Friday, April 30, 2010

"Respectfully pay tribute the souls of the deceased..."
From the April 16 issue of Focus.

The Korea Herald has an article about the funeral held for the sailors lost in the attack on the Cheonan, which did not have anything about 'vowing revenge' when I read it last night.
The televised funeral was held at a memorial park within the premises of the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, where a South Korean Navy vessel sunken during the deadly skirmish with North Korea in 2002 is displayed. Six South Korean soldiers were killed during the naval clashes with the North near the NLL in 1999 and 2002.
I didn't realize that ship was on display. Of course, considering how the previous administration(s) tried to sweep that incident under the rug, that's not surprising. The Joongang Ilbo also relates this story related to the 2002 naval clash:
Yoon Doo-ho, father of the late Cmdr. Yoon Young-ha, also visited the Pyeongtaek altar. Commander Yoon was killed in action during the Second Naval Battle near Yeonpyeong Island between South and North Korea in 2002.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Park Gyeong-soo, one of the six missing sailors from the Cheonan, fought in the Yeonpyeong battle with Yoon. Park was so distraught after the battle that he didn’t go near the sea for almost six years before boarding the Cheonan.
How very unlucky - and tragic - for Senior Chief Petty Officer Park Gyeong-soo to have been involved in both battles. Hopefully the memory of the sailors who died on April is treated more respectfully than the memory of those who died in 2002 has been.

The language of diplomacy

I've posted writing by James Wade before (here, here and here) from his book One Man's Korea (Hollym, 1967). Here's a rather interesting essay from 1964 which has some relevance today.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Seoul Wind"

The French foreign language teacher scandal of 1984

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

Part 1: Le Monde and what came before
Part 2: Korea is "Ali Baba's" Cave
Part 3: Seoul Should not be a Workplace for Parisians
Part 4: In private foreign language classes, there are a lot of ‘fraud teachers’
Part 5: Jibberish
Part 6: 'I Want to Strike it Rich in Seoul Too' - Continuous Job Inquiries by the French
Part 7: Foreigners Enjoy Better Life With Mother Tongues
Part 8: Foreigners and Foreign Languages
Part 9: Sickening Face

Part 10: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Part 11: The First Sanctions on Foreigners Working Illegally
Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited
Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers
Part 14: "Seoul Wind"
Part 15: Foreign Language Teacher Shortage
Part 16: Troublemaking vagabond foreigner story finally airs

Part 14: "Seoul Wind"

수사반장 (Susa Banjang, or 'Chief Investigator') was, as this site at MBC explains, Korea's Columbo, a detective show focusing on 5 detectives that ran from 1971 to 1989. Here's the opening:

Another video can be seen here. If you have an MBC membership (ie if you are a Korean citizen) you can watch the 33 episodes that MBC still has in its possession at the website, which also hosts photos like this:

On September 27, 1984, in its TV section, the Joongang Ilbo listed the description of that night's episode of Susa Banjang:

Foreign Vagabond Attacked

MBC-TV “Chief Investigator 84” (8:05 p.m. on the 27th) = "Seoul Wind." Korea is a heaven for foreign vagabonds. French youth "Pierre" is injured after an attack in a dark alley. Two months earlier, he entered Korea as a penniless wanderer and used fake documents to con his way into teaching French conversation at a private school.

The investigation squad discovers the truth about the quarrel between Pierre and In-gyu, the boyfriend of university student Sun-young, who gave Pierre a ring.

On the same day, the Kyunghyang Shinmun added this:
Based on a report the investigators received, they begin an investigation to discover the truth behind an argument Pierre had with a young woman who was introducing students to him in return for sharing his earnings. Also, the investigators notice a woman’s ring on Pierre’s hand…

Here, with the story of 'Pierre' (the name taken from the teacher in the Le Monde article who married a Korean maiden) entering Korea as a "penniless wanderer" (a reference to Luc in the Le Monde article), we have at last a crystallization of the Korean media's attitude towards the spectre of unqualified foreign teachers who are treated too well, make too much money and marry Korean maidens. What is one to make of the fact that the teacher in this story is beaten in an alley?

That same day, another Kyunghyang Shinmun article appeared titled:

Two foreigners appear in "Chief Investigator"

Two foreigners without acting experience will appear on MBCTV’s ‘”Chief Investigator” episode “Seoul Wind”. The performances of German Cultural Center teacher Bernhardt Kubant (?) [Bernhard Quandt; thanks Liancourt] and US Air Force pilot MacMillan will be seen in the drama.

Director Kim Seung-su commented that, "I’ve tried to bring to light the problem that has arisen regarding Koreans’ blind, reckless kindness" and said that the two foreigners’ performances were as good as those of established actors.
Interesting that in trying to bring attention to "Koreans’ blind, reckless kindness" towards foreigners, the producers used two 'unqualified' foreign actors. This story has an unexpected ending, however, as a Joongang Ilbo article in its TV section the next day, September 28, revealed:

MBC’s “Chief Investigator” suddenly canceled without notice

On the 27th, the MBC-TV broadcast of the “Chief Investigator” episode "Seoul Wind," was suddenly cancelled without prior notice.

"Seoul Wind" was about the social problem that has recently come to light of the illegal employment of unqualified foreigners on temporary stays, and featured French youth ‘Pierre’, who is attacked in a dark alley at night after entering Korea on a tourist visa, conning his way into working as a French language teacher in a private school, and becoming part of a love triangle between a female university student who blindly follows him, and her boyfriend.

