Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Itaewon: Mr. Lee's Neighborhood

[Note: The 'Lee' in this article turned out not to be Lee Eun-ung, but former member 'jasminhyang,' and corrections to the original article have been made. That article is now also missing the"loser's paradise" subtitles seen below. That the Lee in this article was Lee Eun-ung has now been incorrectly reported in Time magazine.]


On the 23rd, the New Daily posted an article - a long article - by reporter Jeon Gyeong-ung purporting to tell the truth about Itaewon. Robert already posted about it at the Marmot's Hole today, but as I translated the first third or so of it, I thought I'd post it here.
_____

The Republic of Korea's hidden center, Yongsan's Itaewon

Itaewon - 'a loser's paradise' where Korean women are ruined?
A pack of black people looking only for sex
Fantastic clubs? Frequent crimes of drugs, fraud, perverted marriage
Government, media glorify 'Multiculturalism' ahead of purification


Until now, only Itaewon's spectacular side and its unexposed great power have been closely examined. However tall mountains always have deep valleys. That the national media and government ignore this for reasons such as policy is a serious problem.

Spectacular Temptation vs. the Clubs' Reality

In late October 2005, I contributed to the Monthly Chosun and covered the truth about crime by illegal immigrants. In the process, I became aware of “Anti-English Spectrum (the Citizen’s Movement to Expel Illegal Teachers of Foreign Languages) and from the group's manager and members was told in detail about Itaewon's dark nature. The representatives of this group explained such things as the truth about the clubs scattered around Itaewon, and about the true nationalities and attitudes of the foreigners who wandered about.

The founder of the "citizen's group", Mr. Lee (40) is an English teacher who received a TESOL certificate/diploma in Canada. During a two day interview he explained in detail the truth about Itaewon. Contacting him after a long time, I asked him what the situation was like in Itaewon, and he answered, "Still the same."

"Most of the foreigners you see wandering around in Itaewon are 'losers' who can't even maintain a social life in their home countries. These XXXXs use “English” to cajole their way around our country."

Living in Itaewon for over 30 years, Lee dreamed of being an English teacher. Having TESOL certification and other specialized English education qualifications, one would think it would be easy to get a job in Korea, but after actually returning home, he realized that Korea’s English craze did not involve learning how to fit harmoniously into international society, but instead was an illusion, a vague yearning for white people using English. Lee tried to understand this, but he could not understand at all how people who had faked their degrees and backgrounds could make so much money in Korea, how they could treat Korean women from children to housewives as ‘comfort women’ [yes, he went there, he used ‘위안부’] or ‘sex toys,’ or how Korean society left native-speaking English teachers alone as they committed misdeeds throughout society.

To confirm the truth about low quality foreign teachers, Lee sought out Itaewon clubs. Clubs would not even allow Korean men in, but speaking English fluently like a Korean American allowed him to enter easily. After entering the club he could scarcely believe his eyes. Ordinary-looking Korean women wandered around the club topless, starting conversations with the first foreign men they saw and within only minutes would be in their arms, playing at seduction and giving themselves to them.

Among the things a friend of his said he had observed was this: The first foreigner a Korean woman saw was holding a drink with drugs added to it, and without hesitation she drank it. After she lost her senses the foreigners pulled her over to another group of men and had group sex in front of them.

But looking back on those clubs, Lee noticed that the foreigners’ intonation, way of speaking and the level of their vocabulary were strange. Looking back on the stories they approached him with, most were from underdeveloped former British colonies in Africa or Southwest Asia, or were poorly educated social misfits or had fled their home countries after committing crimes there. They said mockingly in front of Lee, “Korean pussy is best!” “Best” in this case is a sarcastic expression meaning they’re ‘easy’. Seeing this, Lee decided to make people aware of native speakers and of the seriousness of our society’s surging sycophancy towards English, and formed the group.

“Among foreigners in Itaewon clubs, you’ll see that there are almost no decent ones there. Black people or southwest Asians especially like to lie about their nationality and approach women saying they’ll teach them English. The only thing they want is to have sex with Korean women. Also, it’s perverted sex.

He created an internet cafe at a portal and people concerned about the seriousness of the problem of low quality foreign teachers and illegal immigrants slowly began to gather there. Most of the members pointed out the adult entertainment areas and especially the “foreigner only clubs” in the Hongdae and Itaewon areas as problems. Lee and the others collected examples of the various problems revolving around Itaewon area clubs and personally confirmed the behavior of foreigners.

After that the group expanded offline and, working both alone and in tandem with others groups formed to stop crime by low quality native-speaking teachers and illegal immigrants such as the “Foreign Worker Countermeasures Citizen’s Solidarity,” spread into other various activities. As a result of this, over the past five years the group has initiated such measures as getting native speaking teachers with sex crimes in their pasts banned from re-entering Korea, strengthening the native-speaking teacher visa, maintaining the AIDS test for native-speaking teachers, and fingerprinting native-speaking teachers.

However, the group’s members are still worried about the way the Korean media (especially women-oriented media) excessively glamorize Itaewon. The reason for this is that foreign lechers are now targeting university students and even youth who know little of the ways of the world.

_____


From there the article goes on to list every possible negative thing the reporter could find on the internet about people from Pakistan and Nigeria. Robert summarizes some of what is said in that section, and translates most of the article's conclusion as well, so go there to read the rest.

Now, as for what I think of the article, well, hey Lee Eun-ung, stop holding back - why don't you tell us what you really think of foreigners? "Most of the foreigners you see wandering around in Itaewon are 'losers' who can't even maintain a social life in their home countries" and "Among foreigners in Itaewon clubs, you’ll see that there are almost no decent ones there," indeed. Oh, and foreigners treat Korean women like "comfort women." Lovely.

