Korea’s New U-City

If you think I’m a paranoid tight-ass when it comes to traffic cameras (and don’t miss Ben P. issuing me a cerebral beat-down in the comments) , you can only imagine how I feel about the privacy implications involved in Korea’s plan to build a high-tech utopia.


Imagine public recycling bins that use radio-frequency identification technology to credit recyclers every time they toss in a bottle; pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect the impact of a fall and immediately contact help; cellphones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions.

These are among the services dreamed up by industrial-design students at California State University, Long Beach, for possible use in New Songdo City, a large “ubiquitous city” being built in South Korea.

A ubiquitous city is where all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental and the like) share data, and computers are built into the houses, streets and office buildings. New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast about 40 miles from Seoul, is rising from the ground up as a U-city.

But seriously, to clarify my stance: I’m all for gadgets in instances like this, when they promise to make our lives easier. But when techno-wizzardry increases the chance of me getting a traffic citation, I’m all like “down with the autoritarian surveillance state, yo!”


If I Were Free Later This Month…

…I would totally go to the Arirang games in North Korea.


American tourists will have a rare opportunity this month to visit North Korea’s capital and see a mass sports festival. North Korea will allow United States passport holders to enter on visas from either Oct. 8 to 12 or Oct. 15 to 18 to go to the Arirang 2005 festival. Travelers will have to fly from Beijing to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on the country’s airline, Air Koryo, and then will be able to attend the games and see other parts of the country.

(Via Gridskipper.)

Pyongyang, North+Korea, Arirang

NK News

NK News: “Database of North Korean Propaganda.”

Korea, North+Korea

Krauts Meet Kim-Chee

New York Times:

German Village, South Korea, only three years old, is an improbable creation, the product of this nation’s shifting needs. In the 1960’s and 70’s, South Korea, poor and overpopulated, sent thousands of its citizens to work as nurses or miners in West Germany. Today, they and their German spouses are being welcomed back, especially in rural areas whose populations have been decimated by urban migration and declining birthrates.

The authorities here, in Namhae County, took the invitation a step further by carving this village from a mountain facing the sea. They offered cheap land and construction subsidies to any Korean nurse or miner who had lived in Germany for at least 20 years, requiring that they build houses in one of five German architectural models. The village will eventually accommodate up to 75 houses.

So far, the village has drawn a small community of Koreans and some Germans, who may not have ever imagined whiling away their retirement days in a corner of South Korea that is visited by few Koreans, though it is famous for its garlic.

“When the opportunity arose, I said, ‘Let’s go!’ right away,” said Friedrich-Wilhelm Engel, 76, who built the village’s third house with his wife, Woo Chun Ja.

South Korea, Korea, Germany, migration

Prison Diary of an English Teacher

OhmyNews: “One visa-less American has spent two months in prison awaiting deportation from Korea”