During production, continual protests by and pressure from a French association and the French Cultural Center were received, and suddenly on the morning of the 27th, the day the program was to be televised, the production director said it was to be replaced with the episode “Love Ward” for the reason that “It will be released after a preview”.

However, it is not common practice for "Chief Investigator" to go through a preview each week and sudden cancellation without warning is a “measure that doesn’t make sense,” according to talk within the broadcasting industry.
It's fascinating that French pressure managed to get the show canceled. As far as is known, it was never broadcast. I would have loved to have seen the show, but Benjamin Wagner checked with MBC and there are no copies of the episode or scripts left. In fact, the only episodes said to be left from the series 18 year run are the 33 up on MBC's website.

Note also the description of the program as being "about the social problem that has recently come to light of the illegal employment of unqualified foreigners on temporary stays." It doesn't sound like this at all, does it? Note also the fact that the female university student "blindly" follows him, much as the director wanted to highlight Koreans' "blind, reckless kindness" towards foreigners. Obviously, we need less blind following of and kindness toward such foreigners, and more beatings in dark alleys.

In case one is wondering if perhaps organizations representing certain nationalities had more influence back then, it might be worth noting that another episode of Susa Banjang, from almost ten months earlier, seems to have aired without a problem.

On December 8, 1983, the Donga Ilbo, Kyunghyang Shinmun, and Maeil Gyeongje all had descriptions of that night's episode of Chief Investigator.

Chief Investigator (MBC, 7:55 pm) "American Dream"

"Richard, a young American in his twenties, ends up staying in Korea working as a teacher at an English hagwon after entering the country on a tourist visa. Hwa-suk, who dreams of marrying a foreigner, learns English conversation from Richard and late one night on his way to her house he is murdered in an alley. Trying to pinpoint a suspect, the investigation team learns the fact that at the time of the murder Hwa-suk's ex-boyfriend Seok-gi was waiting for her at a nearby tea house."
The Kyunghyang Shinmun's article, shown above, also had the title "In love with a young American," and noted that it was Richard specifically who Hwa-suk wanted to marry. Note that this episode was broadcast less than a month after the bill was passed 'banning' foreigners from working in hagwons (as translated in the second half of this post), much as the later (unaired) episode was to come out a week after the new laws banning foreigners from teaching private lessons were announced (and a month after the scandal first blew up).

One wonders if other episodes of Susa Banjang dealt with foreigners, and if such episodes featured the 'bad' foreigners being beaten or murdered in dark alleys like the foreign teachers in these two episodes. I don't think it's too difficult to understand why foreign teachers were featured (and not, say, US military personnel), as they are - then and now - easy (media) targets.

After providing a classic article and especially a 'foreigner' graphic depicting foreigners partaking of escort services advertising on Craig's List, the Segye Ilbo has a follow up article about arrests that have been made, all translated at the Marmot's Hole. I think the word for the day should be 'projection.'

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

President and students celebrate victory over Yellow Sea

Photo from here.

President Lee went down to Gunsan to celebrate the opening of he Saemangeum Seawall, the longest in the world (which likely explains the flags, not that you need an excuse to wrap yourself in a flag, mind you). I've covered this white elephant before here and here, and as Birds Korea's site notes, the tidal flats were once an important feeding area for migratory birds (some endangered) and complaints by environmentalists managed to stall the project (to some degree) for five years (they weren't allowed to lengthen the walls, but could widen them). The original plan was to reclaim land for farming (this was spoken of even a few years ago - even that the food could be sent to North Korea) but it has since changed to creating a 'tourism hub' and other soju-bender- influenced ideas. Anything to justify the 2.9 trillion won handed out to construction companies to build something that's essentially useless (other than for getting rid of foreign birds and connecting Gunsan and Buan), I suppose.

The Korea Times communicates some of the newest propaganda surrounding the wall in an article titled "33km Saemangeum Seawall to Fuel North Jeolla’s Tourism Growth," Where the wall is described as
the centerpiece of the monumental Saemangeum reclamation project, the world's biggest landfill located in North Jeolla Province, which is currently being developed as a tourism and industrial complex by 2020.
I can think of another failed industrial complex the government has poured millions into - but at least this one isn't in a hostile country.
The local press has been calling it the "Great Wall on the Sea," ahead of its eagerly anticipated opening to tourists. It will be recorded in the Guinness Book of Records this month as the world's longest seawall.
As another Korea Times article points out,
While foreign reclamation projects typically take place in shallow waters, the Saemangeum sea dike was installed in a relatively deep sea - its average height is 34 meters with the deepest point reaching 54 meters, the farm ministry said.
No wonder it took so long and cost so much. The first article continues:
North Jeolla Province expects the Saemangeum Seawall to transform the nation's West Coast region into a tourism hub.

The number of foreign tourists has been on the rise lately, according to regional authorities. Tourists from the United States, New Zealand and China have been flooding to the region ahead of the opening. "Following the seawall inauguration, we expect around 5 million visitors annually," a regional official said. In 2009, around 3 million people came to see the seawall.
I have my doubts they're going to get 5 million foreign visitors annually to the seawall - and they're likely conflating the Jeollabuk-do area with Saemangeum to embiggen their figures. One imagines the foreign tourists peak in April or May - the time of the Jeonju Film Festival.

We're also told that Korea will get 401 extra square kilometers of land (so that's why its being done - it's a peninsula enlargement operation!), that the area will house "an international business complex called the Saemangeum-Gunsan Free Economic Zone," and that "Resorts and theme parks will be added to Saemangeum in the coming years." Hopefully it will include a museum showing how horrible the area was before, including a recreation of downtown Buan where everything, from cars to phone booths, is covered in guano and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds plays on screens in the background. To see existing 'It'll be good for the birds!' propaganda, have a look here.

