Tag Archives: North Korea

Bad Politics for Thanksgiving

Bath Time

There is a crisis in South Korea right now. Housing prices have skyrocketed, making buying homes a dream for most young families. At the moment, the traditional way of building wealth is much too lucrative for the average person, and it has become the realm of speculative investing/gambling the same way stocks and cryptocurrencies are. I’m not sure if there’s anything the government can do to calm the market down, but as far as I can tell, they’re not doing anything that could effectively make things better for people. Along with the housing crisis is the current unemployment/wage crisis.   The government’s attempt to regulate time spent in the office and prevent overworking as well as their push to increase minimum wage has made companies reluctant to hire new employees. The job market was already tough before the Moon Jae-In administration, but their recent actions have made it more difficult for young people to find jobs. There are even been reports that many graduates have given up on finding lifelong employment and have settled on multiple part-time work or the gig economy. There is good intent in increasing the minimum wage in South Korea which is woefully low for a country with such high living costs, and there should be regulations in a culture which pressures workers to stay at work long after regular business hours have passed, but I feel like the rollout of these initiatives should’ve been coupled with incentives for big and small businesses to follow-through. Carrots and sticks. In any case, things are not good in South Korea at the moment. With Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) coming next week, there is very little to be grateful for in many Korean households.

Which is the reason why the President’s North Korean expedition rubs me the wrong way. It reeks of tone deafness and bad politics. While things are, at best, stagnant domestically, Moon Jae-In continues to pursue relations with North Korea when Kim Jung Un has yet to demonstrate that he is a good actor when it comes to negotiations regarding nuclear disarmament. Why is this the priority when people in the country are struggling to make a future for themselves, when the wealth gap between those invested in the real estate market and those just starting their families and career are getting to be so wide that more and more people are getting into crippling debt? I kid with some people sometimes, but a part of me believe that at some point, the only people who can afford the high rise apartments continually being built all over Seoul would be Chinese investors. Re-establishing the Kaesong Industrial Complex is not going to help the average Korean. It’s not going to make it easier to buy a house or get a proper job.

If anything, Kim Jung Un promising to denuclearize and allow nuclear inspectors is good politically for the one person who has not risked anything to push for disarmament: Donald Trump. While Moon Jae-In is running around North Korea, his victories towards nuclear disarmament are claimed by Donald Trump. I understand that nuclear disarmament benefits everyone, but here it seems he is working far too hard for the benefit of someone who really couldn’t care less. Also, who did Moon Jae-In bring with him to his recent trip? Three heads of Korean companies, two of whom have recently skirted Korean laws. It’s just awful, awful optics. Not only is the average Korean not going to benefit from the North Korean summit, but it appears that those who will gain are giant companies whose heads can break Korean laws and still continue to operate their multi-billion dollar companies. The Samsung heir who conspired with the previous administration and was convicted is attempting to rehabilitate his image with this trip to North Korea and the government is giving him the opportunity to do so. Awful.

Give up, boys and girls. Winners and losers are born. If you were not born a winner, give up already. That Samsung heir, boy, is he a winner!

Now, I agree that governments can’t be focused on one thing only and that the current domestic crisis is quite complicated and would require a solution lengthier than a couple of days-worth of socializing with communists, but I just find the whole thing inept and a tad misguided. While Moon Jae-In might be noble in his intent, I believe Kim Jung Un is simply looking for a photo op at the moment. And this, in a nutshell, is my problem with the current administration. While much better than the past administrations, it is far too invested on its good intentions and not so much on effective policy. Not being evil and getting elected is one thing, but actually running the government effectively is another. I feel like this current North Korean trip, with the backdrop of the domestic crises shows that the Moon Jae-In government is far too starry-eyed with its own ideals. And for that, they will get punished politically by their opponents. (It pains for me to say it, but they should.) It will be a loss for them politically, but that’s small compared to the huge impact the current crises is inflicting upon young Koreans.

