Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Violence in Elementary Schools... and Beyond

The Korea Herald has a disturbing article about violence in elementary schools.
Among the 335 primary school students who participated in the Assault Prevention workshop in September-December last year and asked for professional consultation, 41 or 12.2 percent had experienced intense violence at school, said officials. Thirty five cases involved bullying and six sexual assaults.

Also, the survey conducted on the 1,609 workshop participants showed that some 30 students or 1.9 percent had experienced sexual abuse, said officials. A large number of violence cases were committed by peers or slightly elder students. "Most involve senior students bullying the juniors," said a ChildFund official.

Many cases of sexual abuse against children tend to be committed by adults acquainted with the child, such as family members or neighbors, said the official. In some cases, the sexual harasser turns out to be a teenager, only slightly older than the victim.
It's hard not to read that and remember the Daegu Elementary gang-rape scandal from 2008 (which was never fully investigated), or some of the stories related here. A grade six elementary school student told me last year that she wasn't looking forward to the next day because she and nine of her friends had to meet a group of middle school girls after school and give one of them 40,000 won in total, or 4,000 won each, because it was one of the bullies' birthday. In another story, a girl in either grade six or middle school grade one was out with friends at a Pizza restaurant in Myeongdong and they were confronted by older middle school girls in the bathroom who took their money - not the way my student planned to spend her birthday. Also, a friend told me last week his elementary school had a meeting with parents of young children angry about the abuse they were receiving from older students - not the best way to start the school year.

As the article nears its end, it notes that,
Last year's workshop was held amid the scandal of a brutal child rape incident, known as the Cho Doo-soon case, involving an ex-convict raping and disabling an 8-year-old girl.
The Joongang Ilbo had an article about the girl's family last week:
The father of an 8-year-old rape victim testified in court on Monday that prosecutors forced him not to copy the records of their investigation into Cho Du-sun, who brutally assaulted the girl known as Na-young in 2008. The family of the girl, who has been identified only through that alias, filed suit against the Korean government seeking 30 million won ($26,400) in compensation for the prosecutors’ actions, and trial began Monday at the Seoul Central District Court.
The article notes that Cho Du-sun attacked Na-young on Dec. 11, 2008. It was in late September 2009 that this KBS show which brought the case to public attention, and this was followed by the government lashing out in every direction to try to appease public anger over the lenient punishment her attacker received, including declaring foreign English teachers to be "especially potential child molesters" (among other things), and declaring that immigration would ban all foreign sex criminals from coming (or returning), a policy that came into effect recently, even though the foreign sex-crime rate is five times less than the Korean crime rate and foreigners had nothing to do with the Na-young case.

Two weeks ago justice minister Kim Kwi-nam visited Cheongsong Prison in Gyeongsangnam-do, where Jo Du-sun is being held (video here).

Returning to the violence youth inflict on each other, the first-mentioned article ends,
Also, the nation was shaken last month over the violent graduation ceremonies in some middle schools, where seniors inflicted serious physical violence or sexual harassment, claiming it to be a school tradition.
While I'd heard of graduates running amok naked before, it seems it may be a little darker than first imagined, as many of these kids - at least ones in the photos I've come across [some of the ones below may be NSFW], have been forced to strip, had clothes ripped or cut off, and been photographed, such as in Ilsan last month:

Photos from previous years show there to be some pretty disgusting hazing practices included:

The girl in the third photo appears to be covered in ketchup, while the boys in the last photos are being pelted with hundreds of eggs and being urinated on. I was reminded of this article in the Hankyoreh years ago, which ended by saying:
Violence is just violence. This is a truth no one can deny. There are many factors to prevent people from seeing this simple fact. The most insidious of this kind of block is when violence wears the clothing of "custom." This being the case, before blaming individuals, we should crush the oppressive things that have made violence customary.
Well, okay, the system is the problem, but overlooking punishing individuals in order to go after the system isn't helpful either. As for systems, looking at the violent discipline inherent in the military system, which influenced the school system (going back to the colonial era), and seeing how the ritualized violence meted out by bullies (in videos associated with this case, just to name one) seems like a twisted parody of the discipline students receive at school, one imagines "the oppressive things that have made violence customary" will not disappear any time soon, and their manifestations - involving individuals - will linger further.

