Saturday, January 05, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] Standoff as Defense Ministry Closes Press Room

The Ministry of Defense on Sunday tried to evict all reporters from the press room on the first floor of the new ministry building, shutting off electricity and heat. The ministry has been demanding reporters move to an integrated so-called media center behind the old annex, a 10-minute walk away, where the offices of the minister and vice minister of defense as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff are located.

Two officials from the public relations team at the ministry visited the press room and demanded reporters vacate it by 12 a.m. Sunday. When reporters refused, the ministry immediately shut off the electricity. The 18 journalists based in the press room held a candlelight vigil protesting the measure and some resisted demands by ministry officials to leave. There was a shouting match after a ministry official demanded the reporters extinguish their candles due to fire safety concerns and reporters told the officials to get out. But there was no physical confrontation.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] LG to Help Develop Hyundai's Hybrid Car

LG is teaming up with Hyundai Motor to produce hybrid cars. LG Chemicals said Sunday that it will be the exclusive supplier of lithium polymer batteries for Hyundai's Avante hybrid car, which is scheduled for mass-production in 2009.

Eco-friendly hybrid cars are powered by both gasoline engines and electric motors. Toyota of Japan is currently the hybrid market's technology and sales leader.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] Korean Mobile TV Technology Adopted as Global Standard

A Korean-made mobile broadcasting technology has been adopted as a global standard. Developed by adding a multimedia aspect to Europe's digital audio broadcasting (DAB) technology, terrestrial digital mobile broadcasting (T-DMB) enables clear reception of video and audio while on the move.

The Ministry of Information and Communication said Saturday that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) confirmed T-DMB as a global standard after getting approval from its 191 member nations. Other mobile telecommunication technologies adopted as global standards include U.S. company Qualcomm's MediaFLO, Finnish company Nokia's DVB-H and Japan's OneSeg.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] Chip Price Slump Has Hynix Facing Hard Times

The brakes have been put on Hynix Semiconductor's business performance, which had seemed unstoppable since last year. The company will almost certainly suffer massive losses in the forth quarter, and the falling price of D-RAM, the company's major product, dims its prospects even further. And on top of this, Hynix is being accused of leaking a key technology to a Taiwanese company.

◆ The D-RAM crisis
◆ Technology leak controversy
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] Director Im Kwon-taek Awarded at Dubai Film Festival

Korean film director Im Kwon-taek has received a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Dubai International Film Festival.

Im is one of the most successful filmmakers in Korea and has made 100 films during his half-a-century career. The festival committee praised his numerous and experimental works in diverse genres.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 17 2007] Director Im Kwon-taek Awarded at Dubai Film Festival

Korean film director Im Kwon-taek has received a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Dubai International Film Festival.

Im is one of the most successful filmmakers in Korea and has made 100 films during his half-a-century career. The festival committee praised his numerous and experimental works in diverse genres.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Beware of Ransomware, PC Users Told

Korean PC users have been warned of malware that encrypts data belonging to an individual on a computer and demands a ransom to restore it. IT security firm Ahnlab said Thursday a growing number of victims were reporting ransomware that hijacks their video files and demands payment in exchange for their restoration. The ransomware encrypts files on the victim's computer which the victim is then unable to open without the correct decryption key. Only when the ransom demanded is paid is the victim given the decryption key.

The ransomware was included in adware “Uccplay.” Victims are led into thinking the adware is a multimedia player, but when they install it, the program copies all video files stored on the computer to a hidden folder and removes the original files. Victims have no choice but to open the ransomware to access their video files, which then opens up a “certification” box that actually links to mobile phone payment.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Kim Seon-ah Wins Breach-of-Contract Suit

Actress Kim Seon-ah (32) has won a suit for breach of contract brought against her by a film production company. The Seoul Central District Court on Thursday ruled against the production company, who sued the actress and her agency for damages. In June, production company Yoon and Joon sued Kim for damages worth W1 billion (US$1=W925) claiming that Kim failed to carry out her obligation to play the leading role in the film “Thursday’s Child” and it caused damages worth W2.3 billion by halting production last year.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Digital Chosun Starts New Keyword Click Service

The Digital Chosun Ilbo will launch a new service allowing readers to access detailed additional information while reading a news article by clicking key words in the report. A similar service is provided by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. Named “Focus,” the service offers detailed information on 1,900 celebrities, top-500 corporations, 300 domestic government agencies/public organizations, 197 countries and 208 major cities in the world.