This is slightly different than the images presented at Birds Korea's site:

Then the Times article ends by pointing its finger at foreigners for hindering Jeollabuk-do's development:
Often considered one of Korea's most underdeveloped regions, North Jeolla is the only province in the country without an international airport. Rather than building a new one, regional authorities have been trying to expand runways at Gunsan Airport to allow international flights, but objections from the resident U.S. Air Force has hampered the province's plans.
Not just foreign birds, but foreign airplanes are getting in the way! Aigo!

The Joongang Ilbo also paints the efforts to build Saemangeum in a poetic way:
Korea’s attempt to wrest 28,300-hectares of new land from the Yellow Sea has reached a major milestone 40 years after it was first proposed by former President Park Chung Hee.
"Wrest" - awesome. Of course, Korea has been struggling with the Yellow Sea for years, but not as much as it's been struggling with the Sea of Japan. Points for mentioning General Park as well!
The dike construction was also a battle of men against nature, with the tides sometimes exceeding seven meters, compared to less than 3 meters in the Netherlands. Waves, which can be as high as 11 meters and travel at a speed of more than 7 meters per second, were strong enough to make two- or three-ton rocks "dance like crazy"[.]
Sounds like quite a sight. I can't help thinking a more honest article would have been about the attempts of construction company execs and vote-hungry politicians to 'wrest' a positive spin from a pointless waste of trillions of dollars, but I guess that's why I'm not a newspaper editor.
“Samamgeum is one of the biggest state-led development projects in modern Korea,” Park Jae-keun, deputy public relations director at Korea Rural Community Corp., said[.][...]The much-delayed project has cost the government 2.9 trillion won ($2.6 billion) already, and it’s planning to spend a further 21 trillion from the state budget and private sector investments to reclaim land and build basic infrastructure.
This coastal area... is home to several previous reclamation projects. A few areas at the mouth of the Yeongsan River, the lifeblood of the fertile southwestern region, were reclaimed since the 1970s, when the country went through rapid industrialization. With more and more paddy fields lost to urbanization, the government worried about a shortage of arable land for rice production and planned the ambitious Seamangeum, which is far bigger than the 11,730 hectares reclaimed at the Yeongsan River, previously Korea’s biggest reclamation.
Unfortunately, it didn't progress quickly:
“The dike construction was going pretty much nowhere from 1999 to the early 2000s, with environmentalists rallying in front of our sites all the time,” said Oh Jin-hyu, a director of Saemangeum Project Office who has been on the job since 1991. Oh himself had to link arms with other Saemangeum workers to block environmentalists from invading the site. The clashes often turned violent with some people ending up in nearby hospitals. “Things were very ugly,” he said, “but the project eventually survived.”
I'm not sure, but I think this article is being told from the point of view of the developers. I think.
Final construction ended earlier this month. And the environmentalists’ input eventually improved the project, said Oh. “Their oppositions prompted the government to invest more to ensure the environmental health of the upper river areas and other neighborhoods,” he said. “They eventually helped our projects a lot.”
Nice job co-opting the environmentalist position. But hey, it's understandable considering Saemangeum "mirror[s] Korea’s own relentless, enduring spirit." As noted above, President Lee was at the opening ceremony yesterday, and Joongang Ilbo reported on what he had to say:
“Domestic investments are not enough to get the best use out of this enormous piece of land, so I have laid out plans to develop it as a global area that will draw visitors and investments from across the world,” Lee said.
This apparently will involve the Netherlands, which "ranks as the third-largest investor in Korea after the United States and Japan," something I didn't realize (the Dutch prime minister seems keen to have the Netherlands play a part in the development). Lee also plans to complete the first phase by 2020 instead of 2030, which fits in with his previous developments such as Cheonggyecheon, which was completed in two years. As he put it,
“Because this state project has been delayed, precious taxpayers’ money has been wasted, and the program has lost its momentum,” Lee said.
Damned environmentalists! Of course, no one's going to say that it was a useless project to begin with, and once billions of won in "precious taxpayer's money" was thrown into it it simply would have been embarrassing to stop it and make clear how much money had been wasted. Better to waste more, complete the damn thing, and push its failure off into the far future. And as the article points out, it was the Lee government who decided to change the outcome of the project into a plan to "develop a world-class international conference, tourism and leisure destination".
Lee said yesterday that the government will invest in transportation systems to make Saemangeum a hub of production and shipping on the Yellow Sea coast. “By improving its link with the bullet train network in the Jeolla region, of which construction began at the end of last year, the Saemangeum area will be equipped with the necessary transportation infrastructure including airports, harbors, railways and highways,” Lee said.
Gee, you'd think there's an election coming up or something. Lee was also sure to link Saemangeum to another pet project of his:
Lee also promised to spend 3 trillion won by 2020 to improve the water quality of the rivers near the area to be clean enough to develop tourism and leisure businesses in the region.
I can't help wondering if this will end up like Korea's ghost airports, which ROK Drop has chronicled here, here and here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1984 newspaper ads

As I mentioned yesterday, I've come across quite a few old advertisements in newspapers from 1984 or so. Here are a few. This is for the Midopa department store in Myeongdong:

I hadn't heard of Inkel stereos before:

I have heard of Lemona...

Daewoo had computers available back then...

He looks healthy...

Stop means stop!

I hope she's not going to knock that back...

He looks happy.

Health mansei!

I think styles have changed a bit since the 80s...

Shiny hair... lucky Yunina!

