Confucius Institutes – A Chinese tool for soft power or a scapegoat for the West?
Confucius Institutes have been discussed in Western media in varying degrees of intensity over the last couple of decades. They have been subject to criticism for being tools of Chinese soft power and have been labeled as a threat to academic and individual freedom in different countries. But what are Confucius Institutes exactly, and how should we address them?
Imperial succession in Japan
Japan’s imperial family currently faces issues with maintaining sufficient family numbers and ensuring stable succession. In December 2021, an expert panel published a report that suggests two potential solutions for that, but none of these open up the possibility of allowing an empress and matrilineal successions as drastic approaches.
Two years of opposing the system: An overview of the Thai political protests 2020-2022
Since February 2020 Thailand has seen continued protests led by Thai Youth. With demands reaching from reforms of the educational system to demanding reform of the monarchy, the protests have shooked Thailand's politics and society at its core. This article gives an overview of what has happened in the country over the last two years.
China in space: lone ranger or cooperative power?
“To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is our eternal dream”. This declaration from President Xi Jinping reflects the outlines of China’s strategy in outer space. While the country shares various similarities with fellow space powers, one can wonder about China’s space strategy considering its tense situation within the international community. Are they playing the lone wolf, or are they willing to contribute to mankind’s biggest challenges?
The peculiar hype around ‘ugly’ buildings in China
Extravagant architectural structures attract attention in many ways. They can either evoke admiration, prestige and beauty, or they can cause outrage, irritation or ridicule. While the concept of beauty in building design depends on individual taste and local context, China struggles with what is generally considered ‘ugly’ architecture - prompting discussions of vanity, regulation and the emergence of a new self-consciousness in architectural spheres.
Interview with the Education Divison of the Taiwan Mission in Sweden
On a bench outside of Wenner-Gren Center, I met Stacy Huang, Head of the Educational Division at Taipei Mission in Sweden. We discussed different study and work opportunities, as well as what it is like living in Taiwan for international students. Our interview went as follows.
Women in spotlight: Japan's pop culture casualties
From losing control over life choices to excessive stalking and abuse, Japan’s idol culture has left women who participate in it incredibly vulnerable. Follow the history of Japan’s idol culture to learn how this glittering industry has lefts its stars alone. The shimmering lights of Japan’s entertainment industry have placed women in increasingly dangerous positions without any support.
Romanticizing Mafia is not cool, not even when it gets a K-twist
The recent release of Vincenzo, the popular K-drama narrating the passionate story of an Italo-Korean mafioso navigating Seoul’s corporate corruption, has won wide praise but has sparked too few questions on the propriety of this particular crime-syndicate plot device. Soon after, however, a popular K-pop group titled a song after the Mafia—but this time, the news did not go unnoticed and an internet war broke out in K-pop Twitter, with an unexpected twist...
Minority Language Policy in China: An Extrapolation
Culture and identity are shaped and borne by language. But when language becomes a tool of political interests, that culture and identity can come under imminent threat. THE LUNAR TIMES spoke to Colin Williams of Cardiff University to explore notions of if and how the language revitalization process of Wales might give insight to the trajectory of regional languages being squeezed into a corner by the Chinese State.
Are you sure if it is a K-pop event?
Have you ever heard of Gangnam Style or BTS so-called K-pop? K-pop refers to mainstream music of South Korea, and it has enjoyed growing global popularity for the last decade. However, are you aware of the scary fact that K-pop is being misused for a completely different purpose? Something unwanted may approach wearing the mask of K-pop and put you in trouble! Sounds intriguing? Stay Tuned!
Let the value of chocolates define my love for you
Whilst Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated in countries around the globe, White Day is only celebrated in a limited amount of countries in East Asia, including Japan. On March 14th, Japanese men will have the chance to dole out reciprocal gifts to those who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day. These two special holidays have a strong bond with each other—the traditional Japanese Valentine’s celebration would not be complete without one of them.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most oppressed of them all?
