Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Korea's Real Name System

Via Brian in Jeollanam-do and Chris in South Korea, the Hankyoreh and Korea Times are reporting that Google has decided to force users of Youtube in Korea to use the real name system to post on the site. The Times begins with this:
South Korea is looking at more ways to impose rules on Internet users and insisted that Google should behave in order to stay here. And after months of hesitation, the search giant now appears ready to bend and bow. [... T]he company could ill-afford to go half-way in its commitment to Korea, which represents one of the most advanced Internet markets in the world.
Does that sound anything like the North Korean novel B.R. Myers describes here?
The novel "Barrel of a Gun," for example, released in 2003, is an official "historical" work about how Mr. Kim's iron resolve forced the Clinton administration to its knees in 1998. "Excellency," the American negotiator says at the end of the book, groveling shamelessly before his North Korean counterpart, "you are also a mighty superpower."
"I like the sound of that," the North Korean answers with a chuckle and a sharp look.
But I digress. The article continues:
According to the company, Korean users of ... YouTube will be required to make verifiable real-name registrations for uploading content and posting comments starting on April 1. It is the first time in any country that Google is forcing users to submit verifiable personal information, company officials said.

In a much-debated decision last year, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) ... mandated that all Internet sites with more than 100,000 visitors impose real-name registrations for their message boards and chat rooms from April this year.
Lovely. The Hankyoreh's (sub) title isn't surprising: "Google Korea submits to government’s trend towards curbing Internet freedoms by implementing a “real name system.”" I'd have to agree with the Hani's take on this; the "real name system" is a 'trend' going back six years now. This article notes that the government first attempted to phase in a real-name system in 2003 but it met with too much opposition. A March 2003 Joongang Ilbo editorial announced that the paper had decided to launch a campaign to "create a safe and sound Internet."
The first thing Internet users can do is participate in a movement to use real names in cyberspace. [...] Contamination of cyberspace has resulted mainly from the lack of etiquette in the use of this modern technology.
Another editorial from June of that year titled "Keeping Net free of trash" said, "We commend the government for its decision to require Internet users in the private and public sectors to use their real names when leaving messages on Internet bulletin boards." This didn't prove popular, though proponents tried to use cyber-crime figures to bolster their arguments:
The number of cyber crimes has swollen 500 times during the last five years, according to data released yesterday by the Korean National Policy Agency. In 1997, a total of 121 cyber crimes were reported; more than 60,000 cases were cited last year.
This article gives different figures for 2002:
The number of online crimes stood at a mere 119,000 in 2002 according to the police. But the figure soared to 165,000 in 2003 and surpassed 200,000 the following year.
It was not crime statistics that gave those supporting a real name system the ammunition they needed, however. No, it turned out to be an unattended pile of dog crap on the subway - or netizen reaction to a photo of it, rather - that led to the issue being discussed incessantly in the media.

On June 6, 2005 a young woman on Seoul's Line 2 subway had a dog with her when it shat on floor. As blogger Don Park described it,
When nearby elders told her to clean up the mess, she basically told them to fuck off. A nearby enraged netizen then took pictures of her and posted it, without any masking, on a popular website which started a nationwide witchhunt.
Within days, her identity and her past were revealed. Request for information about her parents and relatives started popping up and people started to recognize her by the dog and the bag she was carrying as well as her watch, clearly visible in the original picture. All mentions of privacy invasion were shouted down with accusations of being related to the girl. The common excuse for their behavior was that the girl doesn't deserve privacy.
It was Don Park's [no longer available] post that led to the U.S. blogosphere discussing the case, with the uproar eventually making it to the Washington Post. I wrote about this process in the post Dog 'Poop' Girl Redux, soon after starting this blog, as well as several other posts looking at the reaction to the event within Korea. These posts lay out the discussion of the new term 'cyber terror' and the proposed solution to it - the resurrected idea of a real name system:

