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Posts Tagged ‘north korea

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that while red dwarfs host giant planets less frequently than more massive stars, they don’t do so that much more frequently.
  • Eastern Approaches notes concerns with the Czech Republic’s legislation on banning extremist ads, which may have targeted a Euroskeptic party.
  • The Financial Times‘s World blog notes North Korea’s self-defeating propaganda, regularly invoking stereotypes or racisms that are problematic in the outside world.
  • Joe. My. God. takes a look at out NFL football player Michael Sam’s boyfriend, former swimmer Vito Cammisano.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the internal Chinese cultural distinctions between northern wheat-eaters and southern rice-eaters.
  • Strange Maps looks at a redrawing of the borders of the world based on the mathemetical theories of Georgy Voronoy.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the fragile nature of the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire, and warns that if Moldova joins the European Union Transnistria will join with Russia.

[LINK] Two links on migration between China and Korea

Markus Bell’s Asia Times article “Empire and trafficking in Northeast Asia” makes what I think are debatable links between the forced prostitution of Korean women under Imperial Japan and later waves of woman-related migration in and around Korea. His outlining of the way in which South Korea’s relative shortage of potential female partners triggered a whole series of movements in northeast Asia is quite convincing.

Encouraged by a government focused on modernization at any cost, young women from the Korean countryside poured into the capital to take up places in the factories churning out products for export. Those who were unable to find work on the assembly line often found work in the bars of the camptowns. A direct result of this gendered, mass movement from rural to urban areas was the gradual disappearance of young, unmarried women from the villages of Korea.

Rural Korea was being sacrificed as part of Park’s master plan and, in an effort to placate the fast growing bachelor population of the countryside, the government sponsored “bridal tours” in which it took single Korean men to seek wives in Northeast China. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, with the explosion of the unregulated bride tourism industry, the bride of choice for the rural Korean bachelor continued to be ethnic Korean women located in China, known as Chosonjok.

However, as more and more of these women followed their new husbands into the Korean countryside, certain “truths” started to be revealed for both parties. Chosonjok women were not as obedient and “traditional” as advertised, while rural Korean men did not provide the women with a gateway to the glitz and glamour of South Korean modernity. As relations between China and South Korea improved, and restrictions gradually relaxed for Chosonjok working in South Korea, it became harder for Korean bachelors to find ethnic Korean-Chinese brides willing to toil with them in the rice fields.

As the availability of Korean-Chinese brides declined, South Korean men started to look further afield for women, venturing outside of Northeast Asia and beyond previously imagined ethnic boundaries. Moreover, as the population of northeast China became more affluent and mobile, ethnic Korean women, like South Korean women nearly 30 years earlier, were less willing to settle for a rural existence. Therefore, the dearth of potential brides in that area became even more pronounced.

Chinese men in the provinces of Northeast China now find themselves in a similar position to rural South Korean men a generation earlier. With land to work, aging parents to care for, and no heir to pass the estate on to, the men need to find wives. In this case, their demand for brides is being satisfied by North Korean women who cross into China illegally in search of work, food, an escape from hardship, and at times, passage to South Korea.

These women, many of whom are in their late teens and early twenties, are a vulnerable population. The market for brides in China is, as it was in South Korea, unregulated. It is dominated by ethnic Korean and Chinese brokers for whom making a profit is more important than the basic human rights of the individuals of whom they take charge. North Korean women are bought, sold, and trafficked throughout Northeast China and beyond. Many are sold to Chinese men as brides; many others are funneled into the burgeoning sex industry of the region.

Want China Times‘ article“S. Korea’s Jeju Island a new haven for Chinese investors”. The island of Jeju, located off of the south coast of South Korea, last appeared here in connection with a local statue of autonomy. Nowadays, apparently Jeju is becoming a popular destination for Chinese investors. It actuallysounds a _little_ bit like Prince Edward Island. (There, there are laws preventing non-residents from owning too much property, especially seafront property.)

Increasing numbers of Chinese nationals have bought holiday homes or invested in property in South Korea’s southernmost island province Jeju, which has drawn complaints from local residents, reports the Chinese-language Legal Weekly, the official paper of the CPC Central Politics and Law Commission.

Nearly 80% of property buyers in the South Korean island province are from China, said a property agent in Jeju. Many properties on the island are also being developed by Chinese companies who are targeting Chinese buyers, said Kong Shuai, founder of an investment and property development group from Wenzhou. When Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Development Association, brought groups of Chinese investors to the island in 2011 and 2012, many of them showed great interest in the island’s property market.

