Friday, November 17, 2017

"Why can't Americans be Punished?"

The 1988 Seoul Olympics

Prologue 1: "Why can't Americans be Punished?"

Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3:  Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4:  Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5:  An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6:  Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7:  No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8:  KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9:  Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America
Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control
Part 15: Heaven on Earth
Part 16: Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race 
Part 17: Stolen gold

[Update: I rendered the names of the teens below into English from their renderings in Hangeul, which were 매트니 잘스 and 오맬리 패트릭. The latter is easy enough, but I rendered 매트니 잘스 as 'Charles Mateny,' which may not be correct.

Original Post:]

Prologue 1: "Why can't Americans be Punished?"

Prior to the 1988 Olympics, the claiming of jurisdiction by Korean prosecutors in SOFA cases was an issue that had failed to garner much interest among the general public. In the summer of 1988, the Hankyoreh was mostly alone among newspapers in arguing that SOFA should be revised, especially in regard to reporting on rallies calling for the government to take jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers who had committed crimes in several cases outside Seoul that summer. On August 6, however, a spokesperson from the foreign ministry said the government was reviewing the possibility of revising the SOFA. Because issues related to jurisdiction of U.S. soldiers who committed crimes, the rights of Koreans working on U.S. bases, and cost sharing had come up at previous annual security consultative meetings with the U.S. government, various ministries planned to meet to discuss these and make recommendations to USFK. This issue began to gain traction with the public days before the Olympics, however, when the assault of a pregnant Korean woman by American teens from a US base took place in Seoul. In many ways, the Donga Ilbo, even more so than the Hankyoreh, was at the forefront of pushing left-nationalist causes at this time, and on September 5, 1988, twelve days before the Olympics, the Donga Ilbo published the following piece of agitprop article in a column called "Window":
"Why can’t Americans be punished?"
Pregnant woman battered by children of US Military 

September 3, around 8:30 am in Predelivery Room 1424 in the Joongang University Yongsan Hospital on Hangangro 3-ga, in Seoul’s Yongsan-gu. Jo Gyeong-ok (334 Han River 2 ga, Yongsan-gu) was laying in bed and crying as she thought of the infuriating and absurd thing she had gone through the night before.

Mrs. Jo's husband Im Sam-bin (37, tile worker) was at her bedside comforting her, holding his wife’s tear-streaked face in his hands.

At around 12:40 am Mrs. Jo went out by the street to wait for her husband, who was late coming home.

Mrs. Jo married Mr. Im, who is the only son of an only son, three years ago, and at last she was about 4 months pregnant with her first child.

About ten minutes after leaving the house, Cho was surprised when someone suddenly hit her cheek as they rode a bike past her. Mrs. Jo, who shouted "Why did you hit me?” was mistaken in thinking it was her fault. They heard Mrs. Jo's shout and came back on their bicycles.

Both of them were young-looking foreigners.

They began to beat Mrs. Jo. They jibbered on in English and punched and kicked her wildly but, unable to ask them in English why they were beating her, Mrs. Jo screamed.

Passersby reported it to a nearby police box but during the 10 minutes before the neighbourhood patrol arrived she had to suffer beating and taunting.

The two who were arrested and taken to the police box in front of Yongsan Station were found to be the children of American military personnel, Charles Mateny (18, high school student) and Patrick O'Malley (17, high school student). They never did explain why they slapped Mrs. Jo as they rode by on bicycles.

However, after the police contacted the main Yongsan Police Station and asked some questions, they were all sent home around 4 o'clock in the morning.

Mrs. Jo and her husband, Mr. Im, who had hurried to the station later, protested, but the police explained that they couldn’t help it because of the "Korea-US Status of Forces Agreement" [SOFA].

The explanation Mrs. Jo heard was that if they were to collect material from the police and notify the US military, they (the boys) would get punished there so it would be the same anyway, but she could not accept this.

"I don’t know what SOFA is, but they beat a Korean in Korea, so why can’t Korean courts punish them? And how should I get compensation for the mental shock my wife received?"

Her husband, unable to go to work that day, was saddened as he looked after his wife.

Reporter Kim Sang-young
In an article I posted here, it was reported that she would not miscarry. This is the incident - and most likely the very article - that turned issues related to SOFA from an esoteric topic few but activists and those near US bases cared about into an issue people could relate to: the victimization of an innocent Korean - a pregnant woman, at that - at the hands of Americans who seemed to get away without punishment, a trope which would be of great utility to activists in the decades to follow.

The media attention may have led the police to follow up on the assault, as the Donga Ilbo published the following report the next day:
Investigation launched into assault on pregnant woman, USFK kids summoned to police station

The Yongsan Police Department in Seoul has decided to directly investigate the case of the children of US military personnel, Charles Mateny (18, high school student) and Patrick O'Malley (17, high school student), who for no reason assaulted a pregnant Korean woman, and sent a summons to the US 8th Army ordering them to appear before the police within three days.

Police said it was judged that South Korea had jurisdiction over soldiers' family members under Article 22 (3) of the ROK-US SOFA, and decided to summon them for an investigation.

Article 22 paragraph 3 of the ROK-US SOFA states that the US 8th Army holds jurisdiction over active duty US military and US military property, and the ROK has jurisdiction over the families of soldiers, civilian attached to the military, and their families.

Meanwhile, as witnesses testified that they seemed to be high at the time of the assault, police intend to investigate whether they took drugs or not.
The next day, on September 9, 1988, the Donga Ilbo published a follow up which highlighted the impact of the first article:
Stir over US military kids' "assault on pregnant housewife"
US military kids' pregnant housewife assault incident

Our report in "Window" on September 5 is causing an unexpected stir. After the report on this incident our office received flood of telephone inquiries about the SOFA agreement by many readers wanting to recover their wounded national pride and scolding the insincerity and indifference of the police investigation.

The readers who called in above all expressed anger in complaining about the ROK-US SOFA. Experts also pointed out that the ROK-US SOFA is a much more unequal agreement than the "London" convention (concluded in 1951), the law on foreign military status on which it is modelled.

One reader, a 40-year-old housewife, argued that "this agreement, which was signed 22 years ago when we had to put up with inequality, should be correctly revised to fit current realities."

However, rather than the inequality of the agreement itself, what caused resentment among readers was the passive attitude of our nation's government, which from the beginning shrinks from and turns its back on incidents involving Americans, even if one of our citizens is the victim.

According to the ROK-US SOFA, domestic investigative agencies can investigate criminal cases even if they are the families of American military personnel or families of civilians attached to the military, and according to Article 22, which regulates criminal jurisdiction, there are various conditions, but generally jurisdiction over families of American military personnel or civilians, excluding soldiers, should be exercised by Korea. Even in the case of US soldiers, cases of serious crimes such as murder, robbery, and rape must also be brought before Korean courts.

In spite of these regulations, there are many cases when our side gives up jurisdiction while the case is in the hands of the police and the prosecution, and jurisdiction is passed on to the US military.

The fact is, in the past year, of 835 cases involving Americans the Seoul District Prosecutor's office received, 196 cases involved crimes by military family members, but the number of these cases prosecuted by our nation’s prosecutors amounted to no more than twelve.

In fact, in the case of this incident, even though as a matter of course the police should have started an investigation immediately after the incident, one gets the impression that the belated issuing of a subpoena to the young Americans who committed assault is due to the pressure of public opinion.

A 50 year-old reader said, "Although it is an unequal agreement, it is sadaejuui-type thinking for us to abandon even the right to exercise [jurisdiction] as a matter of course." Kim, a 26 year-old graduate student, said, "Acknowledging that there is a positive aspect of the role the US has played in our country since liberation, we should also re-establish our position now by asking the question "What is America to us?"

Reporter Kim Sang-young
One has to chuckle at the Reporter Kim's description of the furor following his first article as an "unexpected stir" when that was pretty clearly the hoped-for response to it. Criticism of the "sadaejuui-type thinking" in regard to Americans appeared the next day when a letter was written to the Donga Ilbo and printed with the title "The humiliation of the US Army kids’ assault on Korean pregnant women; If we can’t punish it, are we not a colony?"

