Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dispatches from the front lines of the Drug Cartoon War

[Update: Corrections are added below. I somehow missed the Yonhap story about the (separate) Incheon bust which Brian links to in the comments; it's the only story in Korean about the bust.]

Via Brian, it's nice to see the Korea Herald's Matt Lamers getting to the bottom of the cartoon that appeared in the Kyunghyang Shinmun. I was made aware of the arrests and cartoon the other day but never got around to writing about them. Needless to say, I was confused by the cartoon [...] since neither the Nate.com or Kyunghyang articles mentioned English teachers [because there were none]. The Herald tells us that
When reached for comment, a spokesperson from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency told The Korea Herald that the arrests on Oct. 23 included 12 Americans, 11 Korean nationals, two Italians, one from England, one from Russia and another from Canada. In total, seven of the 17 foreign nationals were of Korean descent, the spokesperson said.
I've searched for both 'foreign teacher' and 'native speaking teacher' at Daum and Naver and can find no mention of foreign teachers in Korean accounts of this arrest [because there were none!].
I [correctly, as it turns out] thought this Korea Times article was about another arrest entirely. As the Times puts it:
Some English instructors at universities in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province have been arrested for using and selling drugs. The foreign affairs division of the Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency booked three Americans, including an English lecturer from a university in Incheon, for using and selling hashish (cannabis resin). [...] Another instructor from the United Kingdom was also caught for keeping 13.3 grams of hashish, worth 3 million won, in his car.
Interesting that the Korea Times was the only paper to mention the foreign teachers who were arrested [Again, this is a different case than the gyopo students and Koreans case.]. 'The Korea Times: The only English daily that provokes English teachers... daily!'

Of course, gyopos being arrested for drugs has happened before, and in one case, former gang members deported from the U.S. were working as English teachers here, leading to this cartoon:

English instructor

My favorite drug cartoon is this one, and as I pointed out here, its use in the article it appeared in is as inappropriate as the Kyunghyang's cartoon.

I was going to say that this cartoonist really put the '마' in '마약', because I assumed, after reading this post, that the '마' in '마약' (illegal drugs) was the same as the '마' in '마녀' (魔女) or witch, which means 'magic' or 'devil, according to this site. Using that site and yahoo's dictionary, I found out, however, that 마약 is this in hanja: 麻藥, and that the '마' means '(to have) pins and needles / tingling / hemp / sesame / numb / to bother'. I then recognized it as the '마' in '대마초' (大麻草), or marijuana, which strikes me as odd, because pot was made illegal in 1976, after a lot of other drugs, (and the use of the term 마약 predates this). Why the drug 마약 is named after was legal for so long I'm not sure. It's noted (via this comment) here that the character 마 - 麻 - represents two marijuana plants hanging to dry, and indicates use of the plant is quite old in China. So what actress Kim Bu-seon said about marijuana having been used for 5,000 years as medicine is essentially correct. But I digress. Let's get back to these fellas:

It turns out no harm was meant:
The cartoonist told Expat Living that it was all a big misunderstanding, and that one of the two white people he drew is actually supposed to be a gyopo.

"Yes, I knew that both Koreans and foreigners were involved in this case. The one on the right was drawn to portray a gyopo, since many gyopo dress up like that, and the one on the left with curly hair was to portray a foreigner," he said.

Well, as long as he wasn't trying to portray a negative stereotype, I'll correct his cartoon for him. The last thing we want is to portray a negative stereotype.

Now, when I was looking up recent articles about foreign teachers at Naver and Daum, I did find a Yonhap article (also at the Busan Ilbo and Segye Ilbo) about another drug bust, which I'll summarize. [Or read Korea Beat's translation - remind me to check there first next time!]

In Busan four foreign English teachers have been arrested for smoking pot. Miss. T, a 24 year-old female Canadian teacher and Mr. P, a 24 year-old American were arrested on the 26th. Mr. Bae, 23, was also arrested for smuggling pot as a favour for Miss T, and two other foreign teachers were booked.

According to the prosecution these foreign teachers smoked pot twice since 9 pm on September 26 at a residence in Busan’s Haeundae-gu, Songjeong-dong. Police believe Mr. Bae mailed 1.27 grams of pot from Canada. Prosecutors said that they will expand the investigation, as other foreign teachers may be involved.

The police know not what they've done. Soon, Busan will be hit by a crime wave as marijuana junkies, looking for their next fix, make the debauchery and lawlessness of Hongdae look like mere anarchy. That's what happens when you remove so much marijuana - a whole 1.27 grams! - from the underground economy. Stock up on supplies now, folks.

Or should I say 'stalk up'? In recent posts at anti-English Spectrum, they've described some of their stalking stakeouts. In one they said they were watching a female teacher suspected of drug use. They then said they didn't find any drugs, but they did find a used condom. In another post, they show a bag of shopping receipts from a gyopo teacher they were stalking. The only thing I can guess is that they are going through the garbage of people they are stalking.

Also, as a heads up, in recent posts they've mentioned other people they're 'staking out', mentioning an officetel in Gangseo-gu and another stakeout in Yangcheon-gu.


kushibo said...

Interesting that the Korea Times was the only paper to mention the foreign teachers who were arrested. 'The Korea Times: The only English daily that provokes English teachers... daily!'

The inflammatory stuff that occasionally appears in the KT notwithstanding, I think this is a case of mentioning English teachers because they recognize that's a large segment of their readership and they might be interested in knowing such.

Brian said...

Huh? I was pretty sure that KT article was talking about another arrest entirely. I was going to do a post on it, but I didn't feel like bringing more attention to drug-doing teachers. The Times said, though, that three Americans were busted, though the Korean articles I found said it was one American teacher, a Brit teacher, another foreigner, and a Korean.


I think that's separate from the story the Kyunghyang Shinmun was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, where the hell did that second version of the cartoon with the Jerry Lewis teeth come from!

I think I'd be willing to forgo complaining about foreign stereotypes for the next year just to see that nasty thing pulled.

K said...

I think it's hilarious, personally. After being depicted as a big-nose for years and being told to just laugh it off, I really enjoy seeing the tables turned. So laugh it off, pal. Go look for some used condoms or something. Lord knows when I bought drugs in Korea, I always used VISA and I always got a receipt.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like in that article that Mr. Bae was caught and then ratted out his friends...

kushibo said...

Anonymous, from what I understand, that's typically the way it goes. If one is faced with a choice between prison time or deportation, they go with the latter, but they have to rat people out.

If a dealer is faced with lots of prison time or less prison time, they might go with the latter, too, but it also involves ratting people out.

Of course, with cell phones and what-not, they have other ways of finding out anyway, so why not go along with the McCarthyistic crackdown?

Anonymous said...

13.3 grams is worth 3 million won? Holy shit! That's roughly $200 for 1 gram! At that price, I could go to Thailand and smoke all the ganja I could handle. Hell, I could go back to Vancouver and not leave my house for a month, smoking 1 gram joints like cigarettes. That's more expensive than cocaine and there's not a dope smoker in the entire world who would pay that price no matter how desperate they were.

sooke said...

RE: the above comment. I came here to say the same thing, but you beat me to it. Just where do they come up with these numbers?

Anonymous said...

I withdraw my earlier comment. I thought the cartoon was from a Korea newspaper. As a experiment in empathy I think it should stand.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

"At that price, I could go to Thailand and smoke all the ganja I could handle."

The difference being smoking ganja in Korea would cost you $200 and a deportation, while smoking ganja in Thailand would land you 20 or more years in prison. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Why are you under the impression that smoking pot in Korea will result in no jail time?