Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sigur Center Grant for Field Research for Summer 2012

It has been three weeks since I started my work as a visiting research fellow at Asia Center at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea.
Today is another hot summer day...Every single person that I have met on bus, at school, and at convenient stores complained about this severe drought.
Some of them said sometimes they felt guilty even when they brushed teeth while running water, since this drought is causing much difficulties for farmers in Korea.

The picture uploaded shows the dried-out bed of Taepyong reservoir in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, which is craked like a turtle's shell. This is the worst drought in 104 years.

It could sound absurd to some people who are not familiar with Korean superstition, but we, Koreans are accustomed to blaming corrupted politicians for drought. When we have a severe drought, just like the one we are having, we are not reluctant to point our fingers at politicians, who we think did not care for the people who put their trust on them. When the politicians fail to care for the people, Koreans believe, the God (Haneul in Korean) gets raged and gives the people natural disaster in the form of drought, flood and so on.

Koreans now blame the politicians who are heavily involved in "Color" debate, not taking care of falling Korean economy partly due to EU financial crisis. The Left, called the Red by conservatives, is blamed for both politically using North Korea to regain their power and rewarding the North for their bad behavior; the Right is accused of spreading McCarthyism to keep their power intact.

How can I laugh at those politicians using the so-outdated word, "McCarthyism" to get the people's attention? In the post-Cold War era, Korea is so "Cold-War."

Opinion leaders in Korea urge Korean politicians to do something about both China heavily remilitarizing and Japan that could go nuclear in the near future. When Korea's giant neighbors seek for ways to balance by engaging in rearming, Korea is leaving behind because of domestic politics.

Korean politics seem to have reached a contentious limit. It seems just yesterday that people were criticizing the backwardness of Korean politics for dragging down the Korean economy, but now it has become a problem not just for the economy, but also for the national security. And maybe, the politicians could be the ones that are causing this severe drought.

We, Koreans, are thirsty for politicians who can get everything back on track!

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