US Government to Issue Travel Ban Against North Korea

The only thing surprising about this is that it took the US government so many years to finally implement this travel ban:

The Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea, U.S. officials said Friday, following the death of university student Otto Warmbier who died in June after falling into a coma in a North Korean prison.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to impose “geographical travel restriction” for North Korea, the officials said, which would make it illegal to use U.S. passports to enter the country. They said the restriction would be published in the Federal Register next week and will take effect 30 days after that.

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision before it is announced and spoke on condition of anonymity. Two tour operators that organize group trips to North Korea said they had already been informed of the decision.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link.

“Jesus” Makes an Appearance at Korea Queer Culture Festival

Here is an image that has supposedly gone viral on the Internet from the Korea Queer Culture Festival:

An ironic image ended up embodying this year’s Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF). Standing in front of a line of Christian protesters bearing a banner reading “Homosexuality is sin! Return to Jesus!” is a bearded white male in robes, clearly dressed as “Jesus,” holding a rainbow-colored sign reading “I’m cool with it.” The image went viral, making the front page of Reddit Tuesday morning.

“It’s been a wild ride these last few days. I thoroughly enjoy reading the comments everywhere though,” said Robert Evans, 27, the American seen in the picture.

He recalls the picture was taken right before the pride parade departed Seoul Square. The festivalgoers were corralled by riot police, protecting them from Christian protesters. The protesters were gathered in front of the Hwangudan gate right next to the gate leading to the street where the parade would start.

“There were thousands and thousands of people just outside the frame of this photo but I guess nobody wanted to get too close to the protesters,” Evans said. “I took the opportunity to fill that space and present my message. I was aware of the banner behind me but I did not craft my sign with the specific intent of standing in front of that banner.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Defense Officials Say North Korea May Be Preparing for SLBM Test

It looks like North Korea’s next provocation may be another submarine launched ballistic missile test:

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 25, 2016 shows a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched at an undisclosed location. KNS/AFP/Getty

North Korea may be preparing for another missile launch aimed at the United States.

Kim Jong Un’s regime conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—with some experts speculating that the missile could reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.

And now the totalitarian regime appears to be preparing for submarine-based missile launches in the future.

Two U.S. defense officials told CNN on Thursday that a North Korean submarine was engaged in “unusual deployment activity” over the past 48 hours. The 65-meter-long submarine has sailed 62 miles out into international waters in the Sea of Japan/ East Sea, farther than the vessel has ever gone before.

U.S. officials are following the submarine via reconnaissance and the abnormal activity caused American and South Korean forces to slightly raise their alert level, according to one of the officials. [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link.

New Documentary Focuses on Dog Meat Industry in South Korea

ROK Drop favorite Andrew Salmon has an article in the Korea Times about the upcoming release of a documentary about the dog meat industry in Korea:

On Saturday evening, I attended a film screening at a coffee shop arranged by the Seoul branch of the Asian-American Journalists’ Association. The location was comfortable and the company convivial, but the film was not your typical Saturday night bubble-gum viewing. In fact, it was harrowing.

The film was a documentary covering Korea’s dog-meat trade from all angles. Dog farmers – whose demeanors ranged from coolly professional to savagely inhumane – showed their facilities, activities and doomed charges. A pusillanimous National Assembly adviser prattled about the threat to the “national image” if the trade were legalized. An impotent local official accompanied animal rights activists on an inspection visit to a dog farm, where he was turned away at the gate and ended up apologizing to the farmer. Consumers and chefs discussed canine cuisine.

Most traumatically, the documentary captured footage of diseased, wounded dogs in cages; dead puppies being hurled into the trash; livestock slaughtered with blunt instrument strikes to the skull; and packs of dogs crammed into tiny cages for transport from Jeju to mainland markets.

These sequences are benchmarks for under-cover filmmaking. If we accept Sir Max Hastings’ definition of a journalist’s role (“Cause trouble!”), this was fine journalism. It is a challenging film that deserves to be widely viewed and debated. It wrought behavioral change in me: I have eaten dog meat in the past, but after watching this film, won’t again. (Though, having watched it, I reached the opposite conclusion of the animal-rights activists who helped make the film: I am convinced that the sector needs to be fully legalized, so related slaughter and butchery can be properly regulated.)  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but the major point Mr. Salmon makes in his article is that this documentary was not funded by any major news network, but instead crowd sourcing.  I don’t know if crowd sourcing is the answer to better journalism in this era of fake news?

Korean Ambassador to Ethiopia Accused of Raping Embassy Worker

South Korea’s diplomatic corps faces yet another sexual assault allegation:

Kim Moon-hwan

Korean Ambassador to Ethiopia Kim Moon-hwan is suspected of sexually abusing a female embassy staffer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

It said Kim is also accused of sexually harassing several volunteers at Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), an aid organization under the ministry’s wing.

The ministry will send a team of internal inspectors to Ethiopia, Thursday, after investigating the cases on its own.

The revelation comes after a series of sexual offenses committed by diplomats over the past few years and a call for Kang Kyung-wha, the country’s first female foreign minister, to better protect the increased number of female officers.

The ministry said the victim testified against Kim during an internal inspection last week in Seoul of her superior who she said raped her after having a dinner and wine with her in Ethiopia, July 8.

“The victim testified that Kim sexually assaulted her, which she found very offensive, in addition to her statements about the case involving her superior,” a ministry official said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Boryeong Mud Festival 2017 Opens This Week

For those interested, the Boryeong Mud Festival is coming up:

An annual international mud festival will open in the South Korean city of Boryeong later this week under the slogan of “Let’s Go to Boryeong and Play with Mud!,” an official on the event’s organizing committee said Wednesday.

“The 2017 Boryeong Mud Festival will open for a 10-day run at Daecheon Beach in the namesake city, 190km south of Seoul, on Friday,” the official said.

Launched in 1998, the festival has developed into a top international summer event with its mud flats attracting many tourists from around the world. Rich in minerals, the mud is used in manufacturing cosmetics.

This year, the unique festival will present a total of 57 programs, ranging from bathing in a massive mud tub to mud massages, a mud photo contest, a marathon on the mud flats, a mud sliding competition, street parades and K-pop concerts, the official said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.