Friday, May 27, 2011

A foreigner's journey of discovery and Dokdo (an Insightful topic)

Hi freinds, I have taken out this whole article from the Korea Times section, I find it quite interesting and very insightful for everyone specially for those who are interested in foreign policy as well as the Dokdo controvery.... I hope you all will enjoy reading this article..!

By Steven Barber

This is the fourth of a five-part series examining Korean and Japanese claims regarding Dokdo, and the cause of the territorial dispute over the rocky islets sitting midway between the two countries. ― ED.

It’s been over five years since I launched, a website dedicated to Dokdo that both Korean and Japanese governments claim as their own territory.

What started as playful online debating naturally evolved into something I am quite proud of.

Researching the problem of Dokdo, which lies less than 90 kilometers east of Korea’s Ulleung Island in the East Sea, has given me numerous experiences ranging from sheer boredom to excitement.

Thousands of hours reading and searching online databases were needed to study the problem in depth. I’ve explored Ulleung Island’s valleys and mountains and even spent a night on Dokdo itself.

After many online discussions about Dokdo with both Japanese and Koreans it became apparent that the two countries have different approaches and origins to their beliefs.

Japan’s effort to reclaim Dokdo, which it refers to as Takeshima, is fueled by a small but determined group of right wingers. Most of these Japanese are anonymous.

They obsessively lobby and spread propaganda related to other issues of contention between Japan and her neighbors.

Following Internet links that claim Dokdo as Japan’s inherent territory will eventually lead you to the same Japanese netizens who deny the Nanjing massacre, comfort women and other wartime atrocities.

However, Korea’s claim for Dokdo is supported by the vast majority of Koreans who believe with conviction the islets are theirs.

With this is mind, the Korean government is truly representative of how Koreans feel about Dokdo while Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to be appeasing right wing activists.

Japan’s military motive

Sitting slouched over a computer for hours on end has been rewarding.

After searching through the labyrinth of historical data available on the website of Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR), I was fortunate to come across files detailing Japan’s Imperial Navy’s involvement on Dokdo prior to their annexation of the islets.

These records are the “smoking gun” revealing Japan’s military motive for unlawfully seizing Dokdo (Takeshima) in 1905.

Koreans assert Japan’s annexation of Dokdo was military aggression. Now these records can be read in Japanese with proper historical context.

So, to present these documents to all, especially Japanese gives me great satisfaction.

There are a few documents I uncovered that I feel carry great significance.

The first is the logbooks of the Japanese warship Tsushima. The Nov. 13th 1904 entry specifically states Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks) should be surveyed for military watchtowers and telegraph lines.

Hours of searching paid off when I found the details of the warship Tsushima’s survey from JACAR.

The Tsushima’s captain stated Dokdo’s East Islet was suitable for construction of (military) structures although there was a lack of potable water. These records were dated Jan. 5 1905.

Loopholes in Japan’s claims

The survey map drawn by the warship Tsuhima’s deputy commander Shibakichi Yamanaka proves 100 percent Japan’s annexation was military aggression.

Here Dokdo Island was drawn with dashed lines indicating the range of visibility from various vantage points.

Remember these military activities took place before Japan incorporated the Korean easternmost island into Shimane Prefecture on Feb. 22, 1905.

Thus, we know without a doubt Japan annexed Dokdo with the explicit purpose of using the islets to defeat the Russian Navy and control Korea.

The strongest documents to support Korea’s claim to Dokdo came from the Japanese themselves.

Japanese online historical archives, university websites, Takeshima (Dokdo) lobby forums and even Japan’s government websites helped us immensely.

Documents and maps the Japanese government uses as proof of historical title to Dokdo can be shown as exaggerated, false or even as proof of Korean ownership. Two government brochures, one from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the other from Shimane Prefecture were easily refuted when we included historical records they deliberately omitted.

Field research on Dokdo

On location field research was an integral part of our website research. More than once I have slogged up Ulleung Island’s steep mountains and thick valleys.

I have also stayed overnight on Dokdo and toured the islets extensively. These trips gave us an understanding of the regional geography of Dokdo.

