7/23/15

Preparing for North Korean migration--Planning or freedom?


In the paper "Internal Migration in North Korea: Preparation for Governmental Disruption," Sandra Fahy makes many great points, she did get me to think about what will happen later in terms of NK migration.

But my random thoughts...

1)  I'm old enough that I remember when the Berlin Wall fell,and people were worried that East Germany would be abandoned. Although many East Germans did leave after reunification, many more stayed, and many have now returned. On page 118, the author even speculates about the "near emptying of North Korea."

My guess is that many if not most NKs will stay where they are. That's the world, most people stay where they are, even when they have the freedom to move. 

2) There was the Great Migration of Blacks after the Civil War, then during then during the 20th century. That has also reversed somewhat. It could be that North Koreans are more like former slaves rather than East Germans. Either way, there were also debates in the 19th century about whether or not former slaves should remain where they are, with Booker T. Washington advising blacks to "Cast down your bucket where you are" and Frederick Douglass was also opposed to blacks migrating to the North.

3) When South Korea lifted martial law in the late 1980s, with passports becoming widespread among South Koreans for the first time, there was also an outward migration, along with a bump in tourism that troubled many politicians and academics at the time.

4) It seems to much of an emphasis in the paper on keeping North Koreans in North Korea, on page 120 the author states that  NK "out-migration must invariably be managed and regulated." I'm not sure who is supposed to manage and regulate NK out-migration. The gang currently stopping North Korean refugees from leaving the country may have some ideas...

5) On page 128, the author states that the "2004 Human Rights Act, which enables them to attain refugee status in the United States after first settling in South Korea." It may be a distinction without a difference, but I guess that should mention that they can also gain refugee status by going directly to the USA, not necessarily after first settling in South Korea.

6) The author states that this "contemporary trend of the onward migration of  North Koreans suggests that we begin to critically examine whether  South Korea is the ideal destination for North Korean migrants." I have agreed with this for years, it shouldn't be assumed that South Korea is the ideal destination, and it shouldn't be seen as unusual that NK refugees look to other countries. That's even true of South Koreans, many of them would also like to move to other countries.

7) The author's final statement: 1) Reduce the number of North Koreans leaving North Korea to reduce additional crisis 2) by providing for the critical needs of internal migrants in NK, prepare into order to "incentivize" individuals to "shelter in place." 

As I said, there is too much about regulating and controlling the future migration choices of North Koreans.

8) Alas, the author never mentions the freedom of North Koreans to be able to travel, to choose when and where they can live. It is an academic paper with ideas about government policy that addresses migration barriers imposed by China and South Korea, but still, shouldn't North Korean right of locomotion be part of the conversation at some point? Instead, the emphasis is on regulating, managing, controlling and preparing for the time that NKs may finally be able to venture out into the world.

Hat tip: Hyun Song



7/16/15

Got an app for that? Former TV star is still folding paper (Joongang-ilbo)

Ask your average 20 to 30 year old South Korean who grew up here to make something out of paper and you will be amazed by the results. It isn't genetic. Back during the 1980s-1990s, there was a popular show for kids about paper folding.

The JoongangDaily writes does an interview with the host of the show.

* * *

My random thoughts:

* These days, the kids might wonder if there was a paper folding app...

* Mr. Paper Folder says that the adults who watched his show were so pure as they recently chatted with him. The next time someone asks me, "What should we tell kids about (the latest war or hot political topic)," I will answer, "Nothing. Let them fold paper and enjoy being kids."

* He hasn't been on TV, leading people to conclude he hasn't been doing anything. As I often say: "The only things more important than being alive are being on TV and Facebook." He has avoided the spotlight, he says, on purpose.






College girl found dead; suspected kidnapper kills self (Korea Times)

I'm not a heavy drinker so I don't understand

1) getting so drunk
2) that you fall asleep on a street
3) trust a stranger to take care of your girlfriend

According to today's Korea Times, it happened to a couple in Suwon. The woman is now dead, her alleged killer dead in a suicide.

"The victim's boyfriend said the couple had fallen asleep while drunk on a street near Suwon Station in Gyeonggi Province around midnight on Monday. A man, later found to be Yun, woke him up and asked him to go buy some wet tissues so he could tend to the woman, who had vomited on the street.

"When the boyfriend returned from a nearby convenience store, he found that both Yun and his girlfriend had disappeared, which he reported to police."

