Down in the dumps at Chicken Toilet

Chicken Toilet is quite comfortable.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard about this place, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to eat there. I definitely wanted to go, but I half suspected that when I showed up and there was a squatter-shaped plate of chicken in front of me, my stomach might just knot up and say “No!” Discouragingly, my friend who discovered it, Verv, wasn’t able to stay there because his girlfriend was too sickened by the latrine decor.

Chicken Toilet is about 200 meters out Hoegi Station (Line 1 and Jungang Line) exit 2, which is the side of the station that most people don’t go. You might even say it’s the backside of Hoegi Station. Judging by the Daum street view, Chicken Toilet is newly opened, not even appearing on a street shot from October 2014.

It’s a big, bright place even before the theme catches your eye, and it looks more like the place where you could stop for a milkshake and maybe a hot dog, rather than a typical Korean chicken hof.

The name is right there, and the logo is a chicken-shaped toilet (or a toilet-shaped chicken?).

Chicken Toilet rules!
Chicken Toilet rules!

Despite the decor (or maybe because of it?), Chicken Toilet is a very sanitary place, with not a spot of grime anywhere. And it’s clear that none of the lavatory fixtures inside are secondhand.

The interior is lined with urinals.
The interior is lined with urinals. Some debate was held over whether these are functioning, as they do seem to be installed into the wall, but it is highly unlikely they are functional.

There’s a small interior to the place, but most of the seating is on the front deck, which is a pretty comfortable place.

The golden throne, and a wall squatter sit inside the front entrance.
The golden throne, and a wall squatter sit inside the front entrance.
Each table has an actual squatter mounted in the center, to hold your food when it comes. This could've been a dealbreaker, but was used sanitarily. Also note: the call button hidden inside.
Each table has an actual squatter mounted in the center, to hold your food when it comes. This could’ve been a dealbreaker, but was used sanitarily. Also note: the call button hidden inside.

Now that we’ve got that out of our system, Chicken Toilet is a pretty standard chicken hof. Most of the other diners there seemed pretty unfazed by the toilet theme, settling in pretty casually to the place. Staff had no trouble with me wandering around taking pictures of the restaurant; likely they’re counting on people visiting and making this place go viral.

It's not a media feeding frenzy.
It’s not a media feeding frenzy.

So, let’s talk food. The menu is pretty standard, with several varieties of chicken offered. They also have that awful-looking fried chicken/squid combination that seems to be popular these days.

Flaming shit chicken (left) will make you regret it the next day, and honey butter chicken (right) is just...ugh, no.
Flaming shit chicken (left) will make you regret it the next day, and honey butter chicken (right) is just…ugh, no.

Beer is decently priced, served in handsome dimple mugs with the Chicken Toilet logo for 3000 KRW each.

We decided to order the regular fried chicken (15,800KRW), because that’s the classic. It came in a wooden-carved squatter tray, which was placed on top of the actual porcelain squatter, so the food never actually touched an unappetising surface.

One order of Chicken Toilet fried chicken.
One order of Chicken Toilet fried chicken.

There was a handful of potato chips served with it, as well as the usual salad, and another toilet-shaped plate holding a squirt of curry, which is used as a dipping sauce to make the chicken just a little bit extra memorable.

We had to reorder this one more time. Needs more curry.
We had to reorder this one more time. Needs more curry.

When I first saw this place, I figured one of the menu items would be 딹똥침 (chicken sphincter), but thankfully it was nowhere on the menu. The atmosphere might’ve also meshed too well with 홍어 (fermented skate), which has a powerful ammonia odour reminiscent of a recently cleaned washroom. But I feel like they didn’t take the concept as far as it could. One obvious thing missing was a big roll of toilet paper at every table, once a common feature of a Korean restaurant table, but here instead they had regular napkins. If I could give the owners one suggestion, it would be to embrace the good ol’ bog roll at the table.