It's the phrase about readers wanting "to recover their wounded national pride" that stood out for me the first time I read this article, however. How wonderful and evocative is that phrase? During the previous year or so the liberalization of the economy, particularly of beef and cigarettes (see the articles here) had angered farmers, and students and farmers' groups held protests, criticizing the government's "renunciation of sovereign rights" and distributed leaflets reading, "Those who smoke foreign-brand cigarettes are sellers of national self-respect." And when United International Pictures (UIP) began doing an end run around Korean film companies by directly distributing its films in Korea during the Olympics, one director said that UIP's dealings demonstrated "a high-handed attitude to the disregard of the Korean people," while another said "UIP's 'sneaking' infiltration is a fatal blow to our pride." The need to recover national pride vis-a-vis the US would become a theme in media coverage throughout the Olmypics, helping spread anger at the US from students and farmers to the population at large.

As reported in a September 19, 1988 Joongang Ilbo article, the United Korea Women's Association gave a statement the day after the Olympics began denouncing the attack by US military teens against the pregnant Korean woman and criticized the "special privileges" of the US military, citing a government statistic that out of 15,000 crimes committed by US soldiers in the past decade, the Korean government had exercised jurisdiction in less than one percent of the cases. As well, they called for the perpetrators' parents and the US Ambassador to publicly apologize to Korea citizens, a speedy and fair investigation and punishment by government authorities, and "revision of the unequal SOFA." They also declared that it "wasn't simply an assault, but a reflection of Americans' tendency to look down on Koreans." This tendency would be highlighted by the media throughout the Olympics, influencing a growth in anti-Americanism that would influence government policy after the Olympics, particularly in regard to the SOFA.

[For an archive of SOFA-related documents, see here.]

Monday, November 13, 2017

A one-sided depiction of the ROK-US alliance and SOFA

Last week an op-ed titled "Is South Korea’s Alliance with the United States Worth It?" by Se-woong Koo, best known for running Korea Expose, appeared in the New York Times. As a piece meant to educate American readers about negative effects the alliance has had on Koreans, it succeeds, but at the cost of being rather one-sided. On the one hand, well, yes, it's an op-ed, and op-eds tend to lean in one direction over another. As well, there's often not a lot of space, so it's not difficult for nuance to get lost. And more material could have been excised by an editor. Still, it seems to play the victimization note a little too consistently to suggest that wasn't the intent.

The introduction based around a personal anecdote is an effective and interesting beginning. It is noted that "South Korea’s relationship with the United States started as one of dependency," which is a good point - though more important might be the fact that a large number of educated people then, and still, feel ashamed by this. For millennia, societies the world over have adopted aspects of the culture or social organization of more powerful states they hoped to influence, but Koreans - North and South - have turned the Korean term describing this - Sadaejuui - into an epithet, which reflects both shame at dependency as well as a desire to overcome that shame. In fact, the thesis of the article - "when that partner turns ungrateful, and even unreliable, it is time to question the idea that the alliance is sacrosanct" - is not a new one. One only need look at the rhetoric critical of the US in the Korean news media during the 1988 Olympics, couched as it was in the need to "recover wounded national pride," to see anger lashed out at an "ungrateful" or "disrespectful" guest. Such criticism of the "erosion of South Korea’s sovereign spirit" had been alive and well for decades, at least in some circles. Reading news reports from the 1950s and 1960s makes clear that more than a few Koreans have long chafed at the US military presence here, and frustration has boiled over periodically throughout the entire length of the alliance (as well as due to the presence of Americans here generally, for example during the Haysmer apple incident in 1926).

Mention is also made of Korea being compelled to contribute soldiers to America’s wars, but all we read of are 5,000 Korean dead and Agent Orange exposure, making it sound like an unmitigated loss for Koreans rather than the huge shot in the arm it was to Korea's economy (right down to the village level due to soldiers sending money home). Much as the Korean War had provided Japan with an opportunity for economic recovery after the destruction of the Pacific War, the Vietnam War (and the normalization of relations with Japan) provided Korea with a means to develop its economy.

As for the withdrawal of US troops leading to less "psychological dependen[ce] on a foreign army," this may well be true, though at their heart, both Koreas' feelings of 'national inadequacy' stem from the condition of Korea's division. And while Germany's leader may be able to say "We Europeans have to take our destiny into our own hands," Germany is in a rather different situation than Korea, with a rather different set of neighbours. One reason to be wary of the withdrawal of US troops is precisely because that is what North Korea has always wanted, and still continues to want as a precursor to the unification of peninsula under North Korean control, as Brian Myers and others have argued. This goes back decades, and the message is most intelligible for non-Korean readers in the pro-North Korea propaganda of the American-Korean Friendship Information Center based in New York in the early 1970s. Links to their material can be found here, though this blurb from their magazine Korea Focus makes things clear enough (from Vol. 1, No. 1, page 58):

Withdrawal of US troops might sound like a good idea in theory. In practice, I'm not so sure.

What I found especially one-sided was this:
Then there is the Status of Forces Agreement, signed between the two nations in 1966 and renewed twice. It has been understood to grant the United States military nearly exclusive jurisdiction over its personnel, such that even high-profile offenses committed by American soldiers against South Korean citizens go unpunished.

One of the most heinous examples happened in 2002 when an American military vehicle ran over two middle-school students, crushing them to death. The perpetrators were shielded from South Korean authorities and a United States military court dismissed the case.
The "It has been understood" part is rather weaselly, in that this perception by the Korean people, encouraged by citizens groups and the media, is mostly incorrect (especially since 1988 and even more so since the 2000s). In not saying so, however, it conveys to American readers that this one-sided "understanding" is factual. The idea that the "United States military [has] nearly exclusive jurisdiction over its personnel, such that even high-profile offenses committed by American soldiers against South Korean citizens go unpunished" better applies the pre-SOFA days (or perhaps to its first 20 years) rather than the present.

SOFA first came into effect on February 9, 1967. Below are some Korea Times articles from that year about SOFA cases (some are hard to make out, unfortunately). The first is from February 11, two days after SOFA came into effect:

Just because the case could be subject to Korean jurisdiction didn't mean Korean prosecutors pursued the case, however, especially since they would have been rather busy, what with 122 crimes committed by US soldiers in the first month, as this March 10 article relates:

As it says above,
The 122 "offenses" reported to the ministry include 36 assault cases, 40 accidental homicide and injury cases involving traffic accidents, and 28 traffic law violation cases. The ministry statistics said that 35 of the 122 cases were turned over to U.S. military investigation authorities. Korean authorities earlier decided to turn all minor offenses over to U.S. authorities and to handle only "important" cases. 
The first soldier to be indicted by Korean prosecutors was Billy Cox, who was charged on March 29, 1967, as this June 20 article relates.

A second soldier was subject to Korean jurisdiction two months later, as this May 23 article relates:

Korean authorities tended to prosecute only serious crimes, particularly murder, arson, and rape, while leaving assaults to USFK authorities. A comment by a Seoul prosecutor in a November 2, 1988 Stars and Stripes article, after the Olympics, indicates again that there was an element of choice in not prosecuting every case:
While the U.S. ROK Status of Forces Agreement gives South Korea primary jurisdiction in incidents involving American troops outside U.S. bases, [Seoul Prosecutor] Yoo [Sang-su] said authorities "have waived that jurisdiction in the past." "The national consciousness toward American troops in Korea has changed, however, and it is time we begin exercising a wider scale of jurisdiction," he said.
Needless to say, the idea that off duty American soldiers were out of reach of Korean authorities is an exaggeration, to say the least, and the post-1988 "exercising [of] a wider scale of jurisdiction" was directly tied to attempts to recover national pride and a change in "national consciousness" after the Olympics.

