discarded lies: saturday, march 24, 2018 12:27 am zst
Much ado
daily archive: 12/25/2004
guest author: Aridog in Discarded Lies:
The Hermit Kingdom
Happened upon this post while cruising interesting sites. Korea is a special place to me, partly because I spent 2 & 1/2 years there long ago as a soldier. Vietnam didn't hold the same alure, for obvious reasons, in the late 60's, but having been there, Korea was a comparative paradise. It is disappointing that some Americans have to act the fool, even now, when we should all have a much wider and more cosmopolitan perspective. Perhaps some things never change. Please understand that it is not all Americans. The Koreans do.

You are correct in your assumption that Korean women, and men, do not appreciate such behavior. In fact, the old culture of Korea is quite xenophobic, it wasn't called the "Hermit Kingdom" for nothing. As a visitor, if you are to "see and know" the real Korea, you need to be very sensitive, humble, courteous, curious, and polite. That does not mean "weak", it means respectful, the whole culture is respect based. You will cause far greater insult by spitting at a person than if you just slapped him up side the head. With all that gentility, you will also find no tougher soldiers anywhere than ROK's, Army or Marine. People that know me have heard me say more than once that if I ever had to go into combat again, let it be with ROK Marine's or Israeli IDF, neither knows how to quit, or is inclined to. Two small countries with great culture and spirit, gentle to the extreme, until provoked. It is not a dichotomy. For every noisy American there is also a multitude of quiet ones, who serve, suffer and die for ideals. If that strikes anyone as silly, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Yes, a Korean tour can be the "bane" of a stateside wife. So can a tour in the Phillipines, or anywhere else soldiers congregate. Good Lord, the French even had imported prostitutes with them as cadre at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam, when it fell. Who partakes, however, is a matter of individual character. The "Box of Tide" phenomena is also very much still a reality, returning soldiers can find the home front has been active with extracuricular intimacy, in fact it too is a problem. Not long ago, one of my bosses, a Deputy Commander of my organization, returned from overseas to find his best friend sleeping with his wife. It nearly destroyed him. In short, it isn't "Korea" that causes the problem, it is character, or lack of it.

My advice to anyone visitng or living in Korea is to stay away from American or other foriegn concentrations. Get out in to the countryside, visit small towns and villages, go to Chechu-Do Island, or go on a picnic to Lake Champyun (sic?) resivoir. If in Seoul or Inchon, go to locales where the Korans go, skip the I Tae Won's. Learn how to greet with a humble nod, don't try to shake everyone's hand, place coins on the counter when paying for something, don't expect them to be put in your hand when getting change. Make friends by asking questions, without critical commentary. Go to movies, and theater where the Koreans go. If you try hard to be a fly on the wall, you will find a whole separate Korea, and if you are successful, you will find your self welcomed in to it. Koreans may effect modern dress, but look at the ancient dress, such as the Ariyang dress, covering everthing except the face. They are a modest people, who can be boisterous in play, a competitive people who are very innovative, but first of all, they are modest. So be modest.

Not sure anyone reading this is interested, but two last stories. Two small events still stand out in my mind about Korea. The first was when a ROK Marine I was serving with in RVN told me what he perceived as a fundamental difference between east and west in war. A Korean, he said, debates whether to kill or not, and disregards the means. Westerners, he said, presume the right to kill, and debate the means. Perhaps this explains the draconian laws regarding murder in Korea, and why the rate is so extraordinarily low in huge cities like Seoul. Anyne who has had to take a life knows that the ROK Marine was right, the issue is killing, not the method.

