The Korean War: what’s the beef?

Essentially, the conflict began after the Second world war.

The Japanese had occupied the country until 1945, when the Soviet Union declared war. The North was given over to the Russians and the area south of the 38th parallel was occupied by U.S. forces.

Map showing the 28th parallel, the DMZ

The country of Korea has been invaded so many times in its 1000 year history. When the north of the country was taken over by the communists from China, the Americans were terrified that communism would spread to the south as well. Ever since the end of the Second World War, South Korea has been ruled by a right wing government and the North has been in the hands of a Communist leader.

A dividing line was established at the 38th parallel (so called because that is the latitude at which it was established). In 1950, only five years after the Second world war ended, the Communist north, led by Kim Il-sung and backed by the Chinese and the Russians, began an invasion in the South.

The war lasted for three years and saw some of the most heroic fighting of any war. In many ways it was fought by outside interests and the Koreans were merely a pawn in the game of the Americans and the Russians. There is a saying that when you are a shrimp amongst whales you will soon be crushed. Korea has the misfortune of being situated next to three larger countries (Japan, China and Japan) which have all sought to establish dominance through the countries’ history.

When the war was ended in 1953, all Koreans living in the north of the 38th Parallel were cut off from the south. Even family members were included. There is a bridge in the DMZ; those who walked into the North of the country must have known that they would never be able to return.

One thing that strikes people as interesting is why the United States did not simply occupy all of North Korea and rejoin the the two regions to form a united Korea, thus saving many ordonary North Koreans a life of extremely bitter hardship and suffering. Unfortunatley, doing so would have caused an even greater loss of life and perhaps could only have come about through the use of an atomic bomb.

The situation today is effectively a military stalemate. The demilitarized zone is heavily guarded by soldiers from the north and south. There are 16,000 American soldiers stationed in the area. It’s said if the Americans would ever leave, the North Koreans would launch another invasion.

Earlier this year there were rocket strikes launced on South Korea in retaliation to what the North saw as attempts to broadcast propaganda over loudspeakers.

Whilst relations between the two countries have been continually hostile, there have been recent attempts made by high profile politicians to reach out to the North Korean regime.

Will the two countries ever be reunited? It seems absurd that two countries with the same language and the same ethnicity should be in such a state of hostility. Unfortunately, the North Korean regime exerts such a stranglehold that they barely have any chance to see what life is like outside the regime.

It is said what will reunite the two countries will not be any diplomatic efforts but will result from widepsread exposure to South Korean television dramas and films. Already, reports are surfacing of ordinary North Koreans gaining an idea of what life is like South of the border. The spread of films will utltimately undermine the leadership of the Kims. Whether it happens in 10, 20 or 100 years, the corrupt leadership will surely one day fall.

What its like dating Asian women

Before I realised I had what is perjoratively known to some people as Asian fever, my attempts at dating were haphazard. They were fraught with anxiety and awkwardness. I had been raised to expect certain things from women and it was a continual disappointment when I saw that things didn’t go according to plan.


I didn’t really think too much about it until I started going out with women from Asian countries. Now, I am not some one who could be called a player by any mean

The process by which men have typically approached women have come across as sleazy to me. So one night stands have never appealed to me and I don’t like nightclubs.

I am essentially a very romantic person. For me, the toughest thing has been finding a woman who feels the same way.

Happily, I’ve managed to meet some women who share my feelings. So, what’s it like with Asian girls, and aren’t women all pretty much the same?

I’d have to say no. Whilst globalisation has meant that we all eat McDonalds and wear McDonalds, there are still very clear differences in attitude between western and oriental women.

First things first. Western women will put their needs first. This is immediately clear from browsing through any dating profile on Okcupid or similar sites. A typical profile will contain any number of requirements that a man must have should he consider contacting her. These will range from wanting someone who has a good job to having certain cultural interests that match hers. In all of these requirements, there is no mention of anything that the women are going to offer the man. In fact, he should be lucky if he ever gets the opportunity to spend time with her.

I think I failed on most of the dates I went on was because the women I went out with seemed to have acutally zero interest in learning about me. Rather, they saw the date as an opportunity to vent about everything from how much they hated their jobs to what an asshole their previous boyfriends. It never occured to them to wonder if I would find this interesting or if I would be attracted to them for sharing this information.

N0w when I’ve been out with women from South Korea, China, and other Pacific Rim countries, they have all been genuinely interested in what I have to say. Dates are a pleasure because the conversations are not one-sided.  Conversations flow easily because with Asian girls they are actually interested in what you think and they want to learn more about you.

A real problem I have with western girls is their absolute negativity towards most things. We can all have days when we feel that life is against us but surely a date is not such a time to start ranting?

When it’s time to pay the bill, it’s typical for western women to expect men to pay the bill. In fact, in spite of wanting absolute equality in almost every aspect of their lives, western women will resent any guy who, god forbid, asks her to contribute her share of the bill. Yet, most Asian girls will immediately offer to pay when the cheque lands on the table. The funny thing is that whenever I go out with Asian women I nearly always pay beacause I will have had a great time and its my pleasure to do so in such cases.

When it comes to dressing up, Asian women will invariably go to some effort when they meet you. Maybe they will wear their hair a certain way. If they wear make-up it will be tastefully and carefully applied. Perhaps they will wear a nice skirt with a jacket. Every detail will be taken care of. Now, most western women will most likely not bother making any kind of effort at all.

Asian women are more attentive. For example, if you spill mayonnaise on your trousers, don’t expect them to watch it sink in and stain. A South Korean lady was immediately dabbing on my jeans when this happened to me recently.

Asian women will order drinks, put food on your plate, and help you carry things.

