The Ten Billion Names of Kim Jong Il

Harper’s magazine has graciously published a list of names which the North Korean government claims foreign leaders use to refer to Kim Jong Il.

Supreme Commander at the Forefront of the
Struggle Against Imperialism and the United

Greatest Saint Who Rules with Extensive

Lode Star of the Twenty-First Century
Best Leader Who Realized Human Wisdom
Leader with Extraordinary Personality
Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness
Eternal Bosom of Hot Love
Master of Literature, Arts, and Architecture
World’s Best Ideal Leader with Versatile

Humankind’s Greatest Musical Genius
Master of the Computer Who Surprised the
Man with Encyclopedic Knowledge
Guardian Deity of the Planet
Heaven-Sent Hero
Power Incarnate with Endless Creativity
Greatest Man Who Ever Lived
Present-day God
World’s Greatest Writer

You know, he may have something here. From now on I would like to be referred to as “World’s Best Ideal Leader with Versatile Talents.”

For a profile of the Dear Leader see my earlier post.

オモシロ記事三昧 Interesting article roundup

I’m busy, so I don’t have time to write individual entries on these, so here’s a synopsis of some stuff that caught my eye:

From ZAKZAK, everyone’s favorite online tabloid:

Japan’s favorite pickles NOT kimchee after all —An earlier report that Japan’s #1 pickled dish was in fact Korean kimchee turns out to be false. Asazuke, a general term for Japan’s traditional lightly pickled vegetables such as takuan or umeboshi, is in fact Japan’s favorite. “After all,” the ZAKZAK reporter concludes, “We are Japanese!”

North Korean fans get violent with Iran after losing 1-0
“Kill the foreigners” shout thousands of angry fans; Zico’s Japan shudders
NK Fan gets the Smackdown
The Marmot has covered this pretty well, but seriously I thought that the DPRK’s citizens were either above it or just too weary to get angry over soccer. Ogura Junji, Vice Chairman of FIFA, expressed surprise, saying, “There was a clear security problem in North Korea.” Kind of hard to believe from the world’s most notorious police state.

Japan is up in arms over the incident as well, and there is a possibility for the location of June’s Japan-NK matchup to be moved depending on NK’s response.

TSUTAYA buys Virgin Japan from Marui, shifts focus from “renting”
—Virgin’s “huge foreign investment” selling media products expanded throughout the 1990s, but it could not compete with the consumer’s shift toward renting CDs and DVDs (In Japan, CD rental shops are ubiquitous, unlike in America where I have never seen one). Though Virgin Japan has centered its business on media sales stores on Marui Properties, it will now focus on creating rental/sales combination stores within Marui properties (presumably shopping malls and stationfront properties).

Since Tower Records opened its first store in Japan in 1979, and after the relaxing of regulations on foreign-owned companies in Japan, Virgin and HMV have also joined the market. Opening large stores all over the country, these record stores have become a part of Japan’s youth culture.

Since then, however, consumers’ focus has shifted entirely from buying media to renting it. Marui bought the Virgin chain in April 2003 and had been attempting to revitalize it.

From Excite News:
What the hell is a Weather Certificate?! —The Japanese Meteorological Service provides Weather Certificates to confirm what the weather was like on a given day. Great for when you need a good alibi or when making insurance claims. (Do any other countries do this?)

There are some more articles, but they really deserve their own entry. Expect them later.

Solving Territorial Disputes

As we watch relations between Japan and Korea continue to fray over an increasingly nationalistic fight for a bunch of silly rocks in the middle of the ocean, we may wonder, how can this be resolved without halting trade or firing shots?

As a Mr Mark Thoma points out on his blog, there has been a significant decrease in violent crimes committed by American youth, inversely correlating to the growth of violent video games. That is to say, as young people in America have been engaging in more simulated violence they have in fact, contrary to the typical close minded conservative Joe Lieberman position, been at the same time engaging in less real violence.

What does this have to do with the dispute between Japan and Korea of ownership of Dokdo/Takeshima, you may be thinking? For the answer, let us turn to this article reprinted by Yahoo News, originally from Yonhap.

N.Korea Agrees To Provide Free ‘Dokdo’ Online Game
SEOUL, March 18 Asia Pulse – A North Korean company has agreed to provide a partially free service for an online game related to the Dokdo islets, a group of South Korean outcroppings, which it co-developed with a South Korean firm, the Southern partner said Thursday.

