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On the Road with the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP)—to the Chrysalis Election

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 22:50

EXPAT LIFE, Featured, From the Scene, Politics

During my six months of sleeping on the floor in a windowless room behind the bar of the Same Same backpacker guest house on St. 258, I have gotten into many extended chitchats with locals where it’s hard to discern who is whose brother or cousin, from what village is their home and how long they are staying in Phnom Penh. It is just the way Khmais orient everyone (themselves and foreigners alike) to the difficult history and family patterns of this kingdom-- any hint of incest or inbreeding is not part of it for sure. Who is whose son, daughter or even a cousin is always the in-time Cambodian joke that forces eruptions of laughter belying the anxiousness. And that is one of the attractions of the CNRP rides, everyday, people converging then fastening themselves to each other’s rumble of thousands of 125 cc engines. The smell, the smoke and poof: no one is an orphan. Continue reading...

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Korean Life
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Ties that Bind — Weighing the Sewol Tragedy

Yes, it’s ridiculous to hold President Park responsible when the accident is so obviously a reflection of a society that appears in many ways to have modernized but remains mired in corruption and inefficiency that escapes much comment until disaster strikes. For Park, the real test will be whether she and her ministers, advisers and aides can impose the discipline needed to instill order in projects and programs that often rely on largely hidden networks of influence, blood ties, friendships and payoffs. Continue reading...

Korean Life, Politics
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Seeing Yellow: The Aftermath of the Sewol and its Political Implications

Korea’s doors, fences, car windows, and social media profile pictures are a sea of yellow ribbons right now. In the aftermath of the sinking of the Sewol ferry, yellow ribbons have come to serve as symbols of hope and solidarity for the Korean populace.

The unanimous presence of yellow is reminiscent of the yellow hats, fans, and handkerchiefs that took Seoul by storm during the funeral processions of the late former president Roh Moo-hyun, who took his own life Continue reading...

From the Scene, Korean Life
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Writing from Wreckage: Korean LGBT Literature, Activism and the First Literary Award

When the door to his office wouldn't budge, Yol sensed something was blocking it. After a call out to his office mates and several shoves, it finally opened a crack. Through it he saw a soju bottle on the floor and several wadded tissues. Then, at the base of the door, the fringe of a purple checked shirt he recognized from the evening before. This couldn't be happening. “Let it be something in the office that fell to the floor,” he prayed. Continue reading...

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When I’m Forbidden: Ten Shijo by Yook Woo-dang


Sorrow at loving you when I'm forbidden. I watch from the offing, a smile on my lips. It was a cruel heaven that made me a queer.

Queer get-together

A glass of light booze cures a pound of cares. Cheery conversation sets our woes to flight. The mirthful night flows with the lilting music. Continue reading...

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Laos’ Plain of Jars: A Forgotten and Neglected Wonder

From the Scene, Travel   Monday, May 19, 2014 6:05 4 comments!

By Rich Luhrs

While not nearly as famous or touristed as England’s Stonehenge, the Plain of Jars in northern Laos poses a comparable historical puzzle. No one can say for certain what the literally thousands of immense stone vessels – some weighing in excess of seven metric tons – sprinkled across more than 90 sites throughout Xieng Kouang Province were originally intended to be, who exactly built them or when, nor how some of them were transported as far as 50 kilometers from the sites where they were quarried to their current locations. Here truly is one of the marvels of the Neolithic world, in a place few people have ever heard of and far fewer have visited. (I myself had never heard of the Plain before my first trip to Vientiane, the Lao capital, in July 2013, and I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for more than seven years.)

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Like Father, Like Daughter–the Importance of Investigative Journalism

Featured, Student Writing   Sunday, February 2, 2014 23:53 3 comments!

By Kim Soo Rin

Over the past few years, the situation in Korean media has worsened. The government control of the media has only gotten stronger. Big corporations that own newspapers were allowed to own public broadcast stations and the media mainly covered sensational or happy news while avoiding controversial and important issues that really mattered. Numerous more conscious journalists went on strikes against their companies that were failing to keep their journalistic integrity and, as a result, were fired or moved like my father was several years ago. The public was getting angry with the media for failing to inform the society of what is going on in this world, and craved for something new, something else.

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Back in the USSA

EXPAT LIFE, From the Scene   Sunday, February 2, 2014 2:58 1 comment.

