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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Eternal Shame

When LEE Yong-soo was a kid, she became one of Imperial Japan military's 200,000+ sex slaves. In 1992, she was among the first 'Comfort Women' who came out, overcoming their shame, and speaking about the unspeakable. And people listened to this amazing human being all the way to the States, where she helped Mike HONDA pass a landmark House Resolution (H.R. 121).

Long before Greta THUNBERG How-Dare-You-ed Donald TRUMP and other world leaders, the ever young Yong-soo Look-At-Me-ed Shinzo ABE with her powerful voice, the voice of hundreds of thousands of young girls who were stolen their youth, raped, tortured, murdered.

Now 91, she's still fighting for justice. As if fighting for the resolution of 'Comfort Women' tragedies were not enough, LEE Yong-soo has now to expose the corrupt pseudo-activists who used her and fellow survivors for their own profit. Over the past weeks, scandals around YOON Mee-hyang have been piling up at a CHOI Soon-sil / CHO Kuk pace. The ruling party keeps defending her as blindly as it did with CHO Kuk months ago (see "Moon Landing - The Cheong Wa Dae Curse"), and here again, they should be doing the exact opposite. At least, this time, MOON Jae-in avoids defending the culprit publicly...


Back in 2011 - "One Thousand Wednesdays"
Even before the prosecutor started investigating her, the public has judged YOON guilty on all charges. And just like with CHO Kuk, a large majority thinks she should resign (she was elected a MP last month). YOON doesn't seem to feel any remorse, and even displays the most shameless behaviors (accusing LEE of senility probably among her lowest lows). I only met YOON once, years ago, but she struck me as someone who preferred the status quo to compromise. She already measured her achievements in terms of real estate, and the actual resolution of the tragedy was much better heralded by LEE .

LEE Yong-soo Halmoni leaves a very different impression. She radiates energy, compassion, and humor. She fights for justice. Not for Korea, not against Japan. She aims at reconciliation to help both countries face the past and the future soundly, without fueling mutual hatred. She reaches for the youth not to indoctrinate them, but to help them make their own unbiased opinions.

We must keep demanding justice for the victims of Imperial Japan, we must now also demand justice for them as victims of pseudo-activists. Real activists and the ruling party should immediately stop defending YOON against LEE.

Don't they realize how bad you look when you chose the wrong side of justice? Don't they realize that CHO Kuk and YOON Mee-hyang scandals are all about people who corrupted activism, people who betrayed the very ideals they pretended to stand for? Don't they realize that supporting them blindly is the worst thing genuine activists should do?

The more YOON Mee-hyang tries to silence LEE Hamoni, the more it backfires. She eventually decided to remain below radar surface until parliamentary immunity protects her. But Korea shouldn't let that happen.

Imagine one instant if Dear LEE Yong-soo Halmoni were to pass away before Justice is delivered:
  • We already know how History will judge all the Japanese governments that not only refused to resolve the 'Comfort Women' issues, but also tried to silence her and prevent Japan and the world from knowing about these atrocities.
  • We can guess how History will remember YOON Mee-hyang
  • But how would those who defended YOON against LEE ever forgive themselves? It's up to them to avoid eternal shame.
One sure thing: LEE Yong-soo Halmoni will forever stand as an inspiring hero, who overcame her shame to expose those who truly deserved it. Regardless of the flag or banner they carry.

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Seoul VillageS (free ebook)

-
I've walked through all of Seoul's 600+ neighborhoods, and you've come across a significant number of them in this excuse for a blog, but today, you're invited to my fictional Seoul.

Welcome to my 'Seoul Villages', a collection of 12 Seoul 'dragedies', among which 'Year Of The Dog', and 'Guisin-dong', and a few short stories initially published in French. Don't try to escape this ghost neighborhood, don't waste your energy tearing off that plant, and don't even think about catching Korea's most elusive shaman: you just can't shake off death. So let this fictional Seoul claim your soul.

You can download for free 'Seoul Villages' along with my other free ebooks 'on Google Play Books. Check my website for my other books (NB y compris en français).

Your feedback and reviews are welcome (e.g. on Google Play Books, on Amazon, on my dragedies website...).  



