South Korea arrests phone firm KT Corp hacking suspects
Two men suspected of accessing details illegally of 8.7 million users of South Korea’s largest fixed-line phone operator, KT Corp, have been arrested.
The company says hackers stole subscribers’ names, phone and personal identification numbers, and then sold the data to telemarketers.
The hackers made an estimated 1bn won (£560,518; $877,000) from the sale.
An illegally installed computer program had collected subscribers’ information over several months, KT Corp said.
"It took nearly seven months to develop the hacking program and [the suspects] had very sophisticated hacking skills," the company told the Yonhap News agency.
KT is also second biggest mobile operator in South Korea.
The company apologised to its subscribers, promising to “strengthen the internal security system and raise awareness of security among all employees to prevent causing inconvenience to customers,” Yonhap News quoted KT as saying.
In July 2011, South Korea said it had traced the theft of data from 35 million accounts from the Cyworld website and the Nate web portal, both run by SK Communications, to computer IP addresses based in China.
In April 2011, hackers targeted a government-backed bank in South Korea. And in May the same year, data on more than 1.8 million customers was stolen from South Korean consumer finance company Hyundai Capital.
In November 2011, one of South Korea’s main games developers, Nexon, was hacked, with personal details of 13 million users of its MapleStory online game stolen.
Government ministries, the National Assembly, the country’s military headquarters and networks of US forces based in South Korea were also hit by hackers in 2011.
Days after Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was banned from competing in the games thanks to a racist tweet, a Swiss soccer player has been banned for a similarly insensitive message.
After his team lost to South Korea on Sunday, Michel Morganella, a member of the Swiss soccer team, tweeted that the South Koreans could “go burn” and called them “a bunch of mongoloids,” the AP reported.
In a translated statement, Gian Gilli, Chef de Mission of the Swiss Olympic delegation, condemned Morganella’s statements and withdrew the player’s Olympic accreditation.
In his own statement, Morganella said he “made a big mistake.”
Personally I think it’s great that social media publicly exposes the racism lurking in the hearts of these tweeting fools. Same with tumblr, where racists regularly show their asses. I understand that some people find it upsetting to read that ugly spiritual pollution, but personally I always prefer pushing this stuff into the open, because that’s what really resides in their hate-soaked hearts. It’s better to be clear about who your enemies are and how to hurt them. Know what hurts a racist Swiss soccer player? Being beaten by Korea before getting unceremoniously kicked out of the Olympics in disgrace.
As per the oldies’ (grandparents) request, the whole family and I went to this Kimchi Field Museum to get to know more about Korea’s important food staple (that is, Kimchi).
Before going in, they will require you to have your hands cleaned through this electronic hand sanitizer.
This is a makeshift yard of a traditional Korean home where you'll see jars of different sizes. These jars are instrumental in the fermentation of stored Kimchi and are usually placed outside.
When we were there, a field trip was being held, but because they're speaking in full mode Korean, we, instead, had to learn about Kimchi through reading! Thank goodness, for the English translations places on each attraction :P
I can't remember what they call these, but I do remembered myself saying that it looks like the Filipino cuisine's 'Nilaga'.
Free Translation Hotline: Call for free interpretation service. Phone rental is also available for foreigners.
BBB was launched in 2002 as a citizens??participation program (Joong Ang Ilbo) to facilitate the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan. It was engaged in various language-related services for over 25,000 people in the first 2 months during the World Cup. Originally planned as an independent organization, after the World Cup, BBB Campaign management was transferred from the Joongang Ilbo to the Organizing Committee for Visit Korea Year. BBB gained approval as being an established corporation since, and became a subdivision of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in May, 2003. To date, nearly 4,000 volunteers across Korea provide interpretation services in 18 different languages 24/7 through mobile phones. It helped contribute to Korea?셲 national image as a warm-hearted and well prepared nation , thriving as a global country.
What is bbb?
BBB stands for ?쏝efore Babel Brigade?? ?쁁efore Babel??means the time before the construction of the Tower of Babel. ?쁁rigade??means a group of people organized for a specific purpose. According to the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, people began to question their faith after the Great Flood. Noah’s descendants started to build an immense tower named ?쐔he Tower of Babel??to reach all the way up to Heaven, in order to challenge the glory of God. But God was upset with their rebellious plans, and made all the construction-workers start speaking different languages. They became confused in their work, progress halted, and the great tower collapsed. The people fell and scattered across the face of the earth with their new languages, and thus began the origin of the world?셲 linguistic diversity. The term ?쏝abel??has come to mean “confusion of different languages?? and this story became famous, forewarning people: when people can?셳 understand each other, work cannot be accomplished and disasters can happen. So, “Before Babel Brigade” (BBB) refers to the ideal, mythical time before the construction of that tower, when the people of the Earth shared a common language. BBB interpreters aim to break down these language obstacles, working as a group of volunteers who share a common vision of a society free from cultural and language barriers.
