Saturday, October 21, 2017

Korean government emails to Tumblr: you're becoming a "porn site"

For you addicts who can't get enough lewd content on Tumblr (I'm looking at you, certain Reddit users), you probably already know that the Korean government is on to you, and has been (unsuccessfully) requesting that Tumblr proactively remove and prevent such content. Several articles have gone up in English about it:

ZDNet Korea had an article up about it, rehashing the same basic ideas. But it also included this adorable transcript of an excerpt from the Korea Communications Standards Commission official emails to Tumblr about the matter. You may know the KCSC as the friendly folks behind those bold blue WARNING notices when you visit a blocked site in Korea.

Exchange between Korean KCSC and Tumblr. Image: ZDNet Korea 

Here's that text:

[KCSC email to Tumblr]

Recently, a lot of sexually explicit videos are being uploaded on Tumblr. It has emerged as a big social issue, Tumblr has been mistaken for a new porn site in South Korea.  KCSC( is working with Google, Facebook and Twitter in order to respond to illegal contents. We hope to cooperate with Tumblr, too.If you don't have a contact point in South Korea, please let me know other possible contacts.

최근에 많은 성적으로 노골적인 동영상이 텀블러에 업로드되고 있습니다. 텀블러는 한국에서 새로운 포르노 사이트로 오해받게 되었고, 큰 사회적 이슈로 떠올랐습니다. KCSC(방송통신심의위원회)는 불법 콘텐츠에 대응하기 위해 구글, 페이스북, 트위터와 협력하고 있습니다. 우리는 텀블러와도 협력하기를 희망합니다. 한국에 연락 지점이 없으면 가능한 다른 연락처를 알려주십시오.

[Tumblr's response]

Please note that Tumblr is a US company regulated by US law. Tumblr has no physical presence in South Korea, and is not subject to its jurisdiction or laws. Additionally, Tumblr is a service that enables broad freedom of expression and therefore hosts a wide variety of content, including adult-oriented material. We have reviewed the reported content, but as it does not violate our policies, we will not be taking action at this time.

텀블러는 미국 법률에 규제받는 미국 회사입니다. 텀블러는 대한민국에서 실제 존재하지 않으며 관할권이나 법률의 적용을 받지 않습니다. 또한 텀블러는 광범위한 표현의 자유를 허용하여 성인 중심의 자료를 비롯한 다양한 콘텐츠를 호스팅하는 서비스입니다. 신고 된 콘텐츠를 검토했지만 우리의 정책을 위반하지 않으므로 현재로서는 조치를 취하지 않을 것입니다.

최명길 위원 "'음란정보' 온상 텀블러(Tumblr), 방심위 협력요청 거절" | 정치 | 국회/정당 | 한경닷컴

The article also had this table of takedown requests for prostitution and obscene content. Look at that exponential growth on Tumblr in the red. Remember that last number is just up through June of this year. 

2012~6/2017 KCSC Prostutution/Obscenity Takedown Requests. Image: ZDNet Korea

Well, duh. Facebook and Instagram don't allow obscene content anyway, so no surprise for low numbers there. Twitter is hardly the best medium for posting dirty videos, but I also feel like those numbers mimic user activity on Twitter anyway. Lot of my friends gave up on it completely. I almost have done so. Tumblr, meanwhile, is full of XXX content, and not just for Korea, but generally. Seriously, take a look, and you'll wonder just how Tumblr isn't a porn site. It's more like Playboy's golden era: lots of liberal-leaning content and activists, and lots of gratuitous nudity.

I actually get what the KCSC is trying to do here. And this isn't new: it goes back nearly 10 years.

But if you ask me, if the government really wants to crack down, they ought to look closer to home. Tumblr is just where lewd content gets reposted, but a lot of that content is created, shared, and abused right on messengers like KakaoTalk and Line. Look at some of these stories of the past month:

All involve chat apps. This isn't just your horny 15 year old in bed at night. This is life threatening underage prostitution and exploitation. It's not on a screen. It happens to real people, often runaway teen girls.

