Monthly Archives: November 2010

Killers of the Innocent

North Korea shelled a civilian South Korean island today. I guess their last few acts of war weren’t a big enough hint that the dear leaders want a foreign war.

I guess nothing says “I’ll be better for you than South Korea” like setting your house on fire and killing your family with artillery shells. Yeah.


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World History Class Skipped the Important Bits Again

I’ve read a lot about the reasons Japan and South Korea have just a tad bit of historical unhappiness with each other. I’ve read about WWII, and comfort women, and the Japanese empress who liked to collect ears, and the way Korean kings liked to catch and kill Japanese pirates. And yeah, Korea allied with the Mongols while Japan fought them. And so on.

But nobody mentioned that the last queen of Korea, Queen Min (or Myeongsong), was hacked to death in the palace gardens in 1895, in front of all the diplomats and everybody, by a pack of fifty or so Japanese samurai. (They killed a couple of other women too, in case they were her.) In an operation organized by the Japanese ambassador, who was (apparently) rewarded by becoming a privy councilor. But the king’s father may also have been involved, as he had apparently tried to assassinate Min several times before, albeit in a (relatively) nice little palace intrigue sort of way.

Oh, and why did they hack her to death? Because she had spent the last umpteen years pushing modernization and alliance with all the countries she could dig up, in a desperate attempt to keep Korea from being taken over by Japan (or China, but Japan’s the one that gobbled them up, because they won the Sino-Japanese War). The further Korea progressed in tech and the more allies it made, the harder it would be for Japan to take over. With her gone, they could exert more pressure on the king and foment more chaos between factions. (And of course, a lot of anti-Western Korean factions didn’t like the queen either, so not everybody shed tears.)

I’m thinking this was just a tad bit more relevant than Empress Jingu’s disgusting ear collection…. Bah.

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Well, This Site Sure Is Different….

There’s a site called that apparently does nothing but link to YouTube videos of Asian shows, and then use software to put fan-provided subtitles on them, in a ton of different languages. It’s an interesting approach. Not sure if it’s legal or not… but it uses up a lot less bandwidth than torrents of fansubs do, I imagine.

I found a fun South Korean historical police drama on this site. Chosun Police takes place during late Victorian or early Edwardian times, I think in the city later called Seoul. It seems to model itself deliberately on CSI and similar shows, but confines its detectives to traditional Asian forensics (there was plenty of that) and Victorian technology. The world is fascinating, the characters fun, the cinematography beautiful, and the mysteries challenging and full of twists. The show’s been running for three seasons; this site links to <a season 3. The cast apparently changes somewhat from season to season, which allows for characters to change and grow.

Given all the Asian TV costume dramas of various types, and all the Mexican costume drama telenovelas that you see from time to time, and the eternal US appetite for UK costume drama, why do we hardly ever have anything historical that’s longer than a miniseries? Except for the odd Western, like Lonesome Dove: The Series, or that one educational cartoon set in the American Revolution, you have to go to HBO to see even something sensationalist like The Tudors or Rome. It just seems sad.

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Reading Comprehension Test

Amy Welborn has read the whole Seewald book, because she got an early copy for reviewing it. However, she and others who have the book in hand were/are under an embargo not to talk about it until the book comes out. So was L’Osservatore Romano, btw. (And thus LOR completes its transformation into a tabloid newspaper.)

Amy’s first post on the kerfuffle, which includes links. Her second post, which complains about the embargo breakage.

Janet Smith: It’s about conversion, not condoms!

Jimmy Akin: “….L’Osservatore Romano omits material in which Benedict clarified his statement on condoms in a follow-up question.”

I could find a lot more, but it’s probably more efficient for people to find a roundup post.

The moral of the story: Don’t believe the junk the mainstream media puts out about churches right before Christmas and Easter. Every year, a huge amount of misrepresentation goes on, and it almost always turns out to be nothing with whipped nothing and a Maraschino nothing on top.

Second, if they interview a cardinal or a “Vatican insider” for an article, and he starts talking excitedly about how this means the Catholic Church is finally changing after 2000 years, he’s a crank with a pet theory. The reporter is just using him to get a dramatic quote, or the cardinal is running around trolling reporters in order to push his pet theory.

