Laminar Flow

Today, news from the East that combines two of Lunghu’s favorite topics:  rowing and Korea.  As usual, however, things may not be entirely what they seem.  First, the bare-bones OsInt itself, then Lunghu’s trademarked brand of inference, speculation and prediction.

Agence France-Presse today reported a recent archeological discovery in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, (Republic of) Korea –a 7,000-year-old wooden oar (that’s a yuloh, to Pinyin users) preserved in one of Korea’s classic riverine mud flats.

Credit: AFP

A South Korean archaeologist opined (based on prior discoveries of dugout boats from an even earlier period), “... we can picture trade between the Korean peninsula and Japan, sailing techniques and a lifestyle back then.”   The Korean subtext here, of course, is that people, technology and culture flowed (literally) from Korea to Japan way back when.  (And who owns Dok-do?  Don’t get me started!)

Never mind that Changnyeong isn’t exactly saltwater fishin’ territory, let alone a convenient port-of-call for that weekend cruise to Kyushu:  it’s too far up the Nakdong River for an oarsman to be left without a paddle.   Let’s not allow such facts as we may possess to impede the progress of a good story.  … Which is where we must diverge from the literal (OsInt) text to examine more deeply the various subtexts and contexts.

Item 1:  the AFP article appears to be first and only coverage of this topic in the English-language internet media (although other outlets picked it up and ran it later).   This is a bit unusual, because the English-language versions of major Korean dailies (Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, Yonhap, etc.) are almost never averse to promoting the antiquity and superiority of Korean culture, and often take the lead in publicizing archeological discoveries.  As of late Aug 17th, there has been NO coverage of the Changnyeong oar by those Korean sources.   Maybe they’re waiting for a slow news day.

Item 2:  South Gyeongsang Province is the political heartland of Korea’s newly-designated (but-as-yet-unconfirmed) Prime Minister, Kim Tae-ho.  He is former governor of the province, and originally came from a humble background in nearby Geochang county, South Gyeongsang.   South Gyeongsang Province has long been a stronghold of the ruling Grand National Party (and its conservative predecessors).

Credit: Yonhap

Item 3:  According to Yonhap, Korea’s National Pension Service is poised to spend approximately $300 million on a 51% stake in the O’Parisnor shopping mall north of Paris (that’s France, for you Texa-philes).  The deal is expected to close on or about Thursday August 19th.

So, what do Lunghu’s cloud-piercing eyes see?  He sees signals hinting at a quid-pro-quo.   Lunghu expects to shortly hear that Korea will be purchasing French military hardware, possibly naval armaments (such as MM40 block 3 Exocet cruise missiles, which the ROK Navy already uses).   Lunghu also considers the possibility that arms deal commissions for French and Korean officials will be embedded in the purchase price of O’Parisnor (via attorney fees, finance agreements or other closing costs).   These things have been known to happen:  remember the Taiwan frigate deal?

Of course, there’s also the very real possibility that these matters are entirely unrelated:  correlation != causation.   Time will tell.  Keep me updated!


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