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The Confusing Korean Left

Little Boy

These are crazy times. The left wing of Korea is now a proponent of the alt-right’s agenda, specifically with Trump meeting with Kim Jung Un. President Moon Jae-In, in his quest for warmer relations with North Korea have unnecessarily entangled himself with Trump and Kim Jung-Un meeting next week in a summit in Singapore. When it was first cancelled, the extreme right wing in the country was celebrating, calling it a failure of Moon Jae-In. But now that the meeting is back on, it seems that the left is celebrating it as a “win” regardless of the consequences and what the summit exactly means for North Korean propaganda. If you told me that the left wing of Korea would push for a meeting between Trump and Kim Jung-Un two years ago, I would’ve called you insane.

Now I’m not necessarily against western leaders meeting with North Korea. What I am is extremely cynical of these things. First off, Trump agreed to a meeting without even having any concessions. They demanded total abandonment of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but there seems to be a disagreement whether North Korea agreed to this. And even if they did, it is very unlikely they would follow through with this, especially with Kim Jung-Un fearing Colonel Gaddafi’s fate after abandoning his nuclear programs.

Second, the Trump administration is not treating this very seriously. I really think they’re just pursuing this and hoping that they would somehow stumble into a peace agreement. Why do I say that? I say that because we’re weeks away from the summit, and we’ve yet to hear any realistic plan to slowly wean North Korea away from their current nuclear trajectory outside of Trump sounding like a genie, “you will be very happy, your people will be very happy, your country will be rich!” And I get very suspicious when clowns start popping in for the summit. There’s word that Dennis Rodman, Sean Hannity, and Sebastian Gorka (a Hungarian Nazi) will be covering the summit for Trump. It’s a damned photo op for conservative “win.”

And again, all of this while Trump makes trade wars with Canada, Mexico, and the EU (and Nikki Haley embarrasses herself in front of the UN).

I like President Moon Jae-In, I really do, but I think he’s got himself caught in a trap. Friendliness with North Korea doesn’t mean the South has to be a wingman for relations with the United States, not at this early stage anyway. It wasn’t too long ago when the North wasn’t too cool with the South. Now he is wedded to the political whims of Donald Trump and Kim Jung-Un. Should either man do anything to mess up the summit or sour relations with each other, Moon Jae-In’s enemies would quickly jump on that and use it to attack him. The promise of warmer relations with North Korea is tenable. The promise of peace with North Korea, while ideal, seems unrealistic under current circumstances. And anything short of peace and total nuclear disarmament (something which Trump initially suggested the North agreed to), Moon Jae-In will be attacked for.

In any case, the left should really step back and see what exactly they are supporting here. They are supporting “wins” for two men who will cynically use the meeting for short term political gains and propaganda. The “wins” for both Trump and the North is simply the summit itself. Both men attend the meeting, they shake hands, take pictures. Done. Nobel Peace Prize for one of the worst US presidents in modern history. Any failing from the follow through could just be waved of as fake news. The “win” for the South would take far longer, and proving it to be a “win” would be more substantive. This is a strange and hard gamble for the left.

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Shaking Hands

Skull

Living in South Korea, I think it would be a bit odd if I didn’t comment about the historic event right now regarding North and South Korea. Honestly, I’m very optimistic about the first steps towards a friendlier relationship with North Korea; however, I really don’t know what that friendly relationship means for the country going forward. But whatever it is, it is still better than the North Korea a few months ago that was testing nuclear missiles and insulting its neighbors.

First off, I worry about John Bolton’s comment that they are going to use the Libya model to denuclearize North Korea. This model has been looked at negatively by the people in power in North Korea, especially since it eventually led to the ouster and death of Colonel Gaddafi. As friendly and as willing North Korea may seem to be with denuclearization now, I’m not sure how far those talks would go and what true denuclearization would lead to. Also, factory jobs and the military are the biggest way out of poverty for many North Koreans. If you don’t have a need for a military, you have millions of men potentially on a crisis to transition to other industries. North Korea needs to maintain a perpetual sense of threat in order to justify its bloated military. Also, without the west to fight against, why would North Koreans need Kim Jung Un to save and protect them? It’s a disconnect in the cult of the Kims’ dogma which I’m not sure if Kim Jung Un would survive politically.

