Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category
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Watching the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, it’s amazing to see how many of their slogans, “ideas” and “solutions” are a carbon copy of the leftist plans for redesigning the Western countries. Putting the economy under government control, “killing the rich” or taxing them to death, letting everybody get the same income and benefits, regardless of contribution, are all steps that will eventually destroy our society.
The concentration of economic control in the hands of the government, no matter how “progressive” it is, would create a monstrous dictatorship. That’s not just theory, it was a grim reality in many countries (including the one I grew up in).
It is frightening to think how those ignorant loons, who have no idea how the economy works, are eager to sacrifice everybody who doesn’t think like them. Every idea about changing the organization of society has been tried at one time or another and those that they offer have never worked. But that’s the trouble – people never learn from history (or try to ignore its lessons).
A good lesson could be learned from visiting Korea. That’s where in 1950 a government dedicated to equal redistribution of goods launched one of the most devastating wars in the newer history. The North Korean communists, helped by the Soviet Union and China (two countries dedicated to the same “noble” cause) tried to take over South Korea.
According to different sources, the Korean War cost the lives of 3 to 6 million people (soldiers and civilians). It was the most traumatic event in the history of South Korea. It didn’t end in peace – armistice was reached in 1953, but the danger still lurks behind the mountains north of Seoul.
Koreans don’t like to talk too much about that, but everybody knows that not far from them (Seoul is only 90 km from the border) lies that giant communist monster, which is ready to attack them.
The North and the South are divided by a strip of land (about 200 km long and 4 km wide) called Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Ironically, since nobody lives there the animal and plant life has flourished, with some rare species present (not to the environmentalists – you may need to start more wars to help animals).
DMZ is a tourist attraction, but the experience is grim (not unlike a visit to Auschwitz) – it’s all about past destruction and future danger.
At the spot where the tour begins there are several monuments. A giant bell is placed on a small hill, which is common when commemorating important events in Korea:
Not far from it is the monument of those who perished in the war:
A few meters from there is a monument, which is supposed to be optimistic. It symbolizes the efforts of the Koreans from the both parts of the country to unite
(although not much of that optimism survives today):
The tour starts at that point because it is the entrance of the 3rd Tunnel. There were four tunnels discovered by South Korea a few years ago, which were made by the North as a part of an invasion plan, probably in 1970’s. The tunnels are located deep under the mountains and are over a kilometre long. It is estimated that they can let 30,000 soldiers enter the South within an hour.
The information about them came from a defector from North Korea and it took them some time to discover them. Of course, nobody knows how many more tunnels there are in other places.
In the museum at site you can find more information. It is considered that the tunnels were excavated by prisoners with explosives. Every communist country has many thousands, often millions of prisoners, who are forced to do difficult and dangerous work (weight training is not one of them).
There is a tiny train that gets you to a certain point within the tunnel and from there you have to walk about 300 m to reach the first of three walls built by South Korea to make the tunnel unusable. The North Koreans must be quite short, because the ceiling is low. I banged my head several times, but was protected by the hard hat they gave me at the entrance.
Next we were taken to a spot from which you could see a relatively large North Korean town. With the help of a telescope, you could notice its only landmark –
a huge statue of Kim Il Sung (the father of the current dictator). As elsewhere in DMZ, cameras are not allowed in the area. What you see below is the building
of the border patrol (the valley, where the town is, is behind it).
The next segment of the trip was the most depressing. It was a visit to Dorasan Station, which is the railway station, closest to the North. It was supposed to connect both Koreas after their relations improved in the late 1990’s.
Everybody was so excited of the possibility to travel to the North – there are thousands of families, which have been separated by the war for decades. Tens of thousands of people donated money to build Dorasan Station. The government also built huge warehouses nearby in anticipation of the trade between the two countries.
The hopes were so high that in 2002 the Koreans brought the US President George W. Bush to visit the station.
Things didn’t turn out as expected. Kim Jong Il’s psychopathic behaviour started to create problems from the beginning. The travel was difficult to arrange and North Korea didn’t have much to export. At a resort in North Korea (a joint venture of both countries) the tourists were harassed and a few years ago a South Korean woman was shot dead there by the North’s military. They refused to give any explanation about the incident. That was the last straw, which destroyed their relations.
Today Dorasan looks like a station of a ghost town. The big waiting area is completely empty. No trains are crossing the border – the only trains that stop here bring tourists from South Korea. Nobody sells tickets, but for $5 you can buy a visa to North Korea with the warning that they can’t stamp it in your passport. (If you want to cross the border with it, the North Koreans may shoot you.)
Another grim relic from the war is a locomotive you can see not far from there. It was a part of a train destroyed by the North. The locomotive was hit by over 1000 bullets and shrapnels.
The last stop of the trip was the War Memorial. It is one of the largest military museums in the world. It consists of a very big building, surrounded by a large open area. It houses ships, tank, airplanes, vehicles and many weapons used in the war.
