Archive for the Seoul Category

The Failure of the South Korean National Security State: The Sewol Tragedy in the Age of Neoliberalism [The Asia-Pacific Journal]

Posted in IMF - International Monetary Fund, Seoul, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on October 13, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 40, No. 1, October 6, 2014.

Jae-Jung Suh

The Sewol ferry carrying 476 passengers including a group of high school students on a field trip to Jeju Island capsized on April 16, 2014, and sank to the bottom of the sea off Korea’s southern coast. Most of the crew, including the captain, were rescued by the Korean coast guard. Some of the passengers, who happened to be on the deck or escaped soon after the capsizing, were saved by fishing boats and commercial vessels that came before the ROK Coast Guard or Navy. 304 passengers, however, were trapped inside and drowned.

On September 21, Japan’s Fuji TV broadcast a program that reconstructed a heart-wrenching tragedy of the Sewol’s sinking on the basis of survivors’ testimonies and footage from recovered cell phones. One of the survivors states “I hope the coverage [by the Japanese media] helps shed light on why this happened and who was at fault,” alluding to the lack of adequate coverage by the Korean media.

The ship’s sinking may seem an unfortunate accident, the operation to save the passengers a heroic drama enacted in seas, and the passengers’ death its tragic ending. Once the surface is scratched, however, a complicated picture emerges. The Sewol sank under the weight of the neoliberal state that diminished its role in safety regulation and oversight. The rescue operation was weighed down by an irresponsible state that relegated its responsibility to a private salvage firm. When questions arose about the state’s responsibility, however, it was not shy about mobilizing its resources to evade and deny responsibility. The whole tragedy serves as a reminder of how neoliberal deregulation and privatization puts people’s safety and life at risk through processes of state collusion with business interests and how a powerful national security state may fail to protect its own people from internal dangers it helps create…

…The accident serves as a vivid reminder of what tragic consequences can result from government-business collusion. While collusion had existed under previous authoritarian regimes that sometimes sacrificed people’s safety for profits, the Sewol incident reveals that the nature of the collusion shifted to give more power to business interests. The authoritarian developmental state shed some of its power as part of the IMF-imposed structural adjustment after the 1997 financial crisis. As the government transferred some of its power to plan, manage, and oversee the economy to private entities, its relative power gradually declined. By the time of the Sewol disaster, the government took a hands-off approach to overseeing such “private” entities as the KRS. Privatized entities with increasing boldness ignored government directives and warning, and became more independent and aggressive in pushing their agenda…

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Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Kim Il Sung, Media smear campaign, Photos, Pyongyang, Seoul, south Korea, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives on August 11, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

If you read one article about North (sic) Korea this year — or perhaps this decade — this is the one to provide the antidote to capitalist media’s endless disinformation and vilification of that dynamic and resolute nation – Zuo Shou

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 18, No. 3, May 5, 2014.
Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” 破綻か好況か 「北朝鮮崩壊」という神話

Henri Feron

Abstract: The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

There is hardly an economy in the world that is as little understood as the economy of the Democractic [sic] People’s Republic of Korea (aka “North Korea”). Comprehensive government statistics have not been made public since the 1960s. Even if production figures were available, the non-convertibility of the domestic currency and the distortion of commodity prices in the DPRK’s planned economy would still prevent us from computing something as basic as a GDP or GDP growth figure. In the end, this dearth of public or useable primary data means that outside analysis is generally based more on speculation or politicized conslusions than on actual information. Unfortunately, the greater the province of speculation, the greater also the possibility of distortion, and hence of misinformation, or even disinformation.

The dominant narrative in the Western press is that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse. What commentators lack in hard data to prove this, they often try to invent…

Excerpted; full article link with footnotes:

‘South Korean workers strike again’ – Feb. 25, 2014 [Workers World]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Labor strike, Police State, Protest action, Seoul, south Korea on March 17, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold on March 6, 2014

Imagine a general strike of 200,000 workers — and not one word about it in any of the world’s so-called free press. What a breathtaking admission that these so-called “news media” are nothing but propaganda organs for big business.

Look it up — the one-day general strike on Feb. 25 in south Korea. The only place you can find pictures and an explanation of what happened is on websites connected to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. There you will see amazing photos of the enormous rallies held in downtown Seoul and other cities. You’ll also see pictures of solidarity rallies held by unionists in other countries.

But you won’t find a word about the strike on the sites maintained by the Associated Press, Reuters, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.

This strike was called for two main reasons: to try to stop the planned privatization of public services and health care by the right-wing government of Park Geun-hye, and to protest the regime’s illegal intervention and fraud in the 2012 general election.