Monday, April 26, 2010

One Spring Day

One of these days I'll put up some of the ads I've come across from the 1980s while researching the 1984 French 'Scandal.' The above one seems appropriate for today's post. I went up Gaehwasan the other day and took a few photos.

There was lots of forsythia to be seen.

I'm not sure what the above flowers are, but there were quite a few of them poking out of the leaves covering the forest floor. There were lots of azaleas as well.

This particular bush, overlooking a tomb, had forsythia and azaleas combined together.

Nuts and gum forsythia and cherry blossoms - together at last!

The cherry blossom trees below weren't there a year and a half ago. The other trees that were there were unceremoniously torn out, cut into pieces and trucked away and replaced with the ones below:

They're quite a bit smaller than the trees that were there before, and I imagine the old ones will be missed in the sauna-esque days of summer when much less shade is available. The new trees are pretty, sure, (for two weeks of the year) but are still quite small, and don't really compare to these trees (which are likely 15 years old):

There were lots of birds up on Gaehwasan as well, but without my video camera and its zoom, I wasn't able to take photos of any of them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The number of foreign criminals defiling Korea is skyrocketing!

I came across this Wikipedia page on the Chosun Ilbo and discovered that under "Criticism" this was written:
The Chosun Ilbo is strongly criticized for its past history of collaboration with the Japanese military government, and later with the authoritarian governments of Park Chung-hee, and Chun Doo-hwan. The Chosun Ilbo and Chosun Sports (along with the left wing Kyunghyang Sinmun) have also run stories on foreign English teachers that have been criticized as sensationalist and xenophobic [1 2].
Or rather, that's what it said up until 4 days ago. There's been a slight change since then.
The Chosun Ilbo and Chosun Sports (along with the left wing Kyunghyang Sinmun) have also run story on crimes of foreign English teachers. This news relate to increasing of foreign English teachers in Korea since 2000. In 2007, 32.7% of foreign English teachers in Korea are unqualified instructors. This is illegal activity in any country. They often entering Korea by Tourist Visa. The unqualified instructors often fake their degree. Sometimes they did drug, murder, crimes.[Link to this story, translated here]. Increasing of illegal English teachers making trouble in Korea. Several crimes of foreign English teachers who fake their degree making them under the microscope [Unrelated link here].
You can see the changes made to this entry here, as well as all the other changes made by this (obviously) Korean user here. The changes were made to entries about the Korean-American relationship, Anti-Americanism in Korea, and 'Fucking USA.' I'm sure it'll take hours of research before we are able to conclusively determine where he stands on these issues.

On the one hand, this goes to show how these articles affect the perceptions of those who read them, and we see just how terms like 'unqualified' are misused and then misunderstood by readers. ("This is illegal activity in any country." Uh, okay.) At the same time, I don't know if it was really necessary to add the sentence about the Chosun's articles about English teachers in the first place. While yes, the Chosun has run some of the most sensationalist stories about foreign English teachers (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), it's not like it's alone in that regard. Almost every paper in Korea has published sensationalist stories about foreign English teachers and given space to Anti-English Spectrum to air their views (with perhaps the exception of the Hankyoreh).

Moving on, there are some useful links in that diatribe against foreign teachers, including the final link, to this Korea Times article from March that
I missed at the time titled "Foreigners' Crimes Rise Significantly." It looks at statistics regarding five major crimes, but oddly leaves out drugs (which may well be the crime by foreigners that gets the most media attention).
The National Police Agency (NPA) said Wednesday a total of 7,812 foreigners were arrested last year for involvement in the five major crimes - homicide, robbery, burglary, rape and physical assault. - an increase of nearly 18 percent from 6,615 in 2008.

Police said a total of 260 foreigners were caught for robbery last year, up 95 percent from 133 in 2008, making it the fastest growing serious crime. Burglary came next with a 45 percent increase, followed by homicide at 21 percent, rape at 11 percent and physical assault at 8 percent.

An estimated 1.2 million foreigners, including those overstaying their visas, are living in Korea, accounting for 2.4 percent of the country's population of 50 million.

A total of 543,812 major crimes - including violations by foreigners, were reported in Korea in 2008, according to recent statistics from Rep. Shim Jae-chul of the ruling Grand National Party - a dramatic increase from 454,550 cases in 2004. This means the number of crimes has risen by about 5 percent annually during the four-year period.
Of course, the article goes on to talk more about foreigners and ignore the 'dramatic increase' in crime by Koreans. It's also interesting that though we have crime stats lined up to illustrate a veritable crime wave by foreigners, there didn't seem to be enough time to call up immigration and get something more exact than "an estimated 1.2 million" for the foreign population. Not that it really matters, of course, because the Times clearly has no interest in viewing those figures into the context of the foreign population.

Using stats I posted here, (and this Korean population statistic), let's look at the estimated crime rate for serious crime among the foreign and Korean populations.

The number of such crimes in total for 2009 was 543,812; if we subtract 7812 (the number of foreign crimes) we're left with 536000 out of a total estimated population of 48607000. If we subtract the number of foreign residents (in 2008, 854,007) we're left with around 47753000, and a crime rate for serious crimes of 1.12%

In 2008 there were 6,615 such crimes by foreigners out of a population of 1,158,866, which results in a crime rate of 0.57 (or 50.8% of the above Korean crime rate). For 2009, 7,812 crimes out of an estimated foreign population of 1.2million results in a crime rate for serious crime of
0.65 (or 57.9% of Korean crime rate). To be sure, the rate is rising. At the same time, when put in context, the foreign crime rate (for serious crime) is still significantly lower than the Korean crime rate.

