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Is there no aspect of South Korean society, post-1997, where superficiality belies a deeper, darker truth? She's not the same face, but in a sense all these women look "ugly".

Honestly, I'll admit to having "yellow fever" - but then I like dark hair. I think all these young women are beautiful - well, I've never talked to them, so I really don't know if that beauty is more than skin deep.

South Korea is cuckoo for cutting.

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Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 04:36 PM PDT

Copycats In Daegu?

by radicalcontra

Scott Atran might be right: "When we devote such massive societal attention to a few homegrown terrorists, we may not ultimately be doing ourselves any favors." And, of all places, in Daegu, South Korea, Boston P.D.'s decision to crowd-source its investigations, to apprehend the Tsarnaev brothers might have inspired two losers, to set a bomb in a cram school.

At 7:07 a.m. yesterday, an explosion went off on the third floor of a nine-story building in Suseong District, Daegu, starting a fire. Two arsonists had gotten access to the floor and hurled glass bottles filled with flammable liquids.

A janitor alerted local police, who dispatched officers to the scene. They suspected terrorists because the target of the attack was the American Cultural Center, located on the third floor of the building.

The intention was indeed to strike against America. Unfortunately for the terrorists, they ended up torching a private, Korean-owned English academy.

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:23 PM PDT

Don't Give In To Evil

by radicalcontra

Thank you, John Horgan, for writing it.

We Americans are justifiably outraged at the attacks in Boston, which killed three innocent people and injured many more. But over the past 12 years our own nation has killed and maimed thousands of innocent people while carrying out military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Estimates of war casualties are notoriously unreliable and should always be viewed with skepticism. But according to the reputable group Iraq Body Count, between 2003 and 2011 U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq killed 14,906 civilians, including at least 1,201 children.

Such killings continue. On April 8, The New York Times reported that an American airstrike in Afghanistan killed at least 10 children and wounded at least five women. The incident was not even major news; it ran not on the front page of the Times but on page eight, because incidents like these are common. How can we condemn the killings in Boston but excuse the killing of civilians by our soldiers in war zones?

One obvious response is that, unlike the Boston bombers, the U.S. pilots did not want to harm civilians. Their target was a Taliban commander. The U.S. military prefers not to kill civilians and often apologizes when it does. Intention matters, morally and legally; intention is what distinguishes murder from manslaughter. But if you keep doing something over and over again, at some point apologizing and saying you didn’t mean it becomes meaningless. Doesn’t it?

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:44 PM PDT

I'm With Gabby

by radicalcontra

More than constitutional tricks killed moving an amendment to the Senate floor for debate - talking, the kind most Americans find boring. It was faulty thinking - Americans' rotten idealism gone berserk. Money didn't defeat Manchin-Toomey, but NRA-affiliated donations and dark money certainly helped.

Documents also show the NRA saw a surge in donations to its lobbying arm in the months following Newtown – registering a record $2.7m in cash during January and February. Further disclosures showing the scale of its recent donations, particularly to politicians in the House of Representatives, are expected on Saturday.

The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights – two groups seen as more conservative than the NRA – have also been active in the Senate, giving $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of Republican opposition to the amendment.

Others to receive arms-related donations recently include Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who received $1,000 on 4 March from BAE Systems, a British defence group that manufacturers ammunition, although mostly for military purposes.

Some of the more relevant donations do not come explicitly from gun campaigners. Senator Jeff Flake, a crucial swing voter from Arizona who turned against gun control at the last minute, received $5,000 in 2012 from The Madison Project, a right-wing campaign group that lists gun rights as one of its top priorities. On 9 April, it warned against Republicans such as Flake, who voted for the gun debate, and urged members to call these senators and "tell them that when the Bill of Rights reads 'shall not be infringed' with regards to the second amendment, it means exactly that".

Though the sums are relatively small they indicate the range of lobbying targets pursued by groups such as the NRA, which spent $8.5m before the last election on television ads and telephone drives. Far more money is spent on negative attack ads against politicians seen as weak on gun rights, than in favour of supporters.

Analysis of so-called 'dark money', or undisclosed expenditure, by the Sunlight Foundation shows the NRA was behind at least five TV ad campaigns against gun control since Newtown, targeting key swing states such as Ohio.

The elegantly simple constitutional architecture of the Senate helped, too. Still, the 90% of American support for background checks should have overrode these obstacles. Maybe, the nationwide polls were faulty. No, data from 25 states, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Quinnipiac University, reveals a preponderance of support for background checks from constituents AND high ratings from the NRA.

But a majority of Americans do believe guns make homes safer. And, Americans buy the framing, that violence in the defense of violence is justified.

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 03:50 AM PDT

Slicing the North Korean Knot

by radicalcontra

I'm rapidly loosing patience with "experts". In this case, North Korea experts, that is. Generally, dealing with this latest peninsula crisis is not a matter of understanding North Korea. It's about the United States having a coherent strategy of dealing with the world. A drawback of gimble lock is a proliferation of bad ideas.

Jason Healey and Jeremi Suri have convenient ways to deal with North Korea, by avoiding international law, or just defining away terms. Words are changeable, right? Jason Healey solves the mystery of the cyber hacking episode South Korea experienced in March of this year - North Korea is responsible.

The international community does not have a North Korea cyber problem, it simply has a North Korea problem. The cyberattacks are simply one facet of this larger dilemma. The Chinese leadership is already increasingly and publicly frustrated with Kim’s truculence and each new tantrum takes away Chinese face, further embarrassing its leadership. South Korean and American diplomats must add each new disruption to the list of outrages for which Beijing needs to answer and not treat each as a separate issue.