Ulsan Police Grow Op: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"

Okay, maybe not.

As I mentioned in this post, the Korea Herald had an article last week about a Korean American English teacher busted for growing pot:
Police sought an arrest warrant for a Korean-American English instructor Wednesday on charges of growing and selling marijuana worth 20 million won ($17,000), according to Yonhap News. The suspect, 27, allegedly cultivated marijuana at his home since January and sold it to foreign residents, according to the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency. Police said the suspect is believed to have studied cultivation methods and was able to grow the plants here after smuggling seeds into the country in June.
Yonhap posted an article on the 24th titled "Foreign-born Korean (동포출신) English teacher [busted for] growing marijuana indoors and dealing." Nice of them not to just blare "Foreign English teacher arrested for drugs" as a headline (even the sub-headline reads "Ulsan Police -3 Daegu area English Hagwon Foreign Teachers Arrested") It wasn't a good week for arrests of Korean American English teachers for drugs.

The article includes several photos, such as the ones above and below (and another of the books he used in cultivating the plants). It notes that the accused was living in Daegu's Nam-gu, and that in one room in his house he had 8 plants totaling 320 grams as well as a great deal of equipment for 'processing' it.

Police also booked without detention two foreign English hagwon teachers who worked in Daegu, one a 26 year-old American, for smoking Marijuana at home in foreigner clubs after buying it from the grower. Said grower also said that in America smoking pot isn't considered to be a big problem. There's footage (of course!) here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

B.R. Myers article about recent North Korean propaganda

B.R. Myers has a must-read article in the Wall Street Journal (via this comment at the Marmot's Hole).

In his book The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves - And Why it Matters, B.R. Myers examines the propaganda used by the North Korean government over the years. The main line is that Koreans are uniquely pure and virtuous, but that this virtue makes them an easy target for outsiders, and the only person capable of protecting them from such rapacious outsiders (such as the Americans or Japanese) is their leader.

That Kim Il-sung was single-handedly protecting them was retroactively supported by the famines and economic collapse that occurred almost immediately after his death. While Kim Jong-il was presented as having forced the U.S. to surrender during the 1994 nuclear crisis, the regime struggled to figure out how to present Kim Jong-il to the people in the wake of the famine and economic troubles, eventually settling on a military first policy in which Kim Jong-il was said to be so busy tirelessly touring the country's military bases that the people would have to fend for themselves (something they were shamed into by descriptions of his diet: "whatever the troops are eating").

With the worst of the famine over in the late 1990s, a new slogan - "A Great Country, Strong and Prosperous" - was announced, and when Kim Dae-jung came to Pyongyang it was said that the idea of cooperation was Kim Jong-il's idea, one he had dazzled the South Korean president into after the latter had come to Pyongyang wanting to make the North renounce socialism. As the North toned down the anti-ROK rhetoric and increased the anti-U.S., anti-Bush propaganda line, the influx of information and popular culture from the ROK was not as harmful as might have been thought, considering that the ROK government and media line during those years was essentially anti-American and, if not pro-Pyongyang, at least not anti-Pyongyang. That the South were economically better off was known (and blamed on the (necessary) military-first policy), but it was believed that the Southerners wanted to be freed from U.S. control and be unified under Kim Jong-il's rule.