The logo is like a tree, a symbol of organic connection that replaces the Babel Tower image. The branches are shaped like ‘?? to symbolize network and communication. The tree-like logo evolves to become the existing form-oriented direction of lines, showing their embrace through the powers of connection. This emphasizes the importance of mutual understanding in our daily lives. The BBB campaign symbol was designed by graphic designer Ahn Sang-su, a professor at the Visual Communication Department of Hongik University’s College of Fine Arts and Design.
South Korea wins Olympic gold medal in women’s team archery for 7th straight title
London: South Korea won the Olympic gold medal in women’s team archery on Sunday for the seventh straight time.
Ki Bo-bae, Lee Sung-jin and Choi Hyeon-ju hugged and pumped their arms in the air after their 210-209 victory of silver medalist China. Japan took bronze for its first ever medal in women’s archery.
The American team, which finished second in the ranking round on Friday, fell 218-213 to the Chinese in the quarterfinals. The U.S. trailed by just a point going into the final round but China got five 10s in the final round, while the Americans got only one 10.
Miranda Leek, a first-time Olympian with more experienced teammates, Jennifer Nichols and Khatuna Lorig, said the trio talked about the work they put in to qualify for the games before they shot their last six arrows. They qualified in the last qualifying opportunity in Utah last month.
This is Lorig’s fifth Olympics, having represented three countries beginning in 1992, when she won bronze in the team competition on the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union. Nichols has been to two Olympics before.
The U.S. women’s team hasn’t won a medal since 1988.
"We’ve been through the pressure cooker," Leek said. "We’ve been through thick and thin and we’ve done our fair share of preparation and so all we needed to do at that point was go out there and do what we’ve been doing to get us to this point. I think we all shot good shoots. It just wasn’t enough.
South Korea and China also shot for the title in Beijing under similar rainy conditions. In 2004, the South Koreans also beat the Chinese.
Choi said South Korea prides itself on its Olympic achievements.
"To win gold is our target because we really, really want to achieve that," Choi said.
Fang Yuting of China said she knows South Korea is “a bit stronger” than her team now.
"We are determined and we are not afraid of them," she said.
Olympics: Ugly scenes in Japan-Korea judo quarter-finals
LONDON: The Olympic judo quarter-final between world champion Masashi Ebinuma and Cho Jun-Ho of South Korea descended into farce on Sunday after Cho was awarded victory, only for his Japanese rival to be declared the winner moments later.
The under-66kg fight remained level after a five-minute contest, plus an extra three minutes of golden score, meaning it went to a judges’ decision.
All three judges on the mat awarded the bout to Cho, clad in blue, but the International Judo Federation’s Refereeing Commission then intervened.
Following frantic discussions on the sidelines, referees director Juan Carlos Barcos, who had been seen consulting federation president Marius Vizer, called the judges over and seemingly told them to change their minds.
The three judges then went back onto the mat and having originally all lifted blue flags denoting a Cho victory, this time thrust up three white ones instead.
Ebinuma was declared the winner and although he lost to eventual gold medallist Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia in the semis, both he and Cho went on to take the two bronze medals.
When the original decision was made it brought protests from the crowd and Ebinuma felt that helped him.
"I thought I was going to lose but there was all this support in the spectator seats and that allowed me to get this medal," he said.
"But I’m feeling a bit bad for (Cho)."
Having matched Ebinuma’s medal, the Korean let sleeping dogs lie.
"Initially I thought I had won but when it was reversed I was a little sad," he said.
"But I had my remaining fights to focus on and I hoped (Ebinuma) would get a good result because he beat me. We both won bronze so I’m happy."
Federation general secretary Jean-Luc Rouge told AFP the move was made as it was believed an Ebinuma attack had not been scored.
"The referees weren’t told to change their minds, they were merely reminded about an incident (an attack by Ebinuma that could have scored) that should have influenced their decision," he said.
"It had escaped their minds but having reconsidered it they then gave their modified verdicts."
When put to him that the incident had been damaging for the federation, Rouge added: “It’s better that the federation is damaged rather than judo.”
The crowd, who were upset over the original decision and jeered loudly, became even more vocal following the farcical overturn and Cho was afforded a standing ovation as he left the mat.
Already, during the sudden death golden score period, the referees commission had overturned the award of a winning score for Ebinuma by the judges - the incident the commission then reminded the judges to consider in their later decision.
For the first time at the Olympics, video replay technology is being used to review contentious scoring but the over-rule of a judges decision following a draw has never been done before.
The federation later put out a statement trying to clarify its ruling.
"The International Judo Federation (IJF) is strongly committed to equity and, as part of our sport judo, to the development of all the tools that in our competitions help the referees to make the right decisions, so that the best fighters win.
"In order to achieve this, a video system was set up and has proved successful.
"The referee and the two judges of the fight, after having received the details from the experts commission, decided to change their decision and give victory to the Japanese.
"The IJF states that this is the final and right decision."
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — Inbee Park of South Korea ended her four-year wait for a U.S. LPGA Tour title when she hit a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the Evian Masters for the first time, beating veteran Karrie Webb and overnight co-leader Stacy Lewis by two shots.
