Shim Jae Hoon at PostGlobal

Shim Jae Hoon

South Korea

Shim Jae Hoon is a Seoul-based journalist and commentator writing for a variety of international publications including YaleGlobal Online, The Straits Times of Singapore, The Taipei Times and Korea Herald. He was a correspondent for Far Eastern Economic Review in Seoul, Taipei and Jakarta. Close.

Shim Jae Hoon

South Korea

Shim Jae Hoon is a Seoul-based journalist and commentator writing for a variety of international publications including YaleGlobal Online, The Straits Times of Singapore, The Taipei Times and Korea Herald. more »

Main Page | Shim Jae Hoon Archives | PostGlobal Archives

July 18, 2008 11:31 AM

Citizens Must Accept Cultural Norms

Requesting citizenship, to me, implies readiness to accept the cultural, political and secular values of the country whose legal membership the applicant seeks. It involves seeking all the privileges defined under the law for citizens of France, as well as the obligation to respect its laws and conventions. France not only has five million Muslims, many of whom worship in French mosques, but also Buddhists from Asia who run their own temples in many parts of France. Some Buddhist priests I saw in France and the U.S. had their scalps shaved clean and wore long robes covering their entire body. Few people, however, found them so alien, oddly out of place or trying to cry out for attention.

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June 24, 2008 2:28 PM

Fight Taliban, But Not With Weapons

How do you negotiate a truce with scattered bands of thuggish bandits fighting not for secular objectives but for religious fundamentalism? Let Afghanistan's elected government fight them. Negotiating a truce with a diverse groups of guerrillas will only undermine the Karzai government's authority and leave people increasingly skeptical of the power of the central government. With the U.S. preoccupied with the war in Iraq in this election year, and EU countries worried about Iran's nuclear program, this is the worst time to consider beefing up troop reinforcements in Afghanistan. Besides, the problem is complicated by Pakistan's ambiguous attitude toward the Taliban; Islamabad has skillfully used them to bargain more military aid from the US and to keep the warring tribes (including rival Taliban factions) quarreling with each other so that it can influence Afghanistan's strategic future.

Let's now turn the tables on Pakistan and ask it to send troops to fight in the Afghan war if it wants military and economic aid from the US to continue: after all, Pakistani ISI military intelligence played a big role during the Cold War in arming the mujahedeen that today constitute the Taliban leadership. The Karzai government will strongly resist Pakistan's involvement, of course, but then it will give it an additional motivation to shape up and clean up its own house without depending on outside forces.

The Taliban thrives on ignorance and indigence of local populace. In order to win the war against the Taliban, the Karzai government should open up more roads, build more schools and housings, start more television stations, supply more electricity, and create more urban centers -- i.e., focus more on economic projects to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan interior. The answer is not to bring in more foreign troops.

In today's war against Islamofascism, there's no stronger weapon than the free flow of information from the outside world. Show pictures of how a fellow Muslim country like Turkey or Malaysia is doing, or of how the once impoverished countries like India and China are advancing. It will be a much more potent weapon than the barrel of a gun.

June 20, 2008 10:41 AM

South Korea's Real Beef

SEOUL - By apologizing for mishandling the beef import issue with the United States, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has averted a major political crisis that threatened to undermine the stability of his young administration. In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, he promised to ban imports of American beef from cattle older than 30 months of age, accepting the argument that younger cattle are less prone to mad cow disease, and therefore safer for Korean consumers.

But whether this new import rule, subject to agreement with the U.S., will end many weeks of street protests in Seoul remains doubtful. Underlying the recent political unrest are a variety of factors, including Lee’s controversial leadership style. The concern over mad cow disease may certainly be genuine, but as demonstrators freely concede, it has also been useful as a cover for expressing other discontents.

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December 10, 2007 12:42 PM

Trust Iran, But Verify

SEOUL - Since when has the CIA been reading the minds of Iranian officials, as opposed to studying hard evidence on the nuclear issue? How do they know if Iran has abandoned its "intention" to build the bomb, given its continuing resistance to third-party inspection? Is it the intention as opposed to the capability that the CIA believes Iran has abandoned? If Iran has really given up the intention of developing a nuclear program, why does it make it so exceedingly difficult for the IAEA to verify those claims, even at the cost of so much hardship for the Iranian nation as it weathers economic sanctions?

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July 30, 2007 9:26 AM

Foreign Bogey an Old Dictator's Trick

Seoul, South Korea -- Nothing in President Vladimir Putin's career background (in the KGB) nor anything in the long history of the harsh Soviet system, of which he is an inheritor, suggests that Moscow is likely to hand over Andrei Lugovoi, the former KGB agent wanted for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London. It's not simply that the Russian Constitution expressly forbids extradition of its nationals. It has more to do with the nature of Russia's transition from a totalitarian system to authoritarian rule.

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July 10, 2007 9:42 AM

Tread Softly, Make China Responsible

Seoul, South Korea -- Taiwan has been effectively independent from mainland China for a very long time, even predating the 1949 movement of Chiang Kai-shek to the island after his defeat by Mao Zedong's forces. The island was under Portuguese and Dutch rule before Japan formally annexed it in 1895-1945. The island was seriously populated only from the 17th century, when fishermen from China's southern coasts began arriving in numbers. Before that, Taiwan had -- as it still does -- it own "aborigines." Even today, people claiming roots from China constitute just 14% of the populace, with the rest composed of people whose ancestors began arriving three, four or more generations ago.

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July 2, 2007 12:05 PM

Iraq Exports Weapons of Desperation

Seoul, South Korea -- East Asian cities like Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, where high standards of public security are maintained, are relatively safe from the threat of car bombing. Car bombing has developed mainly as a unique weapon of desperation in the hands, mostly, of Islamic extremists. It is seldom used by their peers from other religious groups.

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June 28, 2007 11:10 AM

Stick to Basics: Arab-Israeli Coexistence

Seoul, South Korea -- Given his role in taking Britain into war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be a tough job for Tony Blair to play the role of a peacemaker in the Middle East. However, he should lose no time trying to mediate the current factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah.

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June 25, 2007 10:00 AM

The Most Uncompromising Kind of Imperialism

The Muslim firebrands demonstrating against the British monarchy's decision to bestow knighthood upon Salman Rushdie are doing their best to exaggerate the importance of this honor. The honor has been bestowed not for his alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammad but for services rendered as a writer of English literature.

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June 21, 2007 11:25 AM

Don't Blame West, Blame Islamists

The international journalists covering the world have been guilty of many shortcomings, but losing neutrality in their coverage of the Palestine conflict or of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is certainly not one of them. When compared with their counterparts from other parts of the world including the Middle East, journalists from the U.S., Europe and open societies in Asia can stand any test as far as fairness and impartiality is concerned.

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