So yeah, shake hands with Kim Jung Un, take photos, and make promises. But remember that the North also just decimated a mountain due to their nuclear tests and that Kim Jung Un has killed relatives in order to save his skin. Optimism with a grain of salt is in order.

A friendlier North Korea would do well for the South Korea. I don’t imagine open borders anytime soon, but as I mentioned in past posts, with South Korea relatively meager and stagnant GDP growth rate, a friendlier North could help companies in the South by opening its population to commerce. It would also ease tensions with China and prevent issues like the THAAD missile crisis from harming companies that do business in China and South Korea.

What annoys me, however, is the extremely partisan atmosphere in the country. Just last weekend, there were street protests from the hard right calling the president a traitor and accusing him of selling the country to North Korea. This is insanity. How does that even work? Last time I checked, South Korea is far richer than its northern neighbor. But the problem is the left can be just as toxic with their tribalism as well. I don’t lean on any Korean political parties nor do I subscribe to any particular Korean publication (which can be terribly partisan). I will read anything and I also read/listen to analysis from foreign publications and commentators.  But the minute I say anything negative or express a bit of concern regarding the current president’s actions, I get accused as being brainwashed by the right. And  sometimes this is my wife accusing me of partisanship!

What’s also annoying is Donald Trump taking credit for any headway into North Korea’s denuclearization. I could forgive him for taking some credit. Despite him name calling and trying to compare nuclear buttons with Kim Jung Un just a few months ago, he is still the leader of the United States and he did send Mike Pompeo to meet Kim Jung Un. I don’t know what they talked about and I suspect Trump only sent Pompeo to the North in order to boost his credibility as a Secretary of State nominee, but he still sent him there to presumably open a dialogue. But what’s annoying is Trump taking 100% of the credit to the current North and South Korean situation. What an annoying gnat! He just dismissed all the work of his allies in the South. What’s worse, I suspect if the talks don’t result in meaningful progress, he would gladly throw South Korea under the bus without even remembering President Moon Jae-In’s name.

As for President Moon Jae-In, he should really calm down with saying “Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize” for his work in the inter-Korean talks. I know he’s just trying to be gracious, but Trump will take that graciousness and use it as a cudgel.

I wasn’t in the country during most of the Sunshine Policy of previous administrations, but this feels similar to that attempt to a more peaceful coexistence between the two countries. What’s mostly missing from that previous policy is the North acting in good faith. They were occasionally aggressive during the period and have failed to return much of the goodwill shown to them by the South. I certainly hope things will be better this time around. I personally don’t care so much about nuclear disarmament, especially since North Korea still has thousands of traditional weapons aimed and could destroy Seoul should it ever choose to (I live and work in one of the busiest parts of Seoul), but it would be a great first step at easing tensions in the region. However, I suspect that the song and dance following a true denuclearization, i.e. claims of not following agreements, accusations of hiding nuclear facilities, misleading inspectors, etc., would long be used by political actors to scare each other long after the last rocket has been decommissioned. I’m optimistic, but it will be a long time before people truly no longer see North Korea as a nuclear threat.

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On Don Cherry and Europeans in the CHL

Pig

Hockey talk. CHL banned European goalies back in 2013. It was meant to force Canadians to develop their own goalies instead of drafting talent from Europe. CHL still allowed two imports per CHL team, but those were limited only to forwards or defense men. I personally don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the way Canada has been developing goalies, it’s just that we’re not giving them the chance to step up to the next level, and prior to 2013, teams have just been opting (safely but lazily) to draft European talent.