Stephane - April 2020


Seoul Village 2020
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter, follow me on Instagram.
NEW: download 'Seoul Villages', my collection of short stories (free ebook)
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Seoul Villages, the map:
  • Crossroads and forking paths - a foreword by Mr. Ho
  • Seoul Village(s) - a foreword by the author
  • Guisin-dong
  • Year of the Dog
  • de Vermis Seoulis
  • Sweat dream
  • Black Snow
  • Korean wave
  • Tchik!
  • Comin'up next
  • Seoul Metamorphosis
  • (Alleyways – Ogin-dong, Autumn)
  • Hunting for Kim Mudangnim
  • (Alleyways – Sajik-dong, somewhen)
  • Lexicon – Korean terms
'Seoul Villages' - Copyright © Stephane MOT 2013 - All rights reserved. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living, dead, or beyond those stages, is purely coincidental. www.stephanemot.com - www.dragedies.com



Sunday, April 26, 2020

Lower Sejongdaero's turn

Seoul's most defining avenue, Sejongdaero, is getting all the attention it deserves from the municipal government. After the highly controversial plans to revamp its upper half (see "Gwanghwamun Square 3.0 re-Deep-Surfaces"), the focus seems to be on the lower half, between Sejongno sageori and Seoul Station. This includes cosmetic changes in adjacent neighborhoods, most recently in Jeong-dong (see "Jeong-dong forever"), or around Sungnyemun (Jung-gu decided to harmonize signage for 80 stores between Seoullo 7017 and the gate*), but now a more ambitious program will help pedestrians, cyclists, and tree huggers reclaim a space almost as car-centric as the upper section before Gwanghwamun Square.


Sejong-daero towards Gwanghwamun, viewed from the Deoksugung-Seoul Plaza crossing

The main changes (drawn here by Kim Yeong-eun for Yonhap News Agency**), expected by the end of the year, consist in reducing the number of traffic lanes (from 12 to 7-9; at least that's consistent with the new bottlenecks conceived further North around the avenue), and improve the pedestrian experience, particularly around Deoksugung and Sungnyemun / Namdaemun Market:



A lot of trees shall be added to widened sidewalks, with some species diversity which is really positive. Even if naming this "Sejong Forest" (세종숲) sounds a bit over the top (at least the Gyeongui Line Forest Park was more honest with its "숲길", which could be translated into 'Forest walk / way / street').


A plaza and a tree trail shall improve the barren entrance to Namdaemun Market from Sungnyemun


I'm looking forward to the new bicycle lane all along the 1.5km stretch (I criticized the city for not adding some on day one when they renovated the Northern section of Sejongdaero for Gwanghwamun Square), and the eased pedestrian circulation around Sungnyemun, which even after the changes will remain basically a peninsula in a sea of cars:


A better experience for pedestrians and cyclists, but still car centric

Moving back to Deoksugung and Jeong-dong, this close up of Daehanmun shows that, beyond the extension of the plaza and sidewalks, Deoksugung-gil is likely to become car-free, at least partly (and I presume at least on weekends and holidays, like Insadong-gil):



Overall, nothing revolutionary, but significant improvements for Sejong-daero. Needless to say, Mayor Park Won-soon would love to see part of downtown's growing - at least B.C. / Before Coronavirus - tourist traffic walk closer to his pet project Seoullo 7017. before the 2022 presidential elections.
 Again, I can't stress enough the importance of Sejong-daero, the spine of downtown Seoul, at its original core. We're talking urban stem cells here. ICYMI here's the short video I made to explain the dynamic map of Seoul intra muros a.k.a. Sadeaemun (fortress walls, main gates, mountains and streams, key landmarks, vertical and horizontal axes...):




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* "서울 중구, 세종대로 등 145개 점포 간판 정비" (Yonhap News 20200420).
** "세종대로 1.5km 구간 보행로 대폭 확장…차로 12개→9개 축소" (Yonhap News 20020426)


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Jeong-dong forever

Thank you Chosun Ilbo for feeding this stroll-starved quarantined Seoulite with Jeong-dong news ("서울 貞洞이 확 바뀐다, 근대역사 숨쉬는 거리로" - Chosun Ilbo 20200407). So. Seoul intends to invest KRW 20 bn by 2022 into what is already one of the capital's most walkable neighborhoods. Basically, a lot of storytelling to connect the dots, plus a few new dots. 

