Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Terminator - Gritty, Futuristic Fairy Tale

I'm a big fan of the Terminator movies which made California governor, ex-Mr Universe and Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger a major star.

Read all about them here. Thanks, Wikipedia.

The Terminator

The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction/action film directed and co-written by James Cameron. It features Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The film was followed by three sequels.

The film takes place in 1984, introducing the concept of a "terminator", specifically the titular character (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a seemingly unstoppable cyborg assassin who has been sent back from the year 2029 by a race of artificially intelligent computer-controlled machines bent on the extermination of the human race. The Terminator's mission is to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) whose future son, John Connor, leads a resistance against the machines. A human, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), is also sent back from the future by John Connor himself to protect her.

The film opens in the ruins of Los Angeles in 2029, showing that the world has been devastated by nuclear war. Intelligent machines control the post-apocalyptic Earth, and are determined to exterminate the human race. The action then shifts from the future to May 12, 1984. Two men appear in Los Angeles in separate locations, manifesting in sudden, blinding flash-storms of electricity. One is heavily muscular, and appears unscathed by his journey; the other man, slim and wiry, seems to have been weakened by his journey, though he regains his strength fairly quickly. Both men are naked. The mysterious muscular man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) obtains clothes and weapons and begins hunting down all women named "Sarah Connor", using a phone book to track his targets. He successfully kills the first two of the three listed women. When he attempts to kill the last Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), he is stopped by the other man, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who has also been gathering weapons and equipment. It transpires that Reese has been sent back in time to protect her.

While hiding from their assailant in a parking garage, Reese explains that the man hunting Sarah is actually a cyborg assassin called a "Terminator", built by Skynet, an artificial intelligence network created by Cyberdyne Systems. In the near future, Reese explains, Skynet will gain self-awareness, initiate a global takeover of military hardware, and launch a nuclear war against humanity. Skynet will then order that a scant number of humans be kept alive in order to be used as slave labour. John Connor, Sarah's son, will rally the remaining humans and lead a resistance movement against the machines. After a grinding campaign, the human resistance will be on the verge of victory, and in a last-ditch effort, Skynet will send the Terminator back in time to kill Sarah before John was born, preventing the resistance from ever being founded and (presumably) allowing the machines to take over the world without opposition. Reese comes from this future, and volunteered to follow the Terminator back in time to protect Sarah; after his use of the time transportation equipment, it was to be destroyed by the resistance in order to prevent further Terminators from going back in time.

The Terminator feels no pain, has no emotions, and will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission. The time travel process developed by the machines can only send living tissue or an object covered with such living tissue, preventing Reese and the Terminator from bringing any advanced weaponry. Reese is skeptical of the stopping power provided by 20th century small arms; the Terminator is protected by an alloyed metal endoskeleton, although the living tissue covering the endoskeleton (referred to as a "combat chassis" by Reese) makes the Terminator indistinguishable from a human being, unlike previous models.

After Kyle finishes his story, he and Sarah are attacked by the Terminator again, resulting in a chase that leads to the police stopping and arresting Reese and Sarah; the Terminator crashes its vehicle, but disappears from the wreckage. At the West Highland Police Station, Sarah is told by Lieutenant Ed Traxler (Paul Winfield) and Detective Hal Vukovich (Lance Henriksen) that Reese is crazy. Reese is questioned by psychologist Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen). Reese explains his mission to Silberman, who concludes that the story is a paranoid delusion, constructed in such a way that it requires no evidence, thus preventing anyone from refuting it. The Terminator arrives at the police station and asks to see Sarah, but the desk sergeant denies access. After examining the police station and uttering the infamous catch phrase "I'll be back", the Terminator leaves, but returns seconds later by plowing a car through the front of the building. The Terminator then goes on a rampage through the building, killing 16 police officers. Reese manages to escape and rescue Sarah. They hide in a motel, where Reese teaches Sarah to make pipe bombs from household supplies. Sarah asks Reese whether he is disappointed in her, and whether he has ever been in love. After replying "no" to both questions, he confesses that he is in love with her. They kiss and fall into bed together.

Later that night, the Terminator tracks them down and, during the chase that follows, wounds Reese. Sarah knocks the Terminator off its motorcycle. A tanker truck then runs over the Terminator. The damaged cyborg commandeers the tanker truck and drives it at them. Reese uses one of their last bombs to blow up the truck, causing the Terminator to collapse in a burnt heap. Reese and Sarah embrace, thinking that the Terminator has been destroyed; but the metal endoskeleton is still functional and pursues them into a factory. In the ensuing chase, Reese jams a pipe bomb into the Terminator's abdomen, shattering it and killing himself. The Terminator, still partially functional, drags itself by its remaining hand to pursue Sarah, until she finally crushes it in a hydraulic press, destroying it.