It was only Park’s second win on the U.S. LPGA circuit and the first since she became the youngest to win the women’s U.S. Open in 2008, when she was 19.
"It feels great, it was four years ago but it feels longer than that," the 24-year-old Park said after posting a 17-under 271. "I finished the round with some really strong putting today."
Lewis, who shared the overnight lead with Park, found form late on but her superb long putt for eagle on the 18th came too late.
"I actually played really good. I had probably four or five putts that I thought I made and just lipped out," said Lewis, who was runner-up last year to Japan’s Ai Miyazato, also by two shots. "It’s huge for me, because I didn’t play well yesterday, didn’t play my best today, and still I was right there. "
Park nailed birdies on the last three holes amid a late charge from China’s Shanshan Feng, whose round of 66 included an eagle on the 18th.
"After yesterday, a lot of players were in contention so I knew I had to shoot a good score out there," Park said. "The greens were a lot quicker than the last five years. I like the fast greens, so I think that really suited me as well."
Feng finished three strokes behind Park, tied for fourth with South Korean amateur Hyo Joo Kim (68) and American Natalie Gulbis (68).
Feng’s shot of the day drew a roar from the grandstand on the 18th when she chipped out of the bunker, the ball looped around in a semi-circle from right to left and then dropped in for an eagle.
"It was a flat lie and I had room to let the ball roll. (But) under pressure I think that’s a very good shot," Feng said. "It’s my best round of the year."
The pressure was on Park to respond, and she did, sinking a birdie on hole 16 to move 15-under overall. Her next tee shot was perfect, landing near the 17th flag, and gave her another birdie for a commanding 16-under.
Webb, a seven-time major winner, needed something special on the 18th — but the Australian teed off into the rough and hit her next shot well wide of the green. Still, she narrowly missed out on an improbable eagle before settling for a birdie.
That left Park needing only to make par for victory. She did better than that with her eighth birdie of the day as fellow Koreans ran onto the green to celebrate.
Lewis, who had been seeking her third U.S. LPGA Tour title of the year, was left to rue a poor run of form in the middle of her round — where she went eight holes without a birdie, including a bogey on 14 — before suddenly regaining form with two birdies and an eagle in the last four holes.
Lewis, who tied the course record with 63 on Friday, missed a birdie on the fourth hole as her shot drifted left. After missing a good birdie chance on the fifth, she hunched forward in frustration with hands on her thighs. Finally, she got a birdie on the sixth, with a long putt from the right of the green.
Park birdied the ninth to take the lead at the turn and then moved to 14-under with another birdie on the 10th.
Webb and 2007 Evian winner Gulbis had a chance to make up ground after Park bogeyed the 11th.
"It’s nice to see positive things," Gulbis said. "Because I had missed three of my last four cuts, and two of those four were in big events."
Webb, the 2006 champion, chipped out of the green rough to sink a superb birdie on the 13th to pull level with Gulbis and Park at 13-under, with Lewis one shot back and again showing annoyance when her putt for birdie rolled off the lip on hole 12.
"I gave myself the chance," the 37-year-old Webb said. "Just to be in contention — and perform well under pressure — is good."
After a bogey on No. 14, Lewis birdied the 15th and 16th for an outside chance but Park remained in control to win the trophy and C397,000 ($487,500) prize money.
This is the last Evian Masters before the event becomes the Evian Championship and the fifth women’s major in September 2013.
Thought I’d throw this out there, as I’m traveling across the country and using random family members’ computers. If you’re ever on someone else’s computer that doesn’t have the Korean keyboard pack installed, you can use this website. You just type into the window as if you were typing on a keyboard with Hangeul (you kinda have to know where the keys are) and it pops up in Korean. Then copy and paste. Great for emails, though it’s a bit of a pain if you’re real-time messaging with someone (still doable).
SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) — The number of unmarried male citizens in Seoul aged 35 to 49 has increased more than 10-fold over the past 20 years, data showed Wednesday.
According to the data released by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the number of single men of the age bracket in the capital city came to 242,590 in 2010, up from 24,239 in 1990.
The rate of unmarried men among the age group has shown an upward trajectory during the past two decades to account for 20.1 percent in 2010 from around 2 percent in 1990, the data showed. During the same period, the number of unmarried Seoul women aged 35 to 49 jumped 6.4 times to 145,218, according to the data.
Some 52.4 percent, or the largest proportion, of the unmarried Seoul men were high school graduates, while college graduate females take up the biggest proportion of 61 percent among the singles, the data showed.
The average marital age last year stood at 32.2 and 30.0 for male and female citizens, respectively, up around 4 years each from two decades earlier, according to the data.
“Mismatch arising from the relatively higher-level education background for women can be one reason for the increase in the number of the single population,” a Seoul official said. “Delay or avoidance of marriage is a source of concern as it directly leads to a lower fertility rate.”
Register for “Delicious Seoul Story,” a Korean culinary contest for foreigners
Register for “Delicious Seoul Story,” a Korean culinary contest for foreigners
2012-07-05 VIEW: 266
2012 is the last leg of “2010-2012 Visit Korea Year.” Following last year’s successful event, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is holding another “Delicious Seoul Story” culinary contest in 2012. The purpose is to spread the excellence of Korean dishes and attract food connoisseurs from around the country.