Sidewalks and signs shall be improved along the 2,6 km scenic walk signaled on this map

But first, let me tell you another story about this neighborhood you think you know.

Jeong-dong basically draws a diagonal between two palaces: Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung, and owes its name to Jeongneung, a royal tomb of the Joseon dynasty. Actually, it used to be also known as Jeongneung-dong.

Wait a minute. Indeed, Jeongneung is located in Jeongneung-dong, but that's in Seongbuk-gu, quite far away.

Blame King Sejong's father for that: King Taejeong was the one who, in 1408, moved the tomb to the opposite end of town, and even beyond the mountain, the city, and its fortress walls. Real estate-wise and  feng shui-wise, quite a downgrade. Why would Taejeong disgrace a royal tomb? Because it honored Queen Sindeok, the second wife of his grand dad, King Taejo, the founder of both the Josson dynasty and Seoul. And Taejeong's grandmother was Taejo's first wife, Queen Shinui. So even if Sindeok played a role in the capital's genesis, she had to get out of royal sight.

Now guess where Jeongneung was located, initially: in Today's British Embassy.

To me, this anecdote illustrates perfectly Jeong-dong's shift from its royal origins to its modern diplomatic tradition.

Of course, this is where Germany, Russia, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Belgium built their consulates at the end of the XIXth century. But if the Brits are still there (see 'Seoul-upon-Han and Yeongguk-dong'), and even if the Russian Legation tower was restored a dozen years ago, most of the rest is gone.

Seoul city intends to revamp Jeongdong Park, at the feet of the Russian Legation to have it themed after the area's rich diplomatic tradition, with a tribute to these lost buildings. Will more people come than today? For the moment, this quiet green patch remains backstage from Jeongdong-gil as well as from Saemunan-ro (accessible through a steep staircase). And Jeongdong-gil itself is already a pleasant, tree-lined stroll dotted with actual buildings full of history or culture: Jeongdong Theater, Sina Memorial Hall (Asiance HQs), Chung Dong First Methodist Church, surviving structures of Ewha Hakdang and Pai Chai Hakdang (Appenzeller Noble Memorial Museum), Jungmyeongjeon Hall...

What always struck me when I saw old pictures of Jeong-dong was the fact that it looked much hillier than today, and now I know why: there was indeed a hill, named after Hwangtohyeon, but it was erased during the occupation. Among the few new dots added to the plan, Seoul will create a small Hwangtohyeon square to commemorate a hill in front of the small police station at the Sejongno intersection.

Most citizens discovered this most central neighborhood when Deoksugung-gil was redesigned in 1998, marking the revival of downtown Seoul as a pedestrian friendly destination*. Another boost came with the 2002 World Cup, when millions gathered right next door on Sejongdaero around City Hall, and what would become the new Seoul Plaza. The SeMA, inaugurated in 1988, would also be renovated in 2002, and its garden at the roundabout remains a popular, Instagrammable spot. 2002 also happens to be the birth year of my beloved Seoul Museum of History at the other end of the neighborhood. More recently, the Seoul Biennales brought new magnets on each side of Jeong-dong: Donuimun Museum Village near Gyeonghuigung (2007), and Seoul HOUR (2019) near Deoksugung.

Of course there's much more than this SE-NW diagonal**. But until a few years ago, the Northeast section of Deoksugung-gil used to be closed to the public around Habib House, the US Ambassador's residence. Thanks to Mark Lippert and Grigsby his basset hound, this key axis opened up, completing at last Jeong-dong's anchoring to all neighboring areas.

Jeong-dong will remain future-proof if it keeps at the same time respecting its past and evolving.

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* see "Jeongdong-kill"
** Note that its Southeastern half used to be known as Sojeong-dong (close to the 'somun' - Seodomun), and its Northwestern half as Daejeong-dong (close to 'daemun' - Donuimun). About Seoul's Sadaemun and Sasomun, see my small video 'Drawing Sadaemun'

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Kudos to Korea's 4 Ts, but please no complacency

From pariah in February to role model in March, South Korea illustrates what kind of swings to expect from the roller coaster our species boarded last December. Watch out for Loch-Ness-monster-shaped graphics - there won't be just one curve to flatten, but series of waves that can either be reduced to wavelets by sound leadership and smart citizens, or grown into tsunamis by covidiots of all sizes and shapes. In between, normal people will deliver results that anyway won't belong to normal times.
 
