Monday, May 15, 2017

Cute Korean Lego sets


Recently I saw an advertisement for a cute promotional Lego set of a KT (Korea Telecom) phone store.

KT Phone Store


KT phone store Oxford blocks set. Image: KT Smartblog

I like the various little phone cases you can choose from hanging there on the wall. Here's a better looking short video that shows off the set:



These aren't "Lego" exactly, but cute knockoffs from Oxford Blocks (yes, a Korean company). They put out a lot of cheaper sets, though the quality is decent (important when you see the prices of actual Lego here). What I like though is that they put out all sorts of cute Korea-specific block sets.

It got me thinking about some of the others I've seen, and I had the bright idea to show some of them off here. These are some of my favorites. Click the caption links to see more, usually including builds.

CU convenience store set


Image: BGF Retail

SK EnClean gas station


Image: SK엔크린 옥스포드 블록장난감 3천포인트 특권 선물받기~ : 네이버 블로그

Kyobo bookstore


Image: 듀듀 : 교보문고레고 옥스포드블록 교보문고 콜라보레이션 블럭 교보문고 미니샵 

Real Men military barracks set


"Real Men" (진짜 사나이) was a popular military reality show, which included unofficial White Male Ambassador to Korea Sam Hammington among its cast.

Image: [옥스포드] 진짜사나이 : 네이버 블로그

I like how in this upclose shot you can see that they're watching some kind of K-pop girl performance in the barracks. Talk about authenticity:

Image: [옥스포드] 진짜사나이 : 네이버 블로그

Traditional Wedding ceremony (전통혼례)


Image: 옥스포드 블럭 여름방학 갖고 놀 블럭~~ : 네이버 블로그

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (경회루)



Image: toytoytoy.co.kr [옥스포드/경회루KH3363/한국문화유산시리즈/경회루/소블록]

CJ "Healthy Ham" picnic set with with cherry blossoms


Image: CJ 더건강한햄 옥스포드 블럭 3탄 벚꽃놀이 획득 : 4.27 부터 선착순 5,000개 : 네이버 블로그 

LG Twins baseball team locker room


Image: [옥스포드블럭] LG Twins 라커룸 블록 : 네이버 블로그 

Kakao Friends camping set


Image: English Play :: 카카오프렌즈 스토어 오프라인 매장을 다녀왔습니다

Korean traditional house "hanok" (전통한옥)


Image: 영계남편 사랑이야기


These are just the tip of the iceberg, really. There are lots more out there, many of which were only produced for a short promotional time. But most you can still buy, either direct from Oxford, or the tie-in company, or various online sellers on G-market for example.

Also check out:




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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Politicians get funky for Pres. Moon, and other Korean election leftovers


This was a pretty wacky campaign video that ran in support of Moon Jae-in (yes, I'm a little late on this). It features a few fairly prominent politicians busting some dance moves, or trying to anyway. If you ever wanted to see the in-his-60s mayor of Seoul breakdance (yes, breakdance), now's your chance, at around the 0:52 mark.



The roster of people appearing is:

  • 안희정 - Ahn Hee-jung - Governor of Chungcheongnam. Also now known for his kissing Moon in that wacky photo (below). If memory serves, he also actually ran against Moon in the primaries. Just don't ask your doctor for a 충남주사 [The pun seems to come from combining 충남지사 "Chungcheon Governor" with 주사 "drunk behavior"].
  • 박원순 - Park Won-soon - Mayor of Seoul
  • 안민석 - An Min-suk - National Assembly member
  • 진선미 - Jeon Seon-mi - National Assembly member
  • 이재정 - Lee Jae-jeong - National Assembly member
  • 고민정 - Ko Min-jeong - former KBS TV newscaster
  • 박기량 - Park Ki-rang - Cheerleader with Lotte Giants baseball team
  • 김부겸 - Kim Bu-gyeom - National Assembly member. I believe he also ran against Moon in the primaries.

충남주사 안희정, 세계적 스타 됐다 | 2MOON好.COM



🗹 Election leftovers 🗹


Now for a few completely different things (mostly links I put on Twitter).



