Squirrels, green frogs inhabit the peak of Hallasan Mountain

This is some interesting research on Hallasan Mountain. I’m not sure if my translation is correct though because I’m not sure if all of the animals mentioned in this article were observed at the peak or not. I’m inclined to believe that they were.

On a personal note, I’ve heard roe deer crying on Hallasan and seen a few birds as well. I think I need to go back and climb it again!

Original Korean news article is here.


Looking down at Baengnokdam Crater (백록담 분화구)

Looking down at Baengnokdam Crater (백록담 분화구)

(Jeju=Yeonhap News) Hong Jeong-Pyo Reporter = It has been confirmed that squirrels, Hallasan shrews, and green frogs inhabit the peak area of Hallasan Mountain.

The Jeju Nature Research Institute revealed the results of research conducted from the beginning of March last year to November on the distribution patterns of animals at the peak.

The research team confirmed that mammals such as roe deer, badgers, Jeju back-striped field mice, Jeju weasels, squirrels, Hallasan shrews, goats, and wild dogs for a total of 8 kinds of mammals inhabited the trails and area around Baengnokdam Crater (백록담 분화구).

For squirrels and Hallasan shrews, this was the first time they were observed at the peak.

The squirrels and Hallasan shrews that were introduced to Hallasan in the second half of 1960 have steadily increased in number and are known to inhabit as high up the mountain as 1,400m where the deciduous broadleaf forest zone is. However, this is the first time they have been confirmed to inhabit the high elevation areas.

As for the Hallasan shrews, they generally inhabit 500-1,300m above sea level.

Goats and wild dogs were observed around Baengnokdam in 2003 and were again observed in this investigation. The goats and dogs are threatening the habitat of wildlife and vegetation.

As for birds, 13 kinds of resident birds, 6 kinds of summer birds, 3 kinds of winter birds, and 1 kind of migratory bird for a total of 23 kinds of birds were observed. As for rare and endangered species, the four kinds were hawks/falcons, golden eagles, cuckoos, and eagles.

As for the golden eagles, only one was observed in May during last year’s investigation. In the last investigation by the Korea National Parks Service in 2002, which was a year-round investigation, the opinion was that there is a high possibility for their breeding but reality is pointing in the other direction.

The birds inhabiting Baengnokdam Crater were, in order from least to most, swallows, varied tits, hondo jungle-crows, great tits, and ravens.

As for amphibians and reptiles, this was the first time green frogs were discovered. Also Dybowski’s brown frogs, Jeju salamanders, black-spotted pond frogs, and red-tongue pit-vipers for a total of five kinds were confirmed to inhabit the peak area.

The black-spotted pond frogs were recorded as being observed around Gwaneumsa Temple (600m) in 1985 and there has never been a confirmed sighting at high elevations.

Professor Oh Jang-Geun, who participated in this study with Jeju Hallasan Research said, “We can see that the squirrels which lived around Gwaneumsa Temple have gone to the peak” and said that more research is needed to find the reason why squirrels’ and Hallasan shrews’ habitat has broadened to include the inferior habitat of the peak area.


Birth·Death… Jirisan Moon Bear, throughout winter ‘joy and sorrow’

I’m glad to see that the Korea National Parks Service is working hard to preserve Moon Bears in South Korea. I wonder how often people come across them while hiking.

Original Korean news article is here.


Jirisan Moon Bear Cubs

Jirisan Moon Bear Cub

Two cubs born on ‘happy occasion’… One cub dies during hibernation

(Seoul=Yeonhap News) Kim Gye-Yeon Reporter = Last winter, in Jirisan Mountain, two Moon Bear cubs were born but one of them died during winter hibernation so there are mixed feelings of joy and sorrow.

The Korea National Parks Service confirmed that two female Moon Bear cubs, numbered RF-21 and RF-25, were born in a rock cave during the hibernation season.

Moon Bears were released in Jirisan Mountain in November, 2007. All of these bears were born in 2007 in Siberia and brought down from Russia.

