Nulcear North Korea

So, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test apparently.  Another ho-hum day in Seoul for everyone else.

In the absence of any real leverage, Washington and its allies are left warning Beijing that if it does not keep North Korea out of the nuclear club, it risks an arms race in its own neighborhood.

This is from the New York Times article.

I am slightly divided over the right of North Korea to do what it wants so long as they are not harming anyone.  In this case, I refer to people outside of their country.  So far, they have done no wrong to another country(skirmishes aside).

Let me tell you how this game is payed. Earlier this week a “war of words” began.

“The US and enemies, based on their own hypothesis and arguments, jumped to the conclusion that we would stage a third nuclear test,” said the editorial.

– source

Note that this seeming denial statement merely points to someone else guessing what North Korea was about to do. They did not say they weren’t going to do it.

Besides that little tidbit, the South Korean military had their own statement.

“If [the North] shows a clear intent to use a nuclear weapon, it is better to get rid of it and go to war, rather than being attacked,” said the general, addressing the Joint Chiefs. He added that ”a pre-emptive attack against the North trying to use nuclear weapons does not require consultation with the United States and it is the right of self-defense.”

So….what? Everyone is posturing in the name of “self defense” but really just use that as some sort of excuse to throw around their ego? On one hand, I can appreciate the fact that North Korea wants too stay out of US control and financial ruin. On the other hand, of the people are truly suffering, the whole world has a responsibility to ensure that its inhabitants have the means to survive, if not thrive. Sadly, I feel that our current efforts are misguided and will eventually fail. Perhaps it is time for a change huh?

Ok, back to the topic at hand. Not much has changed. There have been no pre-emptive strikes. Although do you need to detonate a nuclear device to research energy for your country? No, but hey, what do I know?

Next I expect to read that China is finally taking a few stern measures against the little upstart country or that the US “suddenly discovers a reason to invade” and then things will be ugly for awhile. Maybe you’ll see a re-enactment of the middle East, maybe not. In either case, I’m glad I am moving further south to get some distance from this crap.

Rockets invading South Korea & other important news

Shinsegae Food Co. LTD finished 2012 strongly, opening its seventh Johnny Rockets restaurant in 22 months.

I have yet to be in an area where one if these places exist but I am looking forward to seeing how it stacked up and curious if they too serve “Bulgogi” burgers like McD’s.

With $20,000 in private loans and a soon-to-be wife, Kim is also concerned that he won’t be able to support his new family, or his father’s faltering business.

Remember when I called this little point here? Here is s nice view of how “advanced” Korea is in joining the world financial markets. I guess advanced mean more debt huh?

Now, to actually talk about rockets for real:

U.S., China in deal on U.N. North Korea rebuke; Russia to back it

The United States and China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea for its December rocket launch, U.N. diplomats said on Friday, and Russia predicted it would be approved by the council

There is a saying that I heard many, many years ago, “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”. There is no greater example of this than what you read on that link. The U.N. Keep passing these “resolutions” and yet nothing changes. Its like telling someone elses kid that they are misbehaving but they just sick their tongue out because they know they can get away with it. Its only s matter off time before some either does something stupid our that they create a false report then all hell will break lose…for a while. While I am not a fan of Watts, I do think that the US had enough of a technical edge to end it quickly. It will be quick only because there is nothing of value here (i.e. Oil) but that depends on the profiteering warmongers I guess.

Google & North Korea

This post crosses a few interests of mine.  Namely, Google, North Korea, Conspiracy Theory-made-manifest.

If you weren’t aware, Google’s Eric Schmidt (and ex-New Mexico Governor) Bill Richardson flew to North Korea.

Schmidt & Richardson watching a North Korean using the Internet. Photo courtesy of WSJ.

Word has it that the Richardson is pressing for the release of Pae Jun Ho, an US Citizen, for “Unspecified Crimes“.

What should concern people is that right now, tensions are a little high after the missile launch and the threat of a nuclear test being performed we don’t have an official GOVERNMENT visit to work things out (although, given the history of such and the following obvious failures…) we have CORPORATE interests gallivanting about the world, making ‘nice, nice’ with ugly neighbours.  Seriously, this smacks of the whole shift from a Democratic rulership to a Corporatocracy.  It’s not like we weren’t warned about this, publicly, in the 70’s.

This movie is one of my favourites and this scene is nearly as famous as the “Mad as Hell” scene.

So, back to my current northern neighbours.  What do you think the outcome will be?  Will Google be allowed inside the ‘hermit kingdom’?  That place where the Internet is so tightly controlled that only a select few are allowed to use it?  Somehow I doubt that will change anytime soon, given how tightly controlled the state media is.  Or should I say manipulated?  Were you aware that North Korea WON the World Cup in 2010?! (Despite Spain actually winning it seems.)

So what to the South Koreans think of the North Koreans?  Oddly not much.  There is a well know pattern that North Korea hypes up some event, threatens ‘Seoul’ with retaliation and then….fails to follow through. North Korea is like the boy who cried wolf all the time.  Sure some ‘spikes’ of interest show up (Kim Jong Il dying, Rocket launch) that get people to talk a little bit, otherwise North Korea is fairly well ignored by the southern populace.

I have met some Koreans whose families originate from North Korea (English teachers from South Africa actually) and they don’t seem any different from any other regular Korean really.  So it’s back to the big, egotistical Military types running the place and making big chest-pounding displays of strength while the rest of the people go ‘meh’.