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Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 04:23 AM PDT

Del Rosario Offers Bases To US

by radicalcontra

The Philippines' foreign minister, Alberto Del Rosario, publicly offered the use of its military bases to the United States "...if it went to war with North Korea".

“Our mutual defense treaty calls for joint action if either the Philippines or the United States is attacked,” del Rosario said in comments sent to AFP at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“It would then be logical to assume that in the event of an attack on the Philippines or on our treaty ally, the US would be allowed to use our bases,” he added.

Del Rosario was responding to a question about whether the archipelago, a former US colony, would allow the stationing of American troops on its soil in case war broke out between the US and North Korea.

The Korean peninsula has been engulfed by escalating military tensions and dire threats of nuclear war since North Korea conducted a rocket test last December and a nuclear test in February.

On Friday Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the government was prepared to undertake “extreme measures” including allowing US bases in the country, in the event of an “extreme emergency” on the Korean peninsula.

Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan)'s secretary general, Renato M. Reyes, Jr. was not happy, viewing the invitation as a "violation of the constitution" and a "levelling up" (sic) of the U.S. military presence.
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American and South Korean public opinion on the issue of imminent war with North Korea diverges dramatically. David Engel reiterates what several expat pundits, including this one, have argued anecdotally, that South Koreans are not afraid of the North Koreans. According to Mark Quarterman on All In with Chris Hayes, two polls in South Korea and the United States reveal, that 4.5% of South Koreans believe war is imminent, but in the United States 41% of respondents "...say that North Korea is a long-term threat to the U.S and 16% say the isolated regime is not a threat."

Cross-Posted at InfidelWorld

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North Korea's recent bluster bears out what I have thought for years, that North Korea exists as a reminder of unfinished diplomacy in East Asia. North Korea has now hamfistedly expressed publicly what was consensus - Japan is in Pyongyang's sights too.

"North Korea warned Japan Friday that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula if it continues to maintain its hostile posture," reports South Korea's Yonhap News Agency this morning in America, by way of a report from the DPRK's state-run Korean Central News Agency. "Japan always remains a target of the DPRK's revolutionary armed forces. Once Japan makes even a slight provocation against the DPRK, the former will be hard hit before any others," the report adds.

That's pretty scary, especially since things had been calming down for a few days there — and especially considering the Pentagon can't even make up its mind about what, exactly, Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities look like right now. And there are red-tipped missiles at flower shows in Pyongyang. But there's sort of a loophole in today's news. Notice how the warning reads: "if it" — as in Japan — "continues to maintain its hostile posture." What the North Korean propaganda machine appears to be referring to is Tuesday's action out of Japan, when it set up a slew of interceptor missiles in Tokyo as a precaution against North Korea's declarations of war. And there have been plenty of precautionary measures from around the globe of late after what Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called "unacceptable" rhetoric from the all too excitable Kim dynasty.

Rod Wye, a 37 year veteran of government service and former head of the Asia Research Group in Britain's Foreign Office, puts the current impasse between the United States, North Korea, and South Korea into context as a "distraction" (~21 min.) to broader, unsettled issues in the post-WW2 settlement in East Asia.

Cross-Posted at InfidelWorld

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The G8 released a joint communique condemning North Korea in the "strongest terms". The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that "North Korea has the ability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, although they would likely be unreliable." Finally, and perhaps ominously, South Korea's Unification minister made statements, to "'ensure that North Korea recognizes how seriously the current situation is taken in Seoul.'"

Most importantly, we have fun tools! The Guardian has posted a helpful interactive Google Fusion map depicting both military and non-military incidents between the Koreas between 1958 and the present day. (Make sure you go around the globe - there's more.) One tentative conclusion is apparent: although it's only 2 and a half years into the 2010s, the number of incidents has fallen off dramatically from the bad 'ol days.

This is obviously not the first time this has happened - there have been over 150 incidents since the Korean War in 1950, that we know about. The reason we do know about these is because of an exhaustive report by the Congressional Research Service, published in 2007. It covers every incident, from diplomatic hostilities, through to the more serious events where people have died.
Complete Original Cross-Posted at InfidelWorld

What Is the Most Dangerous Threat on the Korean Peninsula?

81%31 votes
0%0 votes
5%2 votes
13%5 votes
0%0 votes

| 38 votes | Vote | Results

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...and presumably Kim Jong-il has not ascended to heaven!

Seriously, I'm done in with all these tributes. I have plans to spend quality time with my new Kindle reading books that have sat on my wish list for years. Most of the verbiage I've read, or podcasts I've listened to, read or sound like grudging duty - and that's just the Hitchens stuff. I get the distinct impression, most pundits are arriving at their Kim Jong-il quotas knowing full well no one knows what's happening, so why not load up on the rhetoric. But, stick around until the end for what I think is my favorite editorial.<!--more-->

Daniel Serwer gets bonus points for not leading readers astray.

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It's reassuring to know, that at least three South Koreans in the world are not going nuts about the demise of the Dear Leader. Note how the last two respondents, younger than the first, didn't even mention unification. There's hope in that, too.    

Cross-Posted at


Kim Jong-il is reportedly dead, according to the Korean Central News Agency, "'...from a great mental and physical strain' during a train ride at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday" (via NKLW), at the age of 69. An autopsy performed yesterday confirmed the cause of death, according to the KCNA, as "an acute myocardial infarction, which triggered a heart attack, following all possible emergency treatment." It's uncertain how this event will affect an American decision to donate food aid to North Korea. Interested readers can supposedly tune in here for breaking news. According to Yonhap, South Korea's military forces are on alert, and President Lee Myung-bak has placed all government on emergency response status. NKNews has further reports here.

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