Internet Witchhunts and Conflict Resolution
Riding the wave of 'cyber terror' articles
'Real Names' in Korean Cyberspace
Portals and the Cyber Terror blame game

By September 2005, according to the Chosun Ilbo, "The Ministry of Information and Communication [had] decided to require large portal sites like Naver, Daum, Nate and Yahoo to confirm the real name of Internet users when they post messages on discussion forums and similar sites." It wasn't until July 2006 that anything was really done, however:
In a bid to prevent escalating online slander and privacy violations under cover of anonymity, the government and ruling Uri Party on Friday decided to require Internet users to use their real names when they post comments on some portals or media websites. The regulations will be submitted to the National Assembly for implementation next year. It would require Internet users to undergo an identity check before posting comments online, but they can then still use their sign-in name or alias to sign the message.

As this article tells us, the MIC began testing the system on Naver and Daum on July 1, 2007, but the portals saw nothing but nastiness directed at the Korean missionaries taken hostage in Afghanistan; the MIC said it would just take a little time to iron out and ignored this (and didn't seem too concerned about possible identity theft), fully implementing the system on July 30, 2007.

[T]he MIC expanded the real-name formula to other frequently visited Web sites on Monday in addition to Naver and Daum. As a result, those who log onto Web sites of 1,150 public agencies are required to present their identification information before writing any article.

The system also applies to 21 Internet portals where more than 300,000 visit everyday and 14 online media sites of which daily visitors are upside of 200,000. [...] The relevant law stipulates that the MIC can oblige the application of the real-name system to smaller Web sites where more than 100,000 travel per day.
This application of the system to 100,000-visitor-a-day websites is what begins April 1, and is what Youtube has been caught up in.

While the early discussions of this system began in 2003 and 2005, when the Roh government and Uri party were in control, it's worth remembering that it was eventually implemented under the GNP, who have been consistently caught unaware by netizens, from the (initially) internet-organized candlelight 'vigils' and Roh's victory in 2002, to the mad cow protests of 2008. The system has been used to investigate those who had pissed off the government in little ways (the high school kid who posted the petition to impeach Lee Myung-bak last May comes to mind) and large (Minerva), but is always couched in terms of preventing cyber-bullying and securing 'human rights'; last fall the GNP tried to use Choi Jin-sil's suicide as an excuse to pass more legislation (though the opposition pointed out that three laws already exist to punish cyber-bullying). Of course, I might be more sympathetic to the Democratic Party if, when they say that such legislation is “a threat to prevent the forming of public opinion against the government by monitoring and control of cyberspace," I didn't remember quite well the way they, as Uri Party, were happy to block a wide range of foreign blogs in 2004 in order to keep Koreans from watching the video of Kim Sun-il being beheaded (and many other progressives were happy to join them). I'm certain both sides of the political spectrum would opt to increase control over the internet if they could get away with it. As Gregory Henderson put it:

In the non-socialist world, I have so far sensed nothing comparable to the South Korean shadowing of the private by the public sphere.

A little off topic, but it was interesting that in 2005 the Donga Ilbo would refer to cyber bullies as "techno rioters," considering the events of the summer of 2008. This was also quite interesting:

Netizens should change their ways of thinking; they should take voluntary action, such as Internet moral conduct movements, to prevent further damage.
Compare this to Lee Eun-ung, of Anti-English Spectrum:
Only if foreign teachers, sensing the stinging glances of Korean citizens, formulate their own measures to eradicate illegal teachers will their petition earn the agreement of many Koreans.
Which then reminds me of North Korean self-criticism sessions, such as in the documentary "North Korea: A Day in the Life," where factory workers admit their faults and promise to work harder.



On the topic of internet censorship, Roboseyo's post on the topic is well worth reading.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Over at Korea Pop Wars, Mark linked to the March Issue of Wallpaper magazine, which led me to this gallery from October. The first image is this:

Anyone familiar with the design will recognize it as the new structure being built where Dongdaemun Stadium used to stand. I looked at the process involved in the stadium's destruction over a year ago. What's interesting about the above design is the addition of something new - the section of the city wall that was discovered last September.