The 2008 election of 'traitor' Lee Myung-bak provided a challenge to this belief, though that challenge was delayed by the mad cow protests of 2008, which lived up to Northern propaganda about Lee hoodwinking the electorate. In the years since, the DPRK has been in a crisis, dealing with the increasing support in the south for Lee, the south's cool stance towards the DPRK, the declining health of Kim Jong-il, and the need to (very quickly) groom his son for leadership. Last year, under the slogans "150 Day Battle," followed by the "100 Day Battle" urging the people to farm and work harder, the government line has become more martial, with slogans calling on people to sacrifice themselves in battle for the leader becoming more common.
[Pages 50-66]

This new article continues from where the book leaves off.
What the masses are learning is incompatible with their decades-old sense of a sacred racial mission. They have known since the 1990s that their living standard is much lower than South Korea's. The gap was explained away with reference to the sacrifices needed to build up the military. What the North Koreans are only now realizing, however—and this is more important—is that their brethren in the "Yankee colony" have no desire to live under Kim Jong Il. In 2007, after all, they elected the pro-American candidate to the South Korean presidency. Why, then, should the northerners go on sacrificing in order to liberate people who don't want to be liberated? Unable to answer this question, the regime in desperation has resorted to the most reckless propaganda campaign in its history.

This "strong and prosperous country" campaign is nothing less than an effort to persuade the masses that economic life will change drastically by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Great Leader Kim Il Sung, the father of Kim Jong Il. The official media have dubbed 2010 a "year of radical transformation" that will "open the gate to a thriving nation without fail in 2012." On TV news shows, uniformed students smile into just-delivered computers, and housewives tearfully thank the Leader for new apartments. The media predict even greater triumphs "without fail" for next year. The Juche calendar—which starts with Kim Il Sung's birth year of 1912, from one and not zero—numbers 2011 as year 100, and thus hugely significant.

Be sure to read the entire article.

Update on 'Foreign English teachers in the news'

The Joongang Ilbo has an article on the arrests of the former Korean-American gangsters.
R, 26, was reportedly a member of a Korean-American gang in Los Angeles when he got into a fight on July 14, 2006, at a cafe in the city’s Koreatown, stabbing to death a man identified as B, 27. Four days later, R fled to Korea.

After Interpol located R in Korea, U.S. investigators asked the Korean government to extradite him. However, because R has dual citizenship, he had been able to change his name in a Korean court and couldn’t be traced.

During his time on the run, R worked as an English teacher at a hagwon in Suwon, Gyeonggi, for two months. While there he allegedly took methamphetamine and marijuana.[...]

Seoul police said yesterday that R was arrested on the drug charges here, but they plan to extradite him to the United States if the Korean courts agree. They are also searching for Yu, 31, who fled after being interrogated for allegedly taking drugs with R.
The article goes on to mention Lee, 26, who was "deported from the United States in 2006 after being charged with attempted murder and credit card fraud." It also mentions that "Five others, including an American teacher, were indicted without detention for buying drugs from Lee." I'd had the idea that the five others were all native (ie E-2) English teachers, but perhaps that's what the police/media want readers to think. One wonders if there is a reason the two cases were mentioned together. The person wanted for murder worked only for two months while the other person apparently worked for much longer, but the idea one gets from reading the reports in both Korean and English is that both had been working at hagwons for years - which I imagine is what the some elements in the police/media would like people to believe. As Brian in Jeollanam-do noted, the language in Choi Young-hee's 3 bills focusing on foreign English teachers does not specifically mention E-2 visa holders, only 'native English teachers,' but her office told Benjamin Wagner that they were meant to target E-2 visa holders. One wonders, after the fallout of this case, if such vague language could be used to justify making people on all visas be subject to the drug tests and criminal record checks the bills call for. As is pointed out in this article,
Currently, there are 50,666 F-4 visa holders and 22,018 E-2 visa holders as of December 2009, according to KIS. Among those with F-4 visas, the government does not know how many are involved in English teaching.
One wonders if that ignorance applies to F-2 visa holders as well.

The Korea Times reported this week that the government is planning to check the qualifications of Korean hagwon teachers.
Under the current regulations, Koreans who completed at least two-year college courses are entitled to teach at hagwon without legal binding.

Officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology told The Korea Times, Friday that they are likely to submit a bill to ban inadequate teachers from working at hagwon.

"There have been no attempts to regulate eligibility of hagwon teachers by law. We plan to submit a bill next month, disallowing ineligible hagwon teachers, to the National Assembly," said an official in charge.
As Brian has looked at in depth, the Korea Times article about this tries to conflate this with foreign English teachers (no surprise, considering it's the Times). It's interesting that, after years of calling for and then implementing rules for foreigners working in hagwons on E-2 visas, nothing has been done regarding the qualifications of the Korean instructors working there. In fact, I'm not sure if the numbers of these hagwon instructors are kept track of. Sex crimes by Korean teachers have been kept track of , as noted in this article:
A total of 124 sexual crimes involving elementary and secondary school teachers were reported to the education authorities between 2006 and 2009. Among them, 47 involved prostitution, 43 were sexual harassment and five were rape cases.

However, only eight teachers (6 percent) were given prison sentences, while 31 were not indicted and 28 received suspended sentences. "It seems that teachers were exempt from punishment through out-of-court settlements with the parents of the victims,'' Rep Choi said. "Moreover, each city and provincial education offices, which were supposed to strictly punish those teachers, gave only verbal warnings. Only 21 teachers were fired for sexual violence.''

According to data collected by the lawmaker, nearly 60 percent of the assailants were merely warned or reprimanded.
It does not seem that such statistics are kept on hagwon instructors, however. It's estimated that there are 480,000 teachers in the public school system, so it's likely a safe bet that there are at least as many (if not twice as many?) hagwon instructors at all sorts of hagwons. While it's been suggested that, instead of comparing the E-2 visa holder crime rate to the general population, it should be compared to the crime rate of Korean teachers, it would likely be fairer to compare it to the crime rate of both Korean teachers and hagwon instructors, seeing as two thirds of E-2 visa holders teach in hagwons. Of course, it's possible such statistics for hagwon teachers do not exist.

At any rate, after years of calls for more regulations for foreign English instructors, and after that, calls for even more regulations (and if Choi's bills and others pass, likely even more calls for regulations), it's nice to see something being done to check the qualifications of Korean instructors, seeing as there are far more of them than foreign English instructors working in hagwons.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Foreign English teachers in the news


Our favourite Korea Times reporter is now on the case.

[Original Post]

AP (Via the Joongang Ilbo) reports on Aijalon Mahli Gomes, the most recent American to be arrested for entering North Korea illegally (one hopes he is better treated than Robert Park was).
A spokeswoman for the man’s family in Boston, Thaleia Schlesinger, said that Gomes had been teaching English in South Korea for about two years and that it was unclear why he would have gone to North Korea.[...]

Authorities at Sinbong Elementary School in Pocheon, north of Seoul, said he taught English there from April 2008 to March last year.

“All the memories we have of Gomes are only good. Everyone here liked him,” school headmaster Cho Kyoo-Sig told AFP. “I remember him as a very mellow and calm person. He was very kind to everybody and all the children liked him so much.”

Gomes left the school, saying he would find a better-paying job in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi.

“If he wants to return to this school, he would always be welcome. It’s hard to find a native English teacher as good as Gomes,” Cho said.
Leaving out the possibility of the last sentence being a back-handed compliment, it's nice to see a media report in which a school official compliments a good English teacher (even one who is as wacky as to make an unauthorized visit to the DPRK). I was curious to see how these comments were reported in the Korean media but - brace yourself, this is shocking - they weren't. Some nice things about him said by a former co-worker in another AP article were translated by Yonhap (via the Chosun Ilbo), but not the principal's remarks.