Among the bear cubs, one is a 50cm tall, 5kg healthy female.

The other cub was in a place which was difficult to get to so its birth was confirmed by the sound of it crying.

The mother bear gathered with other female bears during last year’s mating season and was expected to give birth.

Moon Bears usually give birth to cubs during winter hibernation in January.

These cubs’ mother also gave birth to two cubs in a row in January, 2011 and this is getting attention from researchers.

The researchers explained that it is rare for the Moon Bears released on Jirisan Mountain to give birth twice.

A person connected with the research said, “The young individuals that were released grew up, gave birth to cubs, raised them, and gave birth again which tells us that they are safely mating and adjusting well in nature.”

On the other hand, Moon Bear RF-18, a female born in 2005, died during hibernation.

The autopsy revealed that the bear died from difficulty in breathing due to pneumonia.

Jirisan Moon Bear Cubs

Jirisan Moon Bear Cub

When this bear was discovered, it was 75kg. Before hibernation, 130-140kg is normal weight. After hibernation, the bear didn’t weight 100kg and had hardly any fat on it.

Researchers are guessing that this is because of a lack of nutrition caused by not eating enough acorns.

The bear that died last year in January also unfortunately died with its cub. There was nothing wrong with the cub itself.

A researcher connected with the study expressed regret, “It seems that the stress of being sick and of being a mother overlapped.”

With two cubs born and one dying this past winter, that leaves the total number of Moon Bears in Jirisan Mountain at 27.

The Republic of Drinking Korea, will increasing the price of alcohol be the solution?

More news about drinking culture in South Korea. The more I read Korean news, the more I see articles addressing alcohol related issues in South Korea.

From my personal experience, I completely agree that Korean society has a collective drinking problem, but I’m not sure that raising prices on alcohol or making it illegal to drink in public is the best solution.

A public education campaign would be better, in my opinion.

Follow the link to see the video.

And if you didn’t know, a bottle of soju for this report equals 360ml and is about 20% alcohol. And a bottle of beer is 500ml and likely 4.5%.

Original Korean news article is here.


[News Desk] ◀ANC▶

Because of alcohol, our society spends 20 billion KRW.

The amount is 3 times that spent on cigarettes.


So the new government administration is insisting on increasing the price of cigarettes and alcohol, but there are strong arguments on both sides.

Kim Ji-hoon, did this report.


Even on weekdays, the area around Seoul’s Gangnam Station is always full of drunks.

Carry your friend on your back, urinate on the street and people don’t notice.

Even if you drink in public places during the day, there is nobody to stop you.

◀INT▶ Bashili Lebedev/Russia
“The thing that shocked me when I came to Korea was how much Koreans drink. Koreans drink about 3 times as much. Compared to Russia…”

Furthermore, other foreigners can’t understand the daily drinking parties.

◀INT▶ Akjana/Kazakhstan
“In my country we drink alcohol on the weekend or on special occasions. However, in Korea (even without a special reason) people drink everyday.

For less than 4,000 KRW you can buy 3 bottles of soju. That’s enough to get you completely wasted but it’s still cheaper than buying a meal.”

Last year in Korea, each adult drank 93 bottles of soju, and 146 bottles of beer.

The amount isn’t growing smaller, but in fact is growing bigger.

The social cost of smoking, at most, is 6 billion KRW. On the other hand, alcohol related disease and accidents cost society 20 billion KRW.

The harm caused by alcohol is 3 times that of cigarettes.

So the new government administration’s effort to reduce consumption by raising prices is aggressive.

◀SYN▶ Sin Ui-Jin, Senuri Party Assemblyman
“Isn’t it about time to discuss formally levying a tax to support health promotion?”

◀SYN▶ Jin Yeong, Minister of Health and Welfare
“Personally, I agree without condition.”

Even the Minister of Finance and Planning is insisting an increase in tax.

However, consumers are strongly against it.

◀SYN▶ Sim Suk-Yeong
“The cheapest way to relieve your stress after work is a glass of beer or soju.”