As for the use of the word "heinous" to describe the 2002 traffic accident - a word with synonyms like "odious, wicked, evil, atrocious, monstrous, abominable, detestable, contemptible, reprehensible, despicable" - this makes rather clear the bias of the author, since it gives the impression that there was malice aforethought in the running over of the two girls, when accounts by those who were there make clear it was an accident. A narrative of Korean victimization at the hands of unpunishable Americans - the standard SOFA narrative since 1988 - drove thousands into the streets for the first, avowedly "non-political," candlelight protests, which have been a means for expression of the national will ever since.

What can be troubling for the US military is the way in which incidents involving alcohol can turn into mob scenes - such as during the 1988 Olympics [here and here], the 1995 subway incident, or the 2004 Sinchon stabbing incident - and the way in which these incidents have been politicized, with the prosecution altering charges for political reasons, particularly to appease public anger. According to ROK Drop, after the 2004 Sinchon stabbing incident, "The soldier was at first charged with simple battery since he was trying to protect himself, but due to all the misinformation in the media the charges were upgraded to attempted murder." A firsthand account by that soldier makes clear just how terrifying the mob scene he got caught up in was, but also how fairly the judge treated him:
[T]he judge told me he would give me a self defense sentence which was typically 2+ years… even though I was convicted of attempted murder. Basically the conviction was to appease the people of S. Korea, and the sentence was relative to a "self defense with a deadly weapon" conviction in that country. The judge was truly fair to both parties in that aspect.
His sentence gives hope that judges have the ability to fairly deal with biased prosecutions. Needless to say, there's a lot complexity involved in the SOFA issue, far from the black and white way in which it is often portrayed. Such simplistic formulations involving victimized Koreans obscure more than they illuminate, and do a disservice to one's readers.

Above I made mention of how a narrative of Korean victimization at the hands of unpunishable Americans has been the standard SOFA narrative since 1988. I've translated a key article from that time and posted it here.

Monday, October 02, 2017

From 2006: A parade of lascivious foreign teachers; or, They shoot Canadians, don't they?

Inside Story's 2006 articles on the evils of foreign English teachers

Part 1: Foreign instructors earn money, are 'absorbed in decadence,' women and drugs
Part 2: Low-quality native speaking instructors: 'Korean women give us money and are sex partners'
Part 3: English Instructors 'Treated like kings and get full service including women’
Part 4: Affairs with high school students, spreading nude photos on the internet
Part 5: Foreign instructors ask for mothers rather than tutoring fees
Part 6: Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS
Part 7: There is a 'killer' native speaking English instructor in Korea!

Part 2: Low-quality native speaking instructors: 'Korean women give us money and are sex partners'

On either August 17 or August 13, 2006 (note the two different dates below), the tabloid weekly Inside Story, or BreakNews in its online edition, published its second article on the evils of foreign English teachers, with a particular focus on Canadian evildoers. The top right half of the paper's front page is dedicated to promoting the article:

The article is supposed to be here, but the link no longer works. Luckily, the next article in the series - at least at its website - reprints the article in its entirety for some reason. It was also reprinted at Anti English Spectrum, where I got the photos.

It should be noted that all of the BreakNews articles mention the informant Mr Kim (or Mr. K) and/or Anti-English Spectrum. In a November 2006 BreakNews article, Mr. K also made comments, and is described as "Low quality native speaking teacher deportation site manager Mr. K," suggesting this is a pseudonym for AES head Lee Eun-ung. Two days before that article appeared, an older BreakNews article was reposted at Anti-English Spectrum, and in the comments, members thanked 'Mr. Kim'. 'M2' - the ID of Lee Eun-ung, the manager and public face of the site - coyly wrote "I'm curious about Mr. Kim;..." Regular poster 'jasminhyang' later wrote in a comment "the first letter of Mr. Kim's nickname is 'm'." There is a blurred photo below of Mr. Kim. It can be compared to this photo originally published in the LA Times in 2010 (though it is no longer on the site):

For all the sensationalism and one-sideness of the article, it's a reminder that the negative stereotype of foreign English teachers which developed with the help of such articles didn't come from out of nowhere.


Low-quality native speaking instructors: “Korean women give us money and are sex partners”

[The Inside Story’s exclusive, part 2]

Foreign English instructor blacklist

Reporter Sin Yeon-hui

In the Inside Story’s 430th issue, the in-depth article "Foreign instructors earn money, are ‘absorbed in decadence,’ women and drugs" reported on the shocking reality of some foreign English teachers in Korea who are stained with illegality/crime and decadence. After that report, netizens who criticized such low foreign instructors or who claimed to be victims of them denounced them one after the other in the discussion rooms and bulletin boards of this newspaper’s internet edition, Break News.

In addition, information on foreign instructors flooded in. Mr. Kim (37), who has been taking measures against low-grade foreign instructors, said the illegal employment and decadent behavior of foreign instructors are far worse than has been made known through media reports, and he tipped off this paper about shocking victimization cases and the low-grade foreign instructor blacklist.

On August 2 this reporter met Mr. Kim, who knows better than anyone about the English Spectrum Incident, and interviewed him.

'Hello ... Please punish the bad guys who are blind to their own mistakes while smoking marijuana and who denigrate Korean women. I know the academy that he works for. Please tell me how to report it.' 'I've seen foreign English instructors smoke marijuana a lot, and I think it should not spread. I've heard stories of them buying marijuana in Itaewon.'

These are just some of the tips that Mr. Kim has received. In the meantime, many of the women who have complained that they suffered at the hands of low-grade foreign instructors were school or hagwon students. Recently, however, these instructors have been using pen pal sites to introduce themselves as English language instructors and attract women online, he disclosed.

Approaching [women] through pen pal sites

According to Miss A, a woman shared the story of meeting a foreigner who is a native speaking instructor at the provincial K University via a pen pal site, this English instructor, as well as his friends, of course, have at least two Korean girlfriends. They said that Korean girls are generous with money and sleep with them, and that they make the best girlfriends.

Another woman, Miss B, said, "A foreign instructor I became friends with on a pen pal site is dating a female Korean instructor who works at the same institute. The woman is responsible for paying his share, and he is dating the female instructor as a sex partner."

According to Miss B, beyond the 4 million won a month he earns at the hagwon, the foreign instructor earns a lot of money from private lessons and so has a high monthly income.

Among the things that a victimized Korean woman reported to Mr. Kim about a foreign instructor she met on the 'xxx Love' site, one of the many sites for chatting with foreign instructors, one message he sent to the woman while chatting stood out: "To be frank, I am in Korea for sex and money. If you don't have either why come here?” Obviously, it was shocking.

The case of the woman Miss C was even more terrible. Miss C dated a Canadian foreign instructor and became pregnant but had an abortion and even thought about suicide. What was especially shocking was that the foreign instructor was famous for appearing on a TV program.

Miss C, learning she was pregnant, worried he would be even more surprised and agonized, but when she told him his reaction was, "It is just an egg," and said curtly, "Get an abortion, but I can't pay for it."

"When I was on the operating table the doctor asked why I was crying. Was I crying because I was sad, because I was nervous, because I'd taken anesthesia? I just said that I was nervous. I felt horrible, wondering how I had come to this," Miss C said, pouring out her miserable feelings from that time.

"Now I don't believe in God. During the months I suffered pain due to my baby, he was performing on TV, tutoring, and lecturing at a hagwon. If there is a God, if the life given to me is 60 year, it would be good to die at 50, I want him to die. If I commit suicide one day, I will do it on August 21, the day I aborted my child," Miss C lamented, and worried that this instructor might victimize another Korean woman.

Mr. Kim explained that instances in which women become pregnant while dating a foreign instructor are common. He disclosed the story of Miss L, who was abandoned and attempted suicide after finding out she was pregnant while dating a foreign instructor.

After graduating from junior college, Miss L began working and while attending a foreign language academy met and dated a Canadian instructor but they broke up. The instructor was soon dating a Korean female student in another class but after breaking up Miss L found out she was pregnant.

