Category: Internet

I have Lived Today

By , December 11, 2014 8:31 am


Former Ulsan resident Steve Moore has come out with his first book called “I Have Lived Today” and we couldn’t be happier. According to Moore, the book started out as a project while he was teaching here in Ulsan and then was finished later on. Steve was a fixture at the Mugeodong Ediya Cafe during this time but has since moved on from Ulsan to the bright lights of Daegu.

Sadly, the novel has nothing to do with life in Ulsan but everything to do with a dark and tragic tale of self discovery and human cruelty. Many have noted Moore’s writing style to that of the legendary Charles Dickens. The book does have a similar dark feel to it.  The main character “Tristan” suffers his way through this brilliant novel and eventually comes to a life changing realization. Here is Moore’s synapsis of the book.

England. 1960s. A cold, harsh autumn. On an isolated island, an abusive man forces his wife to run for her life. Their son Tristan, young and afraid, also flees the island and sets out into the world to escape his demons and find his mother.

Hitchhiking beneath the backdrop of a wild and loveless November, Tristan encounters every possible character, from the genuinely kind to the inherently wicked. Beaten, robbed and stripped of even hope, Tristan finds himself on the gritty streets of London’s East End, where everything he thought he knew about life starts to shatter and crumble around him. With all hope seemingly lost, a young boy even questions the futility of life itself. But when he learns that there are others who share his torment and understand his pain, can Tristan find the courage to make it through his darkest hours?

Tristan’s tale is a grim exploration into his own conscience. As he discovers the unique ability of humans to do such heinous things both to themselves and to one another, it’s all he can do to keep control as his passage of internal discovery takes one dark turn after another and sends him to the edge.

“I Have Lived Today” can be purchased online at Amazon and 10% of the royalties will go to the NSPCC Children’s Charity.  For those looking for great reads this is a book that you surely do not want to pass up. Not to mention that you would be helping a lot of children as well.


You can keep up with Steve’s adventures over at his blog “The Twenty First Century Nomad” and his author site here.

News Update 10-11-2013

By , October 11, 2013 2:15 pm

A survey of 21 advanced countries shows that student respect for teachers is lowest in Korea. Only 11% of Korean said students respected teachers. Korea was actually third from the bottom, above Israel and Japan.


Korea has privately run prisons. According to the Korea Times, The inmates of Somang often describe the prison as a “hotel” when compared to other prisons they’ve been in.

It appears to be working. The average national recidivism rate is 62%, whereas Somang prison’s target is 4%.

The difference between this and private prisons in the United States? Somang is not-for-profit.


Namdaemun is Korea’s largest traditional market. As such it attracts many foreign tourists already. What could make it better? turn it into a department store.

some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, they don’t help themselves, oh

It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t one of the almost 200 high-ranking government officials who dodged mandatory military service.


An increasing number of Koreans who went to America to study are returning to Korea afterwards rather than working in America – due to how hard it is to get a job over there.

The accused Nakji murderer has been acquitted on his third appeal. The father of the victim says he no longer believes in the law.

Who’s that creep taking videos of girls on the subway? He’s the head of a large corporation.


In North Korean news, the Huffington Post has an article about marijuana in the hermit kingdom. Apparently, “it’s not a drug, man”.

And North Korea is accusing Switzerland of discrimination, specifically with regards to ski equipment, which falls under the UN sanction against exporting “luxury goods” to North Korea.

It appears North Korea might be right in this case. After all, poor and rich alike go skiing.


War propaganda from North Korea always has something of a robust quality to it.

Whether it’s “defending” their country from the ruthless American “invaders”, or protecting their cultural heritage, the unique and specific graphic style lends itself to any use at all.

check out the billboard on this article.

Attack the mountain!


If you’re interested in joining the National Geographic Traveler photo contest, don’t go to North Korea. That’s one of the wastelands ineligible for the contest, along with Iran, Sudan, Syria, New Jersey, Vermont and Québec.

Québec’s a little bit pissed.


Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a balloon with a poster about Kim Jong-Un’s wife being in a porno.


More on the busker busker controversy from Asian junkie.

It’s all based on his recent interview with VICE’s music arm, NOISEY.

My favorite quote:

““We were popular because we were on TV, but we couldn’t legally make money,” Moore says, underscoring a strange norm in Korean entertainment law. “We were at ‘amateur status’ in the broadcasting contract. So, like, Coca-Cola comes in and we spend all day doing a Coca-Cola commercial, but they pay the [show’s] company—not the artist. We were on the show for eight weeks straight, and we did commercials for eight weeks straight. We took home no money from that.””

News Update 08/06/2013

By , August 6, 2013 1:37 pm

news update

Howdy, sports fans, it’s David here again, with another day-late news update. I saw Snowpiercer on Saturday. Apparently almost everyone did. Snowpiercer had over 1 million viewers in just two days, making it the fastest selling film in Korea. Ever.

Rightly so, too. It was certainly full of action, and although the concept seemed really thin at first, it wound up being a really fun movie.

Last week there was a terrible accident in Seoul. A bridge collapsed that some people were working on, killing at least two. Full story here.


It seems like people all over the world have problems with romance. Men are always worried if women want them or not, and women are worried that if they get too comfortable their man won’t want them anymore.

Matchmakers to the rescue. The New York Times has an article on how the government is stepping in to promote… increasing the national birthrate.

Statistically, it appears that countries with a low cost for parental leave have higher birth rates. As more and more families are dual income it seems obvious why that’s the case. If a household relies on both incomes, and the country doesn’t provide high replacement wages during parental leave, that’s a counterincentive to having children by itself.

The marmot has more on the connection between the future work and matchmaking, here.

Apparently quite a few people are unhappy in their relationships. And when people are unhappy in relationships, where do they turn? To the Internet! Korea bang has two connected articles here, along with a lot of translated comments.

One fairly unique Korean thing is the concept of key money. As any longtime ex-pat knows, this is money you pay to the landlord up front instead of rent. It used to be you could negotiate for higher rent and lower key money, but it seems like lately both are just too high.

This development hits no one harder than the working poor, who struggle both to find loans for key money, and to afford their monthly rent.

Korea Times article here. Quote:

In recent years, average jeonse deposits have jumped to over 60 percent of the selling price of a house from 40 to 50 percent, according to Real Estate 114.



Rejoice, people who are moving back home to the states. For the gods of soju have smiled upon those fair shores. My least favorite soju (Chamisul) is now for sale in the United States, sporting a happy picture of a cartoon Psy on the front. By the way, my favourite is Joheun-day.

Because if there’s anything Americans like more than soju, it’s K-Pop.

No word on the price yet.

Two-thirds of Korean women (and half of Korean men) surveyed feel unsecure from sexual violence – the most cited reason being “insufficient punishment of the perpetrators and efforts to prevent [recidivism]”.

Insufficient punishment, you say? (Korean Article – from last week, a man was sentenced to just 7 years in prison for serial rape)


Kaesong is still on the road to being permanently shuttered. South Korea insists that the North must give guarantees it will not close the complex again, and the North says they just want it open.

On Sunday, the South Korean government said they were reaching the limits of their patience. To which North Korea replied, “well we’ll just take it with the military then”.

“But hold on, let’s not be hasty here” – Ministry of Unification spokesman says, “when we talked about reaching the limits of our patience, we didn’t mean…”


It’s a hard life being one of Korea’s rural poor. You grow crops, harvest the crops, and then you have to travel several kilometers to get to your closest market. It’s a problem farmers have faced for thousands of years.

Some of Korea’s rural poor get a boost as a charity has started running “hope taxis” to help them get to market to sell their crops.


A story from over 60 years ago: how a small Russian island came to have 25,000 Koreans living on it.
It’s a fascinating read
, and shows just how messy history can be. Shows that back in 1948 people didn’t know what they were doing either.