The end of the film shows a pregnant Sarah traveling in Mexico on November 10, 1984. She records audio tapes which she intends to play for her son, John, at some point in his life. She reveals to the tape that John is Reese's son, conceived from their one night stand at the motel six months earlier, although she expresses doubt as to whether or not she will reveal to John the identity of his father. While Sarah's car is being refueled, a young Mexican boy takes a picture of her, which John will give to Reese decades in the future. The boy shouts a warning about the approaching weather in Spanish, which the gas station's owner translates as "a storm is coming". Sarah wistfully responds, "I know", pulls out of the gas station, and drives into the distance where storm clouds are approaching over mountains.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, commonly abbreviated as T2, is a 1991 action-science fiction film directed, co-written and co-produced by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong (who is of Native American and Russian ancestry) and Robert Patrick. It picks up around 10 years after the events of The Terminator and follows Sarah Connor, her 10-year-old son John and a protector from the future (as in the first film), as they try to prevent Judgment Day, a day in the future when machines will begin to exterminate the human race.

T2 was a significant box office and critical success. It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered by many to be hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction. The film's visual effects include many breakthroughs in computer-generated effects, marking the first use of natural human motion for a CG character and the first computer-generated main character. The film won several awards including four Academy Awards for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

Ten years after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) destroyed the original Terminator that was programmed to kill her, two Terminators arrive in Los Angeles in the year 1995. The first is a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) identical to the one that Sarah first encountered, while the second (Robert Patrick) is a new model known to be the T-1000, which assumes the identity of a police officer. John Connor (Edward Furlong) is now a 10-year-old living with foster parents. He has had an unusual childhood, with his mother Sarah constantly preparing him to fulfil his destiny as the leader of the future human resistance. Sarah's experiences have made her tougher and more vigilant, but also desperate to warn humanity about the coming apocalypse. After attempting to bomb a computer factory, Sarah is arrested and remanded to the Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane under the supervision of Dr. Silberman.

Meanwhile, the Terminators locate John Connor in a mall. The Terminator orders John to "get down" after the T-1000 tried to shoot at him. After John is rescued, a chase through the L.A. storm drain channels ensues and the original Terminator escapes with John on his motorcycle. The Terminator explains that he is reprogrammed by the future John Connor to protect and obey John's younger self. The other Terminator is a T-1000, an advanced new prototype programmed to kill John. It is made of "a mimetic polyalloy", a liquid metal that allows it to take the shape and appearance of anything it touches of equivalent size, except guns, explosives and machines that have chemicals or moving parts. It can, however, shape parts of itself into knives and stabbing weapons.

Upon learning that the T-1000 will likely kill Sarah and then mimic her to lure John, John orders the Terminator to help free her. While making her own escape attempt, Sarah encounters her son and the Terminator. Initially Sarah is terrified by the cyborg, and tries to run away, and is captured by the guards of the prison, but the Terminator frees her. After being chased by the T-1000, Sarah accepts that the Terminator is there to help. As they escape the city, the Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet, the sentient computer system that will nearly wipe out humanity in an apocalyptic nuclear attack on "Judgment Day", and create the cyborgs that would take control of Earth. However, Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet is Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton), a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.

Sarah, John and the Terminator eventually arrive in the desert at the camp of Enrique Salceda, Sarah's old friend, who has preserved an underground weapons cache in case of war. Sarah plans to take John and flee into Mexico. While at this camp, the Terminator begins to learn about human emotions as it bonds more closely with John. Sarah once again then has a horrific nightmare of a nuclear explosion and wakes up with strengthened resolve. After she leaves abruptly, John and the Terminator see the words "No Fate" (from the phrase "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves" Kyle Reese taught her in the first movie), carved into a table earlier by Sarah, and deduce that she is planning to change the future by killing Dyson. At Dyson's home, Sarah shoots Dyson in the arm but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. After John and the Terminator arrive, they inform Dyson of the consequences of his research and convince him that they must destroy everything related to his chip design, including the CPU and arm from the previous Terminator.