As the 'Spanish Flu' illustrates, fighting pandemics requires whack-a-mole resilience
 
 
As a French Seoulite (right now experiencing the transition between confinement in Paris and quarantine in Seoul*), I can't help but draw parallels between Korea and France, who both saw their first major clusters originate from mass gatherings held by cults in February: Shincheonji in Daegu, Porte Ouverte Chretienne in Mulhouse.
 
As an observer of national politics and international affairs, I can't help but draw parallels between Korea and the US, who both registered their first COVID-19 case on January 20, or between Korea and Japan, who both received international praise for the way they managed to 'flatten the curve'.
 
Of course, as we speak, Korea seems to emerge as the clear winner in all parallels:
  •  Korea better trained and equipped, swifter than France:
    - After posting record numbers of new cases, Korea swiftly implemented containment measures around Daegu and the region, but also at the micro level, around each actual or suspected case, aggressively multiplying tests, treatments, and tracking with as much precision as possible. The population didn't need much pedagogy to put on face masks everybody's already used to wearing in case of flu or bad air quality. For starters, Korea also keeps remarkable track of most of its senior citizens and of their health, and boasts a greater and more modern ICU capacity.
    - France's health system, which was already imploding long before SARS-CoV2 showed up, is now literally choking. Not enough testing material, not enough face masks for a population anyway totally oblivious of their existence, not enough protection gear required for doctors and nurses coping with a pandemic... France even lacks the legal framework to track and monitor as acutely as in Korea, where all members of the cult could be tested: since the Occupation, databases featuring religion are illegal in France, and Korea's amazing(ly intrusive) apps tracking COVID-19 patients wouldn't pass the CNIL cut either. 
    - For a change, France is lagging behind Korea in terms of return on experience. It took us years to find out that the 2003 heatwave killed 20,000 people instead of the 3,500 initially thought, and only a few days ago was it made public that our COVID-19 statistics didn't include cases or fatalities outside of hospital systems. To start with, we can't even keep track of our senior citizens that stay all year round in their retirement homes. During the H5N1 crisis, the French government did create a stockpile of one billion masks, but the country was relatively spared by the virus, and a few years later this safety net was deemed unnecessary and abandoned. Korea took a hit during that crisis, and learned the lesson. The government didn't hesitate too long before containing Daegu while France waited until after the elections to take significant measures.
    
  • Science and facts first, 4Ts for Korea vs only 1T for the States:
    - To the most obvious 3 Ts (Testing, Tracking, Treating), Korea didn't forget to add the fourth one, Transparency. This time, the vaccine came from the Sewol tragedy: MOON Jae-in knows what happens to leaders who fail when their citizens' safety is at stake.
    - Unfortunately, this President Of The United States focused from the start on the only T he cares for: TRUMP. Because he thinks as usual that everything is all about him and his election, and that he can never fail, as usual he rejects science and facts, and everybody pays the price. How many lies, denials, delays? How many weeks wasted, how many lives lost forever? At best tens of thousands, because the US have at long last started to move, and once they do they can move mountains, but Trump's behaviors could well have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.
     
    "If #Korea has the best protection mask against #AirPollution and #covid19,
    #USA had the best #protectionmask against #Science, facts, and #truth thanks to this #MAGA #Trump #mask:
    http://e-blogules.blogspot.com/2020/03/coronavirus-protect-yourself-100-from.html  @blogules" (@theseoulvillage - 20200309)
     
    "So #DonaldTrump wants to see full #churches on #Easter day. Well that's very easy to do. Even #Italy manages just that right now (see photo below). #COVID19US" (@stephanemot - 20200326)
  • Korea more decisive and transparent than Japan's government**: 
    - when most international media applauded Japan for its remarkably low number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities, only a few observers pointed out the fact that these numbers were not to be trusted, that very few people were tested, and that the government was responsible for many fatalities with its disastrous handling of the outbreak on board of the Princess Diamond cruise ship. Sadly, much more lives will be lost on the archipelago because Shinzo Abe and his team deliberately tried to hide the pandemic under the rug to save face, Tokyo 2020, and their own corrupt regime. The reason why figures were so good and the temperature didn't show? They deliberately got rid of the tests and the thermometer, treating cases as 'pneumonia', and refusing even to release statistics about pneumonia. For many, reality hit home only yesterday, when Dishonest Abe exposed his total lack of visibility and control:
    "After #Trump's #ITakeNoResponsibility, #ShinzoAbe's 'I-dont-have-a-clue-how-deep-I-dug-#Japan-In-but-in-a-fortnight-after-cases-have-multiplied-a-hundredfold-I-might-consider-declaring-a-state-of-emergency (scary quotes via @motokorich):" (@theseoulvillage - 20200328)
Of course, this is certainly not about countries competing against each other, but about mankind vs the invisible enemy, about humans vs their own failures.