Koreans are justly proud of their writing system which was invented years ago by some king or other. Hangul almost perfectly suits Korean language as a writing system, and although its application to other languages is a little lacking, it remains an elegant, efficient way of promoting literacy in Korea.

But according to one Japanese airhead, “Hangul is why Korea will never produce a nobel prize-winner”. It’s not nearly complicated enough – since it’s an alphabet, and not made with ideographs like Hanja, Kanji, or Chinese.

Apparently, complicated symbology in writing and in literature make for a more complicated mind. That’s why Japan’s nobel laureate rate is one tenth the European Union, right?

In other Japanese news, a small survey of Japanese citizens found that only 61% of respondents claimed Takashima as Japanese territory.

And a bonus for those who read the whole update:

Making Ulsan Connections through Facebook

By , July 30, 2013 7:28 pm

It’s rare these days to come across someone who isn’t on Facebook. The Social Media site has taken on a huge role in many of our lives, as an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family back home (even if it’s just passively checking statuses or flipping through photo albums) while we’re living abroad. It’s also a great way to meet new people and discover ways to get involved in your new community while you’re living here. Ulsan has always had a very active foreign community, and with help from the members of the Ulsan Online Facebook group, I’ve compiled a list of groups that can help you make connections, and get more out of your time in the Land of the Morning Calm.

General help for living in Ulsan

Ulsan Online – with over 1800 members, and growing every day, this is probably the most active group online in Ulsan. The intention is to extend the information available on our website – if you can’t find an answer to your question on here, ask it there!

Ulsan Used Goods – a buy and sell list. Since many expats are here only for a year or two, there is a rather steady trade in basic household products and furniture, or even the odd vehicle. If you need something, or want to unload something you can’t bring

home, check it out.

Ulsan Parents Club – great support if you have little ones. They occasionally organize group outings, such as picnics and Christmas parties.

Ulsan Mothers Group – similar to above.

What’s Hot in Hogye – for anyone living in Buk-gu (the north end of the city), in neighbourhoods like Hogye and Hwabong, as it can feel a little isolated out there. There’s also the Yeonamazing group for people in Hwabong and Yeonam dongs.

Dong-gu Ulsan – a similar group for people living in Dong-gu, which can also feel a bit cut off from the rest of the city at times.

Eonyang Family – for those way out in Ulju-gun, by the KTX station.


T-Hope - Teachers Helping Other People Everywhere. A group of volunteers who do orphanage visits, gather donations for charity, and run fundraising events. This is a page, not a group, but you can find out more about them through this link.

T-Hope – Lotus Center for Autistic Children

Language Skills

Ulsan Language Exchange Table and

Let’s Talk Talk Ulsan – these two groups organize events where Koreans and English-speakers can come together to practice their other language. Usually half the event is run in English, half in Korean.

Ulsan Korean Study Group – a group centered around the study of the Korean Language in Ulsan. In this group you can share your tips and materials on studying Korean.

Ulsan Skype Cultural Exchange Group – meet up over Skype, from the comfort of your own home.

Spanish Conversation in Ulsan – get together with other Spanish language speakers to keep up your skills.

Hobbies and Recreation (these are pretty straight forward)

Ulsan International Cultural Discovery and Meetup

Ulsan Online Debate Forum

Ulsan Photography Club 

Ulsan Wine Club

Ulsan Dog Owners 

Ulsan Social Dance

Industrial Theatre Troupe

Irish in Ulsan

Ulsan Partying

Ulsan Happenings

Ulsan AfterHours

Ulsan Social Club

Ulsan Homebrew Group


Ulsan Rock Climbing

Foreigners CAN Hike

Ulsan, Busan, Daegu, Pohang Ice Hockey

Ulsan Football (American style, not soccer)

Ulsan Bolts Rugby Club

Won Shot Wanderers FC  (soccer/football)

R.O.K. STARS 2013  (basketball)

Ulsan Sports – for a wide variety

Ulsan Ultimate Frisbee (UFF)

Healthy People of Ulsan

Waeguks Got Runs – for runners/joggers. Often lists marathons and other running events.

