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Posts Tagged ‘China’

At War

On my way out of work yesterday, I read some news headlines about a North Korean attack on South Korea. To be honest my first thought was, “Again?” I don’t mean that to be insensitive, but since I arrived in the ROK, I’ve realized that there’s a tangible tension between North and South after the alleged North Korean attack on the Cheonan-Ham back in March and the subsequent school drills we had to conduct in the months following the attack/accident.

The shelling began around 2:30 p.m. local time, according to South Korean military officials. The North fired about 200 rounds, and the South returned fire with about 80 rounds of artillery and scrambled fighter jets in an exchange that reportedly lasted an hour. It is considered one of the most serious exchanges in years between the two nations.

NPR

On my way home, I bumped into a few of my 3rd grade boys. They greeted me with, “Teacher, war!!” And I told them well, we are not at war, but soldiers on both sides fired some shots. Technically, they are right. The war has never officially ended. They seemed pretty riled up about what had happened. Then I said, “stay safe, boys” and went on my way. And I meant that. The reality is that all of my male students will serve in the Korean military. It’s possible that they would have to fight if the conflict were to escalate further in the future. I just hope North Korean and South Korean relations don’t continue to deteriorate in the years to come.

The internets was a-buzz with reports of the firing. People posted links to news articles and all the major and even smaller news agencies had already written reports within a couple of hours. But, I didn’t notice much of a difference in anyone’s behavior around here. Local shop owners tuned into the news instead of their usual dramas, but that was about it. Not that I expected people to be up in arms or anything. I’m just not sure how I should act or react in this kind of situation. It seems ‘business as usual’ is the common approach.

Another thing that has concerned me is how this incident will affect aid to North Korea. South Korea has always provided a significant amount of humanitarian aid to the North, such as flood aid after the heavy rains this past year. According to some reports, South Korea has suspended aid as a response to North Korea’s military aggression. I can understand why they made this decision, but I don’t think it will be very effective. Kim Jong-Il will still be able to eat while the rest of the people suffer. Sounds like the kind of policy he would go for anyway.

And I also wonder, what role will China play in all of this? They expected North Korea to maintain peace, but what do they think about this incident? What does this mean for Kim Jong-Il’s successor, his son, Kim Jong-Un? Some reports say it’s a way to draw attention to the future North Korean leader and his awesome power. Next time, they should consider sending out ‘Save the Date’ announcements.

And an even more pressing concern (sarcasm), how will this affect K-Pop? Don’t worry, music programs have also been put on ‘high alert.’

For those of you who want to find out more, a quick google search will turn up hundreds of articles. Check your trusted news agency for more information. For those of you here in Korea, do you hear jets all of a sudden? I didn’t notice at first since I’m so used to hearing them back home. What do you think?

UPDATE: Here’s a collection of photographs from the events of this past week.

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Another day, another free concert. Life is just too good sometimes!

I went up to Seoul with a few friends to attend the Asia Song Festival at Jamsil Olympic Stadium. It’s a huge venue suitable for hosting a concert of that scale. But, the festival didn’t run very smoothly. The ticket booths were disorganized and there weren’t enough signs to indicate where people should wait in line. There was too much cutting and pushing and shoving that could have been better regulated. Maybe they lacked volunteers or didn’t have enough money for signs. I think a lot of things can be improved for future years.

Program and ticket

Our seats weren’t bad. We had seats in the stands more toward the right side of the stage. They opened the doors around 3:30 even though the concert didn’t start until around 7. We just sat in the stands and had snacks.

Setting up the stage

Here’s a list of the performers:

  • 이승철 Lee Seung-chul (Korea)
  • 비 Rain (Korea)
  • 보아 BoA (Korea)
  • 카라 KARA (Korea)
  • 투에이엠 2AM (Korea)
  • AKB48 (Japan)
  • Jane Zhang (China)
  • Joe Cheng (China)
  • Michael Wong (Malaysia)
  • Bie The Star (Thailand)
  • 포미닛 4Minute (Korea)
  • 비스트 Beast (Korea)

Not a big fan of their songs but their performance wasn’t bad.

4 minute

At first, I made fun of their name as a ripoff of 2PM. But these guys really can sing.

2AM

Beautiful staging to showcase her sweet voice.

Jane Zhang

I assumed Jackie Chan would be there as the Chairperson of the Asia Song Festival. I hoped he would jump out of a helicopter and land on stage. But this is all we got. A 10 second video of Jackie Chan dubbed in Korean. To be fair, he reminded us that one of the reasons of hosting the festival is to to support UNICEF’s programs around the world.

Jackie's "appearance"

The strangest performance I’ve ever seen. Mega idol group AKB48 from Japan consists of 48 girls. I thought my head was going to explode from the combined assault of super pop music, pirate-y costumes, high-pitched voices and the spectacle of 48 dancing girls.

AKB48

KARA performed two of the catchiest songs of the year, “Mister” and “Lupin.”

KARA

Beast, once again. Though this performance seemed better than the one they gave at the Hallyu Dream Festival.

Every night I shock...

And finally…

It's hard to tell, but it's Rain!

It's really him!

Sorry I didn’t really take any good photos. I was too busy having fun! It was really touching to see Michael Wong perform one of the most famous Mandarin songs ever. It brought back memories of my EAP days! And, of course, I was so excited to FINALLY see Rain!!