Last story. While in Korea a Korean friend I worked with who had come to trust me as a person, took me to a "dance hall." In 1969, there I was in a place where the music was Harry James, Benny Goodman, Buddy Morrow....a blast from my parents time. An I was the only Yank in the place. The place was full of mature men and women, with some younger women with them. As my friend and I sat drinking a beer talking in both English and Korean, an elderly man taped me on the shoulder and when I turned to meet him, he bowed and asked in a very low voice, would I perhaps be willing to teach his daughter how to Fox Trot? I was, and he introduced me to a lovely young girl, his daughter. We spent about 15 minutes dancing in a manner prescribed by almost Victorian standards, in a classical ball room stance. She learned the basics of Foxtrot and Waltz as I had as a kid of 10 or so many years before. I returned her to her father and mother at their table and was thanked for my respect so much I blushed. It was me who was flattered, beyond anything I can describe. When I returned to my own table my friend had tears in his eyes. He said that doesn't happen, but it did, and that he was honored to have been there to see it, an American treated as one of them....which made him feel proud he had been right about me. The person who was most floored and flattered was me, and I will always treasure that moment when real trust blossomed in a small cafe. I only wish I could have always conducted myself so well, there or here.

Korea is a land of extremes, of beauty and threat. It is still a land divided artifically, not ethnically or racially. And there are two Koreas...the one for tourists, and the one that is real. Find the latter. Be curious. You will be pleased.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Loot
So how did you all do with Christmas gifts? I got way more than I deserved (which should be zilch because I'm a terrible person :-)
Middle school teacher ReBecca Kutcher remembers the sixth-grader who gave her a necklace for Christmas with what she thought was a cubic zirconia.

At a conference with the parents the next month, Kutcher noticed the student's mother kept staring at the necklace. When the Laing Middle School teacher thanked the parents for the gift, she found out the mother had been looking for her one-carat diamond necklace for a month.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Christians Leaving Bethlehem
A New York Times report on the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem and other historically Christian towns in the West Bank (A Sad New Carol: Go Ye From Bethlehem, Dec 23) omitted a major reason for this demographic change – official and unofficial Muslim discrimination against Arab Christians, amid a rising tide of Islamism in the Palestinian territories.

The Times cited instead:

Four years of violence, an economic free fall and the Israeli separation barrier have all contributed to the hardships facing Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, one of the largest concentrations of Christians in the region.

While there’s no doubt that these are contributing factors, they are unlikely to be the major reason for the Christian exodus, which is clear if one stops to think that the Christian population is also dwindling in the rest of the Arab world. Obviously this pan-Arab phenomena has nothing to do with Israel, and everything to do with the fact that Arab Christians are made to feel unwelcome, or worse, in the Muslim countries of the Middle East.

It should also be mentioned that in contrast to the Muslim countries, Israel’s Christian population is growing rather than dwindling, and in recent years has been growing at the same rate as Israel’s Jewish population. For example, in the period 1995 – 2003 Israel’s Arab Christian population grew from 101,400 to 115,700, a growth rate of 14.1 percent. To put this in perspective, the US population in that period grew by just 11.8 percent.
New York Times Omits Major Reason Christians are Leaving Bethlehem
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Chavez Encourages Others
The State Department leads the way in legitimizing the worst kinds of dictatorial overreach through timid acceptance of the outrageous, as it often does...

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev famously boasted that he had prevailed in the nuclear showdown with John F. Kennedy that ensured the Cuban dictatorship. "We achieved, I would say, a spectacular success without having to fire a single shot." That was perhaps true but the financial cost of trying to compete with a more powerful America 25 years later drove Russia's totalitarian dreams into the ground.

Poor Nikita must be tumbling in his tomb with regret these days as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez shows the world how authoritarian power can be seized on the cheap and even with the State Department's endorsement, as we saw after Chavez staved off a recall through highly suspicious vote-counting maneuvers.

The lesson has not been lost on other power hungry politicians elsewhere in Latin America who, like Chavez, find institutional checks and balances inconvenient. One example is in Ecuador, where the president has just fired most of the Supreme Court. And the Sandinistas are at it again in Nicaragua where a fragile democracy could meet its end in the coming weeks through a Chavez-style constitutional coup.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
One Small Brave Woman
I never heard of Rachel Ehrenfeld until today. I very much like what I hear, though. She's a tough, almost lone fighter to expose terrorist means of finance.

'The biggest problem for the Palestinians now is not the money that's gone," says Rachel Ehrenfeld, "but how the billions in new aid that will be given to them is handled."

Petite and stylish, Ehrenfeld cuts an unlikely figure for someone dedicated to exposing the financial corruption that feeds international terror. But that is both her occupation and passion.