We're also told that
The number of incarcerated foreigners has increased nearly four times in nine years. There were some 1,000 foreign inmates as of August, the Ministry of Justice said - in 2001, there were only 251 foreign inmates, but the number jumped to 562 in 2007.
According to the statistics I posted here for 2000, the population in October that year was 500,591, making it clear that the foreign population has increased 2.4 times during those nine years, making for an foreign inmate increase of 1.67 times if this population growth is taken into account.

The article also looks at other crime:
According to the NPA and the Ministry of Justice, a total of 28,126 foreigners were caught for minor breaches of the law in 2008. The figure stood at some 10,000 in 2005, indicating the crime rate showed a nearly three-fold increase in just three years. Traffic violations were the most frequent crime with 7,298 cases in 2008, followed by fraud with 3,390 and violation of foreign currency laws at 1,557.
Good lord! Minor breaches of law have increased three times in just three years! I look forward to a media blitz about the dangers of foreign drivers. (Apparently, the Gyeonggi Police's foreigner crime prevention classes begun this month do indeed include driving lessons (and these classes have come into being across the country)). The Times article ends by mentioning Korea's foreigner-only prison.

In truth, however, the Korean press barely picked up on this. Yonhap contributed the graphic above (the foreigner graphic isn't quite as good as this one), YTN made a very brief mention, and the Munhwa Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Newsis and Financial News posted short articles. The Korea Times spent the most amount of time on it. No surprise there.

More crime statistics can be seen here, which reveal that in the five months from October 27 last year to March 31, 1354 foreign criminals had been uncovered in 9 different police districts, and out of these 157 of them were arrested and 92 were set to be deported. Of the 1354, 227 were arrested for serious crimes [as above], 211 for drugs, 209 for forging documents, and 56 were arrested for economic crimes. 50% of those caught were Chinese. Here's a more complete breakdown:

Here are crime statistics for Koreans and foreigners, as well as foreign population stats from 2003 to 2008:

Now, if you calculate the crime rates there, They do actually double among foreigners between 2003 and 2008. At the same time, even after doubling, B/A shows the percentage of total crimes that are committed by foreigners, revealing that in 2008, 98.75 %* of crimes were committed by Koreans. Obviously, this is not a fact you'll see in the press very often (if ever). What's odd is that these figures give us crime rates for 2008 of 5.65% for Koreans and 2.94% for foreigners, much higher than the ones suggested here, for example, which say that in 2007, according to the Korean Institute of Criminology, "[w]hile the crime rate among Koreans is 3.5 percent, it is 1.4 percent among foreigners." Also, if you add the National Police Agency stats in the Times article for violent and non violent crime, you end up with a total of 35,938 crimes for 2009, which is a very small increase from the 34,108 crimes for 2008 in the statistics above. I wonder what the Ministry of Justice's statistics for last year are; it may be that each agency/ministry offers differing statistics.

Of course, not mentioned in the Times article or elsewhere when discussing the Korean crime rate was this (from 2007):
A rising number of sex crimes among teenagers is becoming a serious problem in Korea. The number of reported sex crimes including rape, indecent assault, and attempted rape more than tripled in eight years, from 567 cases in 1999 to 1,810 cases last year.
Or this (from 2009):
Sexual crimes against children under 13 has jumped 59 percent in recent years, going from 721 cases in 2004, 738 in 2005, 1,081 in 2007 and 1,220 last year.
Or this:
Violent crime like murder, robbery, rape and arson has more than doubled since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, but arrests and indictments have gradually declined. The rise in violent crime far outpaced the increase in population [...] In 1997, when the number of violent crimes shot up, population growth had stagnated, yet the number of such crimes committed for every 100,000 Koreans rose from 25.1 in 1997 to 43.2 in 2007.
Now, of course the media examines these things - they're the source for the above quotes! But when it comes time to discuss foreign crime, it's treated as something separate, unrelated and more threatening - which sums up media and government discourse surrounding foreigners. Searching at Naver finds that most recent articles about foreign crime have focused on banning sex criminals and the new fingerprinting initiative. As Brian notes, every foreign visitor will be fingerprinted and photographed from August (because if the cool kids (who we sometimes hate!) like Japan and the US are doing it, so will we!). One reason this is being done is to keep banned foreign criminals from re-entering Korea. You know, like this:

You can always count on the Donga Ilbo! Hell, it's even the same column that this came from. If someone could just explain the musical note...

*typo fixed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All private lessons by foreigners prohibited

The French foreign language teacher scandal of 1984

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

Part 1: Le Monde and what came before
Part 2: Korea is "Ali Baba's" Cave
Part 3: Seoul Should not be a Workplace for Parisians
Part 4: In private foreign language classes, there are a lot of ‘fraud teachers’
Part 5: Jibberish
Part 6: 'I Want to Strike it Rich in Seoul Too' - Continuous Job Inquiries by the French
Part 7: Foreigners Enjoy Better Life With Mother Tongues
Part 8: Foreigners and Foreign Languages
Part 9: Sickening Face

Part 10: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Part 11: The First Sanctions on Foreigners Working Illegally
Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited
Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers
Part 14: "Seoul Wind"
Part 15: Foreign Language Teacher Shortage
Part 16: Troublemaking vagabond foreigner story finally airs

Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited

On August 24, in the article Foreigners and Foreign Languages, the Joongang Ilbo had mentioned "pending laws and enforcement ordinances regarding private institutes," which would strengthen qualifications for teaching in institutes, but it was said that it would be difficult to verify foreigners' qualifications, and so calls were made to strengthen the requirements for private institute instructor qualifications. This followed ten days of articles about 'fraud' foreign teachers who had been washing dishes back home and now were making far too much money (and even marrying Korean women!) due to Koreans' "blind, reckless kindness." A law which made it "mandatory for anyone interested in hiring foreigners to work in Korea to select people with qualifications appropriate to the form of employment" had come into effect on July 1, but it seemed vague as to how this selection was to be made, and 18 foreigners were arrested in July and August for violating it. On September 21, the new enforcement ordinance was announced, and this article by the Joongang Ilbo, the paper which started and pushed the 'scandal' along, seems a good place to start. Thanks to Ben Wagner, Song Joosub and others for help with the translation.

