VICE founder Shane Smith returns to North Korea, then boards the Trans-Siberian Railway to travel deep into Russia to expose NK secret labor camps that are essentially operating as modern day slave compounds. Check out the rest of the episodes on the Vice website.
Poached News: Amnesty International Visits Korea, Busan Fire Update, and the Politics of the Four Rivers Project
Irene Kahn, the secretary general of Amnesty International is in Seoul this week. Yesterday, she met with the families of the six protesters who died in January after a fired broke out when riot police raided an abandoned building in Yongsan. Khan promised the families that AI would keep an eye on how the Korean government handles the incident and expressed hopes for a more thorough investigation. Also on Khan’s agenda, are meetings with senior officials from the Justice Ministry and National Human Rights Commission. (more…)
Poached News: TOEFL Whiz, 15 Million Won Prank Call, KBS President Controversy, and Chocolate Bars Recall
13 year old, Kim Hyeon-su, is the first Korean middle school student to ace the internet-based TOEFL test. Kim never attended private academies to learn English, but instead enjoyed studying at home for fun. Kim’s mother, having studied Hebrew, Greek and English herself, says it was clear that her daughter had an ability to pick up the language easily, when, at only 25 months, Kim was reading middle school level English books. An ambitious 13 year old, she wants to study English literature, marine biology, and psychology, and be a movie director. (more…)
The Chosun Ilbo will catch the attention of patiently-waiting iPhone enthusiasts this morning. It reports that the Korean launch of the will be iPhone next week. There is no official statement from KT, the official supplier of the Apple product in Korea, but industry insiders are saying that November 28th is the date. They are also saying that KT will start online reservations for the iPhone tomorrow. 150,000 units will be sold at first, ranging between w250,000 and w300,000. The article also mentions that both the 3GS and 3G iPhone models will be available here. (more…)
Saturday’s fire in Busan has put national safety standards in the spotlight. The fire killed ten, including seven Japanese tourists, at a shooting range on the second floor of a five-storey building. The incident led to critcism from the Japanese government and media regarding Korea’s sub-standard safety regulations. The Korean government is responding quickly to protect Korea’s international image and the tourism industry here. Yesterday, Lee Myung-bak ordered his government to take measures to improve Korea’s safety standards. (more…)
Poached News: CSAT Accommodates H1N1, National Vaccination Program, Medical Workers, and Asbestos Bribes
H1N1 has definitely been on the radar this week. The rising number of high students diagnosed with H1N1 led to isolation rooms at the nationwide College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) yesterday, with some patients taking the test at hospitals. Also on Thursday, an additional 150,000 students received the H1N1 vaccine, after an initial 200,000 on the first day of the national vaccination program. However, medical workers don’t seem to be getting the shot. Apparently, only 24% of medical workers at state hospitals have been vaccinated. Today, twelve more H1N1 related deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 64. (more…)
Korean Railway Workers Union are staging a two-day strike starting today at 9 am in non-metropolitan areas. Workers in urban area such as Seoul will join the walkout tomorrow. The Korea Railroad Corporation expects service disruptions over the next two days on subway Line 1, passenger trains, and freight trains, but plans to hire emergency workers to minimize the impact. Workers at the Korea Gas Corporation, Korea Pension Service, and the Kyungpook National University Hospital will join railway workers tomorrow, and all four groups say they will hold a series of strikes until November 20th. The unions representing these workers are members of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, who also hinted a few weeks ago at a general strike for December if the government passes controversial labour reforms.
Public schools have been closing in response to the increasing H1N1 alert across Korea, but private after-school schools have yet to face the same closures. However, the education ministry announced that it will begin to urge hagwons that are close to public schools that have already been closed to help prevent the spread of the flu by keeping students at home as well.
Korea will introduce a fingerprint scan for all foreigners entering the country starting in 2012. With similar policies currently in effect in the U.S. and Japan, the Justice Ministry says the policy does not discriminate against foreigners and that Koreans over the age of 17 have to provide fingerprints when apply for their resident registration cards. The change is also being seen as a way to shorten the process for foreign professionals who are filing for a change of workplace.