7/27/09

24 million comrades served daily!

* Average [South] Korean Turning Overweight
* N. Korea Opens 1st Fast-Food Restaurant

I predicted more than a decade ago that if North Korea ever allowed McDonald's to open a branch that it wouldn't be long before NPR and South Korean media/intellectuals complained about North Koreans becoming overweight (as opposed to those who eat grass to keep from starving).

I'm sticking by that prediction:

According to the Korea Times: "South Korea used to be known as a nation of slim people thanks to its diet of fruits and vegetables. But the reputation has become a thing of the past as a growing number of Koreans are becoming obese due to the widespread popularity of high-calorie and high-fat Western foods, as well as a lack of exercise."

In unrelated news, N. Koreans who have been eating grass may finally have a chance to eat fast-food. As the Korea Herald reminds us: "North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages, with private analysts saying that about 1 million people may have starved to death during the famine of the late 1990s."

1) Will South Koreans advise North Koreans to stop while they are ahead?
2) I'm not saying I believe that South Koreans are overweight. Apparently some sharp looking people are overweight according to the BMI scale.
3) The Korea Herald reports on the BMI of Asians. Does that mean there are different BMIs based on race or nationality? Would that mean that an Asian person judged by the Asian BMI could be "normal" or underweight if judged by the American or some other standard? I would expect a rush of Asian women moving to America so they could be considered slim just by landing on American soil and later getting American citizenship.
4) What's the name of the restaurant? Dear Leader's Burgers?
5) In addition to opening a McDonald's in downtown Pyongyang, I've also recommended that South Korea and other countries send perishable food to North Korea rather than rice or other food that can be diverted to the military.

* * *

Americans love to sing!!!

I went to a language exchange gathering yesterday. It was a lot of fun. First, we read and discussed an article in English. Then broke up into different groups to study different languages (Korean, German, Japanese). Then, after that, we went out to sing.

Before going out to sing some of the Koreans were telling me how much Americans love to sing. My point: I don't think Americans in America love to sing. But it is probably more likely that an American in Korea will learn to love to sing.

Using the same reasoning, it makes sense to say that Americans love Korean food. Of course, some Americans who have never been to South Korea absolutely love Korean food. But an American who stays in Korea will either (1) already love it (2) grow to love it (3) breakdown and get used to it.

It is the old issue of self-selection. People who choose a place or activity will be more likely to enjoy it than those who don't. Finally, it clicked for them all: Ah, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

* * *

Swing, swing, swing my baby!

I went out dancing Saturday night. I finally have the basic steps down. I have now moved on to stage two: stop looking at my feet. Then, I can move on to stage three: leading my dancing partners. Right now I am still tentative but later I'm going to be the most arrogant swing dancer in history.

Swing Baby by Park Jin Young!




* * *

* Lee Renews Call to Cut Private Tutoring Costs
* Court Rules Against Tuition Ceiling

South Korea's president continues the government's decades long war against private education.

A court in Seoul has ruled against tuition ceilings.

The money quote:



``With public education failing to provide better services than private cram schools, lessons from private cram schools are as important as public education. As such, setting a uniform restriction on hagwon bills goes against freedom of education protected under the Constitution.''

The judge added there are several factors that should be taken into account to determine appropriate tuition. ``Tuition should be set in accordance with market conditions, not a uniform guideline from authorities.''

The court then does what courts often do:
(1) rule so that no one is completely happy and
(2) guarantee that there will be future cases on the issue.

As the Korea Times adds: "But he also said exorbitantly high tuition should be subject to punishment as it may hamper social stability in education."

What is "exorbitantly?" Who will decide that? What happened to the price being set by the market? Based on what the Korea Times reported there will be future cases as government employees try to determine what is exorbitant.

CJL