Don Cherry, a Canadian hockey legend, recently came out and said that he’s all out against Europeans playing in the CHL. He says that ultimately, despite the Canadian spirit of embracing foreigners and immigrants, each team has two spots that are leaving out Canadians, with their own dreams of making it big in the sport, in favor of Europeans. Now, I’m trying to understand the protectionist and conservative attitude that he’s taking, but some people’s reaction to his comment is bit overblown, in my opinion.

First off, racism and bigotry are heavy charges. So I would need more egregious evidence of this before I start calling Don Cherry names. I think Don just simply sees the CHL as a development tool for Canadian talent, a means to an end, and that we should be using that tool to develop our own talent, to reward our own. We shouldn’t be giving that opportunity, how little that may be, to players from other countries. Thus, the argument of “it’s just a game, let the best player play” doesn’t hold water when you’re trying to get the Canadian players to be the best. That is exactly the logic behind the CHL goalie ban. Canada wanted to develop its goalies. I believe Don Cherry’s comment was made in that spirit. I also don’t see connections between this protectionist attitude and Canada’s open-arms approach towards immigration. We welcome immigrants from all countries thinking that they’ll prosper and be wonderful Canadians. Everyone CAN be a Canadian. I’m not sure if Radim Salda who hails from Czech Republic and plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs would be applying for a Canadian citizenship anytime soon. That’s not what the Europeans are in the CHL for.

With this in mind however, if every other country started taking Don Cherry’s attitude, we won’t see Canadian players play anywhere else. As a compromise, I think the limit to two players per team is fine enough as it is. It allows Canada to develop talent where it needs to develop and brings in talent overseas without overcrowding the teams with foreigners. The CHL, much like any other sport with free agency, is still fans basically cheering for clothes. Not everyone from the Halifax Mooseheads hail from the province much less the city (I think there’s only one player from Halifax.).  It’s not a ridiculous situation where no one in the team is from the country they’re supposed to be representing as implied by their team name. I read some news yesterday about an eSports team, the London Spitfire, which despite having “London” in the name, is owned by a company in Los Angeles and 100% composed of Korean kids. Now, I don’t blame them for just having Korean kids. ESports is unavoidable here, and Korean kids happen to be the some of the best in the world. But the London Spitfire is obviously aimed solely at winning. It does not share the patriotic notions that Don Cherry has. It couldn’t care less about British kids playing videogames unless they’re better than Koreans.

Back to hockey. North and South Korea recently agreed to compete as one team for the women’s Olympic hockey competition. Now this is a good olive branch for both countries, especially after months of escalating tension stoked by Donald Trump. But a part of me can’t help but feel bad for half of the South Korean team who not only have been working hard to be part of the team, but they were bound to compete in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where South Korea, a country where hockey is not popular, is guaranteed a spot in the competition for being host. The Korean equivalent to Don Cherry must be going nuts.

I share Don Cherry’s sentiment. I feel bad for the Canadian kids left out in favor of foreign talent. Those are kids who will have to work harder, settle for other things, or just simply give up on the sport. But in the end, those are just two spots in big teams in a big league. They’re small sacrifices in the altars of inclusion and good hockey.

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Where I Understand Suspicion Against Foreigners

Cass.jpg

The reason you don’t provoke North Korea is because you don’t want to give them any more incentives to build bombs. Everyone knows that the United States has the biggest military power in the history of mankind with a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the whole world multiple times. It is annoying to hear all of this tough talk against North Korea and appeasement, when the US’ mighty sword has not resolved clean victories and lasting peace in most of the conflicts it got involved in since the Vietnam War. Since Donald Trump got elected, he did nothing but casually hurl inflammatory rhetoric at North Korea and annoy US allies in the region. It is difficult not to argue that it has increased the North Korean zeal with its weapons program as well as encourage inflammatory rhetoric from the North as well.

