Maria Holland

Posts Tagged ‘current events’


In Uncategorized on July 28, 2015 at 9:07 pm

The rough morning kind of continued into a rough afternoon.  At lunch, we were talking about sleep and Zhao Yan told us when he went to bed and woke up.  You only slept three hours?, I asked.  No, he said, 6.  Didn’t you go to bed at 2 and wake up at 5?  Not a single number was right.  I still have no idea how much sleep he got last night.  

Then he started asking me which was more round, the moon in the US or the moon in China.  I thought they were baiting me, kicking me when I was down as it were, so I was kind of annoyed.  Turned out that he was really just trying to make a point to Guo Yang, who kept talking about how much better American computers are.  This is a phrase that means, some things are the same everywhere.  

The only moment during this conversation where I felt like I knew what was going on was when Zhao Yan said 在中国,月亮代表 (“In China, the moon represents”) and I cut him off with 我的心 (“my heart”, which is the title of one of the most famous songs in China) .  But then I had that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  

Somehow we got to talking about humor, and how American and Chinese humor differs.  I honestly don’t think it does that much, if something fails to translate it seems to be a language issue or perhaps a cultural reference, not a difference in sense of humor.  To prove this, I told my favorite joke – one that luckily translates perfectly:  “What did the zero say to the eight?  Nice belt!”  

Two people bought watermelon today, so we all had to pull double or even triple watermelon-eating duty.  This seemed like an appropriate time to teach them ‘food baby’ and ‘food coma’.

I spent my lunch card down to the last 4毛 (40 Chinese cents).  Pretty good timing; I just have to rely on my labmates for the last three or so meals.  I asked them how to return the card, and they said I should give to Li Bo.  He’s faculty, so his card can’t be used in the student cafeteria and when he eats with the students I guess he has to pay them back.  I understand how it could be useful, but I feel really weird giving it to him because the foreign students have to pay a 20% fee every time we put money on our cards.  Here, have a card that makes everything cost 25% more!  I give the best gifts. 


After lunch, I finally watched the escalator video.  This story has quickly overtaken the Uniqlo sex-tape (which I didn’t watch) as the most-talked about video here in China.  The video is difficult to watch, so if you’d rather not I’ll summarize.  A woman and her child are taking the elevator up a flight in a mall in Hubei.  After they step off onto the metal panels at the top, one of the panels gives way and she falls down into the hole.  With her only her upper body free, she pushes her son to safety before getting dragged all the way in.  

It was not what I had expected at all.  When I first heard about it, I didn’t realize the woman had died. It also seemed like a lot of the comments were to the effect of “watch this so you’ll be careful when you ride an escalator”, so I actually asked one of my labmates which part of her clothing or body got stuck in the machinery.  Like, check your shoelaces before you get on and you won’t die?  But after finally watching it, I don’t know what there is to take away from it, what I should do differently next time I get on an escalator in China.  What happened was a tragedy of faulty machinery, a lack of safety standards and inspections, nothing that 站稳扶好 (“stand firm and hold the hand rail”, the constant message broadcast on every escalator in China) would prevent.  I feel so sad.

It’s also sad because I see accidents waiting to happen everywhere I look in China, accidents that we’ve had in America and we’ve learned from.  A lot of, perhaps even most, doors have some mechanical or electrical device preventing  you from opening the door from the inside; sometimes you have to have the key to leave your room or house.  Most taxis have seat covers, and in the back they cover the seatbelt latches so you can’t wear the seatbelt.  No one moves aside for ambulances, and apparently the paramedics are not really trained, so they’re basically unreliable taxis.  

I’ve had three friends fall through manhole covers, so we all avoid them as much as possible.  It’s hard, too, when you realize how many manhole covers there are.  It’s like anytime someone needs to get at something underground they just dig another hole.  Here’s a great example, a fairly typical street in Xiamen:

IMG 2554

Anyway, in the last few days, I’ve noticed people’s behavior around escalators changing like I have around manhole covers.  Another friend said he’s noticed people stepping over that metal plate, unconscious about this adaptation already.  Like I said before, while the human body (and mind, and spirit) can accomodate any number of terrible situations, it would be better if it did not have to.  