Sarah, John, the Terminator and Dyson break into the Cyberdyne Systems building and retrieve the parts from the first Terminator. While preparing explosives to destroy all of Dyson's research, security alerts the police, who show up in force. The Terminator manages to destroy most of the police vehicles without breaking an earlier promise to John to refrain from killing. The SWAT team mortally wounds Dyson, who stays behind to trigger the detonator. Sarah, John and the Terminator escape in a SWAT van with the T-1000 in pursuit, first in a helicopter and then in a liquid nitrogen truck. The truck crashes into a steel mill, causing the tank to rupture and spill liquid nitrogen everywhere, freezing the T-1000. The Terminator shatters him, whereupon the pieces thaw and reassemble. The three split up as Sarah and the Terminator try to lead the T-1000 away from John, but the T-1000 catches and threatens to kill Sarah unless she calls to John; she is saved when the Model 101 intervenes. The Terminators fight hand-to-hand, with the T-1000 stabbing the Model 101 through the power cell with a metal pole, deactivating him. The T-1000, now disguised as Sarah, goes to hunt John but is revealed when the real Sarah shoots him. The Terminator reactivates itself using an alternate power source and arrives on a rotating gear. It fires the last grenade into the T-1000, causing it to deform and fall into the molten steel below, where it is destroyed.

Having destroyed the T-1000, John throws the parts from the first Terminator into the steel; but the Terminator says that he too must be destroyed to prevent his technology from being used to create Skynet. Since the Terminator cannot self-terminate, Sarah must lower him into the steel using a winch. As the Terminator says goodbye, Sarah shakes his hand in a gesture of respect, and John tearfully orders him to stay. The Terminator reveals a newfound understanding of human emotions but insists that he must be destroyed. As he sinks into the molten steel, he gives a "thumbs up" signal which John had earlier taught him. The film ends with a voice-over from Sarah: "The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, commonly abbreviated as T3, is a 2003 action film directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken. It is the second sequel to The Terminator (1984). The film was released in the United States on July 2, 2003. It was released under the Warner Brothers label, as the studios that produced the first two Terminator films (Orion Pictures and Carolco Pictures) had gone out of business by that point.

After the failure of Skynet to kill Sarah Connor before her son is born and to kill John himself as a child, it sends back another Terminator, the T-X, in a last attempt just on Judgment Day to wipe out as many Tech-Com resistance officers as possible. This includes John's future wife, but not John himself as his whereabouts are unknown to Skynet. Yet, as the story unfolds, the T-X coincidentally finds a trace of the resistance leader-to-be.

Despite the prevention of the events shown in the previous film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, from occurring in 1997 as originally predicted, John Connor (Nick Stahl), does not believe the prophesied war has been averted. Living "off-the-grid" in Los Angeles, California with no permanent residence, credit card, or mobile phone, John works freelance to prevent anyone from tracking him. Skynet sends another Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), back to July 24, 2004, Judgment Day, to kill the human resistance's future lieutenants, thereby preventing the future organisation of Tech-Com. In order to avoid the non-living tissue restriction of time travel, Skynet designs the T-X, dubbed the "Terminatrix" by John Connor, to carry all weapons internally. Armed with a full arsenal of advanced weaponry from the future, including the ability to remotely control most machines, the T-X is far more dangerous than any of the previous Terminators sent by Skynet.

As in the previous film, a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent back to counter the T-X. Similar in design and programming to the Terminators from the previous films, this particular Terminator is revealed to have killed John in 2032 before being reprogrammed by John's future wife, Katherine Brewster (Claire Danes) and sent to protect the couple. After rescuing John and Kate from an initial attack by the T-X, the Terminator leads them to the grave of Sarah Connor (Sarah having died of leukaemia some years beforehand). Inside the grave, they find a weapons cache set up by Sarah's friends in the event that Judgment Day was not prevented. The T-X and the police arrive, but John, Katherine and the Terminator escape with the weapons in a hearse.

Following the destruction of Cyberdyne Systems in T2, the US Air Force took over the Skynet project as part of its Cyber Research Systems division, headed by Lieutenant General Robert Brewster (David Andrews), Kate's father. In an attempt to stop the spread of a computer supervirus, Brewster activates Skynet, allowing it to invade all of the division's systems. Arriving too late to prevent Skynet's activation and subsequent propagation, John, Kate and the Terminator's situation is further complicated with the arrival of the T-X. The T-1 Terminators, under control of the T-X, begin killing office personnel in an attempt to find and eliminate John and Kate. Believing that Judgment Day can still be stopped, John asks Brewster for the location of the Skynet system core. Just before General Brewster dies, he tells John and Kate to go to Crystal Peak, a military base built into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

As they are boarding an airplane to leave, John and Kate are attacked by the Terminator, which was reprogrammed by the T-X to kill them. However, the Terminator is able to override its programming enough to shut itself down and avoid killing John. Upon their arrival at Crystal Peak, John and Kate are once again attacked by the T-X; however the fight is soon interrupted by the arrival of the Terminator. Having rebooted itself, the Terminator traps the T-X under a helicopter announcing, "I'm back!" The T-X detaches its legs to free itself from the helicopter and crawls after John and Kate. The Terminator catches hold of the T-X before it reaches John and Kate, and tells John that they will meet again one day before telling them to leave immediately. The Terminator then exclaims, "You are terminated!" (the line uttered by Sarah Connor before she killed the first Model 101 in the first film), as it detonates its last remaining hydrogen fuel cell in the T-X's mouth, destroying them both in the process.