The memorial displays the names of the soldiers of the UN coalition (which fought the North) and died in the war.
Here are the names of the Canadian soldiers, who perished in the Korean War:
You can also see the weapons and military equipment seized from the communists during the war. The MiG-15 Fighter provided to North Korea by China and the Soviet Union:
The famous Russian tank T-34 used in World War II. At the beginning of the war, North Korea had 242 of them. Those tanks were used to launch the initial attack:
Another vehicle was the GAZ-69 Jeep provided by USSR:
Then you can see the 85 mm Anti-Aircraft Gun, M-1939, used by the North Koreans:
And these are few of the airplanes and weapons displayed outside:
The scary part is how powerful evil is. And even scarier is that the three communist countries, which started the war didn’t consider themselves evil – all they wanted was to bring South Korea into their paradise of equal wealth distribution.
In their twisted world, a “noble” goal like this was well worth a few million lives. That’s why communists can’t be trusted no matter what shapes they take and what masks they wear…
© 2011 Blogwrath.com
When we landed at Gimpo Airport, I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first visit to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and I didn’t know much about the city (neither did I speak Korean).
The immigration officer was the first good sign – she stamped my passport without showing any emotions or asking questions. That was a relief from the nightmarish dealings with the US and Russian officers, who always display some sadistic pleasure in humiliating you (I guess they don’t have much of a life).
After clearing that obstacle, I am worried what to expect outside of the airport. My memories from other Asian countries are not that good – in Istanbul as soon as you leave the gates, you are immediately surrounded by a bunch of smelly characters in dirty clothes, who claim they are taxi drivers. If you are stupid enough to get in their cars (and I was), you’ll end up losing a lot of money – there are no meters and if you refuse to pay the excessive fee they demand, you may lose more than your money. In Turkey, to many people it’s a matter of honour to rip off a non-Muslim (or gyaur in Turkish, the equivalent of the Arab kaffir).
Anyway, I don’t see such people in Seoul. There are taxi drivers, but they are real and don’t go after you. The girl in the info booth outside tells me that the best way to get to my hotel is by bus – it’s actually a luxury bus with wide seats and free soft drinks (the ticket is only $7). The only bump is that I don’t know I have to fasten my seat belt – the driver comes to my seat, bows, and asks me to fasten it, then apologizes for the inconvenience.
On the way to the city I see mostly high-rise buildings. It looks a little bit like Moscow under Brezhnev, but the buildings are better designed and even better maintained. Later I learn that during the Korean War Seoul was almost completely destroyed, very few of the old buildings survived. When the Korean economy started to pick up, millions of people moved to the capital. That drove the real estate prices up, so the apartments became the most common accommodation.
One of the first things you notice about Seoul is how clean the city is. It has the look and feel of a Western city, but it is much better maintained. The subway
is squeaky clean, it provides written information and announcements in three languages (there are about 10 lines). The ticket vending machines also work in
three languages and accept all kinds of payments, all at the price of approximately $1 per ticket. You can’t help but compare that with Toronto, where for $3 you get two lines with filthy trains and grumpy TTC union people in the ticket booths, who yell at you for using too many pennies when paying.
The other striking difference compared to North America is how few foreigners you see in Seoul. There are no niqab gargoyles, no stinky halal food joints, and no head-bangers praying in the streets. The few outsiders are either tourists or professionals working for some companies. Yet, despite the lack of diversity, the Koreans are doing just fine.
When meeting local people, I had fun trying to explain the concept of multiculturalism that had infected Europe and North America. They had hard time understanding how in our countries we can let some desert fanatic in and let him take control over our schools and other public institutions. It is incomprehensible to them that somebody would change their way of life to accommodate some foreign culture.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Koreans are hostile when dealing with foreigners – on the contrary, they are courteous and polite, but they don’t like it at all if you go against their customs and values. A Muslim fanatic, who would have everybody in Europe bend over on his whims, would have no chance of getting the same treatment in Korea. Multiculturalism is truly a Western disease.
Food is not multicultural either – pork dominates the Korean cuisine, which our desert friends wouldn’t approve. The American fast food chains also adapted to the local tastes – Burger King offers bulgoki burger (that’s a traditional Korean meat dish). Kentucky Fried Chicken includes more spices in the recipe. And Pizza Hut and the other pizza joints have some odd toppings like corn, mayonnaise, shrimp, etc. (just like in Japan).
Another great thing in Korea, if you are a foreigner, is that nobody is trying to swindle you. There are no beggars or kids running around selling post cards or other trinkets at inflated prices (like in Turkey or Thailand). The money exchange places give you a rate similar to the bank exchange, unlike Singapore and Thailand (where they tried to cheat me on the exchange).
In case you think I want to present Korea as a bed of roses, let me tell you that they have their problems. There are bums, whom I saw only near the central railway station. They look really destitute (unlike the professional beggars in Toronto, who beg, get welfare payments and all other benefits that the late Jack Layton got for them). Read the rest of this entry »