This all seems to point to larger issues, too.  The dichotomies that exist within China are incredible.  In different situations, I would describe it either as a place where you can do anything that you want to, or as a place where most things are restricted.  It’s a suprisingly libertarian culture for a communist country.  So the government can’t prevent deadly escalators from being sold, but heaven forbid a foreigner use an internet cafe.  It’s like the worst of the far right and the far left at the same time – no personal freedom, and no public responsibility.  

Next week we’re supposed to be talking about innovation and entrepreneurship, but I think of the risks I see being taken in Silicon Valley and I don’t know what kind of person would take them out here in the Wild Wild East.  The rule of law just doesn’t seem to hold, or doesn’t seem to mean much.  It makes it hard to invest one’s money, or one’s time, or one’s life.

In the afternoon, Dad wanted to talk so I went down and Skyped with him for a half hour.  It was really nice to talk to him, but I still felt down.  And it took 1GB of data.  


I finally found a DIY barbecue place place, so I made a reservation there in the evening.  When they called, though, they said they don’t allow DIY barbecue when the AC is on.  And then it ended up being way out on the other end of CUMTB and we were biking forever in the middle of nowhere and we had trouble finding it and I was convinced this disappointment of a day was just going to continue.  

But everything turned out better than expected!  Their chicken wings were super good.  We couldn’t grill ourselves, but they agreed to roast the marshmallows for us (seriously, how is it of all the things I tried to do today, the one that worked was asking a restaurant to roast 20 marshmallows for me?).  

IMG 2412

They seemed to like the s’mores alright, although everyone said they were too sweet and started talking about calories.  What, am I back in California?

IMG 2396

We also had honey whiskey, my gift to 赵岩 that really became communal.  I was really amused to watch their faces as they took their first sips.  These people drink baijiu, which tastes like jet fuel, with no discernible reaction, but they all made ridiculous faces when drinking American Honey, the smoothest thing I’ve ever drunk.  

The girls left after dinner, but the guys wanted to play Catan again, so we relocated to a KFC.  I can’t believe we didn’t think of this before!  KFC is really the perfect environment for board games – AC, free Wifi, big tables, food and drinks available.  I treated everyone to a round, and was really amused to see almost all of them get sundaes.  I thought the s’mores were too sweet?

This time was more fun than before, because I didn’t have to explain the rules.  There were two new players, but they played on teams with the GuoYangs and they explained the rules to each other.  It’s also a great language environment, because they’re speaking to each other more than they are to me, so the language is more authentic, but I’m very familiar with the context and vocabulary, so I can follow it.  I loved listening to them haggle over trades or berate each other for bad moves.  

The KFC we were at unfortunately closed at 11, so we couldn’t finish our game.  I basically built the Great Wall of Catan (When in China, I said . .. ) and had 8 points when we stopped.  GuoYang also had 8 points, but my wall blocked him in and he had really no way to get more points.  Guo Yang and Zhao Yan had 7 points each.  The score was close enough that everyone felt that they 差一点赢了 (almost won); they argued about this the whole bike ride home!

Thanks, Obama

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

China has been very much on my mind recently.  I’m applying for a grant from the National Science Foundation to do research in China next summer.  The program is called EAPSI and it would be an amazing opportunity for me, to turn my past experiences in China into real research experience abroad and international professional contacts.

With the help of my advisor at Stanford, I made contact with a professor in the Department of Engineering Mechanics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and we discussed a few possible questions relating both to my work and his.  He’s an expert on the wrinkling and buckling of soft films, and I study the development of the brain (which is essentially layers of soft tissues), so it’s a really good match.

Anyway, I spent last week reading a lot of papers and writing the 5-page project proposal, because I had told my potential host that I would send it to him by Friday.  I clicked ‘send’ at 5:30 and allowed myself to forget about it for the weekend.

