Friday, 13 December 2013

There is no EU in Asia

Recently I got involved in a discussion on my FB wall regarding the future prospects and development of the European Union.

One of my friends claims that EU should be only an economic agreement between the states, a free trade area because it will naturally bring development and closeness of nations.

My other friend claims that the EU needs tighter cooperation and better integration.

I am somewhere between them both, I think better cooperation is needed, but I would get rid of cucumber dimension requirements and other bureaucratic stupidity.

Last month brought massive protests against the decision made by the Ukrainian president about not joining Free Trade Area with the EU.

I got involved a lot, mobilized people for support, published columns, tweeted etc.

I have also realised several things, that the EU matters are irrelevant in Asia. I am subscribed to almost every major newspaper or press agency starting from Yonhap News ending with The Times Of India. No news from Europe was ever re-tweeted by these agencies, neither was it of any of interest of my Asian friends.

Although formally plenty of Asian states have their permanent mission in Brussels Asia does not understand the nature of the European Union. When they come here to negotiate or do business they separately speak with each head of the state. They do not exactly get the idea. What is the European Union? A union of states, United States of Europe? Economic Cooperation Zone? It is too difficult for plenty of Asian leaders to grasp meanders of the European decision making. .

There is an embassy of the European Union in Seoul, and a Polish guy is an ambassador. But what does this embassy really do? Do they give visas to all of the Schengen states? Is there a common trade agency?

There is an information about research offers in EU and plenty of information about Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, but nothing about EU-Korea business. 

If these issues are not resolved soon, EU will not get any recognition as a union of the states. It is so far treated a little bit like United Nations. EU talks a lot, but it is still better to speak to German Chancellor to talk business.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Horrible Typhoon hits Philippines

 At least 10 000 people are likely dead after strongest typhoon since tsunami in 2004 hit the Phillippines.

Here is a list of organizations which are offering aid for survivors:

Typhoon victims: how you can help

If you want to donate goods remember that what is needed primarily is:
- clean bottled drinking non sparkling water - sanitary conditions will be very bad for long time from now on - water sources are  polluted with debris and chemicals
- batteries - normally plenty of electric network is destroyed - batteries will be needed for at least a month in such a case
- canned food with long term usage - this is usually provided by international organizations, but if your local charity collects food - make sure it's long lasting
- UHT milk - it lasts good even with no access to the fridge

Cloths are usually of less need in such disasters, but everything is needed. However remember of the things above because people often donate excessive blankets or cloths but water is missing.

My condolences to the families of survivors.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Polish lady Anna Sawinska wins amatour Pansori festival

Hi guys, I know I have neglected this blog. I cannot promise I will be regular cause I have been very busy this year, but I will try to put more updates :)

Please enjoy the video of my acquaitance Anna who won amatour section of Pansori festival in Korea:

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Gangnam Movie Star

They say Koreans are cold and restrained people. My comment is: it depends. 

It was on my second day in Korea back in 2009. I have just arrived and my phone was not working, of which I obviously could not know, just like any freshmman to the Country of the Morning Calm. 

My laboratory coworker Chang-seok had mercifully taken care of this matter. On the second day I was still a stranger to Seoul and I have hardly known where I live and how to get there. We had taken subway line 2 to Gangnam station, where I saw quantities of shops, like an underground street market style, nowhere to be found in many countries I have been before, Everything with reasonable prices and stylish, interior of subway full of Korean pop music ringing in every corner as every shop has it's radio, not inside- because it disturbs clients, but outside to encourage them to enter. 

We went up to Teheran-ro. Teheran Street. I was stunned by tall buildings rising everywhere around me and a very wide street with typical to Korea rather wide pedestrian paths, Even here it is apparent that Seoul is indeed hilly everywhere - just in the back of the skyscrappers small roads climb high up to the hills with buildings smaller and smaller full of shops and restaurants. Even here K-pop everywhere, but Kimchi smell is kind of less. 

We entered SK Telecom shop where it took ages for the assistant to take care of my new number and charging my account with some 20 000 KRW ( it was enough for 2 months calling and texting later). 

It was hot, in the sun probably 40 degrees with humidity reaching 90%. So I had a rather loose white dress on myself. I sat down and was reading some magazine I brought with myself from Poland when someone started talking to me in Korean. 

An Ajoshi, man in his 50's, very elegant in Toshiro Mifune style of dignity was starring at me with a smile on his face. 
- He says you look like a movie star. - Chang-seok stated in a bit funny way :- Get ready as you may hear it from everyone here, every foreigner probably is a movie star for them. 

Honest or not, it was a nice compliment. 
Shy? Restrained? Cold Koreans? 

Maybe. But not then, not on that hot summer day in Gangnam. 

yes this is the same Gangnam from Gangnam style. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Taxi Stories

Today my friend Shirley heard from the Taxi driver in Suwon "have a nice day and be happy". That only happens in Korea :)

I also had several quite nice taxi stories :)

Once when I had to meet my friend from Wyborcza newspaper somewhere in the city center of Seoul, I was running late by 20 minutes, ajoshi from the taxi told me:
- No worries lady. We go as long as we find him.
- But tooni obsoyo, I have no more cash to pay you for extra time.
- No need madam.

And indeed we found Chris as he was passing Cheong Wae Dae Palace perimeter.  And I paid for no extra ride :)

Another time we were going back from shopping near Suwon Station with my Indian ex boyfriend, and the driver asked:
- Her, wife?
- No.
- Kiss?
- Yes :)
- Sex?
- Maybe.