Meanwhile, a search at Naver turns up 39 articles about this story of the arrests of former Korean American gangsters teaching English in hagwons - one wanted in the U.S. on murder charges and another who has been importing and dealing drugs. Nine other unqualified teachers have also been arrested for drug use. As the Marmot's Hole notes,
The Segye Ilbo has more if you care to read it, including this quote by a police official, “Language hagwon, getting on the English education boom bandwagon, have recently been indiscriminately hiring native speaking teachers. We must strengthen screening of educations and career histories when hiring English teachers.”
Police often seem to give the media such great quotes, which sound more like editorializing by crusading journalists or editors than quotes from police officials. Here's another example from 2007:
A source at the foreign affairs division of the Seoul Police Department said, "American and Canadian English teachers think Korea is a 'land of opportunity.'" They become hagwon teachers not only because there is no country which has much desire to learn English as Korea but because they believe they can make up to 1,000,000 won per month through illegal private lessons. The source also said, "the majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them." Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a 'land of opportunity' but also as a 'perverted heaven'.
On a related note, the Korea Herald reports today that
Police sought an arrest warrant for a Korean-American English instructor Wednesday on charges of growing and selling marijuana worth 20 million won ($17,000), according to Yonhap News. The suspect, 27, allegedly cultivated marijuana at his home since January and sold it to foreign residents, according to the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency.
YTN might not have reported on the nice things the principal said about Aijalon Mahli Gomes, but they did end another report by tell us this:
The reality is that as long as they are good at English, violent criminals and habitual drug users can easily become English teachers.

The anxiety of parents of young children is growing.
Allow me to fix the first sentence:
The reality is that as long as they are good at English, violent criminals and habitual drug users can easily be hired by unscrupulous hagwon owners and become English teachers.
I'm not sure if anything has been said about the visa status of these former gang members. No doubt if they are F-visa holders, then it's much easier for them to get jobs here than E-2 visa holders. As for the final sentence, to assess that the anxiety of parents is growing... wait, they did nothing to assess that. Well, if you're going to report this case in that way, I'm sure that last sentence will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Especially if you report it, as the Donga Ilbo did, with a title (in English, despite it being a Korean language article) like this:

He is a killer, drug dealer… and your teacher

It helps to have this cartoon to illustrate the dire situation:

I'm not sure why he has a tail. I believe South Korean propaganda used to depict North Koreans with tails and horns, and North Korean propaganda has depicted Americans with bestial characteristics, so I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. A wolf in foreign English teacher's clothing, perhaps, but since foreign English teachers are routinely depicted as wolves, so to speak, that metaphor makes little sense. Not that I expect any of this to make sense, mind you.

[Update] Having read this Korea Times article, I think I understand the tail now:
Both immigration and education authorities have long turned a blind eye to loopholes in screening "unqualified" foreign English teachers. That inattention occasionally horrifies parents and students when such teachers show their true colors.
I see. 'unqualified' teachers (which seems to mean teachers who do drugs, commit crimes, or who 'paint the Han River black') are wolves, and the teacher in the cartoon is showing his 'true colors.' Alternately, it could mean "We thought you were Korean, like Hines Ward, but it turns out you're foreign, like Cho Seung-hui."

I think this cartoon, from the last time former Korean American gang members teaching English in Korea were arrested (in October 2006), was better:

English instructor

Still, the Donga Ilbo has done better cartoons of this sort before, and it's always just wonderful to have more of this 'art' to add to the collection.

A Splendid Vacation at Haeundae

The other day I watched Haeundae, which was out of morbid curiosity more than anything else - I assumed it would be terrible, like most such disaster movies, and I was not let down. And yet, I did find something of value in it after all. [Spoilers follow.] It was when I was watching the scenes of crowds running from the wave as it crashed through the streets that I realized that the scene looked very familiar.

