The decision Russia made to send military force to Crimea worries many Taiwanese. Taiwan Explore, a blogger who devoted to introducing Taiwan, explained the parallels between Taiwan and Ukraine and why many Taiwanese feel worried about themselves when they watch the news about Ukraine these days.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + East Asia
Disney's Oscar-winning animated film ‘Frozen’ is immensely popular in South Korea; it has become the second most-watched foreign film as of last weekend by crossing 10 million admissions. Korean fans have posted lots of parody images, as well as Korean artists who have chimed in by singing the movie's catchy hit song ‘Let it go'. This particular fan-made tribute video is rapidly gaining views on Youtube. The video was reportedly made by a 6th grader [ko] who took photos of her own drawings and added those 600 images together to make this video clip.
IGF Japan, the Japanese chapter of the Internet Governance Forum, where people involved in web come together to discuss Internet governance challenges, will be held on March 14, 2014 at Aoyama Gakuin University. Sessions cover topics such as personal data and privacy, emerging generic top-level domains in Japan, and global online trends.
TeaLeafNation uses China's dominant search engine Baidu's search history to finish half-written questions about different provinces in China. They plot the stereotypes onto an interesting map about China. For example, Beijing was associated with “smog” and Xinjiang was considered as “being chaotic”. The piece has also explained the stereotypes about different provinces in details.
After China's Railway Station attack last Saturday, the tension between Uighurs and majority Han people has escalated. However, a group of ordinary Uighur people started an online campaign “#I’m from Xinjiang#” to fight stereotypes of Xinjiang people. In China, “Uighurs” are often labeled as “thieves,” “unappreciative separatists” and “knife-wielding terrorists.” Read more details from Offbeat China.
Faine Greenwood writes about the Stanford lecture given by Cambodian human rights activist Ou Virak. Asked about the anti-government protests taking place in Cambodia, Ou Virak explained why it would not lead to a ‘political spring':
I don’t think a spring in Cambodia will happen, nor do I think it’s desirable…We don’t even have a word for spring in Khmer. The closest word is revolution, which reminds people of Khmer Rouge.
He also criticized the opposition party for failing to provide a clear political agenda:
I haven’t seen an agenda…The only thing I’ve seen is how much we hate Hun Sen, and how much we hate Vietnam…That’s a formula for disaster, going in with so much hate. We have no idea what we are fighting for.
The group Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia is pushing for the passage of a Social Inclusion Act to address the problem of poverty in Malaysia:
Top-down prescription is not working despite the claims otherwise by the government. For aid to really work, one needs to get into the fine-grain pockets of pain and the ignored because each case is unique. For one it may be about education, for another about a gambling habit or a handicap or of self-esteem. It's not about opening the money tap per se, but how you distribute and use these funds.
A group of Chinese journalists launched a new media production platform for history related content — the New History Cooperative (新历史合作社). Their products — including books, magazines, events and videos — are shared through the internet and through WeChat and Weibo. One of the latest projects is documentary series about 100 “Chinese words” — terms like zheng shen, or “examination of one’s political record,” and jiating chushen, meaning someone’s “political pedigree”.
According to China Media Project, many intellectuals find the project meaningful. Writer Hu Fayun said: “Chinese words are words particular to China, they are words that reveal how China’s unique character came to be.” This documentary series is an opportunity to reflect back on China's history and admonish many aspects of China's present political and social circumstances. Watch the video below about the project overview.
While the current Ukraine revolution has many Chinese asking: “When are we going to take to the streets?”, netizens also learned from Ukraine that democracy isn’t the answer to all problems. Law professor Dong Zhiwei, a long-standing advocate of constitutionalism in China, called the anti-government protests in Ukraine a “coup” that is more of a clash between different power groups than between democracy and authoritarian rule. Offbeat China has more details.
Any international readers interested in North Korea would probably come across at least once this famous photo of Korean peninsula from NASA demonstrating a stark difference in the light emission of two Koreas at nighttime. NASA finally updated a new satellite image and it is ‘even more dramatic than the monochrome NASA satellite image of old', writes North Korea Tech blog. The blog also introduces a video version of the image which shows North Korea in context with the rest of East Asia.
Timed with the start of President Park Geun-hye's second year in office, about 40 thousand South Koreans (police estimate 15 thousand) held protests across the country. The demonstration, spearheaded by Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, calls halt to a clampdown on labor groups, the government's move towards privatization of public sector and cover-up of the presidential election manipulation scandal. Prominent citizen journalist Media Mongu tweeted a photo of the protest (embedded below). More photos can be found in the union's Facebook page [ko].
국민파업. 서울광장 안입니다. 꽉 찼습니다. pic.twitter.com/ZwdJ9AFlYh
— 미디어몽구 (@mediamongu) February 25, 2014
General strike, at the Seoul City Hall Plaza. It is fully packed.
After a grenade explosion killed three children in an anti-government protest site in Bangkok, the United Nations Children’s Fund urged government and protest leaders to protect children by keeping them away from protests. Bijaya Rajbhandari, the UNICEF Representative in Thailand, made this appeal:
(The UNICEF) condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children. These incidents underscore the urgent need to keep children out of harm’s way in order to ensure their safety. UNICEF urges the Government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from all protest areas.
Built 120 years ago, the Musmeah Yeshua synagogue in Yangon is the last remaining Jewish synagogue in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it is also listed as an archaeological heritage building in the city.