Facebook's reminder to vote




Failed conservative candidate Hong Jun-pyo aka "Hong Trump" (홍준표 aka 홍트럼프) and CNN presenter Richard Quest. I can't be the only one who sees the resemblance, am I? 





Google had an extensive blog post about all the Korea-election goodies they produced, including their Now cards, election info, and of course that YouTube logo.

And of course they had an election doodle:

2017년 대한민국 선거




A TV channel here in Korea called Super Action had a movie marathon this afternoon, the theme of which was "굿프레지던트" (Good President) which I can only assume was a nod to President Moon's straight-to-work approach, distinguishing him I guess from the former "Bad President". To celebrate, movies featuring "good presidents" aired. When I tuned it, it was Air Force One followed by Independence Day. Moon is no Harrison Ford... or is he



Finally, just a photo I feel sums up my feeling about this whole Park-Trump-Moon season:

A worker sprays water onto the statue of King Sejong for a spring cleaning at the Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 10, 2017. King Sejong, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), created the Korean alphabet, Hangul, in 1446. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). Source: Pictures of the week — AP Images Spotlight


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Display blog title image in Blogger's new floating header bars


Here's a simple way to display your Blogger blog's logo image in that floating header bar that appears as you scroll down in your blog (if you're using one of their new 2017 templates).

Blog title in floating header bar: text vs. image

Background


Right now, even if you add a header image to your blog (via the Layout page), the floating bar thing that appears when you scroll down will show just the name of your blog in text - not the logo image you love [Compare the blog title in the two images above]. Note this only applies to the four new themes: Contempo, Notable, Soho, and Emporio.

So this post will show one way to display an image in that floating header bar. It doesn't even have to be the same image. You could have one larger logo for the top of the blog page itself, but a different thinner logo to fit nicely in the floating bar.

This is adapted from an old trick for showing the image in Dynamic Views templates. Basically I will just set the background of the floating header element as an image. That way I can do it all via CSS rather than messing around with the blog template.

Let's start.


All the following code should be pasted into (Theme → Customize → Advanced → Add CSS)

Step 1 - Remove the blog title text 


We start by hiding the blog name text from the floating bar. Otherwise it will cover the image and look ugly. 

.centered-top-container.sticky .widget.Header h1 {display: none;}

Step 2 - Add the image


I'll assume you have your image already uploaded somewhere. The best way is just to insert the image into a Blogger post, and grab its URL by switching to the "HTML" compose view. You don't even need to post it; just uploading it once to a post draft is enough.

Your image should have a URL like:
 https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-blahblahblah/blahblah/blahblah/blahblah/s380/filename.png

Pay attention to that number. To get the best image size to use here (i.e. the smallest that's still clear enough to read), adjust that number manually first. For me in my example, s280 was the best size.

Hold on to that image URL.

Now paste the following into your blog's CSS:

.centered-top-container.sticky .blog-name, body.item-view .blog-name {
    background: url(https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-blahblahblah/blahblah/blahblah/blahblah/s380/filename.png) no-repeat center;
    height: 65px;
}

Replace the URL there with your own image URL.

Also check the height size. 65px looked best for me. Change the number to whatever size suits you and your chosen image. 

Step 3 - Remove the subscription button


So far it will look like this:

Subscribe button still there. Let's remove that.

We could either move the subscribe button, or just hide it completely. I think it's better to remove it. Add this code to hide it:

.centered-top-container.sticky .blog-name .subscribe-section-container {display: none;}

You could just move it down, in which case you would get this:

Subscribe button moved below the logo image

But I preferred just hiding it (as above), and relocating the blog subscription widget to the sidebar.

Step 4 - Padding (optional) 


This isn't necessary, but if the image spacing looks weird at all, you can also try just changing the padding (the white space around) with this:

body.collapsed-header .centered-top-container .blog-name {padding: 30px;}

Play around with the number until you find a good look. If you do this, you could also just remove the "height" portion of the Step 2 code.

Final look


Again here's what it would look like before and after:

Before: text title
After: Image title 

Those of course are mobile views. Here's how it looks on desktop:

Desktop view with image header

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Move Blogger's "Subscribe" widget to the sidebar in 2017's new themes


Here's how you can move your blog's "Subscribe" widget from the top of the main page into the sidebar on Blogger's new 2017 templates.