Then it dawned on me:

The above scene is from Splendid Vacation, the 2007 film about the Kwangju Uprising (which I've looked at here, here and here). As it turns out, there are a lot of visual similarities between the two films. One obvious similarity would be the appearance of actor Song Jae-ho in both films:

I remembered him best from President's Last Bang (where he played Park Chung-hee), or so I thought, until I looked at imdb and realized he starred in the 1975 film Yeongja's Heydays, which I looked at before here, without realizing I had posted a photo of him (more for the reason that we can see Yeouido in 1975 in the background, along with an almost-complete National Assembly):

The tone of the plots leading up to the disaster that befalls the characters are different in that Haeundae's characters are in conflict and the tidal wave is the deus ex machina which brings the conflicts to resolution (er, by killing a lot of the characters) while life before 518 in Splendid Vacation is, well, splendid and happy-go-lucky until history intervenes.

Both films foreshadow the darkness that awaits the characters, whether the source is a shifting undersea fault or paratroopers marching out of a darkened hanger.

When the disaster begins, people stare in disbelief.

They try to run, but a vulnerable female falls in the crowd and a male has to fight the crowd to save her.

People flee in terror.

We see things from the point of view of that which will take so many lives.

It gets closer...

...and closer...

...until people are knocked off their feet.

They do their best to survive...

...but people are lost along the way.

[The scene above reveals the true source of the tidal wave - a flood of tears!]

In the end, even though some characters have done their best to survive, the assault of a final wave takes more lives...

...and the survivors mourn the dead.

Now, there are certainly differences between the films, despite similar visual elements. The main characters in Splendid Vacation stand up to the troops that advance through their streets, though considering the fact that they all die for this decision, the stand they took is presented as being as futile as trying to stand up to the tidal wave that washes through the streets of Busan. This 'helpless before the tidal wave of history' theme is present in many Korean films, and so Haeundae's value lies in this tidal wave metaphor, one which makes clear the way recent films about Korea's twentieth century history have portrayed that history and the Korean people's place in it.

This style of film is not only to be found in South Korean films, as this preview of the 2001 North Korean film Soul's Protest (살아있는 령혼들) reveals:

The film is based on the August 22, 1945 explosion and sinking of the ship Ukishima Maru, which was returning forced Korean labourers to Korea, and was considered to be North Korea's answer to 'Titanic.' (The video came from the North Korean online shopping mall which was open for a short time a few years ago (here)).

As for connecting all of this to A Little Pond, that will have to wait until the next post.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010



Here are some stills from the 2004 film Doma An Jung-geun:

[Original Post]

The Korea Herald has an article reminding us that this week is the 100th anniversary of the death of An Jung-geun after "his daring assassination of the peninsula's first Japanese Governor-General Hirobumi Ito." It's titled "Seoul demands Japan's cooperation."
Korea's chief of patriots affairs rebuked Japan on Monday over the lack of help from the former colonial ruler in finding the remains of a renowned Korean independence fighter, saying such an "insincere" attitude hampers efforts to move ties between the two nations forward, according to Yonhap News.[...]

Patriots and Veterans Affair Minister Kim Yang said his agency has found new Japanese records on the imprisonment of An and other independence fighters -- information that Japan has so far denied having despite Seoul's repeated requests. Kim said the new finding means that Japan is deliberately withholding information on An.

"Our attempts (to find An's remains) were discouraged several times by Japan's lackluster response."

"These newly found documents prove how insincere the Japanese government has been to our repeated requests for cooperation in finding records related to martyr An," he added. "In order to open up a brand new century between Korea and Japan, the Japanese government must give some earnest answers."
That Japan would have such a lackluster response and behave in such an 'insincere' manner when asked to help find the person they called a 'bloodthirsty''fanatic' after he killed Ito, the first Japanese prime minister, doesn't really surprise me. The perceived inability of the Korean side to see this is rather perplexing, if not all that surprising.

For the interested, Naver links to Donga Ilbo articles about An from 1962 and 1976.

Monday, March 22, 2010

North Korean propaganda to be shown on South Korean screens?


I can't find it now, but at work I saw a banner ad for A Little Pond at the top of Daum and it featured in large red letters "KILL THEM ALL"; I'll see if I can track down some screenshots of it. At any rate, despite the photo mosaic poster being the most popular on news sites, the ad campaign is obviously drawing more upon the spirit of the 'Kill Them All' poster.

