John Lee Profile picture
Commenting on politics and social issues relating to the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. Just started a YouTube channel. NOT ON YOUR POLITICAL SIDE
18 Oct
"The US government has made it a rule not to transfer fuel for nuclear-powered submarines to *any country,* regardless of whether they are allies or not – in line with its principle of non-proliferation."

That's fine. SKorea has other options.…
Asking the US to help SKorea with starting its own nuclear submarine program was always going to get a no. It couldn't hurt to ask, of course. But now that the US has said no (it still can't hurt to keep asking), SKorea can also choose to shop elsewhere.
The French were willing to help SKorea with its nuclear program in the 1970s but were stopped from doing so by the US. I don't see why the French wouldn't be willing to help now, or why the French would be more keen to listen to Washington either. The US ain't what it used to be.
Read 8 tweets
18 Oct
If Biden wins the election, one of the first things he should do is to set up a trilateral leadership summit with Moon Jae-in and Suga Yoshihide. It will likely require a lot of arm-twisting and ego-bruising, but something has to be done for this trilateral alliance to survive.
This is not an infantilization of SKorea or Japan. It is not "White Knighting" the US either. Anyone who thinks this is the case clearly only has a superficial understanding of this troubled partnership between the three democratic nations.
The relation between SKorea and Japan goes back a long way. For SKorea, it comes down to identity. Our history, present, and future has been and will continue to be shaped by the 35 years we were occupied by Japan. It also has to do with our own demons.
Read 16 tweets
17 Oct
We have reached the point where even immigration (a measure that has long faced heavy resistance) might not be able to resolve our demographic problem.
Some possible ideas to offset SKorea's demographic timebomb: Looser immigration policies, permanently do away with minjok-ism, adopt English as our 2nd national language, ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, adopt UBI, accelerate R&D on AI, expand and force parental leave for men and women..
..chaebol reform to enforce more even economic opportunities for small businesses, thorough and long-term education to eradicate patriarchal biases in society, increased and improved legal protection for women, education reform to radically change how English is taught in school.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jul
Classy. A SKorean cartoonist has portrayed Park Sang-hak, a NKorean defector, as a mad dog.

미친X means mad dog. The X was used because adding the word dog would have been an insult. Because THAT would have been over the line.

The caption: "I will report Moon Jae-in to the UN."

Park Sang-hak is a NKorean defector and chairman of Fighters for a Free North Korea (자유북한운동연합). FFNK is the organization that periodically launches balloons carrying human rights and pro-democracy leaflets, DVDs, and USB flash drives from SKorea to NKorea.
Last month, after Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong Un's sister, threatened SKorea over the leaflets sent by activists, SKorea's ruling Minjoo Party sponsored five separate bills in the National Assembly to ban leaflet drops from and around the DMZ.
Read 16 tweets
21 Jun
Controversy and internal squabbling erupted within SKorea's main opposition party - the United Future Party - after former National Assemblyman Jeong Byeong-guk suggested that the party removes the portraits of former presidents Syngman Rhee, Park Chung Hee, and Kim Young Sam.
Syngman Rhee is SKorea's first president. He was an authoritarian leader who oversaw SKorea's fight against NKorea during the Korean War. His government was also corrupt and was also responsible for gross human rights abuses (see Jeju Uprising).…
Park Chung Hee was SKorea's strongman and dictator. While many conservatives like to remember Park as the leader who helped to transition SKorea into the modern economic powerhouse it is today, he was also responsible for gross human rights abuses.…
Read 19 tweets
21 May
For the past two weeks, one of the biggest news stories circulating in SKorea (and my God, the drama!) has been regarding comfort women being taken advantage of by an NGO that represents them.

This is a brief summary.
Let's start out with some background information first.

We all know about comfort women - the women across Asia who were forcibly** recruited to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army.…
**There is some debate about whether or not there is evidence that the Japanese government itself was legally responsible for this. According to Professor Park Yu-ha who wrote "Comfort Women of the Empire," no such evidence exists.…
Read 31 tweets
10 May
There is an excessively high concentration of coffee shops, bakeries, chicken and beer restaurants, and convenience stores in Seoul. If you randomly threw a rock at any small business, there's a very good chance you'll hit one of these four establishments.
As of February 2019, there are 87,000 chicken and beer eateries in SKorea.…

To show how crazy that number is, we have to consider the fact that as of February 2019, there are 38,695 McDonald's restaurants *throughout the world.*…
Coffee shops are just as concentrated. Seoul has more Starbucks stores than any other city in the world. But of course, Starbucks isn't the only business that sells coffee. It seems like almost everyone and their grandmothers sell coffee.…
Read 30 tweets
9 May
According to SKorea's SBS News, there are now 47 confirmed COVID-19 cases as a result of the young people who went nightclubbing in Itaewon.