Another oddity of the place is that they don’t have their own actual functioning washroom; you have to go out the front door and go into the actual building, where there are adequate public washrooms. With all those toilets, squatters, and urinals around though, you’d think customers would occasionally zone out and start to do their business right in the restaurant. I wonder if it’s ever happened, and I would expect there would be protocols in place with the staff to deal with that.

I'm kind of surprised an alarm didn't go off and that nobody ran over to stop us.
I’m kind of surprised an alarm didn’t go off and that nobody ran over to stop us.

Ultimately, I’d say the food served here was a little above average with average prices, so even without the novelty theme, you’re getting your money’s worth. Thanks to the decent beer prices, it’s also a comfortable place to get liquored up. Would I go again? If I were in the area looking for a chicken hof, this would be my first choice.

Seoul to Rename Historic District


The historic neighbourhood Gye-dong, located within Bukchon Hanok Village, is expected to be renamed sometime this month, according to Jongno-gu officials.

The name change comes out of increased concern over of homosexuality. Because of its difficult pronunciation, city officials are concerned it sounds too close to “Gay Dong.” The name could be seen as a crass joke or even an invitation to foreign gays to visit. There is also concern due to the presence of two high schools in the neighbourhood, that the name could turn schoolchildren gay.

The decision was made on the tails of the Ministry of Education’s new guidelines for sex education, forbidding the discussion of homosexuality.

“This district has a long and dignified yangban history,” said government spokesman Hong Khil-dong. “We don’t want foreigners coming here thinking that there are gay dongs all over the place. Korea is a very traditional country.”

A storefront in Gye-dong.
This storefront in Gye-dong is unrelated to homosexuality.

But the sudden rebranding has been criticised for erasing history and encouraging an atmosphere of discrimination. Last year, Christian activists successfully blocked the signing of a charter of human rights protecting homosexuals from workplace discrimination, and Christians blockaded the annual gay pride parade in Sinchon, preventing the parade from proceeding.

However, Hong claims that this name change was not pushed through by Christian groups, but rather by an increasing concern of how Korean words sound in English. On the other hand, the names of other smutty-sounding locales, including Wangsimni and Dongdaemun will not be changed. “The city is not offended at how some words may carry unfortunate other meanings in foreign languages, and nor should it,” said Hong. “We are only removing names with homosexual connotations. There is nothing inherently homosexual about the word ‘dong’ on its own.”

There have also been talks of changing the name of Beomgye in Anyang City, 30 minutes south of Seoul.

“Also, we all saw what being soft on the gays did to our mayor,” added Hong. “We don’t want to be seen as soft on the gays. We want to be seen as hard on them, very hard on gays.”

The proposed new name for Gye-dong most favoured by local administrators is Yuseok-dong, after an independence activist known for his role in the April 1st Movement.

Big Day South: A festival of Southern Korean Audio and Visual Talent


The past year has been full of fantastic creative and exciting works by people operating in the south of South Korea: From music to art, poetry and spoken word to movie making, theatre and photography. The talent and passion of those, both Korean and not, who live and work outside of Seoul has shone through again, providing us with beauty, excitement and joy.

The Big Day South Festival is an annual audio-visual festival showcasing creativity in the south of the peninsula, celebrating talent in all its forms. The festival is the brainchild of Philip Brett, creator of the Ulsan-based Angle Magazine, an audio-visual web-zine for the south and Ali Safavi a long time promoter as well as a bassist in many Daegu bands.

Illap- Credit Kim Joochan
Illap: Photo by Kim Joochan
The PlasticKiz - Credit Swan Park
The PlasticKiz: Photo by Swan Park

After a few years championing good work in their respective cities, the thought came to combine their efforts and the brilliance of those around them into one big event that aims to show that one doesn’t always need to go to Seoul to see interesting things, or even leave the south to get recognition.

The first Big Day South festival took place in Daegu over a single day in a number of venues. It helped to introduce many artists, poets, wordsmiths, musicians and bands from Busan, Daegu and Ulsan to a wider audience as well as allowing the south a small moment of joy that was all their own.

