Closed meritocracy in a segregated Dutch society

It must have been a news article on the occasion of a report from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau; SCP) where I read this interesting observation: the Dutch upper class is both very open and closed. This outwardly nonsensical statement could be rephrased by saying that the Netherlands has ‘closed meritocracy’. It […]

Reis door Korea: de laatste weken van de zomer

Voor ik vertrok naar Korea beloofde ik hier om niet zo’n typische reisblogger te worden die elk wissewasje met het thuisfront deelt. Daarin ben ik geslaagd: ik heb in Korea welgeteld één blogbericht geschreven. Gefeliciteerd! Maar ik denk dat ze thuis toch wel ietsje meer hadden willen horen. Daarom, nu ik in een kleine maand al […]

Drie weken Seoel, Jeonju, Gongju

Inmiddels drie weken en drie dagen geleden landde ik voor de eerste keer in Korea. Wat volgde was een drukke tijd vol met paleizen en musea. Na afgelopen vrijdag afscheid te hebben genomen van een reisgenoot en een weekeinde bijkomen van de stadse drukte in het rustige Gongju, kom ik er nu eindelijk aan toe […]

Onderweg naar Korea

Morgenochtend vroeg vertrek ik via Frankfurt naar Seoel, voor uitwisseling aan de Universiteit van Korea. Daarvoor heb ik eerst heb een dikke vijf weken om het land te leren kennen. Het beloven vijf interessante maanden te worden! Net als mijn reis naar Hangzhou van vorige zomer wil ik ook deze keer mijn blog bijhouden voor […]

Ironies of history captured in photo

The above picture shows the delegation of the Dutch prime minister, who is currently on a trade mission in Indonesia, meeting with their Indonesia hosts inside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The irony here is that Merdeka Palace—named after the slogan of the Indonesia struggle for independence, ‘freedom’—was built as Paleis Koningsplein, the residence of […]

Speak out against trivialisation of the North Korean issue

Today an issue played regarding a September publication in fashion magazine Elle that listed ‘North Korean Chic’ as a top fashion trend for this autumn. Small as this slight may seem, it is a good example of trivialisation that happens with regard to the North Korean issue. Look at those silly North Koreans in their retro […]

Dickinson on forcing democracy

‘But what proud nation will accept democracy as a gift from insolent conquerors? One thing that the war has done, and one of the worst, is to make of the Kaiser, to every German, a symbol of their national unity and national force. Just because we abuse their militarism, they affirm and acclaim it; just […]

Hedley Bull’s downside of nuclear deterrence: not so stable after all

Students of International Relations are probably familiar with the concept of nuclear deterrence so loved by especially neorealism. Simply put, the utter and complete destruction that today’s nuclear weapons are capable of, combined with second-strike capabilities, they say, create stability in the international system. Because attacking a nuclear power is too costly, no state will […]

Ue o muite arukou or Sukiyaki – the saccharine Japanese song with protest roots

Above is the sweet Japanese song 上を向いて歩こう (Ue o Muite Arukō) with its characteristic whistling. Known in the West under the virtually meaningless name ‘Sukiyaki’, this is the most famous version, sung by Kyu Sakamoto (坂本 九) in 1961. The song was written by Ei Rokusuke (永 六輔). When you read the lyrics, you see […]

Haunting documentary on North Korean camps: ‘Camp 14: Total Control Zone’

It might ruin your day, watching this documentary. But I think that you should nevertheless. It tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean who was born inside concentration camp 14. His father had gotten his mother as reward for good labour. Interviewing Shin and two former guards who defected to the South, the […]