It doesn’t matter if the US has the bigger bombs, or that it could mete out “fire and fury” at North Korea. Fire and fury has not resulted in the defeat of ISIS, despite Trump’s promise to rid of the group within days of his presidency. This is a ragtag guerilla group which the most advanced military might cannot seem to squash. Military victory is not gained purely on might alone. And the reason why South Korea is wise in being cautious with its approach with its neighbor is that not only would a war cause massive casualties and upend the rest of the eastern Asian region, it would also harm innocent North Koreans in the process. It’s not just because some North Koreans might be related to people in the South, but North Koreans are also human beings, people who have the right to live in peace.

And what is victory in a war with North Korea? A destroyed regime which will result in a power vacuum, perhaps resulting in an Asian version of ISIS? A humanitarian crisis with refugees fleeing the country? A ravaged South Korea and perhaps other major cities in Asia as well? A crippled China, one of the few countries with a growing economy that is fueling a significant portion of the world’s industries? It doesn’t sound like victory at all.

Talks of war against North Korea are gross and shortsighted. It would feel good to punch a fat bully in the teeth, but you don’t starve your neighbors and punch everyone else as well in the process. Most South Koreans don’t worry about nuclear war with the North. They’ve learned to live in the standoff. It is only the US’ rhetoric that is making things a whole lot worse and war with the North that much closer. The Koreas have already suffered countless of times due to foreign powers. This was way before the two Koreas were divided because of the US and the Soviet Union, the reason why South Koreans have traditionally looked at foreign influences with trepidation. Again, North and South Korea is being threatened due to the meddling of foreign influences.

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On Child-like Leaders

Goat 2

The thing with North Korea’s Kim Jung Un’s unpredictability is that he’s been given, GIVEN, the job of running the country as his first job. Not only was he just some rich kid living in Switzerland given the job of running a throwback country, but as the role of supreme dictator, he’s under the constant threat of usurpation from his handlers, his people, and even his family. He constantly needs to flex his muscles (figuratively, of course) and threaten his neighbors as well as his inner circle, lest he becomes another Muamar Gaddafi. This explains the occasional super villainesque murders of his associates and family members. It also explains the rather extreme reactions to slights against the regime.

There’s been a political rift lately between South Korea and China, with South Korea building a missile defense system (THAAD) against North Korea which is equipped with radar technology capable of penetrating deep into Chinese territory. South Korea defends the missile system as a defense against the North. I imagine in normal circumstances this would’ve been fine with China, since they appear to be losing their patience with North Korea. They recently cut off coal exports from North Korea because of their recent missile tests. But the South Korean government is partnered with the United States, and there is deep distrust between the two rivaling military powers. Also, the South Korean government seems oddly determined to install the missile defense system despite its unpopularity among the locals. After all, the North doesn’t need missiles to attack the South. Traditional artillery fire could reach Seoul just fine (But whether it could take the South is another matter). I suspect the installation of the missile system is either the US military slyly using South Korea to contain China, or perhaps some people are getting enriched with military contracts and the sale Lockheed Martin’s systems. In any case, without the North Korean threat, the whole missile defense system argument would be moot, and China wouldn’t be imposing travel bans to South Korea and threatening a ban on South Korean products.

So yes, because Kim Jung Un is an unpredictable player, it leads people and government outside of North Korea to act out in ways which ultimately hurt them. South Korea and China doesn’t need to be feuding at the moment. They are important partners in various industries. Korea doesn’t need to a build ridiculous missile system when North Korea would be committing economic suicide should they ever decide to full-on attack one of its neighbors. But Kim Jung Un’s child-like capriciousness gives people the excuse to do so.

Kim Jung Un was snatched up from his comfortable life in Switzerland to fill his father’s shoes. I doubt if he ever dreamed of living the rest of his life dressing up and pretending to be his grandfather. He had a carefree life, but now he’s living under a lethal microscope with powers that could affect millions of people in his country and beyond. What does he know about governing? Governments need leaders who have experience in leading and are actually interested in the role.

That brings to mind: I wonder how Donald Trump spent his weekend.

