The COVID19 virus is all over the news. Though it began in the Chinese interior in Dec. 2019, South Korea is again in the news for an outbreak, as if on cue re-earning its sometime-nickname of the Land of Extremes. S.Korea has racked up more confirmed COVID19 virus infections (called in Korea “Corona19,” 코로나19), by a considerable margin, than anywhere outside the epicenter around Wuhan.
I have a few things I’d like to say related in some way to this latest big virus panic and/or to Korea’s place in it, in descending order of how long ago:
(1) My observations on what’s going on around me now with regard to the virus panic; (2) China’s soft-power problem; COVID19 as a potential serious a blow to China’s image/prestige; (3) S.Korea and the negative influence of the Shinchonji group [신천지] (my experiences with this group, which is definitely a cult by popular understanding of the term, date to 2014; second-hand as early as 2012; the experiences were through no fault of my own, as they use front groups and all manner of deceptions to get in contact with people, effectively like an intelligence agency); (4) My memory of the MERS virus panic of June 2015 that hit South Korea.
I’ll do these in succession in separate posts, starting with the last and most distant, the MERS virus panic of 2015 (2015년6월의 메르스 바이러스-감염병 위기).
I remember “MERS” well. What’s strange to me is how few others seem to, or their memory of it as something minor. I doubt it made the news much at all in the US.
When I created this blog in 2013, I created a new Yahoo email account specifically for the blog so as to maintain some degree of separation from my main email. I logged into it today. I was surprised and somewhat dismayed by what I found, which was Nothing. That is to say, everything was gone. Every single email sent and email received, gone; the drafts folder, empty; spam, trash, everything was deleted.
Right when I logged on, a brief message said something ridiculous like “Emails in accounts subject to inactivity will be deleted.” I think I last logged in in September 2019…
For reasons I don’t know, I began to re-read the classic history of the Thirty Years War by C. V. Wedgwood. In it I was reminded of a political point about that war I had forgotten, and one similar to one the US may be, today, at the cusp of.
The crisis began in 1618 because of an electoral tipping point.
There are fairly direct parallels between the Thirty Years War origin and the US institutions of the electoral college system and the nine-member Supreme Court system (see below) and fears about the ‘flipping’ thereof.
The Holy Roman Empire, a nominal political arrangement encompassing most of central Europe for most of the second millennium AD and ruled (in theory if not practice) by an emperor of the Hapsburg Dynasty for much of that time, had seven “electors” (Kurfürsten). These were seven seats which held the right to cast one vote for emperor when the need arose.
A pleasant, sunny Saturday in May 2015. We took a few wrong turns and ended up here:
We were four — Myself, two Canadians from Ontario (Robbie and Heather) and an American from Massachusetts (Sav. C.). The wrong turns were taken near Gyeyang Mountain in Incheon, South Korea.
These others were all new to Korea, such that I was leading them around. I translated the sign:
등산객 여러분의 안전을 위해 우회도로를 이용해 주시기 바랍니다
Shooting in Progress
Hikers are requested to use the bypass road for their own safety.
Commanding Officer, Unit 9100
I proposed a brief reconnaissance in the arrow’s direction, but was vetoed by the two female members of our group.
We’d come down from summit on the right-hand-side path. At the time, I assumed that this side path would lead to a shooting range which would be blocked off by barbed wire or something. I was sure we wouldn’t just walk into a place which had live bullets whizzing around.
Only one time have I heard gunfire in Korea. It was while hiking north of Ilsan in Paju County, which is adjacent to the DMZ. Paju’s hiking trails are full of elaborate and well made but unoccupied defensive positions on hilltops, some small and some big enough for artillery, as well as networks of trenches, covered tunnels, dug-out hiding places big enough for vehicles or tanks, and other such things.Continue reading “Post-316: Warning. Live Fire Drills (Incheon)”
Today, Friday June 28th, will be my last post in June 2013. I am rounding-out June having made 28 posts. That’s not bad.
Today is also the last day of two foreign coworkers, Matthew R. and Jon. H., both American. I mentioned them in post-93.
This is my last post in June because I start vacation on Saturday afternoon, when a get a bus to a small city near the Jiri Mountain [지리산] area of southwest Korea. I won’t give any details about the trip yet, partly because I don’t yet know what I will do, exactly. I am excited, because this will be first-ever (and perhaps only) “week off” working in Korea. All other so-called vacations have been a day here, a day there. Never more than three weekdays off in a row. After today, I won’t have to teach again till July 8th.
Me / December 2011
Picture by Na-Yeon, a friend of Danielle’s.
I tried to play soccer on Saturday. I failed. Only two players showed up. We had lunch, instead, and went home.
I played soccer almost every Saturday between September 2011 and July 2012. We haven’t played since then.I don’t know why people stopped showing up, but I can say it was one of my favorite things to do. The players were mostly foreigners (mostly English teachers), largely British, with a few Korean regulars, too. Most of us were not very good (a few were), but no one minded. It was all in good fun, and spirits were always high: Whoever showed up would play. Sometimes it was more than 20 people, sometimes fewer than 10. Always enjoyable, to me. I have good memories of these games.
We played in the easternmost neighborhood or Incheon, called Bupyeong, at a middle school maybe halfway between the recently-opened (as of November 2012) “Samsan Gymnasium” and “Gulpo Stream” subway stations (삼산체육관역 and 굴포천역) [Map]. I walked there from my home in central Bucheon, 40 minutes away on foot, across Lake Park. Here is a map:
The red-arrow in the map is anchored on a crossroad north of where we played. Due to varying “availability” (the ancient principle of “forgiveness not permission” was followed), four or five of the schools south of this intersection were used for games at various times.
If you click on the “Satellite” version of the map and you can see a big lake to the east. That is “Sang-Dong Lake Park”. I walked through it every time I went to play soccer. My home is off to the east, not far. Seoul is off further to the east, if you zoom out.
Last week’s essay prompt for the high-level students:
Do you agree or disagree:
Robots should replace humans as teachers in the classroom.
I had 27 students complete the essay. Twenty-six opposed robot teachers. Many seemed violently opposed.
The single student of mine who supported robots-as-teachers? A boy in a ninth-grade, born in the fall of 1998, according to his profile on the institute’s staff website. I have not had him in any class before. So far, he strikes me as shy and not particularly intellectually-curious. His reasons for supporting robots: They are “disinterested” (fair, not taking favorites) and will “always have the correct information”.
The 29 robots, about one metre (3.3 feet) high with a TV display panel for a face, wheeled around the classroom while speaking to the students, reading books to them and dancing to music by moving their head and arms.
The robots, which display an avatar face of a Caucasian woman, are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines — who can see and hear the children via a remote control system.
I don’t think they actually fit the criteria of being robots, though.