The conditions that led to the general strike included a massive government assault on the railroad workers. On Dec. 9, the Korean Railroad Workers Union went on strike against privatization plans that would threaten their jobs, benefits and services. Immediately, the government fired 4,000 workers and announced a plan to hire 660 strikebreakers.

On Dec. 16, hundreds of police surrounded and invaded the headquarters of the KRWU in an attempt to arrest union leaders. Workers in the union building tried to keep the police from entering their offices, and after hours of pushing and shoving, the police had to leave empty-handed.

However, the government continued to seek the arrest of the leaders and levy steep fines on the union, so on Dec. 27, 100,000 workers marched and rallied in Seoul in support of the KRWU.

The railroad strike was called off on Dec. 30, after the National Assembly agreed to set up a subcommittee on railway development that would take advice from experts, including the union, in order to come up with a plan to prevent privatization in the short term. However, the struggle continues against a government committed to big business’s agenda of austerity and layoffs.

Hardly a day passes that there isn’t some article in the U.S. corporate media attacking the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — socialist north Korea. But when it comes to reporting on the workers’ struggle in U.S.-occupied south Korea, their eyes and ears are closed and their mouths shut.

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Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Token photo article on general strike from south Korean liberal paper, The Hankyoreh [한겨레]:’Pres. Park, can you hear us shouting?’ –

DPR Korea nuke test gives US ‘excuse to boost its military’ [People’s Daily]

Posted in DPR Korea, Nukes, Pyongyang, Seoul, south Korea, UNSC, US imperialism, USA on February 15, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Zhou Wa (China Daily)
February 14, 2013

[Excerpted / edited]

…The United States and its allies may boost their military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, citing Pyongyang’s nuclear test, analysts said.

The comments came as China engaged in a flurry of diplomacy on Wednesday to ease regional tension.

“More drills by the US and its allies are possible in a bid to show their firm opposition to the nuclear test and other measures by Pyongyang they call provocative,” said Wang Fan, an expert on Korean studies at the China Foreign Affairs University.

They will also quicken deployment of anti-missile systems in the name of containing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Wang said.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo on Wednesday agreed to deepen cooperation to curb [sic] Pyongyang.

The DPRK conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in what its officials described as a “safe and perfect” way.

China held talks on Wednesday with countries involved in the Six-Party Talks.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Republic of Korea counterpart Kim Sung-hwan talked over the phone and exchanged their views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said on its website, without giving details.

Yang also talked with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Yang told Kerry that China explicitly stated its position on Pyongyang’s nuclear test, urging all parties to keep focused and avoid escalation, according to the ministry.

All parties concerned should insist on a peaceful solution, resolve the Korean Peninsula issue within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia, Yang said…

…Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Seoul needs to soothe domestic worries over the DPRK’s nuclear test.

Wang, from the China Foreign Affairs University, said Seoul’s military countermeasures will help Washington and its allies strengthen their military power in the region.

Leaders of the US, Japan and the ROK discussed the nuclear issue over the phone…

…This shows that the US may use Pyongyang’s test as an excuse to push for military deployment in East Asia, a scenario that will only increase regional tension, Ruan said.

The UN Security Council had an emergency meeting on Tuesday in New York…

‘No health impact’

Pyongyang’s nuclear test has not had a negative impact on China’s environment or public health, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Wednesday.

Readings from 25 monitoring stations, on and near the border, were at normal levels by 10 am, it said. The test site is about 100 km away from the border.

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DPRK vows to bolster missile capability in response to south Korea’s outrageous missile range expansion [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Korean Reunification, Russia, Seoul, south Korea, Tokyo on October 17, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Mainstream capitalist media and south Korean puppet media laughably term south Korea’s WMD missile range expansion as the result of ‘negotiations’ between SK and the USA…SK is the vassal, following orders from its occupier. Denials by SK leaders that they are not participating in any US missile shield is also nonsense. Another phase of Obama’s Asian domination doctrine – Zuo Shou

October 11, 2012

PYONGYANG, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Wednesday that it was natural for it to bolster missile capability to strike the stronghold of U.S. aggression, the official KCNA news agency reported.

The DPRK had strategic rocket forces that could bring the U.S. mainland and other military bases within range, the foreign ministry was quoted as saying.

An unnamed spokesman also denounced the U.S. as the primary cause of a new missile arms race in Northeast Asia, which opened the way for South Korea to develop missiles capable of launching a preemptive attack on its northern neighbor.

