Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Much like October being the 8th month, November, or should I say Movember, retains its name (Novem means '9' in Latin) from the old days before January and February were added to the Roman calendar. November starts on the same day of the week as March every year and has plenty of celebrations, saints days and other, strange observations for you to be interested in, participate in or just laugh and point at. Oh and from the 1st of November there will only be 60 days left of 2009, so get as much vice time in as you can before you pledge to give them all up at the end of the year, much like you did last year.

November, in Korea at least is when the trees de-robe themselves in the annual changing of the leaves ceremony which sees so many people, both Korean and expatriate, head for the hills to "oooh" and "aaah" at all the lovely colours. Elsewhere, in the western world, November the first is the first day of winter in Ireland and is the start of the 'dark half of the year' in Wales. Samhain, the festival held at the end of the harvest season in Gaelic and Brythonic cultures has similarities with Mexico's El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day, which scarily enough falls on the same day. If you aren't spooked enough by that, this day is also world vegan day, aaaarrrgh.

In keeping with the theme of death, the second of November will be the 35th anniversary of the tragedy of the Time Go-Go Club in Seoul when 38 people died as it burnt to the ground. Six of the victims died as they jumped to their deaths from the seventh floor because a club official barred the doors after the fire started.

'Remember, remember, the 5th of November' or so they saying goes in the United Kingdom (and some parts of the Commonwealth.) No, not because of the gunpowder plot where a group of English Catholics, who were upset for one reason or another with King James I of England and VI of Scotland, plotted to kill the king and most of the Protestant aristocracy by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5 November 1605, but because Korean pop sensation BoA was born on the is day in 1986.

Recent arrivals to Korea have the 11th day of the 11th month to look forward to when they might be lucky enough to receive a box of chocolate covered biscuit sticks. Of course it is Pepero day and what better way to celebrate the German signing of the Armistice of World War One than to chow down on some Japanese snacks on a day created out of the greed of a multinational corporation. Remembrance Day – also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day commemorates the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. Poppies or Pepero? Why not both!

Seeing as most readers of this blog, well at least one of them, is or has been some kind of intrepid traveller I should probably mention all the hundreds of thousands of people, from all over the world who made the long, arduous and sometimes fatal journey to the land of opportunity to seek out their own personal American Dream. The first thing many of these travellers and adventurers (of a fashion) would see would be Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's depiction of 'Liberty Enlightening the World,' before disembarking to Ellis Island to be processed. 55 years ago on the 12th, Ellis Island closed its doors after 62 years of renaming immigrants because their strange foreign accents were hard to understand. On a more upbeat note, on this very day in 1984 Park Sandara was born in Busan. The 2NE1 star not only has an interesting 4 syllable name, 박산다라, after Korean general Kim Yushin, whose childhood name was "Sandara (산다라)," but is also fluent in English and Filipino and has, according to her wikipedia page, "developed Englog and Taglish capabilities," whatever the hell they are.

It's National novel writing month, An Chang-ho, a Korean independence activist and one of the early leaders of the Korean-American immigrant community in the United States was born on the 9th in 1878 and The Workers Party of South Korea was founded on November 23, 1946 and was led by Pak Hon-yong.

Other interesting things that either happened or will happen I don't have time to work into a story like narrative but have painstakingly copied and pasted from various websites include;

3/11 Culture Day is a national holiday held annually in Japan on November 3 for the purpose of promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavour. Festivities typically include art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars. Culture Day was first held in 1948, to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946.

The Greensboro massacre took place on November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. Five marchers were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party while in a protest. It was the culmination of attempts by the Communist Workers Party (known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization at the time of the shooting) to organize mostly black industrial workers in the area. Also on the 3rd in 2004 George W. Bush won a second term.

3/11/1957 Russia launches a dog into space, no not tied to the back of a rocket but as the first animal to ever enter the cosmos. Laika, a stray was trained for the job and beat off competition from 2 other dogs to be launched into space and ultimately to her death. Until 2002 it was widely believed that Laika lived for several days but it turned out that for one reason or another the dog died a few hours after lift off, probably because she was launched INTO SPACE. A small monument in her honor was built near the military research facility in Moscow which prepared Laika's flight to space. It features a dog standing on top of a rocket.

