It Happened In 2008

By Kai Ma

Remember When?


  • Fanned by the subprime mortgage crisis, stock markets plunge worldwide. Fears spread of a recession in the United States.


  • An arsonist torches South Korea’s Sungnyemun Gate, a 600-year-old national treasure.
  • School shooting at Northern Illinois University leaves six dead and 18 wounded. According to reports, the gunman admired the tactics of Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
  • Fidel Castro resigns.
  • Lee Myung-bak becomes the 10th president of South Korea.
  • The New York Philharmonic tunes up in Pyongyang, North Korea.
  • Thousands perish as a 7.5 magnitude earthquake strikes near the Chinese city of Chengdu.
  • Statue of Seo Jae-pil, a scholar who fought for Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule, is unveiled in Washington, D.C.
  • Cyclone devastates Myanmar (also known as Burma), killing 100,000-plus.



  • Jeff Han, the brains behind CNN John King’s favorite interface-free touch screen, snags a spot on Time’s list of the world’s most influential people.
  • This time, John Cho runs away from the joint in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.
  • The war in Iraq turns 5 years old.
  • The shrinking of Arctic sea ice from global warming places the polar bear under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Mixed martial artist B.J. Penn defends his title as lightweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
  • Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) dies on ABC’s brain-twisting drama Lost. Or does he? We still believe.


  • South Koreans have a cow over imported U.S. beef, with nearly 100,000 protestors hitting the streets of Seoul.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a Washington, D.C. gun law, citing the Second Amendment.
  • Rising star Anthony Kim wins the AT&T National, his second PGA victory this year, and will later help the U.S. team win the Ryder Cup.
  • U.S. Census Bureau predicts minorities will outnumber whites by 2042.
  • Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin becomes the first female veep G.O.P nominee — earning her cult-hero status … until an unfortunate appearance on CBS.
  • U.S. swimming phenom Michael Phelps wins a record eight gold medals in Beijing.
  • The Ladies Professional Golf Association unveils a controversial English-language policy that it later rescinds.
  • Violent clashes break out between Georgia and South Ossetia.
  • South Korean tourist Park Wang-ja, 53, is fatally shot by a soldier at a North Korean mountainresort.



  • Hurricane Gustav prompts one of the largest mass exoduses in the history of Louisiana.
  • Ike barrels into Galveston, Tex. with 110-mph winds, killing dozens.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is rumored to be ill.
  • Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) moves on from ex-fiancé Preston Burke (wah!) after a lip-lock with Dr. Owen Hunt on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
  • As Wall Street continues to crumble, President Bush signs a $700 billion economic bailout plan approved by Congress.
  • The war in Afghanistan turns 7 years old.
  • South Korean visitors can now enter the U.S. visa-free, under a visa waiver program.
  • Los Angeles burns.
  • Gus, the world’s fugliest dog, dies after a lengthy and courageous fight against cancer.
  • Samsung becomes the leader of the U.S. phone market for the first time, toppling Motorola.
  • Bans on same-sex marriage pass in California, Arizona and Florida, triggering protests nationwide.
  • Obama is elected POTUS.