JULY 16, 2008


In focus: Full-frame or cropped sensor?
By David Smeaton

Expat living is a page dedicated
to the issues that affect expats' daily lives. It is your page, where you can share stories about your life in Korea. Send story ideas to Matthew Lamers at mattlamers@heraldm.com

These days, a lot of cameras are coming out with full-frame sensors. My camera has a cropped sensor, so it’s not fullframe. Is full-frame better? — Matthew, Seoul. The concept of full-frame is something of a misnomer. Every frame is a full-frame. However, the standard for full-frame is based on 35mm SLR cameras, which were the most popular cameras before digital came along. A full-frame camera, then, is a camera with an equivalent of a 35mm sensor. Most DSLR cameras, however, have smaller sensors or cropped sensors. The reason for this is that DSLR technology is still being developed and full-frame sensors were very difficult to make, had numerous technical issues, and were quite expensive; manufacturers decided to offer cropped sensors instead. Full-frame sensors have two distinct advantages. The first advantage is that old lenses — that have very high build quality — are designed for SLR cameras. SLR cameras use 35 mm film, upon which the standard full-frame is based. So full-frame SLR lenses are perfectly suited to full-frame DSLR sensors. The second advantage is that a full-frame sensor is bigger. Simply, the bigger sensor the lens has, more photosites there are (the small buckets that collect light). The bigger sensor collects more light than a cropped sensor. Cropped sensors, therefore, have more difficulty collecting light to make the image. So the camera amplifies the signal from the sensor. As a result, cropped sensors create a lot more noise. These days, manufacturers are very good at making cropped sensors, so the noise factor is less of an issue. It’s very easily solved with software. Also, due to the popularity and affordability of cropped sensor DSLRs, camera makers are producing a lot of cropped format lenses. These lenses are specifically designed to get maximum benefits from a smaller sensor. Cropped sensor DSLRs actually have one cool advantage over full-frame: They receive a magnification bonus on fullframe lenses. Because the sensor is smaller, the range of a full-frame lens is altered. Happy shooting. Send David a message at davidsmeaton@gmail.com or visit his website at davidsmeaton.com. If you want to be a part of the weekly Photo Challenge, join the “Seoul Photo Club” group at flickr (flickr.com/groups/seoulphotoclub). — Ed.

Birth of atomic age, but no fireworks here
By Bobby McGill

BUSAN — It was 63 years ago today that a team of Manhattan Project scientists detonated the world’s first nuclear device in the barren sands outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. The Atomic Age was born. And, for better or worse, it stands as our species’ most monumental achievement since we started whacking each other with sticks. Yet, there will be no parades to mark the occasion. No fanfare, no banners, no words from the White House. Of the numerous inventions America has given the world, this was never one she was especially proud of. During a 1960 lecture in Japan, lead scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled the mixed emotions shared by himself and his fellow scientists on that day: “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed; a few people cried; most people were silent.” As he watched the mushroom cloud forming in the sky, Oppenheimer reflected on a verse from the Bhagavad-Gita in which the god, Lord Vishnu says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Three weeks after the Trinity test, a bomb called “Little Boy” was detonated 550 meters above the city of Hiroshima, followed soon thereafter by “Fat Man” over Nagasaki. More than 200,000 people died, sacrificed at the altar of the new era of war. As news of the devastation circled the globe, humanity stood in worried wonder at the prospect of a mechanism three meters in length causing a circle of destruction three kilometers around. Even Americans, relieved by the end to the fighting, felt an unsettling sense of anxiety about what their countrymen had created. Reporting from London following Japan’s unconditional surrender, famed American journalist Edward R. Murrow said: “Seldom if ever has a war ended leaving the victors with such a sense of uncertainty and fear, with such a realization that the future is obscure and that survival is not assured.” From a broader perspective, Albert Einstein saw a need to address century upon century of human violence. “The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.” Were we living in the world of Plato’s Republic, ruled by philosopher kings, perhaps the utterances of sages might have reigned in what would soon follow. Five years later, Russia detonated its first device and the arms race was on. The U.K. joined the club in 1953 and France did in 1960, followed by China in 1964, India in 1974, Israel in 1979, Pakistan in 1998 and North Korea in 2006. At its peak in 1985, the world was host to upwards of 65,000 active nuclear warheads. Although treaties were signed and targets “reassigned,” the majority of the warheads remain stockpiled today, with about 20,000 actively armed. I will spare you the cliche of how many times the world could be destroyed. Once is enough for both cliche and world destruction. A sobering disconnect between logic and practicality has long riddled the debate regarding the continued deployment of nuclear weapons. During the five-year period from 1945-50