Moving the blog "Subscribe" button from the top floating header to the pop-out sidebar

Why do this?


The main reason I see for doing this is for when you customize the floating header bar to show your blog's logo image instead of its default behavior of showing just the blog's name in text. With a logo in the floating header bar, it can become cramped and take up too much space, especially on a mobile device, to have the "Subscribe" button sitting there. Or you just might like to reduce the clutter in the main viewer. Either way, we want to move the "Subscribe by Email" feature into the expanding sidebar thing. 

The problem is that the widget is locked by default. You can't just drag it over there. OR CAN YOU? (Hint: You can.)

So let's just unlock it and move it over.


Step 1 - Unlock the widget


Edit your blog's theme/template (Theme → Edit HTML).

From the "Jump to Widget" menu, find "FollowByEmail1"

Follow By Email widget (aka "Subscribe" feature): the highlighted line

You'll see that its "Locked" setting is "true". Change that to false. It should look like this:

 <b:widget id='FollowByEmail1' locked='false' title='Follow by Email' type='FollowByEmail' visible='true'>

Now save the template. Refresh the page completely after that. Otherwise the Layout page may not reflect this change.

Step 2 - Move the widget


Super easy now. Go back to the Layout section of your blog. You can see the Follow By Email card/box can now be dragged.

Follow widget is unlocked and ready to move

Just drag that sucker over into the sidebar. 

Done!


One more time, here's what the end result will look like:

Email Subscription sign-up form moved to the sidebar

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Move post thumbnails to the right in Blogger's Notable template


The "Notable" theme (one of Blogger's new 2017 templates), displays post thumbnails on the right by default, on your blog homepage. However it's very easy to move them so they display on the left side instead.


BEFORE
Notable theme default, with thumbnails on right




AFTER
Thumbnails on left


Just go to the CSS box in the Blogger design editor (Theme → Customize → Advanced → Add CSS) and paste this single line of code:

.post-outer .snippet-thumbnail {order: 1;}

That's it. 

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Moon Jae-in was at Operation Paul Bunyan


This is a neat fact of history that I didn't know about. Current Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in (and come Tuesday's election, likely Korea's president), was one of the ROK soldiers accompanying the US Military in Operation Paul Bunyan of the infamous DMZ Ax Murders incident.

Moon Jae-in during his army days. Image: Yonhap

From Time magazine's recent profile of Moon:

On the morning of Aug. 18, 1976, two American soldiers set off to trim a poplar tree in the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ). The tree was obscuring the line of sight between U.N. and North Korean guard towers on the narrow strip of land that has separated the peninsula's communist North from its capitalist South since an armistice effectively ended the 1950 — 53 Korean War. Both sides had approved the pruning, but North Korea sent soldiers to order the work to stop. Captain Arthur Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark Barrett refused, and were promptly hacked to death with their own axes.
General Richard G. Stilwell, then commander of the U.N. Forces in South Korea, ordered the tree completely cut down as a symbolic act of resolve. Among the troops sent to help fell the tree was a young South Korean soldier named Moon Jae-in. Tensions were dangerously high, he says today. "If the North had tried to interfere, it could easily have triggered war."
Moon Jae-in: The Negotiator | Time.com

I'd known about this incident, but never knew of Moon's involvement. Pretty amazing. Here's a brief idea of the show of force Moon would have been part of:

The North Korean army was put on full-alert. War seemed imminent. What came instead was, the aptly named, Operation Paul Bunyan three days later. South Korean and American military vehicles streamed into the Joint Security Area on the morning of August 21. U.S. soldiers began removing the tree with chainsaws, as twenty-seven helicopters hovered above, daring the North Koreans to do something. B-52s and fighter planes rumbled in the skies a short distance away. It took 42 minutes to cut down the tree, though a stump was left as a memorial to the fallen Americans.
When two Americans were axed to death by N. Korean soldiers | NK News - North Korea News

It sounds like some of those ROK soldiers involved wanted some action:

