Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More on the Facebook video

The 2013 'Facebook video'

Part 1: Video surfaces on Facebook showing foreign men mistreating Korean woman
Part 2: Is the Facebook video fake?
Part 3: More on the Facebook video
Part 4: Today's Facebook video update
Part 5: Korea Herald follows up on the Facebook video
Part 6: A conversation with 'Last Known Survivor'
Part 7: Reports on the staged video

Part 3: More on the Facebook video

[Update 3]

At the Marmot's Hole, Korea Herald reporter John Power left a lengthy comment about the sources for his two articles (which are translated into Korean here and here, by the way). The main takeaway is that if his sources are lying about it being staged, they are going to elaborate lengths to maintain this fiction. Do read the entire comment.

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post article, 'lastknownsurvivor,' the commenter who first named the location (which turned out to be correct) where the video was shot and who said it was staged, posted a comment (in this thread) which reads in part:
I am still waiting from a response from the writer Max Fisher. I sent him a message on facebook which has been seen and not responded to. I also sent him a message on twitter as a response to him saying I did not send him a message and he did not respond to that. I have made an effort to contact him and give him information. Why has he not responded to or tried to contact me?
Earlier, King Baeksu pointed out to me that, while Max Fisher’s Twitter feed stated this – "The guy who claims to be an actor who staged the Korean harassment video is telling people he sent me the name of the director. He didn't." – in the comments to the WaPo article, "thelastknownsurvivor" said merely "I have also sent an email to Max Fisher offering him the directors name," which is rather different. At any rate, it's all he said, she said at this point, but judging by his twitter feed, Fisher doesn't seem to be interested in following up the allegations that it was staged. But hey, just because there are people leaving comments saying how they want to 'tear apart the Yankee bastards' or see them 'get stabbed to death,' in a Yonhap report about his article, there's no reason to look into the possibility that the cause of this anger was not even real, right?

[Update 2]

The New York Daily News and The Blaze have reported the story.


The Korea Herald reports that a third person claiming to have been involved in making the video, the 'film studies graduate' mentioned yesterday, has come forward:
While the Korean, who has participated in film competitions here, declined to confirm to The Korea Herald that he was the director, he said that he had played a major part in making the film. He said he and the rest of the crew, whom he did not wish to identify, had intended for the film to be seen as “a work of art.”

He also said that he was very concerned about the reaction of Internet users to the film and felt sorry for the foreign actors involved, stressing that the current video was very different from the intention of the original. He added that he was not in possession of the complete footage.
That last sentence isn't very helpful. At the same time, if the person who first claimed it was staged was making that up, he wasn't just 'anybody on the internet' claiming it was fake, he was someone who knew where the clip had been filmed. That leaves three possibilities that I can think of: A) What he's saying is true because he was there when the film was shot, B) It was indeed a video of harassment, and he knows because he was a participant or witness (through, if a participant, why draw attention to yourself?), or C), He is familiar with the bar and his eagle eye noticed the zebra stripes in the background for the few seconds they are on screen and he decided to get a few friends in on creating a hoax by saying that they staged the whole thing. The question is, which of those scenarios is most likely? King Baeksu also lists several reasons why its most likely staged here.

[Original Post]

So yesterday the Korea Herald reported on the assertions that the Facebook video was staged:
Two men, however, separately contacted The Korea Herald claiming that the video was edited and was in fact part of a series of short horror films shot in 2011. One of the men said that the video had been shot to show the “horror” of how society treats people with physical deformities. In the controversial video, the men are also shown ridiculing the young woman over the condition of her teeth.

One of the alleged actors, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, provided a screenshot from a Facebook conversation showing the alleged director admitting that the video was staged. The apparent director of the video studied film at a university in Seoul, according to his Facebook account and a university webpage from 2004.
That the video was "shot to show the “horror” of how society treats people with physical deformities" seems a dubious explanation for why it was made. It would probably take the director coming out and admitting to shooting it and and making available a longer clip to confirm for certain whether this is all true. What is certain is that it was shot at Bedlam, as this post by 'mad statistician' makes clear.