It was rather remarkable conversation and additionally I felt like an absent object and it was on between two guys, taxi driver and my ex.

Again some months later I was rather burned out and upset, on my way from a long trip to the mountains when taxi driver asked:
- You boyfriendy have?
- No...
- Pity. Yeopuda ( beauty)  lady should have man. No man, no good.

Yeah, wanted to tell him "no man, no cry" like Bob Marley would put it, but I said nothing...was rather happy to hear something nice eventually.  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

War or no war

Some of you probably check this blog to know what I think about the situation on the penninsula. 

I do not think anything yet cause nothing really happens. Words are no facts yet.

It is difficult to really judge wether NK will attack SK. I think that no, but I may be wrong. Also if I thought that yes, I might be wrong too. So it is better to just sit tight and wait what happens. And when anything happens I will write about it. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bark Taeho asks Polish for help

Korean Minister of Trade asks Polish authorities to support his candidacy to become a leader of the World Trade Organization. 

"I still remember times when almost everyone in my country was hungry. We received milk from American soldiers. Now we have everything. I know the meaning of hard work and what can be achieved if combined with proper aid" - says Bark Taewo. 

In his opinion every country can repeat Korean success and his role as a boss of WTO would be to make everything possible to make the best out of Korean experience


North Korean Leader has published 28 officially permitted hairstyles for his female and male citizens
Poor is the country indeed where freedom is limited even this way. No food, no internet, and no future and now even this. 

In free South korea there are no pfficially permitted hairstyles. But there is fashion. And it is completely enough to make every each young lady looking like the newest popular drama actress. 

And how many guys looking like him have you seen on Seoul streets? 


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

General MacArthur

What an "old soldier" did for South-East Asia and why everyone should learn from him?

I will not bring the full biography of the general here, as other sources, including Wikipedia, will do a better job.

But I want to tell a story of what he had actually done and why he is important for that particular corner of the world.

When forced to leave Philippines during WWII he told on the beach "I shall return". He did regain Philippines although easier way to Japan was possibly through Taiwan. But MacArthur kept his promise and regained islands bit by bit reclaiming territory and bringing freedom to the nation. Till present day he is a national hero of Philippines and his memory is brought up till present day via celebrations, school performances, street names, statues and others.

He won the war with Japan in the Pacific and he also made sure Soviet Union has nothing to say regarding Japan, although they tried to claim some territories by declaring the war on Pacific on...8th August 1945. Yes, 2 days after Hiroshima, and just when Japan had actually surrendered.

After merciless war with Japan MacArthur happened to be responsible for stabilizing the situation in the country after surrender. He opposed any idea of economic persecution, to the contrary he helped to gain funds to rebuild the country. He ruled Japan for 6 years, written constitution which is valid till present day, and laid foundation for modern Japan state. During his rule worst Japanese war criminals faced trials and had been executed.

During the outbreak of Korean War MacArthur successfully helped the South Korea to defeat the North and started march towards China, when their troops allied with North Korea and joined the war. 

President Truman wanted to negotiate, when MacArthur had seen the possibility of complete victory over China and sent them his own ultimatum. Truman was afraid of Soviet nuclear potential and forced MacArthur to step down.

First Soviet nuclear bomb was tested in 1953. After all, MacArthur was right. if he successfully made the raid on China, there would be just one unified and free Korea now.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The blackmail continues

If anyone wonders why I have not written about recent events on the penninsula, should check my previous posts. Because this is nothing new in the historical perspective. 

Each time there was a shift of power in any communist or autoritarian regime in the world media started tango of guessing what changes it does bring, wether there will be some revolution, collapse, shift of policy etc. etc. etc. 

What usually happened was nothing. There was never any significant change, shift of policy or whatever else. Null. Zero. Not after Krushchev had taken over Stalin, not after Deng had taken over Mao and sorry not after younger Kim takes over older Kim. Just like nothing changed in China it also will not change in North Korea, not for better I am afraid. 

What may and will likely happen is intensification of a historical blackmail course. I have already written here before that Phenian or Pyeongyang as you prefer can actually destroy Seoul with a normal artillery not much different from one used 100 years ago. So why nukes? 

Because blackmail is easier. It already repeats and repeats. North korea makes a missile test, shells some island or sinks a ship. South is afraid. North says "give us some rice and money and we leave you alone for a while". This story continues on and on and on ever since major communist powers in the world had collapsed and North korea is literally alone. Cause if it strikes South even China won't say "hey let's help our little brother". Too much trade profits at stake, and South Korea is a major trade partner of China. 

Expanding missile range might get into blackmail game USA and this will be the only change. Change for worse. 

And the sad reality of death camps and hunger, starvation and cannibalism in the North will last. If anyone ever praised communism should go there and stay there and enjoy if he can. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New President

South Korea has elected new president. This time it is a woman.

Park Geun-hye of whom I have written here several times, was not so long ago elected to be new president of the Republic of Korea.

But, as it was to be expected, vote had actually split almost half-half between supporters and those who were against.

Supporters hope that she can get Korea out from economic crisis ( in Korean opinion crisis is when growth rate decreases below double digit). Those who are against call her, rightly so, dictator's daughter with no real plan or agenda of herself.

But my Korean friends, even those who were not voting for her, admit she has wisely won Korean regionalisms. She got support of two important figures on Korean political scene and it was, after all, crucial for her victory.

So she is wise politician, but, is she, a leader?

Time will tell.


Happy New Year 2013  Everyone :)