The first round of the contest is done on You Tube. Five finalist teams, each of which consists of two persons, will be invited to Seoul for a five-day trip in September 2012 and an offline cooking contest before a panel of culinary experts.
During the five days, the five teams will visit tourist attractions, famous eateries, traditional Korean liquor distilleries, and traditional Korean open markets where they will buy ingredients for their final cooking competition. They will have an opportunity to learn about the Korean royal court cuisine – its ingredients and recipes included- at the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine in central Seoul. The final offline cooking competition is about cooking culinary dishes according to the recipes they presented on You Tube.
The competition is also open to people living overseas. Registration is simple: Upload your Korean dish cooking videos on You Tube (www.youtube.com/visitseoul) between Monday, July 2 and Friday, August 10, 2012 (6 weeks). Each participating team must be composed of two people. As for the type of Korean dish you may choose, it is open to any Korean dish of your choosing or a dish you are considering for the final cooking contest which will be held around Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok), you can choose a dish related to the occasion if you are somewhat familiar with the Korean culture.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is embarking on the creation of green roofs at the DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza) on the largest scale to be seen in Korea so far.
Half of the buildings’ roofs will be planted over an area the size of an international football pitch (i.e., 11,250m2).
Perennial sedums and a lawn will be planted, which should have the effect of making the buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter, leading to a significant improvement in energy efficiency.
The landscaping work will be completed by the end of July this year with the planting of about 800,000 sedums on the roofs of the Convention Hall (6,048㎡) and the Exhibition Hall (3,032㎡). At the recommendation of a number of horticultural experts, five species of sedums have been selected for the location, namely, Sedum takesimense NAKAI, Geumgang sedum kamtachaticum, Sedum reflexum, Sedum rupestre and Sedum oryzifolium.
These species are characterized by their strong resistance to drought due to their thick fleshy water-storing leaves and stems.
The plants on the completed roofs will be arranged according to four natural colors with the Geumgang Sedum serving as a divider between each section, thereby matching the unique characteristics of the building’s exquisite exterior.
The DDP is surrounded by high-rise buildings like the Doosan Tower and Migliore, whose residents will soon have a great view marked by seasonal changes on the DDP’s roof.
As such, these new green spaces will not only improve the insulation effects of the buildings but also offer a great number of people a breadth of fresh air in the heart of the mega city.
Due for completion by July 2013, the DDP will shortly offer the residents of Seoul a rare space where they can enjoy exhibitions, international conferences and fashion shows in addition to the pleasure of taking strolls and attending events in the adjacent Dongdaemun History & Culture Park.
Why, then, are South Koreans the second-most-unhappy people?
If You’re So Rich, How Come You’re So Miserable?
By William Pesek - Jul 23, 2012
The best economic indicator South Korea (KOSPI) produces is the energy on the streets of Seoul, whether you’re navigating the throngs of young hipsters in Myeongdong, the glitzy boutiques in Apgujeong or the nightclubs full of foreign tourists in Itaewon.
Korea’s per-capita income now rivals New Zealand’s, Israel’s and Greece’s, and the economy is growing about 3 percent a year even as Europecrashes. South Korean companies are chipping away at Apple Inc.’s global smartphone domination; the nation is a world power in automobiles, shipbuilding and steel; and its soft power is being advanced by “K-pop” bands, movies and television dramas as the population nears the 50 million mark.
Why, then, are South Koreans the second-most-unhappy people?
In a recent life-satisfaction study of 32 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by the World Values Survey Association, South Korea came in 31st. Surveys by Korean research institutes find that happiness among teenagers is the lowest in the OECD. The nation also is at the top of global league tables for suicides.
The disconnect is worth exploring because of South Korea’s role-model status. Its post-Asian-crisis reforms increased living standards and raised competiveness to an extent that has Japan looking over its shoulder. Yet Korea also serves as a template for countries trying to avoid the “middle-income trap” that afflicts too many developing nations.
Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand are examples of nations that had impressive income gains, only to stall. Some economists predict thatChina is headed for a similar fate. In contrast, observers view South Korea as an exemplar for peers in Asia.
The country’s achievements are largely a consequence of investing in human capital. Achieving a high-quality education has become a national obsession, and curriculums encourage creativity, science and technology. South Korea also is working to transform Seoul into an international financial center and a model for eco-friendly growth.
Since the 1997 Asian crisis, deregulation opened markets to the demands of Western shareholders. Increasing productivity became a national mission. But one can’t help wondering if these changes were unleashed too quickly, without the shock absorbers to buffer a society subject to such dramatic change.
“The problem is that we Koreans are now too much focused on competing with each other,” says Kim Yong Duk, a former deputy finance minister who teaches at Korea University Business School. “Always seeking to be best makes people too tired and stressed. Now it’s time to hug each other.”