But what I found interesting was that we're given a background on Lee. Growing up in Itaewon, dreaming of teaching English, getting TESOL certification in Canada, coming home and not being able to find a job, seeing foreigners who can get jobs easily at their worst in Itaewon. It basically wraps Lee and his motivations up in a neat little package - that is, if it's all true.

My reason for saying that is because, in this interview, Lee has once again altered the story of how AES came to be. For years, Lee has told and retold the story of the English Spectrum incident, such as in the Seoul Sinmun in 2008:
In 2005 photos and writings which degraded Korean women were posted on a community site for native English speakers teach English here. I confirmed that these native speakers had a corrupted perspective on Korea and carried on sexual relationships with minors and married women and realized that we could not entrust our children to such people and the movement was begun. We want a system to improve English education while stopping the harm that these native speakers do to Korea.
A few months later he wrote an article for the Kyunghyang Sinmun:
The opportunity to create the “Citizens Movement to Expel Illegal English Teachers” was a January 2005 post at an online foreign teacher community. Many people were outraged not only at the lewd clubs in front of Hongik University that degraded Korean women, but also sexual assaults by foreign teachers on middle school girls. We voluntarily formed our group so that at least our children would not be exposed to such unqualified teachers.
Of course, these versions of what happened at that time leave out the fact that the women "degraded" in those photos became victims of an internet witch hunt by the very people who started AES. As the owner of the bar the photos were taken in revealed in an interview with Ohmynews:
"Some online articles and the Anti-English Spectrum cafe said we were prostitutes, western princesses [yang gongju, a derogatory term for women who went with U.S. soldiers], and brothel keepers." The women said, "Because of the media's selective reporting and the netizen's collective madness we are suffering incredible mental anguish and a person is receiving psychiatric treatment."
This part of the story has always been omitted from Lee's retelling of the incident. And now we're told, "He created an internet cafe at a portal and people concerned about the seriousness of the problem of low quality foreign teachers and illegal immigrants slowly began to gather there." Translated literally it's "people in ones and twos began to gather there," which is absolutely not the case - AES had 1000 posts on it within a week or two of being formed. Perhaps Lee is changing his story for a different audience (there's much more of a focus on illegal immigrants in this article, something he's never really brought up before), but it's clear with him that the truth is always expendable - or perhaps, "expandable.".

11 comments:

Robert said...

Perhaps Lee is changing his story for a different audience (there's much more of a focus on illegal immigrants in this article, something he's never really brought up before), but it's clear with him that the truth is always expendable - or perhaps, "expandable.".
Well, in the case of the illegal migrants, Lee didn't really bring it up, the article did, and I think they're getting their info on the illegals from another civic group mentioned in the story.

matt said...

Good point - Lee's never showed much concern for illegal immigrants, unless they were teaching English. One wonders how much of the stuff about Lee in this article came from him, and how much was... 'improvised' by the journalist.

asadalthought said...

"One wonders how much of the stuff about Lee in this article came from him, and how much was... 'improvised' by the journalist."

I'm confused... where was the journalism?

Greedybones said...

That bar sounds amazing. I've been to quite a few bars in Itaewon, but I haven't seen this paradise of topless women flinging themselves foreigners who proceed to have public group sex with them.

matt said...

asadalthought:

I guess I should have said "improvised by the 'journalist.'"

"Uh-oh. I said the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet."

Greedybones:

I haven't come across clubs like that either. It does remind me, however, that now might be the time to post a 1988 Olympics Sex Guide article from Hustler magazine...

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I haven't seen this paradise of topless women flinging themselves foreigners who proceed to have public group sex with them

He's talking about the juicy bars. The clue is where he said Koreans weren't allowed in, and they only made an exception for him because he used his English to pass himself off as a gyopo.

What he didn't say is that it cost money to get them topless and money for them to fling themselves at you, in public or not, group sex or not.

How the Itaewon no-Koreans juicy bars are different from the Ahyeon-dong no-foreigners juicy bars, I'm not sure. There must be a difference, or he wouldn't make such an issue of it.

Is it possible the only difference is the race of the dick plowing the Korean women working those places?

Japonymous said...

This thread is a classic example of the topic I am trying to gather info on. Comparing expat views in Korea and Japan. Would apprecaite it if you took a look at my last blog post and left you r 2 cents. Thanks.

matt said...

Darth Babaganoosh:

Juicy Bars crossed my mind, but they didn't fit the description of 'club,' which in this case is either an incorrectly applied English loan word or a deliberate misrepresentation. Obviously, it's the latter.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

At first I thought, with his talk of the Africans and such, that was talking of places like the King Club or Polly's Kettle.

But once he said KOREAN women were doing this, I knew it wasn't an actual club. King Club et al don't bar Koreans, for one, and they are/were employing the Filipino and Russian ladies to grind on the guys, although definitely not topless and certainly no group sex in public.

Yeah, I would say deliberate misrepresentation of "club" is accurate.

daeguowl said...

Has the article been amended since you translated it? It never identifies Mr Lee or names him as the leader of AES and in fact says the interviewee quit AES in 2007. So did it originally name him but has now been updated with a username or do you know enough about his background to identify it as him from the info given?

matt said...

Thanks for pointing that out. It has indeed been amended, and I just checked on the AES website where they made a big deal of the fact that the article had made it sound like the manager in question was Lee Eun-ung. It was the obvious assumption, as Lee Eun-ung has always been the AES spokesperson (except for a Mr. K who contributed to several BreakNews articles in 2006, though circumstantial evidence suggests Mr. K was also Lee). Those posting at AES also assumed people would think it was Lee Eun-ung. The username added to the article, Jasminhyang, belongs to someone who was a fairly prominent member during AES's first few years. This actually deserves a post.