Teaching Support

Ulsan Substitute Teacher Group – if you need cover for a day off at your hogwan, try listing it here.

Ulsan MOE Substitute Teacher Group – same as above, but for public school teachers.

Teachers in Ulsan – share resources, get advice for dealing with difficult classes, etc.

Ulsan EPIK – for public school teachers.

High School Teachers in Korea – support for the small number of native speaker High School teachers.

Ulsan Middle School Teachers

Resources for Teachers in Ulsan

Student Support

UISO – UNIST International Student Organization, for students at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.

University of Ulsan International Students Association

Religious Organizations

Ulsan English Fellowship – A Mission Outreach of the First Congregational United Church of Christ

Ulsan Catholic Community

Simin International Church Ulsan

Ulsan Han-Fil Families – Korean-Filipino families “working together to fulfill the will of Heaven.”

Ulsan Muslim Association




News Update 2013-04-06: Korean XXXL (US Large) Edition

By , April 6, 2013 9:13 pm

This week: Korean XXXL (US Large) Edition

‘Extreme’ Hagwon Advertisements

Proof that North Korea isn’t being taken seriously

Flash Mobs must be registered in advance

Korean Copyright Law

Sweet and Sour Pork – the debate of the century

“Human Flesh Capsule” smuggling doubles

Consensual sex between white foreign men and korean women is a sex crime

Kim Jeong-Hoon speaks against nationalism

Park Si-hoo officially charged with “Quasi-rape”

Chinese Matchmaking Site doing mandatory Credit Checks



We all know how important education is to Korean Culture – centuries of Confucian thought have held (rightly, I think) that education is the way to a better life.

But with differences between hagwons only being measured in things like “quality of teaching” and “personality of the director”, Hagwons are hard-pressed to make themselves stand out from the crowd.

It turns out it’s easy! Just check out these advertisements:

“Let’s make them study to death! / Only send them home to sleep!”

It’s frankly disgusting. It’s thinking like this that is why Korea ranks first in High School suicides.

But a little word of hope from a commenter:


내는 나주ㅇ에 저래안키운다

“I’m not gonna raise my kids like this.”
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In the “North Korea doesn’t really pose a huge threat” department…

Last time, North Korea warned that inter-Korean relations are now in a “state of warlike readiness” – the equivalent of DEFCON 4, and one step below outright war.

The response from South Korea: “We’re already at war, idiot!”

Earlier, North Korea warned Britain to evacuate its diplomats from its North Korean Embassy. The response from the UK: “No thanks, we don’t feel like they’re in danger.” Full story here.

On Thursday, North Korea warned that it had instructed its military to attack the United States with nuclear weapons, and moved its mobile missile platforms closer to the coast.

Experts agree: “what nuclear weapons?”

full story here.

What Kim Jong-Un wants most is to scare his neighbours into giving up aid in exchange for cooperation – just like his father had done multiple times.

He has the Americans’ attention – Google searches for “North Korea” have gone up like a rocket in the last month. And in newspapers, there’s been a 49 percent increase in articles about the Hermit Crab — I mean “Kingdom”.

For the last month, radio and tv news have rebroadcast every little thing Mr. Kim has said. Link here

Unfortunately for Kim, his plan of “threaten then capitulate in exchange for gifts” doesn’t seem to be working very well this time around.

Even barring South Koreans from entering Kaeseong, the joint inter-Korean exploitative factory industral complex in North Korea, doesn’t seem to have rattled South Korean leaders. North Korea has not banned South Korean workers from leaving – and Seoul has not considered telling these workers to leave.

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The Supreme Court ruled on March 31st that Flash Mobs must be registered and approved in advance under the Act of Assembly and Demonstration, Proving that the Supreme Court doesn’t understand what Flash Mob means.
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What happens when you let a foreign country’s media conglomerates write your laws? Well, South Korea is finding out. One of the laws that Korea adopted early was the infamous “three strikes” rule.

