Friday, October 22, 2010

From the G7 to the G20

Article referred to

From the G7 to the G20

The G20 was formally established at the G7 Finance Ministers’ meeting on 26 September 1999. The emergence of the G20 stemmed from the changing economic reality – a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance.

So, the original G7 (composed of the US, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy) grew to the G20. At the third G20 summit held in Pittsburgh on September 24-25, 2009, the G20 was designated as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. Today, the G20 represents two thirds of the world’s population and nearly 88% of the world’s economy.

Who are the G20 and their heads of state?

The G20 includes 19 countries and the European Union.

* G7 : US, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy
* 4 Asian Countries : Republic of Korea, China, India, Indonesia
* 3 Latin American Countries : Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
* 4 European Countries : Russia, Turkey, Australia, the EU Chair
* South Africa and Saudi Arabia

To view details of the G20 countries including their leaders, click the following link :

Who else will participate in the Seoul Summit in addition to the G20?

Korea will invite 5 non-member countries and 7 international organizations to the G20 Seoul Summit (scheduled for November 11-12) that have close relationships with the agendas of the summit.

The 5 non-members are Malawi, Vietnam, Spain, Singapore and Ethiopia, and the 7 international organizations include the United Nations, International Labor Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Trade Organization, and the Financial Stability Board.

Non-G20 member countries have been invited to previous G20 summits in order to enhance the effectiveness and representativeness of the meeting.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fascinating World of Hangul Calligraphy

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Are you familiar with calligraphy?

There is a growing interest for hangul (the Korean alphabet) not only as a set of alphabets but also as an artistic theme. Known for its highly scientific and pragmatic nature, now hangul is being re-discovered as calligraphy (the art of fancy lettering) as well as applied as a fashion component.

In calligraphy, letters transform into something unique, one-of-a kind, and creative that reflects the emotions of the particular theme that the words denote. Used in the poster for “Festival” (a film directed by Gwon-Taek Lim), hangul calligraphy is now used everywhere, far and wide, from movie posters, book jackets, record covers, to product advertisements etc.

Calligraphy on the Web

Calligraphy is gaining popularity in the online world as well. Breaking away from the uniform Microsoft fonts, web users are now turning to more original letterings and do not hesitate to make a purchase for calligraphies to use for their blogs and homepages. It is estimated that annual volume of font purchase is over KRW 10 billion.

Cyworld, the widespread web site that offers mini homepages, sell 20,000 fonts daily, and introduces new fonts everyday that are customized to meet users particular wants and demands. Fonts that apply the handwritings of celebrities such as Yuna Kim are particularly appealing to the customers.

People Love Hangul-themed Fashion

Lie Sang-Bong is one of the most well-known Korean fashion designers who is especially acclaimed and recognized for his hangul-themed works. His range of work includes not only clothes, but accessories, electronics, and home appliances as well. Lie incorporates hangul usually written vertically, aptly conveying traditional Korean flavor at the same time as keeping it modern and suave.

Hangul-themed design is gaining further vitality with the efforts of Dong-Eui University in Busan, which established “Han Fashion Center” in 2006 with the support from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The Han Fashion Center launched its own brand called “Hooga” and undertakes various activities such as exporting design carpets abroad and supporting some 130 local companies that lack design capacities. The center aims to create design products that capture the characteristic beauty of hangul – the harmony between its lineal and curved lines.

Hangul, created by King Sejong, is now being re-created in the hands of designers.

As you may have noticed, last October 9 was Hangul Day in Korea. It was a day for us to ponder the value and beauty of the great Korean alphabet, especially in these times where there is an unbridled deluge of foreign languages, ugly slangs and obscure jargons in our everyday communication.

Benefits of Red Ginseng

Article picked from

Autumn is here now in full swing. As the saying goes, you can see “the sky getting higher and horses getting plump.”

In these crisp, pleasant days, are you one of those people who feel always sleepy and somewhat lethargic, dozing in the bus and missing your stop?

If you are, then I’d like to introduce you to a certain health food: Red ginseng.

Red Ginseng Prevents Swine Flu

When the H1N1 swine flu virus swept the nation last year, the sales of ginseng and red ginseng skyrocketed as well. People believed there is nothing more effective than Korean ginseng in increasing immunity against flus. Not totally ungrounded, but still there hadn’t been sufficient scientific study to back up such an argument.

Now, more about ginseng has been unveiled at the 10th International Symposium on Ginseng held on September 15. The results of a research on the effectiveness of ginseng in preventing H1N1 were announced. According to the study, the group who took ginseng along with vaccination had a 40% higher survival rate than the group who took only vaccination. Red ginseng, in particular, was found to boost up defense against not only H1N1 but seasonal flus as well.

An experiment was conducted with 227 participants at three medical offices in Milan, Italy. Half of them were given ginseng at a dosage of 100mg daily, the other half placebo. The results showed a significant decline in the frequency of colds and flus in the treated group compared to the placebo group (15 versus 42 cases).

Red Ginseng Also Reduces Fatigue and Prevents Cancer

Other benefits of red ginseng include reducing fatigue, improving blood circulation, and getting rid of fat and cholesterol.

