November 28, 2010

Living Near the North Korean Border

I currently live in Dongducheon, where I teach English at the local High School. It’s a sweet job, the staff and kids are great, my apartment is lovely – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony – and I really like being here.

And it’s about 12 miles from North Korea!

Add to that that there are military bases all around the area and you would think that I lived in a war zone, if you ever watch the Western news shows.

A friend asked me the other day how close I am to ‘things’ if it all kicked off, and I told him, truthfully, “just about ground zero I reckon”.

The thing is, I can tell you first hand that life goes on completely as normal here. The kids have just done their exams, the teachers carry on as normal, and whilst it’s obviously a topic for discussion at the dinner table, we are not putting sandbags at the doors and windows. Everything is normal.

One bonus is that all the soldiers who frequent the local bars are now on base in a state of readiness, which means I can get served quicker! Hurrah for small mercies!

My take on proceedings is that it will all blow over. North Korea is installing a new leader, and perhaps he wants to make a bit of a show, or perhaps even the exiting leader wants to. Also, I can’t quite fully understand why the South Koreans and the Americans need to do their military exercises so close to NK. It only provokes them.

I love South Korea, its people are friendly and, I hesitate to say this as it could be misconstrued, but they are kind of ‘innocent’. They go about their lives in their own little ways, they are not an angry race, they are generally polite, very helpful, often surprisingly kind. It would be a tragedy if such a peaceful and friendly nation, and one that has worked so hard to build itself up after decades of wars and occupations (by the Japanese) was to be ravaged by another war. You see, whilst ‘Korea’, it’s culture and language is very old, South Korea is new. It’s only been a country for fifty years or so, and the first thirty odd of those were under military rule. So really, it’s younger than some of the people reading this as a ‘proper’ democratic country.

I would feel terrible if these lovely people lost all they had worked so hard for. You can see how proud they are of what they’ve got, and what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time. The children here, especially the teeny-tots, are an absolute delight too – so cute and polite. It doesn’t bear thinking about that anything bad should happen to them.

South Koreans deserve peace and prosperity. I hope they get it. I think they will. I’m gonna (somewhat cheesily perhaps!) leave the last word to John Lennon :)

November 05, 2010

Dundee FC and Their 25 Point Deduction

DFC fans are all over the net bemoaning their penalty for financial irregularities. These irregularities include: not paying the taxman around £400 000, not paying Tayside Police for policing their games, not paying the local University for use of their training facilities, and various other debts.

This, you may be thinking, is not so bad. After all, many of us have been broke before, or struggled to pay a bill. So what?

Well, Dundee FC, throughout all of this, were signing the league's (Scottish Division 1's) best players and coaches with money they should have been giving to the taxman, the police, and the university and local businesses. Other clubs in the division were paying their bills, living within their budgets, and not signing expensive players to gain an advantage with money they didn't have. Dundee did. In short, they cheated.

Add to this, Dundee fans' incessant gloating about how they were 'the Man City of the North' because they had a benefactor who was allegedly paying for all of this, and you have a situation of pure cheating, lies and deceit.

And it's the second time they have done it! They did the same thing in 2003.

They have been rightly punished in my opinion. A 25 point deduction may seem harsh, but as a fan of Dundee United, who keeps a very close eye on all things Dundee and football, I would say their gloating, cheating and dishonesty have gone on far too long.

Now they are asking for everyone to help them – local businesses, other clubs etc, at the same time they say they are boycotting away grounds in protest at the deduction!

Their CEO, one Harry MacLean, used to run the fans' unofficial messageboard! I can tell you first hand that when he did run it, under the username "Ulster_Dees", he was odious, bigoted, hate-filled and arrogant. He would threaten legal action, many times, at anything remotely offensive about Dundee FC on our Dundee United board, yet post about the Shankhill Butchers and other thinly veiled sectarian references, and let posts about Eddie Thompson's cancer, Paul Sturrock's MS, and many other 'over the line' posts stand untouched for all to see. He seemed to think this was funny, that it was fair game. He's getting his come-uppance now.

Dundee, and some of their abhorrent fans fully deserve what has happened to their club, and if you'd seen or read some of the cancer and MS jokes, the libelous slander, the bigoted hate-filled nonsense all left untouched by their moderator (now DFC CEO!!) you would feel the same. He's an obnoxious character who has led a team of crooks, and Dundee FC, to the brink of oblivion, and I for one am not sorry one bit that they are struggling. In fact, I am fully of the opinion that their negative behavior over the last few years merits everything they get. I don't want them to die, far from it, I hope they pull through, eventually, after years of struggle. But they DO deserve it, and anyone who tells you different is a Dundee fan, a liar, or both.