North Korea

North Korea is the best example for having a controlled media by the political party. We all have an idea about what is going on in the country but no one really knows the truth. I wanted to learn more about it, so I tried to find as much information and attractions I can. When you search up North Korea on the internet and how the travelling works, there aren’t many websites that show us what is great about the country. There are photos of black and white buildings and some blogs people have that talk about their own experiences but it’s hard to find any information or photos of how it really looks like.

Travelers are allowed to come into the country, but the North Koreans are not allowed out. We only know what the political party tell us which is usually not the truth but we find the truth from the very few lucky people that were able to escape the country. It is truly tragic and breaks my heart to hear about what they have to go through and how they lived there lives in North Korea. They talk about how they are taught to love their leaders and to put their leaders before anyone else at a very young age. There was a very sad story, about a young boy that over heard his mother and brother talking about escaping. He was taught that if you hear anything about running away or anything of that sort than you have to tell your teachers and you will be rewarded with food. He didn’t know what the consequences would be and he didn’t really think anything of it. His mother and brother were murdered in front of his face and he didn’t get rewarded. They don’t know anything that is going on outside of North Korea, because they aren’t allowed to communicate with anyone outside. There is no internet, television that has broad castings from outside North Korea, cell phones and radio. They have television and radio that brainwashes them even more about how the political party is great and to love your country. They eat very little with hardly any nutrition. The worst of it all is if they do something bad or were born in the wrong family they are sent to a camp. In these camps they are tortured, treated brutally and are basically slaves that work all day. These camps has no television at all and receive even less food than the normal people get.

I have always been very fascinated by North Korea because I believe that it would be a great experience to gain. I’ve read a few blog about different people traveling to North Korea, and many of them said the same things. To go to North Korea, you have to travel through a tour company; they will not allow you to travel on your own. They say that once you arrive on the plane, the sturdiest tries to get information out of you by asking plenty of questions about what do you do, why you are travelling to North Korea, what did you bring, how long you are staying and the list goes on. He said that once landed any phones or laptops are not allowed in the country, so they have to leave them at the airport. I think this is very scary because what if anything happens to you, how are you suppose to contact for help or even communicate with the outside world. That is the whole point; they don’t want you to communicate with the world. They also talk about how you are not allowed to take photos of the people but only photos of yourself and the background; if you decide to and an officer sees you, you can go to jail. The tours are only allowed to show you certain parts of the main city but everything else is restricted area. Everything you do there you are being watched or patrolled. It raises the question of why is everything so secretive? what are they hiding?

It’s interesting because doesn’t this remind you of the novel 1984 or the NAZI period? We need to step in and help these people before its too late. Its sad to know that our government, countries around the world and even the United Nations have an idea of whats going on in North Korea but are just sitting there and allowing it to happen. We need to learn our mistakes from the past and to prevent these things from happening again!

http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/100803/Taking-Photographs-in-North-Korea.aspx

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57556662/north-korean-prisoner-escaped-after-23-brutal-years/

http://www.koryogroup.com/

http://www.writersreps.com/Escape-from-North-Korea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_North_Korea

http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/28/escape-from-north-korea-hyeonseo-lee-at-ted2013/

http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/946219-schneidereit-biggest-story-north-koreans-suffering-gets-least-coverage

http://www.newkoreatours.com/north_korea_travel_rules.html

http://americaninnorthkorea.com/

Western Culture influences Asian Society

The diversity in Canada ranges from all different types of races and backgrounds. As of 2013, Canada is one of the most well known multicultural countries in the world today(CBCNEWS, 2003). Out of the 1.8 million immigrants that arrived in Canada from 1991-2001, 58 percent were from Asia. (CBCNEWS, 2003) There is a China town in downtown Vancouver, hundreds of Asian markets scattered around the country, Asian communities and schools built within these past 50 years. We all know that Asian culture has recently made big influences on western culture, but Western culture has also recently made a great impact on Asian culture as well.

Western Culture has made a huge influence on the Asian society after World War 2(Thompson, 2011). The rate of travelers coming to Asia has increased and the Asian culture has been more modernize than before.(Thompson, 2011)  Many people in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and many other countries have the desire to look Caucasian and be more westernized by eating westernized foods. As a child, I have always been told by my parents that white, light skin, big eyes, tall and skinny was considered beautiful.Korea holds the title of having the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world(Holiday). Both men and women get surgery to make their eyes bigger, jaw lines defined, bigger lips, higher cheekbones, and bleaching of the skin to be whiter(Dolnick, 2011).  It’s amazing to see what plastic surgery can do to a person. Where do they get these ideas of what is beautiful and what is not?  We see that most of the famous people in the world carry these traits.  The media makes a big influence on what many people consider as beautiful. These people are fascinated by Western culture and they see all these beautiful people on television looking this way and they want to look just like them. Western culture has also influenced Asia by the food they eat. 50 years ago, you would never be able to find a McDonalds in China, now there are hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants all around Asia(MacDonald,2013).  I went to Vietnam when I was 7 years old, my cousins always talked about how they wanted to try a pizza or burger because they saw it on TV and they think that’s all we eat in Canada. At the time they didn’t have many restaurants that sold burgers and pizza, only super fancy restaurants that were extremely expensive. When I recently went to Vietnam 2 years ago, I noticed a big change. There were KFC’s on every street, burger restaurants and pizza joints everywhere. I was amazed to see how much has changed and how westernized it had got.