John and Kate discover that the base does not house Skynet's core as expected, but is rather a Cold War-era fallout shelter for government officers. General Brewster sent his daughter and John there to protect them from the impending nuclear holocaust. Here, they discover that Skynet is software in cyberspace, running on computers throughout the world, and effectively impossible to shut down: as such, Judgment Day is now inevitable. Skynet begins a series of nuclear attacks on various cities, commencing Judgment Day and initiating the war against humans. Amateur radio operators and confused military forces from Montana Civil Defense ask John for orders, foreshadowing his future leadership role in the Tech-Com resistance.

The film's last shots are of Skynet's nuclear weapons destroying cities around the world on Judgment Day; followed by a shot of the destroyed Terminator's skull. John delivers a final narration about Judgment Day happening just as the Terminator described. The narration ends with: "The battle has just begun."

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is a 2009 American science fiction film written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris and directed by McG (Joseph McGinty) of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle fame. It is the fourth film in the Terminator series, and stars Christian Bale as future Resistance leader John Connor and Sam Worthington as cyborg Marcus Wright. The film also introduces a young version of Kyle Reese, the protagonist from the original 1984 film, played by Anton Yelchin of Star Trek, as well as depicting the origin of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator. Terminator Salvation, set in 2018, focuses on the war between humanity and Skynet. The film was released on May 21, 2009 in the United States.

In 2003, Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems convinces death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution by lethal injection. One year later, the Skynet system is activated, perceives humans as a threat to its own existence, and eradicates much of humanity in the event known as Judgment Day. In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) leads an attack by the Resistance on a Skynet base. John discovers human prisoners and the plans for the development of a new type of Terminator incorporating living tissue, but is the only apparent survivor of the attack after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. However, Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base and proceeds on foot to Los Angeles.

John returns to the Resistance headquarters on board a nuclear submarine and tells General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) of his discovery. The Resistance has discovered a radio frequency capable of shutting down Skynet machines. They plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco in four days, in response to an intercepted "kill list" indicating that Skynet plans to kill the Resistance's command staff in four days' time. John learns that his own name is second on the list, following Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle's importance to Skynet, but John knows that it is because Kyle will later become his father. John meets with his officer Barnes (Common or Lonnie Rashid Lynn) and wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) and sends radio broadcasts to Resistance members and surviving civilians around the world.

Arriving in the ruins of Los Angeles, Marcus is saved from a T-600 Terminator by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and his mute companion Star (Jadagrace Berry). Kyle relates to Marcus the events of Judgment Day and the ensuing war between humans and machines. Hearing John's radio broadcast, the three leave Los Angeles in search of the Resistance. They survive an attack by machines, but Kyle, Star and several other humans are taken prisoner, while a pair of Resistance A-10s are shot down. Marcus locates downed pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) and they make their way to John's base, but Marcus is wounded by a land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is in fact a cyborg with human organs, a mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, demanding to be released so that he can save Kyle from Skynet, but John orders his destruction. However, Blair releases him and helps him to escape from the base. During the resulting pursuit Marcus saves John's life from Skynet hydrobots and the two form an alliance — Marcus will enter Skynet's headquarters and attempt to disable its defenses so that John can rescue Kyle.

John demands that Ashdown delay the attack so that he can rescue Kyle and the other prisoners, but Ashdown refuses and relieves John of his command. However, John's soldiers remain loyal to him and he sends a radio broadcast asking the other Resistance fighters not to attack Skynet. Meanwhile, Marcus enters the Skynet base and interfaces with the computer, disabling the perimeter defenses and allowing John to infiltrate the cell block and release the human prisoners. The Resistance's disabling signal is revealed to be a ruse, and the command submarine with the resistance leaders aboard is destroyed by a Hunter-Killer.

Marcus discovers that he was created by Skynet and has unwittingly fulfilled his programmed mission to lure John into the base to be killed. He tears out the hardware linking him to Skynet and leaves to assist John in battling a T-800 Model 101 Terminator. John is mortally wounded during the fight, but succeeds in destroying the Skynet base by rigging several Terminator nuclear power cells to an explosive, detonating them as he, Marcus, Kyle, and Star are airlifted out. Kate attempts to save John's life, but his heart is too damaged. Marcus offers his heart for transplant, sacrificing himself to save John. Recovering, John radios to the other Resistance fighters that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bet You Did Not Know We Are Asians

French football veteran Eric Cantona (Spanish, French and Iranian).