4/11/1921 Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi is assassinated in Tokyo.

4/11/80 US politics goes completely mental when Ronald Regan, actor and republican governor of California becomes president. I wonder if an acting republican Governor of California could become president again, surely not.

6/11/99 Aussies decide that they don't want to break with the UK and become a republic, clever Aussies.

5/11/52 Eisenhower elected with the largest number of popular votes ever recorded for a presidential candidate and repeats that feat on the 7th of November 4 years later when he is returned to the White House with the biggest share of votes for 100 years.

6/11 With 88 days between the mid-autumn equinox on September 23 and the mid-winter solstice on 21 December, we are considered at the end of autumn on this day. Today is also Finnish and Swedish Heritage Day (Swedish: Svenska dagen, Finnish: Ruotsalaisuuden päivä) and is a general flag day and celebrates the Finland-Swedish culture and the bilinguality of Finland.

8/11/1950 The first jet aircraft-to-jet aircraft dogfight in history takes place when Lt. Russell J. Brown shoots down two North Korean MiG-15s and on this day in 1990 Ireland elects Mary Robinson as their first woman president

9/11/89 The Berlin wall falls but it isn't because of politics or diplomacy but because everyone wants to escape the singing of Michael Knight, aka, the Hoff, Cambodia became independent of France in '53 and on this day in 1970 former French leader Charles De Gaulle died and The Supreme Court of the United States votes 6 to 3 against hearing a case to allow Massachusetts to enforce its law granting residents the right to refuse military service in an undeclared war. In 1960 Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy emerged as the new president of the United States beating Vice-President Richard Nixon by a slim margin. Senator Kennedy, aged 43 at the time, was a Harvard graduate and war hero. He was the youngest elected president in US history and the first Roman Catholic.

10/11/60 Bookshops all over England have sold out of Penguin's first run of the controversial novel Lady Chatterley's Lover - a total of 200,000 copies - on the first day of publication. DH Lawrence's sexually explicit novel was published in Italy in 1928 and in Paris the following year. It has been banned in the UK - until now.

11/11 Peppero day in Korea, where everyone eats sweets and chocolate but for a large part of the world it is Remembrance Day – also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates) or Veterans Day. A day that commemorates the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. It is observed on 11 November to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.) The day was specifically dedicated by King George V, on 7 November 1919, to the observance of members of the armed forces who were killed during war; this was possibly done upon the suggestion of Edward George Honey to Wellesley Tudor Pole, who established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.

12/11/54 New York's main immigration point, Ellis Island, shuts its doors after 62 years and in 1984 park Sandara was born in Busan. The 2NE1 star not only has an interesting 4 syllable name, 박산다라, after Korean general, Kim Yushin, whose childhood name was "Sandara (산다라)" but is also fluent in English, Filipino and has, according to her wikipedia page, "developed Englog and Taglish capabilities", whatever the hell they are.

The 14th is World diabetes day and on the 15th in 1940 the German Luftwaffe bombed Coventry in a massive raid which lasted more than 10 hours and left much of the city devastated. Relays of enemy aircraft dropped bombs indiscriminately. One of the many buildings hit included the 14th century cathedral, which was all but destroyed. Initial reports suggest the number of casualties is about 1,000. Intensive anti-aircraft fire kept the raiders at a great height from which accurate bombing was impossible. Reports say 4,330 homes were destroyed and three-quarters of the city's factories damaged.

The 15th is America recycles day and on the 16th, some 84 years apart British fascist Oswald Mosley and all round good guy Rob McGovern were born, the later in 1980. If you happen to be reading this on the 16th of November, it will be Rob's birthday so send him something nice. This day is also the international day of tolerance, which for people who know the aforementioned Rob McGovern might find this incredibly amusing.