Economists tend to dismiss “gross national happiness” as a quirky economic barometer from Bhutan, taking it no more seriously than the length of women’s hemlines, the Big Mac Index or the idea that new skyscrapers presage financial crises.
Yet South Korea demonstrates some unappreciated glitches in the journey from poor to rich. If this model economy suffers from acute growing pains, why would we expect China to fare any better?
South Korea’s free-market revolution gave companies incentives to dump full-time workers in favor of lower-paid contract workers. It meant less focus on building social safety nets needed to catch workers unable to quickly adapt to job obsolescence. Fear of unemployment has South Koreans working some of the longest hours anywhere.
A glimpse of any map shows why Koreans are so anxious; they are sandwiched between wealthy Japan and low-cost China (not to mention belligerent North Korea) and must find a way to stand out. Living costs are too high to compete with China, and, demographically, Korea has more in common with aging Japan. Also like Japan, Korea underutilizes its female workforce in ways that hold back the economy.
South Korea’s response has been extreme pressure to excel. Cram schools for children lead to obsession with college- entrance exams that have outsized sway over one’s future. Next comes striving for employment at a large, brand-name company such as Hyundai Motor Co., LG Electronics Inc. or Samsung Electronics Co. Such goals are driven less by passion than by cultural norms.
“For us, the pressure to succeed has become like a sport all its own,” says Theresa Seung Yun Rah, co-chief executive officer at consulting firm Oratio and communications director of the bid committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be in Pyeongchang.
South Korea needs less stress and more dreaming. It must innovate in ways companies have yet to try. Samsung (005930), whose global reach is the pride of modern-day Korea, is a case in point. Its phones and tablets are incredible pieces of technology, and they are eating into Apple’s market share. But its products are variations on the iPhone and iPad. It’s time for Korea to come up with its own game changers.
Fast broadband speeds and hyper-connectivity haven’t made the country more innovative. Nor has rapid growth. That must come from Koreans themselves. For all the reforms since 1997, a handful of family-run conglomerates focusing largely on exports tower over the economy. The absence of a comprehensive welfare state reduces risk taking and drives workers into safe industries.
That deprives Korea of the kind of scientists and engineers who strike out on their own, press forward without regard to the mainstream and come up with a world-beating idea. No quick fix exists, but cultivating small- and midsized businesses is the surest way to boost entrepreneurship.
The global slowdown reminded us that for all of South Korea’s gains, it’s still too much of a one-trick economy. And an unhappy one at that.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
“Improving Speaking Fluency: Foundations, Strategies, Activities” Lety Banks and Hanna Grant-Boyajian
Summary of the presentation: Your students won´t speak in class? Or maybe they will but not for long? They will be making lots of mistakes? They will say you correct them too much? Topics are too difficult? If all this sounds familiar, join us to learn some speaking strategies and activities to keep focus on fluency. Come and speak your head off.
The price of South Korea's productivity Creativity isn't the forte of the south-east Asian tigers. They hope to find clues in Israel
An Asian tiger’s woes
While Israel’s ambassadors to the capitals of Europe were squirming in front of the television cameras trying to justify the raid on the Turkish flotilla to Gaza in May 2010, Jerusalem’s envoy in Seoul, Tuvia Yisraeli, had an easier time. He was asked by a South Korean television reporter to talk about the marvels of the Israeli education system.
The conflict in the Middle East, the settlements and the injustices of the occupation hardly ever make the news pages here. Koreans, especially the Protestants among them, feel a strong religious attachment to the Land of the Bible. Their feelings of admiration for the small country that has vanquished all its enemies are superseded by only one stronger tie: economic interest.
There is nothing like the story I heard from Asher Naim, my neighbor on the flight from Tel Aviv to Seoul, to demonstrate the connection between economics and Korean diplomacy. In 1992 Naim was sent to reopen the Israeli Embassy in Seoul, which Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan had closed in 1978 “for budgetary reasons.” When the Israeli government wanted to rectify this mistake, Korea gave it the cold shoulder. The Republic of Korea’s relations with the Arab countries were at the flourishing. Only after 15 years of pleading did the most important economic power in southeast Asia agree to reopen the gates of the Israeli Embassy in Seoul.
Naim did not stop at that; he wanted to persuade his hosts to open an embassy in Israel. “Friends told me that the shortest way, if not the only way, went through the bureau of the chairman of the Hyundai corporation.”
After prolonged wooing, Naim was received by his excellency on a low chair. The chairman surprised the guest with declarations of love for Israel but apologized that Hyundai had just signed a seven-digit contract with Libya to carry out an infrastructure project and he feared if “the madman Gadhafi” heard that Korea had opened an embassy in Israel he would cancel the contract.
Naim argued that the secondary Arab boycott was no longer in force and proposed that Hyundai test this by carrying out a large project in the Dead Sea area. And indeed, Hyundai found out that the Arabs did not make a fuss about their cooperation with Israel. The Korean foreign minister invited Naim for breakfast and announced that Israel was about to receive a new ambassador.
