip. I start the day with no plan other than a final destination. By the end of the day I have compiled 2-4 hours of footage on two cameras. I then cut that footage into the five minute video you see here. The video features creative commons music by Loudog- New Friends featured on On August 14 I can be heard on Busan eFM 90.5 between 10-11am (Seoul Time/ Aug.13 6-7pm Pacific Standard time) and on August 16 10-11am (Seoul Time/ Aug.15 6-7pm Pacific Standard time) Enjoy the video! Jeff Apparently Prince has a bar in Korea too! A great meal at the end of the day!


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