The author, most recently, of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, Ehrenfeld is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Saudi billionaire Khalid Salm A. bin Mahfouz. Mahfouz sued Ehrenfeld in Britain for libel, claiming he "never knowingly funded terrorism." Last week he was awarded a judgment by default against her and an injunction on her book in the UK.

Ehrenfeld is counter-suing in the US, on the grounds that since her book is well-documented, it is not libelous under American law, and therefore Mahfouz couldn't win such a suit in American courts. According to Mahfouz's Web site, he has won many judgments by default – even against big American publications that preferred to apologize and pay fines. Ehrenfeld seems to be the first person to have challenged him in a US court.

An Israeli who has been living in the US for 20 years, Ehrenfeld is the director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy (www.public-integrity.org) and the Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law. She in Israel a few days ago to attend the Jerusalem Summit, an annual conference dedicated to what it calls "peace through truth." In an hour-long interview, she painted a bleak picture of the infiltration of terrorist networks into Western democracies, and detailed her formula for thwarting them.
The Jerusalem Post did a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with this amazing woman, and you should go read it. I'll give you a small taste after the jump, of how her intellectual journey led her to where she is today.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Yeah, Yeah, Tis The Season. Anyway...
If you're sick of Christmas already too, then good! Because I pretty much plan on doing warlike posts for the rest of the day. If a really exceptional Christmas post comes along then I'll return to holiday mode. But I'm not looking for it, I'll have to run into it on accident. Peace on earth? Bah! Back to war! Peace through superior firepower.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A Radiant Presence
And so I am among those people in their 30s and 40s, who, as writer Daniel Mendelsohn has noted, are the last generation to be directly touched by the Holocaust. “There is, in our relationship to the event,? he writes, “a strange interweaving of tantalizing proximity and unbridgeable distance. . . . the dead are close enough to touch, yet frustratingly out of reach.? As with so many members of this “hinge generation,? the Holocaust was not spoken of in my home, but, rather, was conveyed by strained silences and disconnected emotions.

Psychologists have noted that children of survivors inherit the original trauma as a “wound without memory,? and that they often feel compelled to return to its nexus and express the suppressed feelings of parents and grandparents. This has been true of me. I grew up in a well-lit world of modern conveniences, TV dinners, and expectations of upward mobility that were realized when my family moved from the Bronx to Schenectady, New York when I was eleven. In a split-level house with a neatly trimmed lawn, over a hundred miles from our relatives in Brooklyn and Queens, the past had been left behind and assimilation was in full swing.

But the shadow of the Holocaust is long. That overarching emptiness seemed to hold the key to the legacy of woundedness I felt in my family. Whenever I tried to open the door, though, some kind of emotional force field stood in my way. I would get hold of a book on the subject, but then one glance at a picture from the death camps would send me back to my “normal? life. Still, I couldn’t stay away forever. Only after I undertook this project did I realize that interviewing people who risked their lives to save the lives of others, those who radiated hope during that time, rather than fear, might be a way to finally face the void rather than be driven away by it. I also found myself looking to the project for answers to my own moral quandaries. I had watched myself grow more angry and suspicious while living in Los Angeles; how was it that the harrowing ordeal of the Nazi occupation had unleashed such altruism and courage in the rescuers?
From Mark Klempner's The Heart Has Reasons: Meetings With Holocaust Rescuers
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guest author: Semite5000 in Discarded Lies:
Ugly Americans
Seoul -- perhaps Korean in general -- is a safe place. Ordinary citizens do not have guns, and people seem to mind their own business. Groups of teen aged boys -- usually the most dangerous elements of any society -- seem harmless here. As I wrote before, outdoor store owners hawk their items on the sidewalk's shores while Seoul's rivers of humanity flow by, yet it appears theft is rarely a problem here.

But, for the first time I felt menaced in Seoul.

Nyeema, Samara and I decided to go exploring around 9'ish last night. After checking out a massive underground mall, we decided to hop a cab to Itaewan, which is basically a neighborhood popular among foreigners.