In addition, a 64-man South Korean Special Forces company accompanied them, armed with clubs and trained in Tae Kwon Do, supposedly without firearms. However, once they parked their trucks near the Bridge of No Return, they started throwing out the sandbags that lined the truck bottoms, and handing out M16 rifles and M79 grenade launchers that had been concealed below Several of the special forces men also had M18 Claymore mines strapped to their chests with the firing mechanism in their hands, and were shouting at the North Koreans to cross the bridge.
Axe murder incident - Wikipedia

Heck maybe Moon was this wacky guy talked about here:

A few of the ROK marines with us unbutton their shirts, showing that they have claymore mines strapped to their chests and they have the clacker (firing mechanism) in their hands. They start yelling and waving at the KPA to come on over. One of the ROK’s is laying on his side, on the ground, supporting his head his his hand, looking all casual and care free.
Memories of the JSA, Sept '75 - Oct '76

In all seriousness, it seems like the reality was a bit less exciting as far as Moon is concerned. A quick search suggest that he was part of the back-up unit standing ready to rush in and defend the units assigned to actually get in and remove the tree:

(문재인 상병 우리가 알고있는 그 문재인이 맞다.)
공수부대원으로 도발작전에 동원된것은 맞으나 후방 예비부대에 있었던 것으로 전해지며 북한초소를 쳐들어가서 때려부수는 일엔 관여되지 않았다.
세계 3차대전, 핵전쟁 위기를 불러온 판문점 도끼만행 사건과 문재인 : 네이버 블로그

Here's what he had to say about the operation:

“상병 때 ‘판문점 도끼 만행 사건’이 일어났다. 그 사건에 대한 대응으로 미루나무를 자르는 작전을 우리 부대가 맡았다. 한국전쟁 이후 처음으로 데프콘이 상향됐다. 준전시 사태였다. 나무를 자를 때 북한이 제지하거나 충돌이 일어나면 바로 전쟁이 발발하는 상황이었다. 그런 상황까지 대비해 부대 내 최정예 요원들이 미루나무 제거조로 투입되고 나머지 병력은 외곽에 배치됐다. 다행히 북한은 미루나무 자르는 것을 못 본 척 아무 대응을 하지 않았다. 그때 잘라온 미루나무 토막을 넣은 기념물을 국난(國難) 극복 기장이라고 하나씩 나눠줬다.
문재인 傳奇 (2/4) : 조선pub(조선펍) > 칼럼 > 정치

I ended up finding some photos I hadn't personally seen before by searching the Korean name of the event, 판문점도끼만행사건 (lit. Panmunjeom Ax Brutality Incident), on Google and also Naver which has a color version of the photo below, along with some surprisingly good looking action figure dioramas of the event.

Finally here's a line that I thought was pretty funny that sums up the incident:

I remember looking back at what’s left of the tree and thinking, “It’s not much, but it got their attention.”. Later, I try and rationalize with myself about the oriental, or at least Korean, culture. Saving face is very important; being bigger is better, etc., and that day they not only lost face, we proved to them that we were much bigger than they were, though for us it was still a letdown.
Memories of the JSA, Sept '75 - Oct '76


Engineers from the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division start to cut down the infamous tree while soldiers of the UNC Joint Security Force and ROK Army perform security around the operation. Caption: VFW Post #7591. Image: Wikipedia

You can read plenty more on the Panmunjom Ax Murder incident over at the ROK Drop archives.

HT: Reddit

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bill Nye's new show segment on K-pop


Bill Nye, the former "science guy," has a new show out. In one segment when he talks about fluid gender identities, he sends Derek from the YouTube pop-sci channel Veritasium to Korea to discuss gender fluidity in K-pop with a few industry figures, including the adorable Amber from girl group f(x).

There have always been rumors of Amber's sexuality, since her style is tomboyish. He also talks with some other K-pop star I've never heard of, but I'm not exactly the fandom type. Anyway here's a clip from the chat with Amber, who I forgot was born in the USA but real quick remembered when she opened her mouth. She always has a sort of humility to her in interviews, like she's worked hard to get this far and knows what it really takes.


If you want my opinion, I think this clip is a little patronizing. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I'm bored of these "Korea's ridiculously out of date cultural ideas are finally catching-up to the West" concepts. You're right, they don't actually say that. But it sure feels like a hint of that old Orientalism is lingering here. There's definitely a judgmental aspect to this kind of discussion, where the norms of the Westerner are presumed to be superior, and praise is heaped on those who appear to be most embracing them. But that's an old story that started long before K-pop.