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Quick Boring Post About Editors

It goes without saying publishers need to invest on good editors.  They are almost as vital as the writers themselves. Being in Korea, I notice that editing English text seems to be more of a discretionary afterthought; that is if it’s even considered at all. It’s really a shame that a country that is so invested in learning English, people aren’t really concerned with being accurate in applying the English they paid good money to learn. It’s the reason why Koreans can sometimes be just as bad as a lot of Asian countries in misappropriating the English language (www.engrish.com/).

Editors are vital not only in ensuring grammatical accuracy but also in making sure that contents are appropriate, non-offensive, and sensical (a term which a good editor will catch as not being a “real word”). I’ve been studying Korean and using this book which was published in the country. I imagine it’s designed for foreigners who wish to learn the language in the hopes of interacting with Koreans and perhaps visiting the country. Instead, it gave me an insight into the writer’s xenophobia, lack of sensitivity and outdated grasp of reality.

Horrible

Why would the writer want North Korea to go bankrupt? Doesn’t he/she realize that the country has millions of people, presumably former countrymen, starving? How about the rather casual use of cancer in a language training material? Classy! You also don’t catch cancer like the flu. Your body develops it. As for the bit about Salman Rushdie, I hoped that the book was written in 1989, but sadly, it was written long after Rushdie came out of hiding. Also, why would a news organization report that a writer, who is in fear of assassination, is still in hiding? Who is this news for? Terrorists?

Horrible2

This last bit turned me off the most.  The book was written by university professors… educators. And yet their jingoism reeks off the page. The Americans are not colonists in South Korea. They are partners. They have just as much to gain from being here as the South Koreans. How could such a sentence be of any help to the American wishing to learn Korean?

Korean publishers as well as anyone in Korean media using the English language, please hire editors. Hire editors and pay them well.

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Porn For Freedom

NKOREA-POLITICS-KIM

Still annoyed at the North Korean hacking thing. God help the poor people of North Korea. The shenanigans of the people in power of late are not really helping those that truly need help in that country. There is no win in this story. Here are a few thoughts:

-North Korea still denies they were involved at all, and proposes a joint investigation with the US, threatens the US if they don’t cooperate. I wonder how far I would go in life if I handled my affairs this way.

-I always liked George Clooney. His little petition, which was sadly left unsigned due to cowardice, proves just how much awesome that man is made of. I would write more about the ways he’s awesome, but I only have so little time for posting entries.

-God bless Larry Flynt. God bless pornography for all the things it brought us, from technology to freedoms. Larry Flynt just announced that he would be making a parody of The Interview. This is brilliant, both in its stand against censorship, also in its genius in marketing. This might be first porn movie I ever used real money on in years.

-Speaking of porn. See how the great men of pornography stand up for rights? There’s Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse, artist, dreamer, social critic, and wearer of awesome medallions. He’s always been a hero of mine. Then there’s Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler, freedom of speech vanguard, political critic and provocateur. And finally, there’s Hugh Hefner who awards people for protecting First Amendment rights. Your pornography at work.

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Please Let Me See This

I wonder if I can get a Kickstarter going where I buy The Interview from SONY and release it myself. Too bad I would have to raise over $100 million.

That’s what SONY’s losing… over $100 million. It’s a pretty expensive price to start a precedent on capitulating to terrorists, a huge setback for freedom of speech.

But really, I don’t blame SONY. Aside from probably fearing further leaks of sensitive and embarrassing information, they are in a no-win situation whether they go ahead with the theatrical release of The Interview. They release the film and something happens, they get sued as well as blamed for whatever tragedy happened. “Look at SONY, ignoring threats and putting people’s lives on the line for profit!” And really, why release a film if no theater is going to show it? Why would a theater show it if their insurance won’t cover it?