Red ginseng also helps quench thirst, especially for diabetics who urinate a lot to get rid of the extra sugar in their blood. Also, red ginseng is good for enhancing your stamina in general. Those who often catch cold and never have enough energy might as well give it a try!

The size of the domestic red ginseng market, currently, is about KRW 1 trillion. And with the increasing consumer demand, it is expected to further grow, as much as six-folds within a few years. In addition, as an increasing number of foreigners are taking interest in the benefits of red ginseng, there is to be a lot more export and branching out into global markets.

Well, it seems like red ginseng is all that is good! Why not brace up ourselves against the vicious seasonal flus with some help from red ginseng? :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A New Better Way to Make Korean Rice Cake

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I love traditional Korean rice cakes (called “tteok”). Some people eat rice cakes in the morning as a grab-and-go breakfast while some others eat them to lose weight as a dietary food. These days, there are so many new kinds of rice cake, made from some unusual ingredients with new techniques.

I’d say the most appealing thing about rice cake is its texture, its soft chewiness. And thus, one of the most baffling things about tteok is that they lose its signature chewiness so fast. You buy some nice chunks of tteok in the evening on your way home from work, and the next morning you find them gone all hard and dry. Hard and dry, that’s not rice cake anymore. I bet you all have this sad experience.

And here is some good news for you! A new technique has been developed that can make tteok that preserves its chewiness for a long, long time.

No more hardened rice cake

Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) developed a manufacture technique that prevents rice cake from going hard and dry. With this new recipe that involves no chemical processing or additive whatsoever, you can now enjoy the soft chewiness of rice cake for a long, long time. They call it “miracle” rice cakes since if you store them in the fridge, once defrozen they will restore their original chewy texture but completely.

Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA).

RDA developed a manufacture technique that prevents rice cake from going hard and dry.>

According to RDA, the soft, moist, chewy texture comes from beating rice cake a numerous number of times which produces microscopic, elaborate structures within. And RDA managed to convert this beating into an exacting, scientific process.

In Korea, rice cake is a “must” item at special feasts like holidays, birthdays, kick-off ceremonies etc. And since rice cakes turn hard and dry so easily, tteok manufactures, when there is a large order, have to wake up at the break of dawn and start making rice cake right on the day it’s needed; they can’t do it earlier. That sure is a tough labor. Also, rice cake’s poor durability and difficult storage has been detaining vitalization of the tteok industry. But now with the new technique, things will start looking up, including increased rice consumption.

Time for rice cake to go global

Now that we’re striving for globalization of Korean food, rice cake can be one of the key items, especially with the new technique. Compared to bread, rice cake is healthier, more digestible, and can fill up your stomach. With the new technique, RDA announced that they’re expecting to generate1.3 trillion won worth of economic value. They plan to get the technique (which they named “cool tteok recipe”) patented soon and start putting it to practical use.

Let’s look forward to days when rice cake will be more popular than bread!

Korea’s Online Procurement System Going Abroad

Malaysian government shall learn from Korean but i'm sure it will face huge objections from the Perkasa and those who already benefited from the old way of procurement that long promoted corruption, budget waste in government's department which happened every year despite the warning of annual audit report, and lack of transparency.

The Public Procurement Service (PPS) is one of Korea’s central administrative bodies that provides public institutions with materials, facilities and services from supplying companies that they need. With the rapid spread of the Internet and Korea’s advanced level of Information Technology, the nation’s procurement system, also, is going online. Furthermore, a growing number of developing countries where issues of budget waste, lack of transparency and corruption are considerable are trying to import! and benchmark Korea’s online e-procurement system.

Procurement officials overseas visit Korea to learn

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) conducted a training program “Public Procurement System Establishment” for 18 participants from 8 countries including Uzbekistan, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and Uganda. From September 2 to 18, the participating officials took various courses on the strategy for establishing the e-Government and e-Procurement system.

Korea exports e-procurement system to Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s e-procurement system which opened in July 2009 was constructed by Samsung SDS for USD 8.3 million. Recently, a total of 9 systems were launched including the electronic bidding, security/authentication, electronic contracts, electronic payments, electronic documents, document distribution and others. Samsung will support the operation until December and then transfer the controls over to ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad).

With the introduction of the system, the Costa Rican government will be able to operate efficiently through integration, standardization of procurements. Also, it is expected to contribute to the transparency of procurement and the efficiency of the bidding companies.

Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica said, “I am very pleased because the e-procurement system improves the efficiency of public institutions and provides high-quality services of government agencies; it provides equal benefits to all the citizens.” She also thanked South Korea’s embassies and Samsung SDS for their efforts in making the successful launch.

Through the project to spread Korean online procurement system to foreign countries, Korea’s software and IT consulting companies are accumulating their know-how on overseas projects and improving their international competitiveness. Also, efforts are being made to make the Korean e-procurement system a global standard.

Not so many people are aware Korea has an advanced procurement system like this. Promoting it to the world must surely be a way to raise Korea’s brand value!