“The U.S threw cold water over the effort for stability of the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding areas, and destroyed the foundation for dialogue and negotiations,” the spokesman said.

Pyongyang’s announcement followed a presidential statement from South Korea on Sunday, which said it planned to develop ballistic missiles with a range of 800 km — compared with a previous limit of 300 km — under a revised pact with the United States.

The new range could cover the entire peninsula and enable Seoul to better respond to perceived missile threats from the DPRK. [It also increases striking range to China, Russia and Japan, and appears to integrate south Korea into an US-led East Asia missile shield – Zuo Shou]

Critics say South Korea’s extension plan contradicts its commitment to a global arms control agreement, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which aims to curb the spread of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could deliver weapons of mass destruction…

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Edited by Zuo Shou

Many Chinese netizens find ‘Gangnam Style’ vulgar [People’s Daily]

Posted in Seoul, south Korea on October 16, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Psy, the prancing imbecile who’s gone viral as an international laughing stock. The biggest, dumbest dance craze since the Macarena. I’ve watched the thing, it starts out as a giggle and goes into the toilet (literally) fast. It causes psy-chological distress. It makes me not want to see another music video (MV) ever again. I can’t stand K-Pop as it is. K-rap is what we’ve got here…an appropriately flatulent party anthem for the decadent ultra-right Lee Myung-bak era – Zuo Shou

South Korean rapper Psy shot to fame as the singer of pop hit “Gangnam Style”. In the song’s music video, Psy appeared “pompous” in [sic] a beach, horse stable, and sauna, repeating the refrain [sic] “Oppan Gangnam style”. The song’s global popularity may be attributed to its portrayal of the life of a “tall, rich, and handsome” man that many losers dream about. Many South Koreans yearn to live in Gangnam District, the most affluent and dynamic area in Seoul, but it is more often than not just a dream. Underneath the pompous and luxurious life shown in the music video of “Gangnam Style” lies the sadness of losers.

“Gangnam Style” is undoubtedly a subtle social satire on the wide gap between the rich and the poor. A large number of people like this song, but others find it vulgar and unbearable.

Many netizens have labeled the song as “vulgar”. “With more than 300 million views, I expected it to be a good song, but it turned out not. I do not know what you guys think about it, but I for one find it vulgar. Such a vulgar song will be popular just for a short time. Songs that last forever must be those touching your soul rather than such ostentatious songs,” an Internet user said. “It is a catchy song, but its music video and the cultural content are vulgar. Its popularity will accelerate the vulgarization of world cultures,” said another Internet user under the screen name “Passing Phoenix”. Certain people called it “immoral, of low taste, and vulgar”, and some even suggest boycotting such music as it may lead underage boys and girls astray.

Source:Yangtse Evening Post, author: Feng Qiuhong

Article link:

New study says the Cheonan was sunk by mine, not NK torpedo [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in DPR Korea, S. Korea government cover-up of Cheonan incident, Seoul, south Korea on August 28, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The wreckage of the Cheonan warship now sits in Pyongtaek Second Naval Command Base. A new academic study says the ship may have been sunk by a mine instead of a North Korean torpedo. In this photo, Hankyoreh reporters speak with the base’s PR staff on August 16. (by Lee Jeong-ah, staff reporter)

Scientific analysis shows signs of a powerful underwater explosion

By Oh Cheol-woo, science correspondent

August 25, 2012

An article has been published in an international academic journal arguing that the explosion that sank the South Korean Cheonan warship in March 2010 may not have been from a North Korean torpedo, but from a mine discarded by the South Korean navy.

This is the second scientific study on the Cheonan sinking published in an academic journal, the first being a seismic analysis published last year by Yonsei University Department of Earth System Sciences professor Hong Tae-kyung. That study supported the findings of the government’s joint investigation team.

In the study published in the international academic journal “Pure and Applied Geophysics,” Korea Seismological Institute director Kim So-gu and the Geophysical Institute of Israel’s Yefim Gitterman wrote that analysis of the seismic waves, acoustic waves and bubble frequency made it clear an underwater explosion took place.

They said the seismic magnitude of the explosion was 2.04, that of 136kg of TNT and equivalent to the individual yield of the large number of land control mines abandoned by the Korean navy after they were first installed in the 1970s.

The findings are noteworthy in that they differ greatly from those of the Civilian-Military Joint Investigation Group (MCNJIG), which found the cause of the sinking to be a North Korean CHT-02D torpedo with a yield of 250kg of TNT exploding at a depth of six to nine meters, producing a seismic yield of 1.5… Continue reading