Music and film legends Elvis Presley (through his father’s family), Sean Connery, Charlie Chaplin, Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Denny Laine, Bob Hoskins, Mel Gibson, Barry Gibb, Adam Ant, Albert Lee and David Essex, and Christian missionary John Bunyan are all of British and Iranian ancestry.

Some Less Known Dates Of Independence

October 9, 1942, Australian independence day.

November 25, 1947, New Zealand independence day.

December 11, 1931, Canada, South Africa and Ireland independence day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

About Korea

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Korea is a formerly unified nation, currently composed of two sovereign states located on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It borders China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast and is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Straits.

Korea was divided in 1948, with the southern portion of the peninsula controlled by the capitalistic South Korea, formally the Republic of Korea.

South Korea is a developed country and home to global brands as Samsung, LG Electronics and Hyundai.

The northern portion is controlled by the single-party Communist North Korea, formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea has close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russia.

Since the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea was ruled by a single government and maintained political and cultural independence until the 20th century, despite the Mongol invasions in the 13th century and Japanese invasions in the 16th century.

In 1377, Korea produced the Jikji, the world's oldest existing document printed with a movable metal type.

In the 15th century, the turtle ships were deployed, and King Sejong the Great promulgated the Korean alphabet Hangul to increase literacy amongst his people who could neither read nor write Hanja (Chinese characters).

In 1910, Korea was forcibly annexed by Japan and remained occupied until the end of World War II in August 1945.

In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender and disarming of Japanese troops in Korea; the Soviet Union accepting the surrender of Japanese troops north of the 38th parallel and the United States taking the surrender south of it.

This minor decision by allied armies soon became the basis for the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their inability to agree on the terms of Korean independence.

The two Cold War rivals then established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea's current division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

The name "Korea" derives from the Goryeo period of Korean history, which in turn referred to the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo.

The Koreans are descended from a mix of Chinese and Hmong aborigines from China.

Pyongyang was the original Korean capital.

During Japanese colonial rule, the Korean language was suppressed in an effort to eradicate Korean national identity. Koreans were forced to take Japanese surnames.

Traditional Korean culture suffered heavy losses, as numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan.

To this day, valuable Korean artifacts can often be found in Japanese museums.

Many Koreans were shipped to Japan as "comfort women".

Koreans rose up against Japanese oppression in countless revolts.

With the surrender of Japan in 1945 the United Nations developed plans for a trusteeship administration, the Soviet Union administering the peninsula north of the 38th parallel and the United States administering the south.

The popular resistance movement was allowed to run the Soviet-controlled zone while in the US-controlled zone, Japanese collaborators were installed by the US, and the popular resistance was brutally crushed.

The US established the Republic of Korea in the southern zone, headed by Rhee Syng-Man while the Soviet Union established the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the northern zone, headed by Kim Il-Sung.

As the US and its allies controlled the United Nations at that time, the United Nations recognised South Korea as the legitimate Korea, despite Rhee's tainted record.

In June 1950, after countless border skirmishes started by South Korea's army, North Korea invaded South Korea.

During the Korean War (1950-1953) millions of civilians died and the three years of fighting throughout the nation effectively destroyed most cities.

Around 125,000 POWs were captured and held by the Americans and South Koreans on Geojedo (an island in the south).

The US also used chemical and biological warfare on the North Koreans.

The war ended in a ceasefire agreement at the Military Demarcation Line, also known as the Demilitarised Zone which acts as a border between the two states.

Korea is located on the Korean Peninsula in northeast Asia.

To the northwest, the Amnok River (Yalu River) separates Korea from China and to the northeast, the Duman River (Tumen River) separates Korea from China and Russia.

The Yellow Sea is to the west, the East China Sea is to the south and the East Sea is to the east.

Notable islands include Jeju, Ulleung and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo in Korean).

The southern and western parts of the peninsula have well-developed plains, while the eastern and northern parts are mountainous.

The highest mountain in Korea is Baekdusan (2744 m), through which runs the border with China.

The southern extension of Baekdusan is a highland called Gaema Heights.

This highland is partly covered by volcanic matter.

To the south of Gaema, successive high mountains are located along the eastern coast of the peninsula.

This mountain range is named Baekdudaegan.

Some significant mountains include Sobaeksan (1,439 m), Baekdusan or Baeksan (1,724 m), Geumgangsan (1,638 m), Seoraksan (1,708 m), Taebaeksan (1,567 m) and Jirisan (1,915 m).

