Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Loose change for October 12, 2011

 Economic and business news 
  • The director of the acclaimed and wildly popular Korean War pic Taegǔkki Hwinallimyŏ (Brotherhood) is finishing up a $24 million Korean-Chinese co-production on World War II that will be shown at Cannes in May. I guess Kang Jekyu couldn't work with the Chinese on making another Korean War film: while they might have agreed on the ending, they wouldn't have agreed on the beginning.
 North Korea news and stuff 
  • They hate us, they really hate us: North Korea is threatening to launch "direct fire" over anti-Pyongyang leaflets being sent northward. Having lived in Seoul off and on since I was a teenager, I got used to North Korean bluster, but after the murderous attack on Yŏnpyŏng-do late last year, I'd take it a bit more seriously. Trying to draw attention away from President Lee's visit to the US as the KORUS FTA is signed would be just the kind of thing they'd pull. 
  • South Korea is going to allow 120 firms to restart building five factories in North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Park, just north of the DMZ. This is seen as a sign of easing tensions, but you'll be forgiven if you start thinking, in light of the previous news item, "Whiskey tango foxtrot?!" I know Joshua at One Free Korea does.
  • Writing in the Washington Post, Victor Cha (whose name sounds like the kind of tea they would drink in a Korean-language version of 1984) talks about how denuclearization of North Korea can be achieved, with incentives for good behavior and serious consequences for bad. It is definitely worth a read but I, on the other hand, am not so optimistic, believing we are fooling ourselves into thinking we can effectively shape North Korean policy as long as China is in control and is only interested in keeping North Korea as a buffer zone. But I would love to be proven wrong on that one.
  • Japanese doctors have arrived in North Korea to examine those who were affected by the atomic bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Those who have read this post may recall why there were North Koreans (formerly just Koreans from the northern part of Korea) in blast zone in the first place.
 Other Korea-related stuff 
 Americana and miscellany 
  • The Washington Post notes that ROK President Lee Myungbak will be visiting while the Obama administration's nominee for US Ambassador is being held up. Sung Kim would replace Kathleen Stevens, who remains in Seoul in the meantime. Perhaps Senator Kyl of Arizona thinks that it's not a good idea to have a Korean-born Korean-American representing US interests in Korea? Asking, not saying, but it's not as if kyopo loyalty or the lack thereof has never been raised on the Interwebs before. 
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