We’re starting to feel the effects, as 408 Korean Internet users are banned from the internet as a result. Half of those suspended were involved in infringement of material that would cost less than 90 cents.

Now the Korean National Human Rights Commission is calling for a repeal of these draconian IP laws.
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Sweet and Sour Pork – that delicious Chinese-Korean staple where sauce should be gently poured on thedipped into aww hell, which is it?

This is a debate storied and centuries old.

Korean netizens jokingly bickered:

Hey retard, ke ke ke ke ke ke, why don’t you say the WW2 broke out because Hitler poured the sauce on Sweet and Sour Pork, ke ke ke.

You have to pour the sauce for the real taste, ke ke. Dippers are barbarians, mhm.

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Korea Customs has been inundated this year with “human flesh capsules”: pills and capsules containing dried, powdered human fetuses. According to Korean news, they are popular with the Chinese, who take them to improve their stamina. KoreaBANG has a translated article here with comments.

The amount of capsules captured has doubled since last year, with 23,898 human flesh capsules captured by Incheon Airport Customs so far.

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Xenophobia on national TV is starting to pick up again. JTBC’s “We Are Detectives” (우리는 형사다) program had an episode about Foreign Crime on March 28th. It followed what’s becoming a usual script for these types of programs:

“We know that Chinese, Malaysians, and Filipinos are dangerous, but we need to be especially wary of Westerners because we trust them too much!”

Gusts of Popular Feeling has a 6-part (so far) series on this as it progresses. Go read it here.

After the footage and scenes of the audience gasping are shown, we’re then shown people on the street being asked what makes them uncomfortable about living in an area with lots of foreigners (there’s nothing loaded about that question!). One feels threatened when foreigners are together, a woman feels afraid walking the streets at night, a man says that if you see many foreigners getting drunk, at that time fights often break out. Another woman says that there are many sex crimes by foreigners these days. Yes, with 311 foreigners charged with rape in 2011, that’s almost one rape per day. Not quite the 48 rapes per day that Koreans committed on average in 2011, but we wouldn’t want to put any of this into context, now would we? Best to show shocking footage and ask leading questions. 잘 했다, JTBC!

Like before, the JTBC program uses the same (incorrect) Korean Institute of Criminality statistics that misrepresent foreign crime rates to be quite a bit higher than they actually are – inflating the numbers by including parking tickets and traffic violations in Foreign numbers and excluding them from Korean numbers, deciding to not count many Foreigners as living in Korea to make the crime statistic higher, and by other means.

At least the racism we face in Korea is more subtle than being verbally attacked on buses Video here of a Middle-aged Korean woman on a bus being shouted at by some asshole in a hat. “The Japanese bombed Adelaide!”, he says. The news announcer says he might have been mentally disturbed or drunk – but notices that very few on the bus were willing to stand up for the lady.

Let’s let it serve as a reminder that we should always remonstrate against behaviour like this.

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Kim Jeong-hoon spoke out in the Washington Post about Korean Nationalism. He was a candidate for science minister who withdrew on March 4th after conservatives challenged his loyalty to Korea.

What he criticized as “Change-resistant forces in the political and bureaucratic circles” took issue with his dual citizenship (American and Korean) — and took issue with his part in the American CIA’s External Advisory Board.

The External Advisory Board’s job is to provide the CIA with input from intelligence recipients, the public, and businesses that are impacted by the CIA’s operations.

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Following up on the Park Si-hoo rape case, he has now been officially charged with “quasi-rape (준강간/準强姦)”.

What the hell is “quasi-rape”?

Long story short, it’s a separate category for sexual assault wherein the victim was unable to give consent.

Perhaps quasi-rape might be charged in cases of alcohol or substance abuse, but it has also been applied for the assault of the developmentally challenged…

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And, on the other side of North Korea, the Shanghai Matchmaking Association is implementing credit checks of its male users to weed out people who are lying about their income.