[. . .]

The island’s geographic location has great appeal to Chinese buyers as it only takes an hour to fly from Shanghai to Jeju. The flight ticket is cheaper than that between China’s northern cities and southernmost island province of Hainan. Jeju’s scenery and its clean environment also serve to attract investors from Chinese cities suffering from severe air pollution. Traveling to the island is also relatively convenient compared to other countries as Chinese nationals can apply for a landing visa in South Korea.

[. . .]

The South Korean government’s 2010 policy, which awards permanent residency to people and their direct relatives who invest more than US$500,000 on the island has contributed to the surge. The investors and their families can enjoy the same medical care, education and job opportunities as South Korean citizens. They are also eligible to apply for a South Korean passport after living in Jeju for five years. People with the passport can enjoy visa exemptions in more than 180 countries.

The rising property prices and the rising number of Chinese nationals living on the island has drawn concerns on the future of the policy. South Koreans have expressed their discontent and called on the government to limit Chinese investment and property purchases, according to a South Korean living in Iksan City in North Jeolla province. Local online forums were filled with strong sentiments against the surging Chinese immigration. Most of their discontent centered on rising property prices and the fact that a large amount of the country’s land was being sold to foreigners, which led to fears that the rising prices may destabilize the island’s social structure.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2014 at 4:34 am

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Writing for the Postmedia syndicate, Andrew Coyne argues from a conservative perspective that the current situation in Canada, where moral and legal standards are defined by evidence of harm or not, is better than the traditional treatment.
  • CBC notes that migration from Quebec is up substantially.
  • Mini-Neptunes might be the most common form of planet, Universe Today suggests, or at least more common than imagined. These worlds would have the mass of super-Earths but have substantially hydrogen-helium atmospheres.
  • The National Post reports that some Canadians argue that the lobster should become a national symbol. I’m up with that.
  • Pacific Standard argues suburban sprawl may aid innovation.
  • The Calgary Herald notes some photographers in Banff National Park are trying to get pictures of wild animals by baiting or provoking them. The failure modes are, well, imaginable.
  • The good news is that reports Kim Jong Un’s uncle was executed by being fed to wild dogs are quite likely false, The Guardian notes.
  • Lily Tomlin, it is reported, has married her long-time partner Jane Wagner in New York.
  • The Independent reports that an Alfred Hitchcock documentary on the evidence shelved by–among other things–post-war politics and Hitchcock’s own upset is going to be released.
  • Japan’s population, the Japan Times notes, has fallen by a record near quarter-million in 2013.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora points to articles discussing Germany’s ongoing demographic issues.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin meditates on the rapid urbanization of China.
  • Daniel Drezner expects somewhat more out of the recent Iranian election of a moderate president than of North Korea’s latest diplomatic moves.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird shares the news that none of the planets discovered orbiting Tau Ceti are likely to be habitable, e being Venus-like and f closer to Mars. There’s still space for a low-mass planet orbiting between e and f, though, right?
  • Geocurrents criticizes the recently publicized linguistics thesis claiming that languages which have ejective consonants are likely to have evolved in mountainous areas, where these sharp sounds are suited to area with low air pressure.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen agrees now with Dani Rodrik’s long-staning critique of Turkish politics this past decade as undemocratic.
  • The New APPS Blog notes the blemishing of Erdogan’s record in Turkey and mass protests in Brazil’s Sao Paulo over public transit.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders if the Colombian-American alliance might worsen Colombia’s insurgencies.
  • Peter Rukavina shares the GIS numbers of Prince Edward Island, the geographical coordinates of a box encompassing the island province.
  • Torontoist notes that Toronto saw the first pay-TV show, a 1961 Bob Newhart special.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the imprisonment in Egypt of a Muslim cleric convicted of offending Christians.

[LINK] “Are Kaesong curtains drawn for good?”

Aidan Foster-Carter‘s Asia Times article makes the point that the extreme rhetoric used by the North Korean government against the South has the effect of shutting down possibilities for inter-Korean concord and cooperation. What incentive does the South have to cooperate with such a North? And how would the North, absent involvement with the South, avoid envelopment by China?

Fortunately, North Korea as yet lacks any such capacity, so this all had a staged and cartoonish character. That did not make it any less unsettling. Though little remarked, there may be a parallel here with last spring’s vicious and highly personalized propaganda campaign against South Korea’s then President Lee Myung-bak, including vile cartoons of him as a rat being bloodily done to death in a variety of ways. We covered this here in detail at the time.

