These are the blog posts I discussed in this week's "Blog Buzz" feature on TBS radio. See you next Thursday!
1. A sober topic:
The Korean translates comments by Joo Seong-ha, a North Korean defector who's been deeply involved in recent efforts to stop the repatriation of North Korean defectors from China. He describes counting the cost of bringing the repatriation story into the news: due to the publicity, there'll be a crackdown in China, and tougher border control in North Korea... that’s a lot of potential human suffering to be caused by a media campaign... yet in Mr. Joo's calculus, border control has been so tight since the transfer of power to Kim Jong-eun anyway, and China's been so tough lately on North Korean defectors (refugees: let's call them what they are) that Mr. Joo figures things pretty much can’t get any worse... so it’s time to build international pressure.
Every time I see coverage on this protest, and government leaders adding their voices to the pressure on China, I'm glad.
2. Hub of Tackiness
After a lot of talk about the military base, Lost on Jeju is annoyed about some tourism developments around Jeju: apparently, they're developing Jeju’s coastline at Tapdong -- wrecking the natural coast and pouring concrete to build more tourist attractions...
Though at Iho Beach, development has led to lots of asphalt, but no influx of businesses, so that all you see is a wrecked beach, the redevelopment of Tapdong seems to be going ahead.
Basically... there's a delicate balance that must be reached between developing amenities for tourists, and retaining the charms that initially made a site attractive to tourists. My mind turns to Samcheongdong, which has lost all its original charms, as traditional restaurants and unique cafes have been replaced by waffle cafes, coffee shop chains and accessory shops.
When I saw a "Ripley's Believe it or Not!" museum under construction on Jeju, my heart sank. Importing the worst of tourist trap amenities from the world's other famous tourist traps, doesn't automatically make Jeju Island a world-class tourist destination, any more than getting arrested for tax evasion makes me as famous as Martha Stewart.
Two-fer from INP:
I liked I'm No Picasso's call for more nuance in discussions of Asian masculinity, in this post. http://imnopicasso.blogspot.com/2012/02/jeremy-lin-i-guess-ill-weigh-in.html
even more, I liked her insights into trying to find the kinds of expats you actually want to hang out with, here:
This is a risky topic because it’s easy to fall into stereotypes, but basically... there is a spectrum of how seriously people take their time in Korea as an opportunity to learn another culture -- ranging from "Let's drink budweiser and shit-talk Korea" to "Let's study Korean fan dancing together" -- and most expats fall somewhere in between that... but it's important to find people who are at about the same place on the spectrum as you are, so that the level of shit-talk, and the level of "trying to understand" stay at tolerable levels for all involved.
All that to say... don't give up, because those people are out there. INP suggests developing an online presence, whereby you can filter people before meeting them in person, to figure out who's likely to be the kind of person you want to hang with.
Hyori Pushes Back
Every person who's been body-snarked in Korea, or been told they're fat when their body is perfectly within healthy range, has to smile a little inside at Lee Hyori's response to netizens who criticized her no-longer-epically-taut abs.
When Lee Hyori struck back at netizens saying, basically, “well of course people lose a little tone as they get older” I felt a little hope in my heart that maybe fans will start offering their idols a little more leeway to be, um, healthy.
Full disclosure: I especially liked it, because I’m the same age as Hyori.
Ran out of time:
I didn't have time to talk about the awesome mixtape posted at "G'Old Korea Vinyl" -- which has songs ranging from the '80s to 1939, and is a great overview of old Korean music, in about 40 minutes. Go. Listen. Enjoy.
That is all. go listen to the mixtape.