This was prompted by a postgrad woman from Shanghai

to meet a man who claimed to be the chairman of a company. Everything was going swimmingly until she got pregnant with his child and found out he was actually a farmer. A married farmer.

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News Bits – 12/7/2012

By , December 7, 2012 8:50 am

A few interesting tidbits from around Korea:

  • South Korea says it’s going to stop killing whales for research. For years, the country has conducted whale hunts ostensibly for research, killing the whales so they could be studied, but then selling the meat to the many whale restaurants in Ulsan. While some might think that this is the end of killing whales, think again – the Korean fisherman still employ a method called “by catch” where by whales can still be harvested if they are “accidentally” caught in fishing nets.  My money is on no slowdown in whale harvests – there’s a lot of whale restaurant owners in Jangsaengpo and Samsandong  that will be mad as hell if they can’t get the main meat their shop is named for.
  • Sports and Politics don’t mix. That’s what the International Olympic committee must now decide. Park Jang Woo, who was denied his medal in the 2012 Olypmics for displaying a Dokdo flavored poster after Korea beat Japan in football is going to go on trial. Formerly denied the ceremony, now they will decide if he is denied the medal. FIFA has banned the player for two matches for his political display.
  • Korean nuclear authorities have uncovered still more faked quality and safety certified parts for nuclear reactors. This is the third batch of faked papers. This time, however, authorities say the parts or for ancillary devices not directly tied to nuclear processing.
  • Already dealing with a problem of Internet Addiction in Korea (see here and here), the country is now faced with yet another human psychological disorder – Digital Addiction. No longer just internet specific, this is about technology everywhere. Kids don’t take their teddy bears to bed any longer – they snuggle with their smart phone until they go to sleep and then fondle it some more the moment they wake. It’s an Obsessive-Compulsive disorder in which

    “I get nervous when the battery falls below 20 percent,” …. “I find it stressful to stay out of the wireless hotspot zone for too long.”…”Kids forgot to eat lunch, completely absorbed with smartphones and some stayed in the classroom during a PE class”.

    I predict more deaths from this – watching/playing with a phone when one should have been watching traffic, whether driving or walking.  I’ve seen a number of drivers with phone/pad on the wheel and several pedestrians nearly clipped by cars because they aren’t watching.

    And, in case you can’t get enough of your own digital devices, check this out:

  • Today, December 7, the iPhone5 arrives in South Korea.  If you haven’t already gotten one on reserve, you might be waiting. Folllowing closely behind, the iPad Mini will arrive next week.
  • If you missed it. Korea’s fourth attempt to launch a rocket last week fizzled out. Two failed launches and two failed attempted launches have left Korea as one of the few technologically advanced nations that can’t seem to get out of the atmosphere. The next launch attempt is scheduled for next year.
  • Corruption in South Korea rises. Although the Korean Herald, apparently ashamed of their country’s stature, have chosen to misrepresent the data by manipulating the headline. Apparently, the news site understands that most people won’t read the story and simply skim the headlines.. Their headline states that “S. Korea’s corruption index falls” but what that means is that the country fell from 43rd place to 45th place with Denmark and Finland and New Zealand being the least corrupt countries. Go Kiwis!

UlsanOnline Advertising Policy

By , November 11, 2012 7:14 pm

There are nearly 20,000 foreigners living in Ulsan, several thousand of whom speak English. For almost four years, has been providing valuable information to the English speaking residents of Ulsan. During that time, we have created a content rich site where our readers can find information on a wide variety of topics, such as restaurants, nightlife, travel, movies, bus routes, as well as that all important catch-all category – “where can I find item X?”

For businesses who want to reach non-traditional, non-Korean speaking customers in Ulsan, offers a way to reach thousands of readers every month.  With hundreds of unique viewers each day, your ads are guaranteed to be viewed by a large audience. Whether you want to reach viewers with specific products or services in mind, or the general English speaking public in Ulsan, we have a page or group of pages that will suit your needs.