when America held eminent sway, hardliners advocated preemptive strikes on Russia before a counterbalance could be established. Cooler heads prevailed, and a “Cold War” was begun. Once the Russians had the nuke, there came the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, where both sides conceded that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons would result in the complete destruction of both sides. But the burden of the Cold War deadlock was not felt so much by America and Russia as by countries such as Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan, all of which played host to proxy wars between the feuding superpowers. It is arguable that nuclear diplomacy has made the world a safer place. Since the end of World War II, humanity has seen nothing approaching the roughly 112,000,000 casualties of the two World Wars. The major powers are forced to vent whatever frustrations they might have on a smaller scale. And historical border enemies like Russia and China, China and India, and India and Pakistan have all been kept in check by the MAD doctrine. In recent years, two wild cards have emerged from the deck — North Korea and an aggressive Iranian regime looking for a seat at the nuclear table. Though still too early to tell, the North Koreans appear to be folding their hand in exchange for an opening of economic ties to the West. But Iran’s recent saber-rattling is an exceptional problem in the era of containment, and it might not be so easily solved. Unlike North Korea, Iran is flush with large oil reserves and ready cash. As the Pew Research Center wrote in a 2006 report, “Iran has a far larger economy than either that of Saudi Arabia or Egypt. One might say it was inevitable that Iran was going to assert itself.” With America in up to its neck (and its wallet) in Iraq, coupled with the war’s gravely diminished political capital at home, the Iranian leadership sees itself in a situation with little to lose by challenging the United States. But will this translate into the birth of another nuclear power? Probably not. Schooled in the success of North Korean leader Kim JongIl, Iran likely imagines that having nuclear arms will increase the number of its bargaining chips. While, on the surface, it seems a reasonable gambit, it will more than likely backfire. Iran can ill afford to become more marginalized, as even its traditional trading partners, Russia and the French, have distanced themselves from the extremist rhetoric of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. China, which will befriend anyone with oil, has stood by the Iranian government and actively blocks U.N attempts to isolate its ally. For now, the world must watch and wait for the next chapter in the story that began on July 16, 1945. Clearing the hurdle of keeping Iran a nonnuclear power could prove crucial as the nuclear club tries to reconcile its own mistakes, while preventing them from happening to others. Bobby McGill is a freelance journalist based in Busan. He can be reached through his website at www.idlewordship.com. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of The Korea Herald. — Ed.

Andrew Gordon, American model in Seoul

Trailblazer for foreign models
Andrew Gordon is an American model from New York who is quite successful in the fashion industry here in Seoul. He speaks near-fluent Korean — not an oddity in itself — but many models here tend to have short stays. A few foreign models are flown in for a few weeks at a time. For example, Elyse Sewell of America’s Next Top Model was here for a few weeks, but left in May to work in China. You just don’t see many foreign models that make Korea their home — let alone take a deep interest in the culture or language like Gordon has. Two years ago, Gordon moved to Gimhae, near the city of Busan, and stayed there for around a year. He moved to Busan, then eventually found his way to Seoul. He explained that it was friendships made in high school that gave him an interest in Korean culture and language. “I went to a private high school and there were a lot of Korean people there. And so I just became friends with them and,

Regina Walton’s Expat Interviews
through that ... I developed an interest in Korea.” Because of his interest, he came here to study the language. “I graduated very early and came to Korea. I was planning on only staying here for vacation, and it ended up being a life choice, so I live in Korea now.” He began his modeling career in the United States. “I did a little bit of modeling in the United States for American Apparel. And then came to Korea right after that. I didn’t really do anything right off the bat ... I was going back and forth to Japan (to model). I actually debuted in Tokyo Collection ... and that was my (runway) debut.” A typical day for a model in Korea is that there pretty much isn’t one. “There is really no typical day here, because everyone is busy and does their own thing. But I would say a normal day with a good amount of work would be starting with a meeting with someone, like an editor