I certainly hope that this is true, and that the city wall continues to stand amid the curves of the 'deflated beachball' (as ZenKimchi put it) that will soon arise there. It's certainly something to be applauded.

Oh, and I liked the other photo in Mark's post, of the Magok lake park plan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


On Thursday I saw this inch-long hornet on the pavement at an intersection near my house. I wouldn't want to be stung by one - my three experiences with hornet stings, by much smaller hornets, have been enough, thanks. You can watch them in action here.

The pulsating abdomen was not very inviting.

What I didn't realize is that this was an omen of things to come. Later that night I woke up to the sound of this charming lady:

It happened last night too, though the latest one is still at large. Considering - at least in my area - that they seem to go through a resurgence in October or November, it seems like its going to be a long spring-summer-fall.

By the way, my most memorable moment with hornets was when my father climbed up to the eaves of our house at night and cut a 6-8 inch diameter nest down, dropping it into a paper bag. His plan to consume the bag in a large fire was delayed when he realized he'd forgotten to bring matches, so he walked into the house to get some - along with the paper bag full of very angry, buzzing hornets.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The atrocity next door

This is a horrible story:
A 17-year-old mentally disabled girl was killed after being beaten almost daily over 21 days by four teens who lived with her, police said yesterday. Seongnam police requested an arrest warrant for the four teenagers on suspicion of assault and homicide yesterday.

They allegedly tied the victim, identified only as Yoo, to a chair for two to three hours and dropped a knife with the blade facing down or poked her with needles under the guise of giving her a tattoo. They also confessed to whipping her with a jump rope.

Wednesday night, Yoo was beaten for "cheating with another man." She lost consciousness after being burned with metal spoons and chopsticks that were heated up in a microwave oven. The four teens left Yoo and told her not to play sick. They found her dead Thursday.

Once Yoo’s friends, the four suspects put rope around her corpse and wrapped it in a bed sheet. They buried her at a nearby mountain 1.7 kilometers away from the scene of her murder.

The article goes on to describe Yoo's tough childhood and how she met Lee (male, now 19) via internet chatting and met in person in July 2007. It continues:
“Kang,” (19) a friend of Lee, invited Lee, another friend “Kim”(19) and Kim’s sister to his house in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, after he was left alone in the wake of his father’s death. The four teenagers moved in together last year, and Lee invited Yoo to join them in January.

“I thought they were just hanging around. I had no idea such an atrocity was being committed in the house,” a neighbor said. Kang’s house is in a residential area with many houses huddled together.

Lee began to suspect that Yoo was cheating on him with Kim. After Kim told Lee that Yoo approached him first, Lee began beating Yoo Feb. 26. When Yoo tried to return home March 14 to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Kang and Kim followed her and pushed her father away when he tried to keep his daughter at home. Yoo was then brought back to Kang’s house.
One wonders why the father was powerless to stop them. Police think the teens were after Yoo's monthly disability subsidy, and that they had been living off of it since January. This article mentions that a park worker noticed that the area where she was buried had a patch of grass missing and thought it looked strange and called the police. News video is here and here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Out with the incandescents, in with the LEDs

Near my house last week I saw these sitting on a traffic island at a major intersection:

The truck parked next to them was full of boxes with 'LED' written on them. Later I saw them putting them up:

They had to remove the (dust covered) old lights, which allowed for a comparison.

In a few hours all the lights on the main street had been changed, and I was greeted with this shiny bright walk signal.

One wonders how long it will take for them to become covered in dust and soot.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

'The biggest bust in 15 years'

[Update: The Korea Society has a podcast of a talk by Cullen Thomas here.]

