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Korea’s election campaign was enlivened in a most unwelcome manner this week by an attack on Park Geun-hye, the leader of the Grand National Party, while canvassing in Seoul’s Sinchon area. With reports emerging that Ji Chung-ho, the man who slashed Ms. Park’s face, is a paid up member of the Uri Party, several commenters on the blogosphere this week see the attack as illustrative of Korea’s left. “Blind self-righteousness that would put a Bible-belt preacher to shame permeates Korea’s left, and with this arrogance comes a willingness to employ violence at the drop of a hat,” thunders Hugh on “The Marmot’s Hole” (http://www.rjkoehler.com/).
Still at “The Marmot’s Hole,” host Robert writes that while the attack may be a “terrible act,” “the timing is pretty sweet for the GNP, with local elections less than two weeks away. At a minimum, this will dominate the political news for a couple of cycles and give the GNP leader sympathy at a time when the Uri Party needs to try to change the dynamics of the race.”
Kushibo at “Monster’s Island” (http://kushibo.blogspot.com/), meanwhile, is shocked at how easily the attackers got to Ms. Park. “Seoul and Korea in general are both relatively safe places. It may be that sense of safety that lulled security details into thinking that a high-profile ― and polarizing ― political figure like Ms. Park could press the flesh without such an incident occurring.” Not a little cynicism is in evidence, too, at the decision to charge the knife-wielding assailant with attempted murder. “If he had cut up a yogurt ajumma on the street, he would pay a fine, apologize, and maybe do a few months in jail,” writes Brian at “Cathartidae” (http://cathartidae.wordpress.com/). “But hey, give a lifelong member of Korea’s ruling class a major boo-boo, and it’s attempted murder time. What a crock...”
Sporadic blogger “Oranckay” (http://oranckay.net/blog/) offers a different spin: Would footage of the attack be so ubiquitous, he wonders, were Ms. Park not a woman? “Gruesome pictures of Yun [Geum-I, murdered by a U.S. soldier in 1992] and later the two students [killed in an accident with an American tank in 2002] were frequently put on display, and for years, by groups that wanted to use them for their shock value. When Kim [Seon-il] was beheaded [in Iraq in 2004], however, suddenly there was all this concern for the ‘dignity of the deceased.’”

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Koreans have departed these shores in search of a better life, and become Americans, Canadians and Australians. Less well known are the people making the opposite journey, relinquishing their original passports and becoming Korean citizens. In his third podcast interview, Brian at “Gangwon Notes” (http://gangwon.blogspot.com/), quizzes Tammy, a Korean citizen of 20 years, on just what prompted her to become Korean. Was it the culture? The food? Sort of. “[In Korea] I found I could watch television while eating dinner... and I decided very quickly that this was the place I wanted to stay,” Tammy says.

“Sound the alarms!!! We have ourselves a kimchi crisis!” writes Scott at “The Iceberg,” (http://www.icebergkorea.com/) one of several blogs to pick up this week on a Los Angeles Times story suggesting that Korea’s national dish may, if eaten to excess, lead to gastric cancer. “Certainly,” he asks wryly, “the Korean media will want to educate the public about the potential dangers of kimchi, right?”
Naver did feature the LA Times report, if not to the satisfaction of “The Party Pooper” (http://partypooper.blogs.com/partypooper/). Noting that the Naver story added widely believed (but much derided) claims that kimchi helps prevent SARS, “The Party Pooper” wrote, “There has never been a single study that has shown kimchi has any effect on SARS, but this crap is just continuously reported in Korean media as accepted fact.”

by Niels Footman
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