Tag Archives: news

Korea unveils new cruise missile on Armed Forces Day

1 Oct

There has been quite a lot of military activity over the past few days, especially in the air space between Seoul and the DMZ where I live, with many military helicopters flying the route daily.

I wasn’t sure what was happening until I was informed that today was the 65th anniversary of South Korea’s Army and a huge military parade took place in Seoul to mark the occasion.

Two Black Hawk helicopters fly over my school in Munsan, South Korea.

Two Black Hawk helicopters fly over my school in Munsan, South Korea.

Armed Forces Day is an annual celebration in South Korea, held on October 1st each year, the day that South-Korean forces broke through the 38th parallel in 1950 during the Korean War, and is held in honour of South Korea’s military forces. 

Over 11,000 soldiers and 120 aircraft were involved in today’s Armed Forces Day Parade , which is said to have been South Korea’s largest military parade in over a decade. The parade also displayed many of South Korea’s top military weapons including a never before seen GPS-guided cruise missile capable of traveling over 1,000 km.

Let’s just hope that none of those extremely high tech weapons will ever need to be used, as they were when I was here back in  2010, when North Korea bombed Yeonpyeong Island and killed two South Korean Soldiers. 


Huge Fire in Itaewon – South Korea’s Expat Hotspot

30 Sep

A lot of images have been shared on various social media sites this morning, such as twitter and facebook, relating to a huge fire which broke out in the early hours of Monday morning in Itaewon, the foreigner district of Seoul. The story was also covered by 10 Magazine on their website HERE.

It has not yet been confirmed what started the fire but reports say it took place between 7.30am and 9am in the area next to the Hamilton Hotel, on Itaewon’s main strip. Reportedly, a whole block hasNo serious injuries have been reported but much of the main road between Itaewon station and Noksapyeong is currently closed off.

More images and video footage can be viewed HERE.

fire itaewon seoul


A Balloons Eye View

9 Apr

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that last Thursday I lost my amazing GoPro camera, after attaching it to 23 helium balloons, and watching in dismay after the wind snapped the rope and it floated high into the sky over county cork. (You can read about all the drama HERE.)

What you might not know is that I was stopping at nothing to get that camera back! I contacted the local radio station, and used the power of social media to get the word out to everyone in the area to keep an eye on the skies for a crazy contraption consisting of 23 balloons, a styrofoam mount and a tiny little camera!

On Good Friday I had an email from a girl I sister went to school with, Debbie Deane, saying her husband had found my camera in one of their fields, over 20km from my house! I was speechless. My parents did not know what was going on as I jumped up and down mouthing silently and pointing at the computer. We simply COULD NOT believe someone had found it. I jumped in my car and drove down to collect it, with a smile on my face that was not going to be leaving anytime soon.

I had a great laugh with Debbie and her husband as they told me about how they had been checking up on a sunburnt cow when they spotted the balloon in the field and went to investigate. They then went home, put the memory card in their computer and looked through the photos to see if they could recognize the owner but had no luck. Later, Debbie’s brother arrived, and recognized me straight away! An Easter Miracle!

When I arrived home I couldn’t wait to look at the photos and I was not disappointed! There were over 900 photos of the Cork country side, as the camera took a photo every 2 seconds on its crazy adventure in the sky. Next thing I knew I had National Newspapers contacting me, saying they wanted to publish the story! You can read the Irish Examiner article HERE, and the Irish Independent article HERE.

My friends could not believe my good luck and one remarked, “You come home for 1 week and you make the papers!” Life really is one big adventure. :)

Mapping the balloons journey from my house to Innishannon

Who is Joseph Kony?

7 Mar

Who is Joseph Kony? Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, and head of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is known to have abducted and forced more than 30,000 children to fight for them, turning young boys into child soldiers and forcing them to kill their own parents or face death themselves, as well as turning young girls into sex slaves. This is not new, this has been going on for over a decade!!

What is Kony 2012? KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. The time has come for us to unite and make it known that this war and this brutal mistreatment of children must end now!

Watching this video sent shivers down my spine and seriously gave me the chills. It is disturbing to see what the children have been through (and are still going through!) but also uplifting that we as ‘the people of the internet’ have the power to make a change and stop this war. We can make all the difference. Don’t ask “Who am I to stop a war?” Instead ask yourself, “Who am I not to?!”.

So as to give a balanced blog post that does not simply regurgitate a video shared on my facebook wall, I would like to direct you to the blog ‘Visible Children’, which gives a critical review of the Kony 2012 campaign. The post talks about Invisible Children as an organisation, the break down of their finances, whether military intervention is such a good idea and how ‘reliable’ their statistics are. The last paragraph of their review really stood out to me and I think it’s something we should keep in mind.