The Marmot's Hole pointed out that National Geographic's Locked Up Abroad did an episode on Cullen Thomas, the American English teacher who was arrested for smuggling hash into Korea from the Philippines in the mid-nineties. The episode can be found here or on Youtube. I haven't read his book, Brother One Cell, but a friend who has told me it was well worth reading, especially if you have any interest in Korean society and culture (an excerpt is here).

What was interesting about the Locked Up Abroad episode is that it tells us that he was arrested on May 27, 1994, so a quick search of the KINDS database (kinds.or.kr - it only works in IE) turned up two articles from June 5; one by the Seoul Sinmun, and the other by the Donga Ilbo, titled, "International Mail Drug Smuggling / American Instructor Arrested."

The latter tells us that the Seoul District Prosecutor's Office arrested a 24 year old hagwon instructor named Cullen Francis Thomas*, for smuggling 930 grams of hash (worth 10 million won) via international mail. He had gone to the Philippines in May and mailed the hash from there to 'Platt,' an alias in Seoul, but a search by customs found the hash. The prosecution were investigating to see if he had been involved in distributing the hash. The Seoul Sinmun article also mentions that he had hidden the hash in a sleeping bag (in the mail) and that the previous largest bust for hash was in 1980, and that was for 100 grams.

What's interesting is that the KINDS search (which includes most major papers except the Joongang and Chosun) goes back to 1990, and using search terms like "English instructor," "drugs," and "arrest" turns up no drug arrests - or any arrests - before the Cullen Thomas's.

*Back then everybody who was arrested - not just foreigners - were named in media articles. Does anyone know when this changed? For example, the next drug arrest after Thomas's took place in October 1994, when two American English teachers were arrested for smoking pot with a well known film actor - Ahn Sung-gi's co-star in Chilsu and Mansu, Nowhere to Hide, and Radio Star. Who knew?

For the curious, here's the aforementioned Donga Ilbo article, since you can't link to these things:

국제우편 마약 밀반입/미국인강사 구속
[동아일보] 1994-06-05

서울지검 강력부 신현수검사는 4일 국제우편을 통해 마약의 일종인 「해시시」 9백30g(시가 1천여만원)을 밀반입한 미국인 컬런 프랜시스 토머스(24•학원강사)를 대마관리법 위반혐의로 구속기소했다.검찰에 따르면 토머스는 지난 5월 필리핀에서 해시시 9백30g을 구입,「플래트」라는 가명으로 국제우편을 통해 국내에 몰래 들여온 혐의를 받고 있다
토머스는 세관의 화물검색 과정에서 마약밀반입 사실이 적발돼 검찰에 검거됐다.

검찰은 토머스가 지난해와 올해 네차례나 입국,외국어학원에서 강사로 일해온 점으로 미루어 국내체류 외국인들에게 해시시를 조직적으로 유통시킨 것으로 보고 수사중이다.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A portrait of alienation

Over at the Marmot's Hole, Robert posted about a report which looks at the lives of multiracial Koreans and paints a rather bleak picture. Most have had very little schooling and are (were) unable to find good jobs due to this (and to discrimination against them). It's well worth reading if you haven't already.

It was interesting to see that post after a taxi ride I took on Sunday night. When I got in I noticed - before I closed the door and the light went out - that the driver (who was likely in his 50s or 60s) reminded me a little of someone I'd met once, another foreigner here in fact. I thought little of it until he told me that he had a foreign parent and a Korean parent. He had lived in Alaska for awhile and had worked part time as a cook there at a Chinese restaurant (which may have been run by a family member - I can't remember now). He had nothing but good things to say about Alaska, but I have to say - I've never heard anyone complain about Korea so much during a taxi ride before. He told me he didn't like Korean people - he didn't like having them as customers and thought they were rude. He also told me that his daughter had married a man from England, and that she also didn't like Korean men (he didn't talk about her mother at all). While he seemed in some ways to not identify himself as Korean, he was proud of his service in the ROK marines (itself confusing because I thought multiracial Koreans weren't allowed to serve in the armed forces). There were a few items with 'ROK marines' written on them in his taxi.

