Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lunar Land-scapegoat

June 22, 2017

Outmoded rituals –like the minor habits of daily domestic life– can be difficult to set aside even once their original purpose has long been lost to modern memory.  Nowhere is this more true than in the Moonrise Kingdom of New Baekje now taking shape upon the ruins remaining from Old Silla.  Amid the tumult and confusion of foreground regime change, longstanding cultural practices keep-on-keepin’-on … at the very margins of visibility.  Case in point, the presidential photo-op:

Way back yonder in the Lee Myung-bak era, Lunghu pointed out that visiting dignitaries at Cheong Wa Dae were sorted by their hosts into a hierarchy of international importance that was signalled by the subtly-coded backdrop before which the traditional handshake photo was staged.  Barbarian emissaries of semi-savage nations (Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia) were received in front of a Chosun-era folding screen depicting lowly foreign messengers performing their kowtow to the Korean emperor.  Diplomats and officials from valuable export markets in Europe and North America posed for their handshake with a glowingly resplendent golden screen behind them.  Close neighbors from China and Japan rated an auspicious Asian landscape painting replete with Sinitic symbolism.  A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

This pattern from Lee Myung-bak’s Republic of Hyundai didn’t change during Park Geun-hye‘s Republic of Samsung, and thus far it hasn’t changed under Moon Jae-in‘s Republic of Candlepower.  That’s why Beijing-bound Beltway advanceman Richard N. Haass is backlit with a golden aura in the photo above.  Despite what Koreans might think of the monarch whose message he bears, the United States is still a precious ally in an unfriendly neighborhood.  As far as Koreans are concerned, the U.S. alliance is a vital relationship that can –and must– outlast four years of attempted sabotage inspired by Comrade Bear.

Upshift

That said, let’s never forget that national politics is –in every nation– a cutthroat, zero-sum, feast-or-famine struggle for survival.  So it should be absolutely no surprise that the newly-exiled courtiers of Old Silla (under the rebranded label of Liberty Korea Party) are seeking to exploit their well-established backchannel links with American conservatives to discredit the Moon government’s national security policies.  According to these hardened cold-warriors, a left-center/progressive/human activist like Moon Jae-in is someone who will place the freedom-loving Korean nation in jeopardy by being soft on China and squishy on Kim Jong-un.  Since President Moon currently has public approval ratings above 80%, they’ve inevitably chosen to attack his appointees rather than the man himself.  Thus their overt parliamentary maneuvering and covert media campaigns against foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha and national security adviser Moon Chung-in.

In fact, Hannara/GNP/Saenuri/Liberty Korea knows quite well that the new administration has no real wiggle room to dramatically alter inter-Korean relations: Kim Jong-un ain’t playin’.  Instead, what really worries the kleptocrats of Liberty Korea is the inevitable, inexorable impact of a looming government crackdown on chaebol corruption. Coming soon: a long overdue Brazilian-style carwash investigation, transplanted to Gangnam and points South-Southeast.

 

Il Va’ … Para La Molienda

May 27, 2017

So, this guy in a white suit goes to the steel mill on a Saturday morning, and doesn’t get even a speck of soot on his smock.  But, thinking of some recent visitors to his home, he has something to say about getting the job done:

lost chains

Speaking to some 3,500 industrial workers at the ILVA steel factory in Genoa, many in overalls or hard hats, Francis distinguished between good entrepreneurs, who “share the labors of workers and share the joys of work” to create something together, and speculators who are not bothered when they fire workers in a search for profit.

“The speculator doesn’t love his business, doesn’t love the workers, but only sees the business and workers as a means to make profit.  One sickness of the economy is the gradual transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators,” the pontiff said.

Evoking il soffitto di Cappella Sistema

 

After the visit at the mill, Francis met with bishops, priests and nuns at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.  Later he planned to meet with refugees, prisoners, poor and homeless people.

Ay! La Culebra!

Craft Brewery

May 20, 2017

If you’re gonna go on a witch hunt, you obviously don’t want to do a half-assed job: you wanna deploy the finest witch-hunting expertise available.  Which means you gotta go back to the roots, to Africa, where the craft began.

Chief Pembamoyo of the Chewa-speaking people of Vubwi district in Eastern Province has warned his subjects against preventing their children from attending school [so that they can participate in] witchcraft training and practice.  The chief says it is sad to learn that many parents and guardians in his chiefdom are encouraging their children into witchcraft rather than going to school.

Chief Pembamoyo said that he has directed his Indunas (subchiefs) to investigate more such cases and that anyone found lacking will face the wrath of the law.  Induna Chikoka admitted that such cases were on an increase in his area.  He said that last week the Vubwi district traditional court had imposed a fine of two goats on a man whose 10-year-old son confirmed that his father had sent him to witchcraft practice rather than to school.

 

The phenomenon of witch-hunts in Africa is ancient, but the problem is reportedly on the rise due to urbanization, poverty, social conflict and fragmenting communities.  In Congo, it is estimated that there are 25,000 homeless children living on the streets of Kinshasa.  More than half (60%) were expelled from their homes because of allegations of witchcraft. However, there is often an economic motive behind the claim of sorcery:  in traditional African societies, a suspicion of witchcraft is the only justifiable reason for refusal to shelter a family member, no matter how distant the relation.