The Liberalization of Private Institute Tuition

Instructor License System -
Qualification Certificates to be Issued

All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited

Private institute fees are to be liberalized, qualification regulations strengthened for institute owners and instructors and those who are unqualified will not be able to teach.

The Ministry of Education and Culture revealed on the 21st that the enforcement of laws related to private institutes will begin on January 1 next year.

This enforcement order, consisting of 15 articles and 8 supplementary provisions, introduces a system for students at private institutes, bans foreigners from extracurricular teaching activities, and greatly strengthens a range of qualification standards for private tutors, while establishing transitional regulations that take into consideration and recognize the work experience of those currently engaged in such teaching.

Tuition Liberalization

Tuition fees - which are currently announced by each Education Committee, according to educational facilities, curriculum contents, terms, etc., as classified by region and curriculum – are to be fixed by institute managers under self-regulation.

However, tuition fees for university entrance examination institutes and general/high-school equivalency diploma institutes are to be decided by the Korea Educational Institute Association, and municipal/provincial education committees are to announce the standard fees according to class.

Qualifications for Instructors

Heads of institutes and instructors must receive a license/certificate from the local municipal/provincial education committee.

The [minimum] qualifications for private institute instructors are to be strengthened from graduates of at least a junior (2-year) college to those who have a certificate/license [acquired] according to educational law and who have 5 years' or more work experience in the appropriate field.

Institute owners must be university graduates or instructor’s certificate/license holders.

Accordingly, from now on, one cannot be an instructor in a non-major field. However, one can become an instructor if trained in a course of study for a designated period of time at a social educational institute, university, or the Korea Educational Institute Association.

Regulations for Numbers of Students

Private institutes can have no more than 9 students in a class at the same time, and no more than 3 students for piano lessons. Private institutes will change from the current classroom-based student limit to an area-based limit of 1.5 person per 1 square meter.

Actual area is to be from 6.6 square meters (10 persons) to 132 square meters (198 persons).

Regulations for Private Lessons

Private lessons are to be covered by the existing regulations. Lessons in general school subjects is prohibited, except for the arts, athletics, or technical studies. Also, instructors must be at least a high-school graduate in the appropriate field; or have a certificate/license [acquired] according to educational law; or have 4 years' or more experience in the appropriate field; or have completed certain courses at social educational institutes or schools designated by the Minister of Education and Culture.

From now on, foreigners cannot provide private lessons, but can be private institute instructors if they are more than junior college graduates.

Environmental Purification

According to the Additional School Law, Article 6, Clause 1, establishing a place of private instruction or a private institute in the same building as a business that hinders education or within 6 meters as measured by a straight line of such a business is prohibited.

Providing private lessons is limited to only the eup/myeon/dong area within the instructor’s residential registration jurisdiction and to 1 person, 1 subject and 1 institute, and employing instructors is prohibited.
On the same day, the Donga Ilbo had two articles about the new regulations. An article on page 11 has the sub heading "Unqualified Foreigners Cannot Tutor":
Ministry of Culture and Education announced today the legislation and amendments prepared for the enforcement ordinance concerning private institutes. [...]

Also, a provision was created to regulate unqualified foreigners who randomly enter the country. Through the rule that "Private tutors must be South Korean nationals," foreigners cannot teach private lessons and only foreigners who have graduated from at least a junior college and possess a work visa (9-11) can work at private institutes.
An article on page 10 reveals more about the visa:
There is a revision that "Foreigners must be 9-11 visa holders, who need to have at least a Junior college degree." According to immigration administration law enforcement ordinance article 9 paragraph 1 number 11, the 9-11 visa is issued to "persons wanting to work for Korean public institutions and individuals."
Also on September 21, the Kyunghyang Shinmun had two articles about the new regulations. The article on page 1 had the sub-headlines "For Foreigners, Holders of Education Research Visa Only," but contained only two sentences regarding foreigners: "For Foreigners, Only Holders of Education Research Visa are qualified to be teachers," and "Foreigners cannot teach private lessons." Its page 3 story has no sub-headlines mentioning foreigners, and the information is the same as in the Donga Ilbo.

The next day, on September 22, the Chosun Ilbo had an article on page 10 with the sub-headline "Complete Ban on Private Lessons by Foreigners"; the information in the article was the same as other papers. On page 2, however, in an article/column titled 'In a word,' reporter Lee Jung-sik asks Kim Yong-hyeon (pictured at left), who took part in amending the private institute law, about the concerns people have regarding the growing number of students enrolling in hagwons and the lack of space those students, such as jaesu students (those studying to take the university entrance exam again), have in the cramped institutes. Mr. Kim declines to answer the question and he replies instead, "Above all else, I'm happy that through these measures, foreign language conversation classes by foreign vagabonds have been blocked."

The same day the Hanguk Ilbo had an article on page 11 which gave information similar to other papers, with two sub-headlines regarding foreigners: "Notice of Enforcement, From next year foreigners should have an appropriate purpose of employment" and "Foreign Language Private Lessons Disallowed for Foreigners."