But come Monday . . . and then Tuesday . . . I hadn’t heard from him.  This professor had been extremely gracious and prompt in all of his previous replies, so I was concerned.  A follow-up message that I sent last night was returned to my inbox, undelivered – on all four attempts! – at which point I started to legitimately panic.  The proposal is due Thursday at 5pm and I needed him to review the proposal.

Fortunately, about an hour later I received a response from him:

I have received your proposal, which is excellent. For more details, we may discuss later.
Sorry for having not replied you earlier since we have been in a one-week holiday.

I immediately felt stupid.  Of course, it was a Chinese holiday!  . . . Wait.  It’s mid-November.  What holiday was this??  I know that 11/11 is Singles’ Day in China, but it’s essentially like China’s Black Friday, not occasion for a week of vacation.  I asked my roommate (a Masters student from Zhejiang) and she verified this.  Maybe he was at home for a week shopping online?  I deemed that unlikely.

But at any rate, the crisis was averted and the proposal was approved, so it didn’t really matter.

Then today I took a break from preparing some of the supplementary documents to catch up on some news.  I had seen headlines about President Obama’s visit to China and the agreement on climate change, but didn’t know anything beyond that.  Going to the bottom of my “to-do” pile, I came across this article (In Beijing, Clearer Views Hid Real Life):

. . . The ban on burned offerings was one of a cascade of government orders, from the draconian and sweeping to the picayune and puzzling, aimed at reducing air pollution and securing azure skies when government leaders meet in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which began Wednesday and runs through Tuesday.

Determined to offer visiting heads of government, including President Obama, a cleaner, emptier version of China’s capital, where the air is often dirty and the streets always full, the authorities have ordered dozens of temporary changes that are upending people’s lives and dampening commerce, affecting activities like marrying, driving, eating and mourning the dead. . . .

The government has also tried to shed some of the city’s 21 million people, declaring an APEC Golden Week, a six-day vacation modeled on the Golden Week public officials get each year around National Day in early October. Public schools have been closed, work has been halted on construction sites, and public services such as issuing marriage licenses and passports have been suspended.

Cue hysterical laughter.  The university (and much of the city, apparently) were shut down for a week-long “holiday” as part of the attempt to clear up the air for Obama’s visit.  Thanks, Obama.

It’s things like this that make China so exciting – frustrating, yes – and intriguing to me.  Can’t wait to adventure back.


In Uncategorized on June 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

From today’s New York Times:

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but when the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell 64.89 points on Monday — uncannily echoing the date of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy students on June 4, 1989, exactly 23 years earlier — the Chinese blogosphere went into a tizzy.

. . . Whatever the reason, the strange trick that the stock market played on the Chinese Communist Party sent the country’s censors scrambling as well, prompting them to undertake unusually strenuous efforts to block references to the tragedy, which Chinese leaders have tried desperately to erase from their country’s consciousness.

In a nation where numerology is taken very seriously, the censors quickly began blocking searches for “stock market,” “Shanghai stock,” “Shanghai stock market,” “index” and related terms. They also deleted large numbers of microblog postings about the numerical surprise.

And even before tens of thousands of demonstrators clad mostly in black gathered at Victoria Park in Hong Kong for an annual candlelight vigil commemorating the Tiananmen killings, censors were also blocking searches for “Victoria Park,” “black clothes,” “silent tribute” and even “today.”

Not only did the broad index of the Shanghai exchange fall 64.89 points on Monday, but the index also opened that morning at 2346.98, a figure that, to some, looked like the date of the crackdown written backward, followed by the 23rd anniversary.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is calculated by adding up the market capitalizations of hundreds of stocks and then converting the sum into an index based on a value of 100 on Dec. 19, 1990. Richard W. Kershaw, the managing director for Asia forensic technology at FTI Consulting, a global financial investigations company, said that it would be almost impossible for anyone to coordinate the buying and selling of so many stocks to produce a specific result.