Feggy Logos Photography
Feggy Logos Photography
TPY Graffiti Crew - Credit Kim Joochan
TPY Graffiti Crew: Photo by Kim Joochan

After the success of last year’s event, Big Day South’s net has been cast wider to bring together fantastic people from Gwangju, Jeonju, Daejeon and many places in between, to showcase their skills over a full weekend in the centre of the Ulsan.

This year the festival will take place at numerous venues from Friday to Sunday and will not only include artists and musicians, but also exhibitions of local artists’ and photographers’ work around the city, a performing arts stage of spoken word and poetry, interactive art, theatrical performances as well as a movie & wine night to top it all off.

Gwangju Performance Project - Credit Troupe
Gwangju Performance Project: Photo by Troupe
Busan English Theatre Association - Credit Troupe
Busan English Theatre Association: Photo by Troupe

While the festival showcases performers based in the south, it is open to the entire country and welcomes one and all to make the most of this chance to see what’s on offer outside of the capital. Big Day South strives to be a multi-lingual festival aimed at both Koreans and foreigners and the festival operates in both English and Korean and much as possible. We believe that enjoying and appreciating great creativity should not be hampered by mother tongue or nationality.

Whatever your interests, there will be something great to enjoy at this year’s Big Day South festival. Supporting local creativity and culture, whatever form it may take, will in turn create and foster more great local culture and enrich everyone’s lives!

When: April 24th – 26th 2015

Where: Different venues in Ulsan, South Korea

Price: Weekend Pass 20,000W (Single venue entry tickets available)

Presale: Information can be found via the event page ( ) or the website (

Big Day South Main Poster

PODCAST: 2014 In Review

2014 is only hours away from ending its run. Today, we take a look back at the year’s news. It’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

Today is literally the last day of 2014. In less than 12 hours, the clock will roll past midnight and with it, the year. To better understand what’s to come, it’s important to look back and reflect on what was. Joining the podcast this week is veteran broadcast journalist and host of the podcast, Kurt Achin.

You can subscribe to this and other podcasts on our website, just click on the tab that says subscribe or the big buttons for iTunes or Stitcher. Subscribing is free and when you do, the next episode is delivered right to you.

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Thumbnail by Erwin Soo.

PODCAST: Sydney Reels in Horror, North Korea Wins, What’s Next for China, and more.

Abe's electoral outcome, a big win for North Korea, and where does China go from here. These stories and more are on the December 19th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Abe’s electoral outcome, a big win for North Korea, and where does China go from here. These stories and more are on the December 19th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The Sydney Siege

Sydney, Australia was rocked this week when Man Haron Monis siezed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. Host Steve Miller summarizes the key events of the sixteen hour standoff that unfortunately led to the loss of two inside and the gunman.

When Monis forced his hostages to hold a black flag with Arabic flag in the cafe’s window, Sydney’s Muslim groups released a statement condemning the standoff saying in part, “The Australian Muslim community shares with fellow Sydneysiders their utter shock and horror at the unprecedented scenes emerging from Lindt cafe in Martin Place this morning. We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being.”

Miller also shares some good news about Australians stepping up in the wake of this horrific event.

Japan Election Update

Sunday, Japan went to the polls to select new members of the lower house of the Diet in a snap election called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Michael Cucek, Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan returns to the podcast with the results and analysis.

North Korea’s Big Win

The computer hacking incident against Sony has been the most devastating on record. Not because of the information gleaned, but because of its implications. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers,” Sony said in a statement as it pulled The Interview from theater release. Miller explains why this is dark and dangerous day for the world.

Hong Kong’s Future

Police cleared the final pro-democracy encampment Monday located on Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay. Reports say that less than twenty staunch supporters of the Umbrella Revolution staged a sit-in as police took down barricades. But what’s next?