In the era of the Internet and neoliberal economy, gender wars are raging in South Korea. Officially begun in 2016 with the tragic Gangnam Murder, these wars are recruiting youths to confront the opposite sex on both online and offline battlefields, where social resentment and sharp words are wielded as weapons. But to have a deeper understanding of this raging hostility, a concept rising from the depths of the internet needs to be studied: that of Hell Joseon.
How much is my love worth to you?
The Lunar New Year officially began two days ago—and yet another celebration is taking place today. While Lunar New Year is a holiday for family and friends, Valentine’s Day is a holiday for lovers. The style of celebration, however, differs slightly depending on where it is held. This time, let’s focus on how Valentine's Day is celebrated in Japan and what products are demanded by the Japanese market during this romantic consumption day.
Lunar New Year: The Economic Impact on China
The Lunar New Year reunites friends and family across East Asian countries. Like hardly any other festive seasons, this massive holiday carries not only a high traditional, but also a tremendous economic value for any country celebrating it. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, there are a lot of changes in the economic growth over the past year. Photo Credit: Fritz Hoffmann.
The pandemic has uncovered the harsh reality of migrant workers in Singapore
In the early stages of the pandemic, Singapore stood out as a role model for its successful strategy. However, later outbreaks among the migrant community have exposed an entrenched societal division between native Singaporeans and foreign workers. Now that the country seems ready to move forward, migrants are again left behind.
That time of the year: Christmas 2020 Special
Household debt in South Korea: Should it be taken seriously?
Today, South Korea has one of the highest household debt burdens in the world with regard to its economic size. With income growth lagging behind the increase in debt, the debt-to-disposable income ratio is even at its highest since it began being recorded in 2007. The Korean government is now facing growing household debt in combination with an uncertain housing market. A question thus arises: what could this mean in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic?
The double plight of suicide and sexual harassment in South Korea– a prominent case
Torn by spiking suicide rates and ever-increasing gender tensions, Korean society is facing deep-seated challenges. For many years, the Democratic Party of Korea has pledged to repair the social fabric and stand on women's side. But evidence would suggest otherwise.
The old prostitutes of Seoul
Once upon a time, Korean old ladies were guaranteed a serene old-age surrounded by the love and care of their families. Nowadays, Korean grandmothers are often abandoned, and only one resort is left to escape the “Big Bad Wolf” of poverty. Unfortunately, this is the happy ending–less tale of the Bacchus Ladies: old prostitutes hanging around the streets of Seoul.
The dogs of Beijing
What started as a silly game among exchange students revealed a political and social issue in the city of Beijing. Since 2003 “dangerous” dog breeds and those reaching a height of more than 35 centimeters are banned from the capital’s inner districts. Interestingly, it took the city’s authorities 10 years until the law was strictly enforced. Since then regulations got more stringent. The article sums up the events and aims to incorporate the issue into the broader historical background of dog keeping in China.
Out of sight, out of mind: where our waste really goes
The increasing amount of waste we produce daily has become one of the biggest challenges of our time. Despite rising environmental consciousness throughout the world, most people show little awareness of global plastic waste trade and its harmful consequences on the environment. But now the centre of this global network, Southeast Asia has started showing signs of repentance.
Beware the Kpop stans!
Passionate, internet savvy and powered by a strong political conscience: these are Kpop stans, the young fans of Korean pop music who recently made headlines for their political activism. Armed with a keyboard and backed up by a powerful network, Kpop stans are engaging with current political and social issues through a fervent online activity. But who really are these new political militants?
The contradictions of Songdo IBD
Songdo International Business District is praised as a state-of-the art business hub and smart city project, equipped with the latest data technology and high sustainability standards. Skyrocketing buildings and aesthetically landscaped parks invite you to believe you are walking on the streets of the next urban utopia. But does Songdo really stand for a better, brighter and greener future?