Evangelical pastors are helping to create this new campaign of violence against young Africans. Self-styled pastors and prophets, greedy for cash, teach their parishioners that many problems they are facing —poverty, joblessness, financial crisis, sickness or poor harvest— are all caused by a witch-child hiding in their families. The superstitious parents then try to guess which of their six, seven or eight children is a witch.  The suspected children are forced through torture to confess that they are witches. Those children are severely beaten, cast out of their homes, mutilated or killed. All of this is due to a blend of Christianity and native paganism that has been brought inside the church.

 

Perhaps the contemporary meaning of this timeless parable will become clearer to you after a suitable period of sober reflection and introspection.  Or maybe not.

 

Basket Caseload

May 19, 2017

Yeah, definitely, the end is nigh. Gotta be, once these freakin’ basket cases start mining Lunghu’s old material for their off-the-cuff insults!

What’s next?  I’m waiting for another elderly elephant to go berserk in Lizy-sur-Ourcq

Frisson d’Avril

April 1, 2017

The yin water Rabbit month ended earlier this week (on Monday or Tuesday, depending on your location under the rising new moon), but feng shui misfortunes persist for those whose star-crossed destinies are in clash with the Year of the Fowl.  Case in point: Park Geun-hye, dowager queen of Hell-Joseon.

Four years and three months after being elected, the same Park Geun-hye who vowed to become a “public welfare president” and “a president for unity” was incarcerated on March 31 as a suspect in 13 criminal charges, including bribery. The arrest warrant, which was issued by Seoul Central District Court 21 days after the Constitutional Court removed Park from presidential office, is based on a number of charges against her, including the acceptance of a 43.3 billion won (US$38.6 million) bribe from Samsung.  “Since the main charges have been established and there are concerns about the destruction of evidence, we grant the grounds for detention, its necessity and its significance,” Judge Kang Bu-yeong said.

Prosecutors managed to back up their charge that Park received 43.3 billion won from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (in jail under investigative detention) in return for government rulings that helped him inherit management rights over the Samsung Group.  Their evidence included the notebook of Park’s former aide, Senior Secretary for Economic Affairs Ahn Jong-beom (in jail awaiting trial) and several text messages exchanged by Samsung staff who were discussing financial support for Choi Sun-sil’s daughter Jung Yu-ra.

Prosecutors are very likely to file charges against Park before April 17, which marks the beginning of the official election period [stipulated under Korea’s Constitution].  Prosecutors are also likely to speed up their investigation of Samsung and other chaebols, including Lotte and SK, who have come up in the investigation of Choi Sun-sil.

Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin

Two years ago, the handwriting on the wall which foretold Park’s downfall was literally there to be seen  –hiding in plain sight in her presidential palace.  But the message was written in the language of images rather than in Hangul or Roman characters.  I blogged about this cryptic portent in January 2015, parsing the symbolic meaning of imagery depicted in a scenic backdrop that formed part of the stage set for Park’s New Year’s message to the Korean people.  In retrospect, given what we now know about Choi Sun-sil’s control over the presentation of Park’s public persona, it’s clear that the iconic symbols crammed into the landscape were almost certainly chosen by Choi herself as a coded message to the business executives she was shaking down:  the president’s treasure bowl is to be filled through the three Blue House aides portrayed as grazing deer.

So, because Korean history inevitably repeats itself, I’m not at all surprised that the ROK is once again submerged in a tsunami of scandalous corruption.  Lee Myung-bak‘s Republic of Hyundai was briefly succeeded by Lee Jae-yong‘s Republic of Samsung, and now something else will be hastily cobbled together to masquerade as governance in the southern provinces.  In a waning Yin Fire year, Earth and Metal are signs of Korea’s future.

 

Gorilla in the Room

March 10, 2017

It has all the “elements” of an ominous feng-shui prophecy in the ancestral homeland of the domesticated fowl: carelessness with yin Fire destroys yang Fire Monkey in the southern capital of an ancient kingdom.  But this ain’t no accident, and it’s no laughing matter either.

Film buffs with the hottest ticket in Ho Chi Minh City were left running for safety after a giant model of King Kong went up in flames at the sizzling Vietnam premiere of the rebooted horror classic.  The blaze began as a glamorous announcer welcomed Communist Party officials, diplomats and celebrities to the screening of ‘Kong: Skull Island‘ on Thursday night.  A torch discarded by a fire dancer apparently ignited part of the stage, and the flames quickly spread to the scenery and backdrop.  … The fire was extinguished after five minutes.

Although some jaded Saigon cynics immediately dismissed Kong’s trial-by-fire as a Hollywood PR stunt, Lunghu believes that there’s a bit more to this spectacularly minor episode than mere capitalist marketing.  Instead, use a deeper perception nurtured by the Dao to understand this fifteen minutes of infamy as a feng-shui warning to the 300-pound gorilla of East Asia (the PRC) from the communist guerrillas of the yin Fire South: the Viet Cong. … Or vice versa.