Health authorities aren't able to reach up to 1,309 people who might have had contact in the nightclub.
Health authorities attempted to contact the people they suspect that had contact with the coronavirus patient using the phone numbers they listed at the entrance. However, two-thirds of the numbers were fake names/phone numbers.
One man who went to one of the nightclubs in Itaewon got himself tested after he saw the news. He tested positive. It turned out that he worked at a call center in a 20-story building. The entire building has been shut down.
Read 11 tweets
6 May
I've never heard of Shadi Hamid before, but he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, so I think it would be wrong to assume that he's an idiot. Instead, I'd like to think he wrote this because Twitter's strict character limits prevent people from writing treatises.
It's true that SKoreans have deferred much authority to the government to combat COVID-19. It's also true that much of this deference to authority has made the invasion of people's privacy a central issue that must be dealt with in the future.…
But it's also true that SKoreans aren't unthinking automatons who are perfectly fine with the government having this much power because (insert sarcastic tone here) we're Asians and Asians simply don't care about such silly things like freedom and democracy.
Read 11 tweets
22 Mar
SKorean politics is a joke. Except that it's not funny. Although the coronavirus pandemic could roar back at any moment, both of the two major parties, the ruling Minjoo Party and the United Future Party are playing political games. 1/n
It's a long story. So I'll give as quick a run down of what happened as possible. The Minjoo Party wanted to reform the electoral system since February 2019. It wanted to introduce a mixed-member proportional representation system... 2/n which parliamentary seats are tied to the percentage of voters' support for parties. I won't try to pretend that I understand it. Frankly, it confuses me. But if you're under lockdown, have time, and curious, here's the Wikipedia link.…

Read 38 tweets
3 Nov 19
I just watched Dracula the Musical at the KEPCO Art Center. My immediate feeling is this. The following thread will contain spoilers.
I read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was 14. I was a big fan of the 1931 and 1992 movies. Dracula had menace. He was a violent monster who preyed on the innocent. He made his minions feed on a baby! He was in league with the Devil. He was a classic literary and movie monster.
And when you take into consideration that the character was based on a real person who was just as monstrous, Vlad the Impaler, you know that Dracula isn't anything close to the sparkly, "vegetarian" Edward Cullen.

But that's what the musical did. They Twilighted Dracula.
Read 18 tweets
7 May 19
Okay, it's past 3am, and I have trouble falling asleep. So why not talk about Avengers Endgame?
Okay, so in Infinity War, Thanos does the snap and wipes out half of all life in the universe. Since the universe is huge and there is no way I can really imagine extraterrestrial life, I'll just focus on Earth.
So does that mean that only half of humans got dusted, or does this also include plants and animals? I ask because Thanos said that the universe's resources are finite. Whether or not that is true, it'd be weird if only humans were killed.
Read 25 tweets
4 Apr 19
This is the second part of my third part Twitter thread about the problems facing Brunei’s economy. This thread will focus on how the government and the oil and gas industry smother the rest of the economy.
As I said before in my last Twitter thread, unemployment remains a chronic problem in Brunei, but there is a lack of manpower that can fill badly needed positions in the hospitality (or any other) industry. I will attempt to explain why that is the case.
Brunei has one of the most educated populations in the world. According to UNESCO, Bruneians have a literacy rate of 99.37%. Part of the reason for this impressive figure is that Brunei offers free education to all of its citizens.
Read 18 tweets
29 Mar 19
I was born and raised in Brunei, and I lived there until I was 19. So believe me when I tell you that I know a thing or two about that country. So let me begin by explaining why boycotting a few luxury hotels won't help achieve anything.

This thread won't have a happy ending.
Brunei has been exporting oil and natural gas since the 1930s, and it produces about 200,000 barrels of oil per day. It's also one of the largest exporters of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).…
Brunei uses little of that oil domestically. It has a tiny population of less than 450,000 people. It's industries are negligible. Although it has been trying to diversify its economy for decades, it has failed. So oil is its biggest industry and most of the oil is exported.
Read 34 tweets