Chinese Scholars dispute post-Kim NK scenario

Not the most insightful read on this topic, but there were a few interesting statements in the KT piece on how some in China view the current situation in North Korea.

Far from a collapsed state, these scholars say North Korea is more than just Kim Jong-il, and in the event of his death its leaders are well aware that a power struggle would most likely destroy the country. They point out that a stable North Korea is in Beijing’s best interest, and that Pyongyang has the ability to conatin any potential chaos that might ensue.

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India’s version of ‘English-mania’

This came out a few days ago in the International Herald Tribune about the growing resentment in India towards the fact that English is more and more becoming a prerequisite for success. As I read it I couldn’t help thinking how much it helped explain Korea’s own ambigious attitude towards English education.

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Our Northern ancestors

During Korea’s Chuseok, which falls on the 15th day of August on the lunar calendar, there’s a mass exodus of people out of Seoul, as families return to their rural roots to pay homage to ancestors past. Highways are flooded with cars, and an hour’s drive can easily become three or even four times that during the first and last day of the holiday. Traffic has become as much a part of the ancient tradition as rice cake and liquor.

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Beijing fills in for Kim in NK

A peice in the Korea Times speculates on the possibility of a military coterie taking over the reins of power in Pyongyang should reports of leader Kim Jong-il’s illness be true. If that is the case, the report continues, North Korea would take a decidedly closer step towards Beijing, an outcome that may have prompted top nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill to visit China last week.

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Reflections on 9/11

I remember a scene from the Vietnam War documentary Hearts and Minds, where the interviewer is speaking with a former Air Force pilot, a young bearded country boy living in the backwoods somewhere, maybe trying to forget what he’d seen – and done. At one point during the interview a man behind the camera asks, “Do you think we’re learning from our experience in Vietnam?” To which the pilot responds, “I think we’re trying not to.”

S. Korea a “Republic of suicide”

A string of articles appeared the other day in Korean media, timed with World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday, reporting that Korea ranked highest among OECD member states in terms of its suicide rate. Commentators expressed bitterness over the grim statistics.

the suicide rate in South Korea surged by 90.8 percent in the 1997-2007 period… More surprising is that suicide emerged as the fourth biggest cause of death in South Korea. It was eighth in 1997.

More shocking is the fact that, according to a recent study, nearly sixty percent of middle and high school students in Korea say they have contemplated suicide at one point in their lives.

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A look at US candidates from Korea

An op-ed in The Korea Times weighs US candidates’ positions on Korea, including the KORUS FTA and ongoing six-party talks over North Korea’s denuclearization.

In sum, McCain supports free trade deals with South Korea, as well as continuing with the established framework of six-party negotiations involving Japan, China and Russia, as well as the two Koreas and the US. Obama is less clear on free trade, though from his statements one gathers he would not back a free trade deal. He has also spoken about departing from six way talks to embrace a more international effort on non-proliferation.

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