Jeju, situated off the southern coast, is a large volcanic island whose main mountain Hallasan (1,950 m) is the highest in South Korea.

Ulleung is a volcanic island in the East Sea.

As the mountainous region is mostly on the eastern part of the peninsula, the main rivers tend to flow westwards.

Two exceptions are the southward-flowing Nakdonggang and Seomjingang.

Important rivers running westward include the Amnok River (Yalu), the Cheong-Cheongang, the Daedonggang, the Han River, the Geumgang and the Yeongsangang.

These rivers have vast flood plains and provide an ideal environment for wet-rice cultivation.

The southern and southwestern coastlines of Korea form a well-developed coastline, known as Dadohae-Jin in Korean.

Its convoluted coastline provides mild seas, and the resulting calm environment allows for safe navigation, fishing and seaweed farming.

In addition to the complex coastline, the western coast of the Korean Peninsula has an extremely high tidal amplitude (at Incheon, around the middle of the western coast, it can get as high as 9 m).

In ancient Chinese texts, Korea is referred to as Rivers And Mountains Embroidered On Silk.

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the Silk Road connected Korea to Arabia.

Korean festivities often showcase vibrant colours, which have been attributed to Mongolian influences: bright red, yellow and green often mark traditional Korean motifs.

These bright colours are sometimes seen in the traditional dress known as hanbok.

One peculiarity of Korean culture is its age reckoning system.

Individuals are regarded as one year old when they are born, and their age increments come on New Year's Day rather than on their birthdays.

Koreans are mostly Buddhists. A small number of them are Christians (29 percent).

The best known Korean cuisine is kimchi, which uses a distinctive fermentation process of preserving vegetables, most commonly cabbage.

Bulgogi (roasted meat, usually beef), galbi (grilled short ribs) and samgyeopsal (pork belly) are popular meat entrees.

Other popular dishes include bibimbap which literally means mixed rice (rice mixed with meat, vegetables and pepper paste) and naengmyeon (cold noodles).

Koreans also enjoy food from pojangmachas (street vendors), where one can buy fish cake and fried foods.

Sundae, a sausage made of bean curd and green-bean sprouts stuffed in pig intestine, is widely eaten.

The modern Korean school system consists of 6 years in elementary school, 3 years in middle school and 3 years in high school.

The Korean alphabet hangul was invented by Sejong The Great.

South Korea

South Korea covers a total area of 100,032 square kilometres and has a population of almost 50 million.

South Korea is a presidential republic and while formally a multi-party democracy, it is strictly supervised by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and left-leaning political parties are either banned or intimidated by the government.

With US aid, South Korea became one of the world's strongest economies beginning from the 1970s.

In 1988, when General Roh Tae-Woo became President, South Korea gradually evolved from a brutal military dictatorship a la North Korea into a semi-democracy.

When long-time political prisoner and pro-democracy activist Kim Dae-Jung became the first non-military-linked President in 1998, South Korea liberalised further.

South Korea hosted the 1988 Olympics and in 2002, it co-hosted the Fifa World Cup with Japan.

South Korea strictly follows the foreign policy of its 'protector and creator' the United States.

When Kim and his successor Roh Moo-Hyun served as President, South Korea and North Korea improved diplomatic ties.

More than 29,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea.

South Korea is the largest shipbuilder in the world.

South Korea is also the world's leading memory chip producer.

Construction of South Korea's largest airport, Incheon International Airport, was completed in 2001.

Seoul is the largest city in South Korea. With 10,456,000 people, it is the national capital.

Other major cities are Busan, Incheon and Daegu.

South Korean films and popular music are fast making their mark in Asia.

The emergence of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for South Korean popular music, K-Pop.

Rain is now one of South Korea's hottest international singers and actors.

K-Pop incorporates American popular musical genres of rap (hip-hop), rock and techno.

Since the success of the film Shiri in 1999, South Korean films have become popular in both Asia and the United States.

South Korean television shows, especially mini-series, have also become popular outside the country.

The most prominent among them have been the romance dramas Autumn Fairy Tale, Winter Sonata and All About Eve.

South Korean corporations Samsung and LG are the second and third largest cell phone companies in the world, and South Korean consumers change their phones on average every 11 months.

The martial art taekwondo originated in Korea. Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000.

Baseball was first introduced to Korea in 1905 and has since become the most popular spectator sport in South Korea.

North Korea

North Korea, with Pyongyang as its capital and largest city, joined the United Nations in 1991.

It is a single-party state ruled by the Korean Communist Party and its leader, President Kim Jong-Il, whose late father Kim Il-Sung founded the state and ruled until his death in 1993.