Furthermore, Koreans already know how quickly and dramatically situations can evolve for the better and for the worse with this pandemic. And like everybody else, they are not out of the woods yet. Particularly with these recurring stories of churches holding services in spite of the ban, or this handshake-happy covidiot of a politician on the campaign trail:


"If #Korea govt locked up 'religious' leaders who persist in organizing mass 'services', prisons would be packed. Particularly their mass murderer sections." (Quote Tweet Raphael Rashid / @koryodynasty "This at the Yonsei Central Baptist Church today. I wonder how far spit particles can travel.") (20200329)
 
Frederic Ojardias / @fredojardias: "I just saw a campaigning politician (from the majority party) walking in a park in Seoul and shaking the hands of *every people* he met. Seriously, Korea. The #COVID crisis is not over. @moonriver365  @wonsoonpark Seoul Village / @theseoulvillage: "I'd #facepalm if touching one's own face weren't forbidden" (20200329)
So don't count on me to feed the ambient complacency. Or to complain about systematic screenings and tests upon arrival in the country.

One can only be impressed by the attention given to each and every one of us ever since we landed, from the welcome pack (masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, disposable thermometers, special trash bags...) to the daily calls from the district office, the neighborhood health center, and even the psychological support provided to anyone in need. Yes, during this quarantine, we're tracked by GPS, we have to report on two different self-quarantine apps every day (ministries of Health and Interior), we have to take our temperature twice a day for good measure, even if we tested negative to the coronavirus after arrival. But in too many countries, too many people would die for - and sadly too many people will die without - such attention.
"Free #protectionMasks, hand gel, disinfection spray, special trash bags for contaminated materials and instructions to handle them... dropped at your home. #Seoul welcomes you back in a country that copes seriously with #covid19." (20200326)
These days, Korea manages to maintain a significant level of economic activity, but that's a very delicate balancing act, and I'd settle for a trade-off where the economy is steadily running at around 85%, instead of 90% for the first week, but 70% afterwards. If we want most restaurants to remain open much longer, maybe limiting their activity (e.g. to take out) could make that more likely.

Avoiding complacency and relapses should be consistent at all levels. And if MOON Jae-in is enjoying a well deserved boost in the polls because of the way he handled the outbreak, that shouldn't be a green light for bringing back such rotten apples as CHO Kuk or SOHN Hye-won.

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* see this 20200328 tweet:


** as usual I make clear differences between Japan, Imperial Japan, and the politicians that are now ruining this great nation, betraying this great people.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Make Imperial Japan Great Again - an exclusive (fake) tell-all interview with Shinzo ABE

(NB - this interview is part of our Agence Fausse Presse series which already featured, among other extremists, KIM Jong-un* and Donald Trump**)

Seoul Village - "Prime Minister ABE, thank you for accepting this interview. To start with, do you prefer Westerners to call you Shinzo ABE, or ABE Shinzo?"

Shinzo ABE: "I don't care, as long as you don't confuse me with Kan ABE: I'm so ashamed by my paternal grandfather, who ruined the reputation of my family. This man was a dangerous peacemonger who dared oppose Hideki TOJO and Imperial Japan militarism. All my life is about clearing my name, the reputation of that side of my family. When you think that his eldest son, my father, had to become a kamikaze to prove to everybody that he was on the (extreme) right side of Japan's history."

SV - 'Your maternal grandfather, on the other hand..."

SA - "Needless to say, Nobusuke KISHI was my hero: a genuine war criminal I could be proud of, and relate to. My visits to Yasukuni, or my congratulations to war criminal memorials pale in comparison to the headstone he dedicated to TOJO and the other fallen war criminals***... what an inspiration for us."