But hackers have targeted the computer systems at other stock exchanges in the past, and Mr. Kershaw said it was at least possible that this might have occurred in China. He predicted that the government would investigate, adding, “You can bet we’ll never hear the results.”

Chinese culture puts a very strong, sometimes superstitious, emphasis on numbers and dates. The Beijing Olympics started at 8:08 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2008, a time and date chosen for the many eights, considered an auspicious number.

Haha.  I really can’t decide which would be funnier, if some hacker did this or if the censors are just fighting a paper tiger. 

On the topic of internet censorship in China, I recently watched the movie Schindler’s List for the second time.  The first time I had watched it was while I was in China, and while it was too long ago to be completely sure, I think it was a slightly different movie.  I remembered it being much shorter and there were several scenes I didn’t remember.  I don’t know, maybe the guy with the video camera fell asleep in the theater . . .


In Uncategorized on May 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Hopefully you all are aware of the escape of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and subsequent international political drama surrounding his treatment.  If you’re not, read up – it comes off as quite the thriller, what with him pretending weakness only to escape in the middle of the night, when his blindness actually gave him an advantage.

I just wanted to share a paragraph from an article that I found particularly interesting, talking about the surreptitious ways the Chinese have come up with to refer to him without censorship:

First he was “blind lawyer;” then “blind man,” then “A Bing,” a reference to a nationally famous blind singer. All were blotted out by the Chinese government’s pervasive, highly computerized security apparatus. Lately, his plight has been referred to as “UA898” — the daily United Airlines flight from Beijing to Washington which, this week, has come to symbolize Mr. Chen’s demand to emigrate to the United States rather than face an uncertain future in his homeland.

Who says the Chinese aren’t creative?


In Uncategorized on March 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Recently, living in America has reminded me uncomfortably of living in China.

First there was the proposal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the resulting uproar against it.  There was that one day where you couldn’t access Wikipedia the normal way, and instead had to use various roundabouts to get the information you wanted.  A lot of blogs were inaccessible, too.  It was crazy!  Oh wait, I did that for a year, paying $5 a month to have access to facebook, Wikipedia, CNN, and (for most of the year) blogs.  The reasoning behind SOPA and the Great Firewall is different – I understand that.  But freedom of speech once curtailed for one reason is easily enough thwarted for another. 

Followed shortly by that issue was the announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that religious institutions will be forced to supply health insurance plans that offer free contraceptives and other “family planning” services to their employees.  This issue blew up so quickly that it seemed we bypassed some fundamental issues (birth control, really – out of all the drugs to make free?  Have we really decided that pregnancy is the most threatening disease?) and have moved right on to a debate over religious freedom. 

Today, across the country, people are gathering to “Rally for Religious Freedom”.  Someone derisively asked, "Is someone keeping you from going to church?”.  The answer, obviously (thankfully!) is no.  But the rest of the answer is that the practicing of one’s religion is – and should be! – more than just going to church. 

I confess that I thought the US Council of Catholic Bishops was being a little bit overdramatic when it warned about possible issues of conscience when the new health care reform was being debated.  I don’t believe that Obama has anything particularly against Catholics or Christians or believers of any religion, and I believed that the freedom of religion guaranteed in the constitution was pretty secure.  The death panels, forced sterilizations – I thought it was all hyperbole. 

And now I’m scared.  Because I see this mandate as a first step along the path that leads us to a place where the reproductive “rights” are valued higher than the right to religious freedom.  And I think that China is somewhere along that path, further ahead than us.  Remember,

Freedom of religion in the People’s Republic of China is provided for by the country’s constitution, with an important caveat. Namely, the government protects what it calls "normal religious activity," defined in practice as activities that take place within government-sanctioned religious organizations and registered places of worship.  [From Wikipedia]

But China has clearly decided that its interest in curtailing the growth of its population is greater than its interest in protecting the practice of “normal religious activity”, which for some religions that I’m aware of prohibits abortion, sterilization, and contraception. 

So yeah, I’m a little bit worried.  Not sure what other rights will fall before this “right”.  Not sure which Catholic institutions – or what still-practicing Catholic institutions – will be around when in 10 years.  Not sure what US policy will next mimic China. 


