Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Murderous assault" by "Assailant American instructor" who fled Korea prompts protest in Gwangju

Two weeks ago a post at the Marmot's Hole told the story an American teacher in Gwangju who fled the country while being investigated for assaulting a taxi driver who was arguing with another female foreign teacher over a taxi fare while in front of the elevator of her dorm. The assault left the taxi driver with a broken tooth and fractured knee.

MBC reported on the story:

"American assailant leaves country"

They were kind enough to depict what happened:

Apparently the taxi driver was just giving her a friendly tap on the shoulder, when suddenly -

It then depicts his injuries:

Now, while his injuries seemed clear enough, I was curious about what exactly happened between the taxi driver and the female foreign teacher which caused the male foreign teacher to intervene - the news reports all skipped quickly over that part of the story. At the bottom of the post at the Marmot's Hole are two comments (starting here) which tell a different story:
I live in Gwangju and know all the parties involved with the exception of the taxi driver. I would like to clarify a few things here.

Does it not seem strange that Mr.M would suddenly attack an innocent taxi driver and beat him around for no reason? The “squabble” referred to in the article was indeed assault. After extremely overcharging the “female” they had a verbal argument. She paid the fare and left. But not to lose the argument, Kim followed her into the dorm (breaking the door in the process) and began to manhandle her. M saw this and jumped in to protect his friend and co-worker.[...]

M was more than willing to pay the blood money and even met with a lawyer and Kim. However, Kim refused to accept anything less than 60 million won for his exaggerated injuries. He was not actually hurt as bad as he claimed and actually started driving again during the days while staying at the hospital. [...] If there had been any kind of fact checking done you would see that Kim’s knee was not broken. But yes, his tooth was.

Unwilling to pay 60 million won to Kim, the only other option for M was court, a large fine and jail time, after which he would be deported because of his criminal status while on an E2 visa.

Again, what would you do? Jail, compensation, and deportation or just cut and run?

“Female” was also told that she would not be allowed to file a lawsuit because poor Kim had been beat up already. Kim was not charged with anything nor was he forced to compensate for the broken dormitory door.
Another commenter adds that
the taxi driver followed the woman into the dormitory building & elevator, forcing his way through a security door that generally requires a fingerprint to gain entry. One would think that this point alone would place the taxi driver in a negative light – it seems to be being overlooked in the poor quality and superficial reporting on this issue, however, and was certainly pointedly ignored in the police investigation.
That's certainly a different story than what was reported in the media. That reporting, however, is not over, as the following article by Gwangju Dream, published on April 26, reveals (the story was also reported by NoCut News [Update: And Newsis, Yonhap, and Newsis again]):
Belated investigation to blame for escape of native speaking instructor who assaulted taxi driver.
"The prosecution should summon the instructor," denunciation by citizen's group at press conference.

▲On the 25 "Gwangju & Jeollanam-do People for Peace and Reunification" held a press conference in front of the Gwangju District Prosecutor's Office calling for responsibility to be taken for the incident in which an instructor at Jeonnam University's foreign language hagwon assaulted and injured a taxi driver and fled the country.

"The prosecution should summon the American instructor who fled the country and apologize to the victim's family! Jeonnam University, who is morally responsible, should take suitable action to prevent this from reoccuring!"

On the 25th the Gwangju Christian Council and the "Gwangju & Jeollanam-do People for Peace and Reunification" held a press conference in front of the Gwangju District Prosecutor's Office and criticized the Prosecutor's Office and Jeonnam University for the "Jeonnam University American instructor's taxi driver assault and flight incident." They criticized the prosecution for their belated action saying, "The flight of the American Jeonnam University instructor after assaulting a taxi driver is due to an investigation which took place after it was too late, which is typical of the prosecution." "Immediately after the incident, the victim and his family members requested that the instructor be arrested during the investigation and an exit ban be placed on him, but the prosecution completely ignored this request." Also, "Generally, if someone inflicts injuries that take 4-6 weeks to recover from, detention during the investigation is customary, though the American instructor who inflicted eight and two weeks of injuries was not arrested, fled to America and is not returning." "When such a degree of injury was inflicted, and an agreement had not been reached with the victim, it's hard to understand how the victim's request for detention and an exit ban were refused."

They insisted that "If the request for detention had been accepted, then at least such an escape, and avoidance of the law's judgement, would have been avoided." "The prosecution should apologize to the victim's family for the flight of the suspect due to their irresponsible investigation and immediately summon the American instructor who escaped."

They are also pressing Jeonnam University take responsibility and formally apologize.

They criticized it, saying, "An instructor affiliated with Jeonnam University carried out a murderous assault on campus but the university is not apologizing and of course is not taking suitable measures." "Worse, the American native-speaking female teacher who set off the assault because she didn't pay her taxi fare is, even now, brazenly continuing to lecture."

The victim's family said, "This is something that couldn't occur in a country governed by laws." "The human rights of a single taxi driver are also the human rights of the Republic of Korea. We request they quickly, cooperatively investigate and summon and punish the attacker so that such a thing never happens again."