There have been mounting criticisms on both local and international media's coverage of rampant plastic surgeries in South Korea; many reports are highly sensational, describing how reckless and ignorant plastic surgery patients are (focused on females ones rather than male) and have successfully generated numerous crass jokes and harsh comments not only about patients, but also about the country as a whole. Wangkon936′s post in Marmot's Hole blog leads readers to drop the narrow ‘good’ and ‘bad’ value position and approach the issue from a purely business perspective. Some of the highlights are:
When it comes to South Korea, much of the press is negative and borders on reporting mostly on the strange and/or weird such as the so-called “tower of jaw bones”[...] However, is it all bad? If we are to take perhaps subjective values out of the equation and just look at economic impact, then is this all “bad,” per se? From an economic and business perspective, Korea’s highly demanding aesthetics culture is creating an expertise, technology and infrastructure base [...]
‘Koreans living in Japan‘ is a vague word glueing very different groups together under the same umbrella term. Based on their affiliation to North/South Korea and the timing of diaspora (whether it happened before/after the Japanese imperial rule during the World War 2 ear), each sub-group goes by a different name, sharing little similarities. Stark division between them is once again solidified by education system; North Koreans in Japan attend a special ethnic school that resembles ones that are in North Korea. Markus Bell, after visiting one North Korean school in Japan, wrote an extensive report on multiple threats those schools face, with some background information about the concerned ethnic group, as the financial help from their home country has been significantly reduced and also funding from the Japanese government was recently cut off.
Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, concluded his mission by assessing the country's democratic transition:
For the time being, the military retains a prevailing role in the life and institutions of Myanmar. State institutions in general remain unaccountable and the judiciary is not yet functioning as an independent branch of Government. Moreover, the rule of law cannot yet be said to exist in Myanmar.
He also talked aboout the challenges facing the media sector:
I met journalists who described a prevailing climate of uncertainty and fear of arrest, particularly if reporting dealt with issues too close to the interests of the military or other powerful elites.
Female students from Wuhan University in Hubei province demonstrated on Valentine's Day, calling for respect for sex workers in China. Beijing Cream has the story.
Horrible stories about North Korea is nothing new. But this may be one of the most extensive reports worth-reading on the country's abysmal human rights condition. A new report by a UN Commission of Inquiry reveals unspeakable crimes against humanity carried out by the North Korean regime against its own people which include systematic murder, torture, rape, forced abortions, deliberate starvation, and even infanticide. The Human Rights Watch post a short video version of the report on its Youtube channel and it seems rapidly gaining traction.
In an article that lists Global Voices as one of several “non-legitimate”, “foreign media websites” who “spread rumors about South Korea” abroad, South Korean pro-government newspaper Chosun falsely describes our Korean editor Yoo Eun Lee as, “a dark-haired Korean-American blogger, who goes by a last name starting with L”.
Lee's identity is not in the least secret – she's a Korean media professional currently living in the United States (and actually she currently has light brown hair). We stand by her coverage of an election manipulation scandal in South Korea, clampdowns on labor groups, and an increasingly hostile environment for Korean journalists.
Chosun further tries to demonstrate our untrustworthiness by saying that Global Voices misrepresents itself as having an affiliation to Harvard Law School, but that their “own investigation” shows we are “just a blog site”.
Apparently there is an outdated description of Global Voices on a major Korean website (with no connection to us) that describes us as a Harvard Law School project. The truth is that Global Voices was founded in 2005 at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, which is indeed housed at Harvard Law School. But today, Global Voices is an independent non-profit organization incorporated in The Netherlands.
Geoffrey Fattig of Jeollamite blog shares his brutally honest opinion on reverse and latent racism in South Korea, urging fellow native English teachers who under-appreciate a fairly good working condition to stop whining. Some of the highlights of his post are:
On the whole, though, Korea is a pretty easy place to teach English, and playing that foreign card has brought far more advantages than not over the seven years I’ve been in the country. I would add though, that being a tall white guy probably has a lot to do with it.
Beijing has reached Red Alert Levels of Smog during the past few days. China's state media CCTV wrote some comments on Sina Weibo on Feb 15, 2014, blaming Beijing government's impotency:
Several days of silence indicates one problem: with constant smog, people will become numb, the society will turn a blind eye, but the government cannot be blind, it must shoulder its responsibilities, No excuse for ignorance, fearlessness or inaction! So, CCTV Financial channel is asking, is there anyone who's going to solve the smog problem?
After a few hours, users were unable to comment or repost the post.
According to an “official Chinese report,” rampant air pollution in Beijing has rendered the city as “barely suitable” for living.
Roseann Lake from ChinaFile explores why it's hard for Chinese to say “I Love You” in their own language from historical and sociological perspectives. The piece has also introduced an experiment about Chinese brain and its relation to love and romance.
The Saigoneer features several photos published by the French Consulate in Saigon, Vietnam that highlight the changes that took place in the city between 1955 and 2005.
— Saigoneer (@Saigoneer) February 12, 2014
Thai writer Aim Sinpeng describes the recent election in Thailand as one of the most bizarre in the country's history:
The February 2 election in Thailand was not only one of the most bizarre, but also “pointless” elections in recent memory. “Missing” polling stations, locked up ballot boxes, an M16 shooting match, and a complete boycott by the second largest political party are among the many incidents that characterize the recent election in this Southeast Asia nation.
— 变态辣椒 (@remonwangxt) February 11, 2014
In Chinese language, the color yellow also signifies sex and pornography. The crackdown of sex industry and pornographic materials is termed as “cleaning-up the yellow”. Political cartoonist @remonwangxt's latest work is about the “Cleaning-up yellow” campaign in China.
Patrick Lozada from Beijing Cream discussed the phenomena that many dissidents who have left China would turn up joining the Right Wing organizations in the U.S. He pointed out the dilemma of the current situation:
I understand why they do it. You can say bad things about China in China and go to jail, or you can have conservatives pay you enormous amounts of money to do it in the US. Regardless it causes these activists to lose credibility as agents of change in China, and the impact they can have from the States is minimal.