[Original Post]
"You bastards get out! Who gave you the right to come to another country and kill innocent people? This is our Korean land, Korean land... do you think all Koreans have died?"

-Han Sorya, The Jackals, 1952*
At The Marmot's Hole, it was announced that A Little Pond, the movie about No Gun Ri, will be released in April (three or four years after its completion). Do go and read G.I. Korea's post about this, as he has links in it to his deconstruction of the original AP article from 1999, which tell a slightly different story - that refugees were killed by American troops (but not 400, a number based on a contemporary North Korean newspaper account) after communist soldiers disguised as refugees fired on the US troops from within the group of refugees. One doubts that the film covers this, based on this new, updated version of the original poster for the film - which I've mentioned here and here:

"Kill them all" is a lovely addition. As I noted before, it reminded me a little of this...

Do not forget the US imperialist wolves!**

...or perhaps of this:

Let's not forget the blood-drenched hatred!

Or perhaps this (as noted here, from this collection of DPRK Anti-US posters linked to here).

There's also another new poster for the film:

All these poor children! It reminds me a little of this...

Let's not forget, the savage cruelty of the U.S. imperialist wolves!

...or this:

American imperialists are the enemies of our people!

In The Cleanest Race, B.R. Myers describes how the North Koreans modified Japanese propaganda to fit their needs:
Where the colonial power had touted Japanese virtue as a protective talisman, the Koreans now believed that their virtue had made them as vulnerable as children to an evil world. What by international standards had been an enviably placid history was now remembered as a long litany of suffering and humiliation at foreign hands. In depictions of the colonial era, novelists and painters focused on the forced labor of little girls and boys, thus reinforcing the impression of a child race abused by an adult one. [...] Koreans had done nothing under the Japanese but suffer.
Of course, he's talking only about North Korea there, right?

Here's the trailer, via the Marmot's Hole

Having watched that, I suppose you could add a few more familiar images:

Let's take revenge a [hundred] thousand times on
the U.S. imperialist wolves!

Let's not forget the grudge over Sincheon!

To be fair, most news outlets are not promoting the two posters for the film seen above. Only a few, such as TV Today and (surprise!) the Hankyoreh have posted the Kill Them All poster, while the new poster with the (presumably) orphaned girl appears in such places as here and here. Most news sites have posted this one, which first appeared at the Pusan International Film Festival back in October:

It appeared in the background of this press conference on March 18:

Still, it seems, at least from the trailer, that the other posters convey the (apparent) message of the movie much better than the one seen above. It will certainly be interesting to see the reaction to this film, though apparently, as Extra! Korea notes, the critics aren't impressed. As the Korea Herald quotes the producer,
"Director Lee Sang-woo wrote the script that went in a direction that made investors shy away from committing to the project," he said. [...] It also didn't help that the subject matter was viewed by investors as "unsellable" and "too controversial" for it to have any chance at box office success.
Good. One wonders what 'direction' the script went in that gave investors cold feet? I also enjoyed this quote: 'On the film's title, Lee says it holds "no particular meaning."' Wow, really? I've complained about the metaphor in the song the title is based on being completely unrelated to the movie before. Still, perhaps some people are interested in it. It's being described by some as 'a movie containing the uncomfortable truth.' It contains an uncomfortable truth, all right, but not the one that writer is thinking of.

As with most historical films about the 20th century made in the last ten years, it will likely begin with an idealized past of happy people who are suddenly swept away by the tide of history and delivered to a horrible fate by outside forces behind their control. Another film that recently came out illustrates this style quite well, even though it has nothing to do with history at all. I'll save that for my next post.

* From Han Sorya and North Korean Literature: The Failure of Socialist Realism in the DPRK by B.R. Myers.
** The posters are from North Korean Posters: The David Heather Collection.