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Pioneer Woman’s Husband’s Side

Oklahoma takes its local history seriously!

Drummond Ranch article.

Article about one of the Drummonds.

A more recent article about the ranch.

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Jeong Yak-yong: Korean Catholic Confucian mystery-action drama!

John Jeong Yak-yong was apparently one of those Renaissance men who typify the best of Asian scholarship. He was an influential Confucian, who became one of the earliest Koreans to convert to Catholicism by “reading his way in”. He then worked to show his countrymen how Western ideas could fit into Eastern systems of thought, in a new school of thought called Silhak. In his ever-so-copious spare time, he fought government corruption and crime as a secret inspector for the Korean crown. And that’s just his real life.

He may have renounced his faith during the later persecution of Catholics and otherwise Westernized or inconvenient Korean people, by Queen Jeongsun’s government. Then again, he might not have. It doesn’t seem to be clear, although his being allowed to live in exile is sort of evidence; but then again, a lot of Asian governments have been reluctant to kill really eminent scholars. He wrote over 500 books while in exile in Kangin.

He was the uncle of St. Paul Chong Hasang and his sister St. Jung Hye, the brother of Augustine Jeong Yak-jong, and the brother-in-law of St. Yu Cecilia, all martyred for the faith.

(I thing Chong, Jung, and Jeong are all variant transliteration spellings of the same surname, but don’t quote me on it.)

Augustine wrote the first Korean catechism written in the Korean characters of the people instead of the Chinese characters used by scholars, and was killed in the 1801. As a layman, St. Paul Chong Hasang helped reorganize the shattered remnants of the Church in Korea after this persecution. Joining the diplomatic service, he made contact with Beijing’s bishop and repeatedly wrote letters to the pope pleading that he send them a bishop. In 1831, his efforts bore fruit and their first bishop arrived. He began studying with the bishop to become a priest, but the 1839 persecution swept both him and the bishop away. He wrote an apologia for Catholicism and submitted it to his judge, who noted that while what he had written was right, it was his duty to do what the emperor said. The saint replied, “I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death.” He then underwent many tortures with a calm face (showing that he still possessed all the virtues of a Confucian gentleman as well as of a Christian) and died the same way.

In 2009, MBC released an 8 episode South Korean mystery show where he’s the sleuth. It’s called Jeong-Yak Yong, Jung Yak Yong, Korean Mystery Detective, or Korean Mystery Detective Jung Yak Yong. Obviously we need this on EWTN right away. 🙂

Seriously, though, the story of the Korean Catholic Church is full of drama and interest. I’m really surprised that there aren’t any vast epics being made to tell their story. There’s people like St. Kim A-gi Agatha, a convert who had a lot of trouble learning the prayers and doctrine, and thus when arrested told the police, “I don’t know anything but Jesus and Mary.” But when asked if she would renounce them, she bravely said, “I would rather die than reject them,” and went on to withstand torture. Her fellow prisoners baptized her when she was sent back to the cell, and her faith and bravery was multiplied even more by the graces of the Sacrament.

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Kyrie: Korean-American Catholic Drama show

While the media is demonstrating their total inability to understand Catholic teachings on sexuality (and demonstrating that it’s not just male prostitutes who are having a hard time understanding where to point their rare moral urges without inadvertently committing evil), let’s look at something a bit more amusing.

Kyrie is apparently the product of some Korean-American Catholic kids who watch a lot of K-drama, the Korean equivalent of J-drama and telenovelas. This seems to be half a parody, half serious drama. There are several episodes on YouTube. The first one starts with some voiceover introducing the characters while they pray — and there’s some acute observation of the kind of kids who participate in youth groups. Not great sound or pacing, but it’s not professional, either. So take a look; I think you’ll find some interesting stuff.

This got put up back in 2008, but it’s new to me. 🙂

Now, back to my search engine quest for some weepy Korean Catholic saint miniseries, possibly with heroic horseback riding through majestic scenery….

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