“If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.”

Kim Jong il Dead

19 Dec

Breaking news from the BBC (HERE) has just announced that Kim Jong Il,69, the ruthless dictator of North Korea has died. He is reported to have passed away while travelling on a train earlier today.

I wonder how this monumental event will affect relations between North and South Korea considering reports this morning say that the military have been put on high alert after news of his death was announced. With over 1.7 million troops from the two Koreas and the US army already squaring off every day, this event threatens to be a dangerous one.

Kim Jong Ils third son, Kim jong Un, who was made a high ranking general earlier this year, is thought to be his successor. But will he rule with same ruthlessness and skill as his now deceased father? Or will this event finally allow for access,and in time recovery, of this secluded and severely damaged nation? 

Only time will tell.

Kim Jong Il, who died today aged 69

Racist Woman on Tube

28 Nov

After just watching this TRULY DISTURBING video on YouTube, which was secretly filmed on the tube in London, I am left feeling both angry and sad at the world. The video is of a young English woman with her son on her lap screaming at the other commuters telling them to get out of her country and to go home where they came from, among other expletives.  The woman in question is clearly uneducated, racist and, judging by the way she keeps chewing her lip, could well be high on drugs. The fact that she goes off on such a tirade in front of her young child is even more shocking. An absolute disgrace.

How can a woman in this day in age think it is acceptable to say such awful, hurtful things? She should be eternally ashamed of herself. 

Polish, Jamaican, Nigerian, Indian…who cares?! We are all the same on the inside.

 We are not born hating others, that is something we learn to do as we get older. It is a sad world in which we live when the reality is that we often learn to hate before learn to love.


11 Nov

The 11th day of the 11th month in 2011. No, not the end of the world. Nothing nasty like that. Quite the opposite actually, especially if you are a lover of chocolate!

I always though Arthur Guinness day was the master of all marketing campaigns, that was until I discovered the madness of Pepero Day in Korea!

 Arthurs Day, was introduced 2 years ago to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Guinness brewing company and of course the infamous founder, Arthur Guinness. Guinness drinkers were expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness and an 82c stamp of an Arthur Guinness portrait was also released by An Post to commemorate the anniversary.

Everyone thought it was a once off stunt by Guinness to sell an unprecedented amount of pints in one day! However, 2 years on and the “tradition” continues! Why…umm to celebrate the 252nd anniversary?!?! In an attempt to make it a National holiday? Everyone just laughed it off as a marketing coup!

Thanks to my awesome students in Korea I realised that maybe Arthurs day COULD become a national holiday. Why? Well when I was teaching them the months of the year and asking them what their favourite month was, “November”. was the answer they all shouted. “Why November?”, I asked. “Pepero day, Pepero Day!”

For those who don’t know what pepero day is, it’s a Korean National holiday where people buy their loved ones (children, boyfriends, parents, friends) boxes of Pepero (chocolate covered biscuit sticks).

I can remember getting box after box after box of Pepero chocolates from my students last year…in fact 6 months on and I STILL had them stock piled in my kitchen! They far from helped my attempt at a diet!

Pepero Day started as an elaborate marketing campaign by Korean owned Chocolatiers to sell more chocolates and is now a NATIONAL holiday. It is celebrated on the 11th of November(11/11), as on that day it looks like 4 little Pepero sticks are standing side by side. This year however, there are SIX little fingers standing in a row..The ULTIMATE Pepero Day…Chocolate sales must be through the roof in Korea this week!!

Want to read about more crazy Korean Holidays? CLICK HERE!

The right kinda wrong…

7 Nov

“The images of others are always selective. They often only serve to confirm the images  that one has of oneself”.

This was the question posed to our class today, in relation to television images of people in humanitarian crisis situations. Think of the images we see on our TVs of the starving child in Ethiopia or the fields full of dead animals in drought-affected Somalia. These images are ingrained in our memory and every time we think of certain countries these images come to mind.

And not in a good way.

A media image of a young child in drought affected Somalia

If you search “famine somalia” into google, you will find hundreds of images similar to the one above. Images of the starving child. Images of what appears to be helpless people, in a helpless society. Surely a wrong and unfair portrayal of a nation.

Is it ethical to show a picture of a dying child, even if showing that image could generate hundreds of thousands of euro in donor funds? Would it be better to show a healthy and happy child who has already benefitted from funds raised? If the general public got used to seeing countries that are plagued year in year out by ongoing conflict or climate-related disasters, in a different, better light, would they still donate their precious pennies to the cause?