The Korean media has picked up on the allegations of the video being faked, with the comments at WaPo being mentioned at the end of this Donga Ilbo piece (initially mentioning Bedlam - it's since been changed to 'a bar') and the Korea Herald article being mentioned in a Kyunghyang Sinmun article titled "Controversy over the authenticity of the video of white men molesting a Korean woman in a club," and a article titled "'The video of a drunk Korean woman being molested and toyed with was choreographed.'"

Mind you, the Yonhap article which first reported on the Washington Post piece yesterday (and was followed by 13 more news reports) now has over 3,300 comments, including cheerful missives like, as King Baeksu has pointed out, "양키 고홈 십 생기들 외국인 척살" ("Yankee go home, fucking bastard foreigners, die a bloody death") and this one:
At first I wanted to kill the girl, but then I wanted to tear apart the Yankee bastards!! Whites disregard, scorn and show contempt for Asians much more than they do for blacks. Please, let's live with a little more pride!!!!!
Good times.

Just for fun, here's an example of the articles being published yesterday, in this case by NoCut News:
The video of the Korean woman being molested 'blows up'... and the netizen reaction?
"The white men who molested her should be arrested" vs "It's a problem with how Korean women behave."

There is controversy over a video of western men molesting
a Korean woman. (Facebook video capture)

With foreign media reporting on it, the controversy over a video of western men molesting a Korean woman is spreading.

Most netizens have criticized the western men, but some have said that there is also a problem with Korean women's behaviour.

On July 8, the video showing two men of unknown nationality ridiculing and molesting a drunk Korean woman was posted on Facebook.

One man videos the woman's legs and breasts while another man sits next to her and puts his finger in her nostril and mouth. Using an excessive amount of profanity, they insult the woman. In particular, they say to the woman "Why don't you get plastic surgery like other Korean women?" and disparage all Korean women without hesitation.

The mood of the drunk woman, who is smiling at first, sours and she begins swearing at them in English and Korean and gets up and leaves.

On the 15th (local time), leading US newspaper the Washington Post reported on the video saying "It has further tarnished the image and created negative perceptions of foreign men in Korea."

Netizens who have learned of the video have raised their voices in criticism of western men.

Netizens left comments saying "What did I just watch? I can't believe one human being could treat another human being like that." "(Based on pronounciation) one person is Irish and the other is in American or Canadian. They make me feel ashamed to be human. This incident is very regretful and to Koreans, I'm sorry." "I hope the police arrest the foreigners."

Some Korean netizens pointed to the drunken women's behaviour.

These netizens left comments saying, "That girl has disgraced Korea. I'm ashamed of our country's women. Wherever you go, don't do things like that." "Don't be like women who like and follow foreign men like that. And foreign men, please disregard all normal Korean women."

However, not a few netizens raised objections, saying, "I don't understand Korean men who criticize women at this time. Faced with that pitiful scene, how can you think of criticizing the woman's behaviour?"
This is par for the course when it comes to netizen reaction to videos or photos of foreign men with Korean women, such as we saw in the English Spectrum incident (dealt with in detail in this Ilda article (titled "Dirty Korean women who have brought shame to the country?")). As the Marmot noted, this topic was reported on by Jezebel, and followed up there with an article titled "South Korea Assault Video Authenticity Debated, But It Doesn't Matter." That's because it opened a dialogue about something that does happen, we're told. You see, the "notoriously dickish expat community" often acts this way, and "young Western men getting wasted and harassing local women in public" is a "common incident." So even if it - maybe - didn't actually happen this time, it's still, as King Baeksu put it, "emotionally true."

If I were to say that the writer of that article strangled a kitten, I guess it wouldn't matter if it wasn't true as long as it opened a dialogue about cruelty to animals?


Ben said...

Power says "More sources emerging in Korean nightclub abuse video story. Stay tuned."

Unfortunately, Fisher still hasn't felt the need to investigate. At this point I would think he'd have to given that the factual basis for his story has come into serious question.

King Baeksu said...

"But hey, just because there are people leaving comments saying how they want to 'tear apart the Yankee bastards' or see them 'get stabbed to death,' in a Yonhap report about his article, there's no reason to look into the possibility that the cause of this anger was not even real, right?"

