Korea
Category

By In Hawaii, Korea

Lessons from the Hawaii Missile Threat

“Since I moved to Seoul four years ago, I’ve grown used to the hysterical concern that my family and friends back in Hawaiʻi have expressed about my new neighbor to the North. The hysteria has only intensified post-Trump, with every fiery sound byte and furious tweet manifesting into another frantic phone call asking if I’m sure I don’t want to move home yet.

It was a strange sort of role reversal when I woke up on an otherwise regular Sunday morning to discover that, while I was asleep, an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched, was inbound to Hawaiʻi, and it wasn’t a drill. No texts or voice messages were on my phone, and the worst-case scenario billowed in my mind like a mushroom cloud. A quick Internet search informed me, however, that the warning was a mistake. Gratefulness and relief washed over me. Harrowing stories of parents calling their kids to say goodbye slowly turned into memes poking fun at the whole situation. Everything was fine. Everyone was fine.

A latent restlessness lingered around my apartment, though; one that soon transformed into anger…”

 

Read more at Summit

Read more

By In essay, Korea, Mixed Martial Arts

The Main Event

 

Front and center was a cage where men would soon punch each other for money. Seats inside Seoul’s cavernous Olympic Hall wrapped around it on two levels: cageside VIP tables for the type of people who wear suits to a cage fight, and open seating above it for everyone else. Behind the cage was a ramp that led up to a theater stage set up with gear for a rock band. Above, a jumbo screen showed silent highlight videos of older matches on a loop.

A pre-fight promotional video started. Clips of knockouts played as the lights dimmed. Band members crept to their positions through the shadows while the video showed mean-mugging men holding up their fists. The video culminated with resounding, ear-splitting English: “Top FC! Fighting! Champion!”

The screen went blank. A row of mortar-like pyrotechnics shot flames upward from the edge of the stage, and the band started screaming over the sounds of their instruments. They sounded like the kinds of bands most kids listen to in high school but are now embarrassed to think about–except all in Korean.

It was exactly the type of campy, weird high-production values that I wanted, but as the music pierced the on-stage flames and echoed through the auditorium, I didn’t quite feel there. I didn’t quite feel anywhere…”

 

Read more at Left Hooks

Read more

By In Korea, Olympics

How North Koreans View The Pyeongchang Olympics

“In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a mixed bag of messages, for the North Korean people and the world. The speech, translated into English, ran more than 5000 words. The first three quarters of the speech were standard stuff: we have nukes, get over it and let’s continue to develop our economy. Then the tone shifted.

“This year is significant both for the North and the South, as in the North the people will greet the 70th founding anniversary of their Republic as a great, auspicious event, and in the South the Winter Olympic Games will take place,” Kim Jong-un said.

This is notable, not just in the context of the rest of the speech or the recent tensions on the Korean peninsula, but because this is a tremendous departure from how North Korea responded the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics 30 years ago…”

 

Read more at Vice Sports

Read more

By In Korea, Mixed Martial Arts

What’s At Stake For The Korean Superboy

“The last time Doo Ho Choi walked into the Octagon was 13 months ago against Cub Swanson. A lot of hype was behind him. He was on a 12-fight winning streak, 10 of which were knockouts. He was 3-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and all three of his wins were first-round knockouts. Even though he was ranked 11th in the official UFC rankings and Swanson was fourth, Choi was still the favorite. Choi was a promising prospect, an exciting fighter from a region ripe with potential. Swanson was a fairly known commodity who increasingly fit the bill as a featherweight gatekeeper, boasting the most wins in World Extreme Cagefighting-UFC featherweight history but having suffered losses to the division’s elite more often than the opposite. An exciting standup affair was expected, and it looked as if a memorable win against a top-five opponent was in the cards for “The Korean Superboy.” All the stars were aligned for a coming-out party. The fight was indeed spectacular, but the result was not what was expected: Choi lost a competitive decision in one of the year’s best fights.

Choi returns in the UFC Fight Night 124 main event against Jeremy Stephens on Saturday in St. Louis. The specifics have changed, but the general idea is the same. Stephens is ranked higher at No. 9, but the 13th-ranked Choi is the favorite, albeit with narrower odds. Stephens is looking more and more like a tough gatekeeper to weed out the weak from jumping in the deep-end of the division, and the style matchup of two heavy-hitting standup specialists should result in an exciting fight. Especially since the Swanson loss did little to derail his hype, the stars have once again aligned for Choi to make a jump to the next level.

Regardless of the outcome, however, Choi faces an even larger, more insurmountable foe on the horizon: compulsory military service in the South Korean army…”

Read more at Sherdog

Read more

By In Korea

Seoul, From the Ground Up

“There are two different Seouls.

One of them exists in American headlines and imaginations. In that Seoul, half of South Korea’s 50 million people are living in constant terror. This Seoul is blanketed by Pyongyang’s nuclear shadow and Washington’s gaseous emissions, caught between a geopolitical rock and a hard place: the bratty obstinacy of a vain, power hungry madman, and Kim Jong-un. In this Seoul, South Koreans are paralyzed, able to do little more than cross their fingers and frightfully cling to the sanity of hope in an increasingly crazy world.

Then there’s the Seoul that actually exists in reality—the Seoul where the fire and fury on everyone’s minds is an oppressive, record-setting heat wave. Alongside unusually high levels of monsoons, the humidity has been brutal, leading to enough air conditioner usage to cause brief power outages. As a result, the big consumer trend of the summer has been handheld battery-powered fans.

In this Seoul, the Korean Baseball Organization is halfway into its regular season. Fans flock to the stadiums, clutching their handheld fans, spilling in and out of subways wearing their team’s jerseys. Smells of soju and beer and fried chicken waft through the subway stations.

The Seoul of actual reality obsesses over a slew of K-pop groups releasing new albums—called “comebacks”—and the most commonly discussed battle is whether Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor,” Exo’s “Koko Bop” or, more recently, Wanna One’s “Energetic” is the top summer single.

Life in Seoul isn’t just normal considering its proximity to North Korea; life in Seoul is normal, period. South Koreans work longer days and more hours than nearly anywhere else in the world, and with the fastest average Internet connection on the planet, it’s only natural that their off-hours are dedicated to the same technological distractions as Americans…”

 

Read more at Summit

Read more