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Donald Kirk

Stories from Donald Kirk

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Incredible India’ Yes, the Slogan Conveys the Country’s Inner Spirit

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

India has a brand, a slogan that is so simple and yet so great, so absolutely undeniable: “Incredible India.” Not only is the “in-in” alliteration rather catchy, but it’s also no exaggeration. In fact, it may even be an understatement. Love it or hate it, there’s just no other place on earth like India in terms of the enormous diversity you see and feel everywhere – in geography, people, languages, culture, religion, well, just about everything. Indians are not so totally different from one another, however, as not to share one common bond: they’re all Indian. Even if they speak different languages, worship different deities, come from widely divergent social and economic backgrounds, even from tribal groupings in remote regions, to a foreigner they are more or less the same people. That’s all the more reason to wonder at “Incredible India,” the branding of an enormous country that’s bursting at the seams in terms of population, ambitions, dreams – and, yes, problems, divisions, corruption and crime. By far the world’s largest democracy, India is full of all the political infighting, public and private controversies, charges and counter-charges, trade-offs and payoffs, loud talking and backstabbing that goes with any democratic system. The problems are multiplied in India by its immense population, more than 1.2 billion and growing at a rate that means the number of people living in India in a few years will surpass that of the Chinese.

Krik

Asia's evolving 'Great Game'

Friday, April 17th, 2015

It's difficult to say which foe bothers India the most. Chinese troops crossed India's frontiers in 1962, nipping bits of territory that they've never relinquished. Pakistan has waged three useless wars to try and recover the Indian portion of Kashmir, a Himalayan wonderland divided by a line of control since the end of British rule in 1947.

India and South Korea :Strategic ‘Partners’ With Long term Goals

Monday, July 8th, 2013
KOREAN PRESIDENT

India and South Korea share remarkable common interests – all the more remarkable considering how far apart they are geographically, in area, popula­tion, average income, living conditions and climate.

Inside North Korea: Progress versus Poverty

Friday, December 14th, 2012
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The skyline and traffic patterns of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang were not quite the same during my most recent visit in July as when I was last there four years earlier. This time, on a 12-day tour, I saw people preparing to move into their brand new homes in a row of glistening high-rise apartment blocks in the center of the city.

Kim Jong-un

Third Son Inherits North Korea’s Dynasty After His Father’s Death

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

It’s the season for birthday bashes in North Korea. North Koreans showered superlatives of praise for the late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il on what would have been his 70th birthday on February 16 had he survived the heart attack that killed him two months earlier.

Obama Talks tough to Force North Korea to Abandon its Rocket Launch

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

President Barack Obama inveighed against North Korea’s plan to launch a long-range rocket next month in a rousing speech at a university here and then pleaded with the Chinese and Russian presidents to pressure North Korea to back down.

In a special touch of drama midway through his talk at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Obama declared, “Here in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leadership in Pyongyang.”

Rich-Poor Gap Spurs Leftist To Victory as Mayor of Seoul

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

A lawyer with a long background espousing leftist causes is now the mayor of Seoul, a capital city of 10 million people (20 percent of South Korea’s population), after his overwhelming success in an election that has grave implications for policies visa-vis North Korea.

Korea’s Finance Gurus Battle the Global Economic Storm

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

South Korea’s top financial policy-makers see Korea weathering the storm of financial upheaval on world markets but acknowledge that continuing to do so won’t be easy. “A short-term effect is inevitable due to the increase of volatility from overseas uncertainties such as the debt crises in the US and Europe,” Finance Minister Bahk Jaewan told a forum staged by The Economist in Seoul in September.

japan gate

Japan’s Party of Change Clings to Power

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has taken over a regime that, although divided and weakened by disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March, has not been inclined to pervasive change.