After reading the aforementioned report and seeing the picture it painted of the difficulties many multiracial Koreans face, I couldn't help but recall this taxi driver's bitterness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Predators and Sex Objects: Media portrayals of foreign male and female teachers

In the comments to a post about media representations of male foreign English teachers, Foreigner Joy wrote this:
So I am trying to raise the issue here of the woman expat's role in all of this. What is it? Is it as badly portrayed as the male? I have to say that I see blog posts about your topic often across the K-blogs. But little do I see how woman expats fit into the puzzle.
To answer this, I thought I'd look at how foreign men and women are portrayed in two different 'texts': a film from 2003 (predating the English Spectrum incident) and an episode of a TV show from 2008.

The 2003 film is Please Teach Me English, which can be watched with subtitles here. The film begins with Young-ju, who works as a public servant, being approached by a foreigner (presumed to be an English teacher) and asking for help with an incorrect electric bill. Young-ju looks for help at her co-workers, who all hide because no one can speak English.

The foreigner gets annoyed at being ignored, and eventually shouts at her: "Say something for Christ’s sake! Doesn’t anyone here speak English?" So he's portrayed as an ass, and is told to leave because it's closing time. Later at a staff dinner, the boss plays spin the bottle, and Young-ju is chosen to learn English for the team, much to her dismay. As she rides the bus to the hagwon the next day, she wonders why she should have to learn English, and in one of the (very) few clever scenes, we see the signs on the stores come to life, until her view is obscured by so many English language store and brand names. She arrives at the hagwon and falls for Mun-su, who obviously has a thing for their teacher, Cathy, who in turn seems amused by Mun-su.

"You... are... beautiful."

Next, the registering students have to take a level test, which is portrayed as a video game. Munsu is asked by a female foreign teacher, "Honey! What was your score on the college entrance exam?"[Honey??]
Munsu replies, "Oh baby! Welcome to Korea! You great sexy girl!" He tries to kiss her and the following ensues:

Groping foreign women makes for comedy, it seems. Luckily, since he has so obviously crossed the line, it's acceptable for this Korean male to be punched by a woman (or do the (possible) rules regarding debasing treatment of Korean men on TV which I discussed here apply to foreign women?).

Young-ju and Mun-su end up in the same class, with Cathy as their teacher. To avoid having to show what learning a language actually entails (and perhaps to also avoid having the actors speak any more English than necessary), much of the dialogue in class is in Korean, which Cathy speaks (with painful pronunciation). She has the students pick English nicknames and forces Young-ju to choose one (she chooses Candy). At one point Cathy leans over to help Mun-su with his pronunciation. It's not too hard to see what he's focused on:

Young-ju pokes her in the ass and, thinking it was the older man behind her, Cathy slaps him, but then immediately feels remorse. Mun-su steals Cathy's phone and goes to meet her at a bar with lots of other foreigners to return it. Young-ju follows him and while spying on him, guess who shows up?

It's the foreign guy who came into her office at the beginning of the movie! He offers her whiskey, and continues to pour her drink after drink, which Mun-su sees and which pisses him off, as it's clear she's had too much to drink (though he's not too concerned, fixated on Cathy as he is). The foreign guy offers to drive Young-ju home in his 'nice car,' but she begins pouring him drinks until he suddenly passes out. This allows her to watch Mun-su and Cathy as they take part in a tap dance contest on stage. Mun-su uses this as an opportunity to bury his face in her chest at one point.

Cathy handles this reasonably gracefully and the night ends with a drunken Youngju headbutting Cathy. They make up the next day at Cathy's apartment, where she runs into another student: the older man who she mistakenly slapped earlier, who drops a pizza off at her house while making other pizza deliveries. He sneakily tells her, "I love youuuuuuu," and she is smitten.