* Note: I think both articles I linked to make very good points, but I do take issue with the name calling they employ. 

Kim Jong Il is so last week.

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Kim Jong Il is so last week.  Kim Jong Un is the new Kim Jong Il. 

Warm Care Shown by Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, made sure with his loving care on Sunday that a large quantity of sugar was sent to mobile service networks in the wake of taking a measure to provide convenience to the people visiting outdoor mourning stations in grief over the great loss to the nation on a top priority basis under any circumstances.

Under this care warm sweet water was served to those at the mourning stations in the capital in greater quantities.

The people from all walks of life and school youth and children who visited the stations at Kim Il Sung Square, plazas of the Party Founding Memorial Tower, the April 25 House of Culture and the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium and other places in the capital were deeply moved to receive warm sweet water.

He also made sure that hot packs were sent and soya-based drink, honeyed water, various kinds of tea and warm water were provided to people so that they might not feel cold. Not yet feeling assured, he repeatedly took such kind steps. He is such meticulous and tender-hearted man.

It is due obligation for the people to visit those stations, ardently missing the nation’s father whom they trusted and followed as Heaven. They revere him as an incarnation of humanity.

The loving care repeatedly shown by Kim Jong Un for people when the whole nation is overcome with sorrow will be conveyed to posterity as a legend about love for people.

So Over This

In Uncategorized on December 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

We can only be sad over Kim Jong Il’s death for so long.  At some point we have to get back to scavenging grass for food. 

Korean People Get over
Their Leader’s Demise

Stillness has no longer persisted in Pyongyang Saturday morning, a week after the demise of leader Kim Jong Il.

Streets, buses and metro are all crowded with people going to their work. They are not giving way simply to sorrow.

They are getting over the demise of their leader, promoted by a strong will to closely rally around respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, identical to leader Kim Jong Il in ideology, leadership art and traits, and faithfully uphold his leadership. They are working with redoubled effort.

Jo Yong Gil, an employee of the Kim Jong Thae Electric Locomotive Complex, said, "How can I weep away my time, overcome with grief. I will work harder to implement the behests of leader Kim Jong Il."

Kim Kyong Su, manager of the complex, said, "We are now bringing about an upsurge in the manufacture and repair of electric locomotives after changing sorrow into strength and courage. All the workshops in the complex are overfulfilling their daily quotas. Our workers will uphold the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Un with increased production."

Also, just because this sentence is like buzzword bingo:

Local People Mourn Demise
of Kim Jong Il Every Day

Workers of the Huichon Precision Machine Plant vowed to step up the work for putting the plant on a modern and scientific basis through a high-pitched drive to push back the frontiers of latest science and technology and bring about uninterrupted miracles and innovations in production and thus successfully carry out the behests of Kim Jong Il.

Kim Jong Il Walked Uphill Both Ways

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Anti-Japanese Revolutionary Fighters Mourn Demise of Kim Jong Il

Anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters . . . observed a moment’s silence in memory of Kim Jong Il, great and kind-hearted man who lies in state.

They broke into tears, thinking he might just get up, greet them with a broad smile on his face and ask about their health in a resounding voice as he used to.

Aside from the excerpt above, there is a change in the tenor of today’s coverage – moving on from “bitterest grief” and “chocking voices” to “determination to carry out at any cost” and “resolve to contribute”. 

Korean Youths Display Noble Trait for Their Leader

Youths and students of the DPRK have expressed with pure mind their unbounded reverence . . . [and] have unanimously proposed to erect the statue of Kim Jong Il, the benevolent father, with serious repentance of their failure to do so as well as bitter grief at his demise.

Meanwhile, many youths and children are vying with each other to show their unsparing sincerity. . .

Young employees at a machine factory in Jagang Province formed a shock brigade with their determination to carry out at any cost the project, entrusted to them by Kim Jong Il, and went to the construction site on Dec. 21 after taking an oath with bitter tears at the mourning place.