On February 20 at 1:30 am, Mr. Kim, the taxi driver, drove a 23 year-old American woman working as native-speaking instructor at Jeonnam University from Gwangju's Geumnam-ro to Jeonnam University. However, the female instructor thought the taxi fare was higher than usual and didn't pay it. As Mr. Kim and the female instructor argued over the late night surcharge, another, male American instructor assaulted him. Mr. Kim had a front tooth broken and his knee fractured, which respectively took 8 weeks of dental work and 2 weeks to heal completely.

Afterward, Mr. Kim reported the male American instructor to the police but the American instructor assailant fled the country during the investigation, and so Mr. Kim's family is appealing against this injustice by doing such things as submitting complaints to the National Human Rights Commission.
I'd be curious to see what the National Human Rights Commission might say. Though I'm sure any recommendation they might make - if they took Mr. Kim's side - would be in regards to dealing with foreigners in general, it would be interesting if they sided against the teacher, as they've proven unwilling to take a stand for non-Korean foreign teachers (despite assurances they would), (though complaints by ethnic Korean foreign teachers have gotten results).

As for the protest, this is certainly first time I've seen a banner referring to a foreign teacher.

One wonders why the "Gwangju & Jeollanam-do People for Peace and Reunification" would get involved with an incident involving a foreign teacher. The answer? They don't seem to be concerned with a "foreign" teacher, but a teacher(s) of a specific nationality. Perhaps the following list will help illustrate this:

Well now... ten references to "American instructor." Pretty much any given article about a foreign teacher will mention the teacher's nationality once. Maybe twice. But ten times? And mostly in quotes given by the "Gwangju & Jeollanam-do People for Peace and Reunification"? I think I can see how they got involved:

"There's a case involving a taxi driver assaulted by a foreign teacher."
"The assailant is American."
"I'll call the banner printing company right now."

I'll also assume that, besides the interest in Americans who have committed a "murderous assault" and are "brazenly" continuing to teach after victimizing a citizen of 남조선, there may be a grudge match with the prosecutors and perhaps Jeonnam University involved here as well.

It's also interesting that they're calling for the teacher to be summoned back to Korea (though not outright calling for extradition). After the "Quincy Black" incident, members of Anti English Spectrum made it sound like they thought he should be brought back to Korea to face justice (even though the police seemed to have no interest in this). For those nationalists wanting the Korean state to exercise as much sovereignty as possible over foreigners (especially westerners, and especially Americans - which the whole battle over revising SOFA was about), the prospect of extradition is quite attractive, even if I haven't seen it voiced explicitly.


Anonymous said...

Why can't anyone seem to get the facts of this case straight?

Did the woman NOT pay the price that was displayed on the taxi meter (her fault for instigating) or did the taxi driver try to OVERCHARGE/CHEAT the foreigner out of money (his fault, he deserved what he got)?

Maybe the woman is one of those idiot foreigners who thinks that just because she doesn't like the price on the meter, she shouldnt have to pay it. In which case I'd probably side with the taxi driver and could see why he'd follow her in order to pursue the fare which was legally his.

Or, perhaps the taxi driver tried to cheat this woman, charging more than the metered rate, or illegally operating his taxi without a meter. Perhaps he quotes her 20,000won and then raised the price to 60,000 won upon arriving at the destination. Perhaps the woman then refused to pat the extra money, and the Korean man, never one to lose an argument to a female, decided that he would just beat/rape her as punishment?

At this point, I find it hard to sympathize with the taxi driver, as continuous contact with taxi drivers has caused me to distrust them. Furthermore, this guys claim that his little chipped tooth took 8 weeks to repair is absolutely ludicrous. Ask any dentist (non Korean) what they think about this. I've seen children break their teeth and go to school the next day. His ridiculous medical claims hinder his credibility further.

Someone please provide some evidence that will allow me to sympathize with the taxi driver.

TWEffect said...

Holy cow... this is outrageous. Jeonnam University can prevent this from happening again if they post signs telling belligerent taxi drivers to not trespass, break in to someone's home, and then assault a foreign women over a $5 cab fare. This man probably tried to get him to leave peacefully and he insisted on the confrontation. He's just being a baby because he got his ass kicked by a foreigner.

The Essential Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kushibo said...

That's certainly a different story than what was reported in the media.

Indeed it is. And not sound like I'm skeptical, but it seems a bit self-serving how the first writer downplays certain things:

But not to lose the argument, Kim followed her into the dorm (breaking the door in the process) and began to manhandle her. M saw this and jumped in to protect his friend and co-worker.

Since this person is so close to the story, I'd like to ask a couple things. First, what was the extent of "manhandling" the female instructor? Did she receive any injuries?

I personally would have a very low threshold of what physical contact I would consider to be crossing the line if I saw a taxi driver (or someone else) start touching or grabbing my friend, especially if the friend is smaller than the person doing the grabbing.