When the date is over and it’s time to say good-night, the Asian woman will say goodbye and thank you for a wonderful evening. You will say thank you and it will be entirely honest. Then when you get home you will find a thoughtful text message saying how much they enjoyed it and saying they would like to see you again.

To be honest, I wouldn’t expect anything like this from western women. I’d be surprised if they would even remember the date later on that evening.

Sometimes I wonder if women in these countries really actually want anything from men? Do they resent men who show interest in them or make an effort to get to know them?

I’ve now been dating ORiental women exclusively for the last year. It’s been a total pleasure and I’ve not looked back.





Book review: A Kim Jong Il Production

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Incredible True Story of North Korea and the Most Audacious Kidnapping in History 

By Paul Fischer


Anyone under the impression that the North Korean regime under the Kims is anti-cinema should consider the fact that kim-Jong Sil amassed an incredible library of films, some 20,000, including the Friday the 13th series and James Bond, which were his favourites.

The movie mad dictator was so enthralled with cinema that he made sure his citizens went to state-sanctioned productions once a week.

At the heart of this terrifying portrait of a madman is the scarcely believable kidnapping of the most famous South Korean actress and Director, both of whom were forced against their will to come to the North and make propaganda films for the Supreme Leader. Once in North Korea, the pair were given funding by Kim and made some of the most famous films of their career including Pulgasari.

Actress Choi Eun-Hee was held hostage and forced to act in Kim Jon-Il's propaganda films.
Actress Choi Eun-Hee was held hostage and forced to act in Kim Jong-Il’s propaganda films.

Any hard facts about the notorious regime are few and far between as the country has allowed few foreign visitors, however Paul Fischer has amassed some truly astounding facts about the Kim era dictatorship.

For example, the legendary account of the great leader’s birth in the sacred mountain known as ‘Paektu’, is revealed to be an outrageous work of fiction foisted on the North Korean people. Jong-Il was not born in Korea and his birth name was Yura. In fact, he only became Kim-Jong-Il in his twenties.

Tales of the regime’s criminal behaviour have led the family to be compared to the Corleones, and Kim Jong-Il to Tony Soprano.

Kidnappings of foreign nationals were all too common in North Korea. However the most outrageous is surely the capture of Choi Eun Hee, then the most famous actress, and her husband, Sang-ok Shin.

The success of these South Korean films must have been known to Kim Jong-Il. Most of the North Korean productions came with heavy political messages and were highly complimentary to the government. In fact the films were only a part of the relentless propaganda fed to its citizens, who have been led to believe that they live in a promised land. School children were made to destroy dolls of American soldiers, who they referred to as Yankee dogs. South Korea was known as ‘American’s Whore’. The television news reported news of riots and savage fighting in South Korea. It was said that the Chinese were starving due to having given up socialism.

Sometimes these appalling statistics can get in the way of the human drama of the captive film maker and actress.

Yet the book makes us fully aware of what living under this government must have been like. All the myths go to show the extent to which Kim went to cultivate personality cult, with himself as a self-appointed Divine Leader.

As well as being a massive movie buff with an archive collection of every South Korean film to that date) Jong-Il had written his own film text book called On the Art of Cinema, which contained such instructions as “a masterwork should be monumental not in size but in content” and he encouraged his writers and directors to favour character over plot, emphasizing “the different fates and psychology of persons … rather than the events themselves.”

In an interview with the Great leader, a microphone was secretly placed in the handbag of Choi-Eun Hee. Jong-Il discussed the sort of films they would produce, and Jong-Il stunned them by offering them $2 million US a year for a budget, clearly with the aim of gaining prestige for North Korean films at international film festivals.

It’s not spoiling the book by revealing that the couple eventually find freedom. It’s whilst on a promotional tour in Austria that they manage to break away from the regime’s clutches. What’s sad is that many in South Korea believed that the kidnapping was staged, an attempt by the director and his wife to revive their diminishing careers. Perhaps because of this, they were never entirely accepted in South Korea.

Although the book is as much about the Supreme Leader as it is about the kidnapping, it’s a powerful love story as any in the movies. The couple divorced in 1975 but reunited after the kidnapping. In many ways it was the kidnapping that brought them back together.

Shin Ok made no more films after 1986, but he made the Cannes Jury in 1994, ushering in a new era for cinema by granting the grand jury prize to Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction. As for Choi Eun Hee, she received the best actress award in 1985 at the 14th Moscow Film Awards for her part in the film Sogum. 

Academics gather for third World Congress of Hallyu, Dubai

sistar -pic

K-pop group Sistar

It seems that as well as being a pop-cultural phenomenon that saw Gangnam Style become the most watched video on Youtube, K-Pop is now leading academics to write scholarly papers on the “symbiosis and parasitism” of attempts by fans to mimic idol groups’ dancing.

There has been resistance from the establishment who worry that erudite work on subjects like neo-Confucianism is being overtaken by papers about squeaky-clean Korean boy bands.

Clark Sorensen, a Korean studies professor at the University of Washington, says that while he understands the appeal of K-Pop for younger academics, “I myself have not chosen to do that kind of research, and I don’t care about that kind of research.”

Despite the ivory tower resistance, K-pop scholars may be winning the argument as K-pop’s scholarly appeal spreads within the academic community.

Last year, Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton Economics professor, uploaded a fake course online for “Introductory Korean Drama” to Princeton’s website.

After watching Korean soap operas every day for six years, he deconstructed the cliches at the heart of these programs’ appeal.

Among the ironclad rules, he argues: ‘No Korean daughter in-law can  make kimchi, or cook rice, or prepare muddy fish as well as does her mother-in-law.”