Inside the cult of Kim

Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder shows the life in North Korea.

Still the Water

Peter Bradshaw:

Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga) is a confident, intelligent 16-year-old girl who is falling in love with the diffident, moody boy next door: Kaito (Nijiro Murakami). Kaito’s parents are divorced: his dad, a tattooist, lives in Tokyo and his mum works in a restaurant. Kyoko is dealing with something even more painful: her mother, a delicate and beautiful woman, is dying, perhaps of cancer, although the film is a little too otherworldly to acknowledge the exact illness, the exact medical care or the ugly, un-Zen physical toll it can take.

Set against this fraught situation is a shocking event: a dead body is washed up on the beach. Despite the film’s title, the water is far from still – there are tropical storms and the waves and currents are dangerous. The dead man turns out to have a connection with Kaito’s mother, and realising this forces him to re-evaluate his relationship with his parents and with Kyoko herself who cannot understand why he is so shy and reluctant to make love to her.

A beautiful movie about love, life and death.

Malaysian, not Korean

Joyce Chu from Malaysia sings about not being Korean.

Asian Moon

Lobo:

Could be the light of the Asian moon
Could be a song an old Asian tune
Lovely dark haired ladies and the words they say
A late night sail on a moonlit bay
Could be the stars in the Asian sky
That got me flying and feelin’ so high
I never thought the hurt would heal so soon
Must be the light of the Asian moon

The Interlace

Houses stacked like building blocks.

I came across “The Interlace” on my way to the Gillman Barracks and it was one of the most fascinating buildings I’ve seen.

Now architect Ole Scheeren won the Urban Habitat Award. Well deserved.

Pink Towers

Suzanne LaBarre:

In Wuhan, the largest city in central China, developers are planning not one but two skyscrapers, both of which will edge out their Middle Eastern rival. Plus they’re on an island. And powered by renewable energy. And pink.

Four Tank Men

Patrick Witty:

There was not just one “tank man” photo. Four photographers captured the encounter that day from the Beijing Hotel, overlooking Changan Avenue (the Avenue of Eternal Peace), their lives forever linked by a single moment in time. They shared their recollections with The Times through e-mail.

Beauty around the world

Esther Honig sent her picture to artists from more than 25 countries, asking them to “make me beautiful”:

Below is a selection from the resulting images thus far. They are intriguing and insightful in their own right; each one is a reflection of both the personal and cultural concepts of beauty that pertain to their creator.

The other side of Singapore

Lance Lattig, south-east Asia researcher at Amnesty International:

When it comes to drug trafficking, Singapore operates an institutionalised system of unfair trials with automatic presumption of guilt and a mandatory death penalty. Singapore doesn’t recognise the universal right to free speech. Instead, the government tightens or loosens restrictions on free speech as it pleases.

“Once a Jolly Hangman” is a great read.

Selfie stick

Simply slot your device into the end of it and you’ll get an extra 1ft+ of reach, kind of like a pointer, only used for maximising Facebook Likes rather than learning things!

Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam. In the past three weeks I’ve seen this thing everywhere I went.

Singapore

The country has a partly deserved reputation for sterile predictability that has earned it descriptions like William Gibson’s “Disneyland with the death penalty” or the “world’s only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations”. Nevertheless, the Switzerland of Asia is for many a welcome respite from the poverty and dirt of much of the Asian mainland. If you scratch below the squeaky clean surface and get away from the tourist trail you’ll soon find more than meets the eye.

I’ve been to several Asian countries and Singapore is my new favorite. The city is clean but not as sterile as I’ve expected. Transportation is great. People speak English which makes things much easier.

It was also the first place where I had the feeling that it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re Asian or Caucasian. People would treat you the same way as they treat everyone else.

In Bali I felt like a walking wallet. Everyone tried to sell me something. In China people would still look at the “老外”, the foreigner. Some out of curiosity but some with undeserved respect.

In Singapore I don’t feel any special. I like that a lot.

Indonesian names

Indonesians do not generally use the Western naming practice of a given first name and a family last name. The majority of Indonesians do not have family names as westerners would understand them, but such names as are given are geographically and culturally specific.

A friend of mine is named after Axl Rose and Metallica.

An italki story

I was at work, here at italki, when a very good Chinese friend called me. She was the one who has been looking for an apartment for me before I even arrived in China, she helped me to find the room that should become my home for the next year and she guided my first steps in this foreign country.

She said she knows italki. Of course. That’s where we first met. I remeber. Back at the computer, I checked my friends and there she was. And on Saturday, we’ll meet in person.

Last exams

Less then one week until the first of my last exams here at Tongji University. So many things I’ve learned in the past year.

Back to work. Let’s study more words that a China-born friend, who has been living here for eight years, doesn’t know… ;-)

I hope

that there will be a time, where each June 4th, the Chinese leaders will gather together with the Chinese people around a memorial site at Tiananmen Square, commemorating the victims of injustice.

And I hope it won’t take another twenty years.

Give them time

A recent discussion among friends. They think the Chinese government is on a good way. It’s working in the best interest of the country. We have to understand that.

Today, the Golden Shield also blocks Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Live, and Bing.

One of the friends is now “disappointed by the government.”

I feel confirmed. And helped her to set up tor.

Intermediate?

Buying books for my third and last semester at Tongji. They have strange titles. The most important one: “Climbing up”. And no “Elementary Chinese” next semester. Now it’s called “Intermediate Chinese”. I’m afraid.

Good flight

The Mother of Shanghai has left. The city thanked her for her dedication with a beautiful last day and a starry starry night.

147 stations

Matt Mayers, creator of the great Metro map ExploreShanghai (review at CNReviews) is going to do the Tube Challenge next Monday. He’ll attempt to visit all stations of the Shanghai Metro that day. More information in his blog.

Over and out

“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”
(LaCrosse, Wisconsin, October 18, 2000)

“The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.”
(Washington D.C., October 27, 2003)

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
(Washington, D.C., August 5, 2004)

More at BBC and Evil George.

A snake in the hand

A German friend raves about her hand creme, two Chinese friends explain it consists of snake oil. There were times where this would have surprised me more.

We believe

Pandora isn’t allowed to provide its service outside the US:

We believe that you are in China

Using Tor sometimes loads the application without playing the music. And sometimes doesn’t:

We believe you are in Germany

I loved Shanghai

Seems that I love Shanghai moved to a new location. There was still a small light in the old place, the interior and a blackboard: “Bar for Leasing”.

Two pairs

An afternoon at the glasses market. It’s nothing new that I can’t decide which ones to take. This time I just got two of them. No problem for 150 Yuan (about 15 Euro) each.

What's really important

I passed my first exam today. But it means more to me that I could read and sing some Chinese songs at KTV this evening.