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Andrew at The Flying Yangban (http://gopkorea.blogs.com/flyingyangban) handicaps the odds in the upcoming local elections set for May 31. “The Grand National Party is about as strong as they have a right to expect to be,” he says, judging a “win” for the GNP as holding onto what they already have, perhaps picking up Jeju Island. In order for the ruling Uri Party to survive, Andrew says it must hold its current constituencies in North Jeolla province and Daejeon, and pick up the Chungcheong provinces, Gyeonggi province and the remaining Jeolla province, or drive mayoral candidate Kang Kum-sil to victory in Seoul. But he’s not optimistic, foreseeing “an Uri Party break-up (with the loss of at least 20 seats) by the end of this year.”

As 3,000 troops forcibly evicted protesters from the elementary school they had been using as a base to fight the U.S. Army base relocation to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province, the Marmot (www.rjkoehler.com) questioned the consistency between President Roh’s “independent course of diplomacy” and the base construction project. “Clearly, by both accepting the USFK relocation plan and using force to clear out the demonstrators, Seoul wants the United States to stay. Yet not once have I heard anyone ― at least not on the Korean side ― explain just why the U.S. troop presence is so critical that [Seoul] is willing to crack skulls to get it done.”

Joshua at the Korea Liberator (www.korealiberator.org) criticizes Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok for his “shameless mendacity” when it comes to the North’s human rights situation. He seizes on a quote from Lee in a Yonhap article: “At least since 2000 when we began providing assistance to the North, no one there has been starving to death.” Joshua argues recent events and reports from the North of continuing food shortages, especially after the ejection of the UN World Food Program, disprove the statement. He also recalls Lee’s attempts to encourage South Korean journalists to give into requests from the North to censor themselves on the abduction issue. The Marmot takes comfort in that Lee is “a lot better ― or at least more competent ― than his predecessor Chung Dong-young.”

Bloggers had another opportunity to shake their heads and sigh at Koreans’ zealous protection of the Dokdo islets as, following on the heels of the Dokdo Riders and the man who attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the chest, Ahn Sang-gyu, covered himself in about 187,000 bees and leapt onto a Japanese flag. Later he told the BBC, “The honeybee dares to abandon its life when enemies are attempting to attack, to protect its own home. From now on, I hope these bees will contribute to protect our Dokdo.”
Jeff at Ruminations in Korea (www.jsharrison.com/korea/) writes, “I understand that this sounds very patriotic to many Koreans . . . but from a westerner’s point of view. . . it sounds beyond ridiculous. Once again, just like knife in the stomach guy, the people that are concerned about Korea’s image are the very people that make Korea look and sound foolish to the rest of the world.” The Nomad (www.lostnomad.org) mused, “When you live in South Korea, blogs do write themselves sometimes.”

Finally, a relative newcomer to the blog scene called The Yangpa (http://theyangpa.wordpress.com) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at Korean culture as its mission. One recent highlight: “Photos circulating on the Internet have revealed that actress Kim Jeong-eun, before she had extensive plastic surgery, was actually a large hunk of granite. . . Although her official biography states her age as being 30, Ms. Lee was actually formed millions of years ago by the slow cooling of an underground magma chamber.”

by Ben Applegate
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