Moreover, our social networking can add thousands more views per day. Our UlsanOnline  Facebook group is currently one of the busiest in the city. With well over 1000 members and the ability to reach even more, people here know where to go for answers.  By advertising on, you can gain access to this dynamic, busy page to reach more readers, more often than ever before.

For those businesses wanting to advertise, please see our page on advertising rates and pages. Every advertiser who buys space on our site can also post ads on our Facebook group.   Up until now, we’ve allowed businesses to advertise their products and services for free on our group, but beginning on Friday, 11/16/2012, we’ll start moderating the page to remove ads that are not from our partners. That means our advertising partners will have exclusive rights to our group.  That means more viewers aware of your business and more revenue for you.

Don’t lose out on this opportunity to get your business in front of thousands of viewers, both on our official site and on our Facebook page!  Advertise on today!


Internet Freedom – Part II

By , October 21, 2012 12:46 pm

Earlier this week, we brought you news of Freedom House’s report on Internet Freedom in which we found that South Korea earned a rating of 34 out of 100, and 16th out of 47 countries evaluated.  While being on the upper 3rd of those might be admirable in some instances, being in the bottom two-thirds may not.

If you’re living in South Korea, it may have already become apparent to you that many places on the internet are not available. For some sites, that may be due to Korean censorship, particularly sites that are politically motivated (North Korean news or support sites come to mind). Other sites being unavailable  may be caused by the Korean government’s attempt to control your morality by stopping you from seeing things they feel oversteps the decency line. In still others, it may be a desire to enforce copyright restrictions within country boundaries such as   In this article, I’ll show you how to get around those controls and restrictions and read sites you want to read, watch what you want to watch and generally enjoy a level of freedom the average user in Korea cannot. Keep in mind, however, that does not endorse doing these things. Most of them are illegal.  This is strictly for your own personal edification.

There are a number of ways to foil internet censorship. Using web proxies, a method of directing your traffic to and from  a specific server outside of the country works for some types of censorship, but servers are crowded, not always secure and are increasingly flush with advertising. Using a proxy server requires you to insert an IP address or host-name into the internet settings of your browser. For non-technical folks, this is a non-optimal solution. Later, if that server becomes unavailable, you must manually change it. Furthermore, some PC network installations prevent ordinary users from modifying network settings making this method impossible.

Another way is to download and install an application such as UltraSurf. Ultrasurf hides your whereabouts, encrypts your communications and circumvents censorship. This tool appears to be very popular in China. Sadly, though, the app only works on PCs and is not available for Mac or Linux.Although this app must be installed, it is possible to install and use on a USB stick to prevent others from using (or even knowing you’re using) or deleting your app. While this sounds good, critics argue that UltraReach, the company behind UltraSurf logs data and has been known to work with law enforcement to divulge that information and cannot guarantee anonymity. Arguments between the two sides are ongoing.

Finally, and in my opinion, the best way to get what you want out of the internet is to use the Tor Network. Tor is a sophisticated network of proxy servers. It is free open source software developed primarily to allow anonymous Web browsing, but it is also a great censorship circumvention tool.  You must download the Tor bundle, but there is no installation required and the downloaded files are directly usable with almost zero setup.  Simply note where you save the Tor bundle, it will extract itself to a location of your choosing – note this location as well. When you’re ready to surf anonymously and access forbidden sites, browse to the folder you extracted to and click “Start Tor Browser”  After a few seconds, Tor automatically launches a special version of the Firefox Web browser with a test Web site. If you see the green message “Congratulations. Your browser is configured to use Tor.” you can then use that window to open blocked Web sites. Simple as that.    Fire up the Tor browser and visit Hulu, CWTV, Or the Rodong SinMun if you want. Just remember: we didn’t say it was ok to do that.

Internet Freedom

By , October 16, 2012 7:22 pm

Freedom House, an independent organization dedicated to expanding  freedom worldwide  has recently published its 2012 report on Freedom on the Net.  The report contains details on a country by country basis of where you are the most and least free to express your views and exercise freedom of speech.

