China Blocks Streaming of South Korean Dramas as Part of THAAD Retaliation

More Chinese retaliation for the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea:

China has blocked access to newly updated clips of South Korean music and dramas on the country’s online video sharing platforms, sources said Sunday, in an apparent bid to retaliate against Seoul’s move to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system.

The move followed China’s decision to prevent South Korean pop stars from appearing on Chinese entertainment programs since October as South Korea decided in July last year to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its soil.

A website uploading South Korean dramas said on its social media account on Weibo that it will stop updating video clips of South Korean entertainment programs for the time being.

“Everybody should be aware of the reason for this,” it said, hinting at China’s toughened restriction on Korean pop culture, widely known as “hallyu.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Separate Protests

Public square divided into two

Liberal and conservative groups host two separate rallies — one calling for President Park Geun-hye’s resignation and the other against Park’s impeachment — in central Seoul on Feb. 25, 2017, as she marked the fourth anniversary of her presidency. Park was impeached in December over a massive corruption scandal centered on her close friend Choi Soon-sil. The Constitutional Court is expected to determine whether to approve the impeachment or not next month. (Yonhap)

Is Kim Jong-un Crazy or A Rational Leader?

So many people think of Kim Jong-un as a crazy madman, however I consider him to be a rational, but ruthless leader.  The things he does may seem crazy, but they tend to always have the purpose of maintaining his regime’s survival.  Understanding that Kim Jong-un is a rational actor instead of a crazy madman is basically what this Joong Ang Ilbo op-ed is stating:

That the younger Kim is ruthless is unquestionable. But he is not necessarily crazy. If he had an uncontrollable violent temper, his father would not have groomed him to succeed him. His economic policy alone shows him to be practical to an extent. It may be naïve to blame an instable temperament for his acts of brutality and to assume that they underscore the vulnerability of the North Korean state. Such a simple interpretation could distort our North Korean policy.

Tyranny could be his choice. It is certainly his inheritance. Kim Jong-un may be naturally ruthless, or strategically so. It could be a means to maintain power. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin resorted to an infamous reign of terror. Under his command, 5 percent of the Soviet population was killed. He ordered the execution of 700,000 from 1937 to 1938. Such sheer brutality reveal him to be a hideous madman. But such terror was also necessary to build his authority and transform the Soviet Union into a global superpower. Studies of confidential documents by Stalin paint him as a reasonable dictator.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read much more at the link.

Kim does not want to be the next Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi, dictators that were eventually executed by their own people.  Kim’s inheritance is a mafia state which his father Kim Jong-il understood that only someone willing to be ruthless could run.  That is why his oldest son Kim Jong-nam was passed over because he was simply too nice to run a mafia state.  Kim Jong-un on the other hand was clearly the correct choice because he has shown he is willing to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the regime’s survival.  So Kim Jong-un is not crazy, he just ruthless.

Should Long Time Foreigners In Korea Learn Korean?

I saw this question posted on to Reddit and figure I would comment on it:

I’m wondering why the foreigners who re-sign year after year until they’re past the 5+ years in Korea mark and don’t learn Korean stay in Korea? If you, after more than five years in a country you are choosing to live in, can’t have a conversation in Korean, isn’t that racist/Eurocentric? What reason would you have for not bothering to learn your host country’s language? The Bangladeshi worked in the factory has learned it, why haven’t you?

I get the “I thought I’d just be here for a year but then I re-signed,” I really do, but after five, six, seven years you’re a long-termer.  [Reddit]

I don’t think it is racist to not become proficient in Korean.  From the US military perspective I knew servicemembers who had many years of service in Korea and could not speak Korean.  A lot of it has to do with working in an English work environment plus Korea is so English friendly as well especially around US military bases that knowing Korean is not mandatory.  Getting fluent in Korean takes a lot of time and work that most people don’t have.  However, many folks who have served many years in Korea do know enough Korean to get around and communicate simple things.

Picture of the Day: Conservatives Protest Against Impeachment of President Park

Conservatives rally against Park's impeachment

Members of conservative groups take part in a rally in areas around Seoul City Hall on Feb. 25, 2017, the fourth anniversary of President Park Geun-hye’s inauguration, to urge the Constitutional Court to dismiss the impeachment. Park was impeached in December over a massive corruption scandal centered on her close friend Choi Soon-sil. The court is expected to determine whether to approve the impeachment or not next month. (Yonhap)

Three ROK Army Cadets Expelled Day Before Graduation for Visiting Prostitutes

It looks like the ROK military like the US military has taken a very strong stance against prostitution:

Three Korea Military Academy (KMA) cadets were expelled a day before their graduation for allegedly visiting prostitutes, the elite school said on Friday.

“We received intelligence regarding their illegal activity on Monday and it was proven grounded through an internal investigation,” a KMA official said.

The official said the three visited a “massage parlor” in Gangnam, an entertainment district in southern Seoul, on Feb. 4. “One of the cadets admitted having sex there, while the others claim they didn’t, arguing they paid money but didn’t (have sex) out of a sense of guilt,” the official said.

A separate police investigation is under way, the official said.

The KMA had it 73rd commencement on Friday with 248 graduates who will be commissioned as Army second lieutenants. The highest distinction, summa cum laude, went to female cadet Lee Eun-ae.   [Korea Times]

Kim Jong-nam Assassin Was Once A Contestant on Vietnamese Version of American Idol

As if the murder of Kim Jong-nam could not get any more bizarre, now the VX nerve agent wielding assassin Doan Thi Huong has been identified as an aspiring singer who appeared recently on Vietnam’s version of American Idol:

A woman believed to be Huong appeared on the Vietnamese version of Pop Idol

Doan Thi Huong’s site features pouting party pictures including a snap of her wearing a shirt emblazoned ‘LOL’  similar to the one on the fleeing suspect caught on CCTV.

The photos were released amid claims she once starred on the Vietnamese version of Pop Idol.

The 28-year-old worked at a popular party venue, according to Malaysian police who have arrested her over the murder of Kim Jong Nam at a Malaysian airport .

On a rice farm in northern Vietnam, her family said they had hardly heard from her since she left home a decade ago aged just 18.

“At first we doubted it was her when we saw the picture with the ‘LOL’ shirt,” said stepmother Nguyen Thi Vy .

“But when someone bought a clearer picture here, we knew it was our Huong.

“If she committed the crime, she has to suffer, we can’t do anything… but I think she must have been set up by someone.”

Huong’s brother Doan Van Binh said he knew little about his sister’s life after she left the village.

“I encouraged her to study and earn money so that her future would be good,” he said.

“My family is very sad. We all thought she was in a good place.”

Huong posted to Facebook under the name Ruby Ruby, according to her 18-year-old niece, Dinh Thi Quyen.

The last post on a Facebook page – released by the respected AP news agency – is dated February 11 from Kampong Besut, Malaysia.

“I want to sleep more but by your side,” the post reads above a picture of her, eyes closed and wrapped up in bed.  [The UK Sun]

You can read much more about Huong at the link, but here is what Huong looks like when not covered in make up and wearing a LOL shirt:

A photo released by Malaysian police of Huong in custody