But the person who knows all the parties involved seems to gloss over what Mr M did in order to "jump in and protect."

Specifically, what did Mr M do (if anything) to cause the taxi driver to get a broken tooth? What (if anything) did Mr M do to cause the taxi driver to get knee surgery?

The idea that the angry taxi driver got paid but still decided go get violent doesn't ring true. Not implausible but not very likely either. Taxi drivers don't get paid if they're not driving people around, so if he already got his money...

It sounds more like, if an actual violent assault by the taxi driver occurred that it had nothing to do with the money and the taxi driver was planning to do that all along. Plausible. Or that the woman paid the whole fare demanded by the taxi driver didn't really happen. Also plausible.

I wasn't there, but the description offered sounds a bit too convenient, like trying a little too hard to downplay or absolve the two teachers' role, which doesn't explain things, like a broken tooth and knee surgery.

You ever broken a tooth? I have. I smashed a doorknob into my brother's face (when we were kids) when he was running at me. A real mess with lots of force.

kushibo said...

That said, I have no love of the groups that are milking this in order to whip up anti-teacher or anti-American sentiment.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Judging by what these groups and reporters are saying about the female teacher, I'm sure she has a case for defamation, whether true or not.

Doesn't surprise me at all they were only interested in getting the minjok's side of the story. Who needs balanced reporting? Besides, everyone knows foreigners lie, don't they?

kushibo said...

Ha ha, Darth. She totally should.

Fight the chinboistas!

Koreamaria said...

"Jeonnam University, who is morally responsible, should take suitable action to prevent this from reoccuring!"

Yes, they should. They need to get the CCTV fixed where the attack took place.

Alasdair said...

I've chipped my tooth on a metal chopstick whilst eating mandu. It didn't take much force at all actually.

Daniel Joung said...

I'm left thinking both sides of the story are too biased, including this one. The Korean media is, of course, taking the assailed taxi driver's side, while foreign bloggers are trying to prove the assailant's relative innocence. What I'm seeing here is just a natural case of xenophobia and reactions that seem outrageous simply because this massive influx of foreigners is still a very new situation for this country. Lets take on an analogy for logic's sake. Slavery had been outbanned in the US in the 1850's. What if a White American Taxi driver had been assaulted for relatively reasons by an intellectual Black dude circa 1900's? I'm sure the results would have been much preposterous than this story, especially were it to have happened in the Jim Crow South. Point being, instead of everyone looking at one side of the coin, why don't we all just accept the coin for what it is and try to reflect/comment/elaborate on that?

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I've chipped my tooth on a metal chopstick whilst eating mandu.

Did you get your 60,000,000 blood money from the restaurant?

Darth Babaganoosh said...

The idea that the angry taxi driver got paid but still decided go get violent doesn't ring true. Not implausible but not very likely either.

I could believe it happened, but the assault probably had nothing to do with overcharging. I could see her fling the money at him in anger, then flip him off and tell him to fuck off before storming out of the taxi.

Sure, he would have gotten paid in such a situation, but he comes after the passenger because he was flipped off and swore at and things escalate. Wouldn't be the first time I'd seen this type of "road rage" from drivers here.

The one time that's happened to me (back when I was a FOB), such things did not escalate to that point. Just a lot of yelling and chest bumping until I convinced him I was ready to throw down and beat his ass if he didn't get back in his car and drive away... But back down from a WOMAN in such a heated situation? Never!

(not saying this is what DID happen, but is probably the most plausible reason why he went after her... a middle ground between "she didn't pay" and "she did pay but he assaulted her anyway"... he's guilty of overcharging and she's guilty of aggressive profanity which escalated things)

Anonymous said...

"They need to get the CCTV fixed where the attack took place."

That was my first though too. What building entrance in Korea doesn't have CCTV installed?

That said, I've had some really positive and really negative experiences with Korean cabbies.

IMO, the worst ones are in Busan. If you grab one at the KTX station as a foreigner, make damn sure he's got a working meter. Otherwise, he'll politely invent a fare for you once you get to your destination.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Joung,
I don’t think foreign bloggers are trying to prove anything. And your suggestion that maybe this blog is “only looking at one side,” if that were the case I don’t think this blog would’ve translated the NoCut News article which include the Taxi driver side. MBC, and the Korean media are the “one siders” in this case and in most others when “foreigners” are involved.

You say...“why don't we all just accept the coin for what it is and try to reflect/comment/elaborate on that?”
Do you mean just let the Korean media tell its Taxi driver side and for “foreign” bloggers to “accept” that side?

Anonymous said...

Daniel Joung,
As a result of "foreign" bloggers blogging about this the other(foreign) side has maybe been indirectly shared. Shame on "foreign" bloggers. Do you work for MBC or NoCut News?

Darth Babaganoosh said...

What building entrance in Korea doesn't have CCTV installed?

It may be "installed" but that doesn't mean it works or is turned on. It may not even be a real camera, just a facade to deter idiots.