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Sunday, October 23, 2016

FABULOUS FALL FANTASY: DAY #1--The Difference Between North and South Korea

I'm on my way to Seoul.  Every time I plan for a trip to South Korea something dastardly occurs in North Korea that gives me pause.  However, I refuse to allow North Korea, and terrorists in general, to much affect my life.

I have no interest in visiting North Korea, but CNN says you can:
  • Need to go on a guided tour.
  • About a third of North Korea's 2000 tourists/year come from the USA.
  • You can bring a cell phone but will need to get a SIM card when there.
  • No credit cards and difficult internet, if at all.

South Korea?  Just need a passport.  No visa unless you stay for more than 90 days.  13 million visited the country in 2015.

To compare:

                                SOUTH                                NORTH

Government            Republic                               Dictatorship
Capital                     Seoul                                    Pyongyang
Slightly larger than Indiana                                  Virginia
Literacy                   98%                                      100%
Chief of State         Geun-hye Park                      Jong Un Kim
GDP                       $1.7 trillion                            $0.04 trillion
Exchange rate       1100 SK won/$                      157 NK won/$

Here are a few graphics showing the differences between North and South:

Interestingly enough, it took a decade after the Korean War for South Korea to show recovery.  

Military, although South Korea has the USA, too.

This comparison is a bit busy, but you get the point.

Three years ago I proposed a total makeover for North Korea.  A few samples:
  • To their whitewall leader:  get a new hairstylist.
  • Replace your female TV announcer with Kathy Couric.
  • Ditch Dennis Rodman and cultivate Michael Jordan.
Whoops, I'd better cut out these insults until I leave South Korea, for I don't want to provoke the Stupendous Puerile Leader to lob a missile on Seoul.

I'm at the Honolulu International Airport and gaze out at my plane, with Diamond Head in the background.  Why am I going to Korea anyway?  Here I am in my comfortable cocoon in Paradise, otherwise known as Purgatory, but more accurately called 15 Craigside.  I live an enjoyable life not absent of challenges and opportunities, which are desirable.  Why go to exotic locales and place undue stress on my body for no good reason?  Well, for the Fall Colors (below is a photo I took in the Fall 2015 of Korakuen Park, Tokyo) and the potential for Fabulous Fantasies.  So return to Day 2 for possible vicarious thrills and experiences.

Surprise, surprise.  I bumped into Rick Rocheleau in the Honolulu Airport United Club.  We then sat next to each other for seven hours on the United flight to Tokyo, followed by a few hours in the ANA Lounge at Narita, before he flew off to Singapore.  Rick replaced me as director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute nearly 17 years ago, and we had a nice long series of chats. He mentioned that Hawaii has, indeed, become a showcase for wind/solar/HPOWER electricity, as these facilities can now supply up to 80% of the electricity on Maui and Oahu during specific periods of the day.  The current challenge is grid stability.  While I ate, relaxed and read in the ANA Lounge, he spent a goodly portion of his time working (left).  My meal:


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