Miss L's friend met the foreign instructor and demanded he take responsibility for the abortion surgery, but all he said, coldly, was "We once had feelings for each other and I have no responsibility.”

Miss L, who experienced betrayal and pregnancy from her first love at a young age, is struggling to cope day by day with suicidal impulses.

Miss D, who dated a native speaking professor at A university, said, "The professor is dating several women. If this becomes known, he has a habit of using violence, like throwing furniture at the woman he is dating."

He has been charged with assault by police several times, but the foreign professor only paid hundreds of thousands of won in fines and as this is not grounds to divest him of his professorship he is still working at D University.

Miss E, who currently resides in Japan, had an experience while working for a while in Korea.

"As I’' been in a foreign country for a long time and all my friends had married and lived far away, I felt a little lonely. Then I came to know the 'xxx Love' site on a certain portal site, and as I was lonely and wanted to find a pen pal there and write them letters, I joined it,” and in this way became friends with a Canadian living in Korea.

Since Miss E was also an expat, they shared their stories about life abroad and became acquainted, and she learned that he was a famous English instructor who had appeared on TV.

However, once they had become acquainted, he revealed his true colors and made sexual demands of Miss E. She said he was so explicit, especially when they were chatting together, that it is hard to express in words.

Miss E said that while she had a [preconceived] image of Korean people and just tried to move beyond it, he said, 'You are not a child. I want to teach you many things. I do not like nuns," all while continuously hitting on her.

In addition to the TV program, the foreign instructor also appeared on a New Year's special and went to parties every week. "Fortunately, I was not directly victimized, but I was sexually harassed several times, and the problem in particular was that the foreigner did not think of Korean women as people but simply as sex partners," worried Miss E.

Mr. Kim pointed out that the number of Korean women who are victimized after meeting foreign instructors online in the manner mentioned above is increasing rapidly.

According to Mr. Kim, what is worse is that a link to an obscene site containing images of Korean women there can be found at the pen pal site, which, he said angrily, leads to even further debasement of Korean women by low-grade foreign instructors.

This can be seen at 'Xxxlove,, and', and these sites are still running, he said. And in some cases, links to the pen pal site are exchanged at the obscene sites.

Alcoholic instructors abound

 Informant Mr. Kim

Mr. Kim pointed out that there are still plenty of job postings for unqualified foreigners at the native speaking instructor job search site English Spectrum, and that there is an urgent need for authorities to strengthen the qualifications for foreign instructors.

Mr. Kim said the fact is some corporate-type English hagwons find out that foreign instructors have criminal records or are alcoholics and hire them anyway, and some smaller hagwons have stopped the formality of recruitment screenings, making it easy for low-grade foreign instructors to be hired.

In fact, at an English hagwon in Daegu, an instructor was found to be an alcoholic, arousing criticism. His family in his home country said his alcoholism was so serious he should be hospitalized and asked around about his whereabouts. The instructor in question was reported to be working again as a hagwon instructor in another area.

Foreign instructors are required to obtain an E-2 visa, which is an English conversation instructor visa, in order to teach English in Korea. After the English Spectrum Incident in 2005, the qualification requirements for E-2 visas were somewhat strengthened so that in addition to diplomas, transcripts have to submitted, and a fake document detection system has also been established.

According to Mr. Kim, one can be relieved that currently steps are being developed so that at least foreigners working as assistant teachers in Seoul elementary and middle school can be said to be in the top 30%.

Mr. Kim said, "I do not want only foreigners to be unconditionally chosen as instructors. Korean English instructors with English ability are also acceptable enough. Finland and Sweden are now investing heavily in their English language teachers, so students in Northern Europe are not hindered in their English communication due to their local English teachers who have improved their English skills." "If even half of the budget to bring foreign teachers were invested in Korean English instructors, quality education could be provided to students," he emphasized.

In order to prevent the mass occurrence of secondary and tertiary victims by drawing attention to the harm caused by low-grade foreign English instructors, Anti-English Spectrum, who were introduced through an article in this newspaper, has launched a movement to distribute 5,000 flyers in Hongdae, where there are lots of clubs, and at girls’ high schools and women’s universities, as well as to send petitions to authorities such as the immigration office and to senior officials. They are also launching an online campaign to expel low-grade foreign instructors which aims for 10,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, the Korean Native Speaking Instructor Recruiting Association has published a blacklist of 17 unqualified foreign instructors with profiles and reasons for their ineligibility. The reasons for their being blacklisted were things such as many midnight runs, disappearing after receiving their salary, student molestation, theft, and document forgery.

Friday, September 29, 2017

2006 flashback: Foreign instructors "absorbed in decadence," women and drugs

Inside Story's 2006 articles on the evils of foreign English teachers

Part 1: Foreign instructors earn money, are 'absorbed in decadence,' women and drugs
Part 2: Low-quality native speaking instructors: 'Korean women give us money and are sex partners'
Part 3: English Instructors 'Treated like kings and get full service including women’ [Link in Korean]
Part 4: Affairs with high school students, spreading nude photos on the internet [Link in Korean]
Part 5: Foreign instructors ask for mothers rather than tutoring fees [Link in Korean]
Part 6: Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS
Part 7: There is a 'killer' native speaking English instructor in Korea! [Link in Korean]

Part 1: Foreign instructors earn money, are 'absorbed in decadence,' women and drugs

On July 24, 2006, BreakNews [or in its tabloid hard copy edition, 'Inside Story'] published the first of seven articles that summer and fall about the evils of foreign English teachers, all of which were sourced by Anti English Spectrum. You might recognize many of themes, as these had been brought up during the English Spectrum Incident a year earlier, when Anti English Spectrum first formed and scored its first media exposure, particularly on SBS (parts 1, 2 ,3). The second-last article in the series was the one which first equated foreign English teachers and AIDS and was the first step in AES's campaign to impose HIV tests on foreign English teachers, which proved successful a year later and were only removed this year.

I'll admit to a certain admiration for the way in which AES quickly began rewriting their history and the history of the English Spectrum Incident to make themselves look less like bigoted misogynists and more like concerned nationalists (any desire to write 'patriots' is negated by that screenshot of their homepage circa 2006 below, with its statement written in red, "our fatherland, protected by the blood of our ancestors," which makes it clear that it is blood nationalism we are dealing with). To be sure, the incident did not occur because of concern over English Spectrum's un-taxed or "ill-gotten income" (though that's a canny tack to take, as "foreigners are taking advantage of us" never seems to get old in Korea), but because of anger at how the teachers there talked about Korean women, and particularly because of the photos of the 'sexy costume party.' When the article states, "As well, as photos of a decadent drug party involving foreign instructors and Korean women spread...," it's made to seem like it's an afterthought, when it was the main reason for the incident (and indeed, what the original 'J Ilbo' article was about). Nor is there any proof drugs were at that party, but history can be rewritten to include those as well.

Also worth noting is that the hagwon owners below blame not only parents but the desires of female students for their need to import foreign men to teach English. Can't these women control themselves? (A question asked more crudely by Hustler in 1988.) If we want a clue as to what kind of woman the AES crowd preferred, one need only (once again) look at their homepage at that time, where this image can be seen at far left, halfway down the page:

"Nongae, we miss you."

If we remember, the kisaeng Nongae threw herself - and the Japanese officer she had wooed to the edge of the cliff over the river - to their deaths after the fall of Jinju in 1593. So the kind of gal AES likes is one who not only resists having sex with foreign men (traditionally through suicide), but who kills the foreign man along with herself. Classy. Almost as classy as having kids re-enact her plunge to her death.

I started translating this a year or two ago and upon finding it today decided to finish the translation and post it. The original article is here.


Foreign instructors earn money, are "absorbed in decadence," women and drugs

[Report on social conditions] Some illegally sojourning English instructors are self indulgent and highly renowned as "crown princes of the night"

Reporter Sin Yeon-hui

[Shadows of the English craze]

Is Korea a paradise for illegal sojourner foreign instructors?