So to sum up, for the main Korean male character, Cathy is a walking set of breasts, while the male foreign character is Mr. Neocolonialism; impatient, demanding people speak English, trying to get local girls drunk and offering to take them home, etc. It's not done in an over-the-top way, but he's not portrayed very positively.

The ease with which Cathy becomes smitten with the ajeossi pizza deliveryman reminded me of a scene in a recent TV show, namely Boys over Flowers (꽃보다 남자). In it, the F4 boys are being served at a fancy European-style restaurant, when the (foreign, female) chef approaches one of the boys.

One of his friends says, "Yo, yo, yo. Wazzup man?" [cringing yet?]
Another says, "They only take one group per week" (probably not a business model I'd follow). He then looks into the distance as a flashback fades in. He's in a pottery store and approaches the chef who's looking at a plate, and suggests another.
"This one is better."
"You're right. It's a beauty."
"Enough to make your cuisine even finer."
"And just who told you that I was a chef?"

Before he replies, he takes her hand, which gets an interesting response.

"Your delicious looking hand."

One kiss planted on her hand is all it takes. On other occasions, all you have to do is suggest the benefits of using Samsung Card when traveling to a group of foreign women and off to a motel on a trip you'll go.

The women in that advertisement are of course panelists from 미녀들의 수다, or the 'Beauties' Chatterbox," a show that at its best allows for foreign women to openly discuss both the positive and negative aspects of their lives in Korea, and at its worst is (was?) a forum for Korean men to ogle foreign women and act like it was their first time in a room salon.

One of the panelists who first appeared in November 2007, Djamilya, from Uzbekistan, "pretty much encapsulates what that show is about - foreign women put onstage as exotic sex objects," as Marmot's Hole commenter dokdoforever put it.

What was interesting about her first appearance was that at the end of the same show, American panelist Winter Raymond illustrated just how these images of foreign women as sex objects could have a very negative impact at a crucial moment. She told the story of how she was attacked by a man who broke in to her apartment in 2005 and beat, choked and nearly raped her. The police cared little to find the attacker, and when she was taken to a hospital, she got this response:
My friends were speaking with the man admitting me, he said that the hospital would not help me unless I paid him $1000.00 in cash because I was a ‘Russian prostitute who probably deserved what I got’.
Her entire story can be read here. It should go without saying that this story of the biases foreign women face reflect attitudes that exist towards women in Korea to begin with, as this story (from 30 years ago) shows:
I was raped while on vacation in Korea 30 years ago. The attending doctor would not believe that I had been raped. He, in fact, implied several times that he believed that my parents (who he first wouldn't believe were my parents) had caught me having sex and had beat me. That accounted, in his mind for my wounds and for the OB/gyn exam my parents wanted. I was 16. I was a virgin, but the doctor wouldn't believe that, either, because I guess I had broken my hymen in some other way. I didn't say much to him at the time, but I wish I had. I wonder how attitudes towards rape have changed since the '70's. It seems perhaps not enough.
The show didn't give much time to Winter's story, and the way the captions refer to her experience seem rather cutesy:

Essentially, 'But at the hospital, Winter was treated as a "prostitute"!' When the Marmot's Hole reported on her experience, she left comments (here and here) describing her experience on the show. One of the main reasons she chose to go on the show was to publicize the story of her assault and the treatment she received afterward, especially considering no media outlet was willing to touch it back in 2005. She also had interesting observations about appearing on the same show as Djamilya:
The sad thing in this whole matter is the timing of my story on the show. I am sure everyone knows the show that I told my story was also the debut of someone else. [... H]ow ironic that on the same show where I talk about a story that happened because of the terrible stereotypes women have in Korea, the show puts on that.[...]

