Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).


26 November, 2013

The Latest at AaronMcKenzie.Net

By Aaron
26 November, 2013

Most of my writing appears at AaronMcKenzie.Net. Here are a few of my recent pieces:




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25 October, 2013

Recent Scrawls

By Aaron
25 October, 2013

A few notes and updates:



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06 June, 2013

Escape from Camp 14 and the Myth of 'One Korea'

By Aaron
06 June, 2013

Fantasy vs. Reality

"The curious task of economics," F.A. Hayek noted, "is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." In the following piece, which is now available at Korea Business Central, I lay out my skepticism of central planning and of nation-building in the context of Korean reunification. Longtime readers will recognize some of the themes.

Here's the opening:

Tensions on the Korean peninsula, always at a low simmer, have once again come to a boil in recent months with the North Korean military threatening yet again to turn Seoul into a sea of fire and the South promising retaliation for any hostile actions. Even as most South Koreans yawn and go about their lives, and as Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama issue the standard calls for dialogue and deterrence, it is worth remembering that the tense stability on the Korean peninsula will not last forever.

North Korea specialists largely agree that, whether through war or implosion, the North Korean state will eventually collapse, leaving South Korea to make good on its long-held promise of reunification. But should reunification be the goal? This is the question that, perhaps inadvertently, Blaine Harden’s book Escape from Camp 14 raises.

Most readers of Escape from Camp 14, an account of Shin Dong-hyuk’s life in and escape from North Korea’s worst prison camp, will be drawn in by the sheer human drama of a story containing all the plot points and character complexity of a classic adventure tale. Yet, while Camp 14 follows one man’s struggle for freedom, it also has much to say about the nature of “Koreanness,” the future of the Korean peninsula, and the potential folly of reunification.

26 May, 2013

Create Your Own Culture

By Aaron
26 May, 2013

This piece of mine is in the Monday edition of Seoul's JoongAng Daily newspaper. In it, I discuss internet sensation Luna Lee (she of the gayageum version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile") and the ways in which her success illustrate this quote from Tyler Cowen:  

Diversity across societies is to some extent a collectivist concept. The metric compares one society to another, or one country to another, instead of comparing one individual to another, or instead of looking at the choices faced by an individual.



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25 May, 2013

Shambles, Pickles, and Messes

By Aaron
25 May, 2013

Heads up, kiddos: My latest piece is now available here. Get it while it's hot!

And if you haven't done so yet, take a moment to redirect your email updates.



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23 May, 2013

Because That's Where the Favors Are

By Aaron
23 May, 2013

This new piece is currently available at AaronMcKenzie.Net:

On 21 May, Representative You Seung-hee of the Democratic Party submitted to the Korean National Assembly a bill which calls for as many as three years in prison or up to 30 million won in fines for anyone who receives or arranges sexual services in return for preferential treatment.

You's proposed bill comes in the wake of allegations that several high-profile political officials, including then-Vice Minister of Justice Kim Hak-ui, received sexual services from numerous women who had been hired by a local construction firm that was seeking political dispensations.

"Using sex as a form of hospitality has recently become a serious problem in the public sector..." You told Yonhap News....Continue Reading



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06 May, 2013

The Wizard of Oz and a Moment of Redirection

By Aaron
06 May, 2013

Before all else, my apologies if your RSS readers have been deluged with my archives over the past few days. I've had some technical problems, to say the least with my RSS feeds of late. Again, I apologize.

As for today's topic...

On this day in 1919, L. Frank Baum - author of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" - died. Today, then, is as good a time as any to revisit the debate over the hidden symbolism in his classic tale. And no, I don't mean that stuff about the 1939 film version and Pink Floyd.

There's been a long-running debate as to whether Baum intended his yarn as merely a fun children's fairy-tale, or as an allegory for the social, political, and economic scene of 1890s America. Since Baum long ago joined the dearly departed, I guess we'll never know for certain, but as one writer put it, while "some of the parallels [to 1890s events] are more tenuous than others, many are so obvious and palpable as to defy coincidence." 

Have a look here, where you'll find my attempt at a quick overview of this debate and the possible interpretations of Baum's story.  

I also encourage you to redirect your bookmarks, as I will henceforth (for reasons technological, aesthetic, and personal) make the bulk of my writings available at the site to which I just linked.