Scott Harold, Political Scientist with the RAND Corporation, joins Miller to discuss what the central government must do to turn things around. Harold also comments on what we may see in 2015, as China continues its expansion in the South China Sea.

The Weekly Brief

Reporter Michael Farrell shares four more stories from the region, including the latest as a US Marine is transferred to a Filipino prison on suspicion of murder. Other stories include a call by some Japanese to ban a World War II prisoner of war film, Chinese President Xi’s continued consolidation of power, and how Jack Ma has surged to top of Asia’s rich list.


Host Steve Miller is going on vacation. Asia News Weekly will return February 2015. Until then, for everyone at Asia News Weekly, have a safe and happy holiday season.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Download the show notes here.

PODCAST: How the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect Works… or Does It?

It was expected to bring in over $3 billion a day in trading. A month after its launch, how is the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect performing? That's today's conversation taking place in Asia… now.

November 17th marked the first day of open trading on the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. It was supposed to channel more money between the two exchanges. At one point, some optimistic analysts predicted an almost US$4 billion per day rate in trading.

What we saw was about US$2.1 billion opening day and then a quarter of that the next. A month has passed, and I think it’s worth checking in to see how this potentially influential market is performing. Steve Cheng, Managing Director of RHB OSK Investment Bank joins me to discuss.

After listening to our conversation, please answer these questions in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Do you dabble in Asian stocks? If you do so, do you trade in either Hong Kong or Shanghai? What’s your impression of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect?

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Download the show notes here.

PODCAST: Hong Kong Protests, Typhoon Hagupit, Japan’s Election, Xi’s Graft Hunt, and more

Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The Hong Kong protests fade

For nearly three months, the residents of Hong Kong took to the streets demanding electoral reform. They denounced the plan to vet and presumably stack a list of viable candidates in 2017 ahead of the city’s first open vote with pro-Beijing supporters. The peaceful movement was dubbed the Umbrella Revolution and this week it came to an end.

Asia News Weekly host Steve Miller recaps the week’s events, even as Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, calls for more action, “It’s to demonstrate what we’re taking part is an act of civil disobedience action. That means although the government and police might use furious action on the protestors, we still resist till the last moment. It’s not simply for us to be arrested, but to demonstrate our spirit and we will resist till the last moment.”

Typhoon Hagupit

In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan raged across the Philippines, resulting in the death of more than 7,300 souls. This week, it was widely feared that another typhoon, following roughly the same path, would unleash a similar wave of destruction in an area still struggling with recovery.

“Our job really is to calm them down to minimize any of the negative repercussions from an event such as this. So I’m pressing everybody: The checklist of what has to be done, preferably should have been done yesterday,” Philippine President Aquino said last week before Typhoon Hagupit struck.

While there were some unfortunate losses of life from this natural disaster, Miller provides context on why this storm didn’t provide the same results as Haiyan and the possible impact for Filipinos still recovering.

Japan’s Election

Sunday, December 14th, Japan heads to the polls in a snap election called by Prime Minister Sinzo Abe. He dissolved the lower house of Parliament following a tour of top-level Asian summits and is using this vote to seek validation of his economic policies amidst a recession worse than previously thought.

Miller shares the latest poll results and projections, and even thought the LDP is predicted to retain its power in the Diet, what it means for the future of Japan remains unanswered.

Xi’s China Crackdown

Over the past two years, President Xi Jinping has initiated a number of programs aimed at extending China’s influence and cleaning up politics to solidify his control across all levels of power. In what some experts have said is his biggest and boldest move yet, Xi arrested former public security czar Zhou Yongkang. Zhou represents the highest level official to be taken down in Xi’s war on graft. What happened, how did Zhou’s fall from grace occur, and why the story sounds more like a steamy soap opera are all explained.

The Weekly Brief

Michael Farrell returns to the podcast with a short round-up of other stories from the region. In The Weekly Brief, Farrell gives gruesome details on Chinese organ harvesting practices, an update on a Swiss man escapes from the Abbu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines, how cheap instant coffee is supplanting tea as Aisa’s go-to beverage and more.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Download the show notes here.