If they don’t release the film, they lose their investment, get called cowardly, and get blamed for starting a dumb precedent. And still, all of this doesn’t guarantee that the leaks from the hack will stop. This specter (haha!) will continue to haunt the company until the perpetrators are caught and all the data is accounted for, all 100 terabytes of it. But yeah, how do you truly contain and control information that in on the Internet? It’s like the company’s nude selfies were stolen from the cloud. Who knows who has copies of them?

I’m not even upset at SONY’s reaction when it didn’t immediately inform its own employees about the hack. Of course the company had to investigate and try to contain the problem. Of course they had to say it’s an “IT problem.” It is an IT problem. What difference would telling people immediately make? Nothing. There would be no panic, just people checking for anything funny going on in their accounts. I’m sure the reaction would just be the same as now, people getting upset at SONY’s lax approach to security. This was not the first time the company has been hacked.

Since the hack was discovered, people have speculated that the hackers were not from North Korea and that they were just using the banana republic as cover. If that was the case, then freedom of speech took a backseat for the lulz. The movie was taken down for the sake of bragging rights. SONY, the theaters, and also the FBI, gave more power to hackers. See what they can do? While they can shine a light to many issues and affect change in a positive way, they can also do the shittiest thing to freedom of speech, and that is to silent it. In a way, it’s no different from misinformed and overreacting parents successfully petitioning Target not to sell Grand Theft Auto, except that those parents did it out of concern for their children. If it was a just some hacker group, then it was done for ego and lulz. What kind of world do we live in? Lulz. Where is our generation’s great cause?

This is not to say that it would be better if North Korea was behind it all. The United States and huge companies like SONY were bullied by a country that can barely feed its citizens. It doesn’t matter who did it. Whoever did it was a bully, a terrorist, and SONY and those theaters bowed down to bullying. If indeed, North Korea did it, then Kim Jong Un must be the most fragile person alive. He’s like a dainty little flower. His father was mocked in a movie before, so was Hitler. Heck, everyone gets parodied, everyone is fair game, even Jesus… but for whatever reason, this punk must be kept in an insult-free bubble. It’s not often that I praise Kim Jung Il, but Kim Jong Un’s father was a man who loved film. Heck, he kidnapped a director to make his own Godzilla film. Though he might’ve been embarrassed by the movie Team America, I would like to think he understood what parody was. And as for his politics, Kim Jung Il tried to create better relations with the South.

As for Kim Jung Il’s kid, his fat spoiled kid, what has he done? Just a few years ago, he was just some kid getting fat in Switzerland, watching basketball. Being the dictator of a starving country IS HIS FIRST JOB! Kim Jong Un has never done anything significant ever. Well, correction, he has murdered his relatives and brought Dennis Rodman a couple more minutes of fame. But has he ever done anything positive? Is North Korea any better now that he’s in power? He doesn’t even have enough smarts to avoid getting gout on his thirties. Every time I see him, he goes about like a relic… someone who has innumerable accomplishments, ruling a mysterious kingdom, and deserving the fear and respect of his noble people. And his generals and advisors surround him in antiquated costumes, hanging to his every word and action. But that is exactly what everyone is wearing: a costume. Those old men are not wearing military uniform; they are wearing the costume that keeps them employed. And Kim Jung Un… he’s wearing the Kim Il Sung/Kim Jung Il costume. He’s neither his father nor his grandfather. He’s just some fat kid who had it all. He’s probably scared out of his mind should the North Korean people finally snap out of it and realize all of this. And he’s probably bored to death with all of those factory tours. I’m sure he wishes he could be courtside watching a basketball game instead.

What the whole thing demonstrated though was the power of 9/11. It is like the n-word of the calendar. Mention the n-word in a conversation, and the whole tone changes. It was all fun and games with leaked e-mails about Angelina Jolie until someone said 9/11. Things suddenly got serious. And again, if it were just hackers doing the whole thing, then shame on them for their cowardly tactic… but also touché for knowing exactly how to get people to pay attention. It’s just like magic, “9/11.” And if it is indeed North Korea, then shouldn’t the US government be more aggressive in all of this? Wasn’t this a direct (albeit probably hollow) threat? Countries have felt the mighty hand of the US military over less direct aggression.