Readers of the online edition will be able to look up additional information without resorting to encyclopedias or portal search services. For example, if readers want to know more about a company in an M&A report in the Digital Chosun Ilbo site, just a mouse-click on the company’s name brings up details of its history, business, stock price and corporate news. The service is currently available for the Korean edition only.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Science Ministry to Sell Satellite Photos to Public

The public will soon be allowed to purchase photographs taken by Korea's Arirang 2 satellite. The Ministry of Science and Technology said Thursday that it will make the photos available online (

Existing photos can be purchased immediately, or orders can be placed to have the satellite take specific photographs.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Seoul Dreaming of a Blue Christmas

By this time every year, major landmarks in downtown Seoul like City Hall and Gwanghwamun are decorated with bright Christmas lights. But this year, instead of the traditional red and yellow, all is bathed in the soft blue of light-emitting diodes (LED). Take the Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, for instance. Its top-end brand house West, known for its 4,330 glass disk-covered unique exterior, spent around W300 million (US$1=W925) to place special LEDs on all the glass disks, which were then connected to the computer system to emit blue Christmas illumination.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 14 2007] Korean Scientists Build Autonomous Mobile Robot

A Korean research team has developed an autonomous mobile robot that can be used to patrol industrial facilities or apartment complexes.

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology said Thursday that its "Securo" (SECUrity RObot), developed by the team led by Dr. Kang Sung-chul, passed a recent test by successfully navigating a one km-long course by itself.

Using a built-in global positioning system and laser image scanner, the robot moved along a pre-set route at a speed of 5.4 km/h within an error range of 10 cm without human control.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 13 2007] Buy-in-America Boom Spreads to Korea

The weak dollar has sparked a U.S. shopping spree among Europeans, the so-called Buy-in-America boom. Thanks to weak dollar and strong euro, prices in the U.S. became much lower than in the Europe, and European shoppers are going to the U.S. for shopping as well as to U.S. shopping websites. The most popular items are electronics and clothes. The Chosun Ilbo looks at the bargains.


This U.S. shopping boom is now advancing to Korea. According to the Korea Customs Service, the number of parcels from overseas between January and October has increased by 14 percent to 674,000 compared to the same period last year. A substantial amount of that consists of products bought on U.S. Internet shopping sites.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 13 2007] Architects of Media Oppression Try to Hide

Bang Sun-kyu, the official at the Government Information Agency who played a central role in the Roh Moo-hyun administration's efforts to close down and consolidate press rooms at government agencies, is reportedly about to be appointed as press attache to the Korean embassy in the U.S. Bang applied for the position voluntarily.

Early this year, Bang was entrusted by President Roh to observe the way press rooms are run by government agencies around the world. It was Bang who created the blueprint for Roh's clampdown on media access to government officials and ministries. It is mind boggling to see the official who worked so hard to realize the president's plan trying to leave Korea now when the administration's days are numbered. It just makes one feel that Bang, who appeared to be such a firm believer in the president's views on taming critical news media, was just doing his job.


These officials made a lot of noise during their day. But their day is coming to an end soon and they are probably right in seeking to find a place in which to bury their heads. But they cannot hide. A person's exit should be graceful. How they handle their exit says a lot about their character. What good will it do to make these people pay for their actions, when they are already getting ready to hide in shame?