Dr. Ryu Tae-young, president of the Korea-Israel Friendship Association, told me in fluent Hebrew that this year, as in previous years, the association is sending dozens of young Koreans for training courses at kibbutzim.
The creativity gap
Rumors of the social justice protest in Israel reached the ears of the young reporter who met me in Seoul, a meeting arranged through the Korea Fund. She wondered how a small country that has won so many Nobel prizes cannot manage to meet the basic needs of its citizens.
South Korea has nearly 50 million inhabitants and its per capita gross national product scrapes the $32,000 per year mark. The international economic crisis has hardly been felt there. The official unemployment rate is less than 3.5 percent. Yet during all the years of South Korea’s existence - it, too, was born in 1948 - none of its scientists has ever been found worthy of the big prize. (A propos Nobel Prizes, many people in South Korea study Talmud in the fervent belief that the secret of Jewish wisdom lies not in the army bases, but in the yeshivas. )
The explanation for the gap between creativity and productivity in this immensely corporate country - the assets of Samsung, the largest family corporation, are estimated at $280 billion - can be found in the high walls and the many cameras installed on the bridges across the Han River that flows through Seoul, and in the telephone lines that are connected to suicide prevention centers. According to an official survey published two years ago, suicide is the major cause of death among young people (aged 15 to 24 ). What drives them to such desperate measures is primarily anxiety about failing in studies and finding a job.
The Koreans attribute the vast increase in wealth, to a large extent at the expense of happiness, to the dictator Park Chung-hee who ruled them with a heavy hand for eighteen years, from 1961 to 1979. The combination of a tough economic policy and the competitive education system that Park promoted made human capital the substitute for the state’s meager natural resources.
His daughter, Park Geun-hye, who last week declared (for the fourth time ) her intention to run for the leadership of the ruling party in the primaries that will be held next month, is trying to depict herself as a motherly figure concerned about the young sons and daughters of South Korea. To that end she will have to offer affordable housing to Y.G., a single woman of 35 who has a master’s degree in languages and lives with her two brothers in a tiny apartment.
If she wins the presidential elections held at the end of this year, as the public opinion polls are indicating, Park will have to promise Y.G. and her partner that the state will support the private education of their children. This does not mean education for the wealthy; Y.G. and her elementary and high school classmates attended a private school in the afternoons, poring over their studies until late at night.
Their fear that they will not be able to afford private education for their children, thereby condemning them to failure, has raised the average age of marriage among young Koreans and slashed the birth rate. South Korea plummeted to 215th place in births per capita worldwide. It turns out that a Samsung for every child and a Hyundai for every worker are not enough to generate hope in the future.
Mr. Park Hyun-geun living in Osan in central Korea enjoys tending his vegetable garden at home. He purports that having a vegetable garden has not only brightened his home, but also mellowed him. He used to be somewhat hot-tempered, but taking care of vegetables and plants made him a more relaxed and patient person. Also, tending the garden has become a pet project that brought his family together.
I used to be really impatient, but having this garden made me calmer. My children didn’t have much reaction to gardening, but once they tried out the home-grown vegetables, they volunteered to water the plants. Now my family talks about gardening all the time and my wife and I drink tea and relax together at the garden. Having a vegetable garden is especially nice when I’m having a barbecue, because I can pick lettuce leaves and vegetables for grilling whenever I need them. They are more flavorful than the store-bought ones.
Mr. Park is sharing his newfound joy with his neighbors by sharing the vegetables he cultivated in a small garden set up in one corner of his apartment balcony. Mr. Park’s hobby illustrates the latest eco-friendly trend of urban dwellers – urban farming. Now city residents can indulge their desires to grow living things whenever they want. A small patch of vegetable garden in a balcony is all they need to rejuvenate their bodies and minds.
Little children plant rice seedlings along the white strings lined up in a field. Their little hands can grasp only about five seedlings in a handful and it must not be easy for them to bend low to plant the seedlings. But they troop on because they learned that the seedlings will grow up to become the rice they will eat at home.
This was not a scene from a rural community, but in the middle of Seoul. The city of Seoul held its first urban farming fair in the plaza in front of the city hall from June 14th through 17th. In keeping up with the latest eco-friendly trends, the city-sponsored event aimed to boost people’s understanding about farming and teach them about the agricultural items that can be grown in the city. Here’s Mr. Song In-bong, a city government employee in charge of the fair, for more explanation.
People’s interest in urban farming has increased in recent years. Urban farming is easy to do even for busy city residents and can be quite productive both agriculturally and financially. We opened this urban farming show to show the different ways to farm in urban settings so everyone can experience urban farming.
The grassy plaza in front of the Seoul city hall building was transformed into a rural village. Various booths were set up to teach visitors about farming techniques and home gardening, as well as give visitors opportunities to try their hands at farming. The assorted events and hands-on programs seemed to stir the visitors’ interest in farming. Here’s Mr. Song In-bong, a city government employee in charge of the fair, for more.