PODCAST: Hong Kong Protests: Then, Now, and the Future

What’s it been like in Hong Kong during the protests and where are they headed? Bruce Lui of HK’s Baptist University joins me to discus.

Hong Kong came to be under British rule as part of a concussion made by China after its defeat in what’s commonly referred to as The First Opium war. The island remained part of the United Kingdom until July 1st, 1997, when it reverted back to China through what’s known as the Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which governs the island, outlines how the top office, or Chief Executive is to be selected in Article 45:

“The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People’s Government.

“The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.”

It’s the interpretation of the term “universal suffrage” that led us to the current protests in Beijing. At its core, universal suffrage simply means the right to vote. Something Bejing says it’s granting under its plan for 2017. Protesters are object to the pre-selection of candidates by a centralized committee and feel the intention of the article refers to completely open nominations and subsequent voting.

December 2nd, I spoke with Bruce Lui, a Senior Lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication. We discussed the pro-democracy movement and I began our conversation by asking him to describe the mood of the protests from its inception up through the recent crackdowns.

After you listen to the podcast, I’d love to hear your interpretation of Article 45. Does it grant Hong Kongers the ability to nominate their own candidates or simply provide the privilege to vote? Sound off in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter.

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thumbnail: Trey Ratcliff (Flickr)

A Passage to Seoul

A city isn’t so unlike a person. They both have the marks to show they have many stories to tell. They see many faces. They tear things down and make new again.

― Rasmenia Massoud, Broken Abroad

Quickly, quickly.  That’s the Korean motto.

Things move fast in Seoul; In a country that restructured a post-war economy with unrelenting haste, life in the big city can be exhausting. Hordes of commuters spill out of subway carts entranced in a smartphone hypnosis, subliminally bombarded by billboards telling them how or who to look like.


Metal chariots rally round corners in perpetual loops of fury, thundering into pit stops with an urgency mirroring the city’s meteoric rise. Between the velocity of human traffic and the constantly regenerating urbanity, Seoul doesn’t slow down so easily to let you get to know why she acts this way. You’ve got to take your time with her, get to know her. Then she’ll be more willing to open up and reveal her true nature.


Like the faces of so many people here, iconic symbols like Gyeongbukgong Palace are revisions of the original, the main gate being reconstructed from elsewhere. It looks exquisite nonetheless, and constant material beauty needs maintenance, as the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry here attests to.

South Korea sprang to prominence in modern times out of a fiercely competitive spirit . “Fighting!” is another motto.  What Korea’s ubiquitous mirrors, direct comments on one another’s physical appearance and the necessity of a resume photo all imply is that when the competitive domestic market became saturated, the default factor rests on surface values. First impressions count, here more than most places.


To get a true feel for this complex city, stepping away from the carnival and peeking behind the curtain is a good place to start. To remove the city’s makeup and see her visible signs of graft and grit that cultivated such a bold and ambitious lady.

Seoul’s intertwining, weathered and rusting alleys are a key factor in revealing how she came to be. The bygone-era feel of the lanes of Chungmuro aren’t consciously catering to the aesthetic sensibilities of passers by – they aren’t on the tourism map. The film studios of old have packed their bags and chased the Gangnam dream. Yet these ventricles make up a living entity that speaks of decades of productive endeavor which continue to fuel the metropolis’s growth.


Much like the palace gates, signs of developmental modifications are seen everywhere. From the infusion of American culture and business models to the motorbikes here in Chungmuro, the evolution of the city has produced hybridity on every level of society. These custom-made bike/trailer mutations have sprung up all around the city but seem to be the exclusive transport of choice for the printers, whose shops dominate the landscape here. Evolving out of practical necessity, they are small enough to navigate the narrow lanes and fast enough to supply their goods around town with haste.