As I stepped out of a cab I noticed two young Korean ladies. Then I heard a holler in English coming from the street. I turned my head to see a car full of Caucasians. One guy had his head hanging out the window and was clearly cat-calling to the two Korean ladies. Every woman American woman I know despises such troglodytic behavior. No doubt Korean women, who seem to be demure and shy compared to Western women, didn't appreciate it either. For what it is worth, I was offended by the display. It seems to me that we foreigners should be careful to show respect when visiting a foreign country. When you are at home you can loosen you belt, unbutton your pants, pick you nose, and put your feet on the couch; when you are in somebody else's house (or have guests, for that matter), you should be on your best behavior. But that's just my opinion.

We continued walking. I began noticing guys that looked like they just walked out of the raunchiest rap videos you've ever seen on MTV: Giant-sized, ill-fitting basketball shirts, gaudy neck lasses; baseball caps worn every-which-way, sagging baggy pants, etc- you get the picture. These "Playa's" came in every race and color but they had one binding feature- they were probably all American and most likely military at that. After all, we have some 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea in order to make the psychotic North think twice about invading again.

But there was an unmistakable vibe of hostility emanating from these guys. They roamed the streets like the streets were their own. They cursed loudly. They talked loudly. I noticed that there was a Korean police station on the main street of Itaewon where over a dozen Korean police officers stood outside. Their proximity to the "Rap video from hell" scene was not a coincidence. That shamed me.

What bothered me the most about our "finest and bravest" was their seemingly appalling ignorance. True, I did not stop and talk to them, but judging from the snippets of conversation I overheard, I did not get the impression we were surrounded by the officers' corps. Did they know they sounded like idiots? Probably not; after all, ignorance is bliss. They all seemed quite happy to walk down the streets of Korea as they reinforced every negative American stereotype imaginable. I had the impression they reveled in their ignorance. "Hey Trent, look at them chinks sittin' on da floor 'an eatin' with them little twigs!" Korea, Schmorea- they were all Chinese to these Neanderthals.

As we left Idiotville we walked up a steep hill. I noticed a huge chunk of Shwarma being cooked on a vertical spit, roasting meat Middle Eastern style. There were two guys standing their, one with a thick unibrow that only a man from the Middle East could sport. They were Turks and seemed friendly enough even though I declined to buy their product. We continued walking up the road and turned a corner. I saw a thickly bearded Pakistani wearing salwar kameez. I saw another and noticed Arabic script. Were it not for sporadic splashes of Korean script, I could have been entering Pashawar or Quetta, Pakistan. And that would really suck, by the way. Being an American Jew with dual Israeli citizenship, I represent a wet-dream of murder for any Islamic fundamentalist. I have not forgotten Daniel Pearl and I don't plan on ever being in his shoes. Needless to say, a vacation to sunny Karachi is not on the agenda (dido that for any Arab country, although I would consider going to Iran where the population is generally not as anti-American or anti-Semitic, despite the rabid government).

A second after that I looked up to see the magnificent facade of a Mosque, which I am dubbing "Al-Masjid Al-Seoul." It was made of light blue, intricately decorated tiles, like something you'd see in Isfahan or Samarkand. The rest of the structure was 'normal' in that only the facade was beautiful. In the area were numerous stores selling halal (Kosher for Muslims) meat and even a "Pakistani and Arab" restaurant.

Within a few meters we were back in good 'ol Korean Seoul. There were various little shops selling medicinal herbs, huge chunks of cinnamon, squid jerky (I think, I'll have to buy some and try it) and big slabs of dog breast- just kidding.

By the way, dog meat is not particularly popular, only a few people eat it. Many Koreans own dogs, but only small dogs.

There is much more to say, but I have to get ready for an excursion to In-Sa-Dong, a big market thingy.

Take care,

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ev and zorkie in Discarded Lies:
A Christmas Card
To all our lovers, ex-lovers, future lovers, family and friends, all our best wishes this holiday season, and thank you for being with us and watering our soil.

We'd like to wish everyone

Merry Christmas

Much love,
ev, zorkie, bloggie

(many thanks and best wishes to writermom)
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