We could use our firsthand knowledge of Ulleung Island and Dokdo to give an accurate analysis of historical maps. Without this on site experience, those who study the issue often misinterpret historical records and maps.

Field research on Ulleung Island and Dokdo was beneficial beyond the study of historical records.

We met many local residents whose livelihood depended on Dokdo Island and adjacent waters. Ulleung Island’s tourism and fishing industries are heavily reliant on Dokdo.

By observing the present relationship between these two sister islands we could also understand how Ulleung Island and Dokdo were regarded as inseparable throughout history.

The boat rides to and from Ulleung Island and Dokdo gave us geographic perspective showing the close proximity of these islands. Field research illustrates what even the best books can’t.

We also used these excursions to take photos and video images for

Firstly, this made the website more visual and interesting. Photographs were used in conjunction with historical materials.

Images help readers to visualize what ancient Koreans (and Japanese) must have experienced when they visited Ulleung Island and Dokdo.

Images of Dokdo from Ulleung Island disprove Japanese claims that the islets couldn’t be seen from Ulleung Island.

These pictures strongly support Korea’s historical title. Visibility played an important role in defining territorial limits in ancient times.

Some Ulleung Island residents kindly donated photographs to our website as did the Dokdo Police and Dokdo Museum.

By far the most challenging aspect of our website was language.

Making a difference

I never took it upon myself to translate historical records. We frequently hired professionals to have ancient articles translated.

Because Chinese characters can be ambiguous, we would first have a document translated and then reference it with other published interpretations.

Some Japanese and Korean translations were found to be slanted and truth often lay somewhere in the middle.

That said, after analyzing all Dokdo related data we can surely conclude Japanese regarded Dokdo as a sister of Korea’s Ulleung Island; Korea too considered Dokdo under their sphere of influence and outside of Japanese territory.

Koreans should understand each individual can make a difference.

In the 17th Century, Korea’s An Yong-bok had the courage to confront Japanese invaders on Ulleung Island and Dokdo.

It is a historical fact he sailed to Japan and protested their illegal incursions onto Korean territory.

An Yong-bok took it upon himself to defend Korean soil despite his government’s neglect of the region. His actions still remain a strong expression of sovereignty over Dokdo.

Similarly, Yozaburo Nakai, a Japanese fisherman illegally squatting on Korea’s Ulleung Island in the early 20th Century would become the false premise Japan currently uses to seize Dokdo.

These people have shown us that for better or worse one person can make a difference in important issues. It can also be learned we can’t always depend on our government to look out for our best interests.

Unique wine experience at JELL

Combining a wine shop, wine bar and fine dining, JELL is the one-stop place where you can enjoy all three.

The first wine shop to open in Korea in 1992, JELL currently offers a selection of 1,500 kinds of wine and recently opened a French restaurant to become a wine culture complex.

A wine bar for members is on the second and third floors with impressive terraces on each floor. It is a business lounge which adopted a membership wine club concept for the first time here in 2002.

The bar is comprised of halls and rooms for small groups, and the membership club has been a venue for business meetings, social gatherings and various events for wine lovers.

Supervised by a manager who has been educated on wine and hospitality, the restaurant now offers French and European dishes presented by a head chef who completed a course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A buffet-style dinner can be prepared for large groups.

During lunchtime non-members are welcome to eat at the restaurant and gallery cafe.

The first floor is the wine shop, which is surrounded by double walls to maintain the temperature suitable for wine preservation. Some 1,500 kinds of premium wines from around the world, along with cheese and cigars are sold at reasonable prices.

Wines are selected by five sommeliers, including JELL CEO Lee Je-chun who was awarded the Chevalier du Tastevin, a title given to a contributor to the development of Bourgogne wines.

A free wine tasting event is held every Wednesday. JELL also selects a “wine of the month,” which members can purchase at a 20 percent discount and have delivered to their homes.

Lunch hours are between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the membership club is open between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. The restaurant and club are closed on Sundays and holidays. The wine shop opens from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and closes every first and third Sunday of each month. For more information, call 02-797-6846.