Chat rooms and Bands are the lifeblood of  these kind of illegal underage sex crimes. I'm not saying all chats should be monitored, or that I've got the answers. I'm just some guy with a blog. But if the goal is to reduce the real world harm of prostitution and porn, then maybe the energy associated with this latest Tumblr crusade should be refocused where it really counts.

Finally I can't talk about Tumblr without a nod to the old Posts from Dokdo. Maybe I should reactivate that thing. Nah.

Update: See too this article from Korea Expose coincidentally put up around the same time as this post.
🔗 "There could be one of you": S. Korea's Spycam Porn Epidemic | KOREA EXPOSÉ

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AlphaGo that beat Lee Sedol now beaten by... AlphaGo... 100:0

Quick note if you missed this: the Google DeepMind team now has AlphaGo Zero. This new AI learned Go from scratch, and is badass. They had it play against the same version of AlphaGo that beat Lee Sedol last year... and it won... 100 games to 0.

Just to recap: that older version of AlphaGo beat a world grand champ human 4 games to 1. Basically we're all just John Henrys now, but don't even get that moment of victory before kicking the bucket. It took it 3 days of trial-and-error game learning to surpass the Lee Sedol level. 

Of course we already decided that humans facing off against humans is more fun. Sure, an army of Boston Dynamics monsters could probably school the Pats all over the field, but that doesn't mean human football has lost any of its clout. And some higher end animatronics can out ballet us. There's even a golf club swinging arm-on-a-cart out there with radar laser vision  something or other calculating the right trajectory and force for each swing and nailing holes-in-ones. We already ceded our physical skill to the machines. It makes sense they'll beat us in strategy games. But games are games. They're fun. And humans fighting robots is really only fun at first for novelty, and then later in movies when they're trying to terminate us. Now that will be the match to keep an eye on. Meanwhile we're still waiting on the supposed breakthroughs in medicine and science that system runners like AlphaGo's keep promising. That's my ten won, anyway.

Check out more on AlphaGo Zero here:

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Naver Maps coming in English for 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics

I tweeted earlier about how Naver Maps (and Kakao Map) will release full English versions of their apps coinciding with the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics:

Naver intends to release an English version of its map app at an unspecified date, and will build on user feedback to also release a Chinese version. Kakao will likely release an English version in December, and will also upgrade its Kakao Navi to provide voice navigation in English.
Naver, Kakao to Release English Map Apps Ahead of Upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics | Be Korea-savvy

That article seems to be citing a Korean-language Yonhap News article source, which was actually the only article I could seem to find about this. And that quoted paragraph you just read above is literally all the info that's public right now, as far as I can tell. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a nice thorough English guide to using Naver Maps:
🔗 [S. Korea] How to Use Naver/Daum Maps to Find the Fastest Route to Arcade Stream (or Anywhere) | Smashboards

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Naver Blogs get new Instagram style theme on mobile

Title says it all. Naver Blogs has a new theme called Album View that makes users' blog posts appear as little square thumbnail images that coincidentally mimics the look of Instagram.

Naver Blogs Album View. Image: Naver

I actually really like it. It's like an refreshed, updated version of Google Blogger's "Flipcard" or "Snapshot" dynamic templates. They have another one too for writing-focused blogs. Click the link in the picture caption if you're interested.

Naver has done a good job of keeping blogging relevant in Korea. Some people criticize Koreans' reliance on blogs for information, but come on, like citing Wikipedia is much better, or that random thing some guy said in a Facebook group.

Plus, from my tinkering, most Naver Blog desktop templates are pretty bad. Mobile ones look good though, which you can set from the app, in much the same way as the Wordpress app. But nobody cares about this stuff but me so </post>.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Twitter shows a 달토끼 (Moon Rabbit) emoji for Chuseok 2017

Little bit late on this, but if you hadn't noticed, Twitter is now displaying a cute emoticon of a rabbit silhouetted in front of a full moon, to celebrate the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) harvest festival.

