Transcultural Funk

Here is Natalie, a cute non-Korean girl (as far as I can tell ;-)) based in LA, singing a popular song by K-POP group Wonder Girls:

and idol-mob girl group SNSD’s song:

Being a cultural mutt, I enjoy this sort of cultural mash thingy. She looks and sings great. It would be cool to see her make it big time in South Korea, hopefully short of turning things into a circus as usual.

Young Star Rising

Ice skating is a sport where high spirit and confidence impacts the outcome greatly. I don’t usually watch ice skating performance because inspiring perfection is rare and heartbreaking mistakes are too common to make fine entertainment. But I watch Kim Yu-na’s performances because watching the growth of her spirit and confidence is a joy in itself.

Photos below illustrates the change very well.

yuna-1

Good spirit, still vulnerable

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Confidence finally finds home

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From recent Four Continents event

Hitman.com

A hitman.com for real in Korea was recently caught doing business. Police investigating a young women's death came across the site while checking the list of sites the prime suspect accessed. Apparently the site was more like a hitman portal with individiual hitmans advertising their service anonymously through the site. Crazy.

Corruption vs Privacy in Korea

Biggest news out of Korea in the past few days is the leak of illegal recordings of conversations between Hong Seok-hyun, Korea's current ambassador to America, and Samsung officials (Hong and Samsung's chairman are related by marriage) for a few months preceding 1997 Korean Presidential Election.

Corruption

The recorded conversations were about distribution of illegal campaign funds to Lee hwae-chang, former judge and the favorite conservative in the election. The money was coming from Samsung but the delivery was being made by Hong, in cash. The really disgusting part is that Hong was then CEO of Joong-Ang Ilbo, one of the biggest Korean newspapers. So what we have is a billionaire and owner of a major newspaper giving illegal money to a former judge. If that's not corruption, I don't know what is.

Privacy

Here is the other side of this fascinating coin: the recordings were made illegally by a government agency: National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Korean equivalent of CIA. It turns out there are more than 8000 such recordings made by a secret NIA unit called Mirin which had 3-400 agents working around the clock to record conversations of key Korean businessmen and politicians. They started with wiretapping and bugs but moved on to recording cellphone conversations.

The kicker is that this illegal activities started under Kim Young-sam and supposedly continued under Kim Dae-joong, both of whom suffered wiretapping and more by dictators in thier pursuit of democracy in Korea.

Now the problem is what to do with all that recording. If you had to choose between revealing corruption and protecting privacy, which would you choose? While the ideal solution is to have someone upload the recordings accidentally, but I doubt that will happen, not with Korean cyberpolice's uncanny ability to track hackers down.

Ohjang-dong Naemyun Sauce Recipe

Ohjang-dong is a neighborhood in Seoul, Korea famous for spicy cold noodle named after the area: Ohjang-dong naeng(cold) myun (noodle). Ohjang-dong naengmyun is a type of Bibim (mixed) naengmyun which originated somewhere in mountainous Korean states (I am not sure exactly where). Whenever I am in Korea, I make sure to visit Ohjang-dong frequently just to eat the spicy noodle, even if I have to travel more than an hour. Yum.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the famous Ohjang-dong naengmyun with comments from my wife (don't ask how she got this supposedly secret recipe). The recipe is in Korean, btw. If someone else can translate it, I'll post that as well.

Pause and Korean News Podcast

I've got to dig out of a work pile I am under currently so blogging will be less frequent over the next couple of weeks. Camping next week too.

After that, I am going to give podcasting a try. At this point, I think podcasts of Korean news I read every morning (in the relative sense). Most foreign news never makes it over the language barrier despite all the technologies and social networking we have to day. It won't be straight news though. Rather, selection and interpretation will be biased by my views.

DSG Goes to Washington [Post]

Jonathan Krim writes about DSG in his Washington Post column. Looks like he did his research, revealing new information like the fact that DSG had to quit school. Unlike most of the million bloggers who read my post (shocking number, really), he also didn't miss what I thought was the right level of social punishment. Good job, Jonathan!

Ironically, I didn't find Jonathan's article through Technorati or Feedster. Instead I came by it after reading a syndicated Korean news article that mentioned his DSG article (Korean translation was excellent, BTW). So the DSG post blasted off like a rocket, up and out of the blogosphere, and then back down to earth on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Welcome home, DSG.