The Republic of Korea is entirely swept up in the English craze. Recently, as the number of low-grade foreign instructors who are capitalizing on this phenomenon has increased, it has created a serious social problem. As problems arise regarding these people who work as instructors or teachers in hagwons or schools, at one portal site a signature campaign to expel low-grade foreign instructors has been signed by 10,000 people.

As cases of victimization published at a cafe at N portal site, which blows the whistle on low-grade foreign instructors, spread rapidly through the internet, calls for the strengthening of screening regulations for foreign instructors are growing louder. Much of the writing at the cafe frankly shows the actual situation of low-grade foreign instructors who disparage Korea and treat Korean women as sexual playthings here.

Most of them are shocking things about Korean English hagwons which are dying to bring foreign instructors and do not properly screen instructor qualifications, and include many instances of instructors sexually toying with Korean women and denigrating them as 'fast food.' As well, they are reporting [teachers] who are treated better than their ability deserves, expensive tuition, and the problem of foreign men who do not even have moral qualifications working openly as professors at well known universities in Korea.

These things have already been reported countless times in the media but they are not being eradicated. This newspaper will make clear actual cases of some foreign instructors who sexually toyed with Korean women and the shocking truth about how they enjoy lewd parties and drugs at decadent establishments at night.

▲ The Anti-English Spectrum cafe at N site, which reports the corruption of illegal foreign instructors

Anti-English Spectrum blows the whistle on 'inferior, lascivious foreign English instructors'

What is the ‘English Spectrum’ site? Officially it is a community and job site for foreign instructors living in Korea. However, because this site was filled with posts denigrating and toying with Korean women it also led to a social scandal, the “English Spectrum Incident.”

At that time, netizens said of English Spectrum “It’s an online business for foreign English instructors in Korea that gains outrageous, undeserved, ill-gotten income and pays no tax as it receives advertising fees from Koreans offering jobs (mostly English hagwon owners) and Itaewon adult entertainment establishment owners but doesn’t receive a cent for advertising fees from high-income-earning foreign instructors,” and carried out a movement to close the site.

A classmate of the Seoul National University biology major who completed the above sentence tipped off the J Ilbo and as it was reported and magnified significantly it blew up into the so-called “English Spectrum Incident.”

A sharp increase in incidents of Korean women being sexually toyed with and denigrated as ‘fast food’

As well, as photos of a decadent drug party involving foreign instructors and Korean women spread an enormous social stir was created.

At this site as well, messages with shocking content such as "How to molest Korean female children and Korean female elementary female students" and "How to borrow money from Korean women" were posted and because of this the netizens' anger exploded. Their outcry criticized the government for being overly lenient/generous towards foreign instructors.

At an online cafe called "Anti-English Spectrum" set up by an English hagwon student after this, a movement to expel low-grade foreign instructors is operated, blowing the whistle on illegal foreign language instructors who have appeared on English Spectrum for belittling Korea, illegal activity such as distributing drugs, and victimizing women.

The posts published at this cafe are spreading online rapidly. Some illegal foreign instructors live with a number of Korean women and have sex under false promises of marriage; hence there are women who have committed suicide too; some marry calculatingly in order to get a residence visa; there are cases of them being professors at famous universities and distributing drugs to university students; of foreign instructors at women's universities toying with their pupils; many illegal / unqualified foreign instructors who have faked their diplomas or educational background exist; among them spreads talk like "Let's go to Korea and make some money and also meet women"; because of excessive pay for foreign instructors by hagwons, tuition is expensive; decadent drug parties; dating Korean women, borrowing money from them, and escaping to their home countries. Such shocking cases make up most of them and forewarn of a [negative] social impact.

Enjoying drugs and lewd, decadent parties

'A,' who posted at the cafe, explained, "An Australian instructor at an English hagwon in Gangnam dated close to ten Korean women on the pretext of marriage and, in order to get a residence, married one of these women and also still continued to date one of the other women. However, after a year he divorced and two months later married another woman."

A said his interest in the realities of illegal foreign language instructors is due to a 25 year old friend who committed suicide after being toyed with by a foreign instructor.

An American professor at S University in Seoul, Mr. B, a professor at Seoul, was arrested for distributing drugs such as cocaine to college students for several years while taking his students around the Itaewon entertainment district on weekends. The professor's drug distribution case was brought out into the open by a thorough investigation by Yongsan Police at that time, but his punishment was no more than deportation.

A netizen revealed that they have seen many instances of  Korean women who have actually dated foreign English instructors and suffered mental, physical, and economic losses, and there are statistics that marriages to foreign instructors last for 2 to 3 years on average and many cases where [the instructors] divorce them without paying any alimony at all and go to their home country but after 3 to 4 months they return to Korea and live with or marry another Korean woman.

He said that not only lesser-known hagwons but also at large scale English hagwons foreign language teachers dated students and for the most part economically or sexually toyed with them. He pointed out that many of these instructors were under-qualified and illegal sojourners.

It is no wonder, then, that the owners of front line English hagwons who pay for air fare, finder's fees, and hire foreign English instructors on all manner of conditions never have even a day when when they can feel at ease. In addition to guaranteeing them a high monthly salary, these hagwons provide housing, monthly rent, utilities, and vacation expenses.

As an English instructor job advertisement in a foreign newspaper puts it, "If you want to become a Hollywood star, go to Korea ..."

Even so, if most foreign instructors hear that they can get more money elsewhere, it is common for them to do a midnight run, so English hagwon owners complain in unison, "If not for parents and female students, we would hire Koreans right now."

Among the more than 10,000 Anglo-Saxon foreign lecturers currently here, many entered the country initially on tourist visas and work as unqualified English instructors, and not a few are illegal sojourners [likely meaning visa overstayers].

Another netizen saw an ad in a newspaper in Vancouver, Canada by a Korean English hagwon recruiting an English instructor with the title, "If you want to become a Hollywood star, why not go to Korea?" and beneath an illustration of East Asian women it [offered] working hours of 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, free accommodation [including] monthly rent and utilities, and guaranteed supplementary income through private tutoring, suggesting a $6,000 monthly income, and its only qualification requirement was a "college graduate" (a junior college in Korea rather than a university) and it said one's major did not matter.

He also criticized the former mayor of Seoul, Lee Myung-bak, who announced in 2004 that he would create a "solarium for foreigners" at the Han River outdoor swimming pool to attract foreign tourists, and criticized the disorderly behavior of foreigners he assumed were English instructors at the Han River outdoor swimming pool every summer.

Excessive treatment, students' harm

Actually, what he pointed out does not only occur at the Han River outdoor swimming pool. Every summer at beaches, outdoor events like the mud festival are promoted to attract foreign tourists, but according to the testimony of local concerned parties, among the foreigners at these places, rather than tourists, there are more foreign instructors or foreigners whose jobs aren't clear who drink alcohol and cause disturbances.

There is an urgent need for fundamental measures to stop the harm to students caused by some illegal or unqualified foreign instructors who toy with and denigrate Korean women and foster drug and decadent culture, as well as the harm caused by their excessive treatment by hagwons which have no qualification screenings. In particular, it is urgent to adjust the gender ratio [which at the moment] puts foreign men first to increase the number of female students, as well as to adjust the role of the authorities' measures and of media.

Anti-English Spectrum points out that the Immigration Office, which manages illegal sojourners, is suffering from a significant shortage of personnel and that the Ministry of Education should cooperate with the police and relevant agencies to crack down on illegal foreign instructors.

"A university in Gangbuk, Seoul, hired an unqualified native speaker as a professor and when problems arose dismissed him. The university itself needs to make efforts to verify [teachers]," a netizen emphasized.

In the reader's page of a certain newspaper on the 9th, a housewife, Mrs. Kang, said, "At the English hagwon my children go to the native speaking instructor often changes, and it's because at the hagwon they hired illegal sojourners and when trouble arises they send them back," while others do the same but don't send them away, which is disquieting, she said.

