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Posts Tagged ‘World’

FMD and Animal Rights

I just got a call from my friend again and sadly, there isn’t much good news. The FMD situation in Andong seems to have gotten worse as it has spread into other provinces. People are discouraged from traveling into and out of Andong. Even a small event such as an annual graduation trip for middle school students was cancelled due to travel restrictions, so the students took their trip to a movie theater instead. While the farmers are especially hard-hit by the outbreak of FMD, everyone in Andong has been affected in some way. People from Andong are not readily welcomed into other places because of the threat of carrying the FMD into other areas. Many kinds of produce and other products from Andong are rejected for transport. It’s hard to know how long these effects will last even after the disease has been contained.

Some of the measures cities and provinces have taken to curb the spread of FMD include car sterilization sprays and UV ray booths, both of which I’ve passed through a few times. Sterilization posts have been placed near toll booths and other sites throughout the affected provinces. Cars pass through and drive over a spray of sterilizing liquid, similar to going through a car wash. As for UV ray booths, people enter the green-colored booths and get blasted with bacteria-killing UV rays. I don’t know much about that kind of thing, so I wonder how effective it is.

They’ve also started vaccinating the cattle to prevent them from contracting FMD. Hopefully it will help to stop the spread of FMD into other areas and spare more livestock from having to be killed.

I have a some final comments to add regarding ‘animal cruelty.’ There have been protests and campaigns against the method of killing the pigs and cows to prevent the spread of FMD. Many from outside of Korea. I am also critical of some of the methods of extermination, such as burying cows and pigs alive. However, it is ignorant to generalize and condemn ‘Korea,’  ‘Koreans’ or ‘Korean culture’  based on a simplistic understanding of how the FMD epidemic has been reported. In many cases, people from the outside are quick to criticize these actions without a proper understanding of the severity of the epidemic or of the decision-making process that took place. I agree that there are more humane ways to fight the spread of FMD. But, making statements like “Koreans, like the Chinese, have a culture of being cruel to animals” are not productive and are flat out racist.

Lastly, my primary concern is the effect this situation will have on the farmers and people of Andong who are most affected by the situation and must live through this ordeal every day. We on the outside should provide our support and sympathy instead of criticism or contempt.

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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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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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