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How hot is your kimpap?

January 4, 2012

Anyone have a reading on this?

News in the last few days has given me much to think about. Hence, the pause in posting.

“What news?” you may ask.

In brief, radioactivity is reaching Korea, despite the fact that prevailing winds carry Fukushima fallout eastward, away from the Korean peninsula.

So, we have the wind on our side here. But the sea is another matter.

Now debris from Fukushima is starting to show up in the East Sea (which Koreans staunchly resist calling the “Sea of Japan”):

By one route or another, debris is making its way around Japan by sea and toward Korean waters.

Moreover, radioactivity is showing up in Korean seaweed:

It’s also at   and

Check that video, please, before reading further.

About it, I chatted yesterday with Mochizuki-san at his Fukushima Diary blog,

After seeing the background reading, he speculated that Korea — at that spot on the east coast, anyway — was getting 0.23 microsieverts per hour.

Quick arithmetic turned that reading into roughly 2 millisieverts per year.

“So what?” you may reply. “A single chest x-ray gives you more than that.”

Still, that 0.23 reading gave me something to think about on the way home from the office last night.

An inner dialogue went on between my resigned, “shikata ga nai ” side (called “S” below) and my cautious side, here called “C.”

Read part of the transcript:

C: Shouldn’t you get out? You’re living in the radiation belt.

S: Would it make any difference? I’m already 59 years old.

C: True. But there are less radioactive places.

S: My job is here. My friends are here. Health care is good. And there will be dangers anywhere. Why move?

C: Suppose reactor 4 — the really shaky one at Fukushima — collapses and spills everything. Then there will be much more radioactivity for currents to carry toward Korea.

S: Hmm.

C: And don’t forget. Another typhoon season is coming. Typhoons blow fallout from east to west — toward Korea.

S: But soon, won’t it soon be more radioactive everywhere?

C: You’re rationalizing.

S: And you’re panicking.

C: I’m pointing out danger.

S: Better the danger you know than others you don’t. Besides, I’ve tried running from danger before. It doesn’t work.

C: I know.

So it went, all the way home. S, the resigned side of me, won.

This time.

But the cautious C side refuses to be silenced. He’s my loyal opposition.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about my Korean friends … especially, their diet.

Koreans love their kimpap — rolls of rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. Kimpap is everywhere.

How many tons of seaweed get eaten in kimpap each day? I can’t guess.

Nor can I estimate how much radioactivity Koreans (and expats here) are soaking up from food and the environment.

So, I placed an advertisement, asking anyone with current radioactivity readings from Korea to contact me by email.

No replies yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

At the same time, I’m preparing a different kind of ad for websites around the world.

It says, “Can anyone use the services of a skilled writer of English, with 35 years’ experience and some 20 published books as credits? Can handle anything from whole books to blog posts.”

If you hear of anything, please let me know.

Thanks, from both sides of me.

ⓒDavid Ritchie 2012

(David Ritchie lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He welcomes correspondence and asks only that it be civil in tone. Contact: kwriter [at]


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  1. greatlittle permalink

    Hi, I hope this comment reaches you —

    Another *crucial* point for your “C” to make to “S” is that RADIATION TAKEN INTO YOUR BODY AND HELD THERE IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ONE-TIME EXPOSURES LIKE X-RAYS (sorry for the caps, but our news media here and gov’t health organizations always blur this distinction, and it’s very, very important).

    An x-ray has only one chance to damage your cells. Radioactive particles you breathe or eat can stay inside your body for a very long time, and continue sending radiation from inside you. I forget the conversion from your 2mSv/yr to Bq, but a bequerel, Bq, is a measurement of one ‘zap’ of radiation per SECOND. That adds up, and can hurt your cells a lot more than a one-time exposure from an x-ray or plane flight, etc.

  2. Hello Mr. Ritchie,

    my handle is joytek311. I have written an e-mail ( to you about a possible meeting if you wish to talk about the content of my videos. Please let me know if you are interested in this option.

    Thank you, and hope to hear from you soon.


  3. Dear Darin — Thanks for your comment. To which action are you referring? — David

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. How hot is your kimpap? #srfrdr « Darin R. McClure – The Good Life In San Clemente

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