Author Archives: Scott

Workers’ Party vs. Military Fight in North Korea?

Two stories out earlier today point to an internal power struggle in Pyongyang, likely in favor of the Workers’ Party (North Korea’s ruling party calls itself the Workers’ Party, not the Communist Party) over the military. According to Reuters, the new leader, Kim Jong-Eun, has sided with the party over the military in an effort to advance economic reforms and growth.

According to a separate story from the Chosun Ilbo (South Korea’s largest newspaper), there was a brief firefight this week when forces loyal to Kim Jong-Eun (and his uncle, the behind-the-scenes powerbroker Jang Song-taek) went to detain and remove from power the head of the North Korean army, Ri Yong-ho. According to government and intelligence officials in the South, forces loyal to Ri engaged those attempting to detain him, killing 20-30 soldiers and possibly injuring or killing Ri.

With Kim III’s assumption of power after a very short transition, such struggles were to be expected as he put his own (or his uncle’s) people in power. This week’s episode now becomes a leading example of that struggle. Going forward, if the military begins to feel threatened by an increasingly powerful Workers’ Party, things could get very dicey in the North. However, by replacing the head of the Army with a trusted loyalist, Kim appears to be mitigating those risks, whether the military likes it or not.

Any dynastic succession, whether ancient royal history or modern communist era, is going to have problems as power moves from one generation to the next. Kim Jong-il, when he took over from his father in 1994, faced the same issues. At the time, he sided with the military over the party to break free from his father’s center of power and create his own. Kim Jong-eun appears to be swinging the pendulum back in favor of the party, perhaps as a way of quickly winning allies for restoring the party to its former ‘glory’. It’ll be interesting to see if this marks the beginning of a dangerous military vs. party struggle for control, or was simply the final, public denouement of that battle.

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콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English)

My new book, 콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English), is finally out and available for download from iTunes. Written partially in Korean, the book is designed to help address common problems faced by Korean learners of English, plus those who teach them.

I set up a separate section of the blog, KONGLISH / 콩글리시, to focus on Konglish-related writing, including excerpts from the book. Having researched and written on Konglish since the late 90s, I have a fair grounding in the subject, but am always open to learning more – please post comments below or in a related post.

콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English)

Another goal in writing the book, as I blogged about in the Digital Publishing category (above), was to learn how to use Apple’s new iBooks Author program, and then compare it with Adobe’s Creative Suite, InDesign, and Captivate. While the Apple product, all of six months old, lacks many of the capabilities of the much-older Adobe programs, it also lacks their price (Author is free) and steep learning curve. You can be up and productively writing in Author in minutes (provided you own a Mac – there is, as yet, no Windows version), something that cannot be said for those new to, or only mildly familiar with, the Adobe monstrosities.

Having used the product for six months and found it generally user-friendly, practical, and simple, if occasionally buggy and odd (as blogged about in previous postings), I am curious to see what Apple makes of Author. Will it follow iTunes in eventually expanding to Windows? Will Apple allow authors to publish to platforms (i.e. Kindle and Nook) outside of iTunes and iPad? Will Apple finally stop putting that irritating little ‘i’ in front of iEverything iIt iMakes?

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Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

[Book Review] I kept bumping into excerpts from this book while I was in grad school, but just recently got around to reading the whole thing.

While I know nothing about COIN aside from what I read in grad school and gleaned from working with sundry folks overseas, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife certainly seems like a helluva sensible book – and not just on Vietnam or for historians, but for anyone interested in the performance of the U.S. and British armies, past, present, and future.

The author, John A. Nagl (retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel), examines the performance of the British Army in Malaya and the U.S. Army in Vietnam to gauge how effectively each organization learned and adapted to fighting a counter insurgency. The Brits come off rather well, having won their fight against communist guerrillas in what became Malaysia. The U.S. Army comes off much worse, appearing bureaucratic, ossified, and unable to change or adapt, even when ordered to change by higher-ups or shown how to adapt by junior officers.



Not just a historical examination, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife provides guidelines for helping any organization: bureaucratic, military, or otherwise; learn, adapt, and succeed when confronted by unexpected challenges. Pity this advice wasn’t better known or heeded in DC back in the aughts.

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Reuters Insight: North Korean Defector Smuggling Networks

Great overview from Reuters today about North Korean refugee smuggling networks and how they get cash into, and information out of, North Korea. Aside from a much longer article in April’s The Atlantic, this is one of the better English-language overviews on the subject.

For a case study on how effective these networks can be, please see last year’s posting – Paper Excerpt: Case Study on Using North Korean Defector-run Networks to Monitor Conditions Inside North Korea.

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New ‘Konglish’ Category

UPDATE (11 July): The book has been approved for sale (!) and is slowly working its way through the Apple bureaucracy. It has yet to make it into iTunes, but is currently visible on the iTunes Preview website.

I’m adding a new section to the website today, in honor of my forthcoming book, 콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English), an education book intended for the Korean market and written entirely in Apple’s new iBooks Author.

The new section will consist of common 콩글리시/Konglish expressions and how best to translate and explain them in English. After visitors from the U.S., visitors from South Korea make up the largest readership for the blog and my 1stopKorea website. Adding this content, written partially in Korean, is a way of addressing that readership.

The new book, despite the use of the iBooks platform, marks a return to my roots. I’ve been researching and writing on Konglish since the mid-90s, making it the focus of my first book, 미국에선 안통하는 한국식 영어표현 (roughly: ‘Konglish expressions that won’t work in the U.S.), published way back in 1999 and, unfortunately, now out of print.

Please enjoy the new section and feel free to add any Konglish, including a translation/explanation, you come across. I’ll be adding the first few expressions shortly, but backdating them so they don’t completely take over the front page of the blog. Thanks, and enjoy!

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