These cartoons can no longer be found on KCNA, but Jeffrey Lewis has usefully preserved some for posterity. One comment there is worth quoting for its wider resonance: “How do you negotiate with a government that presents propaganda posters showing your president’s gory dismemberment?”

This year’s campaign lacked the cartoons’ visual nastiness and personal animus, but was no less extreme in its language. Quoting this in extenso would be tedious. Any reader – except in South Korea; will President Park end this needless ban? – has only to turn to KCNA.kp, which helpfully files its main diatribes under the telling sidebar “DPRK in All-Out Action Against Enemies,” and scroll back over the past two months. Of late they have toned this down, but only slightly.

As recently as May 10, party daily Rodong Sinmun could still write: “The DPRK remains steadfast in its attitude to meet any challenge of the hostile forces for aggression through an all-out action based on nuclear deterrent of justice, bring earlier the day of the final victory in the great war for national reunification (emphasis added) and guarantee the prosperity of a reunified country and the independent dignity of the nation for all ages.”

Leaving aside the bizarre idea of nuclear “all-out action” as a way to “guarantee prosperity” – guarantee poverty, more like – taken literally what can this mean except that North Korea would welcome a “unification” achieved by the nuclear defeat (as if!) of South Korea, with all the catastrophic material and human loss of innocent lives that would entail? Or if they don’t really mean it, why do they say it? To adapt the question above, how can you talk usefully to a regime which purports to gleefully contemplate nuking you into submission?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 31, 2013 at 3:19 am

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bag News Notes comments on the attempts to link Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Canadian jihadi William Plotnikov.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster writes about the search for planets of brown dwarf stars.
  • Daniel Drezner writes from Seoul about the challenges and questions facing Korea.
  • Two recent noteworthy posts at Geocurrents include one mapping political divisions in Venezuela and another mapping income and growth in India.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s SEK argues that the story of out NBA star Jason Collins will matter inasmuch as people will pour over his differences from his straight twin to try to support their beliefs about sexual orientation (mainly bad beliefs).
  • Torontoist reported on the Saturday commemoration of the Battle of York in the War of 1812 and the more contemporary Khalsa Day parade of Sikhs in Toronto.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy blogs about the changing demographics of Jews worldwide.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes a Russian analysis placing the Tsarnaev brothers in the context of Chechen migrations across Eurasia in the 20th century.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell expands on the thesis expounded in the Guardian comparing the patterns of mistaken belief involved in the theory that vaccines cause autism with the support granted to austerity by economists now.

[BRIEF NOTE] Thoughts on the Kaesong Industrial Region and brittle North Korea

The New York Times‘s Choe Sang-Hung reported that North Korea has begun to close down operations in the Kaesong Industrial Region, a North Korean special economic zone on the frontier with the South that was supposed to be the test-bed for inter-Korean cooperation (South Korean capital and technology, North Korean labour).

North Korea said Monday that it was withdrawing all of its 53,000 workers from the industrial park it runs with South Korea, suggesting that the North was seeking to portray itself as willing to subordinate financial gains to political and military priorities as it increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea “will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it,” the country’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted a North Korean official as saying after visiting the factory complex on Monday. The official, Kim Yang-gon, a secretary of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said the final decision would depend on the South Korean government’s attitude, making it clear that North Korea was using the project’s future to pressure the South for political concessions.

The complex, in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, operated for eight years despite continuing political and military tensions, including the North Korean artillery attack on a South Korean island two and a half years ago and the cutoff of all other trade ties after the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010. South Koreans had hoped that the North’s growing dependence on the complex as an important source of hard currency would provide South Korea with leverage on the North’s recalcitrant leadership. South Korea also thought that it could be used as a possible buffer should there be military conflict.

But the North was angered after its threat this month to close the complex was met with skepticism from some news media analysts who said the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, would not want to risk losing the cash. On Monday, North Korea said it “gets few economic benefits from the zone while the South side largely benefits from it.”

As with many of the repressive government’s aggressive moves, closing the factory park would harm North Koreans. It is the biggest employer in Kaesong, the North’s third-largest city. It generates $90 million a year in wages for the North Koreans employed there, and shutting it down would affect the lives of 200,000 to 300,000 people in the area, South Korean analysts estimate.

Mr. Kim “is not accountable to his people, and thereby can afford to raise tension almost indefinitely at a great cost to his own people,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korea specialist at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts. He recalled that the government did not change its policy even after a famine killed an estimated 10 percent of the North Korean population in the mid-1990s.

