[GOING TO THE BLOGS]It coup’d happen to you

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[GOING TO THE BLOGS]It coup’d happen to you

While Korean affairs are the main concern of expats on the peninsula, major news items in other regions of Asia occasionally grab the blogosphere’s attention. That was the case this past week as a wide number of bloggers wrote about the Thai military’s ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. One common question was, “Could it happen here?”
GI Korea, at his “ROK Drop” blog (http:// www.gikorea.net/BLOG/), offered: “If the U.S. doesn’t condemn this coup, it may give ideas to the militaries of other U.S. allies, such as South Korea, who also currently have a deeply unpopular leader with a 14-percent approval rating, that maybe a coup isn’t a bad idea.”
Writing for “Lost Nomad” (http://www.lostno mad.org/), Gar surmises, “This should be interesting to watch since I’m planning a trip to Thailand in November. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I leave Korea for Thailand and they have one here?”
Indeed it would be ironic, but the prospects of a coup here are unthinkable, are they not? It would seem so, but warnings from the Grand National Party spokesman Yoo Ki-joon that the coup in Thailand should not be regarded simply as some other country’s business leads one to pause. Still, the general consensus among readers at “The Marmot’s Hole” (http://www. rjkoehler.com/) is that a Seoul coup is unlikely and that Mr. Yoo’s remarks were irresponsible. Writes Sewing, a frequent commentator and contributor, “If the GNP wants to succeed in selling itself as a ‘kinder, gentler’ version of its antecedents and thereby have a hope of sweeping the next presidential election, talk of a coup is definitely not an option, as appealing as it might be in some quarters. Roh is doing a good enough job as it is of helping the GNP!”

The past as a guide to the present
Those who have a keen interest in Korean history should be sure to check out “Gusts of Popular Feeling” (http://populargusts.blogspot.com/), where blogger Matt has recently run a series of posts detailing the observations of some of the earliest Western visitors to the Hermit Kingdom; as well as Korea’s historical role as a pawn in the world powers’ colonial chess match. Drawing from the foreign explorers’ impressions of differences in Korean demeanor when met in groups (“we plainly saw they were extremely anxious for our departure”) versus as individuals (“we found them?good-humored and obliging”), Matt notes striking similarities to modern Korean society, “When you talk to someone one-on-one, these ‘national’ topics can usually be discussed with some candor (because “the rest were out of sight”), but in the presence of others, especially a group, this can be difficult. This is not to say that this doesn’t happen in other societies, of course; it’s just that there are certain nationalist topics in Korea about which there seem to be little dissent, until you realize that this is just in public.” Something to consider when trying to make sense of netizen behavior.
Seoul vs. prostitution (again)
Ladies of the night, it’s time to pick up shop and peddle your wares elsewhere. The Seoul city government is considering another plan to shut down business establishments around the city that offer prostitution. The continued widespread availability of sex-for-sale venues throughout the city, in spite of previous efforts by the government to shutter the industry, leads bloggers to cast a doubtful eye on the practicality of new measures. At the Lost Nomad, Nomad’s quip that, “If they do that (crack down), the only businesses open will be E-Mart, 7-11, and a few restaurants,” was met with this reply by reader Jacket, “If they close those businesses, the sex will only move to other businesses. Soon you would be able to purchase sex at an E-mart, 7-11, or a restaurant.” Commentator Michael, carrying the discussion over to The Marmot’s Hole, writes a riposte that is witty but not quite suitable for a family newspaper.
The JoongAng Daily welcomes Scott Hammel as its new resident blog-watcher. ― Ed.

by Scott Hammel
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