As well, "Those illegal sojourners who lack qualifications receive a salary of 4 ~ 5 million won a month, but when we look at our serious unemployment situation this is a problem, and what are the government's measures regarding harm to students?"

Meanwhile, the 'Anti-English Spectrum' cafe is constantly carrying out campaigns in various quarters to report on the realities of such low-grade foreign instructors and expel them from the country.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Does anyone remember Watch Your Head?

Over at the Korea Times, Jon Dunbar wrote about the changes to the Hongdae Playground and his memories of it over the years (it's officially known as the 홍익 어린이 공원 or Hongik Children's Park). I imagine I would have visited it back in 2001, though my earliest definite memory of it was in the summer of 2002, a month or so after the World Cup. I didn't take any photos of it, but did capture this closer to Hapjeong Station:

Apparently it was in June that year that the first "HongDaeAp Artmarket Freemarket" (as their site refers to it in English) appeared. I remember its quick growth, and according to their site it was "newly renovated into its current form in 2003" (though that form is no longer current since a more recent renovation, as Jon points out). I remember more trees and benches in 2002, and when the construction fences went up for the renovation later that year or in early 2003.

I can't say I spent much time there, though. I can remember hanging out at club Issey (with its cheap bottles of local beer and 1500 won tequila shots) and in the little places with "soju beer hof" written simply on the wall next to the door in the buildings that now house all the little clothing shops (on the 'parking lot street') - that entire area gentrified during 2003, and I remember my shock at the difference upon returning to Korea after 6 months away in October that year. It was while going through old Korea Herald articles that I clipped during my first two years in Korea that I found an article on my favourite place from that time - "Watch Your Head":

I can't help but wonder if the Canadians he speaks of included myself and my friends. Besides its small size (particularly in the owner's 'personal room,' which had a section raised a foot or more off the floor), it stood out for being a makgeolli jip in Hongdae, which was not so common then in that part of the neighbourhood. If I remember correctly it closed in 2003.

Of course, when it comes to makgeolli in Hongdae, my biggest association will always be the 'makgeolli man,' who Jon also wrote about a few months ago.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blocking educational access to stigmatized children in 1969... and today

This week the Joongang Daily and Korea Expose reported on a September 5 meeting where residents in Gangseo-gu clashed over the conversion of a closed school into a school for the disabled, with some residents opposing it because they claimed having such a school nearby would bring down housing prices. The Joongang Daily also posted this video:

I couldn't help but note the location, since it is near where I lived for years. The closed school is Gongjin Elementary School, which appears on the map below as 'B,' where it stands beside the Home Plus near Exit 1 of Gayang Station on Line 9. A new iteration of the school has recently been built in the Magok-dong development (marked as 'A' on the map).

Beyond my dismay at such views being voiced just down the road from my old neighbourhood, this brings to light the way in which certain groups are discriminated against and the stigma that is to be found at the heart of this. While, as reported here, a few were blunt about their bigotry, such as the resident who shouted "The disabled should all be boxed into one place," I get the feeling that some might feel that it is acceptable to blame housing prices, because then they can claim the source of their concern is not discrimination, but a desire for economic well-being, something which exists an intermediary between their bigotry and their actions. They can claim property prices are the reason to reject the presence of the stigmatized group, but a fall in housing prices due to the presence of a certain group is little more than discrimination crystalized into an economic manifestation.

Discrimination in the past in Korea was more likely to be based on status distinctions, particularly focused on the baekjeong, but it also revolved around disease and hereditary conditions that could be passed on to the next generation. Hansen's disease, or leprosy, was one such disease, while mental handicaps (more so than physical ones) might be seen as something that could be transmitted to children (Theodore Jun Yoo's book It's Madness: The Politics of Mental Health in Colonial Korea explores this topic). More modern manifestations of disease or hereditary conditions which are tightly bound with stigma include HIV/AIDS and the radiation-related illnesses of the tens of thousands of Koreans who survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as their descendants, who found it difficult to marry unless they hid their past. (As well, taking racist logic to its limits, mixed race children can be seen as carrying tainted genes which will be passed down.)

I was pleased to see this response from Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education:
“When it comes to educational administration, it’s necessary to consider the different, realistic positions of interested parties.” He continued, “That’s democracy, the administrative obligation of a public institute.”

He added, “In that sense, I understand the realistic points of view of several residents who oppose the establishment of a school for people with disabilities.

“Nevertheless, this isn’t a matter of concession. This isn’t something like a nuclear power plant or Thaad [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense]. A school for people with physical disabilities is a right to live.”
This isn't the first time the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has faced a situation like this however. In the spring of 1969, a similar situation arose in Seoul as the government faced off with parents of students at Daewang Elementary School, which stands three kilometers south of Suseo Station in southeastern Seoul (and was opened in 1932, according to its website). The Seoul Board of Education had initially pushed for the enrollment of five “children of the patients of dormant leprosy” from a nearby lepers’ rehabilitation center in Naegok-dong but parents of other students began boycotting classes from April 18, 1969. The rehabilitation center, ‘Ettinger Village,’ was “established by the American-Korean Foundation in 1966 through 1968 where 63 families of cured lepers settled,” as the Times reported May 10.

This is not the first time discrimination against such children had happened. The Korea Times reported in March 1964 that boycotts were taking place at schools in Ulsan and near Mungyeong. In the case of the school in Ulsan, 80% of 546 pupils refused to attend classes with 11 children "whose parents were suffering from Hansen’s disease." Though the following is based on the Korea Times' (extensive) coverage, the term for leprosy used in the Korean-language media was 나병 / nabyeong (미감아, or 'child not infected,' was also often used).

On May 6, 1969, after two-and-a-half weeks of the boycott, the Seoul Board of Education backtracked and instead said it would establish an elementary school exclusively for children of dormant leprosy near the rehabilitation center. This announcement led to criticism, even from the national government:

The Korea Times reported on May 10 that the Ministry of Education intervened and ordered the city to integrate the children, but when the city tried with the help of Yonsei University leprosy specialist Prof. Yu Chun to convince parents that the children were healthy and posed no threat, the parents shouted “We need no doctors,” “Dismiss the principal,” “Let’s go to the education ministry to protest.”

(From the Kyunghyang Sinmun)

On May 11 the Times published a lengthy look at the children’s plight:

(One wonders if the Harry Ettinger after whom Ettinger village was named was this pilot who was shot down and made a POW during the Korean War.)

On May 12, 300 parents chartered buses to hold a protest in front of the education ministry but were stopped by police near the Han River. When they refused to disperse they were taken to Dongbu Police Station and there they continued to protest until Pak Won-ik, a Board of Education officer, told parents the five children would be hospitalized for a week for a medical examination and they would not be at school during that time, after which the parents dispersed. The Ministry of Health reiterated later that day, however, that it was set on integrating the students, and the Seoul Board of Education publicly concurred with this.

On May 14 the Times reported that 6 students had come to school the previous day, but “five of them were taken out of the classrooms by some 10 parents who were on the school ground.” 300 parents had agreed to return their students to classes if “the five children of cured lepers” were “examined thoroughly at the National Medical Center,” but most parents did not agree to this.

On May 16, the Times reported that 18 students (out of 853) had returned to school the day before (likely for teachers’ day).

Two days later it reported that on May 17, 365 students had returned to school after 27 days, among them the daughter of Education Minister Hong Jong-chull, who had transferred to the school.

(From an August 3 Korea Times article.)

The reason for this was further elaborated on May 28, when it was reported that the five children had been released from the National Medical Center “to stay together with the families of four high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.”
The four health ministry officials have volunteered to take care of them to prove that the children of negative lepers are neither potential lepers nor infectious.

The officials are Chung Hi-sup, health minister, Hong Chong-gwan, director of the National Medical Center, Cha Yun-gun, chief of the Medical Bureau, and Kim Taik-il, chief of the Bureau of Public Health.

To make the parents understand, Hong Jong-chul, minister of education, has transferred his daughter from Kyunghee Primary School to the Taewang School May 17.