Business and War in Korea

One of my main goals is to meet business people while I am in Korea with the idea of doing business to help people and make some money while doing so. I have been actively searching for networking events and learned about the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Korea. I was happy to find them so I gave them a call. I found out that they were having a Christmas Party. Tickets were about $80 per person. A little upscale but worth making some contacts and finding out exactly what type of people are involved, while having a good time doing it.

plaza-hotelThe party was at The Plaza Hotel in Seoul. We were in the Diamond Room on the 22nd floor (top of the hotel). It was a nice and fairly casual evening and had a great view of the city as well. The food was good with enough meat for the ‘meatatarian’ in me :) We met some interesting people from a wide range of jobs and businesses. Air Canada was a major sponsor and they donated a round-trip to Vancouver as one of the door prizes. We won two door prizes that night. A 700ml bottle of Canadian Club and a $100 gift certificate for Antonios Vinoteca Ristorante Italiano. Looking at the menu there and that $100 will go very quickly. In fact, we’d be short $10 if I ordered the T-Bone steak! I’m looking forward to eating here!
While in another country, one of the biggest fears (aside from war) is getting hurt or being sick. Well we seem to have the possibility of one and just finishing up the other. Sure North Korea is an important concern and that Seoul just finished doing a simulated ‘North Kore Attack Drill‘ in downtown Seoul. I was curious as part of the drill included a couple of fighter jets to fly over Seoul. When I heard the sirens begin, I went for a walk outside hoping to see the jets. It was a remote hope as there are a bunch of buildings around me and by the time I may have gotten into the clear, the jets were probably long gone. Assuming that they were even flying near my point of view. Oddly, I did see them briefly. I’m sure many people back home would be freaking out, saying things like “I think you should get out of there.” or “I would leave right away!” Maybe I should be more concerned than I am but I read a lot and read way past the hype that media plays in their articles. What I get, and keep getting, from these articles is the same thing I said in my very first post about the topic of war. North Korea is behaving like a spoiled child. This exact statement has been echoed in just about every article I read, some even word for word. I don’t have to be a parent to know what happens to spoiled children who cries wolf all the time and that is exactly what is happening to North Korea right now. The ‘adults” are sitting the child down and telling him to grow up. Everyone is kind of hoping that the Child won’t need a ‘spanking’ but that’s exactly what he’ll get. It won’t be pretty but it will be swift and good enough to knock some sense into him, should it come to that.

As for being sick, I rarely am. Maybe once a year, puts me out for 1 or 2 days then I’m back to normal. This happened last week. Some stupid cold got me, all the usual symptoms of coughing, stuffed sinuses and such. I did the usual stuff, relaxed (even more than usual :) ) and took lots of Vitamin C. The Vitamin C I used came in this lemon-flavoured powered stuff. You simply open the packet, dump it in your mouth and within 10 seconds it’s practically all dissolved. It’s really cool stuff. I was doing 2-3 of those a day and I think it definitely helped. I just have this kind of lingering dry cough, but that’s because it’s a dry cold here. Rather annoying but we’re managing. Of course Bharati got the cold after me, she’s just about over it now.

In keeping with business learning skills, I have understood what causes businesses to fail. Having a product or service and trying to find a need. This is completely backwards. Very few businesses have the know-how to artificially create a need for something that wasn’t there before (think Apple and how it markets). The best way is always to find a need and then create a solution. Well I found that the English teachers here need help. Many of them flounder around with the language and the country without really getting it all. Sure they survive but having asked a lot of them, they would gladly like some more help. So I started a new blog/mailing list to help them. The Korean Cafe was born to help those people, as well as travelers in general. The goal is to help English-speaking people learn more about Korea, it’s language, it’s infrastructure and such.

I have also started an English/Korean Club. The goal is to get people from both cultures and to learn to communicate. I figured it would be rather boring to do it on my own. Having the need to meet more people, this was the best way to help everyone and meet new people at the same time :)

And that was all in just the last week :) Looking forward to next week!

Korea and War

Since this is the topic on everyone’s mind back home let me enlighten you on how it all feels this side of the world.

Everyone is pointing to North Korea as the ones who ‘shot first’ with the whole Bombardment of Yeonpyeong.  Maybe the did, maybe they didn’t.  I wasn’t there, I can’t say who’s in the right or wrong.  What I do know is that South Korea planned some ‘air exercises’ of this island (that’s been in debate for ages) and if I were to take a guess, I think that North Korea did fire first but only after South Korea ‘pushed the limits’ of their nerves by being in that area as well as giving North Korea reasons to push back from the corner they’ve put themselves into.

As for the general populace, life goes on.  I’ve not spoken with any locals but the general consensus among the English teachers is that this is really nothing new.  Maybe more ‘fire exchange’ than in the past but there has always been skirmishes over this island.  Unless there is a drastic change in level of activity, it’s just one more notch in history of  ongoing Korean War. (You did know that it never ended right?)

North Korea’s only ally (China) is even staying somewhat neutral.  They have neither approved nor condemned the incident but at most said ‘the two should work harder at coming to peace’.

I’ve signed up with Canadian Government branch for registered Canadians abroad.  They keep track of such things and email updates on events like this.  Their last email said that neither country has raised any ‘alert levels’, a pointed indication that this is nothing more than two children fighting over one toy for the sake of pride now more than anything else.

I’m still here