When watching a fundraising campaign on TV what images encourage people to donate money? Do we like to relate to the images, thinking to ourselves, “Wow that could be me” or do we prefer to see people who appear to be living in a different world to us who we like to think we can help?

Would a more upbeat image we can relate to be as effective?

 Images for these fundraising campaigns are specifically chosen for their shock factor. The accompanying stories are sensationalized. What will shock the viewer into donating now? An image that will stay in their mind all day and haunt them. That’s what.

By constantly churning out images of “the starving child”, are NGOs and the Media doing more harm than good? Are they wrongly portraying countries and their people as beggars who can’t help themselves, scaring away potential investors who could have greatly helped the local economy.

By releasing these, somewhat unethical images, NGOs are putting these humanitarian crisis in the media spot light. They are raising awareness worldwide and are, most importantly, raising much needed funds to help buy food, clean water and shelter for those in need. But in doing all this, are they REALLY HELPING?? Or, are they doing more harm than good.

Are they doing the right kinda wrong…?

If so, Can we offer an effective alternative that isn’t as harmful?

Any ideas welcome!!

Radioactive rain; Unwanted superpowers

6 Apr

“The acid rain is coming teacher. Am, Am, we will get Am and DIE!!”, my students shouted at me today. (Am is cancer in Korean btw!) “The bad rain from Japan is coming,” they persisted as I blew them off quietly asking them to open their text books.

With all the hype about the Nuclear fall in Japan after the recent Earthquake and Tsunami, a lot of rumours have been circulating news outlets, online forums and social networking sites.

Despite many of these news sources being reliable and well established national newspapers, I still feel as if I have no idea what is going on. I have been telling my students to stay calm and not to believe everything they read online, (bit rich coming from an online Journalist, eh?!)

First off,  Korean Newspaper The Straits Times”, tries to dispel rumours of any sort of acid rain resulting from the nuclear plant writing, “Acid rain cannot be caused by Japan’s nuclear fallout. Acid rain is caused by sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, whereas the radio-active material from the nuclear plants is primarily radioactive iodine and caesium.”

The Korea Times claims many of the stories circulating with regards to rising radiation levels and acid rain are simply “Rampant false rumors” and have “prompted an irrational buying-frenzy for certain items”. On Tuesday, a false rumor that Korea might be vulnerable to the spread of radiation from Japan in the afternoon that day due to shifts in wind. The message said, “The wind has begun to blow toward the Korean Peninsula. Stay indoors for 24 hours and close all windows. If it rains, don’t expose yourself to it. Tell your friends about this. It is said the materials may hit Korea as early as 4 p.m.”

The JoonGang Daily talks about Korea banning certain food produce from Japan, with certain items already banned form being imported and the impact of westerly winds that may bring radio ative rain this weekend. “Korea is keeping a close eye on fallout from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, banning some produce from another prefecture near the disaster yesterday. But it can’t stop the wind, and weather conditions tomorrow may bring radiation to Korea.”

The Korea Herald reported yesterday that, “Radioactive materials from Japan might hit South Korea this week, state-run agencies said Monday. Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and Korea Meteorological Administration said that winds containing radioactive materials from Fukushima nuclear plants might reach Korea by Thursday.”

However today the Yonhap News said that this was unlikely, “Chances are slim that the Korean Peninsula will be directly affected by radioactive particles from a crippled Japanese nuclear plant this week, South Korea’s state weather agency said Wednesday, easing radiation fears here amid forecasts of imminent heavy rain.”

So should I be worried about radio active rain, or contaminated plants/milk/meat or even sea water coming from Japan? I guess only time will tell. I just hope I don’t wake up in 10 years with 2 heads and a final sense of understanding!

Safety issues at Doctor Fish

28 Feb

While I myself had not had the opportunity yet to experience Doctor Fish (despite there being at least 2 in Seoul), both my parents and many of my close friends have tried it. People mainly go for the giggles (it tickles…a lot!) and the experience but it is also supposed to be a great alternative to conventional pedicures!

Doctor Fish, originating in Turkey and the Middle East and now very popular around Asia, involves dipping your twinkly toes into a tank full of flesh eating fish. Sounds attractive, right? Well basically you put your feet into a tank and these little, toothless “Garra Rufa” fish nibble away at your dead skin giving you a perfect pedicure in minutes.

But hold on, don’t run off to your nearest spa just yet. The BBC released this article yesterday questioning the safety of these “Doctor fish”. The main issue is the while the little nibblers munch on hundreds of feet they may also be spreading infection and disease from foot to foot. Although no official complaints have been filed in the UK yet, many states in the US have already banner their use.

Maybe think twice before giving your feet, and the fish, a little treat.

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