* * *

As a reminder,

* 159 women are missing in Suwon.
in 2010, there were 1,374 murders in Korea, an average of almost four a day.





7/1/15

2015-07-01 Korea is doomed (in 2750) by Casey Lartigue (The Korea Times)

“Koreans to Become Extinct by 2750” was the eye-popping headline about a simulation commissioned by the National Assembly of South Korea. The National Assembly Research Service forecast that, based on current trends, South Korea’s population of 50 million would shrink to 10 million by 2136 and become extinct by 2750.
Methodological questions aside, my first thought when I read the story: 2749 is going to be one helluva year on the Korean peninsula.
If you enjoy clips of Korean politicians fighting over parliamentary procedures, then imagine the glorious fisticuffs and flying kicks over who allowed Koreans to go extinct. The handful of Koreans remaining will protest against the other half of Koreans remaining. The “chattering class” (today’s Netizens) of conspiracy theorists will connect-the-dots to the USA or Japan.
I'd have my popcorn ready, singing an updated version of Prince's “1999” song: “2-7-4-9, Party Over, Oops, Out of Time!” We will miss the 2749 show, but we have had front row seats to yet another sneak preview.
In case you hadn’t heard, the MERS virus hit South Korea. Numerous schools, businesses, events, and celebrations got shut down, canceled or toned down. It changed Korea, at least for a few weeks. I even had to wait in line at public restrooms for the chance to wash my hands. It seemed that the Doomsday Clock had hit midnight in Korea. Forget 2750 ― it seemed that Koreans wouldn’t make it out of 2015.
In Korea, you first fix the blame, then the problem. The first question: Who was to blame for MERS threatening to annihilate Koreans 735 years ahead of the simulation’s schedule? The second, after it became clear that MERS was not going to annihilate Koreans prematurely: Who was responsible for scaring everyone into thinking Korean life was coming to an end in 2015?
Of course, the president got blamed for allowing the virus in. The rulers here always get blamed. I’ve heard that, historically, Koreans even blamed kings for droughts. Former president Kim Young-sam was said to be “bad luck” because of tragedies that struck during his administration (primarily, collapses of the Sampoong Department Store and Seongsu Grand Bridge).
A Korea Times staff editorial suggested that the president “needs to stay around the anti-MERS headquarters.” To do what? In the movie version, the president would dramatically walk in, issue stern commands while brow-beating workers caught napping or smoking, and look really presidential as the proper solemn soundtrack music played in the background.
Some Korean politicians, used to taking credit for the sun coming up, may be tempted to explain that they lack control over the weather or viruses. It must be easier to bow for the cameras and ask for forgiveness.
In the “if it bleeds, it leads” world of news, we must be frightened into following the latest updates, our “social homework” so we can be part of scuttlebutt at school, the office and Social Media. In the book “The News,” Alain de Botton notes that people can feel relevant by following the news. We may struggle to get people we know to take us seriously, but we can Tweet how the world ought to be.
Climate change experts, doomsday cults, and others make predictions about when the world will come to an end. Centuries ago, the Mayans supposedly chose December 21, 2012, which was turned into a popular movie. (Parenthetically, if the world had ended four days before Christmas, it would have been a relief for those of us who hate last-minute holiday shopping).
Reporters and politicians can’t operate at room temperature, there is always catastrophe around a corner humanity avoids turning at the last moment. De Botton writes: “A bad avian flu may disrupt international travel and defeat known drugs for a while, but research laboratories will eventually understand and contain it.”
Then came beautiful headlines backing de Botton’s stoicism: “No MERS deaths for two days,” then “No new MERS cases reported.” How often do we get such “no dogs bit men today” stories?
About three dozen people in Korea have succumbed to MERS. It would seem that Koreans were going extinct if the media reported with as much gusto about a typical day in Korea as it has about MERS: almost 200 die of cancer, almost 20 die in automobile accidents, about 40 commit suicide, about four are victims of homicide, and about 60 rapes are reported. I was wrong when I predicted that there would be suicide notes citing MERS.
But de Botton was and is right, the media can’t help but try to scare us. We should take precautions, yes, but also avoid being “easily seduced into panic.” To encourage 28th century Koreans, I will print this column along with articles about MERS to include in a time capsule to be opened in Korea in the year 2749.
The writer is the Director for International Relations at Freedom Factory Co.in Seoul. He can be reached at:  CJL@post.harvard.edu
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