We have showcased several examples of urban farming – rooftop gardens, indoor gardens, plant factories, and more. Award recipients from nationwide agriculture and horticulture contests have brought their ideas here and we have a wide range of programs teaching people about farming equipment, vegetables and plants fit for city farming, and easy farming methods. We also gave out free vegetable seeds and organic fertilizers, distributed pots for rice cultivation, and provided programs for children. The whole trade show aimed at raising people’s awareness and understanding of farming.
The city of Seoul has proclaimed this year as the beginning of urban farming and invested 6.5 billion won, nearly 5.7 million dollars, to turn 1% of the city area into urban farms. The city government plans to convert unused patches of land found throughout the city into green farming zones. An urban farming park located in Nodeul Island in central Seoul is a part of the municipal government’s new green policy. About 70 different rice varieties were planted in the park’s 10-million square meters of land, named the “toad field,” because of the toads living near the rice fields. Besides the rice field, there are many other gardens in the urban farming park – the Nodeul vegetable garden measuring over 22,500 square meters, 6,000 square meters of civic vegetable garden, 2,300 square meters of community farms, and 500 square meters allotted for growing indigenous plants. Seoul is not the only city in Korea to promote urban farming. Many local governments are rushing to invest in urban farming. What is so special about urban farming to merit such wide interest and heavy investment? Here’s Mr. Shin Dong-heon of the Urban Farming Forum to tell us more.
Urban farming is defined as agricultural activities inside a city. The spatial concept of urban farming is important, but I think who does the farming is just as important, which is why urban farming is sometimes called urbanite farming. Urban consumers taking direct part in farming is what urban farming is all about. For instance, a Seoul resident growing vegetables in a small garden in Chungcheong Province would qualify as a city farmer, but a real farmer growing vegetables in a building in Seoul cannot be considered an urban farmer. The key to urban farming, therefore, lies in the city dwellers who engage in farming as a hobby. Since cities lack vast land for growing produce, urban dwellers use rooftops or balconies or neglected patches of land to farm.
What benefits does urban farming bring? The Seoul government chose Guro District Office as a model case of urban farming. Here’s Mr. Shin Dong-heon of the Urban Farming Forum to explain more.
Residents of Guro District created rooftop gardens. The district residents use natural enemies of pests to control aphids and encourage honeybees to pollinate the zucchinis growing there. Where there are plants, there is a thriving ecosystem. It doesn’t take much, just a small corner on the rooftop would do. Urban farming plays an important part in restoring an ecosystem. Just plant a small pot of rice on the rooftop and see for yourself. See how bees come to pollinate the plants and how the surroundings are changed.
The urban farms of Guro District are special because they mainly use recycled items such as used furniture and old machinery to grow vegetables.
Guro District farmers filled an old grandfather clock with soil and planted lettuce and radish there. They also grow lettuce out of an old suitcase and a speaker. A used banner is used to cover the radish and even a torn pair of jeans serves as a soil container for hot pepper plants.
Any old item can be recycled into a useful item for urban farmers. A plastic water bottle with a fresh coat of paint can work as a unique vase and almost anything- old musical instruments, children’s toys, and even old tires - can be turned into a fertile ground for plants. These refitted items also add character to the whole lot. One of the most popular attractions at the urban farming trade show was an urban farm set up with recycled goods.
This is my vegetable garden. I took some old pipes and filled them with soil and made water drain holes at the bottom. That’s where I grow my lettuce. I also used the pipes to make a stacked-up garden, which doesn’t take up much room in my balcony. It’s easier to pick lettuce and chicory leaves from a vertical garden, like picking leaves off of a tree.
Urban farmer Park Hyun-geun from Osan showcased his PVC pipe gardens. The pipes were arranged both horizontally and vertically to facilitate farming as well as create an artistic effect. His gardens are truly living pieces of art.
- I don’t need to live in the country to farm. I can farm in Seoul and I don’t even need a big piece of land. I can grow vegetables in my balcony, using pipes or plastic bottles. People grow all kinds of vegetables, like red leaf lettuce, chicory, peppers. It motivated me to do the same at home. I thought it would be a lot of work to have a vegetable garden at home, but this fair changed my mind. - Vegetables were grown in plastic boxes and even in sneakers. I want to have a small vegetable garden in my balcony and grow fresh and health vegetables for my family.
The urban farming fair gave many good ideas to novice city farmers. The eight exhibition halls at the fair featured a wide range of agricultural principles, farming methods, and equipment. Here’s Mr. Song In-bong, a city government employee in charge of the fair and the urban agriculture team, for more explanation.
Hands-on programs at the fair included feeding silkworms, making compost using earthworms, creating recycled pots, growing herbs, and making eco-friendly pesticides. The urban farming corporation hall sold shovels, hoes, and other farming implements, as well as seeds, fertilizers, and just about everything you would need for farming in the city. The recycling exhibition hall showcased farmers who used Styrofoam boxes and old household appliances to grow vegetables. Other thematic exhibition featured the present and future of urban farming, economic and job creation effects of urban farming, and other agricultural information.
In the horticulture section some 80 mini gardens were in display, and the urban farming culture area presented artworks with agricultural themes, showing how art and farming can be combined to create a new genre. But just looking at these displays does not make you a farmer. So visitors try their hands at farming at the various hands-on interactive programs provided at the show.
