The answers to the teasers posed just before the New Year.
1 Stressful times
What does the current credit crunch and the most recent DPRK nuclear test have in common?
a) the media blame them on an incompetent government who should have seen it coming and somehow prevented it
b) they would both cause a baby boom in South Korea, if it weren’t for the existence of condoms
c) they are both associated with foreign governments using anti-terror legislation to freeze bank accounts
d) they both cause falls in the KOSPI index
Well actually probably all the answers are correct. But the answer I was looking for was (b). Following the DPRK nuclear test back in October 2006, condom sales and love motel bookings went on the increase, according to the Chosun Ilbo. And in November this year the Chosun reported that the economic depression was boosting condom sales.
The reference to the freezing of bank accounts was of course to the US blocking of North Korean funds in Banco Delta Asia, and the UK’s use of anti-terror legislation to block Icelandic accounts in the UK. Award yourself a bonus point if you got that one.
2 Photoshop trickery
Which of these photographs was definitely not Photoshopped?
Kim Jong-il kept appearing in rude health in press photos released by the KCNA in the second half of the year, to counter stories of his death in 2003 and stroke in August 2008. Someone with sharp eyes spotted the rather poor photoshop work, which spurred somethingawful.com to feature the Dear Leader in a Photoshop Friday special.
Earlier this year, Choi Ji-woo’s agent accused the Chinese press of touching up photos of her with Chow Yun-fat to make her look more tired and emotional than she actually was.
But courts decided that nude photos of degree faker Shin Jeong-ah were genuine, though ordered the Munhwa Ilbo to pay damages for suggesting that she sought to use sex to influence politicians.
3 Getting your message across
Which of the following have not been used as weapons in international diplomacy or political debate on the Korean peninsula this year?
a) Condom-shaped balloons
b) Railway lines
d) Fire extinguishers
f) Flying shoes
Balloons were used by activists to float leaflets across the border into North Korea, while the cross-border railway line has been a political football. Candles of course were the symbol of the mass street demonstrations in Seoul this year, while fire extinguishers were the GNP weapons of choice to repel the sledgehammer-armed opposition party during December.
Shoes were used as missiles during the assembly brawls over the impeachment of President Noh in March 2004, but I’m not sure they featured as weapons in 2008 apart from in Iraq. So the answer I was looking for was SHOES.
4 Doing Time
Why should 68% of the male population of South Korea be in jail, but only 12% of women?
a) For driving under the influence of alcohol
b) For illegally downloading copyrighted digital media
c) For sleeping with someone who is not their spouse
While again all the above answers are plausible, the specific statistics relate to a survey held last year, in which nearly 68% of South Korean men and 12% of women confessed to having sex outside marriage, which is a criminal offence. Ok So-ri (right) was given an 8-month suspended prison sentence this year.
5 Celebrity Factoids
Match the celebrity with the associated factoid
a) Bae Doo-na; b) Bada; c) The Wonder Girls; d) Kim Yu-na; e) Kim Ji-woon; f) Lee Byung-hun; g) Jang Dong-gun; h) Rain
And the factoids:
A) Sparked a cyberwar by not winning; B) Included in the list of eight recipients of A-awards for the most successful people of the year; C) Launched a line of clothes and accessories; D) Published a photo book of Seoul; E) Appeared in a production of Notre Dame de Paris; F) Scored two mentions in Perez Hilton’s Hollywood gossip blog; G) Appears dressed all in white in upcoming film; H) Appointed goodwill ambassador for World Food Programme
And the answers:
a) – D) Bae Doo-na (left) published a Seoul photo-book, to go with her rather fine London photo-book. She has also published a Tokyo photo-book. “Even though the background of this project was Seoul, where I live, the city often came to me as a very unfamiliar place. I often felt as if I was alone in this place. Choosing which pictures to put in the book was a very difficult task,” Bae said.
b) – E) Choi Sung-hee, the former S.E.S singer better known as Bada, appeared as Esmerelda in a production of the stage musical Notre Dame de Paris at the Sejong Theatre in Seoul in January and February 2008.
c) – F) The Wonder Girls (left) managed to get enthusiastic reviews from Perez Hilton’s gossip blog, which must have been frustrating for BoA who was trying to get noticed in America at more or less the same time.
d) – A) It was figure-skater Kim Yu-na (김연아 – also known as Kim Yun-a, Kim Yeon-ah and other combinations as well) who unwittingly sparked a cyberwar by getting beaten by Japanese figure skater Asada Mao in a skating Grand Prix final. The Marmot has the story.
e) – B) Film director Kim Ji-woon was one of eight A-Award winners for the most successful men of the year, given by men’s fashion magazine Arena and Audi Korea. Other winners were singer G Dragon and novelist Lee Oi-soo. Kim Ji-woon came to London this year (left) for a screening of his Nom Nom Nom
f) – G) The white-clad Ninja called Storm Shadow, right, from the upcoming film GI Joe, is of course heartthrob Lee Byung-hun.
g) – H) The new Goodwill Ambassador for the UN World Food Programme is Jang Dong-gun (left). In an interview with Yonhap News, Jang said, “My grandparents were born in North Korea, and my father’s hometown is Hamheung, North Korea. The movies that I have appeared in, such as ‘Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War’ and ‘Typhoon’ were related to North Korea. My family background naturally led me to take interest in North Korean issues.”
h) – C) By a process of elimination, it was Rain (right) who joined a number of other celebrities by launching a line of fashion items called Six to Five. “Six to Five means that we are aiming to reach the sixth sense from our original five senses. I also wanted to use numbers to make it easier to find and comfortable to approach,” he said.
Happy New Year to all.