Author Archives: Scott

Photos from mid-90s, post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, late 90s Borneo

Added some more travel photos to the Facebook page. The first set is from a 1995 trip through Cambodia, mainly Angkor Wat, as the country was finally, fully emerging from the Khmer Rouge era.

Danger! Mines

The second set of photos is from Malaysian Borneo during the late 1990s Asian financial crisis. The photos here focus mainly on Mt. Kinabalu and a trip upriver to an Iban longhouse. Enjoy, and, as always, feel free to leave a comment.

Tuckered out little orangutan

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Average South Korean Household Spends $200 a Month on ‘Media’

A mildly interesting story, for those of us selling content in Korea at least, says the average South Korean household spends W224,413 (roughly $200) per month on “media,” including charges for mobile phone, Internet, cable TV, home phone, and (printed) newspapers and magazines. For someone currently paying for the same services in the U.S., with its far slower Internet speeds and cable bills that can easily hit $100 a month, the breakdown is striking:
  • W172,136 ($155) a month for cellphone service (again, this is per household, not per person)
  • W27,148 ($25) a month for Internet
  • W16,347 ($15) a month for cable (reminding me how fondly I recall that bill from Seoul, compared to DC)
  • W14,960 ($13.50) a month for home phone, for those who still have it
  • and W14,423 ($13) a month for newspapers and magazines
The survey, of 500 adults age 20-60, also asked people to rank the importance of various media forms on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important. The Internet was ranked highest at 4.32, followed closely by mobile phones at 4.30, broadcast TV at 3.7, home phones at 2.5, and (printed) newspaper and magazines at 2.4.
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“To Expect ‘Change’ from DPRK Is Foolish Ambition: Spokesman”

One of the best (i.e. amusing and somewhat readable) and most interesting (i.e. not solely about the godlike exploits of the Great/Dear/Newest Leader) articles from North Korea’s official news agency I’ve come across in a while. Give it a click if you have a few minutes.

With the recent change in leadership brought on by the death of Kim Jong-il and succession of his son Kim Jong-un, has come heightened speculation on possible changes, reforms, modernization, and the like in North Korea. This article is North Korea’s forceful response. Some of the highlights, aside from the headline:
  • “Upset by this, the puppet group [i.e. South Korea] let experts in the north affairs and others interpret the stirring situation of the DPRK in a self-centered manner, vociferating about ‘signs of policy change’ and ‘attempt at reform and opening’. This ridiculous rhetoric only revealed its ignorance and sinister intention against the DPRK.”
  • “As far as ‘signs of policy change’ are concerned, there can not be any slightest change in all policies of the DPRK as they are meant to carry forward and accomplish the ideas and cause of the peerlessly great persons generation after generation [highlighting and justifying the family-based leadership successions], to all intents and purposes.”
  • “From decades of trumpeting ‘reform and opening’ to impose their corrupt system upon the DPRK, the hostile forces now seem to have been preoccupied by hallucination that such a move is taking place in the DPRK. Such idiots ignorant of the DPRK are professing experts in the north affairs. Pitiful are the U.S. and the puppet group which are resorting to foolish ambition on the basis of their sham analysis.”
  • [My favorite]: “To expect ‘policy change’ and ‘reform and opening’ from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream just like wanting the sun to rise in the west.”

Except for a few changes around the edges, this is one of the rare times North Korea’s official line actually conflates with reality.

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The Ugly American

[Book Review] Stunning that a book written in 1958 about Vietnam and SE Asia is still so dead-on accurate. Reading it, you’d never know it wasn’t written last week about Iraq or Afghanistan.

A collection of semi-fictional vignettes about Americans working in the made-up SE Asian country of Sarkhan (read: Vietnam), anyone with a hint of overseas experience, or even time working with the U.S. government, will quickly (and in many cases, depressingly) recognize the various archetypes of Americans abroad illustrated here. The authors reportedly based many of the characters on real people they’d met while overseas. A quick bit of Googling sheds light on the origin of many of them.

A quick, enjoyable read – whether a story at a time, or the whole book. Highly recommended, especially for those heading overseas, or to DC, to work with the U.S. government and/or military.

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Travel meets “history”: photos from my 1993 Trans-Siberian trip

Recently dug up some old photos from my 1993 Trans-Siberian trip through post-Soviet Russia and posted them to the Facebook page. The changes over the past 20 years to Moscow and Ulaanbaatar, let alone Beijing, are stunning – check out the line, traffic, and dated cars outside Moscow’s first McDonalds.

Lone rider near Gobi Desert oasis, Mongolia

Arranged, in the pre-Internet era of letters and faxes, by Hong Kong’s old school specialists in Trans-Siberian travel, Moonsky Star Ltd., the Trans-Siberian took me from Beijing to Moscow with stops in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the Siberian city of Irkutsk. It was my first-ever ‘real’ train trip and spawned a love of travel by train that still burns brightly enough to make even Amtrak’s DC-NYC Northeast Regional feel compelling.

Enjoy the pics: the emptiness of the Gobi Desert, Ulaanbaatar’s first steps in throwing off a long, cold Soviet winter, and the first signs of the commerce soon to envelope Moscow.

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  • A legit deal if true, but something seems off. Hard to tell without access to the data. https://t.co/OOixlyY75U - posted on 19/08/2017

  • Interesting quote, "The [#NorthKorea] state’s calculation is that technology will allow it to gain more control tha… https://t.co/ekrK1W3H8S - posted on 16/08/2017

  • #NorthKorea sending a message. https://t.co/PzJvO6vi7K - posted on 15/08/2017

  • One of only a few articles to get the info piece right; underutilized tool for dealing with #NorthKorea https://t.co/Hl3XeFI5P5 - posted on 13/08/2017

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