◀SYN▶ Jo Hyeok-Dong
“Even if you do that, are we going to stop drinking? No. We drink. Of course.”

There are many who criticize that leaving advertising and sales restrictions weak and increasing the tax is an easy way for the government to earn revenue.

In reality, for the most part, idol music groups appear on alcohol advertisements and you can drink whenever you want at universites or in parks. Compare that with New York and other American cities where you can never drink alcohol on the street and Europe where advertisements are strictly controlled.

◀SYN▶ Jeon Yeong-Ho/Head of the Institute for Health and Social Affiars
“From a collective perspective, it’s desirable to create a no price policy (moderation in drinking) and a formal price policy.”

If the government is to gather the power to justify raising the price of alcohol for the benefit of the people’s health, advertising rules and non-price related policies need to go with along with it.

Sexual assault suspect has gunfight with police downtown

The victim in this story was detained by the man for 3 days. That must have been hell.

Original Korean news article is here.


Police shoot-out

[Hangyeore] In Cheonan, man shoots hunting rifle and is captured

A man in his 40s, who was suspected of detaining a woman in her 20s and sexually assaulting her, had a gunfight using a hunting rifle with the police on Sunday morning in the middle of the city before he was apprehended.

On the 24th at 10:05am in Chungnam, Cheonan City, Dongnam-gu, Sinbu-dong on the street in front of apartments, Mr. Jo (46) using a hunting rifle, had a gunfight with police until he was apprehended. While confronting this man, the police returned fire with 9 live rounds, 3 taser shots, and 3 blanks and then apprehended the man.

Last 18th at 12:26am in Cheonan City, Seobuk-gu, Singjeong-dong, Mr. Jo is suspected of approaching Ms. Choi (23) and suggesting to her, “Let’s go eat raw fish in Taean and have fun” after which they got into Ms. Choi’s car. After that, Mr. Jo showed his hunting rifle to Ms. Choi and threatened, “If you run away, I’ll kill your family” while sexually assaulting the woman several times. On the night of the 21st in Asan City, Ms. Choi was able to avoid Mr. Jo’s sight and escape, after which she informed the police.

On the 23rd at 5:15pm, Mr. Jo appeared at Ms. Choi’s parent’s restaurant in Cheonan City and then on the 24th at 9:50am came back to the area with a car. But the police were waiting in hiding for Mr. Jo and used their police vehicles to crash into Mr. Jo’s vehicle so they could apprehend him. Mr. Jo fled in his vehicle about 10km away until the police blocked off the street with about 10 vehicles, at which point Mr. Jo resisted by shooting 3-5 rounds from his hunting rifle at the police.

A person with the Cheonan Seobuk Police Department said, “Inside Mr. Jo’s car were numerous tools for crime including a hunting rifle, 210 rounds of ammunition, a knife, and a car license plate. We plan to investigate adding further charges.” Following the investigation, the police plan to press charges on Mr. Jo for sexual assault and attempted murder.

79.3% of office workers say “company work methods inefficient”

Here’s more insight into the lives of office workers in South Korea. It doesn’t surprise me that the number one reason selected was an authoritarian atmosphere because Korean society is quite rigid in terms of social hierarchy. In fact, for all the years I spent in South Korea, I was never fully able to accept the strict rules for giving deference to others based on age or rank. In the US, we rely on a meritocracy to determine the level of deference or respect that we give people. In other words, you generally have to earn it based on what you do rather on your age or social position.

Original Korean news article is here.


Ineffective work atmosphere

(Seoul=Yeonhap News) Im Eun-Jin Reporter = 8 out of 10 office workers think their current way of working is inefficient.

On the 13th, the employment portal Korea revealed the results of a survey done from the 9th to the 11th of 560 office workers regarding work efficiency and found that 79.3% of respondents indicated that work was inefficient.

As for the reason, an authoritarian atmosphere (32.4%) was selected the most.

Following this were frequent meetings (25.2%), regular night work (24.3%), busy work and errands (23.4%), worrying what the boss thinks (22.5%), relationships with co-workers (22.3%), and frequent company dinners (9.5%).