This being Korea, the information should be of use to those of you reading this in-country. South Korea is not known as a bastion of free speech and the report bears that out. The report makes some general statements about internet freedoms over time. One such statement is that overall, “restrictions on internet freedom have continued to grow.”  And in South Korea, that is true as well, with a slight increase in restrictions from last year’s report.

Of the several types of internet controls researched by FreedomHouse,  South Korea was found to have used political blocking as well as arresting bloggers or information and communication technology (ICT) users for political or social writings.

On a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being completely free and unrestricted, South Korea was ranked 34 which was 16th out of the 47 countries in which the research was conducted.  However, in regional comparisons, South Korea ranked number 2 in Asia behind the Philippines. With countries like China and Myanmar, that have imposed so many restrictions on their populations, South Korea looks squeaky clean.

Interesting to note is the trends they see among high tech nations (South Korea being one of the highest in terms of penetration of the internet in the population) is that they “may move towards more repression as digital media access rates increase.”

The report did outline, however, one change for the better in South Korea. Recently the Supreme Court ruled against the real name system.  This caused upheavals on many sites by requiring that users must use their real name in order to leave a comment.  Unmentioned in the report, but not unnoticed by those of us who have been here for a year or so, is that Google and the Korean telecommunications companies decided to patch their relationships by allowing access to all of Google Play games. Prior to that change, owners of Android phones were limited to only Korean made games because of Google’s refusal to rank and rate each and every game for appropriate age-level content. The Korean government decided not to stand in the way of games by way of ratings.

As for the casual reader of you may not notice so much censorship going on with the Korea. Most expats have little invested in the political circles where the heaviest hands are played. However, if you were say a few kind words of praise online for Kim Jong Un or should you disparage one of the presidential candidates around election time and you may find out how long the arm of the law here really is. Other controls prevalent in South are less likely to result in jail time but severely restrict out freedoms nonetheless.  At some point this year, went dark on the peninsula and   was replaced with a KCSC warning page.  Luckily, however, in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, “nature finds a way” and  similar sites have since been erected (pardon the pun).


News Bytes – 8/25/12

By , August 24, 2012 2:59 am

A few news worthy notes from around Korea:

  • Japan and South Korea are getting downright testy with each other. A letter sent from the Japanese Prime Minister to the South Korean President was returned – and refused.  Japan is pissed about Lee Myung Bak visiting the contested islet Dokdo/Takeshima and sent a letter saying such. However, they published the contents before Lee could read it and he got pissed. South Korea tried to return the letter to the Japanese Embassy and they refused to open the gate.
  • No more real names.  A few years ago, an internet poster in Korea who went by the name of “Minerva” had predicted all manner of crazy stock market gyrations. Lots of Koreans believed him and lost their shirts and the government got very upset with him. Of course, rather than do the logical thing and blame the idiots who believed this uneducated internet poster for their poor investments, the government conducted a rigorous search to find this masked (in name only) man. They eventually did and sent him to jail for electronically spreading false rumors. Then they decreed that never again shall anyone remain nameless in Korea and post things on the internet.  Until today. That law was struck down as unconstitutional.  You can use whatever name you wish.  The law never actually prevented anyone from talking crap or spreading rumors electronically. Incidentally, internet video site YouTube refused to play along with the real name game and many suspected the site was intentionally slowed by the Korean Ministry of Tom Foolery.
  • Worried over what rising grain prices will do to the global economy as well as threatening the world’s poor, Lee Myung Bak urges the G20 to do something….Anything. 
  • Seemingly unable to prevent themselves from becoming as American as humanly possibly, Koreans have saddled themselves with more than enough household debt to eclipse the US figure prior to the 2008 market collapse.  Koreans on average carry 160% of their disposable income as debt with a yearly increase of 5.6%.
  • And finally, it’s  becoming not cool to rip off company name brands and re-appropriate them for your own nefarious purposes. “Chanel Business Club” in Seoul was fined for using the famous French fashion label’s name without permission. In 2010, Burberry got their piece of the pie back from a Daejeon noraebang of the same name.