An increasing number of young people are volunteering to join the shock brigade with their resolve to contribute to completing the construction of the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station ahead of schedule. . .

Tens of young coal miners at the Anju Area Coal Complex formed a shock brigade and raised the speed of tunneling per day four times the previous one with guilty conscience that they failed to allay the pains taken by Kim Jong Il to solve the problem of coal production.

200 odd youths at the Chonnaeri Cement Plant have waged the production drive without shift since the day when the sad news of his demise was reported. They are now raising the daily production results 1.5 times the previous ones.

In the meantime the youths of the Pobdong County Garment Factory are carrying out their daily assignment 250 per cent.

And really, it’s no wonder that they’re moved so much by his death, when they believe that he personally and singlehandedly was responsible for the delivery of the fish that they eat.  If we gave credit for every bite we ate to the current president, no one would ever defeat an incumbent. 

Fresh Fish Supplied to Pyongyang Citizens

While the whole country is seized with grief at the demise of leader Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang citizens are now struck with another story about his loving care for them. . .

Leader Kim Jong Il, who had always been concerned for fish supply to Pyongyang citizens, took a measure for fish supply on the evening of December 16, a day before his demise.

Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, who has been overcome with the deepest grief at his demise, took all necessary measures to truck fresh fish to the capital city in time and supply the fish to the citizens even in the mourning period.

Song Hye Yong, a 42-year-old woman living in Pothonggang District, said with a bag full of fish in her hand, "Leader Kim Jong Il is always with us as we have respected Comrade Kim Jong Un identical to him."

Kim Jong Hwa, a saleswoman of the Oesong Grocer’s Shop in Central District, said she was much touched by leader Kim Jong Il’s deep care for the supply of fish to people.

Also, it might just be me, but I feel like the temperature on the day of his death is getting colder . . . in hindsight.  Also, he was walking uphill both ways as he died. 

Young Koreans Vow to Carry Forward Revolution

Ju Jin A, an official of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, told KCNA:

"Today I heard that leader Kim Jong Il spent his last days in the severest cold weather in decades. The fact that he devotedly worked for the happiness of our people, though he was out of condition, makes me feel my heart rent. But I will get over my grief and turn out in implementing his behests."

The Land and Sky Seem to Bitterly Cry

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

The theme for today’s coverage seems to be “hyperbole”.  As if previous articles weren’t unbelievably inflated enough . . .

We Will Wait for Kim Jong Il Forever: Pyongyang Citizens

The portrait of smiling Kim Jong Il set up at Thongil Street in Pyongyang is being crowded with a lot of mourners day and night.  The servicepersons and people who visit the portrait late at nights and early in the mornings are shedding tears picturing leader Kim Jong Il who used to set out on trips for field guidance at dawns getting wet with dew.

The employees of the Hana Music Information Center, who were smiling in happiness being honored with the visit by him just a few days ago, are lamenting in great sorrow. . . Pak Jong Nam, 69, vice-director of the Center, said: “We always dreamed of meeting the great leader. When he actually came, we were overjoyed to see him, not knowing he was in such a bad health condition. There would be no bigger sin than this.  That day he said he would send us all the music pieces he collected for decades, telling us to let the people enjoy and use them.  From that day on we have waited for the word from him. We can not believe that he actually passed away.  We will wait for the General forever.”

Kim Yong Suk, 48, woman resident in Raknang District, said if she could give any more sincerity to the benevolent and great father now, she would willingly turn into a rock in funeral dress for hundred, nay thousand days.

Even Land and Sky Seem to Grieve Demise of Kim Jong Il

The plaza of the Party Founding Memorial Tower facing the statue of President Kim Il Sung standing on Mansu Hill is also crowded with people overwhelmed with profound grief over the loss of the father of the nation.  The mourners are weeping bitterly, calling leader Kim Jong Il in chocking voices.  Looking up to the portrait of smiling Kim Jong Il and then the statue of President Kim Il Sung, they are stamping their feet in bitter grief over the leader’s demise.  Chocked with lamentation for three days, not a few people only wept bitterly, unable to say any words.