17/11/1905 The Eulsa treaty was signed by Korea and japan. Following Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War, with its subsequent withdrawal of Russian influence, and the Taft-Katsura Agreement, by which the United States agreed not to interfere with Japan in matters concerning Korea, the Japanese government sought to formalize its sphere of influence over the Korean peninsula. Delegates of both Empires met in Seoul to resolve differences in matters pertaining to Korea’s future foreign policy; however, with the Korean Imperial palace under occupation by Japanese troops, and the Imperial Japanese Army stationed at strategic locations throughout Korea, the Korean side was at a distinct disadvantage in the discussions. On 17 November 1905, the Korean cabinet signed an agreement that had been prepared by Ito Hirobumi in the Deoksu Jungmyeongjeon, a European-style building that was once part of Deoksu Palace. The Agreement gave Japan complete responsibility for Korea’s foreign affairs, and placed all trade through Korean ports under Japanese supervision.

17/11/82 Korean boxer Duk-Koo Kim died following a boxing match against Ray Mancini. Minutes after the fight was over, Kim collapsed into a coma, and was taken out of the Caesar's Palace arena on a stretcher. Emergency brain surgery was performed at the hospital to try to save him, but that effort proved to be futile, and Kim died 4 days after the bout, on November 17. The week after, Sports Illustrated published a photo of the fight on its cover, under the heading Tragedy in The Ring. The profile of the incident was heightened by the fight having been televised live in the United States. He was 23. The story of Kim's life was taken to the big screen in his native South Korea: Director Kwak Kyung Taek directed the movie Champion, and actor Yu Oh Seongstarred as the fallen boxer. Mancini went to the funeral in South Korea, but he fell into a deep depression afterwards. He has said that the hardest moments came when people approached him and asked if he was the boxer who "killed" Duk Koo Kim. Mancini went through a period of reflection, as he blamed himself for Kim's death. In addition, Kim's mother committed suicide four months after the fight, as did the bout's referee, Richard Green, in July 1983. As a result of this bout, the WBC took steps to shorten its title bouts to a maximum of 12 rounds. The WBA and WBO followed in 1988 and the IBF did in 1989.

19/11/1977 The president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, has begun his trip to Israel - the first Arab leader ever to visit the Jewish state.

22/11/63 JFK is killed and the following day Lyndon B Johnson is installed as the new President of the USA. A day after that on the 24th Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of murdering Kennedy, is himself shot dead in a Dallas police station. The day after that the funeral of the assassinated President takes place in Washington.

22/11/90 Margaret 'Milk snatcher' Thatcher resigns as prime minister after her Cabinet refused to back her in a second round of leadership elections. Boo Hoo.

23/11/85 안현수 was born. A Short track speed skating athlete from South Korea and three-time gold-medalist in the Winter Olympics. Ahn has won four Olympic medals in his career; he is one of only two Koreans to ever win three gold medals in one Olympics, and is the first Korean man to win at least three. Ahn is the first five-time world champion, having won five consecutive overall titles from 2003 to 2007 but through injury during the Korean National Team Trials, which ultimately determine the Fall World Cup and Olympic Teams, Ahn was unable to qualify, finishing 7th in overall points (because Ahn didn't compete in the last two World Cup seasons, he needed to finish in the top three in overall points to qualify). Due to his inability to qualify, he will not be participating in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. Despite this, Ahn still hopes to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which will most likely be his last games.

24/11 Evolution Day is the anniversary of the first publication of The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. Also celebrated is Darwin Day which commemorates the birthday of Charles Darwin who established the theory of natural selection which provided for a biological process behind evolution. The year 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin as well as the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.

27/11/50 Troops from the People's Republic of China launch a massive counterattack in North Korea against South Korean and United Nations forces ending any hopes of a quick end to the conflict.

30/11 Official end of the hurricane season and the fest day of St Andrew. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew's Day is Scotland's official national day . In 2006, the Scottish Parliament designated the St. Andrew's Day as an official bank holiday. Although most commonly associated with Scotland, Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, and Russia.

See you next month!

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