I have moved to Canada for eight years now, and during these years, I would go back to visit Taiwan if I had the chance. One thing that has come to my attention is the cultural diffusion between western and eastern countries; holiday celebrations are especially interesting because I have found that the influences of cultures show the most in them. For example, “Christmas prevails as the most widely popularized American holiday among Japanese festivals” (Konagaya), and more interestingly, “the Japanese since World War II have adapted the holiday to their cultural context and added distinctive features not found elsewhere in Christmas customs” (Konagaya). As Konagaya has mentioned, the adapter cultures not only take the traditions from the origin cultures, but they also add on their own cultural characteristics. When Japanese celebrates Christmas holiday, they use “a round white cake decorated with red strawberries” because it “expresses symbols that communicate cultural values, social relations, and the distinctive identity of modern Japan” (Konagaya), and that’s definitely a special tradition that Americans don’t have when they are celebrating Christmas. Also, the Japanese see the holiday as “an environment for them [Japanese] to detach from the routines of everyday life and experience an American milieu,” while Christmas in the West has a religious value rather than a relaxed holiday: the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, “for Japanese, Christmas continues to provide an arena to rehearse American values” (Konagaya), and this shows how the cultural differences have influenced one culture and another. Even in my home country, Taiwan, people celebrate Christmas as if it has always been one of our official holidays, and sometimes this fact makes me wonder if they actually understand the meaning of Christmas. One thing I am sure about is that everyone enjoys the experience of sharing the same value with different cultures.

By Sally Tran and Cheshire Lin

Work Cited

CBCNEWS (2003). Census shows Canada truly multicultural. Retrieved from  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2003/01/21/census030121.html.

Dolnick, Sam. (2011). Ethnic Differnces Emerge in Plastic Surgery. Retrieved from http://www.yagerplasticsurgery.com/pdf/Ethnic-Differences-Emerge-in-Plastic-Surgery.pdf.

Konagaya, H. (2001). The Christmas Cake: A Japanese Tradition of American Prosperity. Journal Of Popular Culture, 34(4), 121.

Mcdonald. (2013). Resturant locators. Retrieved from http://www.mcdonalds.com/content/us/en/restaurant_locator/restaurant_locationsresults.html?country=us&method=search&primaryCity=asia&postalCode=&language=en.

Thompson, Mark. (2011). Pacific Asia after “Asian Values’: Authoritarianisms, Democracy, and ‘Good Governance’. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 6. Pp. 1079-1095.

Beatles Snub President

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In 1966, the Beatles had a concert in Manila, Philippines which resulted to them being banned from the country. There was miscommunication between the First family and the Beatles. Ramon Ramos the promoter from the Philippines, failed to inform the manager that The Beatles were invited to play at “official/political” party until a day before the performance. Everything was last minute and was not booked properly.  Due to past experiences the Beatles decided that they will never play at parties hosted by officials and politicians, so they declined the invitation. On the day of the event they were informed they are supposed to be at the breakfast reception.  The reception was at the Presidential Palace hosted by the first lady, Imelda Marcos. I don’t think that Ramon Ramos informed the first family that the Beatles had declined there offer, so when they did not attend, it seemed like they stood up the first family. Thousands of people were waiting for them and the Beatles did not show up. This was a big slap to the first family because there was not suppose to be a decline to the invitation. It was all over the news paper that the Beatles had stood up the first family, which made everyone in the Manila furious. While leaving to the airport to leave the country, hundreds of angry fans stood outside the airport with disapproval. They ended up not being paid for the concerts that they had preformed. Many angry letters and calls were made to the United Kingdom from the Philippines about The Beatles and the disrespect. I think if the manager and Philippine promoter communicated better, then this incident would not have blown out of proportion and The Beatles would be allowed back to the Philippines. In my opinion, I don’t believe that a band or celebrity has to play at an event just because a dictator or a public figure is asking them to. I believe that everyone has a choice of who they want to play for or how they want to do it. I do understand that the community and the first family has a right to be mad because they thought the Beatles knew about this event, confirmed to play and decided not to show up on purpose. In this situation they already did decline the offer a day before but the first family was failed to be informed. I don’t think that The Beatles meant to disrespect or stood up the first family, but because of the barrier of understanding made the situation seem worst than it was. Miscommunication happens in other countries because everyone has a different way of thinking and the people have different rules and laws. In the United kingdom it may be okay to decline the offer of a public figure’s event, but in Philippines its considered an insult and is not allowed. This tragic event will be in history and remembered by the Philippines and Beatles forever.