Beaming barber poles sprout from dimly-lit doorways like emerging buds after a harsh winter. To some, a sign of salvation, others, a monument to lost love. These poles echo the tales of a thousand adulterous men, some regulars, others merely ships passing the night. The women within might tell you a tale of their importance in the country’s growth, of how they kept these same customers spirits high throughout the day, the rotating batons may have been the beacons of hope to a hopeless existence under the iron fist of military rule.


Seoul wears many unique and vibrant masks for her guests and hosts alike. Just like her people, desperate to put their best face forward, she also has her fair share of cracks and visible signs of struggle. How the light enters the void can illuminate her essence. Here in the hidden alleys, where the fading natural light of dusk flirts with the artificial beams of print shop windows, lamps, and flickering neon of the alleys, is where the core of her hardy old soul shines true.


There’s beauty in her decay, and of course material beauty will eventually come to pass. A young girl, striding slowly twixt the fade and rust, sparks the scene into new life. Anything with a soul can be revived and resuscitated, regenerated anew like the city itself rising defiantly from the war-torn ashes.



Emerging from the enclaves into the early evening night, modern Seoul reveals herself briefly. We cross over the Cheonggye, a river, a main vein of Seoul recovered from concrete highway obscurity. It’s revitalization wasn’t cheap, nor is it’s maintenance, but it’s now easier on the eye. This city has a propensity for changing faces.


Now we flow into that most vital organ of Seoul, Gwang Jang Market, containing hundreds of steaming, crackling, open-air food stalls. The oldest remaining market in the country is serviced by that lifeblood, the backbone, the very heart of the nation: the Ajjuma. These tenacious ladies have given their life for the nation, and, as familial bonds break apart, many of them aren’t going to be hanging their visor up any time soon.

Ajjumas hustle hard.


Heavily made-up with sometimes dyed, but always permed hair, the elderly women of Korea attempt to defy their own natural decay in their own way. The lady above, with her eyelid surgery and possible botox, showing that personal modifications aren’t merely for the young. Divorce rate is increasing in Korea and business is always booming in Gwang Jang. Some of these old girls aren’t just frying up intestines, they’re looking for love, one person’s steel-elbowed subway nemesis is an ajjeossi’s potential mate. Looking good behind a severed, hollowed-out pigs head or a steaming bowl of insect stew could be as appealing to an old man as the basket wielding make-up girls of Myeong-dong to the androgynous, polished pretty boys that make up the young.




The green bottle that fuels them all: Soju encapsulates the “bali bali” quickly quickly culture of which all Koreans are embedded. Quickly made, quickly drank; work hard, drink harder. Repeat. In the race for modern civilization, the industrial age fired many nations off to a rapid, if clumsy start – Seoul’s the dark horse that just came from behind – soju, it’s rocket fuel.


One of the oldest cooks, above, toils with her speciality pancake, a fusion of spinach and seafood. Her hardened, oily hands may barely feel pain these days, but the distinct, flawless nose amongst the tethered wrinkles of cheek and brow alludes to something deeper. Is this yet another grizzled ajjuma who accepted her place in society, or did she aspire to be more than merely a producer of pancakes? Did her surgery facilitate past adventures? Romances? Business ventures? Or was she merely conforming to the standards being set for her, as the perm and floral print so often are an indication of.




The chase of success and recognition here in Korea is not without casualties. The Chaebol-dominated ultra-competitive landscape, suicide rates, wide-scale depression and dehumanizing education system are all connected, and are all symptoms of a society trying to break the chains of it’s impoverished past. Eggs are being broken to make this omelet, and the discarded shells are barely being acknowledged before being swept away in pursuit of the task at hand.

To understand Korea’s urgency to succeed, and to explore the ways in which Seoul and her people have metamorphosed through constant and rapid adaptation is to gain a wider appreciation for a woman who isn’t going to drop her clothes for you after a few shots of soju. You need to play the long game.

