North Korea – A Peek into the Hermit Kingdom

September 17, 2008

Kim Jong-Il
Even in death former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il watches over his people with a stern eye

Speculation is rife over the health of North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung. In a manner befitting all dictators, actual hard facts have been difficult to come by yet it’s quite obvious that something is happening in country. Recall only months ago all the speculation regarding the health of Fidel Castro and what his death would do to Cuba.

Naturally, the topic of North Korea after Kim Il-Sung has been played up in the media. Some suggest that his illness could open the door to Korean reunification. Others are taking a more cautious wait and see attitude.

This is all the more fascinating because the rule of the Il family in North Korea has been marked by an uber-paranoia about foreign influence and subversion. Coined “The Hermit Kingdom“, access to the approved non-tourist parts of North Korea (of which there are few) is incredibly difficult to obtain. Jerry Guo shares his experience of travel through North Korea with Chinese tourists: Read the rest of this entry »


All Your Eggs in One Basket – China’s One Child Policy

August 12, 2008

Chinese boys

High expectations are placed on Chinese children

China’s One Child Policy was introduced in 1979 to alleviate social and environmental problems that the country was facing. Unfortunately, a whole new series of issues have arisen from this policy, not least amongst them are those that are psychological in nature:

Youth Research Centre, a branch under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences conducted a research, wherein they visited nearly 3,000 families in few localities. The main target behind the survey was to know the educational expectations that the parents have from their children.

Almost ninety percent of the parents said that they want their children to go for higher education – a university graduate.

Many believe that without being a university graduate, life will be a total failure. Among the interviewees, almost 45% of them wanted their child to get a masters degree.

However, the pressure is more on the boys and the girls are spared, because they are not expected to have a successful career.

Experts say that too much pressure on the child may lead to unnecessary hassle such as depression and mental trauma.

These children are showered with attention and are expected to become academic dynamos, but the competition is fierce and the psychological impact of the pressure is even worse.

Taylor Clark takes a look at this issue in the excellent article Plight of the Little Emperors.

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China – home to the most exciting new architecture of the 21st century

July 17, 2008

Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts

Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts, design by French architect Paul Andreu

Flush with western dollars and about to stage its coming out party this summer at The Olympics in Beijing, China has remodeled itself with the help of the world’s best architects and designers. Bold, brave, creative, and yet humanistic, China is transforming itself at a pace similar to when the USA was bursting with the same self-assured confidence a century ago when it declared the 20th century to be “The American Century”. Kurt Anderson of Vanity Fair takes a peek at the visual delights rising in China in From Mao to Wow!