The Seoul Shinmun had an article on page 11 with the sub-headline "All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited," which contained one line about foreigners: "Unqualified foreign instructors are unethical."

As we saw in the last post, a law which passed in November 1983 and came into effect in July 1984 required businesses or hagwons to "select people with qualifications appropriate to the form of employment," and hoped to cut down on the number of foreigners working in hagwons. With this new law, private lessons by foreigners (which had not specifically been mentioned by the previous law) were banned, and a specific visa was needed to teach in a hagwon. In the wake of the Le Monde article of August 12, a flurry of articles painting foreign teachers in a negative light had preceded a change in the law regarding their employment, which was now tied to a visa and required slightly stricter qualifications. It doesn't sound familiar at all, does it?

Despite this 'victory,' however, the focus on foreign teachers was not quite over, as we will see in the next post.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Korea: Hub of foreigner-only prisons

In the Korea Herald Adam Walsh takes a look at Korea's foreigner-only prison in Cheonan. It opens with a description of inmates singing along to a K-pop song "aided by a little ball that bounces from word to word on a big screen at the head of the class. The teacher motions her hand to her ear, inviting the convicts to sing louder." I wonder what the suicide rate is there.
I love this line:
The students are all foreign convicts at what the Ministry of Justice touts as the sole foreigner-only prison in the world.
The only foreigner-only prison in the world is in Korea? Really?
“This program’s goal is to help foreign prisoners better understand Korea and adjust to living in Korea. We hope that foreign prisoners spread the good image of Korea when they get back to their country,” [professor Jung Yoon-ja] said after the class.

Good Morning Korea is a big part of each weekday morning here. Run in collaboration with Dankuk University, instructors from the university come in to teach prisoners the Korean language and culture through song and stories.
Officials feel that communication is very important and focus on teaching to improve the prison’s environment. The main morning teaching point is “We are one family.”
The “We are one family” teaching sounds like a public school morals class. At any rate, the prison opened on February 23:
Long pushed by the ministry as being the proper response to rising incidences of crime committed by foreigners in Korea, Minister of Justice Lee Kwi-nam gave the opening address.
“The Cheonan foreigner-only prison is opened to give foreign prisoners specialized treatment. In light of the fact that foreign prisoners have different languages, customs, cultures and religions, we will give them humanitarian treatment according to universal values,” said Lee.
A press release sent out by the ministry after the opening highlighted the rise in crime, pointing out that since 2006, foreign crime has risen by 250 percent in Korea, though the Korean Institute of Criminology reported in 2007 that the foreigner crime rate in Korea was 1.4 percent, compared with the 3.5 percent rate among Korean citizens.
As always, figures about foreign crime put forward by the government or lawmakers never puts the figures into any kind of context. This was interesting:
Adding to the list of reasons, however, was the rationalization that if prisoners from abroad are treated better in Korea, Korean prisoners in other countries may be treated better as well.
Cullen Thomas, author of "Brother One Cell," an account of his three and a half years in Korean prisons, offers his opinion:
Thomas feels that segregating foreigners from Korean convicts is counterintuitive and causes cultural learning the prison is trying to foster to be negated by something artificial. [...] As for the programs offered at the prison, Thomas says they don’t ring true to him. He feels that most activities are just frivolities to pass the time. [...]
Delving further into his thoughts Thomas says that “at work are some powerful forces; national pride, not wanting to reveal the native underbelly to foreigners, wanting to treat foreigners -- even law-breaking ones -- with some privilege or at least with separate consideration, to treat them somehow -- even in prison -- as guests in Korea.
“During my time I often felt that the authorities, from individual guards all the way up to the justice ministry itself, didn‘t quite know what to do with us. I get the feeling that this is still the case.”
Interesting all around. There are a lot of things going on here. While on the surface, it could seem like Korea cares a great deal about its foreign population, at the same time, no one is going to be surprised that there seems to be pride that the "only foreigner-only prison in the world" is in Korea. Of course, there isn't only xenophobia at work; this also smacks of the idea that foreigners are utterly alien and in need of "specialized treatment"; of moral superiority ("we will give them humanitarian treatment according to universal values"); of missionary-esque national self-aggrandizement ("We hope that foreign prisoners spread the good image of Korea when they get back to their country"); of delusion (see previous quote); of wanting to hide the "native underbelly" of Korea from foreigners and in its stead present them with something "artificial" (again, see previous quote); and of (hoped for) quid pro quo ("if prisoners from abroad are treated better in Korea, Korean prisoners in other countries may be treated better as well").

And to top it all off, the need for foreigner-only prisons is justified by claiming that foreign crime is rising at an incredible rate, without ever putting such figures into the context of the growing foreign population or comparing it to the Korean crime rate.

Monday, April 19, 2010

50th anniversary of 419

Today was the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Student Revolution. I've looked at the events of the uprising here and here, at the official recognition of the March 1960 protests in Masan which set of the protests in Seoul, and at the uprising's aftermath, when Syngman Rhee was forced to step down, here. Photos of the uprising can be seen in this video.

For this year, there have been several photos of relatives visiting the graves of those killed when police opened fire on demonstrators that day (here and here). The Hankyoreh has a map (in Korean) of the locations where the protests in Seoul took place and the contemporary and current buildings in those locations.

The Korea Times has an article about a panel of historians and others asking why democracy was not established in the wake of the uprising, and Michael Breen has an article about Syngman Rhee and his ouster.

