Posts Tagged 'South Korea'

The New World Order: A Land Grab Looms

Masaola Forest, Madagascar. Photo by glowingz.

Masaola Forest, Madagascar. Photo by glowingz.

SEOUL — SOUTH KOREA’S DAEWOO LOGISITCS recently locked down half of Madagascar’s arable land for agriculture exports back home, according the Financial Times. But the real kicker, and what has the London paper using words like “neo-colonialism,” is that Daewoo isn’t expecting to pay a dollar for the land.

The Indian Ocean island will simply gain employment opportunities from Daewoo’s 99-year lease of 1.3m hectares, officials at the company said. They emphasised that the aim of the investment was to boost Seoul’s food security.

“We want to plant corn there to ensure our food security. Food can be a weapon in this world,” said Hong Jong-wan, a manager at Daewoo. “We can either export the harvests to other countries or ship them back to Korea in case of a food crisis.”

The local Maeil Business Newspaper (매일경제) bitterly refuted the Times’ report on Friday. The paper said Daewoo will invest 6 billion dollars over the next 20 years into the East African island nation. It added that while the South Korean government has not directly responded to the FT’s coverage, Seoul sees the report as a “malicious distortion.”

In an unashamedly biased front-page story Friday, the Maeil asked: “Could (the FT report) be a sign of greed over Europe’s lost hegemony in Africa, once considered its back yard?”

Also on Friday, the FT reported that Kuwait and Qatar, along with Asian nations including South Korea, are looking to scoop up land in Cambodia in return for sizable investments.

The trend is worrisome. Should food shortage fears like those that rippled through Asia earlier this year spike again, capital-rich nations will surely start to horde. Poorer agricultural nations will be left in the lurch, and unable to feed their people, they’ll resort to outside aid. This would give birth to a new power structure that could indeed be characterized as colonial.

If Daewoo’s Hong is right about food becoming a “weapon,” and he may be, then our world is set to open a new dystopian era. It’s hard not to wonder when reading quotes like these whether humanity has lost its vision; whether we have regressed from modern civilization into a new global feudalism.

(Edited on November 22, 2008)

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This Week’s Wandering News

It’s been a long time since This Week’s has run, but in an attempt to — once again — get things into a normal rhythm here at TDT, we’re bringing it back. This week we lead with another disheartening tidbit about fakery at the Olympic Games.

  • Remember the ethnic minorities? They were fake too, says Foreign Policy blog Passport. Linking to a piece printed in Britain’s Telegraph, FP says the boys and girls who supposedly represented China’s 56 ethnic minorities in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics were, in fact, all Han Chinese.
  • Canadian writer-gone-English-teacher Joel McConvey posts a witty piece of booze-laden journalism about expat bars from his corner of the world in Jeju-do, South Korea. He deftly observes that the most memorable foreigner-filled watering holes are those that foster a “sense of limbo, wherein the bar’s palpable detachment from the surrounding geography and the norms of both the society in which it exists and that which it strives to emulate mirrors that of its transient patrons.”
  • Despite food prices being on the rise, people are still Buying into ‘organic,’ ‘natural,’ ‘local,’ writes IHT journalist Aline Sullivan. From the under-the-bridge farmers markets to the aisles of Whole Foods, foodies from Orange County to Britain are putting their money where their mouth is.
  • The Head of the House Homeland Security Committee has labeled TSA screener testing ‘a waste’, according to USA Today. Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) was reportedly pretty peeved when he found out that no follow-up examinations were being made after personnel failed to discover guns and other contraband that made it through the screening process. “You have a system that’s supposed to strengthen airport security, but you don’t use the results of the tests to do exactly what you’re doing the tests for,” he said. “It’s obviously a waste of money.”
  • And last Sunday, the Independent‘s Gap Year Guide took readers to the scorched New Mexico desert to show them How to be a modern day Mowgli. Or at least, how they can volunteer at a wolf sanctuary, hopefully without getting bitten.

This Week’s Wandering News

  • In a recent letter to The Morning News, Rosecrans Baldwin tells readers that Paris is bummin’ him out…and, you know, trying to kill his wife.
  • South Korea is worried about the price of booze — more specifically, soju. In a battle to keep low-income families afloat amid inflation, the government released a list of 52 items that it will price monitor; the potato-based distilled beverage made the cut.
  • Guidebook author Alastair Sawday talks about the Slow Travel movement over at the Guardian, and gives his picks for meandering around Britain.
  • The International Herald Tribune gives a public face to the five women who died during Tibet’s riots: He Xinxin, Chen Jia, Li Yuan, Cirenzhuoga and Yang Dongmei.
  • And finally, all this news might hardly matter if earth is eaten by a black hole.

For more links, check my del.icio.us.

This Week’s Wandering News

  • The Guardian’s Vicky Baker is looking to get off the Lonely Planet grid by “Going Local” in South America, putting couchsurfing and other hospitality sites to the test. Follow her three month journey here.
  • In South Korea, rising oil prices are getting people to start thinking about greener products, says the JoongAng Daily. Local vendors are selling more bicycles, especially of the folding variety, and Samsung just released a hot new low-energy plasma TV.
  • Never mind the pre-election bullying from local Maoists, The New York Times says tourism is up in Nepal, and is drawing well-seasoned travelers seeking spiritual solace — and yetis.
  • A man was charged on Friday with trying to light an airplane seat on fire during a flight from Las Vegas to Seattle. Maybe he was trying to get them to land closer to his home in Ashland, Ore. — or maybe he just wasn’t happy with his economy seating.
  • Thousands protested American military presence in Okinawa today following gruesome rape cases involving marines, says AFP. I’m scratching my head as to why we still have troops in the pacifist nation.

Happy Sunday. Safe travels, and don’t eat too many peeps.


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