Friday, May 20, 2011

My trip to Ulleungdo

Ulleungdo is a South Korean island in the East Sea. Formerly known as Dagelet to the Europeans, Ulleungdo is about 120 km (75 mi) east of the Korean Peninsula. Volcanic in origin, the rocky steep-sided island is the top of a large stratovolcano which rises from the seafloor, reaching a maximum elevation of 984 metres (3,228 ft) at Seonginbong Peak.

The island consists primarily of trachyandesite rock. A major explosive eruption about 9,350 years ago reached a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 6 and deposited tephra as far as central Honshū over 800 km (500 mi) away, while producing pyroclastic flows on the island and decapitating its top to form a caldera.

The island of Ulleungdo has an area of 73.15 km2 (28.24 sq mi) with about 10,000 inhabitants according to our Guide. It makes up the main part of Ulleung County, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. The main city of Ulleungdo is the port of Dodong, which serves as the main ferry port between Ulleungdo and the Korean mainland. Ulleungdo is a popular tourist site.

The other main economic activity is fishery, including the harvest of cuttlefish, which can be seen drying in the sun in many places on Ulleungdo. Most Koreans know the island for its cuttlefish.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the island has been inhabited since the 1st millennium BC. The first confirmed historical reference to Ulleungdo is in the Samguk Sagi for the year 512. In that year, the Silla general Kim Isabu conquered the island, which had previously been the autonomous nation of Usan-guk.

Usan-guk did not remain under the Silla yoke, however, and the island did not become a permanent political part of Korea until 930, when it was annexed by Goryeo. Remote as it is from the Korean mainland, Ulleungdo was a recurrent security headache for the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. It was devastated by Jurchen pirate raids in the 11th century, and by Wokou pirate raids in the 14th century. A clash with Japan over fishing rights in the 1690s was precipitated by the Korean fisherman An Yong-bok. In response to these difficulties, Joseon adopted an "empty-island" policy which however proved impossible to enforce. The empty-island policy was officially rescinded in 1881, after which the government sought to encourage additional settlement of Ulleungdo.

Favorite activities for tourists are hiking, fishing,digging out the roots of thodok and eating hoe (a Korean raw fish dish). Sightseeing boats make regular three-hour circuits about Ulleungdo, departing from the harbor at Dodong and passing by all the points of interest along the coast, including many interesting rock formations and the small neighboring island of Jukdo.

I learned from the guide as well as from the driver who take us every possible part of this mistery Island that Ulleungdo have its own unique qualiteis that make different from the others i.e the cleaniest environment and preety womens , kind hearted people , the scary wind which can washed away the houses , the thodok one of the precious herb which is abundently available in Ulleungdo, The dried O-zingo or the squid and of course one and only Ulleungdo people life line the Bokpo waterfall an only fresh water where the 10,000 people are depending on.

Frens, seriously I really appreciate this place because after the Dokdo issue Ulleungdo became famous as well the transportation is so good even if its away from the crowded mainland Korea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Globally Successful Food

There are Something Special about Globally Successful Food

Do you think it is possible to attract everyone in the world with a same food? It is not simply a question of Korean food. Even if it has an excellent taste, it is almost impossible to satisfy 7 billion people around the world. Nevertheless, there are many foreign dishes which became the beloved food among many countries.

For example, pizza of Italy, Sushi of Japan, Curry of India, and Pho of Vietnam are beloved by many people around the world with no validity term. Even though people don’t know where those countries are located, but they know exactly where the top gourmet restaurants are. Well then, let’s take a look inside the secrets of the globally successful food!!

Reborn as Korean foods

In Thailand, Jajangmyeon’ was selected as the most ‘want-to-try’ food of Korea among young people. It is a surprising result when considering that many Thailand the Korean drama and music are sweeping over the country. But in fact, Koreans themselves don’t regard Jajangmyeon as Korean food.