As for ways to overcome this, the number one choice was having a flexible boss (34.9%), followed by implementing a system of assessing work based on its quality (22.7%), having passion for the work (21.2%), and maintaining good relationships with co-workers (14.9%).

Entire country to restrict late night classes to 10pm

Education is quite competitive in South Korea. So much so that parents send their kids to private academies to learn English, science, math, art, etc. from the time they leave school in the afternoon until late at night. This article looks at new legislation coming that will unify laws across the country that deal with time restrictions for classes.

Original Korean news article is here.


Students boarding their private academy buses at night

Students boarding their private academy buses at night

Ministry of Education moves to revise private academy law… Office of Education collecting opinions

Currently City/Provincial regulations determined… “Strengthening legislative control”

(Seoul=Yeonhap News) Kim Tae-Gyun Reporter = The government is moving toward measures to restrict the entire country’s private academies to night classes that end by 10pm.

Currently, city/provincial regulations for late night classes at private academies are set and each area has its own time restriction, but these are going to be upgraded with more control.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology revealed that the laws related to private academies will be revised. On the 13th, it was revealed that the Education Minister is setting up rules to restrict educational institutions’ night classes and is collecting opinions from city/provincial education offices.

The superintendent of education is cracking down on city/provincial regulations for private academy night classes.

In Seoul, Gyeongi-do, Daegu, and Gwangju the night class limit for elementary, middle, and high school students is 10pm but for Busan’s high school students it’s 11pm, and for Gangwon-do, Ulsan, Daejeon and others, it’s midnight.

The Ministry of Education is going to give itself provisions that give itself power to enforce concrete time restrictions.

Night classes for high school students will be restricted to 10pm, and middle and elementary students’ time will be earlier but this is still being examined.

If these laws are upgraded, this will be viewed as helping the new government to achieve the normalization of public education and control of private education spending, and this will revitalize the government and education office’s cooperative control.

However, there are many in the city who think there isn’t a problem with the current system and so the process of revising the laws won’t be without difficulties.

The Ministry of Education said, “We plan to listen to parents’ and students’ opinions more.”

When Lee Myeong-Bak was president in 2009, these regulations were advanced but the private academies resisted, claiming that it amounted to “forced restriction of the right to education and could lead to a revitalization of weekend classes.”

Spring has come to Seoraksan… Pheasant’s Eyes & Windflowers bloom

One of the things I loved about hiking in Korea was seeing the wildflowers. I regret never finding a decent guide book for wildflowers in Korea. I couldn’t find the common names for most of the flowers mentioned in this article, so I’ve just included the scientific names. The important thing to note is that spring has arrived to Korea’s signature national park, Seoraksan.

Original Korean news article is here.


Spring in Seoraksan

Spring in Seoraksan

[Sokcho = NEWSis] Kim Gyeong-Mok Reporter = The Seoraksan National Park Office announced on the 3rd that Seoraksan’s representative wildflowers Pheasant’s Eyes and Windflowers each began blooming last month on the 25th and 27th.

These two wildflowers are referred to as the messengers of spring.

Not only Pheasant’s Eyes and Windflowers, but also the wildflowers Liverleafs, Dogtooth Violets, and Crested Larks bloom in March and can be seen all around Sinheungsa Temple, Biseondae, and Biryong Falls.

The wildflowers that bloom in April are Anemone Raddeana, Golden Violet, Golden Saxifrage, Corydalis Speciosa, and Pseudostellaria Heterophylla which can be seen in the area from Osaek to Daecheong.

In May you can see Iris, Androsace cortusaefolia NAKAI, and Lily of the valley bloom in the area around Biseondae, Biryong Falls, and the western ridge.

Son Yeong-Im, Chief of Natural Resource Preservation said, “Compared to last year, the windflower bloomed 7 days earlier and the peak bloom period is projected to last from the middle of March to the beginning of April and people can visit the area to enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery of the unmelted snow in Seoraksan’s high peaks and the wildflowers together when winter and spring coexist.”