Both the older and younger Kim are venerated as kings and gods by the North Koreans, obviously under duress.

This makes North Korea a carbon copy of Mao Zedong's China, prior to the dictatorial President's death in 1976.

North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russia.

The Soviet Union's collapse in 1992, resulted in a devastating drop in aid to North Korea from Russia, although China continues to provide substantial assistance.

A famine broke out in some parts of North Korea following the collapse, but was alleviated within a few years with help from Europe, South Korea and China.

North Korea continues to have strong ties with its socialist southeast Asian allies Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

North Korea has an industrialised command economy.

Major industries include machine building, electricity, chemicals, mining, textiles, food processing and tourism.

North Korea is a popular destination for European and Chinese tourists due to its relatively low prices, lack of pollution and mild climate in summers.

For citizens of the US and South Korea it is practically impossible to obtain a visa for North Korea.

Exceptions for US and South Korean citizens are made for the yearly Arirang Festival.

Education in North Korea is controlled by the government and is compulsory until the secondary level.

Compulsory education lasts 11 years, and encompasses one year of preschool, four years of primary education and six years of secondary education.

North Korea is one of the most literate countries in the world.

Health care and medical treatment is free in North Korea.

In 2004, the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs became the first site in the country to be included in the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites.

In 2008, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra became the first US musical group ever to perform in North Korea.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blaze Of Glory - By Jon Bon Jovi - Dedicated To V. Prabakaran

Blaze Of Glory - By Jon Bon Jovi - Dedicated To V. Prabakaran

I wake up in the morning
And I raise my weary head
I got an old coat for a pillow
And the earth was last night's bed
I don't know where I'm going
Only God knows where I've been
I'm a devil on the run
A six gun lover
A candle in the wind
When you're brought into this world
They say you're born in sin
Well at least they gave me something
I didn't have to steal or have to win
Well they tell me that I'm wanted
Yeah I'm a wanted man
I'm colt in your stable
I'm what Cain was to Abel
Mister catch me if you can
I'm going down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
I'm going down in a blaze of glory
Lord I never drew first
But I drew first blood
I'm no one's son
Call me young gun
You ask about my conscience
And I offer you my soul
You ask if I'll grow to be a wise man
Well I ask if I'll grow old
You ask me if I known love
And what it's like to sing songs in the rain
Well, I've seen love come
And I've seen it shot down
I've seen it die in vain
Shot down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
'Cause I'm going down in a blaze of glory
Lord I never drew first
But I drew first blood
I'm the devil's son
Call me young gun
Each night I go to bed
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
No I ain't looking for forgiveness
But before I'm six foot deep
Lord, I got to ask a favour
And I'll hope you'll understand
'Cause I've lived life to the fullest
Let the boy die like a man
Staring down the bullet
Let me make my final stand
Shot down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
I'm going out in a blaze of glory
Lord I never drew first
But I drew first blood
And I'm no one's son
Call me young gun
I'm a young gun

This song was the theme for the Emilio Estevez film about American outlaw Billy The Kid, Young Guns.

Friday, May 8, 2009

We Are Asian Too

Renee Zellweger.
Albert Salmi.
Matt Damon.
Jessica Lange.
Pamela Anderson.
George Gaynes.
Renny Harlin.
Marta Kristen.
Christine Lahti.
David Lynch.
Lisa Niemi.
Marilyn Monroe.
Mary Hart.
James Brolin.
Uma Thurman.
Arnold Vosloo.

Rob Schneider.
Cris Judd.
Phoebe Cates.
Vanessa Hudgens.
Enrique Iglesias.
Nia Peeples.
Lou Diamond Phillips.
Shannyn Sossamon.
Tamlyn Tomita.
Mark Dacascos.
Nicole Scherzinger.

Milla Jovovich.
Yul Brynner (part Mongolian).
Olesya Rulin (High School Musical).
Natalie Wood.
James Franco.
Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google).

Sandra Dee.
Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man).
Tom Selleck.
Robert Urich.
Andy Warhol.
Mila Kunis.
Jack Palance.
Chuck Palahniuk.
Alex Trebek.

Nicollette Sheridan.
Zuleikha Robinson.
Rhona Mitra.

Native Malaysians (Malaysian & Indonesian Malays).
Carmit Bachar (Javanese).
Michelle Branch (Javanese).
Eddie Van Halen (Javanese).
Jodi Ann Patterson (Brunei).

Catherine Bell.
Christiane Amanpour.
Tiffani Amber-Thiessen.
Charles Bronson.
David Chokachi.