I'd like to also note that this story affects tens of thousands of Korean women in relationships with Western men as well. On Wednesday I met the long-time Korean girlfriend of an American friend and when I mentioned the video she immediately knew what I was talking about, saying, "It's been all over Feacebook, dude." She did not appreciate all the hateful online comments against Korean women dating Western men, and said she would feel quite relieved if the video turned out to have been staged.

In 2013, is a Korean woman still automatically a "slut" or "whore" just because she's in a loving relationship with a non-Korean man? In the minds of many, it would seem so, and Fisher's story has gone a long way towards reinforcing such stereotypes and resentments -- with hardly any real evidence to back it up.

King Baeksu said...

From Max Fisher's Twitter feed, less than an hour ago: "Just spent the last however many hours reading about Robert Lady, the CIA station chief detained in Panama. Super fascinating. Post soon."

I think we can all give Fisher a pass -- he's obviously too busy to get to the bottom of this story for now.

Ben said...

JF Power twitter: "More sources emerging in Korean nightclub abuse video story. Stay tuned."

King Baeksu said...

I've spoken with several Korean government investigators about this case, and this is what they had to say:

1. Like photographs, most videos should bear a time stamp, so if the time stamp of this video matches claims made by "thelastknownsurvivor" and his purported associates that it was made a few years ago, that would further buttress his credibility, since he has already correctly identified the location of the shoot.

2. I asked them if they felt that this was a criminal case and they said that at this point, since the woman who appears in the video has not come forward, either filing charges with police against the men in the video or suing the uploaders -- whether on YouTube or Facebook -- for defamation, they did not believe that this incident can be classified as a crime. Given that there is a strong financial incentive for her to sue for defamation, since she has not done so in the past six weeks would mitigate against the arguments of those who claim that the video is real and shows genuine sexual assault or harassment.

3. Tracking down the IP address of the individual who uploaded the video to YouTube on June 8th and embedded it on would be a key part of the investigation, and in a genuine criminal case, a warrant could be served to YouTube and with orders to hand over the IP address or addresses of any individuals involved. Short of that, identifying the ID or account name of the YouTube user who uploaded the video on June 8th could be useful, since their online activity and history could potentially be tracked with fruitful results.

4. The IP address of "thelastknownsurvivor's" comments on The Washington Post could also be traced, but again a warrant would be needed. In any case, has this ID appeared elsewhere on the Internet?

5. One investigator felt the timing of the Facebook upload was suspicious, since there was a month-lag lag between then and when it was first uploaded to YouTube on June 8th. The Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash occurred on July 6th, shortly before Moodclip uploaded the video to Facebook (according to The Post, the video was uploaded to Facebook on July 8th). I'm going to assume that the July 8th Facebook upload was done by "Moodclip," who has since removed the video from his account. Who is Moodclip? Did he have a vested interest in distracting attention from the Asiana crash? Does he or she possibly work for Asiana in some capacity, either directly or indirectly? In any case, what prompted this individual to upload the video once again, at that specific moment in time?

Thoughts? Can anyone ID the June 8th YouTube uploader, and is anyone willing to download the video and search for a time stamp on it? I'm afraid I'm not technically savvy enough to do so myself!

kushibo said...

King Baeksu, although I think you are likely correct about this being staged, I don't think your argument is necessarily sound.

For starters, regarding point #1, I don't think "thelastknownsurvivor" gains any particular credibility for identifying the location of the shoot, since anyone who has been there could figure it out the same way you did. This line of thinking would have us believe that YOU may be "thelastknownsurvivor" for having identified it as well.

Regarding point #2, I don't think the absence of the woman coming forward to press charges or sue for defamation is particularly supportive of the idea that she herself was a knowing and willing actor-participant. Defamation cases come with a price tag, sometimes paid ahead of time, in this case not yet paid, but with the bill due as soon as she identifies herself (or is identified by others).

Look at the skewering she took by some in the Korean-language commentariat: What would she gain from a lawsuit that would be worth what she would further go through?

That said, the thing that makes me believe it was staged is the infinity-wave flow of the camera during the filming. This is atypical of handheld amateur video but quite common in on-the-scene videos filmed for Korean television programs. It is designed to make the scene less static and therefore more interesting. Thus, it appears to me that the person behind the camera was trained in Korean video/filmmaking.