Tag Archives | South Korea

Giant glass biodomes could help revive endangered species

biodôme Montréal janvier 2010

biodôme Montréal janvier 2010 (Photo credit: synhack)

Nature can use use all the help it can get. Just keep Bud and Doyle away.

via The Verge

A green, tree-lined valley in Yeongyang-gun, South Korea could soon be turned from a picturesque slice of nature into a scene out of a sci-fi film, complete with giant glass domes encapsulating the landscape. Despite disrupting nature in the short term, the plan is actually a national research and conservation effort, and architect and engineering firm Samoo recently unveiled its winning designs for the project, the National Research Center for Endangered Species, to be built there.

Most eye catching are the giant glass biodomes that will be build along the hillside. According to FastCo Exist, these closed-off ecosystems will be used to breed and raise endangered birds before releasing them back into the wild. The domes’ looming height is apparently a necessity to allow the birds to adapt.

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Meet The Harvard-Educated Monk Who’s Bringing Ancient Wisdom To YouTube


via Huffington Post

Hwansan Sunim is anything but your typical Harvard grad. After college, he earned a post-graduate degree in psychology at NYU, and then rerouted his life to South Korea, where he became a Buddhist monk and spent 25 years in a monastery studying the principles of Seon Buddhism.

A disciple of Korean Seon Master Songdam — the most respected Buddhist Zen master in Korea — Sunim has devoted his life to the Seon way. And despite his traditional lifestyle, Sunim — or Ted Park, as he is known in English — is anything but out of touch with the modern world: he now shares the teachings of Seon Buddhism with a global audience via his YouTube channel, “Hwansan Sunim: Son Meditation for the Modern World.”

“Seon meditation aims to eradicate the very roots of suffering, as well as awaken us to our infinite human potential,” Sunim explained in a recent video.

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Plastic Surgery To Create A Permanent Smile Debuts In South Korea

permanent smileI’m guessing this terrifying procedure is nonetheless cheaper than a lifetime on antidepressants. The Atlantic reports:

South Korea has helped paved the way for double-eyelid surgeries, dimple injections, calf reductions and even double-jaw surgery, to name a few. Now South Korean plastic surgeons are taking on surgery that alters the appearance of emotion. A new technique called “Smile Lipt” (whose name combines “lip” with “lift”) carves a permanent smile – the procedure turns up the corners of the mouth.

The procedure is increasingly popular among men and women in their 20s and 30s—especially flight attendants, consultants and others in industries aiming to offer service with a smile. The Seoul-based Aone Plastic Surgery has patented the procedure. For $2,000, it now offers patients the chance to be thus transformed:

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Elderly Suicide Epidemic Strikes South Korea

In the new, hyper-modernized South Korea, many older people feel that they have been left abandoned, obsolete, and penniless. A dark omen of things to come in developed societies around the world with focuses on technology and individualism, and shredded social safety nets? The New York Times reports:

The number of people 65 and older committing suicide has nearly quadrupled in recent years, making the country’s rate of such deaths among the highest in the developed world. The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation’s runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries.

That contract was built on the premise that parents would do almost anything to care for their children — in recent times, depleting their life savings to pay for a good education — and then would end their lives in their children’s care. No Social Security system was needed.

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South Korea’s Toilet Culture Park

Toilet in german theater munichWe all know people who never outgrew toilet humor, but in the South Korean town of Suwon there are apparently enough people obsessed with all things to do with bodily excretion that there is an entire park devoted to the topic, graphically. The Daily Mail has lots of photos in this report (video from IB Times):

…From the bronze statues of people sitting on the toilet dotted around outside, to the converted toilet-shaped house which contains an exhibition on toilets through the ages, everything here is themed after one thing.

There is even a room devoted to toilet-related art – fitting in a city which holds the annual Golden Poop art festival. It might not seem like the most attractive tourist destination, but Lee Youn-Souk, who works at the park, thinks differently.

She told the BBC: ‘We just focus on eating everyday, we sometimes overlook the importance of the toilet.

‘We already know upon waking up in the morning we should go to the toilet but people don’t want to talk about this. So we wanted to demonstrate to the public out ‘toilet culture’.

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Shamanism Returning to South Korea

Via Reuters:

Photo credit Vassil

While Buddhism and various forms of Christianity remain the most widely practiced forms of religion in Korea, Reuters reports that the ancient practice of shamanism is on the rise:

In leaping from poverty to rapid modernization, the county’s dictatorship in the 1970s tried to eliminate shamanism, claiming that shamans deluded the world, while some Christian missionaries demonized them and their followers.

But today, visiting a mudang – shaman priest or priestess – is so common that politicians consult them seeking answers to questions such as whether they should relocate their ancestors’ remains to ensure good luck in the next election. Shaman characters have also featured in popular television shows.

“Public perception towards shamanism has improved a lot, with popular TV dramas contributing to shifting these views,” said Park Heung-ju, an authority on mudang at the Kut Research Institute in Seoul.”You can find repose by meeting with mudang.”

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The First Major Electoral Victory For The Occupy Wall Street Movement?

p10b…In South Korea, not the United States. The newly elected mayor of Seoul is Park Won Soon, a longtime activist and human rights lawyer who ran on an explicit “Occupy Wall Street platform” of challenging social inequality. Could this happen here as well? Via New Left Project:

Park Won Soon, the newly elected mayor of Seoul, is “perhaps the first politician to win with an Occupy Wall Street platform”.

Park Won Soon ran on a platform of social justice. The previous mayor of Seoul had resigned over the issue of school lunches, Park pushed for the universal provision of lunches to all Seoul school children. He also promised to direct social services to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Korea has become increasingly divided in terms of rich and poor, and Seoul has some of the richest and some of the poorest people in the country. Park pledged to be the mayor of all of Seoul and not just the wealthy.

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South Korea Rolls Out Robotic Prison Wardens

robotIncarceration just got a lot more adorable. Via the BBC:

A jail in the eastern city of Pohang plans to run a month-long trial with three of the automatons in March. The machines will monitor inmates for abnormal behaviour.

South Korea aims to be a world leaders in robotics. Business leaders believe the field has the potential to become a major export industry.

The three 5ft-high (1.5m) robots involved in the prison trial have been developed by the Asian Forum for Corrections, a South Korean group of researchers who specialise in criminality and prison policies. It said the robots move on four wheels and are equipped with cameras and other sensors that allow them to detect risky behaviour such as violence and suicide.

Prof Lee Baik-Chu, of Kyonggi University, who led the design process, said the robots would alert human guards if they discovered a problem.

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South Korean Lawmaker Uses Tear Gas to Protest Free Trade with the U.S. (Video)

Now, why would a member of parliament in South Korea object so strongly to a free trade deal with the United States? Haroon Siddique reports in the Guardian:
An opposition MP set off a teargas canister in the South Korean parliament in a failed attempt to prevent the ruling party passing a free trade deal with the US. Proponents said the deal, the largest US trade pact since the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), could increase commerce between the two countries by up to a quarter. But the opposition claims it will harm South Korean interests, putting jobs at risk ...
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