This program teaches how to utilize moss for urban farming. Applying moss to the plant pots helps with humidity control and plant growth. The idea of using moss is new to most urban dwellers, who knew only to water plants.
- I learned something new about growing plants. It was fun. - It was amazing to see plants growing amid the moss. The moss helps control humidity and eliminates the need to turn on a humidifier in the winter.
Visitors pay special attention to the type of soil needed to create an indoor vegetable garden.
It’s not often that city residents get to touch the soil with their hands. They realize the importance of fertile soil by mixing the soil with chicken poop. A teacher who brought her students to the fair feels that the children have grown to appreciate nature more.
- The students planted vegetables and used colored silkworms to make a necklace. They thought chicken poop was disgusting at first, but learned how beneficial it was to farming. They probably never grew anything at home, but just seeing that there are many farming options could motivate them to grow vegetables themselves. It was an emotional and visual delight for my city students.
Just spending a few hours turning the soil, planting seeds, and watering seems to have transformed them into urban farmers. Farming in the city can bring nature closer to city residents, help them realize the importance of land, clear the air inside a home, and motivate people to appreciate nature more. That is the appeal of urban farming.
- I have potted plants, but they were just for decoration, not for eating. I certainly learned a lot about urban farming today. - I thought I couldn’t grow vegetables inside an apartment, but I was wrong. I think I can grow lettuce and peppers in my balcony. - Children can learn more about what they eat through urban farming. Food safety is a serious issue these days, so mothers should pay more attention to urban farming. Don’t you think it’s safer and better for the environment to grow your own food?
A South Korea financial regulator has started an investigation into alleged interest rate rigging by some of the country’s banks.
The Fair Trade Commission is looking at possible collusion over setting certificates of deposit (CD), used as a benchmark to set lending rates.
Kookmin, Shinhan, Woori, and Hana are the banks being investigated.
It follows the Libor-rigging scandal involving Barclays and possibly several other banks.
Brokerage firms, which report CD rates twice a day, are also under suspicion. A CD is a way of saving with a fixed interest rate and maturity sold by banks and circulated in the secondary market by brokerages.
Financial firms benefit from a high CD rates as many household loans are linked to them. They are frequently used to help South Korean’s buy homes.
As with the manipulation of the Libor inter-bank rate in the UK, the possible rigging of CD can help flatter companies’ financial health.
The indebtedness of South Koreans has become a particular worry to the authorities as the economy slows.
In June, ratings agency Moody’s said household loans had grown “at an alarming rate” and were vulnerable to financial shocks arising from the global economic downturn.
"If the investigation finds collusion, there will be significant fines. Even if there was no collusion, it’s highly likely that the government’s motive behind the investigation is to lower household lending rates by inducing a fall in CD rates," said Taurus Investment analyst Andy Lee said in a research report.
Shares in all four banks being investigated fell by more than 2%, with Hana down 2.7%. The banks confirmed they were under suspicion, but declined to comment further.
The investigation comes after a series of scandals to hit the banking industry, including a £290m fine for Barclays over Libor-fixing, severe criticism of HSBC over money laundering, and surprise losses at JP Morgan which have triggered a US federal inquiry.
The Reuters news agency reported that there were no indications that any foreign-based financial firms had been implicated in the South Korean investigation.
A special set of stamps celebrating the fifth anniversary of Girls’ Generation’s debut will be released in early August, the girl group’s agency said on Tuesday.
"The stamps were made especially for Girls’ Generation, a leading group that stands at the forefront of the global popularity of K-pop. This is the first stamp collection focusing on showbiz celebrities that Korea Post has ever issued," said SM Entertainment.
/Courtesy of SM Entertainment
The set comprises 14 stamps including nine containing a picture and autograph of each of the band members, and five featuring the group’s album covers. It costs W20,000 (US$1=W1,139) and will be available from August at over 50 post offices nationwide. The set will also be on display at the Korea Philatelic Exhibition from Aug. 9 to 13 at the COEX Convention Center in southern Seoul.
Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Kicks Off
Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Kicks Off
Photo Courtesy of the Organizing Committee of Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival
Marking its 16th anniversary, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) will take place from July 19th to 29th in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do Province. This year, the festival will feature over 230 films from 47 different countries, including 136 features and 94 short films.
Tickets for regular screenings are available starting at 3 p.m. on July 5th on the official website of the film festival, while walk-in purchase of the tickets will be available from July 20th through 29th.
Ticket prices are 12,000 won for opening, closing, and late-night movies; 10,000 won for 3D films; and 5,000 won for regular screenings. The Open Cine Parade (outdoor film screenings) is free of charge.
☞ Period: July 19 – July 29, 2012 ☞ Venue: Bucheon area (Bucheon City Hall, Korea Manhwa Museum, CGV Bucheon etc.) ☞ Ticket Price Opening/Closing Films: 12,000 won Regular Films: 5,000 won 3D Films: 10,000 won Open Cine Parade (outdoor film screenings): free