Kyeong-Wha Station, Jinhae. Yeojwa Stream (경상남도 진해여좌천 벚꽃길)

I like moments in literature, cinema, or even everyday life where a stranger in a foreign land recognizes the beauty and value of another culture, however different it may be. The story has occured many times, but it is still inspiring and makes me want to live among another culture and grow in my admiration and respect of it. If only all of us could grow to accept other cultures and the people in them in spite of our differences.


Grandmother’s Flower is a 2007 documentary directed by Mun Jeong-Hyun that explores the  experiences and suffering endured by the filmmaker’s family during the Korean War. It’s really worth watching and shows many unknown aspects concerning the conflict. During Decemeber, I am going to do a series of post about my thoughts on civilian casualties in the Korean War.

South Korean citizens mourn for deceased President Roh Moo-hyun at a memorial altar in Roh’s hometown of Bonghwa village in Gimhae.

As detailed in Korea Today, South Korean citizens have made an effort to increase suicide prevention and education in their local communities in order to emphasize the importance and value of life. One such example is the awareness program “Love Life While Walking Overnight!” You can raise awareness about suicide prevention and help those in your local town or city through a number of organizations or visit the World Health Organization’s International Association for Suicide Prevention to see how you can make a difference in South Korea and other countries abroad.

Not only does South Korea’s suicide rate, as of 2011, exceed Japan’s, but it is one of the highest in the world. If the suicide rates for both North and South Korea are combined, thus considering the entire Korean Peninsula, the region far transcends Lithuania, which has the most suicides per 100,000 people in world. The problem is present at every level of Korean society, in which even the former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun and the beautiful daughter of the head Samsung chief executive, Lee Yoon-hyung, have taken their lives due to psychological despair. What is even more unsettling is that the rate continues to rise nearly every year and has increased by over 30% since the 1990s. Hopeful as the world progresses into the twentieth first century these figures and severe acts of emotional trauma will be engaged and decrease, especially in the highly susceptible Korean Peninsula and former Eastern Bloc.

These are the links to some posts I like on Cafe’s Your Daily Dose Blog under Category Archives: Korean 101. They deal with South Korean perceptions of beauty, particularly in women. I agree with her that the pressure to have a near perfect physical appearance has played a role in the rising rates of depression and suicide in the country.

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The United States has held a military presence on the Japanese island since the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. During the battle over 150,000 civilians lost their lives. Since the occupation, multiple cases of rape, murder, and crime have been committed by United States military personnel. It must be acknowledged that he United States military and government condemn such acts, have issued formal apologies, and those responsible have been prosecuted. Furthermore, a number of men and women in the United States military have shown respect toward the Okinawan people by participating in local charities and working hard to establish stronger bonds with the islanders. Nevertheless, many Okinawan citizens understandably want the United States military to leave, citing that pollution, noise levels, and crime are overwhelming the small island. The unincorporated territory of Guam has expressed interest in welcoming the transfer and establishment of new military bases as an alternative to the problem.

What are your opinions about the military presence and do you think the transfer of bases to Guam would be a postive solution?

President Lee Myung-bak and Myanmar’s President Thein Sein greet children waving flags of the two nations during a welcoming ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

On November 19th Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the country of Myanmar, formally known as Burma. Myanmar, which had been locked in civil war and ruled under martial law since 1962, has recently seen a series of rapid political reforms as a result of the Burmese constitutional referendum of 2008 and 2010 democratic elections. Since the referendum, all eyes have been directed toward the country as many believe the nation has the potential to be the next economic giant in East Asia.

In October of this year Myanmar President Thein Sein visited South Korea in hopes to further boost bilateral relations and cooperation among the two nations. In meetings with South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, the two discussed issues concerning “the strengthening friendly ties, technical assistance for the development of Myanmar, human resources development, finance, economy, education, infrastructure, industrial development, environmental conservation, tourist, transportation, communications, science and technology, and energy and mining.”

Bilateral trade between the two nations during the 2012 fiscal year has reached nearly 1 billion dollars, as private and public South Korean corporations, accompanied by independent investors, are increasingly becoming interested in the resource-rich nation. According to Myanmar’s Mizzima News, “South Korean companies will seek investments in construction, mining, agriculture, electricity, energy, logistic and freight-forwarding, vehicles and auto parts, communication and multi-media, iron and steel, agro-fishery, timber and wood, financing, real estate, garment, transport, hotel and tourism, civil engineering and industries, officials said.”

Mutual Cooperation and financial investment between Myanmar and South Korea has the potential to elevate both economies and is of crucial importance for the country, as it remains one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia with approximately 32% of the population still living in poverty.