And where was the NSA in all of this? These are people who gather information and try to get hackers and journalists when they reveal something embarrassing to the US government. These are the same people who spy on their own citizens in the name of national security. How come they don’t seem to know anything about these hackers? Freedom of speech just got taken down big time. Not only that, but a multi-national company just lost out on its investment, and we all know how the US government loves its multi-national companies. It was an attack on capitalism. Where’s the NSA and the FBI on all of this?

I really hope they catch whoever did this. I really hope this doesn’t start a precedent of appeasing cyber terrorism. The Internet is about knowledge and freedom. It is a platform where ideas are shared and opinions are expressed, not a tool for shutting down speech. A part of me thinks that perhaps this is all just a brilliant way for SONY to sell their film. Some critics have called it unfunny, but now it is all beyond that. “Watch The Interview! Do it to spit on the face of tyranny!” And I would, I totally would. Maybe not in a movie theater, but I would gladly give SONY money to watch this suddenly historically-significant Seth Rogen film.

All to spit on the face of tyranny.

 

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Olympics Schmolympics

Cicada

Cicada done in my usual style.

I’m not a big fan of the Russian government lately nor the Olympics being held in there especially with all of the troubling news coming out of the country. Despite this however, the Olympics cannot be avoided, and I cannot say that I don’t feel a bit of joy for the way Canada’s performed, especially with the two hockey golds and the women’s curling gold by a team from Manitoba. Yay Manitoba! A couple of things however:

After the Canadian women beat the Americans in hockey, #fuckCanada began trending on Twitter. It escalated more when the Canadian men beat the Americans a couple of days later. Really? “Fuck Canada?” “Our bacon is better than yours?” I know a lot of it is done in good humor, but most of the stuff I read is not really witty nor funny. If anything, it just sounds like whining or status fillers by creatively empty people. And really? How can you say, “fuck Canada” when you can’t even place bronze? Maybe you’re better off just saying “fuck hockey.”

Now, I don’t know for sure, but I doubt if the Swedes are going “Fan ta dig, Canada!” after getting silver yesterday.

Speaking of reacting badly to losing. I’m annoyed at the South Korean reaction towards the Kim Yuna loss to the Russians. First off, everyone and their mother is suddenly an expert, an expert in a sport that is notorious for shady, subjective judging. Second, the mob mentality of Korean netizens is ridiculous, even going so far as to mocking the 17 year-old Russian winner. If there were some discrepancies, then attack the institution… attack the way figure skating scores their athletes… don’t attack the athletes who work hard and devote their life to the sport. When Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of Olympic gold in 1988, the venom was not towards his opponent Si Hun Park, but towards the judges and the institution who made it happen. Si Hun Park, for his part, looked rather ashamed of the “victory” and never boxed professionally afterwards.

I’m also annoyed at people justifying their ravenous anger about it with, “I’m Korean!” I know you are. But Kim Yuna is not your daughter, and her triumphs and losses don’t affect you unless you let it (by devoting so much time hating, arguing, searching the internet, posting on forums, photoshopping, and signing petitions). I’m a Canadian, and I don’t take the losses of Canadian athletes personally. And I’m also open to counter arguments since I’m not a professional judge or anything. Heck, I’m open to counter arguments to anything! But personally, I heard “I’m a Korean!” many times not just as a reason for someone being angry due to some perceived athletic injustice, but as a sweeping counter to a reasoned argument. No one spat on a flag nor insulted a nation. It is blind regionalism and thick-headedness.

And really, a million South Koreans signing a petition to investigate the loss? Really? How about those same million being concerned with something worthier like I don’t know… the recent UN report about what’s happening up north?

Now I might be accused of regionalism with the way I started this entry, proclaiming joy over the way Canada performed in the Olympics, but hey, I’m never bitter whenever the Jets or the Bombers play poorly.

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