The name of Jajangmyeon was derived from the word ‘Zhajiangmian(炸酱面)’ in China. In the past, many Chinese ordinary people used to add ‘Chunjiang(椿酱)’, Chinese fermented soybean paste in the noodle. Like many Chinese who settled in other countries, Chinese in Korea also had this noodle, but in a little different way, adding caramel, vegetables and meats. As time goes by, the way of cooking Zhajiangmian and its ingredients have been changed to fit the Korean’s tastes, which is now Jajangmyeon.

There are a number of foreign dishes beloved by Koreans, even if they haven’t been changed as much as Jajangmyeon. For example, there is a huge difference between the Korea-made pizza and Italy-made pizza which is baked over stove. Unlike the original pizza with one or two fresh ingredients on its thin and crispy bread, the Korea-made pizza has a lot of toppings and sauce on its soft and thick bread. Yes, it was changed to fit the Koreans’ tastes who love soft and chewy food.

To be accurate, as the Italian pizza became Americanized in the U.S., many things including dough, ingredients and even the method of cooking were changed a bit. After then, the Americanized pizza arrived in Korea and it once again had a change. Even though many Koreans love pizza itself, there are still a lot of pizza companies which are trying to develop their pizza to fit the Koreans who are accustomed to spicy food.

Pasta is a similar example. It came across to Korea not from Italy, but from the Italian restaurant in the U.S. and Japan. The Pasta was changed again in Korea, and got to have a new style and develop the new tastes.

Well, there is a significant difference between the pasta which is commonly sold in Korea and the original pasta, comparing the amount of sauce. The Italian pasta, which is a one of favorite dishes and courses among common people, originally has little sauce. However in Korea, people get used to have ‘one dish for a meal’, so the amount of sauce has increased like a noodle soup and satisfied their appetite.

Interesting fact here is that Kimchi or Gochujang(red pepper paste) added pasta is being exported overseas. People said that it is a reexportation of pasta. ‘Ramyeon’ is another example of the exported foreign dishes from Korea. First made in Japan, ramyeon which had arrived in Korea in late 1950s became one of the biggest trends ever. Since 2000, ramyeon industry in Korea has begun to rise rapidly, and exported ramyeon to Japan which is the home of ramyeon. Moreover, Korean ramyeon product was ranked the ‘globally recognized brand” by TokyoTV.

Successful Cases. We are More Delicious and Exclusive!

Thailand dishes

Most of the South East dishes that are well-known among Koreans are from Vietnam, such as rice noodle and rice wraps. But in terms of generalization, there must be the Thailand dishes. Regardless of the nation’s competitiveness and image, Thailand dishes are getting more popular and popular with the support of public sectors and the government. Those support started from 2004, when they launched the slogan, Thai-ness, in order to globalize the Thailand dishes. For this reason, people around the world not only order the menu but also remember the Thailand culture and its nation brand.

The key to success is that they just let people try their dishes by recommending as they do to their friends. Opening the restaurant in neighboring countries, they stick to their original tastes, but in remote countries like U.S. they tried to change their dishes to fit their tastes. For the reason, the Thailand dishes in close countries, such as Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia still have the piquant and spicy tastes even though the ingredients are little bit different. On the other hand, in Korea or western countries, they are working on to remove ‘Pak Chee’, Thailand’s representative spices or add more sweetness and salty taste. Through this relative PR strategy, the number of Thailand restaurants all over the world increased over 13,000, comparing the 4,000 restaurant in 2004.

Sushi, VIP menu in the world restaurant

< Sushi >

Japan has set out to attract over 1.2 billion from 600 million people to Japanese food by 2012. And in fact, the population enjoying the Japanese food is rapidly increasing. Especially the PR strategy which aims at spreading the image of sushi to Europe, U.S., Asia and Africa as a gourmet food of the upper ten was considered successful. In addition, they promote the export of Japanese food supplies with the scientific data that they can make best sushi with the food supplies from Japan, which became a role model for many countries.

In particular, they published the book ‘How to eat Sushi’ telling the history of Sushi and how to use the chopstick, and how to eat Sushi, which made Sushi closer to foreign people as a culture. Thanks to the concrete and systematic strategy, currently in U.S., there are 10,000 Japanese restaurants, which is almost a half of the total Japanese restaurant all over the world.