The president showed up to give a speech this year at the commemoration ceremony:
In his speech at a ceremony commemorating the April 19 Revolution, Lee said South Korea's politics today is stricken by "narrow and abstract ideology," that neglects people's livelihoods and the grim reality facing the nation.

"We have to reflect on ourselves again, whether we are relying on regionalism that spawns conflicts and street politics," the president said at the ceremony held at the April 19 National Cemetery in northern Seoul.

Lee said the government and political parties should not resort to populism in competing in the June 2 local elections, viewed as a mid-term election for his administration whose five-year tenure ends in early 2013.

"Moderate, pragmatic politics for reconciliation and integrity should take the center path, rather than opposition for the sake of opposition," he said.

Lee also reiterated his resolve to root out corruption among public officials, saying it is another urgent task.
Yet another inspiring speech, not so different from last year's when he criticized corruption in society during ex-president Roh's investigation.

The article also notes that "The government decorated 272 citizens, including 62 dead, for their role in the democratic movement." Better late than never?

A Little Pond playing on only a few screens

I took that photo at CGV Mok-dong on Wednesday, but was interested to find out that A Little Pond isn't playing there. In fact, it's not playing much of anywhere.

Out of 19 theatres in Seoul, only two are screening it (Bulgwang and Gangdong). Out of 19 theatres in Incheon/Gyeonggi, only four are screening it (Bupyeong, Ansan, Incheon (on two screens), and Ilsan. Out of 5 theatres in Daejeon/Chungcheong one is screening it (Dunsan), and out of 19 in Busan/Gyeongsang, four are screening it (Gimhae, Daegu, Dongnae, and Asiad) (with Chuncheon, the only theatre in Gangwon, not playing it). In total, out of 63 CGV theatres, only 11 are screening it. CGV’s site says it has only 0.6% share of reserved tickets (leaving it in 15th place for reservations).

Out of 14 Megabox theatres, it’s playing only in Coex, Daegu, Jeonju, and Haeundae.

Whether because of the subject matter, the poor reviews, or the competition (Bestseller and Clash of the Titans are dominating the box office), theaters don't seem too keen to screen it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Exactly the same guys!

Exactly the same guys!
(Brutality, pillaging, wickedness)

I've written before (here, here and here) about A Little Pond, but seeing as it was released yesterday, I thought I'd take another look at it. First of all, here's the online flash ads that I saw awhile ago and finally took screenshots of.

The Korean War broke out 60 years ago.

The first movie about the No Gun Ri incident.

(I don't think this needs to be translated)

At long last, the tragedy of that day is exposed!

A miracle 8 year production story.

This moving picture will be made public
at lightning [천리마?] speed! [Forget what we just
said about the 8 years of production.]

I also thought it might be interesting to compare scenes from the promotional material for 'A Little Pond' and the 2004 film 'Doma Ahn Jung-geun.'

Doma Ahn Jung-geun starts off with scenes in a village as the villagers go about their lives. They are not, however, so innocent, as the village houses independence fighters. On the other hand, perhaps this is an apt comparison to No Gun Ri, (if not the movie about it) seeing as GI witnesses who were actually there said they were fired at by Koreans (most likely guerrillas) and discovered soviet rifles in the group of refugees.

Promotional materials for A Little Pond portray a similar 'innocent' beginning.

Suddenly, the the Japanese/American military come!

Innocents are stuck down (or threatened).

Bodies are strewn everywhere!

But that's not enough. Bring out the machine guns!

Mow down those women...

...and young ones too!

What is one to make of this similarity? I suppose we'll have to see if the film's message as told through its promotional material will actually entice people into theatres to see it.

Americans have been portrayed badly before in Korean films, of course. Welcome to Dongmakgol had this cheerful bastard who beats innocent villagers:

This is meant to be offset by the good foreigner.

As B.R. Myers writes in The Cleanest Race, however,
Just as foreigners can be evil, while Koreans can only do it, so it is that only the child race is inherently virtuous; foreigners can at best do only the occasional good deed.
So, yeah, Smith is a nice enough guy, but he still can't stop the bombing from happening, and the true nature of Americans is made clearer by the Korean officer who argues that the area should not be bombed due to civilians living there, but innocent civilians are of no concern to the cold-hearted American officer, who refuses to listen to him and orders the bombing to take place.

Luckily the North and South Koreans join together to attack and draw the attention of the American bombers and fighters and save the village, all while fighting atop a snow covered mountain. Perhaps worth noting is that Myers describes snow in North Korean mythology as being symbolic of racial purity. Make of that what you will.

A Little Pond has a scene (in the trailer) where an American soldier says, "These people are clearly civilians," which might seem to portray one 'good' American soldier, but could again only reinforce just how evil the Americans are - they know there are innocent people out there, and they still continue to fire into them.

Other recent films about 20th century history play out in similar ways, and begin in a manner that reminds me of what B.R. Myers described in Han Sorya and North Korean Literature as a "mythologized pre-colonial past." These films may not be pre-colonial, but they present characters who are innocent and pure, who laugh and play and run through streets and fields tra-la-la before they are helplessly swept away as history suddenly crashes into their lives like a
tidal wave. This certainly applies to Splendid Vacation, Taegukgi, Welcome to Dongmakgol (in its presentation of a pure, mythologized village), The President's Barber and, it seems from the trailer and photos, will apply to A Little Pond.

Now, if I had to guess, I'd imagine
A Little Pond would have been more popular back in 2006 when it finished shooting (or perhaps in 2008 during the mad cow protests), but I have doubts it will attract much attention now, especially after the negative reviews it got when it was screened for critics. I still haven't decided if I want to subject myself to it in the theater, or just download rent it later.