Despite such efforts, the parents are still strongly against the government move, threatening that they will keep their children out of the school if the five children attend again.

Despite such an admirable stand by the government, however, the next day it was reported that the government had “bowed down to the determined pressure of the parents…by deciding to set up a new primary school for the five children of negative leper patients.” The school was to be attached to the Korea Theological Seminary. Not everyone in the government was happy with this, but the education minister assured that this arrangement was only to be a temporary one. Residents of Ettinger village criticised this decision and tried to persuade parents to allow the children to attend the school, but failed and the children began studying at the seminary on June 23.

On July 30 it was reported that 35 Christian youth from around the world had come to Korea to do volunteer work at Ettinger village. It is not clear if this was in response to the controversy that year or not.

On August 3, the Times reported that locals in the community where Ettinger Village was located had signed a petition asking that the children be allowed to go to school nearby, since they had to live in a dorm at the Korean Theological Seminary [and returned home on the weekend]. It makes clear that when the village was first established, locals responded in a hostile manner, then refused to communicate with them, but after farm hands were needed at harvest time, they eventually grew to realize that the former Hansen’s patients were of no threat to them and saw them as neighbours.

This was the last report in the Korea Times on them, and the Naver News Archive makes no mention of them after this either. At a guess, they likely never attended Daewang Elementary School, and the Seoul Board of Education lost its battle with the parents.

Thinking back to the comment by Yonsei dean Song Nae-un, who bemoaned the existence of such discrimination "in this age of science," one wonders what his reaction might have been had he seen the recent clash over the school for disabled students. In May of 1969 the father of one of the five children said that setting up a separate school for the patients' children was "a measure that will eventually separate them from society." Now it seems a school separating stigmatized children from society is not enough. From the behavior of those parents in Gangseo-gu last week, it seems that today even the school must be cast out.

All of which makes me wonder just how fragile some Koreans must feel their prospects for future wellbeing to be if screaming at the parents of disabled children has become acceptable behaviour. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

'A Taxi Driver' depicts the Gwangju Uprising

Over the years I've written quite a bit about the Gwangju Uprising, the way it has been remembered, and the movies and literature which have depicted it (an older summary of posts is here). It has been depicted in movies such as A Petal (꽃잎, 1996), Peppermint Candy (박하사탕, 1999), The Old Garden (오래된 정원, 2006), May 18 (화려한 휴가, 2007), 26 Years (26년, 2012) and now a new film, A Taxi Driver (택시운전사) has just been released.

As the New York Times has reported, the film stars Song Kang-ho and tells the story of the taxi driver known as 'Kim Sa-bok' who drove German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter to Gwangju twice during the uprising, first on May 21 and 22, when he filmed the aftermath of the mass shootings on May 21, and the second time when he returned for the final days and suppression of the uprising. (His footage of the suppression's aftermath can be seen at the beginning of A Petal.) The taxi driver has never been found or positively identified, however.

In an article published yesterday (in which the wife of Hinzpeter (who died last year) gave a positive review of the film), it was reported that the film has surpassed 6 million viewers in 9 days - which means it's doing rather well. I certainly hope it's better than 'May 18.' Taxi drivers played an incredibly important role in the uprising, particularly when they mounted a protest by driving en masse downtown which allowed protesters to occupy space and turn the tables on the paratroopers, but though the main character in May 18 was a taxi driver, that event wasn't depicted at all. (I examined that film at the time here, here, and here.)

Here's a shot of Jurgen Hinzpeter  (which I first posted here) when he revisited Kwangju in the mid 2000s; he's in the gymnasium across from the provincial hall in Kwangju.

It was there that he shot the footage captured below of the coffins of the identified dead in 1980 (far more were still in hospitals at that time).

He was later severely beaten by plainclothes police in 1986 while covering a rally, possibly in revenge for the footage he filmed in Kwangju. His injuries ended his career. One hopes the taxi driver, whoever he was, fared better.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Anti English Spectrum distributes pamphlets in Seoul part 2 [AKA the final post of the English Spectrum Incident series]

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women
Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
Part 6: The 'Ask The Playboy' sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children
Part 10: 'Recruit a Yankee strike force!'
Part 11: The Daum signature campaign: 'Let's kick out low quality foreign instructors!' 
Part 12: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 13: "Middle school girls will do anything"
Part 14: Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'
Part 15: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1
Part 16: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 17: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 18: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 19: KBS Morning Newstime: 'I can also suffer from the two faces of the internet'
Part 20: AES: Grandfather Dangun is wailing in his grave!
Part 21: 'Regret' over the scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 22: "Korean men have no excuse"
Part 23: "Unfit foreign instructors should be a 'social issue'"
Part 24: Growing dispute over foreign English instructor qualifications
Part 25: 'Clamor' at foreigner English education site
Part 26: Foreign instructor: "I want to apologize"
Part 27: No putting brakes on 'Internet human rights violations'
Part 28: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 1
Part 29: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2
Part 30: Don't Imagine
Part 31: Anti-English Spectrum founder's statement
Part 32: 'Foreign instructor' takes third place
Part 33: Art From Outsider's Point of View
Part 34: U.S. Embassy warns Americans of threats near colleges
Part 35: Internet real name system debated
Part 36: Dirty Korean women who have brought shame to the country?
Part 37: Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over
Part 38: 60 unqualified native speaking instructors hired for English instruction
Part 39: The rising tide of unqualified foreign instructors
Part 40: Warrant for Canadian English instructor who molested hagwon owner
Part 41: MBC Sisa Magazine 2580: "Korea is a paradise"
Part 42: Foreign instructor: "In two years I slept with 20 Korean women."
Part 43: Viewers shocked by shameless acts of unqualified foreign instructors.
Part 44: Warrant for the arrest of a man in his 30s for breaking into home of foreign instructors
Part 45: [Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident 
Part 46: Unqualified English instructors seen as major problem here
Part 47: Investigation of the realities of 'foreign instructors' methods for luring Korean women'
Part 48: Broadcast announcement: 'For foreign instructors, is Korea a paradise for women?'
Part 49: To white English instructors, the Republic of Korea is a paradise
Part 50: "If they're white, it's okay?" Lots of English instructor frauds... 
Part 51: A new message from Anti English Spectrum
Part 52: 
SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 1
Part 53: SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 2 
Part 54: SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 3
Part 55: Viewers of 'Realities of unfit foreign instructors' outraged
Part 56: Foreign instructor: "Korea is a cash and women dispenser."
Part 57: Frustration with low-standard foreign instructors: "Korea's pride damaged"
Part 55: Viewers of 'Realities of unfit foreign instructors' outraged
Part 56: Foreign instructor: "Korea is a cash and women dispenser."
Part 57: Frustration with low-standard foreign instructors: "Korea's pride damaged"
Part 58: Netizen anger over 'foreign instructor' broadcast
Part 64: Anti English Spectrum distributes pamphlets in Seoul taking advantage of the SBS broadcast, part 2

More Anti English Spectrum members handed out leaflets again the weekend after the SBS report came out, on February 27, the same day member Gamjameori (dgy1204) posted these photos of the outing:

Making concrete plans.

Dividing up the leaflets before our earnest work.

Smoking a cigarette after hard work....

A description of their "campaigns to oust illegal native English teachers" in their list of achievements states that they "Conducted three separate campaigns in front of Hongdae, Myongdong, Shinchon and Seoul Girls Highschool). One wonders what effect these campaigns might have had. To put it another way, one wonders how many passersby even bothered to read the leaflets.