More Chinese restaurant than McDonald in Korea

Chinese restaurants have succeeded around the world with its own efforts to develop the menu, which differentiates them from the Japanese and Thailand restaurants that were supported by their governments. You will be surprised to know that the globalization of the Chinese restaurant already started 150 years ago, which is far earlier than their government’s PR strategy on food. In 1850s, for the Gold Rush in U.S., more than 25,000 Chinese moved over to the U.S. and the first Chinese restaurant Chow Chows’ opened. Naturally, Americans were fascinated by the cheap and plentiful Chinese food.

The Chinese restaurants which are well on the way to establishing itself in the U.S., soon expanded to the big cities and the suburb areas and became Americanized, focusing on increasing the number of enterprising franchises. Now, it opened over 40,000 Chinese restaurants, which is more than the number including McDonald, Burger King, and Wendy.

Korean Dishes in the World, Where do we stand?

Taking a look at many successful cases of foreign dishes, you might wonder then, “What is the current position of Korean dishes”? So, we did analysis about the foreigners’ preferences on Korean dishes, such as Kimchi, Bibimbap, and Bulgogi which are considered known overseas. The statistics results were based on the Accenture Survey and Analysis implemented on June 2009.

First of all, 21% out of all foreigners who answered the survey came up with ‘Korean dishes’ from the word ‘Korea’. Most of them considered Kimchi is the representative food of Korea, and they were quite positive on its tastes, answering that it is rather spicy but very delicious. In particular, the Americans who participated in the survey answered that Korean dishes are mostly unique, inexpensive, and quite extensive. They also regarded that Korean dishes would be good to health and diet.

Meanwhile, ‘Bulgogi’ was selected the ‘most satisfactory dish’, recording 4.4 out of 5. Dakgalbi, which is spicy even to Koreans, got 4.3 unexpectedly. For the next, Bibimbap and Ddokgalbi recorded 4.2. Well, there are also other dishes that scored pretty low we need to check. Dongchimi noodles and Naengmyeon got around 3 points. It is expected that foreigners don’t like cold noodles.

Like many other countries which tried hard for globalization, we also need to be aware of the current status of Korean food, keep our own traditional value and develop the localized recipe by country. Then one day in the near future, we can enjoy Korean food with all of our friends in the world.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The World Natural Treasure, the Mother Nature of Jeju Island ‘Oreum’

Jeju Island gifted with nature sceneries and 1,700 species of plants, is a marvelous place where you can experience unique geographical features nowhere else can offer. In the center there is the proudly splendid Halla Mountain and neighboring oreums – low mountains of Jeju - reveals the original beauty of the geography of the volcanic island.

Oreum is a Jeju dialect for a low mountain. There are a good number of oreums as there is even a saying that people of Jeju are born from and returns to oreum after death. Near 380 of oreums are distributed in the island, which way exceeds 250 i.e. the number of those in Mt Etna of Italy.
Oreum consisted of grassland, natural and artificial forest, and wetland, is distributed intensively in the bottom area of Mt Halla and hilly and mountainous areas. As the altitude of the areas differs the ecological variety is well preserved with high potential value.
To be recognized as oreum the mountain should be qualified to have all required component i.e. a crater, shape, and contents; a crater formed by volcanic eruption; shapes of volcanic ashes and scoriae, and sedimentary layer; and pyroclastic materials. Also it is called as ‘ak’ or ‘bong’; Seongsan Ilchulbong, Dusanbong, Songaksan are some examples.
Oreums with different shapes and heights placed along by the ridges of Mt Halla and the coastline of the island invites you to the breathtaking beauty of the Mother Nature Jeju.