War criminal Kishi would be proud of his Rising GrandSon

SV - "By 'us', you mean Nippon Kaigi."

SA - "Of course. I'm very proud of my brainchild Nippon Kaigi. Nobody thought that a maze of exotic extremist groupuscules could be merged into Japan's dominant political lobby, reuniting hardcore neofascists with Shinto fundamentalists. But in order to achieve that incredible feat, I needed Korea's help."

SV - "Pardon me....?"

SA - "We love it when Korean nationalists hijack history issues. As fellow extremists, we need each other to play a naughty ping pong game and make moderates inaudible. And these guys are very successful at fueling anger from the Korean people, and not anger at us, but anger at Japan in general, which makes it easier for us to say 'look, these people are radicals, they can't see reason, we are the victims in this story. Korean nationalists helped us revive our ailing fascist movements, but at the beginning in 1992, we felt really scared: for the first time, Korean Comfort Women spoke up about what they came through under Imperial Japan rule, for the first time in decades, the less pretty side of our history was exposed to the Western world, and back then, nationalism was kept at bay in Korea so the victims could be heard without any distortion. We really feared that our grip on Japanese society could be loosened. We had to react in order to defend the memory of our beloved war criminals."

SV - "Well you still controlled the political system. The only embryos of apologies were issued by lame duck officials, in personal statements that were not really binding for the nation."

SA - "Yeah. We keep deleting records, and rewriting history in textbooks, but even with our propaganda machine and our control of the local media, it's hard to get rid of the 1993-1994 statements of Yohei Kono and Tomiichi Murayama. At least, we've successfully destroyed press freedom at home, and even made it almost impossible for foreign journalists to expose my ABEIGNomics, or even to mention Nippon Kaigi, but this takes a lot of time and money."

SV - "Money?"

SA - "Do you know how much money we spend every year in advertising and advertorials on CNN and Co? Almost as much as we invest in soft power in South East Asian countries. But these foreign media never cover stories about us, and these countries have yet to seek apologies or reparations for their Comfort Women."

SV - "Well Western audiences certainly know a lot more about judo and Japanese food than about your Moritomo Gakuen scandal, corruption around Tokyo 2020, or the role of yakuzas in the olympics and in the highly controversial Fukushima cleanup..."

SA - "... you can stop here: I get your point, and I don't want foreign or for that matter Japanese audiences to be enlightened about our ABEIGNomics."

SV - "You don't risk much. It's not like in Korea when everybody's on the street as soon as a new scandal pops up."

SA - "Of course, otherwise we would have been kicked out of power decades ago. We're very lucky that Japanese people are not interested in politics, in defending their democracy and their constitution. We're also very lucky that the US didn't purge our political dynasties at the end of WWII, because they needed people like my 'good' granddad Kishi to secure Japan's support during the Cold War."

SV - "Unlike Germany with Nazism, Japan has never been liberated from Imperial Japan".

SA - "Yes, and we want that situation to continue forever. As you well know, Nippon Kaigi's official goal is to restore Imperial Japan as a whole, including militarism and State Shinto, to repel peace treaties and human rights laws, to recenter education around nationalism, to deny war crimes and to reject postwar pacifism by changing the constitution. This can only happen if the Japanese people, who is overwhelmingly pacifist, is kept unaware of the past, and of our agenda for the future."

SV - "Undoing your democracy should be even easier with a man like Donald Trump in the White House."

SA - "Definitely, and not just because Putin is also very pleased if Japan joins his collection of failed democracies. The difference is that we don't need any meddling in our elections."

SV - "Still, Trump is much more powerful than you."

SA - "Don't misread my losing rounds of golf against Donald. If I spend 200% of my time with him flattering his ego, that's way cheaper than spending millions in foreign media. Plus I receive preferred treatments compared to other traditional US allies."


SV - "That's right. Trump asked you only 4 times more money to pay for the US military umbrella, compared to 5 for South Korea."


"#Trump asked #Japan to multiply by 4 its financial contribution to US defense. #ShinzoAbe's (losing) rounds of #golf with #POTUS paid off (#Korea was asked x 5)." (20191116 - twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1195566482677059584)

SA - "Well Donald learned business from his mobster friends, so I expected this kind of racketing from him. Besides, MOON Jae-in is too weak. He's out of sync in the region because has nothing to do with strongmen like Vladimir, Narendra, Rodrigo, Jong-un, Jinping or me. Still, I see some hope: lately, MOON seems to have learned more than a few tricks from Donald, judging by the way he's handling justice****..."