To understand this city and her ambitions a little more is to comprehend her struggles, and if you haven’t been a part of that story, it will take time, apathy and ultimately, respect, to appreciate her for who she is, however briefly it may be.

She may never tell you the whole story, but that’s ok.

The mystery is alluring.


All words and photos by Simon Slater. You can see more of his work at The Secret Map or by joining the Facebook group

By the way, you could vote for this article in the Korean Observer‘s K-Blog Awards for best article here:

You should probably vote for Asia Pundits too!

PODCAST: Hong Kong Protests’ Uncertain Future, What Taiwan’s Election Means, Sex Slave Talks, and More

The protests in Hong Kong get violent, what does Taiwan’s election mean, and the sex slave talks come to an end. These stories and more are on the December 5th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The protests in Hong Kong get violent, what does Taiwan’s election mean, and the sex slave talks come to an end. These stories and more are on the December 5th edition of Asia News Weekly.

What’s next for Hong Kong?

The landscape of the Hong Kong protests changed dramatically this past week. Authorities pushed to clear pro-democracy protesters out of the Mongkok district, where they’ve been encamped for more than two months. During that confrontation more than 100 were arrested, including Lester Shum, one the leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Joshua Wong of Scholarism.

Asia News Weekly host Steve Miller provides a full summary of the week’s events and speaks with Bruce Lui, a Senior Lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication about the organizers’ future plans.

Taiwan’s Election Results

Last week, Taiwan went to the polls, setting up a key confrontation between the Kuomintang (KMT) party and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It was the island’s biggest election, which included over 11,000 offices up for grabs, and was viewed largely as an indicator where the winds were blowing: either towards the KMT and Beijing or shifting towards the DPP. With Taiwan’s President Ma’s approval rating hovering around 20% (or lower), the KMT expected some losses, but what it got was a beat down.

What does the DPP win mean for Taiwan’s relationship with mainland China? For that, Miller welcomes back to Asia News Weekly Scott Harold, political scientist with the RAND Corporation who shares his insights and analysis.

Will Thailand Ever Return to Democracy?

In May of this year, the Thai military under the leadership of Prayuth Chan-ocha led a bloodless coup, ousting the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. The junta promised the reforms so many had called for and new elections in 2015, once the changes had been implemented. This week, the junta announced it would not be possible to hold the elections as originally planned due to opposition.

It was an announcement many expected. Miller presents the latest updates on the junta’s reforms and pending impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who according to Kyoto’s University Pavin Chachavalpongpun, is being conducted to eliminate the Shinawatras and their allies from ever holding offices again.

Pointless Sex Slave Talks

South Korea and Japan met last week for the fifth round of talks to discuss the long outstanding issue of Japan’s use of women as sexual slaves during World War II and possible resolutions. The talks have proved fruitless since their resumption as evidenced by two recent developments. Miller highlights the latest issues and explains that as much as Seoul would like to take the high road in the talks, significant questions remain about its own past.

China Prepares for More Activity in the China Seas

Last weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a foreign policy speech. In it he said, “We should firmly uphold China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and national unity.” It’s statements like this that give many pause as to how territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas will be handled. In the past year, we’ve seen an uptick in rhetoric and confrontations, although Xi states he’s opposed the “willful use or threat of force.”

The U.S. State Department’s Jeff Rathke, East-West Center’s Denny Roy, and Australian National University’s Defense Senior Fellow John Blaxland all commented on events and help paint a picture of what we may see in the coming years in the East and South China Seas.

The Weekly Brief

Reporter Michael Farrell closes out the podcast with updates on the Tatsuya Kato case in Seoul, where he’s accused of defaming South Korean President Park Geun-hye. It also appears North Korean hackers have targeted Sony Pictures in advance of it releasing the Seth Rogan and James Franco film “The Interview.” Ferrell also includes updates from an attack in Xinjiang, political detentions in the region, and how one Korean brought home an award for tinting windows.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thumbnail: Pasu Au Yeung

Download the show notes and time codes here.