Aug 15, DJ is still alive; ugly or plain Koreans

I often say that I would give up my right to vote in a libertarian society. After all, if the leadership was true to its beliefs then I wouldn't have to monitor what the damn government does. But because we have geniuses in office who believe they know what is best for people--and have the power to enforce it--I keep track so at least I can see the punch coming.

I have also said that Kim Dae-jung is one of the few politicians that I actually trust. I don't say this just because he may be dying. In addition to the many other wonderful things he has done over the decades, that he spared the lives of a politician who had once sentenced him to death on trumped-up charges was an example of a politician not abusing his power once in office.

I truly expected to wake up this morning to read that Kim Dae-jung had expired.

1) He has been very sick for about a month now.
2) He's 85 years old. That's not a good combo.
3) Today is Liberation Day in South Korea. More than 1 million people are being pardoned. If anyone symbolizes getting thrown in jail for stupid reasons, it is DJ.

Of course, DJ might not care for the irony of dying on Liberation Day, and might prefer to die a few years from now, regardless of the irony.

* According to a reporter friend of a friend, there is now a death watch for DJ. Reporters are camped out at the hospital waiting to see if he will really die this time. He has had many close calls over the years so there is always hope he'll make it.

* As is customary, the newspapers probably have their "DJ is dead" obituaries written and ready to post/print.

* As I've mentioned, harmony seems to be very important in Korean society. On the other hand, when there isn't harmony then there is vengeance. DJ was the exception. He could have allowed his former adversaries to be executed, but lobbied against it. On the other hand, Korea's occasional purification and anti-overconsumption campaigns are a good chance for those in power to silence, punish and/or jail opponents. It also helps to have everything against the law for such occasions.

* The Korea Times headline doesn't quite get it right. Chun Doo-hwan Comforts DJ at Bedside. But according to the story,
``I am sure that Kim will eventually regain his
health," Chun said as he comforted Lee, who has
been receiving numerous well-wishers since her
husband's hospitalization a month ago. He was
unable to meet Kim, who is now in an intensive
care unit
. [Italics mine]
* I've heard people blame reporters and writers for headlines but the reality is that they rarely write their own headlines. In many cases, the reporters are already home in bed (or drinking the night away) by the time the headlines get written.

I've been victimized by this as a writer and reporter, wondering what in the hell the headline writer was thinking. But then, I've also written headlines at 2 in the morning, and wondered why in the hell the writer didn't get to the main point faster or buried details in the article.

* The former Korean politicians are kissing and making up now. I guess that means they have been told that DJ will really die this time. Of course, it is easy to be friendly when you are all out of power.

* * *

Cosmetic Surgery in South Korea

Korea Times columnist Jon Huer writes at length about cosmetic surgery in South Korea. It is typical Huer. Long-winded. Points that don't add up to a conclusion or course of action. A couple of mean-spirited comments tossed in.

He has some folks who absolutely despise his writing. I'm thankful that he is writing for the Korea Times rather than working for the government to force his views on anyone.

I'm not surprised to learn that Huer is a sociologist. My definition:

A sociologist: A busybody with no power.

They have a lot to say about society. Mostly, it is stuff that can be safely ignored.

Huer takes on Korean women. He asks, "Why is plastic surgery so popular in Korea?"

Huer answers: "One, a population made up of people with plain faces; two, enough money to go around for this fixing enterprise; three, Korea's famed one-for-all and all-for-one herd mentality."[italics mine]

Well, that's how he answered it online. In the newspaper version, he answered differently, "One, a population made up of people with ugly faces; two, enough money to go around for this fixing enterprise; three, Korea's famed one-for-all and all-for-one herd mentality." [italics mine]

So is it that Koreans have ugly or plain faces, according to Jon Huer (pictured on the left). Just as writers don't write their own headlines they also lack control over what appears in the newspaper. I've also been a victim of editing errors. I've seen other writers who have had editors change major points in an article after the reporter had already left the office, gone home, or logged off for the night.

Either way, after reading Huer's writing, I still wonder, "What of it?" Should Koreans stop having cosmetic surgery? So what if Korea is the "Mecca of Cosmetic Surgery?" Are they asking Huer to foot the bill? Huer writes a lot but doesn't tell us why his question is important.

We only go around once in this life. If a chick wants bigger boobs or a dude wants different eyelids, what is the problem?

Jon Huer apparently has written 51 extended pieces for the Korea Times so he probably doesn't really care. He is just doing what a sociologist does.: Writing a bunch of stuff that can safely be ignored as long as he doesn't have power.

* * *


I've just been invited to my first MT. Those are the initials for the Konglish phrase "Membership Training." A group of Koreans will...well, I'm not exactly sure what happens. I think it is more accurate to call it a retreat, based on what I have heard. Membership Training always sounded a bit socialist to me but it seems to be a chance for folks to bond.

Will be able to give this update in about three weeks.

* * *

My feets wuz tired

Thursday night I went to an English discussion group. The Koreans there were absolutely overjoyed that I had joined. Things only got better later when I went out singing with them. Apparently they want to require that I attend every week and sing at least half of the songs.

Last night I practiced swing dancing with many of my swing classmates. We danced from 8 p.m. until almost midnight. Although people often tell me that I look young, I didn't feel that way last night. As old black folk say: "My feets wuz tired." Instead of sandals or tennis shoes I was wearing dress shoes so it may have been a one-time occurrence.

After dancing about 25 of us went out to eat and drink. Our dance instructor announced, in his form of English, that we were going to be out all night. Of course, about three hours later, he was peacefully sleeping on a chair as the rest of us danced and sang.

When we were eating they were curious about just how much I could drink. It took coming to South Korea for me to realize that not being much of a beer drinker doesn't mean I can't drink. I like flavored drinks most of all but prefer hard vodka drinks to beer.

About half of that group made it to the singing room. Unlike other groups I've been with these folks were into singing! In some cases they would sing just half of a song before cutting the music to get to the next song. They were up dancing and singing most of the time we were there. When I did Harry Connick Jr's version of It Had to Be You then several folks were dancing swing.

* * *

Me Love Me Some Free

I stopped at the Herbalife shop. The ladies there now apparently are looking forward to my visits. They were so disappointed I didn't stop by the day before.

This time, the owner fed me fruit, gave me some pills, free tea, a free shake. I'm trying to figure out how I can get the stuff I actually paid for without making them feel they must give me so much free stuff.

Yes, if you know me, I know you are having trouble believing that I'm feeling guilty about accepting free stuff.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Good news: The Korean government says that if your sham marriage prospers that you won't be punished.

Bad news: The Korean government still thinks it should use its authority and resources to ferret out sham marriages.
According to the Seoul Eastern District Court, a 53-year-old Korean man, identified as Park, "married" a Chinese woman in 2004 in exchange for 4 million won. The purpose of the action was for the woman to secure work in South Korea.
Well, if it wasn't difficult for her to work in South Korea then she would not have had to shack up with the guy to begin with!