Reflect deeply upon this.

 

End Of An Error

March 9, 2017

Election scheduled for May 9, 2017.

 

Keep It Clean

February 26, 2017

Surely it’s just a “coincidence” that the beginning of Rabbit Month in the Year of the Fowl coincides with Clean Monday.  Or maybe not:

In the Orthodox Christian tradition, Clean Monday [Kathari Deftera] occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. The previous [Sunday] evening, Forgiveness Vespers culminates with the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness, at which all present bow down before one another and ask forgiveness. In this way, the faithful begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian love.

Clean Monday is considered to mark the beginning of the spring season.  In this manner, the Orthodox celebrate the fact that “The springtime of the Fast has dawned, the flower of repentance has begun to open…”  In Greece and Cyprus the day is celebrated with outdoor excursions and the widespread custom of flying kites, as well as the consumption of shellfish and other Lenten fasting food.  It is customary to clean the house thoroughly and go to Confession during this week.

clean_monday_kites

Because I’m an unorthodox kinda guy, I probably will not be flying a kite, cleaning the house thoroughly, or observing a Lenten fast during the coming week.  However, I have already vowed to respond with forgiveness toward [some of] those who have trespassed against me.  But since this world is not yet filled with sweetness and light, repeat offenders will not be eligible for this limited time offer.

Mea Culpa

February 3, 2017

Waking The Dragon sincerely apologizes for the unprecedented accuracy of its feng-shui predictions (thus far) in the Year of the Fowl.  As always, the key to “successful” feng-shui prognostication is the preemptive construction of vague, broad, wide-ranging and sweeping statements about possible future events in every corner of the globe.  That way, at least a few “predictions” are almost certain to “come true,” permitting the soothsayer to take credit for being correct.  But still: this is way, way outta control.  Let’s review:

Fowl “Self-Penalty”

Wife’s TV clip poses new problems for France’s Fillon

 

Rabbits in clash with the Fowl

 

The East Under Tai Sui’s Glowering Gaze

 

Discredit Where It’s Due

Back in the day (a half-decade ago), I jokingly claimed that Waking the Dragon had somehow become “an uncompensated, unacknowledged strategic brand advisor to the Russian Federation.”  I made that quip after (at least) two instances in which my blogposts were followed by the eerie echoes of subsequent events in the wild, weird world of neo-Soviet Russia.  Somewhat more recently, I indulged in extended musing on the ways in which literary narrative can shape adversary intent … and how intelligence agencies can thus gain greater insight into the minds of their foes.  Little did I realize that an unintended audience was paying more attention than the intended one, and that –in some ways– I may have been ghostwriting a few chapters of the game plan for a truly improbable presidential campaign.  Truly ironic, given the theme of that post.

Therefore, although I’m continuing to organize and refine my thoughts concerning the cultural implications of narrative form and its uses in shaping mass opinion, the Neighbors are going to have to work quite a bit harder to learn my conclusions.  It won’t be handed to them on an earthenware platter labelled “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.

Out.

 

Tigers & You-Freightees

January 31, 2017

Just a few indicators that we’re now into the month of the Tiger during the Year of the Fowl:

Korean tigers return to Baekdu-daegan mountain range

The [South] Korea Forest Service announced that it has transported a pair of male Korean tigers named Duman and Geumgang to the tiger forest at the Baekdu-daegan National Arboretum in Seobyeok, North Gyeongsang Province. The Forest Service has set up a system of barriers around the forest to allow visitors to observe the tigers in safety.

“Mt. Baekdu tigers are a protected species designated as Level 1 endangered wild fauna,” said Park Jong-ho, director of the Forest Service’s forest usage bureau.

 

Bobcat escapes from National Zoo in Washington

A female bobcat, believed to be about 7 years old, was found to be missing Monday morning from its enclosure at the National Zoo when it didn’t show up for breakfast.

“We know that she is absolutely capable of surviving, even thriving, in this area,” said Brandie Smith, the zoo’s associate director of animal care. “If she doesn’t return, she would likely survive on a diet of birds, small rodents, house cats or small dogs that are left alone outside,” Smith added.

 

Man Mauled by Tiger, Killed at Eastern China Resort

A man named Zhang who climbed a fence at Dongqian Lake Resort in Zhejiang province to avoid paying the entry fee was attacked and killed by tigers when he into ventured into their enclosure.  The attack occurred on Saturday [New Year’s Day] at the Tiger Hill enclosure in Ningbo Youngor Zoo.  One tiger was shot dead by local police, and three others nearby were dispersed using firecrackers.

 

Precautionary measures in the Fire Fowl Year

Russia grounds Proton-M rocket for 3½ months

Russia’s workhorse Proton-M rockets will be out of service for three and a half months because of engine problems.  Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said some employees at the Voronezh factory had been involved in faking documentation linked to the rocket and would be “harshly punished.”  The director of the factory resigned last week after Russian officials concluded that the crash of a Progress [space] cargo ship in December was the result of a malfunction by engines built at the plant.