Friday, January 04, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, December 13 2007] When History Becomes Entertainment

This year, cultural products dealing with history have been hugely popular, and TV dramas, movies, musicals and novels based on historical themes and materials lead the pack in terms of production value and sales. The three terrestrial networks are airing historical dramas at prime time, which was once replete with variety shows and talk shows. King Jeongjo in particular enjoys huge popularity in various historical dramas.

The boom is nothing new. Since the mega-hit “Daejanggeum(Jewel in the Palace)”, historical series have been enjoying continuous popularity. In the 1980s and 90s, historical novels such as “The Land,” and the novels “Donguibogam” and “Taebak Mountain” were runaway bestsellers. One million copies of “500 Years of Chosun Dynasty” were sold in the late 1990s -- a rare success for a liberal arts book. Since then, novels with some kind of claim to a basis in historical fact have been selling well in the wake of “The Da Vinci Code.”

But there is a big difference between the historical hits of the past and today’s. For a start, there is no evident patriotism at play in today’s historical works. Kim Hoon’s “Namhan Sanseong” dealing with the second Manchu invasion of Korea in 1637 and Shin Kyung-sook’s “Lijin” describing a woman’s life in the late Chosun Dynasty put more emphasis on the individual’s conflict and suffering than the ups and downs of history itself.

Recent historical works are strong on the detail of daily life rather than the broad sweep of history, struggle for power and ideological conflict. Based on an interesting story, they home in on culture and everyday life. The public’s interest has moved on from the powerful to ordinary people, and from the center to the periphery.

In other words, history has become entertainment. Sometimes it evolves into fantasy, as in the case of “Taewangsasingi,” starring Bae Yong-joon. People in their 20s who are accustomed to video games go wild for this combination of fantasy and history. Questions about historical accuracy or the lessons of history are meaningless to them.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 13 2007] Korean Scientists Clone Genetically-Modified Cat

A combination of somatic cell cloning and gene modification has created clones of a genetically-modified cat for the first time in the world.

The Ministry of Technology and Science said Wednesday that a research team led by Prof. Kong Il-Keun of the zootechny department of Gyeongsang National University succeeded in cloning cats with modified genes.

Three of the special cats were born in January, two of which survived. This is the world's first successful case of a cat being created through both cell cloning and gene manipulation, although the U.S. succeeded in creating a cat by cloning cells in 2002.
[The Hankyoreh, January 2 2008] [Editorial] Continuing South Korea’s leading role

The joint editorial appearing on New Year's Day in North Korea's three main newspapers is considered the Pyongyang government's New Year's address. This year's editorial used the term "peaceful prosperity" (pyeonghwa beonyeong) several times over. Gone were the usual calls for a "grand union of anti-conservatives" in the South to oppose the Grand National Party and the other usual criticisms of the GNP. Overall, the editorial emphasizes uniting behind the North Korean government and strengthening the North's economy, and it also placed a lot of weight on advancing inter-Korean relations by, among other things, thoroughly implementing October's summit declaration. This shows you that Pyongyang has considerable expectations for the new South Korean government, that of President-elect Lee Myung-bak.
[The Hankyoreh, December 27 2007] New administration will allow newspapers to own broadcasting companies

Media policies will put competition first, with controls preventing media monopolies

With President-elect Lee Myung-bak of the main opposition Grand National Party to take office next February, observers expect there to be a big change in government polices regulating the nation’s media industry.

“For local newspapers to be competitive, we need to allow them not only to pursue paper media but also broadcasting businesses,” Choung Byoung-gug, a lawmaker who led Lee’s campaign staff, said on a recently broadcast radio program. “Still, we shouldn’t support them unconditionally. Rather we need to open the market and encourage the players to engage in free competition, providing a ‘media development fund’ for some time. In this process, companies without a competitive edge should disappear.”

Choung pointed out that newspaper companies should be allowed to provide cable and Internet-protocol TV services, but that regulations need to be in place to prevent them from seeking to begin terrestrial broadcasting. “If we allow newspaper firms to run broadcasting businesses, it could prompt concerns over an industrial monopoly by major media companies, but this could be controlled through caps on shareholding,” he said.