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It’s been raining almost non-stop since I got back from my vacation last week. Actually, this rain had an affect on me all the way in China. My morning flight back to Korea was postponed until the afternoon so the airline put me in a hotel in the meantime. I turned on the TV to watch the news and found out that there was a big storm hitting up the southern part of Korea. Typhoon Dianmu hit Korea earlier that morning. I went back to the airport and had to reschedule my flight since all flights were canceled for the rest of the day. My first thought: I’m not gonna make it to work on time…

I called my co-teacher to let her know the situation and she was very understanding. Luckily, I caught a flight back into Daegu the next morning. I went straight to work after dropping off my luggage at home. My classes were canceled for the day since I was coming in late. VP did not seem happy.. but she forgave me pretty easily and even gave me a popsicle at the end of the day :).

I thought that the rainy season would be pretty much over when I got back, but the rain has not let up. It rained the entire weekend and it rained really hard today starting in the afternoon and through the night. Looks like we might have thunderstorms for the next couple days, too.

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Chance of a Thunderstorm
32° C | 25° C
Chance of a Thunderstorm
32° C | 24° C
Chance of Rain
32° C | 24° C
Clear
34° C | 23° C
Chance of Rain
35° C | 25° C
Chance of T-storms

30% chanceprecipitation
Chance of T-storms

30% chance precipitation
Chance of Rain

20% chance precipitation
Clear Chance of Rain

20% chance precipitation

*Sidenote: Where does all the water go? Considering all the heavy rains we’ve been having, it’s surprising that Daegu isn’t flooded by now. At least in most of the areas of Daegu that I see. Not that I’m complaining!

I asked the VP about the strange weather and she said that this much rain in August isn’t typical. It seems that the weather has been really atypical since I’ve been here. Not just in Daegu, but everywhere, it seems. What’s happening in the world?

On that note, there have been some devastating natural disasters recently in China and Pakistan. Since I was in China the past couple weeks, I saw a lot of reports on the landslides and floods. In Pakistan, millions of people have been displaced and have limited access to food and water. Since I’m not aware of any English news programs on Korean TV, I get most of my information from online news articles.

As an expat, sometimes I find it difficult to stay in touch with the world and what used to be part of the world I knew. I have to reach out myself in order to stay connected.

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Apparently, Korea was hit with the worst Yellow Dust storm to date. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was the worst it’s ever been. That’s great, just when I get to Korea, it’s hit with an especially cold winter and the worst dust storm ever. No wonder I’ve been sick more days than I’ve been healthy this past month :(!

Here’s some background info on the yellow dust:

“Yellow Dust” is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon affecting most of East Asia from the months of March to May.
The dust storms originate from the deserts of Inner Mongolia and northern China with strong winds kicking up dense clouds of dry soil particles which are airborne and carried across the country to Korea and Japan.
This past Saturday, Korea experienced its worst dust storm since it started recording data in 2003 and weather experts say there will be more yellow dust storms affecting the country over the next few months.
In the last decade, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrial pollutants contained in the dust.”
Arirang News

Here’s a chart that measures the severity of the dust:

Dustconc.in micrograms per cubic meter of air
(ug/m3)
Level of Health Concern Health Alert Color Code
0-399 LOW No Alerts
400-799 MODERATE Health Advisory
800 or greater HIGH Health Warning

Those levels definitely warrant a Health Warning! What’s more alarming than the volume of dust is the rapid increase of dust levels in recent years. I heard that the dust has become increasingly worse since it first reached Korea. Also, it keeps coming earlier and earlier. (That’s what she said).

So what was the level in Daegu this past Saturday? Hmm, enough to rename the yellow dust as the YELLOW DUST OF DEATH!

wtf yellow dust

http://web.kma.go.kr/eng/weather/asiandust/timeseries.jsp?area=0&stnId=143&view=1&tm=2010.03.20

Yes, that says 2,684 micrograms/cubic meter. That’s over three times the amount considered a  Health Warning. I think they should create another category called Imminent Death. Well, it won’t kill you instantly. In addition to the long-term effects, it makes people sick, limits outdoor activity and diminishes quality of life. This is a low point in my life in Korea thus far. Okay, I admit it’s mainly because I’m still having a hard time getting a cell phone. I must be the only person left without one!

Since I’m sick and the dust is at insanely high levels, I’ve decided to take precautions. Here are some suggestions I found on my main (only) source of knowledge, the internets. From Hi Expat and various other sources:

  • wear a mask approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) or 식약청 (Shik-yak-cheong)
  • wash mask in between uses
  • drink plenty of water
  • wash your hands and face with warm water
  • brush your teeth after coming in from outside
  • keep your windows and doors closed
  • wear glasses instead of contacts
  • try to avoid a lot of outdoor activity
  • check yellow dust levels: US Military Yellow Sand/Asian Dust Monitor System, or to check levels in your area: Korea Meteorological Administration
  • eat pork – everyone has been telling me this! I guess people in Korea eat pork to help get rid of, I don’t know, waste?

Hope everyone gets through the dust storms alive!

The makings of an Asian mom: Auntie shoes, face mask... what's next?

Random thoughts about China: Really, China? It can make me sick all the way in Korea! No one can match China’s prowess in environmental degradation x_x. It’s so serious that there was a whole chapter on the dust/sand storms in my 读写 book when I studied in China.

Also, how does China always find its way into my life? I just created a separate tag for China on this blog.

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