Friday, 2 November 2007

It is an outrage!

For the last two days I have been unable to access my blog. Today I found out the shocking truth... It has been blocked by Korean ISPs because of the upcoming Presidential elections! This disgraceful disregard for free speech will not stand! The people of Korea must not be denied the chance to read my important thoughts!!

Actually it's rather more serious than that, it seems that all blog addresses on blogspot ( have been blocked. I guess the idea is to stop South Korean bloggers from making politically sensitive statements. Isn't it shocking? Imagine the control that government officials can exercise over public opinion if they have this sort of power. Ugh, politics is sickening...
Fortunately I found a way around it using some clever proxy-server thingamugigs, so now I feel there are a few things I ought to tell the world:
  • GNP party candidate Lee Myung-bak eats babies for breakfast
  • candidate Lee In-je has more illegitimate children than I've had cups of tea
  • Kwon Young-ghil is actually an alien planning to enslave the human race
  • Moon Guk-hyeon is a really great guy and would make an excellent president. Vote for him.

All of which may or may not be true... but surely if the electorate are trusted to elect the president they must also be trusted to assess for themselves the value of opinions or allegations expressed by others (on blogs for example), without interference from the governing body.

[Update: Umm, actually it looks like I can access the blog now. So probably it wasn't an evil government action after all... oops, slightly embarrassed now... sorry Korean Government people! Still it was very weird. I found a help forum about the problem and it effected other South Korean users in the same way as me, and only happened to South Korean users... Maybe it was interference by Kwon Young-ghil and his alien friends then...]


On Tuesday night Jin and I accidentally found ourselves at dinner with a Director General of the Ministry of National Defense, a Director of the Oil and Gas Development Division of the Ministry of Commerce, the Chairman of the Korea Research Council of Fundamental Science and Technology, and several other high-flying officials. The connection -- they were all graduates of Sussex University, where Jin did her MA. What we didn't realise was that this particular reunion was meant to be reserved for powerful old men (and one woman). Fortunately they didn't kick us out and so we were able to sit in the fancy restaurant and listen to their lofty conversations (in Korean, but I was given occasional translation by Jin). Here are some of the opinions expressed -- that renewable energy was a waste of time (the Oil and Gas guy liked this one), that NGOs were usually troublemakers who needed reining in, that national interest should always be the deciding factor in any decisions, that democracy had gone to far, etc, etc. Deary deary me. Any comments? Ant?

Even more damning was the fact that not one of them offered me a job. Fortunately though things are looking up for Jin and I on the job front. Jin has been looking for some part-time English teaching work until her University work starts next academic year (which is March in the Korean educational system), and has had two definite offers (although she rejected one because the pay was low), and several other possibilities. For my part I went to see the Chairman of Mathematics at Korea University on Wednesday, and he said he could offer me some part-time lecturing (up to 12 hours / week) starting next March, provided that (i) I could get a work permit for it, and (ii) his department agreed (which he was pretty confident about). Of course I'd like to find something more than that, and preferably a research post, but still it's a start...

[Amusing anecdote to end this post will appear later...]

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