Examples of the Moon Rabbit

Here's an example from SK Telecom:

SK Telecom wishing you a HAPPY #추석. Image: Twitter

That's mildly funny. They're making a pun, which literally says "The thick rich smell of ham frying up... I'm sending you a happy Chuseok!" but "happy" and "ham frying" sound similar in Korean (햄볶 vs 행복, hambok vs. hengbok basically). Like I said, a mild and safe joke for a corporate entity to display. Throw in some innocent fresh faced male idols, and bingo, you've got a winning business tweet.

How to activate it

To activate it yourself, just tweet with one of these hashtags:

  • #추석 (Chuseok)
  • #한가위 (Chuseok in old Chinese naming style)
  • #보름달 (Full Moon)
  • #MidAutumnFestival
  • #Chuseok 

But do it quick, because this will only work from Sept 29 to Oct 9 so you've got three more days.

I did a quick check of the hashtag page myself just to look for another sample. Here's one from Virginia politician Ed Gillespie who clearly knows his state's demographics.

Chuseok well wishes from @EdWGillespie

Completely unrelated, but it was pointed out to me that until the recent Las Vegas shooting tragedy, the biggest lone-wolf type mass shooter in US history was in fact the Korean who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre. I didn't check the stats though.

Anyway here is the icon it is bringing up:

Image: Twitter

Why a rabbit?

You might be wondering: what the heck does a rabbit have to do with Chuseok?

Well, Chuseok is based on the lunar calendar so always falls on the full moon, and there's an old Korean legend that the features of the surface of the moon, when seen from Earth, look a bit like a rabbit making 떡 (rice cakes). See the comparative illustration here showing what cultures saw. Basically just like Westerners saw a Man in the Moon, Koreans and apparently several Asian nations saw a rabbit. See, Asians have been doing the whole cute kawaii/kiyomi animal thing for centuries. Boring Westerners and our bland ideas.

UPDATE: the Google Doodle shown in Japan for this Chuseok features the Moon Rabbit making rice cake.

Google's Japanese Thanksgiving doodle. Image: Google

From their explanation:
Today’s Doodle depicts the legend of ‘Tsuki no Usagi’, the rabbit who lives on the moon. Japanese folklore tells the story of the Old Man of the Moon, who wants to know the kindest animal. He disguises himself as a beggar and asks for food. The monkey brings him fruit. The fox brings a fish. But the rabbit, unable to find anything but grass, offers to jump into the fire to feed himself to the Old Man. Thus the rabbit proves himself to be the kindest and is taken to the moon, where he now lives. If you look hard enough, you may be able to spot his long ears as he bends over his pestle, grinding moochi (rice cakes).
Mid-Autumn Festival 2017 (Japan)

Other Twitter Korea emoji

Add this to the list of other Korean holiday emojis Twitter has been showing, including some I posted about:

Thanks for reading. Happy Chuseok folks.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cute Chuseok images from Kakao Friends

Here are six adorable wishing-you-well images for you to send to your Korean friends this Chuseok, courtesy of your favorite Kakao Friends.

Wishing you to spend each day of this Chuseok full of blooming happiness with your loving family!

Wishing you a spirit as bountiful (strong, healthy, bright, etc.) as the full moon, all the rest of the days of this year! 

Wishing all your desires/wishes come true this Chuseok!  

Wishing you a Chuseok as full/bountiful/plentiful as the bright full moon! 

These are all pretty flowery language, so I tried to strike a balance in my translations between accuracy and English understanding.

Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is a harvest celebration, so you'll notice the common theme among these is something about the bright full moon (upon which Chuseok is based). In Korea, the fall full moon is symbolic of a bountiful and plentiful harvest, so most of these are some variation on that theme. Personally, I think the last one is my favorite. For the most pleasant Chuseok, get stuffed!

All images sourced from: 
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