Saturday, October 12, 2002

Another shooting in Fredericksburg. Do I really want to come home?

Spent a delightful evening at Pogyongsa, a Buddhist Temple in the mountains outside of P'ohang. Ate delicious temple food (no meat but surprisingly spicy) and attended a worship session. A bit hard to keep up with all the kneeling, standing, and bowing but it was a fascinating experience: sounding bells and gongs echoing in the cool evening air, the scent of incense wafting about, the unintelligible but still somehow compelling chanting of the monks, the bright colors of the temple's interior, the shining gold of the statue of the traditional Buddha , all in all very nice.

Friday, October 11, 2002

The mighty Thor hawking Hostess Fruit Pies? This and much more can be found here (link courtesy of instapundit)

Greetings from Korea. Am staying at the vert high-tech and very wired P'ohang Institute of Science and Technology. Free unlimited internet access!

Just read Nick Kristof's latest NYT editorial (free registration required). Among other things, he makes the following argument/observation:

In 1994 the vogue threat changed, and hawks pressed hard for a military confrontation with North Korea. We came within an inch of going to war with North Korea, in a conflict that a Pentagon study found would have killed a million people, including up to 100,000 Americans.

In retrospect, it is clear that the hawks were wrong about confronting North Korea. Containment and deterrence so far have worked instead, kind of, just as they have kind-of worked to restrain Iraq over the last 11 years, and we saved thousands of lives by pressing diplomatic solutions.

I used to wholeheartedly repeat this line of thinking. However, more recently I have begun to wonder. Even if one assumes that a conflict in 1994 would have killed one million, estimates of the number of famine deaths in the DPRK since 1994 range as high as two million. Now it becomes a macabre numbers game. How many North Korean lives can/should be sacrificed in order to save American and/or South Korean lives? I am not so starry eyed that I think that American policymakers should regard all human life as equally precious; but to argue that not going to war has saved lives is a bit misleading.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

The tabloids here are full of speculation about the presidential contenders. Willt he 76-year old Kim Jong Pil throw in his lot with Lee Hoe Chang, someone else or will he run alone? Who will successfuly court World Cup soccer guru Chong Mong Jun? Who will be the last one standing after the dust settles? Sources tell me that even though the era of the "three Kims" is passing, Korean politics still is driven far more by regional affiliation, generational affinity, and charismatic personality (or the lack thereof) than by ideology.

Well, it has been four years since I set foot in the Republic of Korea. Landed at the Incheon (I still have trouble writing that; it will probably always be Inch'on to me) international airport . All in all an impressive feat of engineering especially when compared to the crumbling and creaky Dallas-Fort Worth airport through which I traveled last night. Seoul is still crowded, busy, noisy, wired, weird and cool.

Blogging from Korea. You gotta love the information superhighway that runs through this globalized world of ours. Or at least in runs through wired places usch as the U.S. and Korea. I am blogging from a computer on Ewha Women's University. They have a very impressive international studies program . GW in general and the Elliott School in particular has had a fairly close relationship with Ewha. Study abroad and exchange programs abound.

Monday, October 07, 2002

I'm off to Korea in a few hours. Will attend a conference in Pohang, home of the famous POSCO steel plant. I probably won't be posting for the duration of my trip (a week) but will leave a note or two if I manage to come across an internet cafe.

The BBC is reporting that Yang Bin has been detained by Chinese authorities. At first blush this might seem like a setback for the DPRK reform effort. But in the long run it might be better for someone a bit more reputable to head the enterprise.

So much going on, so little time.

Kelly's visit to North Korea has generated the usual diplomatic boilerplate about the frank exchange of ideas (in other words, nothing was accomplished). No sign of more talks any time soon.

The sniper that hit Montgomery County, MD. a few days ago and then, apparently, Fredericksburg, VA (far too close to home for me, I drive past that Michaels store almost every day), may have struck again, this time in Bowie, MD. The authorities are saying it is too soon to tell whether there is a connection between this latest shooting and the earlier ones. The blogosphere is, of course, wild with speculation.

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