or a designer. If those people like you, then you continue on and talk about money. Then, usually, you’ll go into a fitting and schedule the day — if it’s a show or a shoot. “ When asked to describe both the good and bad about working as a model in Korea, Gordon is honest but tactful. “(Korea) is a small country and I understand that, but things like money and pay are very low and sometimes none. I think that designers separate themselves from the models. There are so many models in Korea, so everyone wants to be a model. It’s kind of hard for people who really have the potential to do well to be successful.” When it comes to the positives, “Being foreign (helps); there aren’t a lot of foreign models in Korea. Also, being young is an advantage because I’m younger than a lot of foreign models here. The language is definitely a plus. If I didn’t speak Korean, I would not be a freelancing model. It helps with issues like pay.” With his recent assignments, Gordon has had a couple of

notable successes. In May 2008, he was featured in a solo 12page spread in Korean GQ. That was a first for a foreign model. “To be alone for a 12-page spread is a big, big accomplishment, especially for a foreign model.” He is the model for this summer’s Hugo Boss campaign that will be seen in Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States. Having worked with a big fashion house like Hugo Boss opens many doors. “The Boss campaign has gotten me a lot of calls from other countries and ... having something like Hugo Boss in my profile allows me to be viewed on a high-fashion level because Boss is such a fashion icon.” Being a model who has been able to adapt and live in a foreign culture outside of traditional fashion hubs like Paris, Hong Kong or Milan works in his favor when it comes to expanding his profile in other markets. Regina can be reached through her blog at expatjane.blogspot.com — Ed.

Is Korea safe for women?
SUWON — I had an interesting experience the other night. The fact that I am classifying it as “interesting” as opposed to other, perhaps more appropriate adjectives is significant in and of itself. Walking back to my apartment from work every night takes me through a park, complete with open green space, trees, benches and a large fountain. The walkway to the park from the busy main drag is densely covered with overhanging trees, and it is narrow, with nary a light to be found. This particular Friday evening found me making my way through throngs of people, food stalls and neon light spilling over everything as I headed home. It was around 1 a.m. As I spun sideways in order to avoid being hit by a passing scooter, I happened to notice a man only a few steps behind me. I thought nothing of it as I continued on my way; there were too many people out and about, and surely he was only one of the crowd. I was about halfway to the park when I switched my bag to my other shoulder, knocking off my earphones, and jarring me back to reality for a split second. The reality being that the man was still behind me, even closer now, and I was alone on a darkened, tree-covered path. What is interesting to me about this situation was my complete lack of fear. Common sense told me to walk faster, run, scream, whip out my can of mace, finally deliver that roundhouse kick that I once upon a time perfected in kick-boxing class. But I did none of those things. I don’t even carry a can of mace, though my roundhouse is still a force to be reckoned with. Instead, I turned around, and calmly but firmly asked him what he wanted. He was so drunk he was swaying where he stood and seemed incapable of doing anything but staring at me while muttering a few broken words in English. “I follow you?” he managed to mumble. “Don’t. Follow. Me.” I said, loudly and resolute. For a moment, he seemed to sober up. He took a step back, hung his head and nodded. Without

Stephanie Morris on Women’s Issues
further adieu, I continued walking, looking back only once, and seeing that he had made his way back down towards the brightly lit streets. I’ve always resented the idea that the extra X chromosome I carry around in me somehow limits me and my movements in any way, shape or form. The reality is, because I am a woman, there are times when I am forced to be aware of places, people and situations in a way that would be minor or non-existent if I had happened to have been born a man. Back home, I would slip keys between each finger, forming a fist when I walked to my car after dark, and I checked the back seat before slipping into the driver’s seat. If I was to be found walking somewhere at 1 a.m., I was headphones-free, fully aware of my surroundings and the people occupying them. I was careful, but not overly fearful. But there were times when I did feel uneasy, or more then a little apprehensive about where I happened to be. But, oddly enough, I have yet to feel that way here in Korea. Though I have been approached, I have never felt threatened, and the violence I have been witness to or heard of has largely been associated with other expats, as opposed to Koreans. This incident, however, has inspired me to explore this situation further. Perhaps my views and feelings regarding the safety of females here are skewed, or perhaps they are accurate. I encourage anyone to send me stories, anecdotes, opinions or otherwise to stephaniemorris7@yahoo.ca. This issue is one that I believe bears a little more looking into. Stephanie can be reached through her blog at stephanieinsuwon.blogspot.com. — Ed.

DAVID SMEATON’S PHOTO CHALLENGE — Familiar landmarks can take on new life when taken out of context.This mosaic is of a fish but becomes something else when the photographer gets closer. Ryan Chappell (lotuseaterphotography.com)