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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kimchi, blogging survey and the future

Breaking news from the Land of the Morning Calm:

South Korean creates kimchi that won't smell

Yet in a nation that has set a goal of establishing its cuisine as among the world's five most popular by 2017, kimchi's odor has always been a stumbling block. According to a survey by the Seoul-based Corea Image Communication Institute, the unique smell of Korean food is the biggest barrier to globalizing the cuisine.

Freeze-dried kimchi. Interesting idea but I wonder if it will catch on in a culture that values "fresh" kimchi -- the term is relative since kimchi is, by nature, not fresh -- above all else.

If it gains popularity, this could be life-changing. Not so much for my life, since I'll be back in the United States and safely away from kimchi odor in about two months, but for all future English teachers in Korea. And anyone traveling on Korean Air, a nice airline that becomes not-so-nice when the person sitting next to you opens his complimentary container of fermented cabbage, garlic, fish sauce and red pepper.

And now back to your regularly scheduled post

Recently I was invited to take part in a survey of ex-pat bloggers in Korea in an effort to see the long-range influence of blogs. Specifically, what role do blogs play in the ex-pat community and what happens to these online journals once the traveler returns home?

The survey led me to think about what will happen once I move back to Washington. Obviously, my travels will continue but more sporadically -- I'll be back in the United States for at least four months before setting out into the wider world again.

I'd like to keep blogging if people are still interested in what I have to say. There's certainly no shortage of interesting sights and attractions in the DC-area, and some tentative travel plans around the USA are also on the docket (Nashville, Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, Boston, NYC).

I read a bunch of blogs every day -- around 15, covering travel, food and miscellaneous friends' ramblings -- and that creates a wealth of ideas of directions to take Postcards From the World and expand the current focus.

So I'm not entirely sure what shape this blog will take in a few months but hopefully I'll still be here, writing away for my little audience. One thought is to incorporate more food posts (Tad, you'll like that!) since I enjoy reading other people's food blogs so much and have acquired so many new ideas about nutrition over the past few months -- maybe I'll teach myself to cook beyond pasta, eggs, and stir-fry.

(Do salads count as cooking? I'm an expert salad maker!)

We'll see. There's still a little over two months left here to sort out my mind and, most importantly, savor every day in Korea before time runs out and I'm on that jumbo jet heading home.

What do YOU want to see on this blog?

Politicians Gone Wild

The National Assembly passed three bills to modernize South Korea's media industry, including allowing companies to own both broadcast and print properties. The voting, which took place Wednesday amid fistfights and shouting matches among lawmakers, capped months of acrimony over the measures.

The bills, which would privatize much of the media here, are understandably controversial. Most news outlets, both print and broadcast, are openly partisan and take a hard line on issues like trade and North Korea. Although private ownership of media is common elsewhere in the world, it's a new way of thinking here in Korea and many people are resistant to the change.

Me, I'm totally for it. While there are definitely imperfections with private ownership -- monopolies can create a huge problem of not knowing where your news is coming from and who is really behind the reporting -- it's a better system than state-run media, the current situation here.

The videos from the "debate" are especially hilarious. Punching, screaming, kicking, men vs. men, women vs. women, men vs. women. For a country that puts such a value on respect and Confucian ideals, this is incredible. It even puts the Brits to shame, and Americans are always amazed by how rowdy their sessions get.

Congress: take note. Even just the first few seconds of this video are amazing -- women clawing each other's necks and screaming. Politics at its finest.

(images from the Wall Street Journal and AP)


In other Korean political news, North Korea released a statement today calling U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "by no means intelligent" and "a funny lady."

Hillary, your rebuttal?

(Team Hillary for Life, BTW)