ALthough I don’t think it is intentional that I was made to speak the story the same time as she came out, I think it is highly ironic and in essence, makes my story all the more relevant. It is important to remember that following the airing of the show, almost a day went by before any news reported the story. It wasn’t until I was angry enough to put the pictures on my blog, with the story and my anger at the media, that I got fans to write to the news organizations to cover it. Without that, I don’t think it would have gotten any coverage at all.
The pictures she refers to are photos of her taken in the hospital after the assault. Also in the comments to that Marmot's Hole post are stories posted by other women of their negative experiences in Korea (here, here, and here).

It was of little surprise that Djamilya would be a hit on Korean TV, and in April 2008, she appeared in the soft-porn late night TV show Sexy Mong Returns, which was described thusly:
The first episode of “Sexy Mong Returns,” a four-part series to run every Wednesday and Thursday starting from April 23, is already drawing attention as its deals with an episode involving sexual assault by foreign English teachers, something that has been a social issue for some time.
It was also looked at by Brian in Jeollanam-do here. The show begins with a shot of a street in Hongdae, and cuts to a club where foreign men are dancing with Korean women, bringing to mind, perhaps, the photos of the 'Sexy costume party' posted on English Spectrum which began the whole 'foreign English teacher as sex fiend (stealing our women!)' from January 2005.

We then see a man (his face isn't revealed) drop a pill into a bottle of (non-Korean!) beer and walk over to an unsuspecting victim.

He undresses her and fondles her, as the camera plays slowly over her exposed body (soft-porn, remember?) until she wakes up.

After this scene of a foreign English teacher molesting a Korean woman, we see a taxi driving down the road, and after being treated a Djamilya's cleavage, we're given this shot of her.

Shucks, what could the taxi driver be looking at?

Djamilya then arrives at the bunsik restaurant where the other two Sexy Mong girls live and work, and the viewer is treated to Djamilya undressing and having a shower.

Unable to pronounce Djamilya's character's name, the other two instead call her Gil-da. They find a photo taken by the molester of a semi-clad Korean women, and they eventually realize what H.D., written on the photo, must stand for.

"Hongdae, club street. A wretched hive of
scum and villiany. We must be careful."

We see the same club where Foreign men are dancing with Korean women. One of the (Korean) men running the bar sets the teachers and women up together. Two girls who have been talking to the foreign teachers chat in the bathroom, and one tells her friend she can learn 'body language,' a reference to the anti-English Spectrum types who, in 2005, wrote that girls didn't actually learn English from foreign boyfriends, only 'body language.'

Just to reinforce how unfair this is, we are shown two salarymen following a young woman into the club.


...the club is a playground for hip Korean men and foreign teachers, not regular working stiffs (the likely target audience). The sexy mong girls infiltrate the club, and Gil-da keeps a low profile.

One of the sexy mong crew sees a foreigner with a very drunk Korean woman...

...and follows as they engage in some foreplay in a back room.

She then confronts the foreign teacher and headbutts him, the same move (coincidentally) that Young-ju pulled on the foreign teacher in "Please Teach Me English." Gil-da meanwhile meets up with some foreign teachers.

A North American teacher asks, "So Gil-da, are you coming to the party?" to which the Korean looking guy, Tom, replies, "Of course. She’s my girlfriend."

The guy on the left says, "Who told you korean girls are so ___?" (The last word is unintelligible due to his foreign accent.) The guy on the right replies, "Korean girls are good. They’re so easy."
Tom is asked if his parents are from Korea, and he replies, "No way, I’m American. This is my first time in Korea. I just know about Kimchi and Korean girls. But now," he says to Gil-da, "I wanna know about you."
"Korean girls are so hot," says the guy on the right.

Gil-da goes home and tells her friends about her date for the next night. With some sleuthing, the girls realize that her date is the molester, and head for the party. At the party, we see several foreign-Korean couples.