Area map of Kaesong Industrial Region, North Korea

Taken from the Wikimedia Commons, here, this map shows the borders and locations of the Kaesong Industrial Region of North Korea. Note that immediately to the southeast of the Kaesong Industrial Region is greater Seoul, the megalopolis that is home to half of South Korea’s population and likely produces an even larger share of South Korea’s total economic output. Alastair Gale’s Wall Street Journal post “Kaesong Closure Would Hurt on Both Sides of the Border” makes the point that the closure of the zone would hurt the South’s economy to an extent.

Mr. Kim, who asked that his full name not be used, is a manager for a sportswear company in Seoul that outsources around 20% of its production to Kaesong, a jointly run industrial park 10 kilometers, or about 6 miles, inside the North. His company employs 950 North Koreans there and he says it is very happy with their work.

“The skill and labor intensity of workers at Kaesong is far better than we could get in China or Vietnam. They’re disciplined, hard workers and of course language is no problem,” he said.

North Korea’s move Wednesday to block the entry of South Korean managers and delivery staff to the complex has raised the prospect that it might go further and shutter the plant.

“That would be a big problem,” Mr. Kim said. Moving production to South Korea would be possible, but labor costs would be much higher. North Korean staff at the Kaesong plant earn $100-$105 a month according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, less than one-tenth the wage for average factory workers in South Korea.

A sudden closure could also mean lost inventory and raw materials. Mr. Kim’s delivery trucks were unable to bring out products worth around 200 million won ($178,600) on Wednesday.

The North’s economy, though, would suffer much more. South Korea can survive outsourcing its low-end industrial jobs to China and Vietnam, but who could replace South Korea? (China seems disinterested in the task.) Gale makes the point that Kim is worried about the fate of the tens of thousands of North Korean workers who won’t have access to income from relatively well-paying jobs. The overall impact on the North Korean economy and on the living standards of North Koreans, the consensus seems to be, will be strongly negative. Inasmuch as maximizing economic output and living standards isn’t the primary concern of the North Korean state, that may not be much of a deterrent.

If the Kaesong Industrial Region (and the now-closed Mount Kumgang Tourist Region on the eastern end of the inter-Korean border) had managed to survive, then the chances for some kind of managed North Korean transition to a more functional state would have been that much greater. Without any inter-Korean economic cooperation, the chances of something going badly awry rise that much more. In the meanwhile, the economic gap between the two Koreas continues to grow, even as the South gets used to life without a northern hinterland. At what point might the South stop caring about a North associated only with costs, not benefits?

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2013 at 3:35 am

[LINK] “It’s time to end the Korean War”

Thomas Walkom’s Toronto Star op-ed, pointed out by Facebook’s John, makes an interesting argument. What think you? The argument that the armistice intended to be temporary has been violated by both sides, the South with the presence of nuclear-armed American troops and the North via its various attacks, makes some sense. The noxious quality of the North Korean government and its actions, though, makes the idea of signing a peace treaty with the DPRK and expecting the DPRK to live up to it implausuible.

The armistice called for negotiations to begin within three months on a comprehensive political settlement for the peninsula.

And it called for all foreign troops — UN and Chinese — to be eventually withdrawn.

The Chinese did withdraw, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government they had set up, stayed. They are still there.

In violation of the armistice, the U.S. arbitrarily set the maritime boundary between the two Koreas. Between 1958 and 1991, the U.S. armed its forces in South Korea with nuclear weapons, another violation.

So when Pyongyang says, as it did this week, that the terms of that armistice have been breached by the UN side, it is not entirely inaccurate.

To assign blame for the standoff on the Korean peninsula is a mug’s game. Most historians agree that the Northern troops did invade the South in 1950. But they also agree that both North and South had been conducting raids into one another’s territory during the months before.

During the war, both sides committed unspeakable atrocities. Both lost hundreds of thousands of civilians although, thanks to UN bombing raids, the North lost markedly more.

The North has been a dictatorship since its inception. The South, while a military dictatorship for most of the post-war period, embraced democracy in 1987.

The UN side may have broken the armistice by keeping U.S. troops in the South. But the North broke the ceasefire in even more outrageous ways — from its assassination forays to its 2010 shelling of South Korean civilians.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2013 at 7:52 pm

[DM] “On North Korea becoming a place where people are from”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters wherein I argue that while South Korea is becoming a place people are moving to, North Korea’s fate in the 21st century is to be the place (country, region, whatever) where people around the world will be from.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2013 at 4:59 am


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