“The North Korean company, which developed the game with us, answered positively to our suggestion of providing the game at no cost for a while,” said NKmall (, which imports North Korean products.

“LG Telecom (Kosdaq:032640) will give a free service to its subscribers for the game from Friday to Thursday next week,” it added. The game play involves guarding the islets from invaders. LG Telecom is one of South Korea’s three mobile phone operators

Dokdo has become a hot issue domestically as a provincial assembly in Japan voted on Wednesday to designate a day on its calendar to promote its claim over the islets, sparking strong protests from South Korea.

The two Koreas are finding some common ground in their opposition to Japan over the issue.

South Korea is also considering importing North Korea-made postage stamps concerning the rocky islets.

Dokdo, a set of volcanic outcroppings in the East Sea, lies halfway between South Korea and Japan. Seoul has maintained a small police detachment there since 1954.

The way is clear. As the youth of America have begun turning from stealing cars to Grand Theft Auto, from shooting each other to playing Counterstrike, from getting in schoolyard fist-fights to Street Fighter, so must nation states follow. By channeling agression from the real to the virtual realm shall we preserve peace.

Perhaps instead of fighting an actual war for control of Liancourt/Dokdo/Takeshima, Japan and Korea (and maybe France too, but we all know they would lose) could have select champions to battle it out in computer games? Of course, the selection of game will be a source of great controversy. First person shooter games like Counterstrike, or real time strategy like Starcraft would undoubtadly go to Korea, and Japan would wipe the floor with them in fighting games, but at least diplomatic efforts would be focused on something sensible for a change.

The Tale of Nasubi

Those living in Japan may remember a segment on the popular TV program Dempa Shonen called “Kensho Seikatsu” (“Sweepstakes Life”) in which a poor comedian named Nasubi was trapped naked in a room and forced to to win sweepstakes if he hoped to survive.

Or, maybe you don’t remember. For you, here is a great retelling of the saga of Nasubi, complete with screen captures and funny moments. Here’s a taste:

Nasubi on his first day

Nippon Television’s (NTV) producers have obviously never heard of the Geneva Convention. If they had, they wouldn’t have treated poor Nasubi the way they did. They wouldn’t have stripped him naked and shut him in an apartment, alone with no food, furniture, household goods, or entertainment. They wouldn’t have kept him there for over a year until he had won $10 000 in prizes by sending in postcards to contests. They wouldn’t have cut him off from the world and they would have told him that he was on nation-wide TV.

It all started one snowy day in January, 1998 with an audition. The audition consisted of choosing lots because the only talent needed for this challenge was luck. A group of aspiring comedians showed up, and among them was a young man whose stage name is Nasubi, which means eggplant. Nasubi was ‘lucky’ that day, and was chosen over other aspiring young comedians for a mysterious “show-business related job”. He was immediately blindfolded and driven to a tiny one room apartment somewhere in Tokyo.

Nasubi’s empty room
When he arrived at the apartment, he was shown a stand full of magazines, a huge pile of postcards, and told to strip naked. The room was empty except for a cushion, a table, a small radio, a telephone, some notebooks, and a few pens. There was not a crumb of food, a square of toilet paper, or any form of entertainment. Whatever he needed, he was to win by sending thousands of postcards into contests. The producers left and Nasubi was on his own in his unique survival challenge. Imagine what was going through his mind: How am I going to eat? Why are they doing this to me? How long will it take to get out of here? He must have thought he was in a bad episode of The Prisoner.

Japan’s ODA “a hotbed of corruption” says Cambodian opposition leader

From Yahoo News:

In a press conference at a Tokyo hotel Mar. 30, Cambodia opposition party leader Sam Rainsy of the Sam Rainsy Party described Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) as “a hotbed of corruption,” offering criticism of the country’s efforts. To enter the UN Security Council, Rainsy called on Japan to “establish new aid policies that further democratization in developing countries.”

Mainichi continues:

The party leader said of Japan’s ODA to Cambodia, “Large-scale construction projects such as bridges and hospitals destroy the environment and do not work toward alleviating poverty or other problems of the people as a whole. The ODA network (that set aid policy) is not operating properly in Cambodia,” seeking a reevaluation of management. Japan is the biggest aid donor to Cambodia. Throughout 2003, Japan gave USD$76,680,000 (based on net disbursement) just in grants in aid. (Uramatsu Junji reporting).