Tom gets Gil-da alone, but she doesn't want to sleep with him and leaves. Another girl walks in and promptly undoes his pants. She looks at his wallet and gasps, and he beats her and rapes her. Gil-da watches, and waits until he's finished to kick him in the balls. The other girls arrive to find her in control of things. What the girl saw in his wallet was his resident card, which points out that he is actually Korean, and his name is Kim Deok-ho.

Now, you might think that having the molester be a Korean might be confusing in that it seems to take the blame away from English teachers. Not so. 'Tom' confesses to the girls that he used to hang out in the foreigner bars, but Korean girls rejected him when he introduced himself as a Korean, Kim Deok-ho. He then looked longingly at all the attention the foreigners were getting, simply because they were American.

By simply changing his name to Tom and saying he was American, he suddenly had throngs of girls around him, and new American friends. It really is that easy (but he still needed to drug the girls).

The Sexy Mong team then takes him and another manager from the bar and bury them in the sand by the sea up to their heads. Then they return home and the girls realize Gil-da's usefulness as throngs of teenage boys crowd into the restaurant to be served by her.

There are some paradoxical elements here regarding the male English teachers: it's not fair that they have women flock to them just because they are foreign, but at the same time they are predators and get girls drunk or drug them to have their way with them.

As for foreign women identified as western, they are viewed as exotic sex objects, and the male gaze (the good one, the Korean one) features prominently.

In truth, I think the key word is "exotic." Korean women are often viewed as sex objects (reinforced by the media and a massive prostitution industry) and have little power in society, while some foreign women are viewed as exotic sex objects, and often have even less power within society than Korean women. Entertainers working on E-6 visas (more than 90 days) need HIV tests, which obviously shows that the government isn't blind as to what their employment is likely to consist of [Update: As of 2011, these tests have been removed]. In the past many of these women were Russian, and that stereotype (plus decades of R-rated Hollywood movies, TV shows, erotic music videos, etc) certainly influences the behavior of some men (for example, three friends were in McDonalds in Bucheon one night and a drunken man walked up, pointed at the three of them, and said, “You! Come with me!”).

One wonders the degree to which Korean American women are perceived in this category. One Korean American woman who moved into my apartment was always treated nastily by the elderly security guard because she obviously had a white boyfriend, while another Korean American woman (who had no boyfriend) fought off a rapist in the elevator of her building (and when she ran out and told the security guard, he told her that he’d have to put his shoes on, and that it would be too much work to chase him). One theory was that she was targeted because she seemed 'western' in the way she dressed (which was probably conservative by North American standards but less so by Korean standards).

In another interesting story from a few years ago which deals with perceptions of foreign male and female English teachers, four foreigners were sharing a large apartment and were loud and annoying, so the residents of the apartment building signed a petition saying that they’d have to leave unless they followed a set of guidelines. I really wish I’d seen it (and not heard about it second hand) and saved it, as it likely contained both remedies for witnessed bad behavior, as well as examples of Korean biases. Stuff like “Men must not make out with their (Korean) girlfriends in the elevator” was mixed with “Women must wear bras when they leave the house.”

Interestingly, in a post on the Sexy Mong episode at anti-English Spectrum, (where site administrator 'Emtu' chimed in happily, “The eternal subject, the inferior foreign English teacher!!!”) the conversation turned, in the comments, to a discussion of shallow Doenjang Nyeo (bean paste girls) and English teachers. There are different ways in which these kinds of insecure people (whether posting at that cafe or writing soft-porn for television) try to rob Korean women who date westerners of their agency. They are perceived as either shallow girls who are hopelessly attracted to western culture, or are helpless victims to be drugged or beaten into submission by callous western teachers.

Again, it was lovely that the episode was marketed in such a way that the Segye Ilbo could write that it "deals with an episode involving sexual assault by foreign English teachers, something that has been a social issue for some time." In the end, the episode wasn't about that at all, and what we see, once again, is the media emphasizing the concept of sexual assaults carried out by western men - much in the same way they are happy to ignore actual sexual assaults carried out against foreign women.