Archive for Korea

my country

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2019 by xi'an

Watching a new Korean drama TV series, called My country: The New Age, which relates to the early years of the Joseon dynasty and the power shifts between the first King, Yi Seung-Gye, later of King Taejo, a former general taking over by assassinating the previous ruler (and making him the last of his dynasty!), and his sons, but involving heavily three young characters growing through these years and making them instrumental to solving these power fights. First, Seo Hwi, the son of the greatest warrior of the (previous) era who was wrongly dishonored, himself a fabulous warrior, who witnessed his father’s suicide and was left alone to protect his sick sister Seo Yeon. Continuously persecuted by Naem Jeon, an eminence grise behind Yi Seung-Gye and definitely the arch-evil character of the series, with Hwi aiming at taking revenge on him, although he comes several times with opportunities to kill him and does not. (The number of violent deaths in the series is staggering!) Second, Han Hui-Jae a rebellious young woman raised in a gisaeng (geisha equivalent) residence by the owner of the place, after the political murder of her mother under Hui-Jae’s eyes. Rising to prominence in the structure which is used to gather information and gain influence through the clients of the place. And in love with Hwi. Third, Nam Seon-Ho, illegitimate son of Naem Jeon, whom he hates for causing the suicide of his low-born mother and who raises him after the death of his legitimate son (it however requires most of the show for Seon-Ho to turn completely against his father). Close friend of Hwi, but also his competitor in the military exams, which he unfairly wins by his father weighting in, and equally in love with Hae. Protector of Yeon when his brother Hwi gets sent to a disciplinary military unit for rebelling against the exam result. With the two never truly and actively fighting one another, as the old friendship keeps Seon-Ho saving Hwi and counter-acting his father’s nefarious moves, even though Seon-Ho pretends to aim only at gaining power. A complex  if classical triangle, with a theatrical (in the sense of formal and unrealistic) organisation of the plot. The most interesting character in the whole show may be Yi Bang-Won, the fifth son of the new king Yi Seung-Gye, who supported him acceding the throne and who strongly resents not being his nominated successor. (Maybe because he has a deeper presence, thank to historical sources. He would eventually become King Taejong.) Very similar in many ways to the Scholar who walks the night, except without a fantastic part. Almost indistinguishable music as well. But still an interesting experience, esp. when watching it in Seoul (which was Hanseong at that time.)

fake conference

Posted in Books, Kids, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2019 by xi'an

One of my (former) master students approached me last week for support to attend an AI conference in London next May, as he had been invited there as a speaker with the prospect of publishing a paper in an AI journal. And very excited about it. As the letter of invitation definitely sounded fake to me and as Conference Series LLC did not seem connected to anything scientific, I had a quick check whether or not this was another instance of predatory conference and indeed the organisation is an outlet of the (in)famous OMICS International company. Setting conferences all around the year and all around the world by charging participants a significant amount and cramming all speakers on potentially any topic in the same room of a suburban motel (near Heathrow in that case). It is somewhat surprising that they still manage to capture victims but if they aim wide enough to cover students like the one who contacted me and had no idea of the possibility of such scams, no wonder the operation is still running. Coincidence, I was reading a news article in Nature, while in Seoul, that “South Korea’s education ministry wants to stop academics from participating in conferences that it considers “weak” and of little academic value”. I hope it works better than India’s earlier attempt at banning publications in predatory journals.

Korean trip

Posted in Mountains, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2019 by xi'an

A fairly short but exciting trip to Seoul and to the Fall meeting of the Korean Statistical Society there. Plus giving a seminar at Seoul National University, where I stayed and enjoyed its beautiful campus surrounded by hills painted in the flamboyant reds and yellows of trees. Running to the top of Gwanaksan in the early morning, with some scrambling moments, was a fantastic beginning for the day! Although it was quite unintentional Sacha Tsybakov from CREST happened to be another invited speaker at the meeting (along with Regina Liu from Rutgers, whom I was also met in Salzburg two months ago) and we had a nice stroll together on the University of Seoul campus during a break in the sessions, gaining another view of the city from the top of the Bukhasan mountain. The talk I gave there on the asymptotics of ABC happened to be more attended than my tutorial lecture delivered at the beginning of JSM in Denver this summer. I am thus quite grateful to the organisers for their invitation and this opportunity to meet Korean statisticians and to get a glimpse of Korean culture and cuisine!


Gyeongbokgung palace [jatp]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on November 10, 2019 by xi'an

Seoul sunrise [jatp]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2019 by xi'an

garbage in the air

Posted in pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2019 by xi'an

As I am flying today to Seoul, for the Fall meeting of the Korean Statistical Society, a somewhat interesting paper in the New York Times about switching to alternatives for airline catering (if not air travel), starting with the figure that a passenger generates on average 1.5kg of waste per flight. And pointing out the conflicting issues in recycling food waste in most countries as they see it as imported waste and potential imported pathogens.and biohazards… While getting rids of plastic items is a tiny step in the right direction, especially because airlines do not sort between different kinds of garbage, a major step would be to avoid replacing them by another disposable item, especially heavier ones. From getting rid of providing food and drink (except water) on short and medium-haul flights to aim at healthy foods that do not require packaging or utensils. Like fruits. And asking passengers to carry their own garbage when leaving the plane could also enhance the realisation of the amount of garbage they thus produced. (On a recent early morning flight between Paris and Birmingham, the plane supposedly could not leave until the late delivery truck had brought croissants and drinks, as if passengers could not have abstained for the 55mn the flight lasted, especially when most of them were sleeping…) Nowadays. I usually travel with a water bottle that I fill before boarding after security and often skip meals on flights, but it invariably proves difficult to ask flight attendants to use my own reusable cup rather than a single-use plastic cup.

밤을 걷는 선비

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , on May 5, 2019 by xi'an