The ace view, Nokkome oreum

< Nokkomeoreum, where 112 families and 469 species of plants reside> (image: Official Blog of Jeju, New 7 Wonders)

Nokkomeoreum 833.8m above the sea level, covering an area of 923,692㎡ with the height of 234m, girth of 4,390m, and a smaller Nokkomeoreum is also known as ‘brother oreum’ as a pair sitting next by each other. The two mountains stand in high spirits and its exploded crater area is enough to thrill your eyes. Some people are surprised as they think ‘Nokkome’ is Japanese but in fact it derives from a Korean expression ‘Nopgome’ meaning ‘it is high.’

In the Nokkomeoreum area there are animal species that are protected species (class 2) by the Ministry of Environment including roe, weasel of Jeju, badger and so on. Endangered animals including birds such as goshawk, brown-eared bulbul, kestrel, bush warbler and Red-tongue pit-viper, takydromus wolteri and others are residing as well. Also there are 112 families and 469 species of plants e.g. nutmeg tree, hornbeam, and Galeola septentrionalis Reichb. For sure Nokkomeoreum area is some repository of various species of animals and plants.

If you follow the ridges of the hills a scenic panorama with different faces of Mt Halla and oreums is revealed. At the northern mountain top the view of Jeju city and the sea can be seen at a look. An average of 4~500 people on weekdays and 2~3,000 people on weekends visit the area to see this extraordinary scene. Why not check out Nokkomeoreum yourself and experience the grandeur gift of the nature?

The Queen of Oreum, Darangswioreum

(image: Kyunghyang Shinmun)

Darangswi oreum representing Gujwa town is 382.4m above the sea level, covering an area of 800,463㎡ with the height of 227m, and girth of 3,391m. It was named as so because of the crater of the mountain looks round as a moon (Darang sounds similar to ‘dal’ that is moon in Korean). Darangswi oreum is the pride of the villagers as it presents a uniquely beautiful scene for viewing the moon when the full moon rises behind the round crater of the oreum.

While most oreums have asymmetric slops, Darangswi oreum is a vertically balanced oval shape; this outstanding beauty of proportion surely gives a good reason for its title i.e. the ‘Queen of oreum.’

On top of the mountain, there is a funnel shape of huge circular crater. The circumference of the outside of crater is reaching 1,500m, and its depth is 115m just as deep as baekrokdam of Mt. Halla. The area is dense with weeds and cedars on its foot. The area is a huge grassland and if the weather is good, you can see the Seongsan Sunrise Hill, Udo and a wind power plant complex.
There is a saying that you didn’t see the real Jeju until climbing up Oreum., after the wood stairs to Darangswi oreum were built in 2005, the number of visitors increased. Why don’t you experience the ‘real’ Jeju at Darangswi oreum which is famous for paragliding and the annual Wallang hill Sunrise festivals?

Geomun Oreum listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage

(Image : Korea Tourism Organization)

Geomun Oreum, which has the most beautiful scenery among all Oreums in Jeju, is 456.6 meters above sea level, 112 meters high, 4,553 meters in circumference, and 809,860㎡ in extent, which of name, Goemun, was originated from a bunch of trees in that Oreum makes black color. (i.e. Goemun means black in Korean.) Only 300 visitors a day are allowed to go in, and the advanced reservation two days before is a must. It has the longest lava canyon throughout Jeju and the treasure of nature, ‘Gotjawal’, which has a high value in terms of geology as well as ecology.
The crater seen from the top of Goemun oreum spewed out lava to the ocean and created over 20 lava caves around, such as Bengdui cave, Manjang cave, Kimnyeongsa cave, etc. As designated as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO, oreum has the representative lava caves of Jeju. Among these caves, only Manjang cave is open to public. The course is flat and the passage is also wide that even the old and weak can look around without a big difficulty.
Al oreum is a paeasitic volcano that rose on the center of the crater of Geomun oreum. You can see 9 hills forming the Geomun oreum from the observatory which is 1km apart from the tour starting spot. In addition, the crater of Geomun oreum is 4 times larger than that of Mt Hall. You will be overwhelmed at the marvelous scenery of nature.
Before visiting Geomun oreum, the commentator for Natural Heritage gives several notices. You should wear the hiking boots, but not with the hiking stick. You can only bring a bottle of water.