Asian Israelis.
Jonah Bobo (Zathura).
Alexander Gould.
Daryl Sabara.
Rachel Bilson.
Thora Birch.
Amanda Bynes.
Zac Efron.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Jake Gyllenhaal.
Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Scarlett Johansson.
Shia LaBeouf.
Daniel Radcliffe.
Seth Rogen.
Ashley Tisdale.
Michelle Trachtenberg.
Shiri Appleby.
David Arquette.
Sacha Baron Cohen.
Justin Bartha.
Selma Blair.
Adam Brody.
Adrien Brody.
Scott Caan.
Neve Campbell.
Emmanuelle Chriqui.
Jennifer Connelly.
Oded Fehr.
Corey Feldman.
Soleil Moon Frye.
Meeno Pelluce.
Jessalyn Gilsig.
Ginnifer Goodwin.
Seth Green.
Alyson Hannigan.
Kate Hudson.
Goldie Hawn.
Jordan (Katie Price).
Adam Levine (Maroon 5).
Natasha Lyonne.
Gwyneth Paltrow.
Amanda Peet.
Joaquin Phoenix.
Keri Russell.
Fred Savage.
Josh Saviano.
Alicia Silverstone.
Craig Bierko.
Jack Black.
Yasmine Bleeth.
Helena Bonham Carter.
Matthew Broderick.
Sarah Jessica Parker.
Robert Downey Jr.
Jon Favreau.
Melissa Gilbert.
Jennifer Grey.
Helen Hunt.
Jason Isaacs.
Courtney Love.
Marlee Matlin.
Sam Raimi.
Liev Schreiber.
Kyra Sedgwick.
Helen Slater.
Alex Winter.
Scott Wolf.
Ian Ziering.
Jason Alexander.
Tom Arnold.
Roseanne Barr.
Sandra Bernhard.
Al Franken.
Steve Guttenberg.
John Landis.
Don Most.
Mandy Patinkin.
Adam Arkin.
Alan Arkin.
Ron Perlman.
Paul Reiser.
Tanya Roberts.
Katey Sagal.
Bob Saget.
Steven Seagal.
Jane Seymour.
Howard Stern.
Neil Diamond.
Albert Brooks.
James Caan.
Peter Coyote.
Billy Crystal.
Bob Dylan.
Harrison Ford.
Bonnie Franklin.
Victor Garber.
Paul Michael Glaser.
Scott Glenn.
Richard Lewis.
Stephen Macht.
Frank Oz.
Rhea Perlman.
Gilda Radner.
Rob Reiner.
Garry Shandling.
Harry Shearer.
Ron Silver.
Steven Spielberg.
Jill St. John.
Barbra Streisand.
Jeffrey Tambor.
Zoe Wanamaker.
Lesley Ann Warren.
Anson Williams.
Henry Winkler.
Anouk Aimee.
Woody Allen.
Alan Arkin.
Steven Berkoff.
Claire Bloom.
Dyan Cannon.
Joan Collins.
Marty Feldman.
Elliott Gould.
Charles Grodin.
Judd Hirsch.
Dustin Hoffman.
Harvey Keitel.
Walter Koenig.
Martin Landau.
Michael Landon.
Piper Laurie.
Linda Lavin.
Shari Lewis.
Hal Linden.
Tina Louise.
Barry Newman.
Leonard Nimoy.
Jerry Orbach.
Joan Rivers.
George Segal.
William Shatner.
Janet Suzman.
Gene Wilder.
Beatrice Arthur.
Ed Asner.
Lauren Bacall.
Barbara Bain.
Lloyd Bochner.
Tom Bosley.
Mel Brooks.
Lenny Bruce.
Sid Caesar.
Tony Curtis.
Rodney Dangerfield.
Peter Falk.
Eddie Fisher.
Lee Grant.
Jack Klugman.
Jerry Lewis.
Ross Martin.
Walter Matthau.
Vic Morrow.
Paul Newman.
Charlotte Rae.
Tony Randall.
Don Rickles.
Doris Roberts.
Peter Sellers.
Rod Serling.
Abe Vigoda.
Mel Blanc.
Red Buttons.
Kirk Douglas.
Paulette Goddard.
Lorne Greene.
Sid James.
Danny Kaye.
Hedy Lamarr.
Herbert Lom.
Zero Mostel.
Pauly Shore.
Adam Sandler.
Dinah Shore.
Mike Wallace.
Eli Wallach.
Johnny Wayne.
Frank Shuster.
Natalie Schafer.
Jack Benny.
Fanny Brice.
George Burns.
Eddie Cantor.
Leslie Howard.
Moses Howard.
Paul Muni.
Mae West.
Douglas Fairbanks.
Al Jolson.
Groucho Marx.