Regarding the leaflet, continuing from the previous post, it also highlights the argument made on "I Want To Know That" about the how Koreans view foreigners differently depending on their appearance and country of origin: "Think about the racial discrimination within ourselves. We look coldly upon migrant workers from Southeast Asia but are excessively lenient towards blue-eyed foreigners..." The solution, for them, is to not only encourage Koreans to look coldly upon "blue-eyed foreigners" as well, but to take matters into their own hands:
Right now our society has no system properly put in place to filter out low-quality native-speaking instructors! Ladies and gentlemen, you yourselves must be vigilant and expel them!!! If you see these people please report them to the immigration office or the nearest police station.
What's also interesting is how Anti English Spectrum's target changed. The leaflet defines low-quality native-speaking instructors as "Those coming to Korea without E-2 visas for the purpose of engaging in sexual pleasures and to create trouble [emphasis added]." It further defines E-2 visas as "A visa issued by the immigration office to those who have a four-year university degree or teaching credentials." Of course, by the time they had BreakNews publish what amounted to their manifesto on the need for HIV tests for foreign teachers in September 2006, their target for these tests became foreign teachers on E-2 visas, presumably because they realized the difficulty of testing those teaching illegally (such as on tourist visas), which makes clear that their concern was never with 'illegal' or 'low-quality native-speaking instructors' per se, but with the imposition of Korean sovereignty over, and stigmatization as AIDS threats of white, male foreign teachers in general.

The leaflet they distributed is also an early example of Anti English Spectrum rewriting its history. Though its initial members (thousands joined in the first few weeks of its existence) were netizens keen to vent their anger at both the foreign teachers and the women who dared to be seen frolicking with them in photos of the Hongdae English Spectrum parties, many of the early posts at the site (featuring titles like "Now's the chance to humiliate those crazy bitches") were later deleted. The reasons for netizen anger toward the teachers were changed into something rather different from their initial anger at (and feelings of humiliation due to) foreign teacher attitudes towards Korean women at English Spectrum's "Ask The Playboy" forum and anger at the betrayal of Korean women who would sleep with them:
At the end of last year photos of white people frolicking with Korean women at a bar in Itaewon were uploaded at an employment site for foreign language English instructors, causing controversy when netizens criticized this and put forward the view that [the photos] invaded privacy.
First of all, every member of the group very knew well the photos were not taken in Itaewon; I imagine Itaewon conformed better to what they imagined were the prejudices of the leaflets' potential readers and more heavily implied, without outright stating it, that there was sex involved. More importantly, the assertion that "netizens... put forward the view that [the photos] invaded privacy" makes them seem like concerned citizens - concerned about the women's privacy - rather than angry, offended netizens who themselves used the photos as both a means - and yet another excuse - to lash out at young women who increasingly seemed to be forgetting their place (something that would come to a head months later during the 'dog poop girl incident'). Over time Anti English Spectrum would change their image from netizens angry about a sexy costume party, to nationalists trying to expel dangerous outsiders, to citizens concerned about the safety of children, as the changes in the header on their site reveal:

February 7, 2005 
"Anti English Spectrum"

 July 24, 2006
"The citizens movement to expel illegal foreign language instructors." ("Our fatherland, protected by the blood of our ancestors. What we must protect now is [our] descendants' education." Note Yi Sun-shin, Kim Jwa-jin, Dangun, and other nationalist heroes.)

October 16, 2008
The final website banner of "Citizens' group for upright English education (The citizens movement to expel illegal foreign language instructors)."

Over the next year and a half the group would be busy, according to their list of achievements:
2005.01 to present
Submitted countless [hundreds of] petitions to the MOJ, Immigration, Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and Education Ministry [resulting in]:
- strengthened E-2 visa related documents at Immigration
- active and full-blown crackdown operations on illegal English teachers by related organizations
- southern district prosecutor’s office deported 69 fake academic credential teachers in Oct. 2005

2005.01 to present
Extensive efforts in trying to get press on the problems and disorder regarding native English teachers. Scores of articles were published/broadcast! (MBC, SBS, Kookmin Ilbo, Dailian, Hankook Ilbo, Breaknews, The Korea Economic Daily, The Women’s News, etc…)

2005 - 2005.12
Conducted campaigns to prohibit illegal native speakers to teach and appear on TV.

Visited Information and Communications Ministry, Ethics Committee to request that the native English teacher job search site English xxxx be punished for posting obscenities.

2005.01 to present
Successfully reported and closed down native English teacher sites and sites with posts that degrade women in Korean society.

2005.01 to present
Collected information and exposed illegal native English teachers and reported them to related institutes (cannot disclose).

Visited the National Assembly (assemblyman Lee Joo-ho, etc) to request a bill to strengthen checks on native English teacher management policies / plans.

2006 to present
Efforts made to build opposing public opinion against the lowering of standards regarding qualifications for native English speakers by certain people involved in the English education market. Received confirmation from Education Ministry and Offices of Education that qualification standards will be strengthened.

Participated in National Assembly public hearing (held by assemblyman Lee Joo-ho) regarding English education and delivered our Internet cafe’s position on the matter - emphasized that budgets concentrated on foreign assistant teachers should be used to support Korean English teachers and English students.

Cooperated and participated in TV broadcast programs regarding problems with low quality, unqualified native English teachers.[On August 25 and September 1, in the wake of the arrest of John Mark Karr and the realization he had taught in Korea.]
SBS 'Seven Days': "Unverified foreign English teachers, a danger to children" [Link]
KBS 'Center of the World': "Are native speaking English teachers really trustworthy?" [Link]
KBS2 'VJ Special Forces': "The war against foreign crime" [Link]
If it is true they contributed to those broadcasts, then it would seem they had, by this point, become the go-to 'experts' on foreign teacher misbehavior for two of the main Korean television networks. Still, they weren't getting the publicity for their activities and goals they desired; this would change in July 2006, when 'Inside Story' (in its tabloid newspaper edition) or BreakNews (in its online incarnation) began to publish a series of articles from Anti English Spectrum's point of view about the debased nature of low quality foreign teachers and the threat they posed to upright Korean society:

07.24 “Low-quality foreign teachers absorbed in money, women, drugs.” [Link]
08.07 "Low quality English teachers: 'Korean women are a source of money and sex partners'" [Link]
08.16 "Women give English teachers 'full service like a king'"[Link]
08.21 "Affairs with High School Students, Spreading Nude Photos on the Internet" [Link]
09.12 "Foreign teachers demand mothers in substitution for tutoring fees." [Link]
09.18 "Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS" [Links: English Korean]

In the pamphlet that Anti English Spectrum members distributed in February 2005, they mentioned scandalous actions by foreign teachers that had not been reported in the media but were available at their site, such as a foreign teacher who got a student pregnant and threatened legal action against someone who wanted to report him, and teachers who "seduced students' mothers." As can be seen in the second-last article above, BreakNews was not at all above reporting these stories. I'd love to do a short series translating these but they're rather long so that might take some time (though perhaps not as long as this series!). I have, however, translated a number of news reports linked to Anti English Spectrum's campaign to connect foreign teachers with AIDS between the summer of 2006 and the imposition of HIV testing for E-2 visa holders in late 2007, and will try to get those posted in the near(ish) future.

With the media furor over the SBS broadcast of 'I Want To Know That' dying out by the end of February 2005, the media stopped, for the moment, reporting on the English Spectrum incident (though references to it (or to foreign teachers "secret parties") would appear even seven years later as if it had happened yesterday (see here and here)). As seen above, however, Anti English Spectrum, which formed due to the incident, kept fighting its fight to keep Western men from having sex with Korean women protect Korean children from unqualified foreign teachers, eventually gaining a major success in 2007 when they were invited to an immigration policy meeting which decided on the HIV and drug tests for E-2 visa holders for which they had been lobbying during the past year or more.

When I started this series over five years ago, I wouldn't have imagined it would take this long to finish, but I also didn't realize how varied the the news articles surrounding the English Spectrum Incident were, or how interesting the conversation regarding the incident was compared to my expectations. Hopefully my readers have found it interesting as well. Several people helped me along the way: Young Mi Park helped with translation in many of the 2012 posts, while the translations of the 'I Want To Know That' episode couldn't have been done without Ami Shin. Thanks as well to Matthew Smith for reminding me to continue the series in 2013. And thanks to readers who have stuck with me despite the intermittent posting.