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Misc.

North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, N. Korea [not my image]


Esquire:

The Worst Building in the History of Mankind

It’s the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea, where the world’s 22nd largest skyscraper has been vacant for two decades and is likely to stay that way … forever.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn’t the just the worst designed building in the world — it’s the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

This architectural gem, you might remember, was number one on the list of Asia’s Top Five Craziest Buildings that I penned last year.

Kim Jong Il: “I am an Internet expert”

Kim Jong-Il

AFP:

Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has boasted of being an “Internet expert,” reports said Saturday.

The communist state keeps itself closed to the outside world to prevent so-called spiritual pollution from subverting its hardline socialist system.

Kim told delegates at this week’s historic inter-Korean summit his Internet expertise made him reluctant to allow further access to the Web in the communist state, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Kim’s comment came as he turned down South Korea’s proposal that a joint industrial park in the communist state be connected to the Internet.

“I am an Internet expert. Many problems would arise if the Internet is connected to other parts of the North,” Yonhap quoted Kim as saying.

On his way home to Seoul from the summit in Pyongyang, Roh said Kim seemed to be “very familiar with the technical aspects of the Internet.”

The media is a propaganda tool in North Korea, where televisions and radios North Korea are tuned to official channels only, and the leadership is aware of the Internet’s potential to stir up dissent.

It operates its own version of the Internet, a highly censored Intranet that is policed by the Korea Computer Center, North Korea’s window on the worldwide web and its leading high-technology research and development hub.

In 2000, Kim took then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright by surprise by asking for her e-mail address, demonstrating his strong interest in science and technology.

(Emphasis mine.)

New Blog on Baseball and Asian Culture

Baseball in Taiwan [not my image]

Speaking of notable new blogs, Asia-watchers and baseball fans alike will want to check out the recently-launched East Windup Chronicle, “A Journal of Sports, Art, Politics, and Culture from the Pacific Rim” (with a heavy emphasis on baseball).

My pal Aaron and his friend Jackson, writing from South Korea and Taiwan, respectively, have been discussing issues such as Japan’s most underrated MLB player; Kim Ng, who may become the first female GM in baseball history; and a game-fixing scandal in the CPBL, Taiwan’s pro league.

Definitely worth a look.

French-Fry Encrusted Hot Dogs in Korea: Redux

French Fry Coated Hot Dogs in Korea [Not My Image]

Phil, author of the fantastic Cambodian food blog Phenomenon, has turned his attention to Asian food in general with a new site called The Last Appetite. And I’m pleased to see that my musings regarding the French fry-encrusted hot dogs I encountered in Korea have inspired him to do a little more digging. Don’t miss his post called “Korea: French fry-coated hot dog”:

After first witnessing this monstrosity on Newley Purnell’s site, I thought that chasing it down would be difficult. That it would be the type of food that only demented South Korean carnies sold for a scant few days of a State Fair until their consumers ended up in the waiting queue for a heart bypass. The taste is about as obvious as it looks: greasy but still crispy fries glued to a hotdog with a thick, neutral batter…

It turns out that Seoul is packed full of artisan hot dog vendors. Vendors wrap them in bacon, mashed potato, corn batter or what looked to be seaweed then invariably deep fry them. I spotted three french fry-coated hotdog vendors in the narrow alleys of Myeong dong alone and a few more in the neighbouring Namdaemun Market…

(Emphasis mine.) Read the whole thing.

New International Street Fashion Blog

Seoul Street Fashion [not my image]

Street Peeper is a new blog devoted to global street fashion. The Asian cities featured here include Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo, but Bangkok hasn’t yet joined the party…