Kim Jong Il was leading the final offensive this year for the improvement of the standard of people’s living, full of energy.  He would feel very pleased when watching increased wealth for the people. But who can imagine he breathed his last on the running train on his way of field guidance to bring happiness to them. Can anyone believe this was a reality? How lamentable it is! Isn’t it possible for the hearts of all Koreans to bring him back to life? 

All the people have revered Kim Jong Il as their father, entrusting all their destinies and soul to him.  He was, indeed, the sun of the Korean nation and dearer to them than their own lives.  But for this sun, they could not have come close to the eminence of a thriving nation, weathering unprecedented trials and difficulties for 17 years since the demise of President Kim Il Sung.  But for this mainstay, they could have hardly got over difficulties and lived and struggled full of confidence of future, faith and optimism.

The lamentation of all the servicepersons and people calling him in bitter grief can be heard across the country.  The land and sky of the country seem to bitterly cry.

Kim Il Sung Square Turns into Veritable Sea of Mourners

They wept bitterly, missing Kim Jong Il very much as he passed away in ordinary jumper while dedicating himself to the happiness of the people.  He was the father of the nation as he tirelessly visited every nook and corner of the country with exceptional energy.

The servicepersons and the people were confident they would never experience any more misfortune as the greatest loss of President Kim Il Sung. But they suffered such loss in the last days of the year. This was something unimaginable.

The clock seemed to stop running and the earth seemed to cease turning round the sun. They broke into the bitterest grief as it was entirely unbelievable.

Ri Chun Hui, 52, resident in Central District of Pyongyang, said in a chocking voice that she felt as if her heart would break as he thought Kim Jong Il breathed his last not in his office or residence but on a running train on his way of field guidance.

Kim Song Hui, 23, soldier of the Korean People’s Army, said, with tears in her eyes: "Whenever I watched smiling Kim Jong Il over TV, I thought he was in good health. I never imagined he was combating a serious illness caused by the pent-up fatigue. I feel extremely regretful for failing to fulfill my filial duty."

My Brain is Turning to Mush

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

But the KCNA is still writing, so I will still read.  But please, guys, could you get a thesaurus?  You’re getting a little bit repetitive with certain phrases, namely:

  • chocking voices
  • bitterest grief
  • like a bolt from the blue
  • sharing weal and woe
  • forced march for field guidance
  • peerlessly great man
  • General Kim Jong Un, who is identical to Kim Jong Il

Also, please learn how to spell ‘choking’.

But, vocabulary aside, they’re coming up with some really compelling stories.  Take a look at this – you have never seen a more emotional write-up on the weather. 

Unforgettable Last Days of Kim Jong Il’s Life

The weather data on the last days of leader Kim Jong Il’s revolutionary activities are moving the hearts of all the Korean people.

It was December 16 when the leader set out on the continuous forced march after giving field guidance to the Hana Music Information Center and the Kwangbok Area Supermarket.

That day the weather was very cold with fishtail and strong wind. The strength of wind was 5-8 meter per second in most regions of the country, up to 16 meter at maximum in some areas of its northern inland.

The temperature at noon was 6-9 degrees centigrade lower than the average, registering the lowest since 1985.

Meanwhile in East and West Seas the wind blew 10-15 meter per second, causing the waves to rise up to 2-3 meters.

In the morning of Dec. 17 when he was on the train to make a journey of field guidance for the people the temperature was 4-7 degrees centigrade lower than the average, scoring the lowest this winter.

Those weather data make one more keenly feel the painful labors of Kim Jong Il who continued in common attire his journey of field guidance with patriotic devotion despite the biting cold weather.

Bad days, snowy or rainy, were more frequent than fine and clear days in the course of his long journey for field guidance, weather experts said, stressing that the spring of prosperity under socialism will surely come to the country thanks to the patriotic devotion of Kim Jong Il who blocked the howling wind of history till the last moments of his life.