Monday, 31 May 2010

Offtopicz: economy and culture

I am tired. Really tired so much that I can't sleep at night sometimes. It is my multitasking personality which makes this burden and I know I do it to myself and noone else does. Studies, radio, NG, museum, exhibition, photos, social life, thesis, etc. etc.

Today I have started analyzing the faces of economy in various corners of the world, especially I mean time spent at work, financial satisfaction, and many others.

Like a lot of people in Europe I have been previously convinced that agressive face of capitalism comes from USA and that if you do not wanna work 24/7 for shitty money as a first generation immigrant better don't go there.

But it seems that according to OECD comparison this is my homeland, Poland which takes the second place in the classification. Netherlands ( I have also lived there) takes the last place. So I have seen on my own eyes, talking to people and watching stuff. Polish were in Netherlands just as hardworking as Berbers, Marrocans and others. The prize for that comes only to fresh graduates after prestigious subsidiezed studies in the West, others need to proove themselves first.

In Netherlands most of people leave home at 7:30 and go back home at 4 or 5 unless they have specific responsibility for network maintainance or managerial jobs. On Sunday only gas stations are places where you can buy anything as most of shops are closed. In East Europe most of shops operate on Sundays at least until 4 if not longer, not to mention Tesco or other networks.

The place South Korea takes requires deeper analysis. Does that 1st place mean that these people are the richest, the most happy or the country most effective? Not so sure. The responsibility structure is so mild that you never know if the goal gets accomplished on time. Many western managers I met mentioned that 3 Europeans do more within 3 hours until lunch than most of Koreans do until 4 pm. I cannot verify myself any of that as so far I am just a grant student or a university lab worker ( apart from freelance journalism), and this world is so much different from any corporate environment. Yet I have seen both hardworking and both lazy people, so it depends. Anyway Korea always accomplishes goal on time, so maybe that is what matters?

But I wish the most that the economic growth is not at the expense of the nation which has no real state law to secure it's interest at work and regulate labour issues. But for that there are needed leaders of changes, whose message can be heard.

In most of countries in the West such things were historically shaped by a long term social clash or dialogue ( mostly dialogue) and it took a 100 years to stabilize the situation. Maybe it's too much to expect a randomized process in any other corner of the world.

It is also very nice to know that USA is still, after all, an eldorado. Of ideas.

That reminds me of a coverage done for Trójka przekracza granice somewhen in 2008, when during the election year several radio reporters travelled through the States and interviewed average people on their feelings on crisis, elections, etc. Somewhere in Arizona in a very small city a lady said: " Yes, there is a crisis, but my neighbors will help me, I will help my neighbors and we will survive. If you want to feel welcome and accepted, come to us" I remembered these words for a long time.

From the cauch on the second floor in Warsaw,

Thursday, 27 May 2010

China: key player in the Korean game

I have written last week about possible reactions of South Korean government to North Korea after the results of the Cheonan sinking investigation revealed last week.

One of the key roles in this situation holds China who has been North Korea's closest ally due to strategic reasons so far ( NK is a natural security layer from spreading harmful democratic ideas from SK citizens).

But recently it seems that it is changing. Any unstability is not good and maybe Beijing has come to the conclusion that North Korean leader is after all not predictable in his actions.

Today South Korean president Lee and Chinease prime minister meet and discuss possible common course towards North Korea, or at least Chinease admitting NK guilt, which would be a real breakthrough. Strong evidence presented by an international expert's commision shouldn't be ignored. There is a strong pressure on China to stop doing Public Relations and advert itself as a stabilizer and peacemaker, and finally start acting.

Meanwhile president Lee does exactly what he can do in this situation. As I have written last week, there is currently a show off with military power on the Yellow Sea, large scale maneuvers exercise the possibility of detecting NK submarines.

Last week I have mentioned as well that economy will suffer some shakes, and so it happens. But what is impressive is a decision to suspend trade, strongly against vital interests of Seoul's economy.

One thing happens normally- today all the workers in Kaeseong special economic zone went to work as usually including 650 circa of South Korean workers who daily cross the border and go to Kim Jong Il's world to work at industrial plants.  


The photography comes from Korea Times

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Cheonan sinking by NK Torpedo

As it was said two days ago the results of the multinational experts investigation on the sinking of the South Korean military ship are revealed to day stating with no doubt that it was a North Korean torpedo which caused the blast and death of 50 soldiers.

The joint experts commitee has worked since the end of March 2010 just after the explosion. It consists of 25 experts from ten domestic professional institutes, 22 military experts, three lawmakers from related National Assembly committees and 24 foreign experts from the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Sweden. The group was divided into four departments: forensic science, explosive pattern analysis, hull structure and data analysis.

The results say with no doubt that it was a North Korean 250kg torpedo CHT-02D which hit the South Korean ship. Parts of the torpedo with original North military markings were found on the site of the catastrophe.


The question is: what now? Where does it aim?
The current president of South Korea, Mr Lee is known for his much harder course towards Kim Jong Il and it is very likely that some serious measures will be conducted. But...

South Korean economy and civil prosperity, the very core of its potential is located in Seoul which is very close to DMZ. To close to risk any actions without threatening the success of two yuppie generations and their wealth - and South Koreans put a big value on their wealth. Despite their national pride and patriotism/nationalism they are not likely to risk their nice cars and homes for war with the North.

Even bigger factor are SK cheabols which founded Kaeseong Economy Zone and used to make enourmous profits on NK cheap labour power. Cheabols bosses are the SK aristocracy - the most influential in politics both domestic and overseas. They have not once tried to convince SK government on less hard treatment of NK because of potential and real profits for their companies - and for the entire economy.

Rice farmers also push on exporting their products to NK especially in times of hunger.

What will happen in such situation?
President Lee will very likely improve founds for national defence system, train more troops, and buy more weapons.

He will also push on the US - SK free trade act which will make US more friendly towards Lee even in times of Obama in the White House.

The South Korean economy will suffer some hits from panicked investors on stock exchange and the KRW exchange rate will shake a bit.

Apart from that the world will turn as it turns. The possibilities of President Lee on move on this chessboard are slight, but he will do what he can.

The question remains if there is any power to stop Kim Jong Il from such actions, external power. Kim Jong Il regularly meets with Hu Jintao and negotiates both on help in hunger relief and both on tight border security to stop escapes through mainland China. It is certain and confirmed that Hu Jintao tries to push Kim on reforms in his system, but it seems - effortlessly. China either doesn't try hard enough or more likely has no real power of influence on NK so there is a very little hope for international talks on reconciliation progress.

How different it is from the effortless and omiting investigation after the crash of Tu 154 near Smolensk. Two months and we have results.


PS2. I am now in Warsaw until August so my reports and analysis come with some hours delay.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Another technical break

I am very sorry, but due to severe influenza I cannot continue this blog for another week or two, as normally, unless something pops up.