Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Phony AIDS scare story reprinted in Korean Media

I received this letter from Benjamin Wagner, who addressed it to the Korea Press Ethics Commission, Korea Press Arbitration Commission, National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Yonhap News Agency, Chosun Ilbo News, JoongAng Ilbo News, DongA News, Segye News, Munhwa News, and No Cut News.

Dear News Agencies and Concerned Parties,

This e-mail is regarding the false news story your news agencies have recently published about a Chinese woman intentionally spreading AIDS. In fact Chinese authorities have confirmed that the story was a hoax and that the woman in question does not have AIDS. If your news agencies had adequately researched this issue you would have discovered the story was unsubstantiated and should not be printed. (See detailed information below).

We demand that you immediately publish corrections in your newspapers and updates for your Internet-based news articles explaining that your report was in error. You should also apologize for your irresponsible reporting and for increasing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Irresponsible journalism such as yours is directly contributing to increased stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in Korea. By increasing HIV/AIDS stigma in Korea you are directly harming the public health. Korean HIV/AIDS NGOs have repeatedly pointed out that stigma is one of the "main obstacles" to fighting the spread of AIDS in Korea. (AIDS Prevention Association of Korea). Every time you run a newspaper article suggesting that people with HIV/AIDS are a dangerous threat you are increasing this stigma. You should be aware that because of the intense stigma surrounding the disease in Korea, 30% of AIDS deaths were suicides. (Korea Center for Disease Control) By publishing irresponsible articles such as this you are increasing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Korea.

The fight against AIDS in Korea can be broken down into four separate stages: 1) prevention, 2) identification of HIV status, 3) treatment, care and support, 4) harm reduction. Irresponsible news articles such as yours directly work against each of these four essential aspects of the fight against AIDS in Korea.

News agencies have a responsibility to the people residing in the Republic of Korea, including those who have HIV/AIDS. Korea must not be a nation where news agencies rush to print with unsubstantiated gossip that directly harms the public health.

Korean News Articles that require correction (from the news agencies listed above): 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Chinese News Reports explaining the story is a rumor: 1 2 3 4 5 6


This has been translated into Korean and can be found in the first comment.

It seems the main culprit here is Yonhap, and that its article has been reprinted at the other sites. At the moment, doing searches for this story turns up few articles, so some may have been removed.

6 comments:

matt said...

Here's the Korean translation:

뉴스 통신사 및 관련 기관 여러분께,

최근 중국의 한 여성이 고의적으로 에이즈 바이러스를 퍼뜨리고 있다는 여러 뉴스 통신사의 기사 보도에 대해 이-메일을 보내드립니다. 중국 당국에서는 이 뉴스가 완전히 날조된 거짓 이야기라는 사실을 확인했으며, 해당 여성은 에이즈에 감염되지 않았다는 것도 사실로 밝혀졌습니다. 뉴스 보도자 여러분께서 제대로 이 이슈에 대해서 조사를 하셨으면 이 얘기가 근거 없는 것이었다는 사실을 알게 되었을 것이며, 이러한 기사를 보도하지 않으셨을 겁니다. (이-메일 끝에 보시면 해당 기사들을 자세히 볼 수 있습니다.)

이 기사를 보도하신 신문사 여러분은 당장 이 기사와 관련된 정정 기사를 보도하실 것을 촉구합니다. 또한, 인터넷 신문에도 해당 기사가 잘못된 보도라고 설명하는 정정 기사를 실어주십시오. 무책임한 보도, 그리고 HIV/에이즈에 대한 편견과 잘못된 시각을 증진시킨 행위에 대한 사과의 말도 덧붙여주십시오.

지금 여러분께서 보여주고 있는 언론의 무책임한 태도는 대한민국 내에서의 HIV/에이즈에 대한 편견적 시각을 직접적으로 악화시키고 있습니다. 대한한국 내에서의 HIV/에이즈에 대한 편견과 오명을 증진시킴으로써, 공중 보건에 직접적으로 해를 끼치고 있습니다. 대한민국의 HIV/에이즈 관련 NGO들은 한국 내에서의 에이즈 확산을 막는 데 가장 “큰 걸림돌” 이 되고 있는 것이 바로 편견적 시각이라는 사실을 계속적으로 강조하고 있습니다. 여러분께서 HIV/에이즈에 감염된 사람들이 큰 위협이라는 내용의 뉴스 기사를 보도할 때마다 여러분은 이러한 편견적 시각을 강화시키고 있습니다. 한국 내에서의 이 병에 대한 엄청난 편견 때문에 HIV/에이즈에 감염된 한국인의 30%가 자살을 한다는 사실을 아셔야 합니다. (질병관리본부 통계) 이토록 무책임한 기사를 보도함으로써 여러분은 대한민국 내에서의 HIV/에이즈를 둘러싼 편견을 점점 강화시키고 있습니다.