Hey, I'm just here to share links. Don't look to me for gender theory.

HT: Amber and NCT's Johnny appear in Bill Nye the Science Guy's New Show — Koreaboo

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

YouTube Red releases K-pop reality show "Run, Big Bang Scout"


YouTube Red's premium production for Korea is ready to watch. "Run, Big Bang Scout!" (달려라 빅뱅단) is pretty much the same fare as your average "reality" show where the cameras just follow along some K-pop artists as they do stuff.

Image: YouTube Korea blog

Pro:
It's slick and has spot-on Korean production value. You truly won't be able to tell that this was a YouTube production and not an actual broadcast show. It has that feeling like someone just uploaded the episode ripped from TV.

Con:
It's just another Korean reality entertainment TV show. Unless you're an especially huge Big Bang fan, this type of show is a dime a dozen. I was going to watch it through while eating dinner but couldn't take it. I'm no K-pop fan girl.

Bonus Pro:
The show is subtitled by YouTube into 22 (count them: 22!) different languages. Actual human made subtitles, not computer generated.

YouTube Red is 7,900 won/month in Korea, but new subscribers get 30 days free.

There will be six episodes of this show, with new ones coming out each Thursday. Here's the whole playlist, but remember just the first episode is free to watch:



More info on the YouTube Korea blog where you can find the full episode schedule/synopsis, and it even got a write-up in Variety, which said the same thing I did but in a nicer way:
The six-episode series, “Run, BigBang Scout!”, is a lighthearted reality show in the vein of popular Korean variety shows that place celebrities in unfamiliar surroundings.
BigBang Reality Show Premieres on YouTube Red | Variety

If you ask me, a Korean audience isn't the actual target here. Koreans can watch these shows on TV, on VOD, on NaverTV, anywhere, basically free. Why would they pay an extra $8/month to watch it on YouTube? I suspect the real demographic market here is the international K-pop fandom, who are always desperate and ravenous for these "candid" portraits of their favorite stars in subtitled form. Google must want a slice of that hysteria. I can't blame them: As I've admitted before, this blog's top post of all time was basically a link I posted to a Naver V downloader. But hey, if they're bringing decent content to a wider audience, why not?

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Naver shows real-time Incheon airport parking congestion status


Naver now shows you the real-time, current parking situation at Incheon Airport. Just search 인천공항 주차장 on Naver, and it will bring up a card displaying how many spaces are available in each section of the airport parking lots. 

Naver screenshot showing number of empty parking spaces at Incheon airport

If you're in a rush during a holiday, like this week's golden holiday, I guess this could help you plan the best parking area to try first to increase chances of finding a spot. I've never had much problem finding parking there, and actually think the parking situation is a huge part of what makes Incheon Airport so great. 

If you scroll down a bit and expand the next section you can see parking fee rates. 

I like this instant card-like info. Recall that Naver does the same for checking passenger terminal congestion too:

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KEB card suspension for May 5, 2017


KEB users take note: April 29 and May 5, 2017 card use was/will be restricted.

From the KEB Hana Facebook page:
< Holidays Heads-Up >
Our branches will be closed on the following days in early May. Please make appropriate plans for your banking needs before or after the holidays:
May 1: Labor Day (Banking holiday)
May 3: Buddha's Birthday (national holiday)
May 5: Children's Day (national holiday)*
May 9: Special Presidential Election

< Important Information >--
On April 29, from 4 am ~ 9 am (5 hours), KEB Hana credit card services will be suspended due to the relocation of Hana Card's IT center. Only credit card services will be affected on this date.
-- On May 5 from 3 am ~ 8 am (5 hours), most banking services will be suspended due to the relocation of the Bank's IT center. This includes Internet, Smartphone, Phone Banking, check cards linked to a KEB Hana account, and ATM services. Credit card services will not be affected on this date.

KEB Hana Bank for Expats - Posts



Sorry I'm late on this. Hope nobody had issues on April 29. I was going to post about this last week when I got an SMS with this info in Korean, and then immediately forgot about it.

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