By Lee Scott

It had been six years since I returned to my friends and family back in Oklahoma. When I first left my home state in 2002, it was necessary to fly from Oklahoma City to Chicago or Minneapolis and then to Tokyo and on to Beijing, or Incheon or wherever. I made that trip many times, always single and always on another’s dime for the first few years. If I recall correctly, it took approximately 24 hours from door to door. Now, you can get a direct flight from Incheon to Dallas (which is close enough for me to get home) and then it is a relatively short, high-speed and traffic-free drive to where I grew up and where most of my family still resides. If you stay up the night before you leave on a morning flight, and sleep on the plane, you won’t even get jet lag. At least I didn’t.

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Spreading Savoir-Faire: the Rise of French Restaurants in Korea Since 2000

Korean Life   Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:56 2 comments!

By Hal Swindall

Before 2000, the number of French restaurants in Korea could be counted on one hand; Koreans had little interest in foreign fare other than American fast food, and something like duck confit would have been seen as impossibly alien. That is still largely the case, but FKCCI’s the 2014 French Restaurants in Korea guide lists no less than 58 establishments. Although the greatest concentration is naturally in Seoul, they can be found around the country. They are mostly small in both size and menu, but offer cooking utterly different from kimchi and rice.

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Revisiting the Blind Fortune Tellers of Mia-ri

EXPAT LIFE, Korean Life   Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:50 1 comment.

By Iwazaru

With the Chinese New Year commencing on January 31, and the Year of the diligent, disciplined and cooperative Wood Horse rising with the new moon, for many in the East it’s a felicitous time to ask what the future holds, be it favorable or frightening. In Korea, some people turn to the blind seers of the Mia-ri district in northern Seoul. This is where I met Diviner Baek Il-hong one frigid January afternoon not long before the spirits of the new year would be unleashed to shape the months ahead. Looking back, I wonder what else she knew.

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Why Go Out? Everyone Delivers

Art, Korean Life   Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:49

By Jen Lee

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Andrei Lankov on Sex in North Korea

Politics   Sunday, June 23, 2013 22:52 6 comments!

By Andrei Lankov

The great social disruption of the 1990s had much impact on the sexual mores of North Korea – state and people. The state lost its ability to control the daily behavior of its people and the traditional values that had been fostered by the state lost much of their attractiveness.

The great increase in the economic power of women also had much impact on the North Korean family. Most North Korean factories ceased to operate in the 1990s and as a result most North Koreans came to make most of their money from the market.

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The Eden Center: A Haven for Korea’s Highly Gifted Kids

Korean Life   Sunday, June 23, 2013 22:25 4 comments!

By Hal Swindall
Foreign teachers in Korea are all aware of the rigorous daily school schedules of Korean children, many of whom continue with extra study at private academies, or hakwons, by night. For most teachers, this is a sharp contrast to what we underwent at the same age, and we admire the diligence of Korean students as they work their way through such a system and achieve top scores on standardized tests. Given such high achievement levels, President Obama even declared Korea a model for American educational reform.

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Korea is: One Long-Termer Says Farewell

EXPAT LIFE, From the Scene   Sunday, June 23, 2013 22:17 2 comments!

By John Kay

Editor’s note: The author is a long-time 3WM contributor and friend who recently left Korea after years on the peninsula. His last piece for 3WM was “Cancer, Death and Samsung’s Semiconductor Factories.”

Korea is… not having to say you’re sorry, unless you’re poor, have small feet, or you do a wrong; a wrong no one should wrong. And then there’s the drugs; which ones doesn’t matter; this is a back water. This is, Nancy Reagan said; this is forever. This is where they have no class As, Bs or Cs. Drugs are drugs, unless you mean alcohol and cigarettes: now you’re talking; now that’s your recommended dose. Korea is speeding through red lights, and not seeing anything wrong with that. Thinking that the end justifies the means. Think of the next man; what would he do?, and then double it.

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More Dangerous than a Racist Baboon– A Week with Eugenics

Rant   Sunday, June 23, 2013 22:13

By Marie Kulik
At Least the Baboon Can’t Speak…,I have just spent the last week in the company of a disturbingly-senior-at-a-Multi-National man who believes in eugenics. I was tasked with looking after him for the duration of his trip to South Korea.

Amongst the gems spouted within the conversations that I inevitably had to engage in with the peculiar man, were a few that made me question how someone so highly educated and so widely respected within his field (terrifyingly, that of science), could have gotten to the age of 60 and be so removed from reality. Just to put this into perspective, this individual is employed at an upsettingly senior level within the world’s largest consulting services company, has lectured at the Central Intelligence Agency, patented once-ground-breaking technology and perhaps more alarmingly worked as a Medical Practitioner and a Psychological Counsellor. Ēl help the clients.

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