SV - "Anyway, there is at least one strong Korean leader these days. Will you meet KIM Jong-un?"

SA - "Maybe. I really want to thank him, to tell him to keep up the good job, to keep shooting missiles over our heads. I badly need enemies at the gate, a boogeyman to justify our return to militarism and our destruction of Japan's postwar pacifism. To make fascism relevant in Japan, to Make Imperial Japan Great Again."


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* see "Exclusive interview with KIM Jong-un - Season III" (2018), "EXCLUSIVE-Second interview with KIM Jong-un" (2017), "Exclusive interview with KIM Jong-un" (2013)
** see "Trump: The Art of the Dealapidation (Exclusive Interview)" (2018)
*** see "The Elusive Independence Day - When will Japan officially proclaim its Independence from Imperial Japan?"
**** see "Moon Landing - The Cheong Wa Dae Curse"

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2019 - Collective City (also resilient and walkable)

Seoul is infinitely more walkable and pedestrian friendly than a few decades ago, but during the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, you can even hop from one World capital to the other* without leaving its center. For this second edition, two main venues have been added to the Biennale's horizontal axis, Seoul HOUR and the Seoul Museum of History joining the DDP, Sewoon Sangga, and Donuimun Museum Village.

Six months after the pre-biennale symposium and the Seoul HOUR inauguration (see "Seoul Hall of Urbanism and Architecture, Seoul Biennale 2019 Symposium"), the usual suspects showed up on opening day at Dongdaemun Design Plaza:


"Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism opening ceremony @ DDP Seoul.
Park Won-soon, Dominique Perrault, Seung Hyosang, Francisco Sanin" (@theseoulvillage - 20190907 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1170224195533279232)
The whole Barnum was supposed to move a few hours later to Donuimun Museum Village, but a last minute guest star crashed the party: because of Typhoon Lingling, all opening day festivities were eventually held in Zaha's landmark. Still, I decided to visit the Cities Exhibition on the same day, even as Lingling kept clearing her throat:



I had a great time exploring the whole show without the crowd, and intended to finish with Ulaanbaatar, a city that moved me so much three years ago (see "Welcome to Ulaanbaatar Village"). Unfortunately, when I arrived, its 'ger' was being dismantled at the last moment: located on the main building's rooftop, it could have been blown away. If this precaution turned out to be unnecessary, it somehow hammered down even harder (without any nails) the core messages from a city facing tremendous challenges, but at the same time able to leverage the amazing flexibility of its architecture. This could well be the poster image of a resilient city:

"Ulanbaatar's ger at Seoul Biennale Cities Exhibition unfortunately had to be temporarily folded yesterday because of Typhoon Lingling. If the typhoon failed to deliver its expected punches, this episode illustrates at the same time the flexibility of Mongolia's iconic architecture marvel, and urbanism challenges faced by its sprawling capital.
#SBAU #DonuimunMuseumVillage #gerhub" (@stephanemot 20190908 - https://www.instagram.com/p/B2I17q3p6qi/)
Go enjoy the countless shows, conferences, and other events (including the parallel ones) across the capital, and don't forget to pass by Seoul Museum of History, with its excellent 'Collective Market City' exhibition highlighting the key role markets played in the city's evolution from its very beginning:

"Collective Market City exhibition at Seoul Museum Of History. SBAU Live Projects with Jang Youngchul, Tomaz Hipolito, Young Wookoh, 000간, Roh Kyung, Oh Jaewon, Bang Jeongin" (@stephanemot - 20190909 - https://www.instagram.com/p/B2MBHqYJYS0)

Hurry up - you only have a couple of weeks left to enjoy SBAU 2019 (until November 10):

SBAU 2019: seoulbiennale.org


Seoul Village 2019
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* yes, like last time, Pyongyang is there (this time at the Seoul Hall Of Urbanism and Architecture):

"North Korea meets South Korea at Seoul Biennale Pyongyang expo. Seoul Madang, Seoul HOUR. SBAU" (20190910 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1171319358485712896)

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