Shay Cullen

Crusading Irish Priest Battles for Children in the Philippines

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The American sailors who once flooded the streets of the raucous Philippine city of Olongapo on shore leave are no longer around, except on brief visits during military exercises. With the departure of the U.S. Navy, the base on Subic Bay was converted into a huge industrial and shopping complex with restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and sports and entertainment for people of all ages.

phillippines

Philippine Leaders Come and Go But Corruption Reigns Supreme

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By just about any international standard, the Philippines ranks near the bottom rung among the world’s most corrupt countries. Transparency International places it 134th among 178 countries, one place below Nigeria but far below the scores of other countries often criticized for massive corruption, including the two Asian giants, China and India.

russia

N. Korea Looks to Russia for Leverage Against China

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Kim Jong-il returned in August from his first visit to Russia in nine years with promises for vastly expanding economic ties with his great northern neighbor. Now the question is whether or not North Korea and Russia can fulfill the deals they agreed on at Kim’s summit in Siberia with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.

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The Spreading Economic Crisis

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

The sighs of relief that everyone was breathing after the United States Congress finally passed a compromise budget on August 1 quickly turned into moans of agony and derision as the U.S. stock market persisted in its worst slide since the 2008 “great recession.”

Clearly the “great recession” has never ended, and the same fears for the global economy persist, perhaps more strongly than ever. The problems this time may be a little different, reflecting grave doubts about the fiscal viability of economies across southern Europe from Spain and Portugal to Italy and Greece and north to Ireland, which a few short years ago was touted as an economic wunderkind.
skiier

Korea’s Winter Wonderland Overjoyed At Prospect of Hosting 2018 Olympics

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

The crowds watching the news at twenty minutes after midnight in the heart of South Korea's "snow country" exploded in cheers and tears like a fizzy blast of champagne bursting from a freshly uncorked bottle. "I had to cry when I heard," said Koh Seung-hee in the lobby of a luxury hotel in South Korea's winter wonderland. "We have been waiting so long."

financial leaders

South Korean Financial Leaders Deflect OECD Criticism of Rising Inequities

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

A tough report issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development portrays the downside of modern South Korea, despite the "miracle" of the rise from the ashes of the Korean War that raged some 60 years ago.

China Fights for the Riches of the South China Sea

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The sparks are flying in what has been a diplomatic and propaganda war for a little-known island chain claimed in whole or in part by half a dozen powers, notably China but also Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. Mysterious sightings of Chinese warplanes over distant islets, atolls, and reefs in the South China Sea have fueled reports of China's expansionist aims in these troubled waters. They have assumed importance with the realization that a fortune in oil and gas lingers beneath the shallow sea. The contest most recently has involved a strange realignment of interests in which big brother China, Hanoi's main ally in the war that culminated in the victory of North Vietnam's forces in 1975, is now Vietnam's foe.

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Dream of Mt. Kumgang Turns into Nightmare for Hyundai Asan

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Few natural wonders are more distinctive than Mount Kumgang, that is, Diamond Mountain, in the southeastern corner of North Korea. Looming a few miles above the eastern end of the demilitarized zone that has divided the Korean peninsula since the Korean War, Kumgang is not one mountain but several thousand crags of granitic rock jutting up in spire-like formations of widely differing shapes and sizes.

north korean stamps

Egypt’s Orascon Telecom Links North Korea and Egypt to Each Other

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Egypt and North Korea have long and historical ties. Around the time Hosni Mubarak was taking over, Egypt and North Korea began dealing in missiles – though Egypt was seen by Washington as a “good” Arab state and North Korea, then as now, as the incarnation of evil. Mubarak, when he commanded the Egyptian air force, got North Korea to send pilots to train Egyptians before the fourth Mideast war with Israel in 1973.

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Japanese 7-Eleven’s Battle Typifies Post-Tsunami Struggle

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

For Seven & i Holdings Co., the first priority after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11 devastated much of the coastal region of northeastern Japan was to see what happened to several hundred of its 7-Eleven stores in hard-hit towns and villages and to look for survivors among staff members and customers.

In the first days after the tsunami, the company estimated that 40 stores were entirely or half-destroyed and that perhaps 16 owners of 7-Eleven franchises were dead or missing.

hyundai car

Hyundai Engineering & Construction: Returning to Hyundai with Motor Group

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Hyundai Engineering and Construction, the original company of the mighty Hyundai empire, is about to enter a new phase of its history as Korea’s biggest builder, both at home and abroad.

It is now emerging from under the grip of the creditor banks that took it over after the 1997-1998 financial crisis, and returning to the Hyundai fold.

EIDO

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