한국에서의 에이즈와의 싸움은 다음과 같이 4가지 단계로 구별시킬 수 있습니다. 1) 예방 2) HIV 감염 여부의 확인 3) 치료 및 간병, 그리고 지원 4) 추가적인 피해 감소. 여러분께서 보도한 이러한 무책임한 가시들은 한국에서의 에이즈 퇴치에 필수적인 이러한 4단계에 직접적으로 거슬리는 행위입니다.

뉴 스 통신사 및 기관들은 대한민국 내에 거주하고 있는 사람들에 대하여 지켜야 할 책임과 의무가 있습니다. 그 사람들 중에는 HIV/에이즈 감염자들도 포함이 되어있습니다. 대한민국은 공중 보건에 직접적인 해를 끼치는 근거 없는 날조된 험담과 가십 기사들을 뉴스 기관들이 서둘러 보도하려는 그러한 나라가 되어서는 안 된다고 봅니다.


벤자민 K. 와그너 (J.D.) 드림
미국 변호사 (하와이 및 미네소타 변호사 협회)
경희대학교 법과대학 법학과 교수
서울 동대문구 회기 1동 130-701
전화: +82-2-961-0418

kushibo said...

In fact Chinese authorities have confirmed that the story was a hoax and that the woman in question does not have AIDS.

Well if the Chinese authorities say it, it must be true.

Um, do we have a non-Chinese authorities authority debunking this? Truthfully, after reading this on China Smack, it smells suspiciously like a smear campaign against this woman (and/or some or all of the people whose numbers were listed), but I'd like to see corroboration from some source other than "Chinese authorities," which are not exactly straightforward with the truth when it's embarrassing.

B_Wagner said...

The story never should have been reported on in the first place.

It's another lovers quarrel made into national news about an AIDS scare when there's no AIDS involved at all. Horribly irresponsible.

Korean news article reporting that it was a hoax.

Didn't stop them from putting in two big pictures of the woman however.

To the Chosun Ilbo's credit, they appear to have pulled their article: http://www.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/10/16/2009101601060.html

The damage is done, there were at least 800 comments on one article alone. AIDS scares get a lot of play in the media.

Helen said...

The news gave me a great shock!

The Canadian said...

Race the top motivator for hate crimes in Canada: "Race and ethnicity still top the list of Canada's most common motivators of hate crimes, according to a Statistics Canada report released Monday that shows blacks as the main target. The report was limited to data obtained from police cases from forces covering 87 per cent of Canada's population and additional information from victimization surveys. Of the 892 hate crimes reported by police forces across the country in 2006, six in 10 were linked to race or ethnicity, the report says."

Hate crimes on rise in Canada - Report By ROB LAMBERTI, Toronto Sun: The 28th annual B’Nai Brith audit of anti-Semitic activity in Canada shows hate-related incidents were up by more than 11% in 2009. The audit showed there were 1,264 reported incidents, including harassment, assault and hate graffiti, compared to 1,135 in 2008. The audit reported 884 cases of harassment, 348 of vandalism, and 32 incidents of violence — twice as many violent attacks reported in 2008. The 10-year trend shows a five-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents, the report stated.

Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation - Canada:
"The impact of migrant trafficking on Canada is estimated at between $120 million to $400 million per year and accounts for approximately 8,000 to 16,000 people arriving in Canada per year illegally. ("Organized Crime Impact Study," Solicitor General of Canada)"

"Many of the young girls that are trafficked and forced into prostitution in Canada are ferried from city to city, from Seattle to San Francisco to Oakland to Phoenix to Honolulu and Portland. The pimps move them every 3-4 weeks. (Portland Police Officer Doug Kosloske, The Province, 19 December 1997)"

"Strip clubs located in Toronto and Montreal are suspected of sexually exploiting young Asian women from Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and other areas. The women were hired as foreign exotic dancers, but were put into prostitution. The women were coerced into having abortions when pregnant, with threats of being returned to their country of origin if they refused. The women had their passports taken away, and were held in seclusion when they were not performing. After an investigation, criminal charges were laid against the women. None of their abusers were charged. ("Canada’s Paper for EU Conference on Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation" 10-11 June 1996)"

"The murder of prostituted women in Canada continues to rise. From 1991-1995 63 prostituted women were murdered in Canada, 26 of which in British Columbia. More than half of the cases remains unsolved. Six to eight others were murdered in 1996 and 1997 in B.C. (Dr. John Lowman criminologist, Paul Dillon, "Life On The Streets in Dangerous," Surrey Leader, 17 May 1998)"

"Women and children in street prostitution comprise 1/3 of the 1,500 people in the sex industry in Montreal. (Police estimates. "Prostitutes protest police sweep" Montreal Gazette, 23 June 1998)"

The History of Racism in Canada: "Canada has a long history of hate-motivated violence towards racial or ethnic minorities. For example, in 1907 in Vancouver, a mob of whites attacked the Chinese and Japanese communities, causing at least extensive damage to stores and, it was claimed by one report, "several fatalities". During World War II, members of the Japanese Canadian community were interned and their property confiscated. In the 1970s, a series of subway attacks against members of the South Asian community in Toronto helped to result in creation of a task force to study that problem..."

The Canadian said...

Sex scandal teacher banned in Canada: School teacher Amy Gehring - involved in a sex scandal in the UK - has been banned from teaching in her native Canada for at least 10 years. Ms Gehring was found guilty of professional misconduct at the Ontario College of Teachers for her behaviour while working in Britain.

Rapes (most recent) by country:
Rank / Countries / Amount
# 1 / United States / 95,136
# 2 / South Africa / 52,425
# 3 / Canada / 24,350
# 4 / Australia / 15,630
# 5 / India / 15,468

Rapes (per capita) (most recent) by country:
Rank / Countries / Amount
# 1 / South Africa / 1.19538 per 1,000 people
# 2 / Seychelles / 0.788294 per 1,000 people
# 3 / Australia / 0.777999 per 1,000 people
# 4 / Montserrat /0.749384 per 1,000 people
# 5 /Canada /0.733089 per 1,000 people

Rape victims (most recent) by country:
Rank / Countries / Amount
# 1 / New Zealand / 1.3%
# 2 / Austria / 1.2%
= 3 / Finland / 1.1%
= 3 / Sweden / 1.1%
# 5 / Australia / 1%
# 6 / United Kingdom / 0.9%
= 7 / Netherlands / 0.8%
= 7 / Canada / 0.8%
= 7 / Slovenia / 0.8%
# 10 / France / 0.7%

Vancouver Olympics get an ‘F’ for failing to curb sex trafficking: group: "In the U.S., customers must provide credit card information before responding to a post. However, that’s not the case in Canada, allowing a “virtual sex slave market to flourish outside the reach of police and intelligence services,” a release from the summit said."

Canada's White Nationalist Winter Olympics: "Canada is the new crucible for the development of a new tribe and family of people under the banner of white nationalism, and the Winter Olympics is a good mirror and standard to utilize. Where else will you find such friendliness, cleanliness and beautiful wide-open space topography like in our wonderful country? No other nation has a bigger backyard."

The Violence Against Canadian Women Survey - Highlights:
- One-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of violence since the age of 16
- Almost one-half of women reported violence by men known to them and one-quarter reported violence by a stranger
- One-quarter of all women have experienced violence at the hands of their current or past marital partner (includes common-law unions)
- One-in-six currently married women reported violence by their spouses; one-half of women with previous marriages reported violence by a previous spouse
- More than one-in-ten women who reported violence in a current marriage have at some point felt their lives were in danger
- Six-in-ten Canadian women who walk alone in their own area after dark feel "very" or "somewhat" worried doing so
- Women with violent fathers-in-law are at three times the risk of assault by their partners than are women with non-violent fathers-in-law

Source: Statistics Canada. The Daily, Thursday, November 18, 1993.

For more in-depth information is available in a full-text from Statistics Canada. Please see Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (1998 - 2001) A statistical report on Shelters for abused women is also available online from Statistics Canada.